Tuesday, July 04, 2006

NOW Hear This: Don't be obtuse.



On June 15th, NOW Communications Director, Lisa Bennett, and Communications "Intern," Jessica Hopper, actually took joint by-line credit for penning this crap, entitled Media Put Accuser On Trial In Duke Rape Case. With all due respect (and little it is in view of the factual ignorance that these two evince throughout their pontificating whine), um, NO, it didn't. She did. After all, isn't that Precious we're talking about?

Bennett and Hopper initially opine that "[a]nalyzing or commenting on the legal strengths or merits of any case at this stage would be difficult, but what's not hard, and what merits close scrutiny is the media's portrayal of the victim" [emphasis mine]. Go ahead, take your time and re-read it. I had to. For a brief moment I had hope that the piece would go on to validate the premise of the immediately preceding syntactic nightmare and lambaste the media for being "not hard" enough on the false accuser of the Duke 3, Crystal Gail Mangum. Silly me, I forgot to consider the source.

Due to the media's largely collective turnabout, from vilifying these young men without facts in the early weeks of the story, to reporting facts as they began to reach their buzzard-sized brains, it is not difficult at all to analyze or comment on the "strengths and merits" of this case. It has none. The only victims in this pitiable snake oil salesman's sideshow are Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and Dave Evans. What "merits close scrutiny" is the contining, if evaporating, support for Precious based not on facts but race- and gender-fueled bias.

In boldfacing three "common themes" they've "observed" in television coverage of Mangum, Bennett and Hopper prove themselves a) intellectually deficient, or b) just returned from some faraway place and, thus, excusably uninformed of the facts. First, loyal readers of the NOW newsletter are urged to accept that television's portrayal of the false accuser Promotes Racist and Sexist Stereotypes. The "constant use of the word stripper" to characterize Mangum when, they say, "she could have as easily been described as 'student' or 'mother'," reinforces the "old stereotype of African American women as hypersexual." Knock it off, you two. Please.

At the time of the party at which she was paid $400.00 to remove her clothes and simulate sex with another woman while writhing on the floor for men who had foolishly paid for the "performance," Precious was not wearing her "student" hat, if any at all, and most definitely not acting as "mother." When she was on the job in the afternoon of March 11th, she was not wearing her "student" hat, if any at all, and most definitely not acting as "mother." When she was on the job at the Millenium Hotel at 5:15 a.m. on March 12th, she was not wearing her "student" hat, if any at all, and most definitely not acting as "mother." When she was hanging out at a hotel with Jarriel Johnson, driver, through the evening of the 12th, waiting to see if "this guy she met" would call, she was not wearing her "student" hat, if any at all, and most definitely not acting as "mother." When she was using a vibrator on herself for the voyeuristic pleasure of a couple, within a day of the Buchanan Street gig, she was not wearing her "student" hat, if any at all, and most definitely not acting as "mother." When she was "performing" for an "elderly gentleman" at the hotel at 11:30 a.m. on the morning of the 13th, she was not wearing her "student" hat, if any at all, and most definitely not acting as "mother." When she was imploring Kim Pittman to return to the lacrosse party, despite the rude behavior of some of its attendees, because she "thought there was more money" to be made, she was not wearing her "student" hat, if any at all, and most definitely not acting as "mother." Face it, the reason Precious has been constantly called a "stripper" by the media is because more apt descriptives might be a bit crass for family viewing. She's a stripper. At least. Whether she is "hypersexual" or merely cash driven and bereft of self-esteem is not known. What is known is that she is constantly called a stripper, at least, not because she is black or female but because her conduct defines the word.

Secondly, Bennett and Hopper conclude that television coverage of the hoax Dismisses Rape and Belittles Survivors. That's a crock. With increasing fortitude, talking heads are comfortable dismissing this claim of rape because the facts lead to the inescapable conclusion that the allegation of the hard-working, veteran, collegiate mother of two is incredible as a matter of both law and credulity. When Tucker Carlson takes the President of the North Carolina NAACP to task for holding out Precious as "some sort of modern day civil rights hero," Bennett and Hopper conclude that he has "intentionally or not...set the bar impossibly high for any woman who reports a rape and hopes to be taken seriously." Seriously. Isn't it sadly ironic that Bennett and Hopper cannot, or will not, concede that the lies of this stripper have done more to undermine true rape victims' hopes of being taken seriously than any other singular event in thirty years? Precious is not a feminist heroine. She is not a black heroine. She is, at best, a troubled and tragic soul caught in a maelstrom of her own making from which she cannot now be extricated and, at worst, a calculating, racist opportunist who would consciously flush the lives-in-balance of three innocent men in deference to a self-righteous vengeance for heated words exchanged, or the glint of filthy lucre.

Instead of disassociating NOW from this poison to the struggle of true rape victims, Bennett and Hopper have "discovered" that media dismissal of precious little lies "dismisses the feminist viewpoint in this case." Ridiculous. Bennett and Hopper do not assert the feminist viewpoint. They articulate the head-buried ostrich's viewpoint. I simply refuse to believe that true feminists, who happen also to be truly capable of distinguishing shit from Shinola, are yet espousing the "viewpoint" that Precious was raped. I'm all for female equality. Would that Ms. Ann Thrope view that sentiment in it's purest definitional sense. To yet carry the standard for this false accuser, to yet sing-song the ridiculous mantra that Precious must have been raped merely because she says she was raped, is the penultimate insult to both the wrongly accused and our American system of justice. It is only slightly 1A to the mindset of ignorants who wish for the Duke 3 to "go to jail for life even if they're innocent," as payback for historical persecutions endured by blacks in this country. Didn't somebody once dream of the day when a man would be judged by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin?

Finally, Bennett and Hopper are most disturbed that this case seems, to them, to be covered merely for its Entertainment Value -- but a "movie of the week" characterized by an "insensitive portrayal of the women involved." "By turning a rape case into a story, the reality of rape, and the threat it poses for women, is removed."

The media didn't do that, gals. Crystal Gail Mangum did.

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