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April 15, 2007

Take Back the Blog, April 28th

TakebacksmBravo to Bruce and Crablaw for hosting the upcoming Take Back the Blog-swarm:

"As announced, this page will host the April 28, 2007 Take Back the Blog! Blogswarm in support of the rights of women to participate fully in all aspects of our society, including specifically online in the world of blogging but indeed everywhere and at all times, day and night, without fear of harassment, intimidation, sexual harassment, online stalking and slander, predation or violence of any sort."--Bruce Godfrey, Crablaw's Maryland Weekly.

If you'd like to participate, please link your submissions to:
http://www.crablaw.com/2007/04/take-back-blog-host-page.html

 

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Comments

I'm not at all sure that this is any widespread problem. Any online stalking should be dealt with harshly.

Likewise with slander. In an arena where there is robust comment, errors will at times be made--which can and should be dealt with by means of clarification and apology when an error has indeed been made. Which is why I'm so terribly disappointed that there has been no comment here about the Duke Rape Case resolution.

Very real people were libeled and slandered by any number of persons right here. They could have been sent away for decades. Those who spoke with such a loud voice in early 2006 should have something to say now. It takes courage to admit a mistake. I challenge Lindsay to give some straight talk about this matter.

On a site that I just stumbled upon,
TPM Cafe "Jerry" says reveals some sick shit from so called "feminist" sites in the aftermath of the Duke resolution:
"And yet, at Pandagon, and Feministe, in the wake of the dismissals of the charges against the Duke Students, we have seen posts that say that the students were not innocent. That the Attorney General's statement that they were innocent, did not mean they were innocent. That as white rich kids, these guys deserved what they got.

We have even seen statements from Pandagon that what they went through, did not equate to what women experience online on the Internet! I realize we should all be weeping and gnashing our teeth over the Duke lacrosse players, who are of course! Suffering just like Emmet Till! but I just can't.

Let's compare, shall we, the plight of men who have money, who have truckloads of sympathy from people and the media, and who have defense attorneys who have turned them into saints. The plight of men who can have their day in court.

Compare that to women who are lied about, harassed, and stalked online. (via Amy Alkon).

And we have all by now seen Amanda Marcotte's bigoted, sexist post that she deleted and then lied about.

From Overlawyered:
Update: Marcotte has now (1 p.m. Friday) yanked down her original post of Jan. 21, and appears also to have deleted several comments, but GoogleCache still has it for the moment. Here is its text, in the spirit of Fair-Use-ery:

Naturally, my flight out of Atlanta has been delayed. Let’s hope it takes off when they say it will so I don’t miss my connecting flight home.

In the meantime, I’ve been sort of casually listening to CNN blaring throughout the waiting area and good f**king god is that channel pure evil. For awhile, I had to listen to how the poor dear lacrosse players at Duke are being persecuted just because they held someone down and f**ked her against her will—not rape, of course, because the charges have been thrown out. Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.

111 Responses to “Stuck at the airport again…..”

Further update (1:20 p.m. Friday): Here are two comments that Marcotte appears to have deleted from the original thread. The "In her part of the country" comment had already drawn criticism from readers on the LieStoppers site:

Amanda Marcotte Jan 21st, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Yes, how dare a rape victim act confused and bewildered like she was raped or something.

# Amanda Marcotte Jan 21st, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Natalia, do you know the details of the case? If so, why do you think a women enthusiastically jumped into a sexual situation with men making slavery jokes at her? Furthermore, what is your theory on why she supposedly looooooved having sex with guys holding her facedown on the bathroom floor? There’s no “if” they behaved in a disrespectful manner. We have conclusive evidence that happened.

This is about race and class and gender in every way, and there’s basically no way this woman was going to see justice. In her part of the country, both women and black people are seen as subhuman objects to be used and abused by white men.

So E.J., what's with all of this online misandry?

I like to think of our liberal blogosphere as the reality based blogosphere. E.J., Jessica, what is the scope of a safe environment that women need online? How does that differ from a safe environment that communities of women might need to meet in the real world? Why do so many online communities of women filter out not only threats but also mere dissent? Why do so many online communities of women claim that those that dissent are trolls, concern trolls, anti-feminists, or conservative wing-nuts?

Why is it that so many online communities delete comments, ban users, disparage men and other commenters. Does that create a safe environment? Or does it create a stultified environment? Does it lend itself to progress, or to group think?

Does it lend itself to peace and justice? Or does it lend itself to hate speech and misandry?

