Note: I’m going to start doing round-ups of exceptionally good and exceptionally bad stuff I read from day to day, with short excerpts. Heds/subheds will be taken from the piece itself. These posts will appear under this category.
When a tiny university in Canada was rocked by sexual assault allegations, frustrated students fought back by spreading rumors. This is the story of how everyone lost.
by Katie J.M. Baker
…Since the women’s complaints were officially deemed false, they weren’t grounds for discussion — not even by the complainants themselves.
Quest first tried to control the rising issue by holding community meetings and responding to concerned parents. But as rumors spread, the school cracked down on accusers. Koenderman sent emails to the complainants reminding them that, under the Human Rights Policy’s confidentiality code, they were not allowed to “divulge any details of the complaint including the identity of the other parties.” President Helfand warned a school newspaper reporter who was investigating the issue to be wary of publishing libel, and called an outspoken student named Brendan into his office for posting incendiary comments on a private Facebook page for Quest students under a discussion about a Feministing blog post called “Don’t Be Friends With Rapists.”
“I’m tired of seeing Quest act as a safe space for serial rapists,” Brendan wrote. “We need to get these rapists out of our community ourselves or they are going to keep raping our friends.”
Brendan said he thought Helfand wanted to meet with him to discuss ways to more effectively address sexual assault on campus. Instead, Brendan said, Helfand angrily told him the school interpreted his comment as a threat against the alleged perpetrators, and said Quest could report him to the police for “inciting violence” unless he removed the post.
The national death-row population is roughly 42 percent black—nearly three times the proportion in the general population.
by Matt Ford
Unchecked by the judiciary, the death penalty’s racial discrepancy survived and thrived. Eleven years after McCleskey, Baldus studied 667 homicides in Philadelphia between 1983 and 1993 and found that black defendants there were nearly four times likelier than white defendants to receive a death sentence for the same crimes. Racial disparities in crime rates aren’t a factor in this because homicide, the predominant capital offense, is an overwhelmingly intra-racial crime. Federal statistics show that 84 percent of white victims and 93 percent of black victims between 1980 and 2008 were murdered by someone of the same race. But death-row statistics don’t reflect those rates: Although roughly half of all U.S. homicide victims are black, more than three-quarters of victims of death-row defendants executed since 1976 were white.
by Robert McMillan
The net neutrality debate is based on a mental model of the internet that hasn’t been accurate for more than a decade. We tend to think of the internet as a massive public network that everyone connects to in exactly the same way. We envision data traveling from Google and Yahoo and Uber and every other online company into a massive internet backbone, before moving to a vast array of ISPs that then shuttle it into our homes. That could be a neutral network, but it’s not today’s internet. It couldn’t be. Too much of the traffic is now coming from just a handful of companies.
The most searing critiques of George Will’s much-maligned column on rape misrepresent his arguments, illustrating a common flaw in American public discourse.
by Conor Friedersdorf
Of course, Will was talking about “victim status,” not victim status. But the point still holds.