As the news-sentient world knows, Rolling Stone "walked away" from its single-sourced, anonymous account of a torture session via gang rape by seven members of a University of Virginia fraternity. Managing editor Will Dana issued the retraction through a soft lens.
Dana's Note to Readers concludes:
In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.
"Jackie's account," in other words, fell apart. What next? Eugene Vololkh has written a comprehensive essay examining possible libel claims that could or might result from what appears to have been a catastrophic journalistic smear.
What I was immediately struck by were the ideologically-prompted responses from the relevant "authorities." This, of course, is Death of the Grown-Up territory.
In a statement, UVA president Teresa Sullivan said:
The University of Virginia is aware of today’s reports from the Washington Post and the statement from Rolling Stone magazine. ...
Over the past two weeks, our community has been more focused than ever on one of the most difficult and critical issues facing higher education today: sexual violence on college campuses.Today’s news must not alter this focus. ... We remain committed to taking action as necessary to bring about meaningful cultural change in our University community.
Not a word about the irreparable harm done to her campus by what appears to have been false and malicious charges. Not a word about the urgent need for more rigorous standards of evidence and professionalism in media, and not a crumb to what appears to have been a grievously slandered fraternity.
The bottom line is "today's news" -- the disintegration of a widely publicized story of a heinous criminal assault -- shouldn't deter any of the actions on campus that the now-discredited story set in motion. This university president isn't concerned about restoring her sundered campus. She is concerned with implementing her ideology at any cost.
Now onto the statement from VA AG Mark Herring:
It is deeply troubling that Rolling Stone magazine is now publicly walking away from its central storyline in its bombshell report on the University of Virginia without correcting what errors its editors believe were made. Virginians are now left grasping for the truth, but we must not let that undermine our support for survivors of sexual assault or the momentum for solutions.
Months before the Rolling Stone article, the Commonwealth, the nation, and the University itself had begun addressing sexual violence on campus as a crisis. Nothing should or will distract from that critical work. ...
While today's revelations from the magazine leave us with serious questions, we must not lose the sense of urgency that students, alumni, campus leaders, law enforcement, and many Virginians have brought to this conversation.
In other words, never mind that the crime that created the "sense of urgency" driving Herring's agenda appears not to have taken place; the machinery of state and police and campus should continue at full tilt, just as if the Rolling Stone account had been true. Never mind that someone may have committed a hoax costing taxpayers large sums of money as the state scrambled to respond. Never mind anything. Ideology over all.
These are the statements of social engineers with agendas to enact, not custodians of public trust. Truth isn't part of the social engineer's agenda, so wisdom or justice are never its goals. They stick with the narrative -- in this case campus "rape culture" -- even if it means accepting the "greater truth" of a fake story, or the "lessons" of statistics that indicate US college girls are raped at a higher rate exceeding women in wartorn Congo, as radio host Chris Plante noted.
This is not to say that a culture of drunken promiscuity doesn't exist on campuses. Certainly a century ago, this would have been unimaginable, intolerable, probably spurring temperance movements and campus closures. Imagine explaining the end of "curfew," let alone a "slut walk," to a parent of a member of UVA's Class of 1914. Today's parents are conditioned not to care, just to pay, and through the nose.
Then again, what else should we expect? As a society, we do not raise or value "gentlemen" -- or "ladies," either. Individuals may raise them, or try, but just the effort places the family at odds with the wider culture of enveloping mass media that inculcates shamelessness, prizes the lout, shills for abortion, and on and on. As a society, we have violated the most basic notions of intimacy and respect for one another at the heart of human relations by torching the structures erected over time to protect, to channel, to defend, to foster human interaction.
Rising from the ashes are the arsonists' boards and panels and counsels, all eager to control the masses according to a set of ideological attitudes approved by state and other official authorities -- or else.
Naturally, facts don't matter. They just get in the way.
It is almost quaint to read the joint-response of national fraternity organizations asserting facts do matter -- or should. They write of a "rush to judgment," the importance of due process, freedom of association, and the like. To the social engineers, I'm sure they sound like martians.
Consider the national frats' obvious, common-sense solution:
We believe any crime that involves bodily harm – which automatically encompasses any sexual assault – should be handled primarily in the criminal justice system, regardless of the accused’s status as a student. Congress should examine whether the public interest is being served by forcing sexual assault cases into a campus judicial process. We believe campus processes lack the necessary skill sets, resources and capability needed to reach the right decision and many who work with these issues contend campus conduct bodies will always lack this expertise despite the best of intentions of those who work with Title IX and sexual violence on campuses.
I don't know if Congress needs to be involved, but, obviously, cases of bodily harm such as rape should be turned over to the criminal justice system, not to "campus conduct bodies." Cheating or oud music is one thing. Gang rape is another. To the agenda-driven authorities, however, losing jurisdiction would be a waste.
As Rahm Emanuel so memorably put it, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Take UVA. Even if the story isn't true, the crisis it has engendered presents a golden opportunity to expand state and university powers over the individual.
And the "authorities" are seizing it.