THE AGE OF BELIEF: True belief will often be false!


Part 4—The age of the perfect story:
How can you tell that you’re reading a novelized account of some situation, as opposed to a real news report?

How can you tell that a journalist is fashioning a preconceived narrative—a well-shaped story designed to lead you in a preferred direction?

Sometimes, the novelized elements of the report are staring you right in the face! For one possible example, this was the third paragraph of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s now-famous report, A Rape on Campus:
ERDELY (11/19/14): Four weeks into UVA's 2012 school year, 18-year-old Jackie was crushing it at college. A chatty, straight-A achiever from a rural Virginia town, she'd initially been intimidated by UVA's aura of preppy success, where throngs of toned, tanned and overwhelmingly blond students fanned across a landscape of neoclassical brick buildings, hurrying to classes, clubs, sports, internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work and parties; Jackie's orientation leader had warned her that UVA students' schedules were so packed that "no one has time to date—people just hook up." But despite her reservations, Jackie had flung herself into campus life, attending events, joining clubs, making friends and, now, being asked on an actual date. She and Drew had met while working lifeguard shifts together at the university pool, and Jackie had been floored by Drew's invitation to dinner, followed by a "date function" at his fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. The "upper tier" frat had a reputation of tremendous wealth, and its imposingly large house overlooked a vast manicured field, giving "Phi Psi" the undisputed best real estate along UVA's fraternity row known as Rugby Road.
Just for the record:

As it turns out, the lifeguard called “Drew” actually wasn’t a member of Phi Kappa Psi. Meanwhile, did Jackie come from a “rural Virginia town?” According to the Washington Post, she comes from northern Virginia, the state’s population center. According to the Post, there were 700 students in her high school’s graduating class.

Whatever! We were struck by Erdely’s description of the UVA student body. Here’s our question:

Is the student body at UVA “overwhelmingly blond?”

That description might set a nice tone for an ideological novel—a novel about the depraved behavior of “preppy” white students who hail from “tremendous wealth.” Given the facts about UVA, we’d have to say that that description is more novelistic than factual.

Are the students at UVA overwhelmingly blond? “Overwhelmingly” is an imprecise term, of course. But according to this official fact sheet, the student body at UVA is currently 28.4 “minority” (mainly black, Hispanic and Asian).

Forget about being overwhelmingly blond; is that student body even overwhelmingly white? Journalists should avoid such imprecise claims. We’d be inclined to call that strange description part of an Erdely novel.

A cynic would say that Erdely was setting a tone for the story to come. Her story would pack a tremendous punch—and it seems it was too good to fact-check.

Cynics are saying that Erdely had an ideological message she wanted to convey through the story she told in her now-famous report. To convey that message most strongly, she constructed a “perfect story” about the most heinous sexual assault a person could ever imagine—or so the critics have said.

If you have an eye for novels, we’d say a novel was already forming in the use of that phrase, “overwhelmingly blonde.” Was Erdely trying to inform her readers? If so, she probably should have omitted that loaded description.

By now, it’s clear that Erdely utterly failed to perform the most basic tasks of a journalist. Her fact-checking was basically non-existent. She didn’t interview obvious people, including the three friends who went to Jackie’s assistance on the night in question, immediately after the alleged assault.

In her report, Erdely says that one of the three—the friend she called “Randall”—refused to speak to her about the events of that night. The actual “Randall” has now said he was never approached for an interview.

The other two friends who helped Jackie that night aren’t quoted in Erdely’s article either. In her report, Erdely never says why their accounts of the night in question aren’t included. (They have now contradicted basic parts of Erdely’s report.)

Erdely tells a compelling story; it just isn’t clear that her story is true. Let’s consider two other people Erdely never spoke to.

In Erdely’s telling, Jackie is subjected to a vicious sexual assault in her first month on campus. By the end of her sophomore year, matters have gotten worse.

In Erdely’s telling, Jackie has been violently attacked by a bottle-throwing student outside a campus bar. Even worse, she learned that two other women have been gang-raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity in recent years.

The violent gang rapes have claimed two more victims. Given Erdely’s overall performance, a cynic can guess what happens next:
ERDELY: She e-mailed Eramo so they could discuss the attack—and discuss another matter, too, which was troubling Jackie a great deal. Through her ever expanding network, Jackie had come across something deeply disturbing: two other young women who, she says, confided that they, too, had recently been Phi Kappa Psi gang-rape victims.

A bruise still mottling her face, Jackie sat in Eramo's office in May 2014 and told her about the two others. One, she says, is a 2013 graduate, who'd told Jackie that she'd been gang-raped as a freshman at the Phi Psi house. The other was a first-year whose worried friends had called Jackie after the girl had come home wearing no pants. Jackie said the girl told her she'd been assaulted by four men in a Phi Psi bathroom while a fifth watched. (Neither woman was willing to talk to RS.)
“Neither woman was willing to talk to Rolling Stone?”

By now, a cynic will wonder if Erdely actually attempted to contact these alleged victims. Given the way other parts of this report have broken down, a cynic may even wonder if these other two victims exist.