Are the commenting policies at so many women's sites more similar to Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Red State, Hot Air, Patterico, or are they more similar to TPM Cafe, Atrios, TAPPED, Think Progress, Daily Kos?

Recently we've seen Gwen Ifill eloquently point out that Tim Russert and David Brooks and many other white male pundits eagerly went on Don Imus and never condemned his comments.

So let me ask you E.J., and Jessica, and Andrew Golis, what's up with Amanda Marcotte? Is your silence assent with her remarks? If not, does your silence enable her? Andrew, why give her and Pandagon, a platform?"

-------

BTW, I hang out in a number of sites in Ireland. There was a locally famous case where a woman blogger accused a male blogger of "internet stalking". Even reported him to the police. I was friendly to both, and was aware of all the facts. Which were that she reacted badly to strong criticism and didn't like when she was made fun of when she put her personal life on the internet. She was laughed off the local blogosphere, and abruptly closed down her site, deleting all of its history.

In fact, she was the stalker, and she still pops up occasionally in various comment sections.

I think the Duke case is somewhat different. Not that Amanda was right - hell, she was wrong, Lindsay was wrong, and I was wrong. I don't remember the exact date I changed my position on the issue from "Rape but wrong identification" to "false accusation." But I do remember it was when I told Gordo there had been a rape kit test, and he replied that no, it was just that Nifong said there had been a rape kit test. I could go around in circles saying that I had misgivings about some of the language used on feminist blogs from the start, etc., but that's basically like saying, "Oh, I've always known Bush's case for the war was overstated." I chose to take a position on the case that turned out not to be true.

Now, it's relatively easy for me to admit that because I never cared that much about the issue, and in particular never blogged about it. I may have acted differently if, say, the US had found WMD in Iraq, an issue I did pay close attention to.

At any rate, I suppose the Duke case is different from cyberstalking because cyberstalking is the blogosphere's version of local reporting. The New York Post reports the Donald's latest antics; the blogosphere reports A-list cyberstalking stories. I suppose everyone who participates in this recognizes that this is less crucial than Iraq, Iran, health care, abortion, and so on. At least, when I complained to Bruce that I didn't see the point in caring about this or about Imus, he made the broader point that it was about the belief of certain media people, including Imus and Kos, that they can say anything and get away with it.

You could, of course, make a broader point about Duke and prosecutorial misconduct. But the Duke case is the absolutely wrong case to use for it. What's striking about the Duke case isn't that the prosecutor engaged in gross misconduct, but that he was stupid enough to do it to people who could afford a good defense. People of his character but of higher intelligence throw innocent people in jail all the time, only they make sure to pick on people too poor to muster competent counsel. The problems with public defenders are a crucial part of any complete story about prosecutorial misconduct in the US, but focusing on Duke will muffle that angle entirely.

I recognize I'm splitting hairs, and it's possible that the Kathy Sierra case isn't the best one to turn into an anti-stalking blogswarm - personally, I'd pick one of the victims of AutoAdmit, provided she explicitly consented - but I don't see it obscure any big picture point, still.

Alon, I've felt like confessing my own minuscule culpability in the rush to judgment on the Duke "rape" case, but you summed it up far better than I could have. I love reading Feministe and Feministing, but I found their defenses of their positions severely wanting. Maybe I'll elaborate further tomorrow, but suffice it to say for now that this incident, to me, is a great liberal/feminist embarrassment.

G'night.

FSM... though I'm going to withhold judgment about Feministing until I read Jessica's book. If it shines, I reserve the right to downplay any stupid thing that happens on Feministing, including stupid things in which I'm the victim of the echo chamber. If it disappoints, on the other hand... then for a start I'm never going to hear the end of it from people I know who Jessica disenchanted many months ago.

I never said those 3 guys did it. I said that I think it's likely that something terrible happened to the dancer at the Duke party. The players admit that someone threatened to rape the dancer with a broom screaming, "I'm going to ram this up you!" The next evening another player sent an email about skinning, raping, and killing strippers. The accuser's nails were later found in the house along with her purse, cell phone, and the money she was supposed to have been paid. A 911 call was made from the house. Even Jeralyn Merritt admits that there was probably a scuffle at the house.

When the DNA tests came back negative, I blogged about it.

The DA never should have pressed charges because the evidence was so weak: No player DNA, extremely impaired victim, DNA from others (which he didn't reveal). Nifong rigged the line-up to make sure that the dancer ID'd players.

Don't accuse feminist bloggers who dared to offer an opinion about a criminal investigation. Opinion writers are allowed offer their opinions. For example, even if Tom DeLay is found not guilty, I'm not going to apologize for offering my opinion that he laundered money.

