It is unclear at this moment, Friday evening December 5 (2014) how, ultimately, the Rolling Stone “rape on UVA campus” will finally play out, which parts will be deemed true, which fiction and which might have been added to make it seem like a better story. But I do know this...
The Rolling Stone story is bullshit. In the normal course of things, the TerryReport does not rely on four letter words as a means of expression. This time is different. Indeed, the use of such language is entirely appropriate when mentioning Rolling Stone magazine, because they were one of the pioneers in American media in bringing down the barriers of rough language. They use it, so I am going to use it here.
Bullshit. They should have known that a story that rested on the idea that a frat house at a major university had a required ritual of new pledges to sexually assault a woman was fabricated, made up, as phony as a three dollar bill. This might go on somewhere at sometime (the world always seems nastier than anyone every imagined), but it would be very, very unlikely at a major university where people have to study hard, get good grades, have high SAT scores and pay a lot of money to attend. Of course, people who get “good grades” can commit sex crimes, but to do it cruelly, openly and brazenly? Not likely. It always seems wrong to underestimate just how unfortunate human behavior can be, especially in sexual matters, but this idea just doesn’t meet the smell test.
Another huge problem with the story: the idea that seven (or some number) of young men, college students, gang raped a woman in succession to the point where she was bloody. Again, there are a lot of jerks out there, a lot of men who will take advantage of any situation to have sex, but would a woman not be crying hysterically in such a situation? Many young men will do whatever they can, especially in a loose, wild situation at a part, to have sex. But heartless, painful and humiliating rape? Out of 5,000 young men on a college campus, there might be some, but very, very few (fewer than one in a thousand, I would guess).
It would take a sick, criminal mind to commit such an act. Nothing is ever impossible, but this is difficult to believe and should never have been accepted as fact based on one person’s statements, no matter how sympathetic she might have seemed.
Point three: the idea that the leader of the attack came up to the victim on campus and thanked her for giving him a good time? This is so far out of the imaginable realm that, again, it should never have been accepted as fact without something to back it up. If it could not be checked or verified, it should not have been published.
Journalists have a responsibility to present what they believe to be true or what seems to be true based on all they have been able to learn. Rolling Stone should be ashamed of itself. They have done the field of journalism a great disservice and, in the process, damaged the discussion about a very important, lingering issue, the mistreatment, assaults and sexual violence that occurs on college campuses and elsewhere in our society. I can only hope that the editors and publisher of the magazine are having a very sleepless night tonight. They deserve it...and many more.
Doug Terry, 12.15.14