We don't know if those victims exist. That said, please note the state of the UVA campus as Erdely describes it:

Jackie has been viciously attacked by nine fraternity members. She refuses to name her attackers, even after she seems to learn that they are continuing to attack other women.

Two other women have been viciously attacked at the fraternity house. Those women refuse to name their attackers too.

Jackie has been viciously assaulted outside a bar by a bottle-throwing student. Erdely doesn’t even ask why no one was charged or pursued in the case of that (criminal) attack.

Not since the old movie “Bad Day at Black Rock” has a community been so enveloped in so much silence. Gang rapes continue at the fraternity in question. But even as the number rises to three, no one seems to be telling Jackie that she should consider naming the people who are conducting these vicious attacks.

Erdely completely skips this obvious moral question. Instead, she criticizes the dean for her alleged lack of action:
ERDELY (continuing directly): As Jackie wrapped up her story, she was disappointed by Eramo's nonreaction. She'd expected shock, disgust, horror. For months, Jackie had been assuaging her despair by throwing herself into peer education, but there was no denying her helplessness when she thought about Phi Psi, or about her own alleged assailants still walking the grounds. She'd recently been aghast to bump into Drew, who greeted her with friendly nonchalance. "For a whole year, I thought about how he had ruined my life, and how he is the worst human being ever," Jackie says. "And then I saw him and I couldn't say anything."

...That interaction would render her too depressed to leave her room for days. Of all her assailants, Drew was the one she wanted to see held accountable—but with Drew about to graduate, he was going to get away with it. Because, as she miserably reminded Eramo in her office, she didn't feel ready to file a complaint. Eramo, as always, understood.
Did Jackie ever tell the dean about these other alleged attacks? At present, there is no way to answer that question.

Nor should anyone feel certain that Erdely knew the names of these other alleged victims, who may or may not exist, or actually tried to interview them. At present, there is little reason to believe any of Erdely’s claims, explicit or implied.

At present, there’s no way to know if Erdely made any attempt to do any real fact-checking. We do know this:

Starting with the portrait she drew of the “overwhelmingly blond” student body, Erdely told a compelling story with a fairly obvious point. You might say she told a “perfect story,” a story about the most heinous possible behavior of a certain type.

Depending in part on one’s sympathies, it’s easy to be swept away by such stories of perfect complete misconduct. In this case, Erdely portrayed a “town without pity”—a campus full of preppy blond children with an amazingly heinous “rape culture.”

Rape is a terrible crime, and Erdely’s portrait is compelling. It just isn’t clear that her portrait, however compelling, is accurate, fair or truthful.

More and more, our journalism features these perfect stories. Facts are changed, invented and discarded to create compelling tales which support a partisan news org's larger view of the world.

Depending on one’s sympathies, such perfect stories are easy to believe. But uh-oh! When these stories are built on bogus or selective facts, they also create tremendous backlash from those whose instinctive sympathies may differ somehow from those of the novelist/journalist.

Different segments of the society rally around their instinctive beliefs. This may make it harder for the society to agree upon a constructive course of action.

For our money, the most consequential “perfect story” in recent years was the one about Big Liar Candidate Gore. Back then, we still had a unified mainstream press corps—and that guild was very angry at Big Liar President Clinton and his chosen successor.

Over the course of two years, they created a perfect story about Candidate Gore. They kept inventing lies they said he had told. As they invented these lies, they puzzled about why he insisted on telling them.

Many people believed the perfect story of the puzzling liar. In November 2000, false belief in this perfect story changed the course of world history.

Today, our press corps is much more fragmented. Various groups have their own news orgs. Erdely told a perfect story which captured one view of the world.

Erdely described a town without pity. For some, her story was easy to believe. For others, though, her story has brought on the hate against those accursed “feminists” with their endless lies and distortions. Fragmentations harden.

Because they are so compelling, perfect stories can be easy to believe. Often, though, this true belief is actually false in various ways. And the false claims being on the hate from other parts of the culture.

Is this the path to a better world? Everything is possible! This helps the culture of the perfect story thrive.


  1. Well written, Bob. One striking aspect is that Erdely and "Jackie" use false accusations to promote tribalism against their own tribe. After all, these two women are (presumably) middle class (or above) whites -- the very group they're denigrating.

    1. What is striking is that you presume as often as Bob assumes. Or so it seems. Whatever.

    2. Ummm, you may be dancing around the subject David, but I assure you Ms. Rubin Erdely definitely does NOT see herself as going against her own "tribe" ....

  2. "How can you tell that you’re reading a novelized account of some situation, as opposed to a real news report?"

    For starters, if you're reading a 9,000 word magazine cover story in a magazine devoted primarily to Rock and Roll music, you can probably bet your farm, Al Gore Sr.'s farm and all Junior's farm chores on the fact you are not reading a "real news report."

