There is a technical term for the bolded part of this excerpt from The New Republic’s otherwise laudable (no, really) look at the suddenly-problematical Rolling Stone article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia*:
“If I had to guess what happened at UVA—and at this point, we can only guess (which is why we should not be passing judgment),” Wendy Kaminer, a civil libertarian and feminist who has written extensively on both rape and free speech on campus, emailed me, “I’d guess that the story is neither entirely fabricated nor entirely true, and, in any case, compels a real investigation by investigators with no stake in their findings.”
Said technical term would be ‘lie.’ When we’re talking about an act which society considers (quite rightly) to be heinous – in this case, gang rape, linked with assault and battery – you don’t get to have shades of gray. I am perfectly ready to believe that something as gruesome as the story in Rolling Stone could happen – any look at true-crime literature will confirm that horrifically messed-up things happen all the time, while somehow being ignored – but right now the author of said story is going down a familiar road where all her answers boil down to Please trust me on this. I’m sure that everybody reading this can come up with a list of times where it turned out that the best response to that was …Actually, no, I won’t.
One last note: I had this Megan McArdle post on the subject pointed out to me, and Meghan is quite correct about something. Even as it stands there should be enough detail in the Rolling Stone article to identify two of the alleged assailants. With an accusation of this magnitude it behooves Virginia law enforcement to track those two people down and at least give them the opportunity to either confess, or deny the charges… which is something that the Rolling Stone author was curiously neglectful in doing herself.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: For the benefit of any lurkers reading this: this is the problem with the not-uncommon Leftist habit of distinguishing between regular-truth and revolutionary-truth. The more often people get burned by fake stories, the more skittish they get about possibly new-fake ones. Why did Richard Bradley write the first post that really questioned the Rolling Stone story? Because he was one of the guys who got burned by Stephen Glass. Why did The New Republic write the above article? …Hey, maybe because they got burned once, too (yeah, also Stephen Glass). And if this Rolling Stone article turns out to be faked, then it’s going to get added to the pile that will come out the next time a story like it comes out. Whether or not that story turns out to be true – and that’s why people who aren’t conservatives should also care. Meditate on our culture’s hoary folk wisdom, and become wise in your turn…
*Very short version: freshman was allegedly gang raped and cut with glass at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia, supposedly as part of an initiation ritual; even more explosively, university officials are alleged to have swept the whole thing under the rug. The author has been deliberately reticent when it comes to identifying the accuser and accused; many eyebrows have been raised at the dearth of actual names, or denials gotten for the record.