When the facts speak for themselves, let them.

The Rolling Stone with the story about Jackie her gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house there arrived at our house in dead-tree form — yes, we subscribe. (Someone remind me why.) I read it because I was in the midst of trying to get my arms around the sexual-misconduct-on-campus issue for my own stories, here and here. I’m not boasting of anything here other than skepticism when I tell you my BS detector started buzzing almost immediately — when Jackie was pushed down onto a glass-topped table, which broke underneath her, “sharp shards digging into her back.” In the same paragraph, she’s punched hard in the face. In the next, someone says, “Grab its motherfucking leg.” And that’s, the story tell us, “when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.”

The details that followed were lurid — a three-hour gang rape by no fewer than seven men, with two more looking on. One can’t get it up, and is met with jeers (“What, she’s not hot enough for you?”), so he penetrates her with a beer bottle. I will admit I was already doubting this part, even while I acknowledge it’s possible. UVA is an elite school, and while it undeniably has a history of not handling sexual assault on campus well at all, to believe just these few paragraphs I would have to believe the so-called rape culture at UVA was so pervasive, and these men felt so secure in their immunity, that nine of them would risk lengthy prison terms on the assumption that Jackie wouldn’t go to the police and that the university would look the other way. That’s an enormous leap for an informed reader to take.

And the story went on. After three hours of this ongoing attack, Jackie passes out and comes to in the room, alone. Imagine the mess she would have been after three hours of pounding on a bed of broken glass, after a fist to the face, after a bottle. She probably had trouble even walking, but somehow she stumbles unnoticed out of the frat house. It was the point at which she met some friends that we entered Lifetime Original Movie territory: One friend wants her to go to the hospital, but the other two have second thoughts. “She’s gonna be the girl who cried rape and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again,” one says. A woman says this, we’re told.

I could go on, but you’re getting the idea. This story, presented in vivid detail, was simply too good — or too bad — to be true. I sent a few friends and colleagues my doubts via email that day, and was met with a variety of responses, but most agreed that something doesn’t smell quite right.

An editor named Richard Bradley laid out his own suspicions point by point in a blog, and pretty much parallel my thinking. I was left thinking something probably happened to Jackie, but it wasn’t this, and I’d think anyone with even a half-developed sense of skepticism would have thought to check the story further.

As everyone knows by now, the story has fallen apart. I’d like to talk a little bit about why. Check out this quote from the Washington Post:

“The doubt cast on Jackie’s story has been feeding the myth that we have been combating for 40 years that women lie about rape and I feel that will put women at a disadvantage in coming forward,” Renda said.

Confronted with what’s looking more and more like an outright fabrication, she refers to fabrication as a “myth.”

OK, so she misspoke. She claims earlier that “2 to 8 percent” of all rape claims are fabricated or unfounded, which is more than zero. I have no reason to disbelieve that figure. But when you’re building a story about the pervasiveness of campus rape, and the cold shoulder given victims by administrations, best not to make an untrue account your through-line.

I’m amazed at some of the reaction I read and heard when the story started being picked apart, i.e., the truthiness defense. This essay is typical: It doesn’t matter if her account is untrue because rape goes unpunished on campuses all the time, so it’s OK.

No, it’s not. I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to understand, but building a story like this is like building a house. If the foundation is rotten, the whole thing will collapse, “true enough” or not. And that’s not even beginning to consider the defamation/libel issues. Because here’s the problem: Campus rape is real. Gang rape at the UVA Phi Psi house is real. Sexual assault on other campuses, in other frat houses — also real. Which is why it’s so very very important to tell the truth about it.

Or, as I sometimes say by way of writing advice: When the facts speak for themselves, let them.

Here’s part of my struggle in understanding, and writing, about sexual assault — and what’s now called sexual misconduct — on campus. I’m not talking about women who pass out after a thousand beers and wake up naked in a frat-house bedroom with some sleazebag saying what a good time he had. I’m talking about the cases of miscommunication, misleading and, yes, regret that happen all the time. You don’t turn 16 and immediately know how to drive a car; you have to practice. And you aren’t born knowing how to deal with the opposite sex, or whatever sex you’re attracted to, with confidence and charm. There’s a learning curve. It doesn’t always go well. Add alcohol, and it’s virtually a certainty.

