The reason we need rule of law, not mob hysteria

Rolling Stone magazine is backing away from its story of a gang rape at a UVA fraternity. The truth may be coming out. But what a mob-rule. UVA suspended all fraternities. The fraternities were vandalized. Innocent men were stigmatized. That is why we need rule of law, not rule of accusation, innuendo and Internet. This looks like it is similar to the Duke lacrosse case, where a crazy woman accused athletes of rape and cost lots of people trouble. In both cases the PC universities reacted inappropriately.

If the woman is found to have lied, she should be punished according to the rule of law. We should not forgive her because she made a PC accusation.

The men are the victims here. An accusation of rape can ruin a young man's life. That is why we need to be careful with such things.

Universities should not be in the business of policing crimes. They should leave it with the authorities, where rules of evidence and proof can apply.

This is the problem. It is very hard to defend against the accusation of a heinous crime. A young man accused of rape will be shunned immediately. What if he didn't do it? There are false accusations, as we saw in the Duke case and probably at UVA. There are mistakes, as DNA evidence has freed scores of men accused in good faith but wrongly. And there are misunderstandings. Rape is a unique crime. In some cases whether it is a crime or not depends on the feeling of the people involved at the time.

One of the great things about our country has been the commitment to rule of law. There have been serious lapses in practice, but not in values. We have relied on objective evidence. This often produces result we do not like. Most of us at times have wished for the catharsis of quicker justice. Think of the success of revenge movies. I used to like the Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood movies were the bad guys get what they have coming w/o the bother of due process. But those were fictions.

Hysteria. That is the proper word for what happens in cases like this.

Posted by Christine & John at December 5, 2014 6:06 PM
Comments
Comment #386342

In recent years, universities concerned with student allegations of rape and sexual battery have instituted very convoluted policies attempting to deal with the problem.

I would contend that the simplest and most effective policy would be to simply offer direct and discrete assistance to an alleged victim in making a report to police authorities. I fail to understand why universities feel compelled to adjudicate rape allegations within their own quasi legal system. It’s a crime. Deal with it as such. Better for the victim, better for the accused and ultimately better for the university.

Posted by: Rich at December 5, 2014 8:47 PM
Comment #386345

Rich

I agree with your sensible approach. But Holder and the Obama folks are forcing universities to develop policies. http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/29/living/campus-sexual-violence-report/

Posted by: C&J at December 5, 2014 9:26 PM
Comment #386350

I must say that I was amazed to see that universities were not only being required to develop such policies but that were actually creating special tribunals, procedures, etc. Huh! Its a serious criminal charge. Why would they think that they should assume any responsibility other than to refer the charge to the proper authorities? Baffling.

Posted by: Rich at December 5, 2014 10:57 PM
Comment #386351

Rich

Good article from the Economist explains the folly.

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21635500-folly-letting-amateurs-handle-serious-crimes-professors-judges?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/pe/sexcrimes

PC has gone wild under Obama. I really believe that in a decade or so this will rank up with McCarthyism among the things we are ashamed of having done or tolerated.

Posted by: C&J at December 5, 2014 11:17 PM
Comment #386354

At UVA, “… 60 UVA students reported they’d been sexually assaulted, many by fellow students. Yet, according to various sources in the UVA administration, not one sexual offender has been expelled or even suspended from the school in the past five years, a fact that has outraged many people– not just victims and their families.”

Obama and Holder forced UVA to address this issue because, in the past, the school dealt with it through an “honor code,” and essentially ignored complaints.

Because of this background, UVA was already under a federal watch and facing large fines for any further incidents. Their reaction to the false story was extreme, but there was a reason for it, a long and horrible history that brought them to this point.

And no, PC has not been overdone, and no, prosecuting rape is not McCarthyism. And while it is terrible that there rare cases of false accusations, for every one those, there are dozens that are true, yet no justice done.

Posted by: phx8 at December 6, 2014 11:33 AM
Comment #386356

phx8:

With all due respect, C&J’s post was about an alleged false narrative purported by a widely-read, national publication.

The post is not about the jurisprudence of a particular case or cases. You are conflating two specific things.

In fact, you are emotionally reacting to C&J’s and Rich’s hypothesis that Holder and Obama are attempting to “fix” the system or problem by some legislative and/or bureaucratic means.

The breaking news is about the author’s truthfulness or motive.

I haven’t heard or read all of the facts; however, as a student of journalism, I am quite concerned about the veracity of Ms. Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s expose in Rolling Stone.

