My letter to the New York Times Public Editor in response to this article, which, among other gems, recounts how the 11-year-old victim of an 18-perpetrator gang rape "dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s."
Dear Mr. Brisbane,
I have always looked to the Times as the standard of responsible reporting. But the gross oversight and biased reporting in covering the rape of a child in Texas makes me rethink the Times' commitment to unbiased, gold-standard journalism.
It is never, EVER okay to refer to a rape victim's appearance. Because rape happens when people rape other people, not when a woman wears makeup or a particular outfit. It's never okay. And if it's never okay, then it is really, really, really NOT AT ALL OKAY to refer to the appearance of an eleven-year-old girl when reporting her heinous victimization.
Eighteen boys and men of Cleveland, Texas, molested, assaulted, and raped a child. Eighteen men did this to one girl. They are the problem.
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To write your own letter, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Or sign the petition here. (Normally I think online petitions do exactly nothing, but that's because it's not usually directed toward a media outlet, but at legislators. In any case this won't hurt.)
For better analysis and discourse on this than I'm able to offer here because I'm so stinkin' sad and mad—the appearance issue is only part of the messed-up reporting here, but it's what's relevant to my topic here at The Beheld—go to Jezebel, Double X, Diana Vilibert, Andrea Grimes, or Alternet.