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Against the Mob

Let me make my position clear: I don’t know whether Jackie was raped at a University of Virginia fraternity house. It might have happened. There is an investigation underway now, as there should be. Ari Schulman points out that there is still reason to believe that Jackie is telling the truth [1], and that Richard Bradley’s celebrated debunking of the Rolling Stone story has problems of its own. This is important to keep in mind. As Ari says, we don’t fight confirmation bias from one side with confirmation bias from the other.

What was very wrong, though, was for Rolling Stone magazine to run a blockbuster story that takes the position that the rape actually happened, when these facts have not been established. Hanna Rosin and Alison Benedikt at Slate write: [2]

Erdely is a very accomplished magazine writer [3]. She has written about many difficult subjects before, including an OB-GYN who was convicted of fondling his patients [4]. (She didn’t talk to him either, but she did include a sentence saying he could not be reached for comment. Plus, he had already been convicted.) She must know the basic rules of reporting a story like this: You try very, very hard to reach anyone you’re accusing of something. You use any method you can think of, including the jerk reporter move of making a surprise, in-person confrontation. (Sarah Koenig, the host of the Serial podcast [5], provides a good example of reporter due diligence.) You try especially hard if you are writing about something as serious as a gang rape accusation. Sometimes, what results is a more layered version of the truth. Sometimes, the answer you get makes the accused seem even guiltier (e.g., Bill Cosby, asserting through a lawyer [6], that all the dozens of accusations against him are “fabricated”).

If you fail to reach the person, you write a sentence explaining that you tried—and explaining how you tried—as a way to assure your readers that you gave the person a chance to defend themselves. We’re not sure why Rolling Stone didn’t think that was necessary.

This is Journalism 101. And then, whether they realize it or not, Rosin and Benedikt answer their own question:

We found Jackie and she agreed to talk to us. Then, at the last minute she backed out. She had already been interviewed by the Washington Post for a story that has not yet run, and she had picked up that the media had some doubts—something that she is understandably sensitive to. What became clear from talking to Jackie’s supporters at UVA is that the community of victim advocates operates by a very specific code. “The first thing as a friend we must say is, ‘I believe you and I am here to listen,’ ” says Brian Head, president of UVA’s all-male sexual assault peer education group One in Four. Head and others believe that questioning a victim is a form of betrayal, because it will make her feel judged and all the more reluctant to ever speak about what happened. None of the people we spoke to had asked Jackie who the men were, and in fact none of them had any idea. They did not press her on any details about the incident.

See how this works? Sensitivity to the alleged victim of a violent crime is commendable. But to take that sensitivity to the point where her viewpoint is exclusively privileged simply because of her claimed status as a crime victim is dangerous, because it sets the stage for potential injustice. If Jackie’s story was fabricated, then an unspeakable injustice has been done to the Phi Psi fraternity, the Greek system at the University of Virginia, and to the University of Virginia itself. How will they get their reputations back?

I’m not letting myself off the hook here. As I said yesterday, I believed the Rolling Stone story when I first read it, and consciously pushed aside doubts I had about the reporting — specifically the obvious fact that Jackie is the only source for what supposedly happened that night, and the fact that the reporter didn’t have as much as a “No comment” from any of the alleged rapists. Why? Partly, I think, because of a lingering bias against fraternities, the legacy of my long-ago college days. Mostly, though, because my years of writing about the Catholic sex abuse scandal has powerfully biased me towards believing victims who accuse powerful institutions of covering up sexual violence to protect the image of the institution.

This is wrong. It is one thing to have observed that institutions tend to behave a certain way. It is another to believe without sufficient evidence that an institution and the people within in behaved that way, because hey, that’s what people like that do. If you think you are above doing this, you are lying to yourself. As embarrassed as I am to be confronted with evidence that I chose to ignore red flags in this story because it fit a narrative that made sense to me, I am glad of it, because it reminds me how fallible human judgment is.

The writer Caitlin Flanagan, who wrote a hard-hitting Atlantic story about fraternities and rape [7], told Slate that if Jackie’s story turns out to be false, “it is going to cause so much trouble in the area of reforming fraternity sexual assault, I can’t even tell you.” Similarly, the more campaigners hold on to Michael Brown and Ferguson as a symbol of police brutality and racism, the less willing many others are going to be to take a real problem seriously.