Say I’m an 18-year-old freshman and don’t have a thousand beers. Say I have five or six. I’m buzzed. So is the guy I’m dancing with. Maybe we have sex. Maybe I wake up tomorrow, hung over, and say ugh. The Title IX guidelines explicitly state that a person who has been drinking or taking drugs cannot may not be able to give consent; if I decide to file a complaint about this, I’m on solid ground. (Victims’ advocates insist these second-thoughts cases are rare. It’s hard to tell from the data, which doesn’t contain many details) And maybe the guidelines should state this, because what else are you going to do? Require pocket breathalyzers in every dorm room? And so then you get policies that seem to have taken the whole of human sexual interaction, with all its subtlety, ambiguity, gray areas, pursuit, thrust and parry, and tried to make, well, policy. In its own way, it’s as rigid as abstinence-until-marriage. And I still don’t understand how a generation taught that any alcohol consumption = no consent will deal with the world outside campus, where alcohol accompanies mating dances every night of the week.

So we’re left with the system we have now, and advocates who say things like this:

“The first thing as a friend we must say is, ‘I believe you and I am here to listen,’” says Brian Head, president of UVA’s all-male sexual assault peer education group One in Four. Head and others believe that questioning a victim is a form of betrayal, because it will make her feel judged and all the more reluctant to ever speak about what happened. None of the people we spoke to had asked Jackie who the men were, and in fact none of them had any idea. They did not press her on any details about the incident.

In most cases, this is probably the better approach, because most women won’t put themselves through the wringer — and it is a wringer — if they feel they won’t be supported. Most will take their ugh home and deal with it however they will. But 2 to 8 percent may be women like Jackie. Who is going to share responsibility for setting the whole issue back, significantly. And that’s the damn shame in all of this.

I contrast the Jackie story with this Q-and-A about another UVA frat-house rape, from Jezebel. It’s about a woman who wakes up after a boozy party knowing something bad had happened to her, but remembering nothing. She makes mistakes (a shower), but does other things right, and the story about how her case wound its way through the UVA grievance process existing at that time feels far truer than the literally incredible tale of Jackie. It’s also a defense of the school’s quasi-judicial system — roundly criticized in the Jackie story — because while it couldn’t put her assailant behind bars, at least it gave this woman something. She would have been a better person to carry a narrative for Rolling Stone, but then, it would have raised other questions.

Like alcohol. This woman now realizes she has a drinking problem, and is sober now, but her assault was undoubtedly abetted by drinking that night. Some victims’ advocates get incandescent with anger if you even raise the issue, and I get why: It’s hard to navigate the narrow space between telling women to be careful about their drinking in social settings, but still hold that if things go wrong, it isn’t their fault. It’s a fact that alcohol clouds judgment and represses your self-preservation instincts (“hey er’rybody, watch this”); it is not victim-blaming to point this out. Yes, men will rape in the absence of alcohol or blackout drunkenness. But prudent cautions about drinking and drugs absolutely have to be a part of this.

So that’s what I cogitated on this weekend, watching things unravel for Jackie (whose last name is now out there, a totally predictable turn of events), Rolling Stone and others. I’m haunted about something a younger friend told me, about seeing a nude woman led stumbling through a wild party on a Michigan college campus a few years ago, then taken into a room with two men. Who closed the door. These things happen. I think they happen quite a lot. And thanks to this fiasco, we’ll be that much longer figuring out what to do about it.

Posted at 3:47 pm in Media |

59 responses to “When the facts speak for themselves, let them.”

  1. cynthia said on December 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    has it occurred to anyone that there is a very real possibility that Jackie does not exist? Erdley could be some screwed up girl with some sexual attack in her history. this story reeks of revenge against men. a female Stephen Glass?

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  2. nancy said on December 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I believe RS editors, as well as the WashPost reporters, talked to her independently. I’m confident she exists.

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  3. Wim said on December 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    The first detail I simply couldn’t believe was the broken glass. She would have been slashed to ribbons and so, to a lesser extent, would have been her assailants. The overdone elements strongly reminded me of James Frey and that sort of story-telling. I imagined that the reporter(s)encountered a BS artist, not that a reporter made it up like Stephen Glass.

