Triple threat: Stuart Taylor Jr. proves to be racist, sexist, and classist in one lazy DSK argument

Theatlantic.com has just published a piece by Stuart Taylor Jr., a Contributing Editor for The National Journal, in which he attempts to argue that the DSK charges should be dropped, and in the process, reveals himself to be a lazy thinker of the most arrogant, out-of-touch ilk and a grade A misogynist to boot.

In short, he believes that Nafissatou Diallo has proven herself to be deceptive, and therefore, doesn’t deserve a criminal trial (he generously offers that, despite being a “serial liar,” she does deserve a civil trial). He wastes no words, strangely, looking at DSK’s believability, despite the growing evidence from various witnesses all over the frickin’ globe that the man had sex and power problems. Further, Taylor’s analysis is littered with misconceptions about sexual assault, chief among them that rape is only plausible when the perpetrator has a weapon of some kind.

Here’s what is really going on: Taylor, who took the Duke lacrosse case and turned it into a grand morality play about the political correctness of our time, is taking the DSK case and fitting it into the exact same pre-determined tropes without bothering to do any new critical thinking about this case. He writes:

Remember the Duke lacrosse rape fraud? Remember Tawana Brawley? Some seem to unlearn the lessons of such cases every time a poor (or not so poor) woman of color accuses a rich (or not so rich) white male of doing something horrible. Especially when the accused admits to conduct that was, at best, unseemly and crude. The hard fact is that in a great many “he said, she said” cases–including this one–it is impossible to be confident of whether or not the woman consented.

Notice the word choice there: every time. Essentially Taylor is arguing that because there have been cases of poor women of color falsely accusing rich white men, all cases involving these two demographic groups are unprosecutable. According to Taylor, there is no victim pure enough, no rapist guilty enough, no case straight-forward enough. In his world, no poor woman can be trustworthy and no rich man can be blamed. Consent is irrelevant and indeterminable.

As a dedicated reader of The Atlantic, I’m deeply disappointed that they would even publish such an unreasonable, disrespectful, and downright unethical analysis. This seems like a prime example of false balance in journalism–as if giving Stuart Taylor Jr. a platform is somehow honoring one side of an argument, when, in fact, it is spreading racism, classism, and sexism of the lowest order.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted August 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    As women, we should never be surprised by this sort of attack on the victim. It is the classic defense and the most effective. We are part of the problem as women we have to stop allowing society to sexualize us and then demonize us. We in fact fall right into these traps, time and again. Women sit on juries, women judge other women every day by their clothing, their make-up, their career choices; even by whether they are successful or not. We use the language that gives men permission to say “she was asking for it”.

    I am not blaming the victim, not at all. But I do believe women need to stand back and start taking some responsibility for how we view each other; rather than putting the weapons into the hands of defense attorney’s and for that matter, would be rapists.

  2. Posted August 8, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The exception, assuming there is an exception, doesn’t prove the rule. And what is often not spoken of are the very different ways in which each person’s experience unfolded. We owe it to ourselves to document as much of that as we can.

  3. Posted August 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Well what did you expect? We obviously don’t live in a world where men are taken for their word and women arn’t. If we did then there’s no way a book like that could be published. The fact that these guys were assumed to be rapists without any evidences shows you that the world does not look on men as favourably as you would think. I know feminists HATE talking about false rape allergations and want to pretend like they don’t exists but they do.

    Secondly I have no idea how you came to the conclusion that the aritcle was racists, sexist, classist etc considering it was just attacking ONE person and not a SINGLE GROUP. If the maid has told a number of lies in the past as well as not told the truth then it’s obviously going to threaten the credibility of her story, how can it not? I know feminists want to belive that all men are guilty and all women are victems but we don’t live in a world as black and white as that. You might as well wait for the whole story to come to a conclusion and wait for the facts to come out, otherwise all you do is base your whole opinion on nothing more then hearsay evidence.

    • Posted August 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Point 1. While false allegations do exist, they are a statistical minority, hovering anywhere from 2 to 8% depending on country and legal standards.

      Point 2. Both his examples involve women (sexist) of color (racist) who worked in jobs that are considered lower class (classist). Regardless of what lies she may or may not have told, no one, either accuser or accused, should be denied their day in court. The whole point of a criminal trial is to sort through evidence (which does include the credibility of testimony on both sides) circumstantial and physical. What the article posits is that no rape case should ever be prosecuted because it always come down to ‘he said, she said’. This stance is based on one court case where everyone got their day in court and the men were found innocent. Based on one case where the men were found innocent, the writer implies that all cases where a poor, woman of color, in a low income job accuses a right white male, it’s a false accusation. This is fairly offensive.

      Regardless of where you stand, opinion wise, the idea that this woman doesn’t deserve her day in court (or even that DSK doesn’t deserve the right to legally refute the allegations) is what is wrong with the article. DSK is accused of a crime, while he has the presumption of innocence (that comes from both his legal right and white, male, privilege) his accuser has the right to take her case before a judge or jury and try to prove guilt. Simply because she is a woman of ‘questionable virtue’ doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get this chance.

      • Posted August 8, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        “The whole point of a criminal trial is to sort through evidence (which does include the credibility of testimony on both sides) circumstantial and physical. ”

        No, it’s not.

        The point of pre-trial hearings and prosecutorial discretion is to sort through the evidence a case has and determine if the prosecution has any hope of achieving a “guilty” result. Many cases don’t go to trial specifically as a result of this process because they do not perceive a possibility of achieving such a verdict.

        That’s the point being made in this article. The author’s positing this: there is not sufficient evidence at this juncture to convict DSK of rape in a criminal trial. I am inclined to agree with him. Right now, the only evidence of a rape is the testimony of a person who has willfully made false rape claims in the past, and whose testimony has been inconsistent.

        As such, I don’t think the prosecution has a chance of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reasonable doubt is that the accuser is lying, and that doubt is going to be satisfied by the fact that she has lied about rape in the past.

        We may not like this system, but that is how our system works. I do not think DA Vance will pursue this case. There is no real hope of achieving a criminal conviction.

        That isn’t to say that Ms. Diallo’s story is false. What it means is that we have an adversarial justice system in which guilt must be proven to standards higher than the state is capable of. This is true of many rape cases, for reasons that are particular to the crime itself.

  4. Posted August 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I quit reading the Atlantic years ago. It is filled with pompous, wordy articles expressing mainstream intellectual wisdom that are about four times too long. So boring I could not finish them.

  5. Posted August 9, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    In a time where it is debated to shift the burden of proof to the accused, these kind of articles are necessary.

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