It is all too easy to forget that real people stand to be really hurt by false accusations, especially when a system set up to adjudicate them is biased towards one side or the other. As minorities and the poor know all too well, the deck has historically been stacked against them in court. I know of at least two specific cases from where I live, in the Deep South, from back in the 1930s and 1940s, in which black men were killed by powerful white men, who never had to answer for it in court. In one case, a mob called by the sheriff lynched a black man for raping a white woman. It emerged afterward that the two had been lovers, but had been caught, and the woman accused the man of rape to save her own skin. Of course the sheriff believed her. They knew that a white woman would never willingly have sex with a black man. There was no need for a trial (and if there had been a trial, rape was not a capital offense); the sheriff got a mob together and they strung the black man up. Days later, the woman’s conscience broke, and she confessed that they had been lovers.

Nobody ever answered in court for the extrajudicial murder of that black man. It would have been unthinkable back then. Black lives didn’t matter.

Now, think about what the UVA student Brian Head said to Slate:

Head and others believe that questioning a [rape] victim is a form of betrayal, because it will make her feel judged and all the more reluctant to ever speak about what happened.

The sheriff and his mob didn’t question the supposed rape victim in that case. She was white, her alleged rapist was black. What more did you need to know? And look what happened.

Is this really the mentality we want to encourage?

It is impossible to guarantee justice in this life. None of us can fully overcome our biases; we are human beings, not machines. But we are required to work hard to do so, and to put in place procedures that keep us from going off the rails because of our own biases. Giving any person the privilege of being believed simply because of their race, gender, sexuality, social status, or any such thing that has nothing to do with their character, is to lay the groundwork for injustice.

One of the reasons I am a conservative is a deep distrust of the mob and its passions. There is something so sweetly intoxicating about losing yourself in the crowd, and being carried along with it, especially if you believe your cause is righteous. The crowd becomes a mob when it loses control of itself, and cannot be stopped until it has its release, sometimes through a scapegoat. Caiaphas helped incite the mob to scapegoat Jesus, saying, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

This is what we are up against when the mob decides that the pursuit of truth in a case is secondary to vindicating what we might call the mythological truth. That is, it is better for one fraternity to die than that the cause of stopping sexual violence on campus perish. Or: it is better for one undergraduate woman to be raped than the reputation of the university and its fraternities perish. It is better for one Ferguson cop’s freedom to be sacrificed than that the cause of fighting police racism and brutality perish. Or: it is better for one black guy to die than public confidence in law enforcement fighting perish.

Civilization is only possible through the submission of the passions to reason. Civilization is not possible when the mob rules. Mobs aren’t just rioters on the street. They can be crusading journalists in a newsroom, or campus professors and activists. Any time you have a group of people who are willing to sacrifice others, and the truth, for the sake of vindicating a myth or cause dear to them, you have a mob.

Because all of us are capable of that, all of us are potential members of a mob. If you want to stop mob rule, confront it first in your own heart and mind.

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70 Comments To "Against the Mob"

#1 Comment By BD On December 4, 2014 @ 7:16 am

What a world of difference between Shulman’s article and Anna Merlans–the former considered each part of Richard Bradley’s skeptical article and addressed each point, demonstrating why Jackie’s account could easily have been true. An intelligent, thoughtful rebuttal. Merlan on the other hand decided to not address anything Bradley brought up, but rather engage in insults like a schoolyard child. Such is the mark of today’s Social Justice Warrior.

#2 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On December 4, 2014 @ 8:50 am

“says Brian Head, president of UVA’s all-male sexual assault peer education group One in Four. Head and others believe that questioning a victim is a form of betrayal, because it will make her feel judged and all the more reluctant to ever speak about what happened. None of the people we spoke to had asked Jackie who the men were, and in fact none of them had any idea. They did not press her on any details about the incident.”

The name of the organization tells you all you need to know. “One in four” (as the purported number of women who experience sexual assault) is a wild exaggeration that no one who’s bothered to look into the issue would take seriously.