    1. Uhm, Rolling Stone has always had serious reporting in it. Have you ever heard of Matt Taibbi?

    2. Hunter Thompson.

    3. Yeah, vampire squid are a lot less novelized than something like the Great White Whale. But Thomspon was right when he wrote "Very few toads in this world are Prince Charmings in disguise. Most are simply toads." His scripts weren't much better as movies than the latest Grimm brothers fare Jann Wenner is serving up lately, though.

      You fellas weren't mistaking their work for what Bob S. might call "a real news report" were you?

    4. Taibbi explained the financial meltdown from an economic standpoint as well as anyone I've read. His takedown of Greenspan is a hilarious classic. On the flip side Robert Scheer did a fine job explaining the political machinations.

      Speaking of serious journalists don't forget William Greider. Before his stint at RS he was the reporter to expose the GOP's budgetary "Trojan Horse", which goes a long way to help understand GOP motives and actions to this day.

    5. It is obvious Rolling Stone has joined the RMS in sending paid trolls here.

  3. "More and more, our journalism features these perfect stories. Facts are changed, invented and discarded to create compelling tales which support a partisan news org's larger view of the world."

    "More and more"? (our emphasis!) Surely bloggers should avoid such imprecise claims, to say nothing of the passive voice.

  4. Once Upon a Time in the Age of Belief there lived a tribe of invisible children, throngs of tough, toned children who, though invisible, were overwhelmingly black. In fact, during these times and in this kingdom, invisible children were not only overwhelmingly black, all black children were invisible. Many wondered silently, to themselves, "If this tribe of tough tots are truly invisible, how on earth does anyone know what color they are?" They dare not utter those thoughts aloud, for the spinners of the kingdom told the tale of the Princess Who Tried to See the Tribe of Lost Black Tots.

    The Princess Left her well appointed Palace on Thirty Rock one day, armed with a gun and tomahawk to protect her from a forest deep with disbelieving breeders, and set out to search for the disappeared dark skinned youth. After days of travel she asked a gnarly old white man for directions.

    "You will find them yonder, immersed in tests of gold standards" he told her. "But beware. If you look upon them and find them doing well you must report your findings to the world."

    "And what happens if I see them and don't report?" smirked the princess.

    "If you report nothing you will be forever answerable to me," he replied.
    "If you speak the truth, however, you shall be forever banished from the guild."

    The Princess went in the direction the gnarly old man had pointed with his rough thumbs, and came to the edge of a grotto. There she saw
    the tribe of lost black tots, doing well on tests of gold. She returned to tell all those in the Kingdom the wonders she had seen but when she tried to speak, no sound was heard. When the sounds finally came out, no person could hear. The guild had won.

    Years passed. The Princess again thought of finding the tribe of lost
    black invisible kids. Instead she cut off all her hair and jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.

    1. Is this the path to a better world? Everything is possible!

      Except.Polish miracles.

    2. "And somebody," Baby BOB exclaimed, "Somebody has been eating my porridge!"

    3. I'm glad I scored that reefer.

  5. In our view, if "more and more" these sorts of events were happening, the biggest example Bob could find wouldn't be fifteen years old.

    We remember as a child and avid newspaper reader being puzzled by the fact that almost all criminals were described as either high school, or college, dropouts. As we grew older, we realized it was acceptable newspaper convention: throw dirt on the scumbag. Anything that would cast the individual in a negative light was AOK, and educational failure was code for "This person is a loser." We don't see that happening any longer. Progress in the war on narrative? We report, you decide.

    It also strikes us that this event was quickly sniffed out and exposed. We see it as the result of one bad reporter, either off-balance herself, or desperate to jumpstart her career, rather than the product of a journalism culture that is "more and more" going to hell in handbasket. If it weren't, these stories, or Bob's exposure of them, would be a regular occurrence -- and they aren't.

    1. 1. Somerby has no shortage of stories to write about.
      2. Every crime victim is described as an honor student, even when a dropout. Is that an improvement.
      3. When did Somerby say that the "narrative" never changes? Its main characteristic is that it is pleasing.
      4. Whatever Erdely's motives, she had editors and fact checkers. What was their problem?

    2. Glad you take pleasure in serial rape. Helps explain the handful of stragglers still handing old Bob-O his due applause.

    3. What are you talking about?

    4. I sense you did not intend, by saying that the narratives are pleasing, that this particular narrative about rape did not give you pleasure?

    5. I have not found, @ 10:37, that every crime victim is described as an honor student. Many are not described as students at all. Wherever did you come across this notions?

    6. When did Rachel's FACES say that Somerby has a shortage of stories to write about? Or that Somerby said the "narrative never changes" for that matter?

    7. It's not just RS-- just look at how the story took off. They all do it!

      It used to be this always happened with stories that revolve around sex and suggestiveness. Now EVERY story is as if it revolves around sex and suggestiveness.

    8. We look forward to these stories in the future with all the anticipation of Charlie Brown looking forward to kicking the football.

    9. "It also strikes us that this event was quickly sniffed out and exposed."

      Bingo! And by "the guild" itself in a matter of 12 days, with both the Ferguson grand jury and the Thanksgiving holiday intervening.

