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?
Thanks for documenting the atrocities, dear Bob.ReplyDelete
So many words and yet Somerby never quite says what information was left out of the reporting either. Perhaps he does understand reason the Post was circumspect. Fourteen year olds have rights that are different than adult perpetrators of crimes. Their cases are sealed to permit them to start adulthood without the baggage of youthful mistakes. If the Superintendent and others made mistakes, Somerby doesn't say what they were. How then can he complain that a reporter doesn't either?ReplyDelete
"What follows may be the best a reporter can do, given rules about what can be published in a family newspaper..."ReplyDelete
Somerby apparently feels that graphic descriptions of sex acts by 14 year olds (or perhaps younger) should be printed in the newspaper. He emphasized that a male student was perhaps wearing a skirt -- and it seems like prurient interest about that is at the heart of Somerby's complaint, given his bolding of text and his inability to imagine what sex acts might have been committed. Remember that the youth was charged with two counts of sodomy.
Somerby just has to know what these kids were doing. But that isn't what a newspaper is for. Reporting the facts is not the same as reporting the lurid details, except in Somerby's world, where he demands the press tell him everything, everything!
Meanwhile, Somerby never discusses why the students are upset with the administration. He never discusses the ethics of merely transferring the guilty child to a different school, without telling anyone that he might be a danger to other students there. That is of no concern to Somerby, apparently, given that he never mentions their specific concerns. He just wants to know what happened in that bathroom stall.
"Or do narrowing tribal mandates now restrict our wandering tribunes to narrower ports of call?"ReplyDelete
What mandates is Somerby talking about? He never connects the dots on that.
Somerby has really been earning his pay this last week, focusing negative attention on Virginia's school dispute over Beloved, right before the Governor's election! And he keeps on the heat with this nonsense today, as if anything written in the Post is the fault of liberals, or even McAuliffe.ReplyDelete
I hope voters can see through this last minute attempt to save Youngkin, who is trying desperately to both be viewed as a Trumpie while having nothing to do with Trump. So crying bestiality is a way to rally the Republican troops, without reference to any of the actual issues that should be the crux of this election.
Meanwhile Somerby pretends to have developed a burning interest in Virginia school issues, just accidentally before this election. And somehow us liberals are to blame for a 14 year old rapist that the school district is shuffling around from school to school. Because? Somerby never exactly says why.
“a grossly misleading public statement by the superintendent of schools”ReplyDelete
“In comments, angry citizens of Loudoun County mention this omission.”
Would it be to much to ask Somerby to put that superintendent’s statement (or a link to it) in his post and tell us how or why (in his view) it was misleading and outrageous?
I read about a hundred of the comments, but couldn’t find any mention of said statement, nor do I know why I should gather my facts from comments to editorials.
“That first assault was no longer "alleged!" On Monday, it had produced a guilty verdict in an official juvenile court proceeding.”
This is interesting coming from Somerby, who was quite skeptical in post after post that Brock Turner was truly guilty, despite a jury finding.
Whatever Goldberg’s take on this, there is plenty of inflammatory “reporting” and opinionizing coming from the right. Goldberg’s column needs to be placed within this context, and anyone concerned about the role the media plays in inflaming passions would look at the entire media response. Two alleged incidents by one assailant are hardly enough to warrant such universal outrage and moral panic about predatory “transgender” perverts waiting to attack young girls or to justify the complaint that “Loudoun County protects rapists”, rapists being plural, although only one person has been charged.
“ Our tribe no longer cares:”ReplyDelete
Somerby, always careful to refrain from sweeping generalizations about millions of people.
I think this is one of the most significant information for me.ReplyDelete
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"That first assault was no longer "alleged!" On Monday, it had produced a guilty verdict in an official juvenile court proceeding. "ReplyDelete
The second assault, which took place on Oct 6, had not yet been tried. That means that the second assault was still alleged. If the Post were going to combine mentions of the two assaults into the same sentence, then it must retain the word alleged because there has been no conviction yet on the second assault.