    I do think it’s unfortunate that this tale is now going to come up each and every time anyone anywhere is ever even remotely suggested to have committed sexual assault, part of the denial toolkit along with the Duke lacrosse debacle. But if it wasn’t this, it would be something else.

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  4. Little Bird said on December 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    About the “friend” who was concerned about not being invited to any more frat parties; I hate to tell you that sounds like something if expect to hear from a party girl. There is a real lack of empathy among some college girls (and older) that borders on sociopathic. I wish I knew why.

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  5. Deborah said on December 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I just got back from my get together with cute, cute Heather. She’s a real sweetheart, I’m so glad I got to meet her this afternoon.

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  6. Charlotte said on December 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    More post-mortem here by Margaret Talbot: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/rolling-stone-uva-reporting-rape?

    I find the ferocity of the assertion by advocates that you must never question a victim’s account troubling at the very least. Reminds me of the satanic childhood abuse hysteria of the 1990s — just because my roommate in grad school was convinced that the entire English department at a tony East-Coast liberal arts college (including her father) had abused her ritually and satanically for decades does not make it true. And I don’t really think the therapists who took her down that path did her much good. Again, andecdotal. But memory is tricky.

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  7. Deborah said on December 7, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    This is a long and involved story that I’m probably going to butcher in the telling, but it might help explain why someone like Jackie would concoct a totally false story after some kind of a traumatic event:
    When my youngest niece was in her very early 20s worked where she was “sexually harassed” on the job by an older, very popular superior. I don’t really know the extent of the harassment, but the guy said something untoward to her that she found upsetting. She told somebody at work about it, more in a kind of “can you believe the guy said something creepy like that”. It eventually got to a higher up, through the grape vine, in some way that was confusing to my niece. Anyway, the corporation fired the guy over it because they had a zero tolerance policy. As I said the guy was popular and many people were stunned that he was fired and started to shun my niece because of it. She was devastated and sort of lost it, she started behaving oddly, saying to her then fiancé that she thought people were tapping her phone conversations and whispering about her on the bus, these were complete strangers she suspected. She had no idea the guy was going to get fired over the incident, she felt that no one believed her, that everyone was conspiring against her for all kinds of things, totally irrational things. In fact her own mother (my sister) thought she was schizophrenic and didn’t believe her story of harassment. My other nieces, her sisters, were perplexed and also thought she was going insane and thought there was no reason why. My husband and I and Little Bird took my niece on a trip with us, for a couple of weeks in New Mexico, to get her away from her environment and try to help her cope. She was very fragile and had a few episodes where she cried hysterically and was completely distraught while she was with us. She really needed professional help which she did eventually get, but with no help from her immediate family. It was really sad to see this young woman become completely unglued. She is OK now, recently married to a different guy than the one she was engaged to when all hell broke loose, he wasn’t very supportive during all of that. Anyway, the point is that Jackie may have experienced something that made her come completely unglued, maybe it wasn’t a gang rape but it may have been something that made her irrational. I just hope people don’t treat her badly and exacerbate the situation if that is the case.

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  8. brian stouder said on December 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Deborah – a good point about the relationship of smoke to the existence of fire.

    Rolling Stone is supposed to have professional writers and editors (and fact-checkers?); but on the other hand, a great big story that everyone talks about appears to have been an irresistible lure for their leaders.

    This doesn’t mean that every accuser is a psycho-bitch liar; it means that this stuff is complex, and has to be handled carefully (and not reflexively) by educational institutions (certainly) and by the criminal justice system, and by the press – maybe even particularly by the press.

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  9. Sherri said on December 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to teach young women (and young men) that they need to take responsibility for their drinking. Getting plastered has consequences; understand the risks you are taking when you choose to get that drunk. That’s not saying that drunk women are fair game for sex, but accept that you are endangering yourself if you choose to put yourself in that situation, and are relying on other people to protect you.