      Let's not focus on that, though. Let's pretend instead there is a "code of silence" that forever protects the novelists in journalism, and that the Janet Cookes, the Jayson Blairs, the Stephen Glasses, are not only never exposed, but are increasing in number "more and more."

    10. Yes, let's let the editors and fact checkers who didn't do their jobs off the hook because these frauds are rare and their stories do little harm. Nothing to see here.

    11. @ 9:34AM is it safe to assume that you are the same as @10:37PM from last night?

    12. Who said anything about letting Erderly and Rolling Stone "off the hook"? In fact, I'm certain that wasn't the Washington Post's motive when they started digging into this story.

      The point here is that Erdely is hardly alone in embellishing and fictionalizing to fit a narrative.

      Unless, like a good Somerby Fan Club member, you truly believe that such things are occurring "more and more."

    13. And like a good little troll, you truly believe that a sufficient argument is stating that someone who holds an opposing view from yours is the blogger's "fan."

    14. Mr. deadrat, I am not sure why you are calling just one person here a troll. It would seem to me that whomever weighed in last night with a four point response at 10:37 is the troll.

      BTW I am not 12:05 or 9:34.

    15. Someone doesn't become a troll by replying to the idiocies of a troll, although maybe that would reduce the amount of trolling here.

    16. @2:46, You're not 12:05 or 9:34? How am supposed to tell that? If you don't have the common courtesy to choose a nym to identify your comments, please spare me the explanation of who you really are and who you aren't. And just to prove that I'm deadrat (no honorific) and not someone hijacking that nym, it's "whoever weighed in last night," not "whomever."

      An internet troll in common parlance is someone who injects inflammatory comments into an online discussion with no interest other than provoking like responses. These kind of trolls are assumed to have nothing useful to contribute to the discussion and indeed to have no interest in the topic discussed.

      A few of these show up on TDH from time to time. cicero is a current example. The term has been expanded here to apply to commenters whose comments are 1) hostile to Bob Somerby, and 2) demonstrate an abyssal cluelessness about the blog. I once listed the signs of trolldom. They include

      - The dismissal of a commenter's contribution on the grounds that the commenter is a fan of the blog.

      - The dismissal of a TDH thesis on the grounds that Bob Somerby is a hypocrite

      - The claim that nobody reads the blog

      - The claim that Bob Somerby is a failed standup comic

      - The claim that Bob Somerby is a crypto-fascist

      and my favorite, misrepresenting blog entires to make Somerby seen mendacious or incompetent.

    17. Deadrat, I remain so overjoyed that your life is so free of concerns that you have time to worry not only about other people's blog-reading habits, but whether they should use a "nym" when commenting.

    18. Mr. deadrat, I chose to tell you I was not specifically previous commenters in this thread simply to avoid the tizzies you sometime engage in, to no avail.

      I shall avoid engaging you in the future. You are unpleasant.

    19. Anonymous @10:36,

      So you're another mind reader. Or maybe you're the same mind reader. I can't tell because you haven't the common courtesy to pick a nym to identify your comments. You know nothing about my life, my concerns, or my worries. Occasionally, I'm piqued by idle curiosity about people who voluntarily undertake hateful tasks, so I'm moved to ask them about their reasons for reading a blog they detest and that they judge worthless.

      I've pointed out that if you choose to remain Anonymous, you have no valid grounds for complaint when people confuse you with other Anonymous ignoramuses. If you think I care past the effort to make that minor point, think again.

    20. Anonymous 12:12A, who may or may not be Anonymous @10:36P,

      You think I'm unpleasant on this combox? You don't know the half of it. I'm even worse in person, so count yourself lucky.

      These "tizzies," as you imagine them, are strictly figments of your imagination. All you really have are lines of words on a screen. If you'd read actual lines, instead of between them, maybe you'd figure out that the actual words can be bluntly oppositional but they hardly constitute invective.

      You want to avoid engaging me in the future? Here's a news flash: you haven't "engaged" me in the past. I suggest that you "engage" what I have to say. You might learn something as you enjoy my pellucid prose. If you don't want to "engage" with what I have to say, here's a solution -- don't read my comments. Since I've taken the courtesy to use a nym, these will be clearly identifiable for your ease of avoidance.

      I'm sure you understand just how devastated I'll be if you ignore my comments.

    21. There are really some unpleasant people here who need mental help. They seem unjustifiably proud of something they label "pellucid prose."

    22. You can not only read minds, @10:30A, you can diagnose mental illness telepathically. Very impressive.

      Do I have to mark things like "pellucid prose" as sarcastic? It would seem unnecessary for someone with your powers of perception, but I will if it will help you.

    23. deardrat offers snark and scorn to telepathic pyschonanalysts?

      THE deadrat? TDH's own deadrat?


    24. All right. I give up. Let me in on the joke. Do you think telepathic psychoanalysts deserve anything but snark and scorn? Or do you think I'm often found telepathically analyzing commenters?

  6. Blogger Tom Maguire found another article in Rolling Stone from August 2014 with a somewhat similar structure. It opens with an eyeball-grabbing first-person account of a horrific assault then segues to this and that about the slack response by the campus administration and local authorities.

