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Thread: False Accusations

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    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    False Accusations

    Police in Charlottesville, VA have now concluded that there is no evidence to support the University of Virginia gang rape story, famously told in Rolling Stone magazine. In other words, they are dropping the investigation.

    Original Rolling Stone Article

    Others Defend the Accuser, Even Though There Are Holes In Her Story Already

    Police Backtrack And Punt

    Another Re-Write

    This isn't the first time in recent memory that a high profile rape case has gone awry:

    Duke Lacross Case Wiki

    Interesting Commentary

    Impact on the Falsely Accused

    The two highest profile college rape cases in recent history, both involving accusations of gang rape in a fraternity house, both of them turned out to be phony. Utter and complete horseshit. Unreliable narrators spinning stories full of holes, brought to the attention of the masses by an intermediary with something to gain. Nifong, the ambitious DA looking to make a political career for himself. The Rolling Stone author with a controversial lead story.

    While no one would question that rape on college campuses is a serious issue that deserves attention - is it even remotely possible that some of that larger social narrative is fabricated? Considering the stigma that a rape accusation can have, particularly when leveled against the "fraternity type" (read: rich and white), are false rape accusations really a symptom of something else?

    What should happen to the accusers? What should happen to the universities who rush to judgment?
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    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    I think lawsuits are the correct tool to handle this kind of thing. A false accusation ruins your life: Sue the accuser. Don't know if this is actually an option, but I assume those kinds of damages can be converted to a dollar value.

    This kind of thing has always been a problem... evolutionarily it seems safer to assume that the accuser is telling the truth; so I guess that's what people are wired to do on average. Meaning you just have to deal with it and hope nobody ruins your life.
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    DOA Space Invaders Champion Neville's Avatar
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    The accuser should serve the minimum term the accused would have received and have to register as a sex offender for life.

    Universities should be fined 20% of all administrative salaries and bonuses or whatever perks they get at the school.
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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polemarch View Post
    While no one would question that rape on college campuses is a serious issue that deserves attention - is it even remotely possible that some of that larger social narrative is fabricated? Considering the stigma that a rape accusation can have, particularly when leveled against the "fraternity type" (read: rich and white), are false rape accusations really a symptom of something else?
    Are you trying to say that a significant portion of rape accusations exist "because classism"? I'd say no - because of that exact reason, large numbers of cases go unreported or are dismissed. So I'd say reality actually generates the opposite problem.

    I've been sort of following this story since it came out. It seems that she mentioned a party that was not the party she said it was and some of the people she accused were not the people at that party. It's entirely possible she mixed up dates, events and even people, which is not a negligible mistake, to be sure, but that doesn't mean she wasn't gang raped.

    What I don't understand is what can possess a person to believe anyone would happily make a story like this up out of thin air. It's a very humiliating situation to be in if you go public with accusations like these. I'm not saying false rape accusations never existed at all, I just find it to be a highly unplausible hypothesis in the vast majority of cases.
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    Utisz's Avatar
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    I just wanna make cliff notes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Polemarch View Post
    Police in Charlottesville, VA have now concluded that there is no evidence to support the University of Virginia gang rape story, famously told in Rolling Stone magazine. In other words, they are dropping the investigation.

    Original Rolling Stone Article
    A young woman tells her story of a brutal gang rape at a fraternity house to a journalist at the Rolling Stone. The journalist in question doesn't make much effort to contact the accused at the wishes of the victim, who says she doesn't want to press charges or to name the guys who did it for fear of repercussions. The journalist prints the story written to a certain extent from the perspective of the young woman without comment from the accused men or the fraternity they were associated with.

    ... some time later, parts of the story that the young woman tells are shown to be likely untrue. Meanwhile no evidence emerges that the substantive part of the story is true. Circumstantial evidence points to it being false in the version as given.

    Another journalist takes exception to the emerging questions being levelled at the Rolling Stone for going with the story due to certain parts of it not adding up. This journalist points out that an account should not be doubted just because it is so horrific, implying that the other journalists are doubting the story because it is so extreme (mostly this opinion piece and this article, which opine, in particular, that the extremity of the rape account and the fairly blasé reaction of the young woman's friends upon finding her didn't add up).

    At this stage, it's a bit tit-for-tat in my book. The latter two pieces raise valid eyebrows about the story ... but neither present evidence that the story doesn't add up, just that it doesn't smell right ... and hence they draw criticism that they should be more cautious about criticising the original article when all they have are hunches.

    Ultimately the facts don't add up in the original version of the story but it's not known what did happen to her that night and it's not known to what extent the original journalist who published the piece did fact-check the story (it does seem, however, that she did not reach out the accused; it also does appear that she was initially actively seeking a story about an on-campus rape with the higher-level goal of increasing the profile of the general problem).

    While no one would question that rape on college campuses is a serious issue that deserves attention - is it even remotely possible that some of that larger social narrative is fabricated? Considering the stigma that a rape accusation can have, particularly when levelled against the "fraternity type" (read: rich and white), are false rape accusations really a symptom of something else?

    What should happen to the accusers? What should happen to the universities who rush to judgment?
    I see it as a case of blinkered/sloppy journalism/editing in the original case, and tit-for-tat he-said-she-said in the middle articles. I don't know about what happened to the accuser though ... it is possible that something bad did happen, just not in the form she told it.