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  10. adrianne said on December 8, 2014 at 5:37 am

    Whoo. The fallout from this will be severe. I had the same reaction as Nancy when I read the (overly long) account in Rolling Stone. My Spidey sense was tingling. The details were too incredible. And apparently the reporter has a history of too-good-to-be-true stories.

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  11. Suzanne said on December 8, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Little Bird @4: I thought the same thing. I didn’t read the RS article, but the part about the girl’s “friends” not wanting her to go to the police because they would lose their frat party privileges was completely believable to me.

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  12. alex said on December 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

    It wasn’t the police, but the hospital. If Jackie was bloodied and battered as described, it’s inconceivable that anyone would urge her not to go to a hospital. If that’s how her friends really felt, why didn’t they just tell her to get out of their sight and go bleed to death somewhere else?

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  13. beb said on December 8, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Nancy raises the rhetorical question, these men felt so secure in their immunity, that nine of them would risk lengthy prison terms on the assumption that Jackie wouldn’t go to the police and that the university would look the other way. That’s an enormous leap for an informed reader to take.

    My answer would be: “yes.” The news archives are full of stories about presidents, congressmen, preachers and priests and professional scolds who have risked their careers for the chance of getting some. Also there’s the expectation of omerta among fraternity members. So that part of the story I do find credible.

    The rapidity with which this story was debunked should be troubling because it speaks of a very strong push-back against the whole idea that women get raped at frat house parties. It reminds me of the way Rand Paul, Limbaugh, Hannity and O’Reilly have been arguing that the guy killed by a police chokehold wasn’t killed because of racism but because he was fat, or because taxes on cigarette are too high, or that if he could say “I can’t breathe!” he obviously could breathe. There’s a huge denial squad out there defending the right of white males to be assholes.

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  14. brian stouder said on December 8, 2014 at 9:22 am

    What Beb said!

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  15. Jolene said on December 8, 2014 at 9:26 am

    You make a good point, beb. Foresight and sexual interaction of pretty much any kind do not always co-occur. That such phenomena as “trains” exist is evidence that people aren’t afraid to have others see them behaving badly, and the first time I heard of such a thing it occurred at a fraternity party. Dustin Hoffman admitted participating in one as a teenager on national TV. Of course, I don’t have any data on how often such things occur or how often they involve willing participants, i.e., prostitutes, as opposed to girls or women who may be assaulted while under the influence of something or other. The Steubenville case involved something of that sort.

    More generally, perhaps the most reliable finding in social science is that people in groups conform. They can be induced to do the most ridiculous things–things that are at odds with not only their morals but also at odds with things that they can sense directly–if other seemingly normal people around them are doing those things.

    In fact, one of the elements of many sexual assault prevention programs, as well as other programs designed to get people to behave better, is encouragement of bystander intervention, i.e., getting people to realize that they don’t have to go along with the group, that they can be the one who calls a halt to bad behavior before things get out of hand.

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  16. Deborah said on December 8, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I had to look up what “trains” are. I learn a lot on nn.c.

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  17. coozledad said on December 8, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Another one of the fundamental differences between us and the human scum who find some kind of vindication in what is clearly an institutional failure on the part of Rolling Stone:
    Why is this fuck allowed to breathe?

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  18. coozledad said on December 8, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Why Gary Legum and Wonkette deserve all the Pulitzers, but will never get them because they don’t get down on the floor and suck ass:
    In the world of men’s rights activists and asshole wingnuts determined to smear anything that gives off even a hint of human decency and empathy, accusing people of rape is worse than committing rape, we guess.
    Read more at http://wonkette.com/568535/twitters-biggest-scumbag-chuck-c-johnson-outs-rape-victim-to-teach-feminazis-a-lesson#vFQDF9fTkM5HdfWK.99

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  19. brian stouder said on December 8, 2014 at 10:27 am

    and indeed, if the physically exploitative part of the victim’s story is shown to be even “partly true”, then there is no cover here for the institutional failures at the university and it’s fraternal orginizations (let alone Rolling Stone).

    Otherwise, anyone victimized in such a way that they cannot understand or fully and accurately relate what happened to them is to be ignored and/or stigmatized

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  20. alex said on December 8, 2014 at 11:01 am

    A thought-provoking piece by Emily Yoffe that shows why campus canoodling is a complicated issue, alcohol or no, and that it’s not just bad journalism in the Rolling Stone that hurts women’s credibility.

