SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2021
Our tribe no longer cares: This past Monday and Tuesday, students in the Loudoun County, Virginia schools staged a set of walk-outs.
Events in Loudoun County are local news for the Washington Post. Late on Tuesday afternoon, the paper published a short online report about the student walkouts.
The short report didn't appear in the next day's print editions. Online, the short report appeared beneath this pair of headlines:
Loudoun County students walk out to protest school district’s handling of alleged sexual assaults
Hundreds of students at Loudoun County Public Schools held walkouts sparked by sexual assault cases
Somewhat inaccurately, the principal headline was still using the word "alleged."
In the body of the report, the use of that word was much, much worse. For details, continue reading.
According to the headlines on this report, the students had walked out of class to protest the way the school district had handled these "alleged assaults." Below, you see the basic facts about the two cases as reported by the Post's Vanessa Sanchez, a "reporting intern" who has been at the Post for the past two months:
SANCHEZ (10/26/21): Students at several Loudoun County Public Schools held 10-minute walkouts Tuesday morning to demand the county protect students from sexual assault and to declare solidarity with survivors.
At Broad Run High School in Ashburn, dozens of students walked out of their classrooms midmorning to demand the county make the public schools safer spaces. “We deserve to be safe,” one student standing in front of the main entrance shouted.
“Loudoun County protects rapists,” a group of students chanted for several minutes in protest of how the county handled two sexual assault cases, one in May and the other in October, by the same student in two different high schools in the district. Broad Run High is where the second incident took place.
“Why didn’t anybody tell us,” another student yelled.
In that passage, Sanchez reported that the student walkouts involved two different "sexual assault cases."
As Sanchez reported, these "cases" had occurred at two different Loudoun County high schools. That said, the same student had been charged in each of these two incidents.
As Sanchez began, she noted that "dozens of students" had walked out of Broad Run High School that day. She said they were protesting the way "the county" had handled the two cases.
Sanchez started with "dozens of students." But as she continued, it seemed that the student protests were much more widespread than that:
SANCHEZ (continuing directly): More than 2500 students from at least 20 schools, including Riverside High School, Briar Woods High School and Lightridge High School, took part in calls to stop sexual assault, according to information provided by the school district. On Monday, hundreds of Arlington Public High Schools students also left their classrooms to stand against sexual misconduct and harassment.
In that paragraph, we moved from "dozens of students" staging a walkout to roughly three thousand students taking part in walkouts or "calls." Depending on what those "calls" may have been, the student protests seem to have been rather extensive.
Why were so many students protesting what "the county" had done? Why were some students chanting, "Loudoun County protects rapists?"
In our view, Sanchez never really tried to explain that point. As she continued, she did report the basic facts about the two alleged cases:
SANCHEZ (continuing directly): During a school board meeting this month, parents in the Loudoun school district had questioned why the student allegedly responsible for sexual assault was transferred to another high school. Followed by criticism, Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler said in an Oct. 15 news conference that the school will offer “alternative placements for students involved in disciplinary infractions that protect the rights of the student body and the rights of the accused.”
The first alleged assault occurred May 28 at Stone Bridge High School, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. On July 8, a 14-year-old boy was arrested in the case and charged in juvenile court with two counts of forcible sodomy, authorities said in a statement.
Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) said that the youth was released at some point from juvenile detention as the case proceeded and “appeared to be a good candidate to be put on electronic monitoring based on the information that was provided.”
The second alleged assault, at Broad Run High, occurred five months later on Oct. 6, and the attacker was charged with sexual battery and abduction of a fellow student.
The student arrested in the May 28 incident had been transferred to a second high school. On October 6, the second alleged assault took place at that school, and the same student was charged.
That said, why were all those students protesting the behavior of "the county?" Sanchez didn't mention one principal source of discontent in the county—a grossly misleading public statement by the superintendent of schools, a grossly misleading public statement for which he later apologized.
Sanchez didn't mention that source of anger and discontent. Much more strikingly, she and her editor (if there was one) seemed to be completely unaware of a major event in this case.
Gack! On Monday, the first of the two alleged assaults had produced an official guilty finding against a 14-year-old perpetrator.
That first assault was no longer "alleged!" On Monday, it had produced a guilty verdict in an official juvenile court proceeding.
In Tuesday morning's print editions, the Post had reported this finding. It did so a news report which was bannered across the top of that day's Metro section.
