A reader reminds us that “looking at the other’s point of view” can be difficult even for those who call for it publicly.
EDITORS NOTE: This was sent to us by email. The sender agreed we could publish it, but asked to remain anonymous.
The post — and the variety of responses — gets at a lot of the issues we talk about here: 1) goodness and why it’s important, 2) men’s portrayal in the media 3) empathy and what it actually looks like in real life, 4) the difference between criticism and attacks, 5) what is “privilege” and what is the difference between male vs. female privilege. Is there an inherent, systematic approach to “protect” women over men and can that be seen as privilege? 6) The way in which intentions get misconstrued in the media.
UPDATE: We have been in contact with Amanda Marcotte by email, and she asked us to put in the following statement: “I do not support Mike Nifong’s choices in this case and wish generally that rape cases could be handled with due process instead of tried by a public that has politicized what should be a matter for the criminal justice system. Any suggestion that I feel any way about this case outside of that is false.”
The discussion you had on Twitter that was posted to the Good Men Project featured the following exchange:
TMatlack: WTF. So the only way to be a “good” man is to imagine how hard it is to be a woman? What a crock of shit.
AmandaMarcotte: Imagining the POV of someone you’re in conflict with is bare minimum of being a good person, yes.
I thought this exchange was darkly comical, at minimum, because of the acerbic tone Marcotte’s writing at Pandagon has always had. If compiling a list of pundits who were adept at imagining the point of view of their ideological opponents, Marcotte’s name wouldn’t leap to the top.
In particular, her coverage of the Duke Rape hoax was extreme, and led to her “resigning” from blogging officially for John Edwards’ presidential campaign. From Wikipedia:
Statements on Duke Lacrosse Case
Reason contributing editor Cathy Young has described Marcotte as a “leader of the cyber-lynch mob in the Duke University rape hoax“. In “Marcotte’s eyes, the real crime of the independent feminists is helping preserve the idea that the presumption of innocence applies even in cases of rape and sexual assault.”
Marcotte declared on her blog that people who defended the accused Duke students were “rape-loving scum”.Time reported that in “late January, more ethics charges were heaped on the District Attorney in the Duke University sexual-assault case, and Marcotte attacked the news with her usual swagger and sarcasm:”I’ve been sort of casually listening to CNN blaring throughout the waiting area and good fucking god is that channel pure evil. For awhile, I had to listen to how the poor dear lacrosse players at Duke are being persecuted just because they held someone down and fucked her against her will—not rape, of course, because the charges have been thrown out. Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.
The New York Times and others made so much “hay” over what she wrote that she ended up deleting the post entirely. In an article that she wrote for Salon, she referred to this as the first in a series of “shitstorms” that caused her to resign from the John Edwards campaign
Brooklyn college history professor K.C. Johnson’s blog Durham in Wonderland is the most detailed record of the Duke Rape hoax, written as events unfolded and summarized afterwards. If you’re unfamiliar, the short of it is a district attorney named Mike Nifong who was seeking reelection exploited the racial tension in Durham to win the black vote and his reelection, and pushed ahead with the prosecution of a rape accusation that evidence did not support. The end result was Nifong’s disbarment and criminal conviction along with the Attorney General of North Carolina declaring the accused Duke Lacrosse players innocent of the charges against them (not not guilty, but actually innocent).
Some of the ethical violations by Nifong and the Durham police department were inexcusable. The alleged rape was said to have occurred at a party thrown by the Duke lacrosse team, at which both the accuser and nearly all of the lacrosse team were present. The line-ups used by Durham police featured only Duke lacrosse players, eliminating any realistic chance of a false positive when the accuser was asked to identify the particular Duke lacrosse players involved. Perhaps worse (certainly so in the eyes of the North Carolina State Bar) Nifong made pubic statements to the media that he had DNA evidence placing the specific lacrosse players accused at the scene of the crime, which not only was an outright lie, but Nifong delayed releasing the full results of the DNA testing performed by the Durham police that would have helped exonerate the defendants.
When Nifong asked the state attorney general’s office and the Administrative Office of the Courts to pay his legal fees and help defend him against the civil suit that followed, both offices refused on the grounds that Nifong’s actions involved “fraud, corruption (and) malice.”
In Marcotte’s eyes, and by her own words, anyone who took issue with the unethical and criminal actions of Nifong as the case unfolded and it became more and more apparent Nifong was a menace, was “rape-loving scum.” I and many others must live in a fantasy land where neither rape, removing the burden of proof from the state, convicting people of crimes they did not commit, nor police and prosecutor misconduct are considered acceptable. It’s a shame Marcotte seems incapable of “imagining this point of view” and can only frame people into one of two polarizing, opposing camps.
If you cross paths in the future, do me a favor and ask her if she believes herself to be a good person.
photo by vance holmes