Social Question

BarnacleBill's avatar

Is this New York Times article biased against the victim?

Asked by BarnacleBill (16045 points ) March 10th, 2011

On March 8, 2011, the New York Times reported a gang rape of an 11 year old that took place in Cleveland TX.

“It’s just destroyed our community…these boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

“Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?”

”...the victim had been visiting various friends there for months…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…”

Why aren’t the men involved in this crime portrayed as responsible? Why does it seem that recognition of girls acting sexually inappropriate, like dressing older, etc. is often a sign of sexual abuse? How does anyone mistake an 11 year old for someone in their 20’s?

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21 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

Our society has a weird preoccupation with passing the blame for rape off onto the victim.

Women and girls are often asked what they were wearing when they were raped and men and boys are often treated as though they are just sex machines that don’t know any better who were provoked by the girl. It’s bullshit and it’s well-documented.

DominicX's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard

What I hate about it especially is that it’s sexist against both sexes. I don’t understand who benefits in believing in this kind of bullshit. On one hand, it’s implying girls ask to be raped and on the other hand, it’s implying men have no self-control and all men are potential rapists. It’s putting down both sexes. It’s total crap.

TexasDude's avatar

@DominicX, that’s true as well. I didn’t really think of it from that angle. People act like humans are animals with no self-control. Sure, some of us are like that, but we are also responsible for our own actions, and should be treated as such. It’s kind of a cop out to say we have no self control.

bkcunningham's avatar

@BarnacleBill I understand what bothers you with the quotes you pulled out of the article. But they are quotes from a person in the neighborhood who agreed to go on the record for the story. The reporter didn’t say these things. I think it is a very fair article. It is a very complicated story to cover as a reporter dealing with juvenile cases like this involving sexual abuse charges.

I think the reporter was able to paint a picture of the neighborhood and the environment where the tragedy took place without just giving one side. The reporter isn’t suppose to personally get involved. Just report the facts to the best of their ability. This writer did that. The writer found sources and reported all available information. Good job in my view.

jaytkay's avatar

Those are people quoted by the NY Times, not the opinion of the NY Times.

bkcunningham's avatar

This linked article gives some more info on the backlash of the Times article, the response from the Times (I don’t know how to make words italicized) and the rape of the girl:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1365112/Cleveland-Texas-gang-rape-11-year-old-girl-sparks-racial-tension-18-accused-black.html

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@bkcunningham @jaytkay The writer and editor chose to include those parts. They could have chosen to include other info, such as the various relationships between men before this, or more info about the victim and how she’s doing, but this was the information they thought was relevant and should be included. This was hardly an inclusion of all available information.

bkcunningham's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs what are you talking about when you say “the various relationship between men before this?” Also, @MyNewtBoobs the location of the mother and victim wasn’t disclosed to the reporter. That would make getting information about the victim very difficult. When you are dealing with juveniles, a reporter isn’t going to get information on the record from law enforcement officials or court officials about a juvenile victim.

And yes, of course if we assume that this story contains the the information the reporter was able to get on a deadline and the information the reporter thought was relevant and the information the newspaper hold had room for, then we have to assume the other information the reporter was able to obtain before deadline wasn’t as relevant.

TexasDude's avatar

@jaytkay, even so, it still reflects a rather pervasive attitude in our society.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard yes, and you know that because the reporter did their job and gathered that information to report and write in a newspaper article.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@bkcunningham Were they all friends previously? Were any of them related? Or was it the (highly unlikely) case that they’d all met for the first time half an hour previous, and decided to gang-rape a girl to cement their new bond?

Yes, we all know how every time the police say to a reporter “no comment” that’s the end of that line of questioning and investigation! But really, the reporter probably could have found out things like if the victim is in therapy, if she’s depressed, if she’s now being bullied on her new playground by people because she’s the girl who got raped, etc. The reporter already stated that she moved to another school district.

bkcunningham's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs the majority of the accused are juveniles also. Read the other article I linked. It has some additional information about the rape.

This isn’t the end of the story either. A good reporter will follow up with things exactly like you are asking. This is one story about a recent incident. I’m glad you have those kinds of questions in your mind. A good reporter will think like you and get answers to those very questions if they are able to verify the information and do so in a legal manner that doesn’t put the newspaper, the victim, the witnesses or the court case in jeopardy or in a situation that would involve the newspaper becoming part of the story with a lawsuit.

bkcunningham's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs and also, most reporters have a relationship with the police where the police tell the reporter things off the record and the reporter respects that and gets information from other sources and uses what the police told them to verify other leads and such without putting their relationship with the police or the attorneys involved in jeopardy.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s easy to blame victims because we all know they should be responsible enough to prevent bad things happening to them. The bad guys get a pass because there is something wrong with them therefore they get an automatic handicap? You know, the unfair and harsh upbringing they went through? People really think this, that’s why the reporter went to print with it. It’s partly fact in that really, WE are mainly responsible for our own safety but bad things will happen to those who do try to stay safe but if a child is allowed to dress provocatively it is also common knowledge that young horny boys will be interested. It’s sad.

seazen_'s avatar

All New York Times are print to fit fit to print. They are all unbiased, accurate and fair and balanced – oops, that’s Fox. They are also magically delicious.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs, I agree with you. Each time that I’ve been interviewed for a newspaper article, what appeared in print was an extraction from a larger exchange of information, purposefully chosen to convey what the reporter wanted to say.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@BarnacleBill Why thank you, that means a lot.

seazen_'s avatar

@BarnacleBill What are you being interviewed for – are u a celeb. jelly?

BarnacleBill's avatar

@seazen_ , I wish!! No, for some reason I must look relatively normal and approachable. I’ve been interviewed in the local paper about 15 times, on the television news several times, in the NYT once. I have the two degrees of separation from several journalists.

seazen_'s avatar

OIC – cuz from how you’ve been writing here for the last 7 months (and a week) you’ve been here – I’d say you are a Jelebrity.

jaytkay's avatar

The NY Times public editor says, “The viral distribution of the story was, at least in part, because of the intense outrage it inspired among readers who thought the piece pilloried the victim.

My assessment is that the outrage is understandable.”

http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/gang-rape-story-lacked-balance/

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