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  21. nancy said on December 8, 2014 at 11:04 am

    If you have a lunch hour-size block of time to devote to it, this piece by Emily Yoffe at Slate is well worth your time.

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  22. brian stouder said on December 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

    …great minds think alike, apparently!

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  23. Bruce Fields said on December 8, 2014 at 11:31 am

    “The Title IX guidelines explicitly state that a person who has been drinking or taking drugs cannot give consent”

    Where exactly is that stated?

    I see in the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter this: “Sexual violence, as that term is used in this letter, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol.”

    But to get to your statement from this I’d have to strike out the “incapable of giving consent due to” and replace it by just “or where a person has used drugs or alcohol”. That’s obviously not the intent.

    Or looking at how UM interprets consent for its students, http://sapac.umich.edu/article/49: “Alcohol consumption *can* render a person incapable of giving consent.” (Emphasis mine.)

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  24. Dexter said on December 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Lunch break diversion: http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/70b0c3bda0b8234fa10062f4d49c21b1822e6379/c=327-297-2405-1860&r=x404&c=534×401/local/-/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2014/12/07/635535727965580013-GTY-460115520.jpg

    How can anyone hate these two? Barbie and Ken, Roger and Genie…Mork and Mindy, 2014.

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  25. Ann said on December 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I’m embarrassed that my spidey sense did not tingle at the original story, but once it started falling apart I too, like Charlotte, flashed back to all those “but we must believe the children” stories of Satanic abuse. I know a wonderful, but in retrospect troubled, young woman who “recalled” memories of systemic Satanic abuse such that she moved out of town and dropped all contact with her mother, who has since died. Awful.

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  26. Deborah said on December 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    My ex’s niece accused her parents of Satanic abuse and cut off all contact with anyone in that family since the late 80s or early 90s, she claimed it happened as early as her toddlerhhood. She made all kinds of crazy claims and all of this was perpetrated by psychological counciling she was getting at the time. The reason I bring this up like the story I related earlier about my own niece, is that the human mind is not as logical and rational as we would like to think.

    I read the Joffe piece that has been linked to herewith. Wow, is this complicated. it seems like laws are complicating things even more rather than helping. I have no idea what the answer is and it seems like no one does either.

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  27. Deborah said on December 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    no one else does either

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  28. Deborah said on December 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    and of course it’s Yoffe not Joffe

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  29. coozledad said on December 8, 2014 at 1:16 pm


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  30. beb said on December 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Saw this on Huffington via yahoo

    another stunning dress worn by Michelle Obama.

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  31. Heather said on December 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Feelings are so jumbled about the UVA/Rolling Stone debacle. So let me just say that yes, I met the lovely Deborah on Sunday and it was delightful. We should have more nn.c meetups!

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  32. Deborah said on December 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I keep reading that 1% of the population are psychopaths, one in a hundred in all walks of life apparently. So when you have a university of 21,238 like UVA (in 2013), that could be a possible 212 psychopaths. Even if it is a fraction of that, it’s still mind boggling.

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  33. Charlotte said on December 8, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Don’t know if anyone posted this on yesterday’s thread — but interesting (and less prone to “ruin porn” than many I’ve seen) slideshow of Detroit from the air: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/07/opinion/sunday/exposures-detroit-by-air-alex-maclean.html

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  34. coozledad said on December 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm


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  35. CathyC said on December 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Related to the experience of Deborah @7: http://www.vox.com/2014/12/5/7341973/trauma-rape-allegation-uva

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  36. Sherri said on December 8, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Memory is tricky business, which is why eye-witness testimony is so often wrong. We don’t record a video of events in our brain, to be pulled out later and replayed, and in fact, every time we pull a memory out, we subtly alter it as we try to process it and make sense of it. Even without trauma, if you and I witness the same event, we may very well remember it differently, and the degree of difference may change over time depending on how often one of us recalls the event.