Btw, I don’t know of one person who doesn’t think that rape on college campuses Isn’t a major problem in our society, save for the many university administrations who attempt to “hide” the reporting mechanisms for their own selfish public relations reasoning.

Posted by: KevinL. Lagola at December 6, 2014 11:57 AM
Comment #386357

phx8

When convicted of a felony (including sexual offenses) Virginia should expel. Until that time, it should remain a issue for law enforcement.

Rapes have been dropping for decades now. It is a serious crime, but it is not getting worse and UVA is not a dangerous place. I would certainly trust my daughter’s safety at UVA. In fact, I did. My daughter graduated from UVA.

McCarthyism also was based on reality. There were active communists in the U.S. and they were dangerous. What went wrong was the hysteria that caught up people who were marginally involved or even completely innocent. This Rolling Stone article and UVA’s inappropriately quick response, did this, as did the Duke lacrosse case in nearby Durham.

Rape is terrible crime. Universities are no more competent to adjudicate that than they are to do other crimes such as armed robbery or murder. It should go to law enforcement. We had a terrible case of murder and rape of a UVA student this year. The perp had evidently murdered and raped before. This should have been pursued more aggressively by law enforcement. University justice is not only not sufficient, it may be pernicious if if substitutes for the legal system.

Posted by: C&J at December 6, 2014 12:05 PM
Comment #386359

Interestingly, I read a handful of Erdely’s work while she a writer for Philadelphia Magazine.

However, I don’t specifically recall any of her stories from the late ’90s ( I’ve been a Philly Mag reader since the early ‘9os.

The most troubling thing now seems to be what a Rolling Stone editor wrote in response to this story. The link to the editor’s note can be Read Here

Please read the sentence toward the end where the editor blames the (now alleged) victim “Jackie.” He states that they put “misplaced trust in her.” WTH?

How about the alleged wrongdoing of the fact-checkers? Your writer? After all, “Jackie” didn’t write the story! She allegedly painfully shared her story with one Ms. Erdely.

Rolling Stone has zero credibility as a publication (recall the Boston Bomber Cover? recall the 4-star general story where segments were supposed to be “off the record?”)

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at December 6, 2014 12:34 PM
Comment #386360

phx8,

Rape and sexual battery are serious criminal offenses.

If universities have a history of sweeping such allegations under the rug, the answer is to get the allegations out of their hands and into the hands of competent legal authorities not to make them adjudicate the allegations in some administrative in-house proceedings.

I find it odd and dangerous to encourage, let alone require, universities to establish codes defining rape, sexual battery and related offenses and to expect them to litigate the charges with in-house procedures. It unnecessarily confuses the definitions of those serious offenses, the criteria/evidence needed to establish a violation and compromises the due process rights of the parties.

If there is an epidemic of rape and sexual abuse of female students on college campuses, I can pretty much guarantee that a few arrests and convictions will have a chilling effect on that behavior.


Posted by: Rich at December 6, 2014 7:40 PM
Comment #386361

This topic strikes me as a basic distraction from the one taking all the oxygen out of the room these days. This issues smells like a counterattack, an effort to use up bandwidth and turn attention away from what is actually going on. That is not to say there is not a one-day issue here. A woman made a false accusation. A reporter and an editor bought her story without checking.

The larger narrative these days involves an America where racism, and a denial of justice to blacks, minorities, and immigrants, is taking center stage. This is anathema to conservatives. Oddly enough, the focus upon social justice isn’t even one the Obama administration particularly wants to see.

For conservatives, there is a strong desire to move from this type of discussion about a false rape accusation, which is basically a counterpunch, to a completely new topic. Conservatives did well in a recent election, but sadly, it focused upon Ebola, ISIS, immigrants, and irrational hatred of Obama. The agenda for conservatives- if there is one- has been completely upended. The agenda of tax cuts for corporations and ‘free trade’ agreements went nowhere fast. They’ll probably do it anyway. The hatred of Obama remains, but it has become little more than a farce, wrapped in a lawsuit, encased in a House motion to disapprove of the president.

