This New York Times article has already raised a stink, but I’m disgusted enough that I’ll weigh in with my thoughts as well. So this is the article:
CLEVELAND, Tex. — The police investigation began shortly after Thanksgiving when an elementary school student alerted a teacher to a lurid cellphone video that included one of her classmates.
The video led the police to an abandoned trailer, more evidence and, eventually, to a roundup over the last month of 18 young men and teenage boys on charges of participating in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in the abandoned trailer home, the authorities said.
So the real story is the arrest, not the rape? I mean, ok, thats one way of reporting the story, but its not the way I’d do it. But its not out and out wrong. Its just a frame thats slightly off.
Five suspects are students at Cleveland High School, including two members of the basketball team. Another is the 21-year-old son of a school board member. A few of the others have criminal records, from selling drugs to robbery and, in one case, manslaughter. The suspects range in age from middle schoolers to a 27-year-old.
Update, because I keep noticing new things: Notice that the majority (as opposed to “a few”) are described as upright citizens, “baseball team” members, and “the son of a school board member”. The ones with criminal records (as opposed to these other rapists) are just “a few”, although the previous crimes seem to have been many and varied. Also, how many of these guys were minors? If you want to talk about how the aggressors are victims them surely the article should be examining whether or not someone was coercing or encouraging the underage boys to get involved in this. I’m perfectly prepared to believe that there was something creepy going on that probably *did* victimize or otherwise mess with some young boys, but note that the article doesn’t chose to frame it that way.
The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions. Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?
The case has rocked the community? Not the gang rape of an 11 year old girl? And what do you mean “drawn into”? As Puffin says, “oh, I slipped on some ice and raped a child. You should really put some salt down”. And I like the euphemistic “such an act” as opposed to, again, “gang rape of a child.” Also, note that the protective/possessive”their” is directed at the young men. Its not one of “their” (the community’s) children that was raped, but it was “their” sons who were “drawn into it”.
“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”
……..? I’m sorry? As SKM on Shakesville points out “if it’s so terrible for boys to have to live with being rapists, would it not behoove society to teach them not to rape people?” And, unless I’m wrong, doesn’t the victim ALSO have to live with this for the rest of her life? Let’s hope she’s not pregnant. And why are we focussing on sympathy for the rapsists here? And honestly, if it were my community, I’d be more bothered by the fact that apparently I was living with RAPISTS, but thats just me.
The attack’s details remained unclear. The police have declined to discuss their inquiry because it is continuing. The whereabouts of the victim and her mother were not made public.
The allegations first came to light just after Thanksgiving, when a child who knows the victim told a teacher she had seen a videotape of the attack on a cellphone, said Stacey Gatlin, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Independent School District.
Wow, they taped it too? Classy.
The school district’s security department interviewed the girl, 11, who is a student at Cleveland Middle School, and her mother. The security department determined that a rape had taken place, but not on school property, and then handed the matter over to the police, Ms. Gatlin said.
On Dec. 9, the police obtained a search warrant to go through a house on Travis Street and a nearby trailer that had been abandoned for at least two years. An affidavit filed to support the search warrant said the girl had been forced to have sex with several men in both places on Nov. 28 and cited pictures and videos as proof, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Passive voice, “had been forced to have sex”. Also I think “have sex” in inappropriate here.
The affidavit said the assault started after a 19-year-old boy invited the victim to ride around in his car. He took her to a house on Travis Street where one of the other men charged, also 19, lived. There the girl was ordered to disrobe and was sexually assaulted by several boys in the bedroom and bathroom. She was told she would be beaten if she did not comply, the affidavit said.
Again, not using the word ‘rape’, and we have “she was told she would be beaten” rather than “they threatened her”. Also note the judgmental tone, that basically asks us to wonder why she got in the car with the 19 year old.
A relative of one of the suspects arrived, and the group fled through a back window. They then went to the abandoned mobile home, where the assaults continued. Some of those present recorded the sexual acts on their telephones, and these later were shown among students.
By “the group” do you mean the rapists and their victim? Cause you should probably avoid talking about them like a cohesive unit, or else she sounds like she was participating in it, ie she “fled” with them. Also “some of those present”? Now, does that indicate that not all of those present took part in the rape? That’s certainly possible, but that needs to be made clear. As it stands its very likely that “some of those present” were also rapists, but the article doesn’t want us to think about the attackers that way.
Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.
“Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. “How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?”
WHAT? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? What decade is this? That is text book victim blaming. In fact, under current rape-sheild laws, evidence of the victim’s past sexual behavior or their attire or appearance at the time of the rape is inadmissible. And yes, it’s the mother’s fault that her daughter got raped. Not the rapists’ fault. Again, Shakesville points out “For all we know, the woman had been frantically trying to get someone, anyone, to listen to her concerns about her daughter. Even if she hadn’t been, parental neglect does not give other people a license to rape unsupervised children.” And for that matter, where were the rapists‘ mothers? Shouldn’t they have mentioned to their sons that rape is frowned upon? But no, the onus is on the mother of the victim to defend her daughter from attack.
Cleveland, a town of 9,000, lies about 50 miles northeast of Houston in the pine country, near the picturesque Sam Houston National Forest. The town’s economy has always rested on timber, cattle, farming and oil. But there are pockets of poverty, and in the neighborhood where the assault occurred, well-kept homes sit beside boarded-up houses and others with deteriorating facades.
So we’ve got descriptions of the town, the local economy, the attackers, the community impact….. but nothing about the victim except the fact that she was a painted harlot in tight jeans and that she hung out with teenage boys. One sided, no?
The abandoned trailer where the assault took place is full of trash and has a blue tarp hanging from the front. Inside there is a filthy sofa, a disconnected stove in the middle of the living room, a broken stereo and some forlorn Christmas decorations. A copy of the search warrant was on a counter in the kitchen next to some abandoned family pictures.
The arrests have left many wondering who will be taken into custody next. Churches have held prayer services for the victim.
My friend Maria was reading this over my shoulder and she pointed out that, by this point in the article, she almost expected the church to have been holding prayer services for the rapists. Thats a pretty scary thing, in and of itself.
The students who were arrested have not returned to school, and it is unclear if they ever will. Ms. Gatlin said the girl had been transferred to another district. “It’s devastating, and it’s really tearing our community apart,” she said. “I really wish that this could end in a better light.”
Just to be clear, is the rape perpetrated by your neighbors tearing the community apart, or is it the arrests? You should probably make a distinction.
Even the headline, Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town, focusses the victim frame away from the girl. We don’t even know it’s a rape from the headline, and it makes it sound like the real damage has been the interruption of tranquility in town, rather than a gang rape of an 11 year old girl.
Who suffers more here why am I even having to ask that question?
UPDATE: Sign the petition to tell James A. McKinley Jr and the New York Times what you think of their victim bashing, victim blaming, bullcrap here.
You can also write a complaint to any of these people at the NYT: Arthur S. Brisbane (Public Editor, The New York Times), Bill Keller (Executive Editor, The New York Times), and Arthur Sulzberger Jr (Publisher, The New York Times).