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  37. David C. said on December 8, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    My wife and I witnesses a car accident last Summer. After we spoke to the police, we were told there were four accounts of the accident and ours and one other were the only ones that matched. I also witnessed a dumb-ass kid fall and fracture his skull last Fall while hanging onto a friend’s car on a skate board. I got a court summons, later cancelled, and I was nervous as hell. I knew what I saw, but didn’t know if what actually happened was what I saw. So as Sherri said, eye-witness accounts aren’t terribly reliable.

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  38. Jolene said on December 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    President Obama is on The Colbert Report tonight. Colbert was also the host (or, at least, one of the hosts) for the Kennedy Center honors, which were recorded this past weekend. Here’s a cute clip from that event.


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  39. Jolene said on December 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Did you all hear about the plane crash in Maryland today. So sad. A small plane crashed into a house while trying to land. The three people on board died, as did three people in the house–a mother and two small children, one three years old and one just a couple months old. Pretty tough to be the father, who is now the single parent of a five-year-old.


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  40. alex said on December 8, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Interesting in Emily Yoffe’s story how the alleged victim’s memory of a casual consensual boinking turned into into memory of a rape when her mother found out about it. (Two times before falling asleep and once again upon awakening — with an upper bunkmate who expressed irritation at the gusto, not to mention the presumptuousness, of their public lovemaking. If she’d really wanted it to stop, she wouldn’t have been the only one in the room feeling that way.) This story speaks even more to lack of maturity than to the influence of alcohol. Clearly the accuser is so terrified of her mother’s judgment that she would sooner throw someone else’s reputation under the bus than stand up for herself and assert that her sex life is none of her mother’s business. She lacks a strong sense of self, and it doesn’t help that she has a know-it-all shrink who is more than willing to overstep on behalf of such a client, who as part of her work should have born the onus of reporting if in fact her complaint had any validity.

    As someone who would want something done about rape culture on campus, not to mention society in general, I don’t want a simplistic and formulaic regimen in place that could result in such injustices as this.

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  41. Sherri said on December 8, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Another important lesson from Yoffe’s article: when you see a number tossed around (like “1 in 4”), don’t believe it. It’s probably not true. If you’ve read the actual study, and it’s based on sound methodology, then maybe there’s a grain of truth in it, but unless it’s been replicated and validated by similar studies, be very suspicious.

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  42. beb said on December 8, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    The President read Colbert’s “The Word” tonight. Subject: The president and Obamacare. It was hilarious! Potus had trouble keeping a straight face but watching him read the editorial with the captions to the side was freaking awesome. F’ing hilarious!

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  43. Dexter said on December 9, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I had a creepy feeling last night while watching Cavs/Nets game from Brooklyn. At about the same time on December 8 that John Lennon was shot dead in NYC, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge entered Barclay Center in Brooklyn to a thunderous welcome. I could feel the electricity through my TV set, at the same time wondering about the timing. Across the Bridges into Manhattan people were gathered as they always do , singing John Lennon’s songs in tribute in Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

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  44. basset said on December 9, 2014 at 5:30 am

    So why did the royals go to a basketball game, anyway? Seems outside their normal orbit.

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  45. brian stouder said on December 9, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Speaking of royals, here is a fairly amazing article


    Aside from the ridiculous story, this sentence near the end caught my eye:

    According to her biography on the website of Nanyang Technological University, Heather Cho joined the airline in 1999 and has since been “actively involved in establishing a new corporate identity for Korean Air.”

    Jeff Tmmo has commented before about the genuinely odd ad campaign that this airline pursues… and now we know that one of the people behind it really is…nuts!

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  46. Dave said on December 9, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Gee, Brian, I guess it helps to be family.

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  47. Charlotte said on December 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Bassett — if you believe the intertubes — it was to meet Beyonce and JayZ —

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  48. Deborah said on December 9, 2014 at 10:37 am

    One word comes to mind Brian, after reading that link: bitch.

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  49. brian stouder said on December 9, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Deborah – when I got done giggling, a genuine question arose (given the thread that we’re in): Is there a gender-specific epithet for a boorish man – equivalent to “bitch” for a woman?

    And it took me a minute to come up with…dick! (dick-head/dick-brain/dick-wad, etc)

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  50. Deborah said on December 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    The torture report is pretty damning. Hard to even read.