    I think the problem here is the original journalism and a seeming lack of balanced reporting. The journalist went looking for a story to bring attention to a worthy issue and perhaps got sidetracked in the process ... I tend to think she believed the story she wrote, but I think the broader issue and her concern for the victim and the importance/status she associated to the story blinded her to some journalistic necessities, particularly the part about giving those accused of such a serious crime (even at the level of the fraternity) a chance to comment. These mistakes proved costly.

    As for the accuser, it is not clear what happened to her or why she fabricated the parts of the story that it's now clear that she did. But whatever her motive, what is surely true is that, however common or rare they might be, (partially) fabricated stories do exist, false accusations do exist, and the onus in on the journalists/authorities involved to follow due diligence. If due diligence conflicts with the interests or wishes of the subject giving the account, then I think the story should not/cannot be printed.

    The two highest profile college rape cases in recent history, both involving accusations of gang rape in a fraternity house, both of them turned out to be phony. Utter and complete horseshit. Unreliable narrators spinning stories full of holes, brought to the attention of the masses by an intermediary with something to gain. Nifong, the ambitious DA looking to make a political career for himself. The Rolling Stone author with a controversial lead story.
    In terms of pointing out that the two most high profile such news stories in recent history were fabricated, I think the two variables might be directly correlated (rather than there being a third variable involved). The more extreme the story, the more likely it is to draw attention. And in a sense, if one buys into the idea that a person seeking attention may be prone to fabricate or exaggerate some part or the whole of a story (not vice-versa of course), then one might expect more fabrication in amongst the most extreme stories and the stories that would draw the most attention. (Again this is not to say that all such extreme stories are fabricated, just that some fabricated stories might tend towards the more extreme).

    While no one would question that rape on college campuses is a serious issue that deserves attention - is it even remotely possible that some of that larger social narrative is fabricated? Considering the stigma that a rape accusation can have, particularly when levelled against the "fraternity type" (read: rich and white), are false rape accusations really a symptom of something else?
    I see two instances of bad journalism and fabricated stories ... two instances that did a lot of damage and that received a lot of attention, but still just two instances involving a handful of people. Based on these, I think it's a little too early to be talking about the fabrication of a larger social narrative or some sort of conspiracy against the white man or a pandemic of false rape accusations based on these two examples.

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    Scobblelotcher Sistamatic's Avatar
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    ^In other words, whether or not this story is true has no bearing on whether or not the next story is true and each account of rape should be handled carefully for the sake of every person who may or may not have been involved, no matter what has or hasn't happened before in other cases. Statistical analysis can give us patterns, but can tell us nothing about individual cases.

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    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    The case has been “suspended,” not closed, because something could have happened, Longo said.

    “We certainly can’t say something didn’t happen … but there’s not evidence to support it,” Longo told reporters at a Monday afternoon press conference.
    so nobody's saying it's a "false accusation" which is what the misleading thread title says.

    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    Are you trying to say that a significant portion of rape accusations exist "because classism"? I'd say no - because of that exact reason, large numbers of cases go unreported or are dismissed. So I'd say reality actually generates the opposite problem.

    I've been sort of following this story since it came out. It seems that she mentioned a party that was not the party she said it was and some of the people she accused were not the people at that party. It's entirely possible she mixed up dates, events and even people, which is not a negligible mistake, to be sure, but that doesn't mean she wasn't gang raped.

    What I don't understand is what can possess a person to believe anyone would happily make a story like this up out of thin air. It's a very humiliating situation to be in if you go public with accusations like these. I'm not saying false rape accusations never existed at all, I just find it to be a highly unplausible hypothesis in the vast majority of cases.
    right. there's the character stereotyping, increased risk of harm and basically a huge stigma that nobody wants to deal with when coming out as having been the victim of this sort of crime, which is why it's so difficult in the first place to go public with that sort of story and it's probably why there aren't more of these cases in the media. the more powerful the accused and the more high profile the case, the more difficult it has to be.

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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    The point he's getting at is that lots of people like to make up rape claims in the spirit of, "I'm going to accuse this guy because he's loaded." The answer is that the instances of "I'm not going to say anything, because he's loaded," would logically far outweigh whatever phenomenon Polemarch is imagining and attempting to suggest. This is like saying the underdog has an advantage due to the sheer fact of being an underdog, which runs contrary to both logic and semantics.


    Edit: Cross-posted with tele
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    Specifics of this case not withstanding, the U.S has a history of lynching innocent black men (and other minorities) due to rape accusations. It's curious that this fact, this dynamic is never mentioned within the context of these discussions.

    I assume we're all so free of stereotypes nowadays that we needn't worry about such things, so I suppose it's unimportant.
    Last edited by msg_v2; 03-24-2015 at 06:26 AM.

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    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msg_v2 View Post
    Specifics of this case not withstanding, the U.S has a history of lynchings innocent black men (and other minorities) due to rape accusations. It's curious that this fact, this dynamic is never mentioned within the context of these discussions.

    I assume we're all so free of stereotypes nowadays that we needn't worry about such things, so I suppose it's unimportant.
    Specifics of this case notwithstanding, my aunt makes a fruitcake that tastes like ass.

    I thought I'd put that out there since we're saying random stuff that has nothing to do with the OP.
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