“A 2007 study by the National Institute of Justice found that 19.0% of college women and 6.1% of college men experienced either rape or attempted rape since entering college.[268] However, some have criticized these statistics for using definitions of rape that they consider to be overly broad, specifically for counting sex under the influence of alcohol as rape.[269][270] According to the psychologist Steven Pinker, ‘Junk statistics from advocacy groups are slung around and become common knowledge, such as the incredible factoid that one in four university students has been raped. (The claim was based on a commodious definition of rape that the alleged victims themselves never accepted; it included, for example, any incident in which a woman consented to sex after having had too much to drink and regretted it afterward.)[271]’ ”

It’s also pretty amazing that Mr. Head- a student at one of our great universities- is apparently so ignorant about what the function of a justice system, and what the function of inquiries into truth, are supposed to be.

#3 Comment By CharleyCarp On December 4, 2014 @ 9:59 am

Ryan, I know they are investigating now. The question is whether it took a (quite possibly exaggerated) national news story to get them to act.

I live in a college town. There were enough student rapes to attract the attention of the feds, and investigations of the U, the city police, and the county prosecutors office ensued. Some people wanted to talk about the details of the specific incidents — which is entirely appropriate when you’re putting a defendant on trial in a criminal case — but fortunately, at all 3 institutions, grown-ups prevailed, and new procedures for reporting, intake, and follow-up were instituted.

Including the U president telling everyone who will listen that if they are the victim of a crime — and sexual assault is a crime — call 911.

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 4, 2014 @ 10:36 am

Being sensitive and not pressing the victim or questioning her story is probably a good starting point, for initial conversations immediately after the alleged event. (As Kathleen Parker recently pointed out in writing about Bill Cosby, it is ALWAYS alleged when you publish about something not yet proven.)

But if there is a criminal trial, sensitivity cannot be allowed to extend to, don’t even try to cross-examine. Rape is not only a horrendous crime, sometimes difficult to prove, it is also a pathetically easy crime to frame a man for, if a conniving woman has an interest in doing so.

Neither police nor support groups should start off, in the hours after a rape may well have occurred, by pressing the victim to prove it and questioning whether it was really rape. But if there are ambiguities or conflicts of evidence, those must be explored before anyone is sentenced to years in prison.

#5 Comment By Chris 1 On December 4, 2014 @ 11:16 am

[NFR: I didn’t say being a conservative made me without the capacity to err. There are right-wing mobs too. Besides, a majority is not necessarily a mob. — RD]

I think we largely agree about things on this…the only thing I’d have noted is that in the last line of your post where you write “you” and “your” it would have been more accurate to write “we” and “our.”

Is it your view that the majority that supported the invasion of Iraq and denounced anyone who disagreed as being unpatriotic coddlers of a brutal dictator were not a mob?

If so, how do you understand the difference between a “mob” and a “majority?”

[NFR: These are good questions. I think a mob is a group of people who are insistent on having their way, reason be damned. Another quality of the mob is that it is aware of itself as a mob, or at least a crowd with power, and takes pleasure in using its collective force to achieve its goal. I think there was certainly mob-like behavior on the right leading up to the Iraq war, and that I was part of it, though to be fair to myself, I hated the “unpatriotic” garbage (and I hated the liberal version of same; I had pro-war friends who lost an anti-war friend or two because the anti-war friend severed their friendship). I suppose in my way of seeing things, a mob is a crowd that openly and consciously disdains reason; all it knows is what it wants, and is determined to get it. But hey, it’s an open question. I appreciate the chance to think through this. — RD]

#6 Comment By heartright On December 4, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

If so, how do you understand the difference between a “mob” and a “majority?”

Collective disregard of a well-understood formalised code, combined with unlawful acts of aggression maketh a mob, thanks.

Rod quotes the lead-up to the Iraq war as a very good example, and can we fail to recall the collective aggression shown – as towards France for one example – when the mob was reminded that what they were about to do was a flagrant breach of a well understood and formalised Code regarding what they were about to do?

#7 Comment By arrScott On December 4, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

I suppose in my way of seeing things, a mob is a crowd that openly and consciously disdains reason; all it knows is what it wants, and is determined to get it.

Thanks, Rod, for that excellent note. An important paragraph to ponder! But the above quoted bit troubles me, and it hits at something that has troubled me about your treatment of the theme of “the submission of passion to reason” for some time. (To wit, what passions and whose reason?) Mobs such as the one that bungled us into war with Iraq never openly or consciously disdain reason. On the contrary; they see their brutality as justified by the obvious correctness of the ends they desire. To the mob, its passions are reasonable, and the very reasonableness of their demands defines the nature of their passion to overcome the obviously irrational opposition of those standing against the mob. “Reason” as Rod uses it here is a tautology.

