The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism recently completed a report on the Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus,” which recounted an alleged gang rape that happened at the Phi Kappa Psi frat house at the University of Virginia. The report concludes the story was completely false.
I doubt a single person was genuinely surprised by this. How anyone believed the story after the part about her being brutally raped on broken glass without someone severing a major artery defies comprehension. I got a minor cut on my leg that took an hour to properly clot.
But I digress.
The more interesting part is that following this report, not one was fired at the magazine. Now this may surprise you.
After all, the writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, hardly made anything other than a feeble attempt to get the other side of the story, which makes sense because the story never even happened. The fact checkers didn’t check the facts, at least those that mattered most. The editors who gave the final thumbs up for its publication weren’t troubled by the single-source article leveling libelous accusations against a fraternity and its members.
Surely someone’s head should have rolled, you might think.
They Were Just Doing Their Job
The problem is that none of them were fired because they were doing their jobs. You might be inclined to think their duty is to report the news, as opposed to writing creative fiction and passing it off as an expose. It’s not.
As Matt Forney documents at Return of Kings, Erdely and the rest of the staff were deeply committed social justice warriors.
It is vital that one understands how SJws operate. They are not interested in facts, but “the truth.” For them, “the truth” is that college campuses, and fraternities in particular, are hotbeds of rape culture and rampant sexual assault. That this myth is contradicted by statistics and common sense, as well as enable rape itself, makes no difference.
More importantly, for SJW publications like Rolling Stone, the intent is not to report facts but to spread “the truth.” Facts have to be presented to establish the validity of an argument, while truth is philosophical in nature and therefore not reliant on them. One does not “prove” rape is wrong, because the immorality of rape is a “truth.” As Indiana Jones remarked in the Last Crusade on archaeology, it’s “about facts, not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.”
Stating there is a rape culture, however, requires more than a simple ex cathedra pronouncement. It requires facts.
To solve this, the writers set about seeking affirmation of “the truth,” wherever it may be found. If facts cannot be found, then they are created.
Hence, this is why, as Forney puts it, Erdely had been “specifically shopping around for campus rape stories that fit her narrative.” She was not trying to discover “the truth” by uncovering the facts.
In other words, her editor did not go to her and say the following:
There are all these claims about a rape culture on college campuses, especially fraternities. I want you to go to one and find out what is really going on. Go to parties, take note of what you see, and talk to students, particularly those in the Greek System, about their experiences. Ask the university how big of a problem they think it is and how they know this. Oh, and try getting your hand on rape stats from the local police department.
As Sherlock Holmes put it, she had her theory and needed to twist the facts to suit it. It was not a one-time mistake of hers. It was what she was paid to do.
Notice the apology Erdely made was not to the people most damaged by the story, the fraternity and its members, who were subject to protests, vandalism, property damage, and retribution from the university. Why would she? The story did exactly what it was meant to do, promote the rape culture narrative and inflict harm on the enemy, fraternities and men. She and the Rolling Stone are sorry the story hadn’t done more damage.
Nobody got fired because Erdely not only did her job, but she told “the truth,” even if the facts didn’t match. Such is the job description of every social justice warrior. And even if someone does eventually get canned, it will be much like how young Spartan boys would be punished for stealing, not because they stole, but because they got caught.