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  51. coozledad said on December 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    The September 11th attacks would have been stopped by an even marginally competent administration. We did not have one at the time.

    The decision to torture was rooted in the Bush administration’s desire to appear competent after it was too late. Torture suggested a masculine route to that illusion, and also appealed to their innermost, insectoid selves. They have condemned countless Americans to torture, and rent whatever remained of the fabric of laws between signatories of the Geneva convention. The only positive to emerge from this is you now know which of your relatives, neighbors and associates are vermin.

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  52. brian stouder said on December 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I recall to Keith Olbermann working and working to make the case that September 11 was W’s fault, and I just don’t agree. The guy was president for less than 9 months; if any president dropped the ball, it was WJC (and I don’t blame him, either). This would be exactly like blaming President Obama for the economic debacle that happened just as the 2008 election was climaxing, and which deepened and darkened between the election and when he took office, and on into his first year.

    If the Republicans didn’t love spilled blood so much, what they COULD argue is – forget about torture – President Obama is setting records for the number of people he simply kills outright, with drones. Is that guy a terrorist? Well, his signature (his travels, communications, and associates) indicate he is….so strike him! His family was with him? Oh well, too bad for them. (It must gall the Republicans that Obama has signed-off [and gets credit] for so many deaths, most especially including Sammy bin Laden; that’s the cool stuff that THEY wanna do!)

    As Americans, we simply must confront ALL this stuff. It won’t go away; we are at war. But we have to be honest about it, at least with ourselves

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  53. brian stouder said on December 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    sorry about all the italics. About one time in 20, I screw up and don’t shut them off….Probably I’m due for a suspension of posting privileges

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  54. Dexter said on December 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    The royals’ visit to the basketball game: (from NY Daily News)
    <> e n d-

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  55. Dexter said on December 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    The royals’ visit to Brooklyn, planned months ago, was meant to highlight the NBA’s partnership with the Royal Foundation, the charity organization the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge established in 2009.

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  56. Jolene said on December 9, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    This would be exactly like blaming President Obama for the economic debacle that happened just as the 2008 election was climaxing, and which deepened and darkened between the election and when he took office, and on into his first year.

    No, it wouldn’t. Bush was in office; Obama wasn’t, though, when asked, many Americans misremember that fact. Bush may have been new to the presidency, but he was certainly responsible for handling the “incoming” at that point.

    That said, I don’t necessarily hold him responsible for 9/11 either. Although I’m not an expert on it, I believe the 9/11 report showed longstanding problems in coordination across government agencies that, but for 9/11, might never have come to light or led to significant problems. That is, there was a set of circumstances that only became problematic when new circumstances arose. There was that highly threatening PDB, but, really, without further information, what should GWB have done about it?

    Bush may not have been negligent in failing to anticipate 9/11, but, still, he was not just like Obama in regard to the central challenge of his presidency.

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  57. Sherri said on December 9, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I don’t blame Bush in particular for 9/11. I think American foreign policy inevitably produced a 9/11, through periods of uniformed and uneducated meddling followed by periods of indifference in chunks of the world. Afghanistan happened to be the chunk of the world that produced this one in particular, thanks to our thinking that we could just throw some arms at the muhjadeen to create mischief for the Soviets in the 80s and then ignore the area and it wouldn’t ever cause a problem. Read Ghost Wars by Steve Coll if you want to see all the many places blame can plausibly be placed for 9/11.

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  58. Jolene said on December 9, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Gene Weingarten has a good statement on the journalistic crimes entailed in the Rolling Stone UVA story. A short read and worthwhile.


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  59. Deborah said on December 9, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks Jolene, that link was well worth the read. I found this interesting in regard to our Nancy and Adrienne who have weighed in here about thier skepticism, both journalists that had a gut feeling about the original Rolling Stone article. Of course they did, they are trained professionals to be careful. I didn’t pick that up at all in my first reading of the RS piece. Here’s what Weingarten says, “Journalists are just exactly like normal people, with a few exceptions. One of them is that we are trained to be skeptics — not cynics, though many of us are — but people who remain professionally skeptical of everything we hear. The old journo expression goes: “If your mother tells you she loves you, get a second source.”

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