#8 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 4, 2014 @ 6:25 pm

“If a mob lynches an innocent man based on rumor, that is bad and the passion should have been controlled. If a mob decapitates a ruthless tyrant, that is not bad and it would be hard to argue for control . . .”

This troubles me. in my view both are entitled to a process or be left alone. I am pretty conservative. Some may try to box me out of being conservative, because I am sympathetic to issues usually appropriated as conservative, government has it’s place and should be useful for its citizens. But it also takes on a life all its own consuming whatever it thinks it needs to maintain itself.

A mob is called a mob, but it operates outside the bonds of reason, and I grant that there can be reasonable “appearing mobs.” But like government a mob will tend to seek its survival through fairly unreasoned means. For example, you approve of the mob consequence for ruthless tyrants. But how one decides who is ruthless and how much ruthlessness is deserving of a lopped off head is tricky business.

The CIA redacted report on torture strongly suggests they engaged in ruthless behavior beyond what is legal. I don’t think we should suspend due process for head lopping if anyone.

We remain deeply tied and entrenched in lopping off the head of someone claimed to be ruthless, which is another way of saying, the rules don’t apply. But what we have discovered is that Pres. Hussein is fairly mild compared to the rater low brow warfare being engaged by the very powers we support. As a conservative the use of force is the last tool, because when used it is destructive.

I am no pacifist, but mobs of any kind are risky. And I don’t care if the mob is all in blues, dressed six on six or rag tag ruffians throwing people’s livelihood into Boston Harbor.

Too often the turn here is, if the mob is acting in my a priori view, they are not a mob, they are defenders of justice, good and all that is right. But if they are lopping of the heads of my friends, regardless how ruthless my friends may be — they are a mob and unreason is their vehicle.

We supported the overthrow of the Ukrainian government because they were ruthless tyrants, the result was a rather ruthless replacement. Since 9/11 we have been working to eat our own children.

It’s been a painful fifteen years to watch, the players corner the market on what constitutes justice as they themselves subvert it.

Seemingly polite respectable mobs may be more refined, but they are no less lawless and do so by the use the law. I leave it up to you who you want to behead first.

#9 Comment By Reinhold On December 4, 2014 @ 10:36 pm

“For example, you approve of the mob consequence for ruthless tyrants. But how one decides who is ruthless and how much ruthlessness is deserving of a lopped off head is tricky business.”
Has it ever really been? When the wild mob lynched Qaddafi, did anyone lose sleep over that? Would you stand on principle against that? I’m just saying, in all honesty, that I wouldn’t––why bother with the show trial? Saddam’s show trial was unbearable, and his execution inevitable and predetermined; the point of the trial was to humiliate him in public. I find that sort of spectacle of ‘civilization’ more repulsive than a lynch mob––it’s still a lynch mob, just one operating under the banner of the law.

#10 Comment By KD On December 4, 2014 @ 11:14 pm

If we conceive of a community as an organic whole, then we can understand that crime, corruption, and injustice create tears in the fabric of the whole. The point of justice is not to avenge crime or other injustices, but rather to place a limit on vengeance, because vengeance has no limit. Ideally, the criminal accepts their punishment as atonement, and the victims agree to forgive, to let go of the full wraith of their vengeance, in the interest of preserving the community. Justice is a mean: to go to far in any direction is destructive to the greater good. Overly punitive measures reduce the criminal to an outcast or worse, an outlaw. Excessive mercy undermines the respect for law and undermines the legitimacy of the justice system. Justice maintains order, it maintains the whole. Injustice, uncorrected, leads to civil war.

The same principles apply to any real movement for social justice. I believe a mass movement for social justice can contribute to society so long as it is disciplined, respectful to its opponents, and willing to make sacrifices and undergo hardship in the name of what is right. We can look to Dr. King’s work in the South for an example, or we can look to Colonial mobs, like the Boston Tea Party, where, when they accidentally broke a padlock belonging to a British captain, they bought a new padlock and sent it to him.

