Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Eschaton on Duke

Atrios backs up a comment from someone else, somewhere else.

There are also the obvious race/class issues of which stories get national coverage and which don't, but even without that...
But he fails to note that this story does not fit the obvious race/class issues of what stories receive national coverage. Usually, the stories on the big networks are about young white children in peril, or young white women in peril (preferably blonde). Rape cases rarely receive national attention, the preference being murder and missing persons cases, because then the news can cover the victim in detail without those pesky rape shield laws. Televised news relies on the pictures for capturing interest, and if there aren't big pictures of pretty white gals, then why bother. Maybe this case was intriguing because of all the white athletes.

There have been two gang rape trials in the news so far this year, but both of those had the (same) interesting hook: the rapes were videotaped. The tapes weren't shown, but they sure were talked about.

So, why is this case lifted out of the many for prominent attention? My guess is, because the university actually did something about it. Cancelling the rest of a season for one sport isn't, as far as I know, a traditional punishment, but when 46 out of 47 teammates were under suspicion, it does seem like the first appropriate step. There are some unknown and unknowable number of gang rapes every year, of which the perpetrators are usually all male groups: fraternity brothers, military forces, sports teams. There is some scary large number of gang rapes occurring on college campuses each year. Most of those have gone and will go unreported. Most of those go uninvestigated. Most of those go unpunished.

Seeing all the grief one woman is being put through, all the accusations against her, all the talking about her, well - who would encourage a friend or loved one to go to the police? Would you?

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