Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Media Creepies

On the way home from work today I picked up a copy of the San Jose Mercury News. They were running an article about how the police chief of New Orleans has resigned.

Among other things, the article discusses the apparent fact that crime in the Superdome and convention center was apparently overreported. This may well be so. We didn't have a lot to go on for a while, and the media got excited.

This bothered me however. Knight Ridder's reporters write:

But now, a month after the chaos subsided, police are re-examining the reports and finding that many of them have little or no basis in fact.

They have no official reports of rape, and no witnesses to sexual assault.

Can we consider why this might be? I remember one of those reports. It was told by a woman at the Superdome to a reporter. She said that two girls had been raped the night before, that they had called for help, and no one had done anything.

Now the NOPD have 'no official reports' and no witnesses. Does this mean that the reporter made the story up? Does it mean the lady who told the reporter the story lied about it? Hmmmm.

Let's consider the more likely scenario: the victims, rapists and witnesses are now scattered across several states, and have pressing survival needs. Getting in touch with the NOPD about a rape that happened a month ago is undoubtedly almost impossible, given the demands on NOPD's time. No one can 'come in' to give a statement, on account of they're in ARKANSAS. Or TEXAS. Or MISSISSIPPI. Or BATON ROUGE. Strangers were thrown together. Victims and witnesses can't find each other. They would probably not be able to give more than a superficial description of the suspects.

And face it. If I were a woman who'd been raped in the nightmare that was the Superdome, I think I would have received a real clear message about the ability of the NOPD to protect me. Things fell apart, and the center did not hold. Going back to be told that unless I have more information, they can't do anything (again), would not seem like my idea of therapeutic.

This seems pretty obvious to me. But along comes Erika Bolstad and Nicholas Spangler for Knight-Ridder in a tone that suggests that maybe REALLY no rapes or beatings happened at Superdome, and those who reported such to the press were just getting worked up. Hysterical. Self-dramatizing. Let's point fingers at Ray Nagin now!

Feh. Morons.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What you are saying makes sense.

But I can also believe that if there was ONE sexual assault, that some people who heard about it thought it was a rape. And that by the time the story went halfway around the Superdome there were several different versions of it. Or that people in the Convention Center could have thought that it had happened there. And so reporters could have heard about a number of different rapes in a number of different places at a number of different times...when all these stories may have been based on only one or two actual occurences.

People were (rightfully) panicked and sleep deprived and hungry. Not the best conditions for getting facts straight, and people are notoriously bad at keeping facts straight (especially about things that happened to other people) to begin with.

I've also heard that none of the stories of the rapes of tourists wandering the streets has been substantiated. And I WOULD expect tourists to file complaints...