Although theoretically, it is possible for a secular mass movement to act with the discipline, restraint and respect necessary to accomplish social good, and not vigilantism, it is hard to imagine in actuality. Most of our secular mass movements end up in Jacobinism, black shirts or worse. The fact that the “progressive left” has taken over a version of a mythology lifted from the KKK playbook is disheartening. Retributive vengeance in the name of avenging some globalized rape threat may give rise to the “Birth of a Nation”, but not one I want to live in. The Klan was against rape before today’s social justice warriors were even born. They, in their eyes, were fighting on the side of what was right. Further, King wasn’t right because he was black, or because whites had the power and he did not, or because he was opposing the Klan. King was really right because his movement was disciplined, restrained and grounded in a real spiritual truth. If the civil rights movement had had the Weathermen organizing it, it would have ended in disaster, defeat and disgrace.

#11 Comment By EliteComInc. On December 4, 2014 @ 11:56 pm

“Has it ever really been? When the wild mob lynched Qaddafi, did anyone lose sleep over that? Would you stand on principle against that? I’m just saying, in all honesty, that I wouldn’t––why bother with the show trial? Saddam’s show trial was unbearable, and his execution . . . hat sort of spectacle of ‘civilization’ more repulsive than a lynch mob––it’s still a lynch mob, just one operating under the banner of the law.”

I was very concerned of our hand in this and I think I have expressed this more than once here. I think your examples make the point. Who and what constitutes a ruthless is tyrant has become increasingly difficult.

And I agree. That a standing democracy said to be a place to which others lie, cheat and kill to get to would be involved in that trial of Pres. Hussein as though it was some manner of justice —

It’s getting increasingly narrow road to be a conservative. I am not automatically opposed to empire, what we have been engaged in the last fifteen years is bizarre and careless.
_________________

I am not at al clear the groups who have exploded rape scenarios and data have been al that helpful on addressing the issue so that men and women may interact and avoid these negative experiences —

largely staying sober and cognizant would help.

But as someone noted blurring the data and making accusations that every male is slobbering masher to advance a cause or ravaging neighborhoods over an injustice just sets addressing the reasons to the rears.

That said,

I do make rom for events such as John Brown’s, Nat Turner and native American uprisings – clearly responding to threats to life and limb or on behalf of those so threatened.

#12 Comment By KD On December 5, 2014 @ 12:29 am

“The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.” –MLK, Jr.

#13 Comment By heartright On December 5, 2014 @ 11:01 am

largely staying sober and cognizant would help.
tamen frustra viris sine ira etiam.
(John Brown, Nat Turner)

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 5, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

I had to look up this phrase, my HS latin is long since gone the way of latin.

Still, I am unclear what you are saying. I don’t drink so I have no reference. I use alcohoil around here for cleaning carpets and floors.

Whether the efforts of John Brown and Nat Turner were for naught is a very tough call. And more importantly not really at issue. Not all moral endeavours have pragmatic ends. If you wre in the process of being raped in yiur yard by a 6’5 man. You seem to be suggesting that I do nothing because most likely his size would overcome my intervention. But in my view, the value of you outweighs the pragamatic risk. There are options, I could ignore it and head away. I could do the pragmatic thing and seek help.

That leaves to be raped. Should I not prevail in the intervention, you will most likely still be raped and if I understand you correctly, tis all for naught.

Whether in vain or not (unsuccessful), my anger at addressing such an injustice would bt my choice, whether appreciated or not.

There is also a tranlation that suggests you agree.

So you are welcome to correct my understanding if incorrect.
——
“The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.” –MLK, Jr.”

The problem is a mutual agreement of what is meant by the will of God. Dr. King meant this strictly interms of Christ and scripture.

And while my admiration of Dr/Rev King is tempered by the Vietnmam turn. There are some liberal ideas attributed to whom thathe would not include as the will of God.

#15 Comment By Reinhold On December 5, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

“I was very concerned of our hand in this and I think I have expressed this more than once here. I think your examples make the point. Who and what constitutes a ruthless is tyrant has become increasingly difficult.”
That’s a nice point, if you’re saying what I think you’re saying, that it was the US who behaved like a ruthless tyrant in the Saddam trial. Can’t argue with that.
But I guess my point is just that I would prefer the most honest form of ‘justice’: conservatives should not pretend that only our civilized legal institutions are the arbiters of justice (since they can be just as uncivilized and brutish as any mob), and leftists should not pretend like the ‘grassroots social movement’ does not have the tendency to violence (the fetish for ‘peaceful protest’ being spectacularly dishonest, if you actually take a look at the history of marches and demonstrations).