Did Somerby grow up on another planet? Is he not a native speaker of English? He should understand why the word alleged was used as it was. But instead he uses this as a quibble to condemn the reporting of this story, as if there were anything majorly wrong with what the reporter said. There wasn't.
Somerby second quibble is about the number of people protesting. Somerby cannot seem to understand that if the reporter talks about a protest at one school, there will be fewer participants than if the reporter talks about the aggregate number of protesters at four schools. This isn't rocket science, but Somerby tries to manufacture a major flaw out of this thin gruel. Why? Because (1) he wants to remind everyone that there is crime in Virginia, (2) he wants people to think about the trans bathroom non-issue as if it were responsible for the rapes, (3) he wants to bring out Virginia Republican voters by focusing on a culture war skirmish that has absolutely nothing to do with Youngkin or Trump or even McAuliffe, (4) he wants his readers to think that they are ill-served by our free press because no one considered this 8-year old issue worth featuring on the front page and an intern used the word "alleged" so that the paper wouldn't get sued.
Whatta guy our Somerby is! Does he know that Trump won't be around later to pardon his sins and that he will never get his credibility as a blogger back again?
Along with Somerby's racism denial he has pushed for sensitivity for those accused of sexual assault. Here we see Somerby continue his efforts to manufacture ignorance; now his heart bleeds for those not informed of an alleged sexual assault, when in the past he preferred privacy and skepticism in deference to the accused.ReplyDelete
As conservatives protest, it is a self own: it was their own policy, as last year Betsy DeVos enacted new regulations to protect those accused of sexual assault at schools. This change in policy was criticized by those on the left, but cheered by the right.
For further context, the boy is not trans, and had been engaging in a consensual sexual relationship with the girl that accused him of assault, of which he was found guilty. The girls bathroom was where they met to have sex, this was the choice of the girl. At the time of the assault there was no trans bathroom policy in place, although this has nothing to do with this particular case, this is part of the big lie conservatives are spreading.
The "bathroom predator" issue with respect to trans people is a myth and has been debunked, and it was conservatives themselves that changed policy to protect those accused of sexual assault.
Words and symbols are becoming more important than actual actions. If someone in that school had hung a noose or written the N-word on a wall, the Principal would have made an enormous fuss (and rightly so.) But, an actual rape was covered up.ReplyDelete
I doubt the purpose of moving the student from one high school to another was intended as a cover up. It was most likely to give the student a fresh start. These are 14 year olds. ALL juvenile crimes are sealed, which is a kind of cover up intended to give kids second chances. You could consider this a troubled youth instead of the way you would think of an adult predator. I think the protestors are off base about this.Delete
Keep in mind David is one of our fellow citizens who enthusiastically voted twice for a man who bragged about grabbing women by the pussy and who bragged about the size of his dick during a presidential debate.Delete
I enjoy humor, which is why people like @12:06 PM make me sad. Trump was using humor to say, in a vey crude way, that women could easily be seduced by someone rich and famous. It's fair to ding Trump for crudeness, but it's incorrect to ding him for literally boasting about grabbing women by the pussy. Thanks to people like @12:06, humor is dying. :(Delete
12:00 It was the Right that fought for and changed the rules that increased protection for the accused, it was the Left that fought against this change.Delete
Psychologists have scientifically found that words can harm just as much or more than physical actions.
Trump was not saying women are easily seduced, he was saying women exist to be "seduced"; his version of seduction being particularly violent and aggressive is no surprise since he did rape his wife after she mocked him for his hair surgery.
David in Ca scrapes bottom: bragging about grabbing women by the genitals and getting away with it is simply and exactly what Donald Trump did. He has attempted once in awhile, like when he publicly asked Russia to help him defeat his opposition, but it was a lie then too. It DOES raise the question of what kind of A hole would find such joking OK, and David does help us with that question: it’s OK if you a garbage person like David.Delete
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