For the Obama administration, it has just had one of the best months ever, and no one is even noticing. ISIS has suffered serious setbacks. Ebola was contained, making everything Obama did look like the model of ideal leadership, and everything the opposition did, such as Chris Christie, look craven and panicked flailing… but everyone focused on social justice. Obama announced a breakthrough agreement on Climate Change with China, and everyone yawned. Through an executive order, Obama addressed the issue of immigration reform that conservatives could not do, and received approval ratings from Latinos of up to 89%; Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney advocated complete amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants, totally destroying the conservative talk about a lawless, unconstitutional executive, and outside Latinos, no one even cared. The stock market set new highs, wages went up, the economy added over 300,000 private sector jobs while the government did not grow, and it is being almost universally ignored.

The GOP is reduced to threatening another government shutdown. Just because.

Strange days. Americans want social justice. Americans want cops to held liable for their actions, and Americans reject the efforts of local District Attorneys to prevent the enforcement of social justice. People have had enough in a big way, and all the attempts to distract from this focus are failing badly.

Posted by: phx8 at December 6, 2014 8:18 PM
Comment #386364

phx8,

Obama did have a very good month. I agree that he receives very little credit for his successes. But, I disagree that conservatives have taken the focus off those successes. For good or bad, it has been the Ferguson and the Garner cases that have monopolized media coverage.

The economy has been steadily improving. More private sector jobs will be created this year than in any year for the past 25 years. “Our businesses have now created 10.9 million jobs over the past 57 months in a row. And that’s the longest streak of private sector job growth on record.” http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/12/05/obama_on_jobs_numbers_the_longest_streak_of_private_sector_job_growth_on_record.html

The fight against ISIS has been going much better since the shock of the Mosul takeover. Little coverage of the Kurds’ heroic defense of Kobane with US air support. Little coverage of successful counterattacks by Iraqi and Kurd forces in Iraq. Slowly, the Obama strategy is taking hold. It isn’t over but the momentum of ISIS has been blunted and their infrastructure is being degraded.

Posted by: Rich at December 6, 2014 10:57 PM
Comment #386365

Phx8

The GOP is trying hard to avoid a shutdown. The leadership stated repeatedly that they do not want this to happen. It is liberals who bring it up more frequently. The same goes for impeachment. Obama would love that. And he is trying to provoke shutdown talk.

Re the economy - it is good - and about time. IMO, the big stimulus is and has been the American energy boom. The drop in prices is like giving the average American a 2% wage hike. This is the result of the fracking revolution. To the extent that Obama advocated greater exploration for gas and oil in the U.S., we can credit him.

Posted by: C&J at December 6, 2014 11:38 PM
Comment #386366

Re UVA - this is part of the “war on women” myth. Rape is a serious crime. But it is serious crime that has been dropping for the last twenty-five years. In other words, things are safer now than any time in the lifetimes of women attending college today. Yet we hear talk of an epidemic of rape on our college campus.

My deal is that if progressives stop that kind of talk, I will stop debunking it.

The same goes, BTW, for racism. The number of black deaths at the hands of cops has been dropping for twenty-five years. And the number of blacks murdered in general is way down since 1990. The data just do not support the idea that things are getting worse.

Think of a very simple test. Nobody wants to be called a racist or even have the implication that he has even racist subconscious thought. Obviously, most people think it is very bad. If racism was accepted or on the rise, would this be true?

Posted by: C&J at December 6, 2014 11:45 PM
Comment #386367

“The GOP is trying hard to avoid a shutdown. The leadership stated repeatedly that they do not want this to happen. It is liberals who bring it up more frequently.”

No. Liberals are merely observers. This is a fight between the establishment/corporate wing of the GOP and the extremist ideologues. The establishment does not want a shutdown. They want immigration reform in the form of full amnesty for 11 million, re recent comments by Romney & Jeb Bush. The radicals, however, have been throwing around talk about impeachment and shutdown for some time. They shut it down once before already. These extremists routinely call the president lawless and unconstitutional. The problem is, if they all keep telling each other this, and then they all believe it, there is no place left to go but shutdown and impeachment. They have run out of room to escalate. The establishment GOP is desperately trying to head off the radicals, because in the case of immigration reform, the GOP’s opposition and hostility to Hispanics will make it virtually impossible to win in 2016, yet the radicals want absolutely nothing to do with it.

The current drop in oil prices has little to do with fracking. Fracking for oil is expensive. With oil prices at $65 and falling, most of the fracking for oil will come to a stop. This has little to do with a drop in demand abroad, either. A fall this far, this big, and this fast can only come from one source: the Saudis.

The most expensive oil drilling is offshore and deep water drilling; next is developing the tar sands and oil shales.