#16 Comment By EliteComInc. On December 5, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

“(since they can be just as uncivilized and brutish as any mob), and leftists should not pretend like the ‘grassroots social movement’ does not have the tendency to violence (the fetish for ‘peaceful protest’ being spectacularly dishonest, if you actually take a look at the history of marches and demonstrations).”

I guess obey can say ruthless, I guess, I have a bias for irresponsibly hasty and judicially bankrupt. Abut the current conservative bent. I don’t know quite how to respond to it. As a conservative, I am troubled by the rhetoric and the intent.
9/11 has really messed with people’s heads. What is interesting is that this leadership at least the senior leaders were the same crowing about Vietnam.

The details about our behavior as a nation in the middle east are a return to the worst forms of authoritarian abuse and the arguments to justify it are just as legalistic as the what is being discussed concerning Ferguson, NYC, will be in Cleveland, and Arizona. A law and order posture that misses the point of justice — well, misses the very foundations of US democratic rule. Yet, these same people are bending over backwards to aide and abet illegal immigration as charity, but are less charitable to their own. They are eager to bomb in defense of Christian persecution, but the effort that is demanded in rooting out the remanance of that which the founders established ad defended throws then into some peculiar conniption as if there cannot be some systemic consequence for completely managing a set of people as animals and then less than second class citizens. Thy have in their minds, slavery gone, voting rights, all is well . . . and if its not then the fault must be on the complainers. And now that they have in their mind allowed a president they say is black — even millennial following that lead are perplexed.

What I hear is perhaps the worst kind of violence against the mind and soul and justice.

And on the personal, the battle requires responding to police unions, union lawyers, the alcohol industry and their lobbyists. And they are playing hardball If they lose the argument they turn it on the person.

I have no illusions about polite societies use of violence and they use it two fold. By proxy of other agencies of force or directly ensuring any threat is shut out – even if they have to violate their own ethics to do so.

Don’t mistake my comments as disdain for wealth or politeness, but I don’t have any illusions — fantastical hopes perhaps, but few illusions, it’s just disappointing when one runs into the defense of the hypocrisy.

#17 Comment By Stewart On December 5, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

Why do I have the feeling that the line has just been crossed and public support for exaggerations and bias by political activists and media reporters is starting to turn off a lot of Americans and therefore the best thing for these spokespeople advocating a fairer society is to quickly grow a fairer mind?

#18 Comment By Ryan Booth On December 5, 2014 @ 10:13 pm

Oh, this is good and very to the point. Erdely started out as the mob. First, you pick the narrative, and then you find a story to match. It’s a point that Erik Wemple also made today, but this is better.

[8]

YOUR RAPE: IS IT CLICKBAIT? DOES IT POP?

“She talked to people at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. None of those schools felt quite right.”

“She was rape shopping: going from campus to campus auditioning rape victims, contacting advocacy groups and asking for introductions. But the rapes she found at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn didn’t have the right narrative feel. They were just rapes, and she needed a cover-worthy rape. So she kept shopping until she found someone who would tell her a version of the story she had already decided to tell. She needed a big rape — something splashy, something with wild details and a frat house. She needed a rape that would go viral. You can’t do that with just some regular boring rape.

Get better rapes, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn. Let’s face it: For magazine journalism, yours just aren’t colorful enough.”

#19 Comment By Ryan Booth On December 5, 2014 @ 11:06 pm

Take a look at Erdely’s other articles.

[9]

This story, which won several awards and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award, has a ridiculous lede. I couldn’t even stand to read it. How much of it is made up? How could we ever know?

[10]

“In Michele Bachmann’s home district, evangelicals have been waging war against gay teens. After a rash of suicides, the kids are fighting back.”

#20 Comment By Ryan Booth On December 5, 2014 @ 11:13 pm

Of course, my previous comment on Erdely’s “rape shopping” has gotten this song stuck in my head for the evening. Of course, this video is the modern, more PC version.

“So, you see the sort of rape you get depends on what you pay.”