    However, the victim in this story is identified by name. She did report the rape to the school and to the police. See

    1. Many Rolling Stone readers found that article way back in August, DinC. But don't tell Blogger Tom Maguire that. It will ruin his self esteem if he realizes somebody else found it first.

  7. True belief will often be false.

    There is a war on Christmas.

    There was a press War on Gore.

    These are things some truly believe.

    1. It would be so hard to figure out what to believe if there were no such thing as facts and evidence. Fortunately that gives us a way to sort out what is false and what is like to be true.

    2. I couldn't agree more @ 9:42. That is what has made Bill O'Reilly's annual expose of the War on the Christmas so compelling.

      Happy holidays (if you celebrate anything).

  8. Comments tl; dr?

    Good, they're dross.

  9. It isn't very pretty what a town without pity can do.

  10. Thanks Bob. Sadly, six month after Digby's perfect story, accounts of spitting on children still live.

  11. On balance, this is really a hopeful story, in that Rolling Stone couldn't get away with this. I admit to not knowing Talibi's stuff, but the rest of the magazine's journalistic legacy is dubious. And yes, I consider both Hunter Thompson and truly stupid P.J. O'Rouke to be overhyped mediocrities.

    1. Yes, and regardless of one's personal opinion about Rolling Stone, the late Hunter Thompson (who has been dead nearly 10 years), P.J. O'Rourke or anyone else who has written for RS, the story here indeed is how quickly the UVA gang rape story fell apart -- through the work of "the guild."

      But fear not. Bob will soon be writing about the "code of silence" again.

    2. That's like saying it is OK if people rob banks as long as they are captured quickly. I think it is more important to ask why such stories are permitted to happen and what can be done to prevent them. This story has done a lot of damage to women who have been raped, no matter how quickly the guild managed to set it straight. It would have been better had it never appeared. It is worthwhile examining how it could have seen the light of day. Somerby's "code of silence" refers to the FACT that this story was approved by editor and fact checkers because it was consistent with preconceived ideas, consistent with a preferred narrative. The preferred narrative is that privileged white boys are raping women with impunity within a rape culture. The "code of silence" is that no one looks too closely at stories that fit such preferred narratives. It is that no one criticizes members of the media, even when setting a false story straight. Where have been the stories about the failures of the editor and fact checkers at Rolling Stone? Erdely has been thrown to the wolves but what about the rest of the staff at Rolling Stone whose purpose is to ensure that reporters are not tempted to neaten up their stories? Still not a word about them. So maybe Somerby needs to write about this again. If the commenters here haven't gotten the point, the wider readership may need to have this pointed out to them again too.

    3. No, it's like saying that bank robberies happen "more and more" after a bank get robbed and the perps are quickly captured.

      "This story has done a lot of damage to women who have been raped,"

      Care to quantify that? In other words, you got any evidence that there is even a significant number of people once sympathetic to rape victims who no longer are because of the Rolling Stone story.

      Or are you just confusing that with loudmouth morons who already thought every rape victim must be lying, and think this story gives them more ammo for the right-wing noise machine to tell their own pleasing fairy tales.

    4. "Somerby's "code of silence" refers to the FACT that this story was approved by editor and fact checkers because it was consistent with preconceived ideas, consistent with a preferred narrative."

      Uh, no. Not even close. Somerby's "code of silence" which he cites quite often refers to the fact that journalists never criticize the work of other journalists.

      But nice try at trying to re-invent your own truth in order to avoid admitting your hero is full of shit.

    5. Oh, and as a matter of fact, if you put "code of silence" into the search engine here, the very first one you get is in praise of Lawrence O'Donnell for breaking the "code of silence" and criticizing Candy Crowley.

      Now the last time I checked, O'Donnell wasn't an editor or fact-checker for CNN.

    6. Remember when the Irish saved civilization? Actually, we don’t either!

      We’d like to lay out our excuses for the past year’s work. At some point, it got depressing to beat on into the face of the wind—into the face of the code of silence which surrounds many of the topics we’ve explored since 1998.

      (At that time, we weren’t really aware of the code of silence.)

  12. ". . . they also create tremendous backlash from those whose instinctive sympathies may differ somehow from those of the novelist/journalist."

    Ah. So you mean that the people who don't believe that sexual assault on campus is a problem in the first place still don't believe it because of the Rolling Stone story.

    Maybe these people are so callous, insensitive, and so blind to facts that don't fit their particular narrow-minded world view -- and so quick to jump on the egregious errors of journalists no matter where they find them -- that they would spend thousands of words and an entire week on their blogs ridiculing a university's attempt to assess the problem through a comprehensive survey.

  13. This article Here Are EIGHT Campus Rape Hoaxes Eerily Like The UVA Rape Story sadly shows that the UVA hoax follows a pattern. The first of the eight, and most shocking, is copied below:

    In February 2013, Morgan Triplett, 20, visited the University of California, Santa Cruz for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender conference. While there, she claimed that she had been raped in broad daylight on the Santa Cruz campus.

