It’s a journalistic travesty that Rolling Stone’s discredited and disgraceful University of Virginia rape story ever made it into print.
What’s more shameful is how so many people actually hoped the gory – and phony – tale of the fraternity gang-rape was true.
It’s as if many activists and politicians wanted a freshman named Jackie to have been brutally assaulted in September 2012 by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi frat house. It’s as if they hoped she had gone through a three-hour ordeal that ended in her fleeing the house party in a blood-stained dress.
Because as horrific as all that would have been, it would have helped their agenda.
It would be convenient fodder for liberals crowing about the rape “epidemic” sweeping American universities, where, according to an oft-cited but thoroughly debunked academic study, “1-in-5” college women are sexually assaulted.
It would have bolstered their canard that colleges can’t properly deal with campus rapes, and are in need of “fixing” through expansive new federal legislation.
And it would have dovetailed nicely with the overall “war on women” theme Democrats will trot out between now and 2016, when Hillary Clinton, or possibly Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., runs for president.
But instead, the implosion of the ginned-up UVA rape tale – much like the yarn Hollywood it-girl Lena Dunham spun about being raped by a “moustached campus Republican” named Barry – only erodes public trust in the veracity of bona fide incidents of rape.
“After a while, the boy who cried wolf wasn’t believed, and the women who cry rape may likewise not be believed, especially with the accusations of rape at Duke University and the University of Virginia fresh in people’s minds,” George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf wrote in a USA Today op-ed piece.
Is rape on college campuses a problem? Of course it is, as much as it’s a problem everywhere.
But it’s not the routine occurrence claimed by liberals such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. – who says “women are at a greater risk of sexual assault as soon as they step onto a college campus.”
That’s as absurd as the bogus 1-in-5 statistic.
The fact is, the sexual assault rate for college students – 6.1 per 1,000 – is 20 percent lower than the rate for non-students, according to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. And nationwide, incidents of rape fell 50 percent between 1997 and 2013, mirroring the country’s overall decline in violent crime.
But bureaucrats and campus activists must have a crisis – even a phony one will do – to push their progressive agenda and the bigger budgets and expanded powers that go with it. And they’ll likely try to silence dissenters by labeling them “anti-women” or, worse, “pro-rape.”
The Rolling Stone piece has been exposed as the imaginative work of an activist reporter who abrogated her duty to properly investigate the facts, but that hasn’t stopped purveyors of gender politics, such as Gillibrand and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., from pushing for a host of new mandates and penalties in the so-called “Campus Safety and Accountability Act.”
And it hasn’t prompted UVA President Teresa Sullivan to apologize or reverse her decision to suspend all fraternities – sororities, too – solely on the questionable claims of an anonymous accuser’s account in a rock-music magazine.
If anything, Sullivan is doubling down, saying she will continue “to rigorously examine our culture and climate.”
We’re not sure what that means, but we suspect it has more to do with expanding administrative bureaucracy and fanning the flames of gender politics than it does helping rape victims. Actual rape victims.