The Saudis are going for market share. They are going to kill the fracking for oil, kill the tar sand drilling and oil shale drilling, kill alternative energies, and most importantly, kill electric cars.

And this will ensure nothing will be done to address Climate Change.

They can do it, too. They can drop prices back to under $50 for years, if necessary.

It is a boon to the overall economy. It will be a huge bust for the states of ND & TX. It will be a disaster for American energy policy, because it will encourage us to resume dependence on the Saudi’s oil, and it is going to be very difficult to stop, just as it was after the drop in 1986. With Global Warming, the free market is going to bring catastrophe upon us.

Rich,
Another major success for the Obama administration has been addressing the issue of Russia & Ukraine. Economic sanctions and some financial manipulation are absolutely destroying the Russian economy. The value of the ruble is plummeting. Let’s see how those restive Russian minorities in the Ukraine and Crimea like being part of a nation whose money is worthless.

Posted by: phx8 at December 7, 2014 12:17 AM
Comment #386371

phx8

You are the only person who doesn’t recognize the effect of fracking. The Economist ran a cover story on this week.

Fracking provided millions of dollars to the U.S. economy. It also provides a ceiling to prices. They can go only so far up now.

I would like to see more natural gas substituted for coal an then oil. U.S. CO2 emissions have been dropping since 2006. We are the world’s leader.

But whether or not you worry about future CO2 emissions, there is no doubt of the economic implication of the lower prices.

Fracking is also the single most important development in international affairs since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It has broken the power of OPEC and moved the center of energy gravity to the Americas. It has also neutered Putin.

In fact, both the economic success and the limited international success of the Obama folks has received a very strong assist from the American energy boom.

Posted by: C&J at December 7, 2014 11:30 AM
Comment #386372

C&J,
You write: “You are the only person who doesn’t recognize the effect of fracking.”

I am not talking about fracking for natural gas. I am talking about fracking for about oil.

“It has broken the power of OPEC and moved the center of energy gravity to the Americas.”

No. We have just seen a huge drop in OIL prices demonstrate just how incredibly powerful OPEC- that it, Saudi Arabia- continues to be. The Saudis are in the process of killing competitor’s OIL fields that depend upon hydraulic fracturing (and other expensive technologies) even as we speak, by flooding the markets with cheap, high quality OIL.

“It has also neutered Putin.”
Low OIL prices undoubtedly hurt the Russians, but that is only part of what is destroying the value of their currency.

Posted by: phx8 at December 7, 2014 11:55 AM
Comment #386376

phx8

I am talking about fracking generally. It has changed the energy equation in big ways.

Re OPEC power - OPEC can drop prices, but it cannot raise them as far. Fracking breaks even around $60, but it is becoming more efficient all the time. Beyond that, fracking is done in smaller operations. They can be brought rapidly online again when prices rise.

Re Putin - it is not only the low oil prices but also the gas. Putin would have deployed the natural gas weapon. If not for the American energy boom we would not be able to make sanctions stick against either Russia or Iran.

In other words, much of Obama’s success is based on less expensive fossil fuel produced in the U.S. Good that Obama bought the “drill baby drill” mantra.

Posted by: C&J at December 7, 2014 2:33 PM
Comment #386377

Heritage Action has declared the budget to be a key vote, and any conservative voting for it will be approving amnesty for illegal aliens. Boehner ‘expects’ Democrats will help him pass it. I’d like to see what kind of deal Pelosi and the Democrats will cut if they decide to bail out the GOP.

C&J,
Here is a useful link on B.E. prices for oil production Note the article was written in late October, when oil traded in the low $80’s. It is not down to $65.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/23/idUSL3N0SH5N220141023

The two big fields to watch are Bakken and Eagle Ford in TX. We’re at the level right now where Bakken becomes uneconomical. The oil producers hedge, but that will only protect them for so long. If prices stay this low for a year or more, that will kill production. I think the Saudis will take it into the $40’s. It will also kill alternative energies, the electric car, and a willingness to address Climate Change.

If prices stay this low (or lower), developing the Alberta tar sands will not happen, and no one will be willing to lose money building the Keystone Pipeline.

Posted by: phx8 at December 7, 2014 3:44 PM
Comment #386378

phx8

Forcing OPEC to lower prices is mostly a good thing. We have broken their power.

Those who don’t want the oil sands or Keystone should be happy about those developments.

Posted by: C&J at December 7, 2014 3:52 PM
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