"The judge found there was sufficient evidence to find the defendant had forced the girl into two sex acts," the Post reported beneath a banner headline. But as of Tuesday afternoon, neither Sanchez nor her editor, if she actually had one, seemed to be aware that this first assault was no longer "alleged."
That was a truly remarkable journalistic error. Meanwhile, the lengthy report about this official finding remains unknown to the Post's search engine. As of this very morning, no matter what search term you enter, this news report doesn't come up.
In our view, the Post's journalism is becoming more and more slipshod with each passing day. Various elements are involved, including the paper's remarkably scattershot search engine.
In many ways, we think the Post is becoming a sprawling, increasingly tabloidy mess. For now, though, let's review the basic facts concerning these two assault cases:
On Monday and Tuesday, thousands of kids staged walkouts (or participated in "calls") protesting the way "the county" had handled these two cases.
The Post assigned a reporting intern to the matter. Neither she nor her editor seemed to know that a guilty verdict had been issued the previous day in the first of these cases.
Meanwhile, the Post's report of that guilty verdict remains unknown to the paper's search engine—and neither one of these reports mentioned one of the principal reasons why some citizens in Loudoun County are angry about the way the "the county" handled these events.
At any rate:
Last May, a girl was sexually assaulted at a Loudoun County high school. Allegedly, a second girl was sexually assaulted at a different high school earlier this month. The court case will happen next month.
Students walked out of school this week, demanding that they be protected from such assaults. At one time, our deeply moral progressive / liberal tribe would have been concerned about such events.
Today, our tribe is routinely sunk in mandated dogmas, as is the other tribe. Yesterday afternoon, this horrible case went worldwide when Michelle Goldberg discussed it in her new opinion column for the New York Times.
Goldberg's column appears in today's print editions. Because she's a highly principled blue tribe feminist, you'd almost think that she'd be upset, perhaps concerned, about the sexual assaults which were (almost surely) perpetrated against two different high school girls.
If you thought that, you might have been mistaken. Drenching herself in the sacred language of our rapidly failing tribe, Goldstein is mainly upset about the latest "Big Lie" perpetrated by "the right."
In her account of what has happened in Loudoun County, she too omits a principal reason why some citizens are upset with the way the superintendent of schools handled the first of these incidents.
In comments, angry citizens of Loudoun County mention this omission. They are concerned with the (perceived) Big Lie being churned by our own sacred tribe!
For the record, Big Lies (or their rough equivalent) are quite widespread these days. Increasingly, more and more, our own failing tribe seems inclined to propagate our own mandated novelizations, built around the facts we prefer and our own sacred themes.
The unfortunate events in the current matter are complicated, complex. It seems to us that Goldberg, in deference to Storyline, has chosen to obscure that fact.
Can a sprawling nation survive such duels between tribalized states of mind? Experts all say it cannot.
Sadly, we'll probably have to explain further next week. For today, we'll offer this:
It's time for Goldberg to stop this this type of performance. It seems to us that she has engaged in this type of tribalized non-explanation before.
Meanwhile, are we liberals still allowed to be concerned when we learn that one or two high school girls have been sexually assaulted at school? Or do our increasingly narrow tribal mandates keep us from doing that?
For the record, this affects The Way We Look to Others. It also affects the state of our souls, and the way people vote.
Modern-day found humor: In the news report lost to the Post's search engine, reporter Justin Jouvenal supplies some modern-day found humor.
This may not be Jouvenal's fault. What follows may be the best a reporter can do, given rules about what can be published in a family newspaper:
JOUVENAL (10/26/21): The defendant did not testify during the trial, but prosecutors played interviews he gave detectives investigating the case during which he acknowledged “messing up” and said he did not intend to perform one sex act with the victim and said he stopped once he realized he was hurting the girl.
The defendant initially told detectives the second sexual act did not occur, but later said it may have happened briefly and accidentally when a knee-length skirt he was wearing got caught on his watch as the pair were fumbling around in the bathroom stall.
The two teens had met about a month-and-a-half before the attack and became friends, the girl testified. The teens were not in the same grade, but shared friends in common.
At one time, people would blame the butler. Today, we blame the watch. At no point does Jouvenal try to explain what he's talking about.
For the record, the (convicted) "defendant" was 14 years old at the time of this assault. The victim may have been younger.
Is our tribe still allowed to care about this? Or do narrowing tribal mandates now restrict our wandering tribunes to narrower ports of call?