    Triplett’s story was a hoax. The bizarre truth is that she successfully used Craigslist to locate a stranger who agreed to beat her up in exchange for sex. In a failed ad, which found no takers, sought somebody to shoot her in the shoulder. A second ad, seeking someone willing to “punch, kick and bruise her” panned out. (RELATED: Student Sought Man To Beat Her Up And Have Sex, Then Reported It As Rape)

    Triplett met her unnamed mangler in Santa Cruz. He beat her up. They had sex. She used a cellphone screen reflection as a mirror to see if the injuries were sufficient. She then directed him to pummel her some more.

    With fresh bruises to substantiate her sick tale, Triplett then informed 911 that a mysterious assailant had raped and battered her while she was walking on a path looking for banana slugs — the UCSC mascot.

    These examples show that false rape accusations are more common than many would like to believe.

    1. "In “Not That Kind of Girl,” Ms. Dunham, 27, described an unwanted sexual encounter with a mustachioed Oberlin College Republican named Barry, in which she said she was drunk, high on Xanax and cocaine, and in no condition to consent to sex."

      "Since the memoir’s publication, a man identified as “Barry One,” who loosely fit Ms. Dunham’s description came forward and threatened legal action. Random House issued a statement Tuesday that exonerated Barry One and for the first time claimed the “Barry” in the book is a pseudonym. Ms. Dunham confirmed that claim."

    2. In a few of those cases, assuming the journalists who purported to report on them are not like other members of the guild, the men involved will suffer the wrath of the Lord for their complicity in violation of God's law.

  14. Speaking of true belief being false and media criticism, while TDH has been beating this dead Rolling Stone horse after the media drug it out of the barn and rigor mortis has set in......

    1. The linked article is entitled, "Why Is Media Bending Over To Accomodate Torture Apologists?" The article says it's wrong to present both sides of this issue.

    2. What's the other "side" to state-sponsored torture?

    3. That waterboarding was used on three terrorists. That it was instrumental in getting previously unknown information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who masterminded 911. KSM revealed information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.

      "According to the previously classified May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that was released by President Barack Obama last week, the thwarted attack — which KSM called the “Second Wave”– planned “ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.”

    4. In addition to what cicero wrote, other points on the other side are:

      1. The report has been called inaccurate, because the people who wrote it chose not to interview the CIA people involved. E.g., 10:55's link said that rectal rehydration was used as torture. Cheney said that's false, but that rectal rehydration was used as an appropriate medical procedure for one prisoner. Critics say innocent people were tortured. Cheney says or implies that only terrorists were tortured. (I'm quoting Cheney's position here, but I don't know which side is right.)

      2. Legal authorities at the time said that water-boarding was not "torture".

      3. Regardless of the semantics, water-boarding a few terrorists is not comparable to the horrors of the 9/11 attack or to mass beheadings.

      4. Even if it were known now that water-boarding produced no useful information, that couldn't be known in advance. Faced with the possibility of more 9/11 type attacks, Cheney argues that it would have been unreasonable not to use water-boarding at that moment.

      deadrat, I'm not sure I fully agree with Cheney's position, but there certainly is another side to this debate.

    5. Congratulations! You're not sure that you "fully agree" with Dick Cheney, but you don't know "which side is right." A new low for you. Is there no bottom? I'm gonna guess no.

      Listen to John McCain. This isn't about terrorists, and this isn't about effectiveness. This is about our society and what our public officials do in our name. For some stories, there isn't "another side" to be covered in a Fox News "fair and balanced," he-said-the-other-said way.

      1. The treaty that we signed does not allow for extenuating circumstances. And for good reason. Torturers always tell tribunals after the fact that the only choice was between sadism and the end of the world.

      2. Regimes that torture people always maintain that what they do is legal because they can make it legal.

      3. When we tried Japanese commanders for war crimes after World War II, we cited their waterboarding of prisoners as evidence that they were torturers. Seventy years later it's still torture. And so is "rectal hydration," which no doctor recognizes as a legitimate medical procedure. The report cites six occasions it was used, once with pureed food. Here's a hint from junior high health classes -- the human colon doesn't absorb nutrients.

      4. We were torturing prisoners of war years after 9/11, so that excuse of exigency rings hollow, especially from the regime of the WPE, who decided that "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within US" wasn't sufficient warning.

      So, no, there isn't another side to a debate that civilized societies have already concluded.

    6. Listen to McCain? Why? Other than on this subject, when have libs ever listened to the POTUS candidate who selected S.P. as a running mate?

      McCain was a North Vietnam ace. His time as a POW was more consternation to the enemy than he ever was as an aviator. McCain is still proffering erroneous information about WWII war crimes regarding waterboarding.

      Not to mention he doesn't even believe waterboarding was used by U.S. soldiers in Southest Asia on captured North Vietnamese soldiers.

      No Japanese military person was hanged for waterboarding. Not to mention they never engaged in the waterboarding that the CIA used for interrogation. Their method involved pumping water directly into the stomach or having the subject of the exercise strapped to a stretcher with his feet in the air and head towards the floor, as water was poured over his face, causing him to gasp for air. In this method, the person is actually being drowned.

