Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trigger Warning: "The devil is in full control." (by res ipsa loquitur)

The NYT is up with a follow-up to its shameful story about the gang rape of an eleven-year-old Texas child. (If you're blocked by the paywall, search for "New York Times" plus the headline ("3-Month Nightmare Emerges in Rape Inquiry") and go in via a search engine.)

You'll recall that the NYT's public editor declared that writer James C. McKinley's original story "lacked balance" (as though there are two, equally valid points of view regarding rape). So the first thing to note about the follow-up is the byline: McKinley has been given adult supervision in the form of a co-writer, Erica Goode.

The "boys" who elicited such sympathy from the community and whose plight so obviously touched the NYT have morphed into "an eclectic group of young men". Some phrases associated with these young men -- and the men in whose homes the attacks are said to have occurred -- include "on probation for burglary", "registered sex offender", "murder charges," "manslaughter", "robbing a grocery store," and "out on bond while awaiting trial on rape and robbery charges".

We also learn (finally and crucially):

In Texas, a child under 17 cannot give legal consent and as in most states, ignorance off a child's age is not a legal defense.

Wow! Would educating your readers by including that bit of information on the first go-round have been so very difficult?

You don't need to worry, a whiff of suspicion still clings to this eleven-year-old who, we learn, was tall for her age and who wanted to be a fashion model. And we get some excuses explanation for the initial NYT story:

The Cleveland police and the local district attorney have released little information about the alleged rapes and the evidence, and their silence has allowed rumor and speculation to flourish.

That sentence should probably have ended with the phrase "in the community and in the NYT newsroom", but I'm being picky.

There's more to digest and dissect here, but it's 3 AM and I've got to try to get some sleep before work, so I'll leave the rest to you in comments and additional posts.