If you think it's wrong to offer opinions about guilt, you should extend that to the detainees at GITMO. Just because they're accused of being terrorists doesn't mean they are.

I don't know of any feminist blogger who said that the players should be punished without being tried and convicted.

I don't know of any feminist blogger who said that the players should be punished without being tried and convicted.

No, but Amanda maintains it was rape despite all evidence to the contrary, Samhita is under the impression that calling the lacrosse players innocent is racist, and Jill explicitly puts the feminist party line about reality with her "There's a 98% chance the woman is telling the truth."

I think there's a very good chance that the accuser is telling the truth as she remembers it. Why assume that she's lying?

Remember how she ended up making the charge in the first place. She didn't seek out the police. The cops found her unconscious, passed out in the passenger seat of the other dancer's car immediately after they left the party. She was so agitated that the police asked if anything had happened to her. She spent the next several hours screaming and sobbing and rambling incoherently to police and caregivers in the hospital. When she sobered up enough to give a proper statement, she gave the story she has stuck with to this day.

If I were a judge or a juror, I wouldn't convict any individual based on her ID from a rigged lineup, especially given that there was no physical evidence against any particular individual. On the other hand, IF she had picked those players out of a fair lineup, she would have had the right to take her charges to court. The DA tried to rig the lineup and corrupted the whole case.

We know the DA is a conniving SOB who uses people for political gain and disregards the most basic ethical standards of his profession. Why assume the accuser is anything but a victim of the DA? And, possibly, of some other rapist who will never be brought to justice?

Alon, you didn't really read Lindsay's comment. She said

"I don't know of any feminist blogger who said that the players should be punished without being tried and convicted."

And also defended the priciple that one can state a certain defendant is probably guilty, while accepting the fact there may not be the evidence to convict them. Amanda and Jill, according to your report, agree with Lindsay that the defendants are probably guilty (and "all evidence", quite obviously, is not "to the contrary"). On top of whatever evdence has been presented, they're doubtless aware that its incredibly difficult for a variety of reasons to get convictions in most rape cases. (The FBI tells us that along with child abuse, its the easiest violent crime to get away with in America. An estimate from a few years ago said that just 6% of all adult rapes result in a conviction.) So, what's the objection?

blogswarm -

Posted by: Alon Levy | April 16, 2007 at 02:30 AM

One thing I am a bit worry about urging blogswarm to people who think hopping from one blog to another is just like thumbing through newspaper.

Not all blogs are created equal, one cannot assume everything is clean, friendly, free to opine and harrash the editor. Which a lot of feministe and pandagon readers assume when blogswarming.

Once a person crossing different scene. Entering somebody's blog specially with intent to "blog swarm" and start flooding comment section means hostile act.

And on several section of the net, that is liable way to start real war. (ie. IP tracking, installing trojan, start using bot, bringing down site as retaliation of swarming, etc.)

The blog is not an innocent place where one can scream around and dispense opinion without further regard.

A lot of readers are innocent undergraduate students who has no real experiance but free and open society, viewing the blog as digital version of Boston Common.

But the net is very big place with very diverse people. Some sections are lawless and hostile.

swarming can be mis-understood as prelude to distributed attack on some scene. So whoever invent this clever idea at Pandagon. Beware. On different area of the net swarming is the opening move for distributed attack, male or female, misygonists or not.

Cosmic Game, this is a positive swarm, not an attack. It's basically a blog carnival, except that it's a one-time thing instead of a rotating event.

I don't know if the three young men who were accused are any more likely to be guilty than anyone else at the house that night. I think they might have been singled out from among the guests at the party because Nifong was looking for chargeable scapegoats.

I'm sure that a lot of very bad things happened at the party that night, starting with the public rape threat and deteriorating from there. Whatever happened, the dancers left in an awful hurry, without the money they had been promised.

I do think there's a lot of irrational hate being directed at the accuser and anyone who wants to give her the benefit of the doubt. We can all agree that there isn't enough evidence to press charges, but it doesn't follow that the dancer is a liar.

There was a miscarriage of justice here, but the fault lies with the DA who tried manipulate the justice system and deceive the public.

"I never said those 3 guys did it."

-- Lindsay Beyerstein, April 16, 2007


"The Duke lacrosse players somehow got the idea that their whims were more important than other people's human rights. "

-- Lindsay Beyerstein, April 10, 2006
http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2006/04/david_brooks_on.html

Don't they teach reading comprehension in your elementary school, FTA?

