How lad culture will save you from the UVA rape story
The story of a gang rape at University of Virginia fraternity has been all over the web. Only, Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s story in Rolling Stone magazine lacked one thing: fact. The rape story turned out to be a non-rape story. But many had sezied on it as a sign of horrors on university campuses.
None of the allged rapists were named. But there were clues. And no right to reply was given.
According to Phi Kappa Psi lawyer Ben Warthen, the frat apparently did not host a party on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, which is when Jackie said she was lured upstairs by her date, “Drew,” and gang raped by seven men. Jackie had said she met Drew because they were lifeguards together, but no member of the fraternity was employed by the university’s Aquatic Fitness Center during that time frame. Also, the Rolling Stone story implied that the rape was some kind of an initiation ritual, but pledging takes place during the spring semester, not the fall.
Up until now, Jackie had been reluctant to reveal the name of the man who took her on the date. But this week, according to the Post, she told it to some of her friends—activists who had supported her since the alleged rape. The man whose name she gave belonged to a different fraternity, not Phi Kappa Psi. A Post reporter contacted him and he said he knew Jackie’s name but had never met her in person or taken her on a date. That’s a detail to pay attention to. He could be lying, of course, but that’s a pretty bold lie, not just to say he’d never dated her or taken her to a party but he’d never met her.
I wrote last week about the explosive rape allegations against a University of Virginia fraternity in Rolling Stone. This morning I see that Richard Bradley, a former editor at George who had the unhappy distinction of having been taken in by Stephen Glass, is raising questions about the story and the reporting by the author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
I read Bradley’s article and thought, “well, if there are problems with Erdely’s story, it will probably come out eventually, because there’s enough detail that can be checked.” But there’s a corollary to that: If the Rolling Stone article’s allegations are true, there’s also enough detail to put at least a couple of people in jail, and possibly the whole group, even if Jackie (the victim) is reluctant to assist the investigation.
For starters, there are two people whom the university can surely identify right now. First is “Drew,” the boy who worked as a lifeguard at the university pool with her, invited her to the party, and handed her over to his brothers to be raped. There are about 80 brothers in this fraternity; the odds that more than one of them was an upperclassman lifeguard in 2012 seem pretty small, unless this happens to be the swim team frat.
Second is the kid who raped her with a beer bottle when he found himself unable to maintain an erection; she says she recognized him as a classmate from a small anthropology discussion group. The story strongly implies that the rape was an initiation ritual for the fraternity, and since fraternity rush takes place in the second half of freshman year at UVA, this boy was almost certainly a sophomore, or maybe an upperclassman who transferred in. At any rate, it’s very unlikely that there is more than one young man who was a new member of Phi Kappa Psi in 2012, and also a member of lower-level anthropology class. The university ought to be able to identify these two young men in a matter of a few hours.
But the university may well be able to identify everyone, because the story strongly suggests that an entire new class of Phi Kappa Psi brothers participated in a gang rape, either of Jackie or of the two other girls who she learned were also gang raped at the fraternity around the same time that she had been. As far as I can tell, Virginia has no statute of limitations on rape, which means the police should be aggressively investigating these sickening allegations. The university has a duty to its own community, and to the community at large, to do its utmost to identify as many rapists as possible, and help the police to bring them to justice.
The story was used to beat all men in the Greek system.
When I first wrote about this story, I found it baffling that the woman in charge of U.Va.’s Sexual Misconduct Board was so apathetic toward an allegation of a brutal gang rape. That question still stands.
I had some lingering questions about the account, namely some clarifying details about how Jackie was able to recognize someone in a supposedly “pitch black” room and whether Jackie would cooperate with police now that the story has become so public. Erdley did not respond to a Washington Examiner request for information and U.Va. never returned a request seeking to confirm that a student even came to the administration with a story about gang rape.
But as Richard Bradley pointed out, questions do not equal untruth. The only people who know for sure what happened in that fraternity room two years ago are Jackie and Drew, and the seven men who allegedly raped her and the other man who was egging them on and possibly her friends at the time. But none of them are talking.
Jackie’s story might be true. As Tom Maguire notes:
“I am delighted to see Phi Kappa Psi cleared; I am having a harder time believing that nothing of consequence happened to Jackie.”
Jackie might have been abused. But the magazine’s story is not what happened to her.
A lawyer for the University of Virginia fraternity whose members were accused of a brutal gang rape said Friday that the organization will release a statement rebutting the claims printed in a Rolling Stone article about the incident. Several of the woman’s close friends and campus sex assault awareness advocates said that they also doubt the published account.
Officials close to the fraternity said that the statement will indicate that Phi Kappa Psi did not host a party on Sept. 28, 2012, the night that a university student named Jackie alleges she was invited to a date party, lured into an upstairs room and was then ambushed and gang-raped by seven men who were rushing the fraternity.
The officials also said that no members of the fraternity were employed at the university’s Aquatic Fitness Center during that time frame — a detail Jackie provided in her account to Rolling Stone and in interviews with The Washington Post — and that no member of the house matches the description detailed in the Rolling Stone account. . . .
Will Dana, Rolling Stone’s managing editor, also released a statement with new doubt. “In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” he said in a statement.