      Defendant: Asano, Yukio

      Docket Date: 53/ May 1 - 28, 1947, Yokohama, Japan

      Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and unlawfully mistreat and torture PWs. 2. Did unlawfully take and convert to his own use Red Cross packages and supplies intended for PWs.

      Specifications:beating using hands, fists, club; kicking; water torture; burning using cigarettes; strapping on a stretcher head downward

      Verdict: 15 years CHL

  15. You make some good arguments, deadrat. However, you haven't responded to all the arguments on the other side. Arguments left standing are
    1. Waterboarding or other 'torture' helped prevent more 9/11 type attacks.
    2. The Senate study didn't interview relevant CIA personnel.
    3..The Senate report was inaccurate.
    4. Water-boarding was ruled legal by authorities at the time.
    5. Given the uncertainty right after 9/11, it would have been wrong to eschew the use of waterboarding. If you were in charge at that moment, would you have prohibited the use of water-boarding on 3 captured senior terrorists?

    Note that #3 alone would be an important refutation. I'm sure you agree that conclusions should be based on accurate facts.

    1. DAinCA,

      Oh, I make some good arguments, do I? Maybe there's hope for you yet. All your questions have been asked and answered, but since we're such good friends, I'll answer them again.

      1. Torturing people is beyond the pale. Period. That's what we've agreed to; that's what the treaty we signed demands; that's what our laws specify. Torturers always claim that they had only two choices, sadism and the end of the world. Our torturers were liars before, during, and after the incidents they claim required torture. I think it's time we assume that their good justifications for torturing prisoners of war are stored with Saddam's WMDs.

      2. The Senate investigators didn't interview CIA personnel because those personnel might have been facing criminal charges.

      3. The Senate report may be incomplete, but it it's completely accurate on the question of whether people were tortured, when, and how.

      4. Torturers always make their methods legal. This is no more than a pathetic fig leaf for those who were only following orders.

      5. Given the uncertainty right after 9/11, it would still have been wrong to use waterboarding. There, fixed that for you. If I had been in charge at that moment, there are two things I'm sure of. 1) I wouldn't have continued to read My Pet Goat for twenty minutes after I'd been told that the country was under attack. 2) I would have entrusted interrogations to military professionals, so the subject wouldn't have come up. If it had, I would have prohibited it.

      In any case, the practice continued for years past 9/11.

      #3 might be an important "refutation" in the sense that if unicorns existed, it would refute the theory that horses never have single horns growing from their heads. Forgive me if I disregard Cheney's claim that he rode to his interview on his personal unicorn. No criminal prosecutions should be based on an investigation that is incomplete. But everybody from the WPE to the lowliest outsourced sadist is gonna get a pass.

      Time to pull your head out of your ass. If you don't, how can they rectally rehydrate you?

    2. Waterboard the bankers!

  16. deadrat, I want to be sure I understand you. You seem to be saying that you would prefer the US to have experienced another 9/11 attack rather than water-board a few terrorists.

    I guess we'll just have to disagree. I would have permitted the water-boarding of captured terrorists if that would have prevented another 9/11. Maybe I'm closer to 9/11 than you are. I lost friends in that attack. I used to travel to Manhattan via the World Trade Center. It was almost like a town was wiped out. I remain horrified by the photos of people who jumped to their death rather than burn to death.

    I find it hard to understand why one would prefer that magnitude of horror to water-boarding a few terrorists.

    1. Wow, you must have been pissed when GWB showed his complete lack of interest in investigating how it went down.
      Can you post some of your diatribes here from when Bush named Condi Rice his Secretary of State after she lied to the 911 Commission?
      Can't wait to see your takedowns, since you were so horrified by that day when you lost friends.


    2. DAinCA,

      So it turns out that you're a moral ignoramus as well. You're not Jack Bauer living an episode of 24. In the real world, the moral choice isn't between torturing the people in your power and suffering another 9/11. That's what liars like Dick Cheney want you to believe after the fact.

      When you're horrified by atrocity, your choice is to turn yourself into someone just like the people who horrify you or you stay that impulse. Are you closer to 9/11 than I am? Not likely, and not just because I don't believe for a New York minute your tales of lost friends and travel to Manhattan "via" the WTC.

      But here's the good news: we don't have to disagree anymore. You're now on my short list, joining the sole other occupant, cicero. That way you don't have to respond to someone you think would prefer another 9/11 attack rather than get a few people wet, and I don't have to respond to someone who thinks that's my preference. I believe that's what's called a win-win.


    3. You need to make a list that contains only two items? Have you considered investing in a memory course?

    4. DavidinCal,
      While I'm waiting for those links when you took your "Bush Derangement Syndrome"* out for a stroll when Bush blew-off 9/11, I thought I'd remind you that these torture techniques were able to show the connection between Iraq and 9/11. It was during these techniques we were able to get an admission about a meeting Mohammed Atta attended in Prague on a day he was nowhere near the place.