I think C.G. is confusing a "blogswarm" with our bi-annual Dionysian frenzies.

Jill said: "My opinion on their guilt or not isn’t really relevant since I wasn’t there and I don’t know all the facts of the case, but if you’re interested, I don’t think that they raped her. That’s neither here nor there, but there it is."

So I don't really think it's fair to lump her in with the anyone who insists that the accused men did rape the woman.

I haven't been living and breathing this case the way some conservative bloggers seem to feel compelled to, but it looks more or less like there was probably some sort of physical confrontation, which may well have involved illegal behavior of some sort (kidnapping or something of that nature perhaps). But the case for rape is extraordinarily weak and, in case anyone cares about my opinion, yeah, it seems like it probably didn't happen.

I think it's wise and important to give people who make rape allegations the benefit of the doubt. But for that benefit of the doubt to accomplish anything - and, in fact, for it to not be ultimately horribly counterproductive - it can't be an unconditional extension of absolute blind faith.

Lindsay, do you personally believe that the defendants are "probably guilty" of rape, as opposed to some lesser crime? That's your view as it's represented by Cass.

By the way, Amanda's position isn't that the proscutor abused his power or deceived the public. She thinks he "dropped the ball" - or, in other words, didn't railroad the defendants successfully enough. That's reprehensible.

Like I said, I don't know if the three defendants are the most likely suspects for any of the things that allegedly happened at the party. I think it's very likely that some guest(s) at the party abused the dancer, verbally, physically, and sexually.

The rape exam at the hospital showed swelling vaginal and anal swelling consistent with sexual assault. No DNA was recovered, but the rape threat that preceded the physical confrontation specifically mentioned rape with a broomstick, which wouldn't leave DNA.

Nifong did drop the ball. Trying to cheat is not only immoral, it's detrimental to the investigation. For example, we don't know who the accuser would have picked in a fair line-up. Maybe she would have identified the three defendants.

If she had, that would have been enough to take the case to court. She'd get her day, and they'd get theirs. However, Nifong tried to cheat. Now that whole line of inquiry is rightly discredited, thanks to Nifong's machinations.

I think it's incredibly uncharitable to Amanda to say that she wanted the DA to cheat in order to put the defendants in jail.

Thank you for putting that with so much more clarity, Lindsay.

Well, far be it from me to deny Amanda the extraordinary charity she so often extends to me! Let's go to the tape:

I haven't deviated one iota from my thought that the prosecution fumbled the ball, probably because they foolishly forgot that they would be facing an extremely well-funded defense while prosecuting a rape where the victim is assumed to be "rapeable", in the sense that she deserves what happened and has no right to justice. I haven't deviated from that one iota.

That mentions Nifong's cheating where? And what about the whole "likely charging the wrong people" thing? The clear implication of her statement is that he "fumbled the ball" by insufficiently aggressive in the face of the "extremely well-funded defense." That seems like an invitation to more, not less, railroading.

Lindsay, I don't think it's true that "When she sobered up enough to give a proper statement, she gave the story she has stuck with to this day." At the very least, she recently decided that she couldn't remember whether she was penetrated or not. If you trust the defense, she also issued multiple mutually contradictory versions of her story, none of which jibe particularly well with the physical evidence or with the testimony of the other witnesses. Or, if you prefer, take it from the guy who took over the prosecution after Nifong:

"We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges."

“We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.”

He could have just stuck with "we don't have enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," but instead he specifically says that the individuals charged are innocent, and that there's "no credible evidence" that an attack occurred at all.

The medical exam showed swelling of the vagina consistent with rape, but that could also be consistent with consensual sex or the vibrator shows she had recently performed. There were no injuries or DNA or condom residues consistent with the kind of brutal gang rape she originally alleged.

Of course, this doesn't prove that the woman was lying. I don't know what happened in the house that night, and neither does anybody else outside of the people who were there. But at what point do you have to start entertaining the possibility that an accuser is lying and/or mentally ill? What would it take to convince you a rape victim wasn't telling the truth?

It's true that only 2% of rape allegations turn out to be false. So, given a rape allegation, there's a 98% chance it's legit. That's why decent people like you assume that when a woman says she was raped, she's telling the truth. That's what I believed, too. 2% is also about the odds of getting dealt a three-of-a-kind in five card stud. It happens. And it would be kind of silly to look at those three queens in your hand and figure it must not have happened because the chances are so low.

The dancer's claims may be true--either against defendants, or against other people who were there that night.

The weak link is tying her scattered recollections to any of the suspects in the house that night. If you can't narrow it down to individuals, you can't press charges.