The media never did fact check the Rolling Stones story. And they are upset at being found wanting:
Reaction to Rolling Stone’s admission was both swift and furious from across the ideological spectrum.
“Rape on college campuses remains a huge problem,” the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein tweeted. “Tragedy of the story is it will distract from that/cast doubt on future incidents.”
Similarly, Breitbart News’ Mary Chastain called it “a complete disgrace to actual rape victims.” And the Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay said “Rolling Stone is really screwing over other victims who will now face even greater skepticism in reporting campus rape.”
Some journalists who defended the article, even after its many inconstancies came to light, blasted Rolling Stone for failing to vet the story properly.
“This is really, really bad. It means, of course, that when I dismissed Richard Bradley and Robby Soave’s doubts about the story and called them ‘idiots’ for picking apart [the story], I was dead f**king wrong, and for that I sincerely apologize,” Jezebel’s Anna Merlan wrote.
“It means that my conviction that [Rolling Stone] had fact-checked [the] story in ways that were not visible to the public was also wrong. It’s bad, bad, bad all around,” she added.
“Welp. Turns out many of us, myself included, were wrong to trust the story,” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie tweeted.
Can anyone be blamed?
The reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, told us on the DoubleX Gabfest that she had been looking at different campuses to find an example that would illustrate how badly universities handle allegations of campus sexual assault. She came upon Jackie’s story of a gang rape, and, as any reporter would, concluded this was a story that needed to be told. If universities couldn’t even properly handle a brutal, orchestrated gang rape, then the system was seriously broken.
“She was rape shopping: going from campus to campus auditioning rape victims, contacting advocacy groups and asking for introductions. But the rapes she found at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn didn’t have the right narrative feel. They were just rapes, and she needed a cover-worthy rape. So she kept shopping until she found someone who would tell her a version of the story she had already decided to tell. .. Get better rapes, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn. Let’s face it: For magazine journalism, yours just aren’t colorful enough.”
“Under the scenario cited by Erdely, the Phi Kappa Psi members are not just criminal sexual-assault offenders, they’re criminal sexual-assault conspiracists, planners, long-range schemers. If this allegation alone hadn’t triggered an all-out scramble at Rolling Stone for more corroboration, nothing would have. Anyone who touched this story — save newsstand personnel — should lose their job.” And the newsstand personnel should wash their hands.”
Don Surber point the finger:
On November 22, University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan unilaterally suspended all activities by fraternities based on a report on an alleged gang-rape reported by the Rolling Stone.
Today, Rolling Stone for all intents and purposes retracted that story.
UVa.’s board should suspend Teresa A. Sullivan immediately. Her decision was arbitrary, rash and wrong. Even Delta House got some semblance of a trial in the movie, “Animal House.”
Even if the Rolling Stone story had been true, her response was unfair, prejudiced, and a sign of lousy judgment and poor leadership. But she could have asked simple questions — was there a party on September 28? do they have pledges in the Fall? — herself. Instead, UVA knew about this claim but did nothing until it was in Rolling Stone, and then she responded in a knee-jerk, hateful, PR-oriented way, one that punished the innocent but not the guilty in order to provide the appearance of firmness. That was a betrayal of her responsibility to the University of Virginia’s student body, every one of whom has the right to expect a President who will deal fairly, honestly, and sensibly with whatever comes up.
Meanwhile, I expect the members of the Board of Visitors who — briefly — fired her a couple of years ago feel their judgment was vindicated this week.
“Faced with mounting pressure from students, faculty and alumni, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan suspended all campus fraternities Saturday, an action prompted by a searing magazine account of an alleged 2012 gang rape inside a fraternity house at the school. The suspension, which includes sororities and other Greek organizations, will continue until Jan. 9, the Friday before the spring semester is to begin, Sullivan said in a statement posted on the university’s Web site.”
This Rolling Stone story could set rape victims back decades.
Meanwhile… Milo Yiannopoulos explains men:
Never before in history have relations between the sexes been so fraught with anxiety, animosity and misunderstanding. To radical feminists, who have been the driving force behind many tectonic societal shifts in recent decades, that’s a sign of success: they want to tear down the institutions and power structures that underpin society, never mind the fall-out. Nihilistic destruction is part of their road map.
But, for the rest of us, the sight of society breaking down, and ordinary men and women being driven into separate but equal misery, thanks to a small but highly organised group of agitators, is distressing. Particularly because, as increasing numbers of social observers are noticing, an entire generation of young people—mostly men—are being left behind in the wreckage of this social engineering project.
Social commentators, journalists, academics, scientists and young men themselves have all spotted the trend: among men of about 15 to 30 years old, ever-increasing numbers are checking out of society altogether, giving up on women, sex and relationships and retreating into pornography, sexual fetishes, chemical addictions, video games and, in some cases, boorish lad culture, all of which insulate them from a hostile, debilitating social environment created, some argue, by the modern feminist movement.
You can hardly blame them. Cruelly derided as man-children and crybabies for objecting to absurdly unfair conditions in college, bars, clubs and beyond, men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t: ridiculed as basement-dwellers for avoiding aggressive, demanding women with unrealistic expectations, or called rapists and misogynists merely for expressing sexual interest.