      *I'm old enough to remember ANY criticism of President GW Bush meaning the critic had lost their mind with hatred of the President. Good times!

  17. "I find it hard to understand why one would prefer that magnitude of horror to water-boarding a few terrorists."

    That's what ISIS thinks about the West's actions in the Mideast and a few beheadings.
    Great minds think alike.

    1. Beheadings are just like waterboarding...Oh wait...They're not. The former is an interrogation method that was used on three terrorists that has been banned for the last six years by POTUS Obama, and the latter is the preferred method of barbaric execution by terrorists.

    2. cicero,
      No matter how awful the acts of people, if they're on "your team" you get to shrug them off (unlike the "other team", who are the worst people ever).
      In that sense, you, DinC, and ISIS sure are peas in a pod.

    3. Is cicero really trying to make believe water boarding (like the Iraq War) wasn't really about vengeance?
      Good luck trying to hoe that road.


    4. You might as well broaden your indictment to FDR and Churchill who ordered their respective navies to engage in unrestricted submarine warfare during WWII. This proved to be a problem when it came to charging Admiral Dönitz with waging unrestricted submarine warfare against neutral shipping at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. But since the Allies vanquished the Axis we got to "shrug them off." Perhaps you imagine America and Great Briton were no better than the National Socialists or Imperial Japan.

    5. @Berto

      Waterboarding is an act of vengeance? How is waterboarding KSM on five occasions in order to obtain intelligence retaliation for 9/11/01? Why would Senator Diane Feinstein approve waterboarding as an act of reprisal when she was advised of the procedure back in September of 2002?

    6. " Perhaps you imagine America and Great Briton were no better than the National Socialists or Imperial Japan."

      Are we ranking them on equal justice under the law? If so, current America isn't looking so hot.


    7. @Berto

      America hasn't looked "so hot" to the Noam Chomsky/Howard Zinn contingent for over 70 years. You are way more than fashionably late to the party,

    8. How late are you to the Might Makes Right party?

    9. "Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

      Abe Lincoln, Cooper Union Speech, February 27, 1860 appealing to Republicans that if they cannot end slavery where it exists, they must prevent its expansion.

  18. A new poll from the Pew Research Center is the first to gauge reactions to last week's big CIA report on "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- what agency critics call torture.

    And the reaction is pretty muted.

    The poll shows people says 51-29 percent than the CIA's methods were justified and 56-28 percent that the information gleaned helped prevent terror attacks.

    The word "torture," it should be noted, isn't mentioned in the poll, but it has been associated with much of the coverage of the issue. And the numbers align nicely with polls on the use of torture, which shows that relatively few Americans are concerned about it -- especially when you bring the prospect of combating terrorism into the mix....

    Even Democrats are pretty split on the justification for the program. While 37 percent say it was justified, 46 percent say it wasn't. Liberal Democrats disapprove 65-25 percent, but moderate and conservative Democrats approve 48-32 percent.

  19. A Taliban suicide squad attacked a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, killing at least 141 people — 132 of them children — in one of the bloodiest massacres in the country’s violent history.

    This sort of thing refutes the claim that by not acting perfectly we're "just like the enemy."

    1. Tell that to the parents from Newtown, CT.

    2. Why are the parents of the Pakistani children suing Bushmaster as well?

    3. No silly. They both live in countries where school massacres happen, because we are far more like, than different from, the enemy.

    4. We? You mean Millennials are like the Taliban terrorists?

    5. DinC making believe it only happens with Muslim terrorists is ridiculous.
      Who leads the world in school massacres?
      USA! USA! USA!

      As for torture, sorry, the NRA called, the Constitution IS a suicide pact.

    6. On Tuesday, the Taliban terrorists murdered 148, mostly children.

      Since 1980, there have been 297 deaths in U.S. schools resulting from shootings.

      It took one shooting for the Taliban to murder nearly half the amount of people killed in 34 years of school shootings. in the USA. Your USA! chant is of course in poor taste,

      Now do you want to explain how the 2nd Amendment is a suicide pact? Responsibility for school shootings is actually owned by the perpetrators of the crimes who happen to be mostly Millennials. What's up with that generation?

  20. The Taliban is more efficient than the USA.

    "...34 years of school shootings." Millennials? You mean those who were able to kill for the 20 years before they were born, or those who killed students before age 5 (1980-2005?).

  21. Efficient Milllennials:

    Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold, killed 15 in 1999, age 17 & 18.
    Jeffrey Weise, killed 10 in 2005, age 16
    Seung-Hui Cho, killed 33 in 2007 aged 23
    Adam Lanza, killed 28 in 2012, age 20
    John Samir Zawahri, killed 7 in 2013, age 23
    Elliot Rodger, killed 7 in 2014, age 22
    Jaylen Ray Fryberg killed 5 in 2014, age 15

    292 killed out of 297 occurred between 1990 to the present.

    Looks like Millennials were old enough to accomplish the carnage.
    What else you got?

  22. You demonstrated a brief moment of lucidity. Congratulations!