In the News: NYTimes Coverage of Sexual AssaultPosted: March 9, 2011
While a lot of the news makes my blood boil, certain stories make my head explode. Today’s NYTimes coverage of a sexual assault case regarding an 11 year old girl in Cleveland, Texas would fall into the latter category.
Eighteen men and boys ranging in age from middle-schoolers to 27 year old adult men have been arrested in connection with this case, where the girl was repeatedly assaulted in an abandoned trailer. Videos were recorded on cellphones. Mob mentality must have reigned. What the article fails to do, however, is ask anything of the men who are accused of committing these acts. Instead, the Times runs quotes about how these men will “have to live with this for the rest of their lives” and others that ask questions such as “Where was her mother?”
Where was her mother? Where were the parents of these boys and men? While victim-blaming is unfortunately common, it’s grating to see it perpetuated by an institution like the Times. I hate to say I expect better, because it never happens, but I do. These men are not “victims” in the way the anonymous girl is and they shouldn’t be pitied as such. Jamelle Bouie at the American Prospect elaborates on this kind of treatment of sexual assault.