It's possible that the dancer was raped at the party, and that she can't give a good enough account of who did it to justify charges against any individual.

She was incredibly drunk that night. It's not surprising that she might have gaps in her memory. She was also under a lot of pressure from the DA and his team to name names. Who knows what additional details they may have suggested to her?

I don't see any motive for her to lie. She didn't approach the police. They took her to the hospital when they found her and questioned her because they found her in such terrible shape.

I know this may be incredibly naive, and may well get me shouted down (and with good reason)...

...but aren't progressives generally in favor of the presumption of innocence?

The presumption of innocence is a legal presumption. Who is arguing that the court should not presume innocence, in this or any other case?

[Well, conservatives are, w/r/t terror suspects. Funny how they think it's a travesty that privileged white kids are being shamelessly persecuted by our legal system, but brown people being driven insane by sensory deprivation is just proof that the system works.]

Private citizens, on the other hand, can presume anything they like. Alberto Gonzales hasn't been charged with anything yet, but I certainly feel free to presume that he is guilty of lying to Congress, because, you know, I'm not currently serving on a jury that will decide Gonzales's fate.

I'm in favor of the legal presumption of innocence, as it applies to individuals. There's no corresponding presumption of innocence that applies to situations. I'm not obliged to presume that nothing bad happened at the house that night just because nobody has yet been charged or found guilty.

A guy got his laptop stolen at my local coffee shop last week. How do I know? Because he told me that he turned his back on the machine for a split second and it disappeared. I'm not violating the presumption of innocence when I say that someone stole his laptop. No court has ruled on whether a theft took place, but I believe the guy. I'm not wronging whoever took the laptop by saying that someone stole it. If the police pick up a suspect tomorrow, I won't be wronging that person when I assert simply that a laptop was stolen at our local cafe by someone or other.

Saying that you think someone is probably guilty of sex crimes against the dancer doesn't violate any presumption of innocence whatsoever.

When she sobered up enough to give a proper statement, she gave the story she has stuck with to this day.

That's not true. She's been extremely fuzzy about the details. On Feministing, EJ said the accuser first said with certainty that the people who raped her didn't wear condoms, and then started wavering. Although the a priori probability that a rape accusation is false is very low, it soars once you feed in the information gleaned from specific details about the case: the accuser's wavering on the specifics, the lack of DNA evidence, the fact that the prosecutor had to pull a rape kit result out of thin air.

The reason that unlike Aeroman, I do think it's acceptable to lump Jill together with Amanda and Samhita, is precisely what Andrew mentions. It's dishonest to claim a 98% probability based on less information than is available.

I don't see any motive for her to lie. She didn't approach the police. They took her to the hospital when they found her and questioned her because they found her in such terrible shape.

That's exactly how it went down in 1987. Tawana Brawley didn't approach the police, either - the police questioned her at the hospital because she appeared in terrible shape. About the only difference between the Duke case and the Brawley case is that Al Sharpton's learned that publicly harping about a high-profile, suspicious rape case isn't always wise.

Lindsay,

I don't see any incentive for the woman to lie, either, especially given the ordeal that comes along with making a rape accusation. Even if, as you suggest, there was some altercation between the women and the lacrosse players, placing a rape charge to get back at them wouldn't seem to pay particularly good dividends in the long run. But if she could be so intoxicated that she wouldn't remember details such as - say - whether or not she was penetrated, then maybe she could also be far gone enough to make a bad decision and get caught up in it.

Again, I can't say for sure what happened, but I think the most likely explanation at this point is that there wasn't a rape. That doesn't even mean I'm saying she was lying, or should be charged - the woman is obviously pretty troubled and it's been speculated that she is mentally ill - only that her story isn't that credible. This is, I'll note in passing, also what the special prosecutor concluded, so I don't think I'm simply swallowing the defense's spin here.

I frankly feel pretty icky saying that; a lot of what's been written about Mangum in the MSM and elsewhere is truly disgusting, comparisons to the Scottsboro trial are of course absurd, many falsely convicted rapists have it far, far worse, etc, etc. But I think what we have here is one of those doubly rare situations where 1) and accusation is unfounded and 2) the prosecutor proceeds anyway. I understand the desire to believe the victim by default; it's the perfectly logical thing to do and I did it as well. But I am a bit surprised at how many people seem unwilling to accept that an accusation is unfounded even in the face of what strikes me as pretty compelling evidence that that's the case. Again, what, short of a recantation, would convince you that a rape victim wasn't telling the truth?

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