Rolling Stone all but retracts UVA story
This Friday, Rolling Stone published a note to their readers that walked back key parts of their article which sparked a renewed discussion about sexual violence on college campuses. The article said that Rolling Stone’s trust in “Jackie,” their primary source for the story on an alleged gang rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia, had been misplaced and that there were several discrepancies in her story. For one, Phi Kappa Psi never had a date function or party on the night in question. Several questions existed surrounding the identity of “Drew,” who allegedly orchestrated the attack. Several news outlets criticized Rolling Stone’s failure to contact the friends that accompanied Jackie to the frat party, and her alleged attackers, out of respect for Jackie’s feelings. However, Rolling Stone now believes they should have done so given the discrepancies they found.
I have mixed feelings about this. While I’d believed the article was sensationalized and misrepresented life at UVA, I’m worried about how it might impact the national conversation on campus rape. Chances are, Jackie’s story is at least partially accurate. Most studies show that only around 2-10% of all rape allegations made to the police are fabricated. That said, Jackie never made any official allegations, so we’ll probably never truly know if her story was one of the 2-10%. I’d always had a problem with the fact that Jackie didn’t go to the police after the dean she’d contacted advised her how to hold her attackers accountable. Yet she felt fine going to Rolling Stone. But on top of that, there’s evidence that she asked to be taken out of the story, but the author of the article pressured her to stay in, and that she was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which could’ve impacted her actions at the time and since. Rolling Stone also admitted that the failure to contact all sources to get all sides of the story was their fault, not Jackie’s.
I can only hope that we continue having a national conversation on campus rape, and that we don’t use this as an excuse to stop pushing for change. Sexual assault survivors’ first move should be to go to the police. After 48 hours, it becomes much more difficult to obtain physical evidence to support rape charges. While it’s true that many police officers treat rape victims with skepticism (and stories like this are a big reason why), they are still best equipped to investigate and solve the problem. Also, we’re not likely to see the end to fraternities and sororities that I called for two weeks ago. While I still wouldn’t miss the Greek system if it were gone, hopefully a solution can be found that seeks to make these organizations more transparent about their actions and steps up enforcement of sexual assault, which would still be an improvement over our current situation.
City of Kennesaw rejects storefront mosque
There were many rage-worthy stories in the news this week (the failure to indict Eric Garner’s attackers chief among them), but one that flew under the national radar is the city council of Kennesaw, GA’s decision not to grant a use permit for a mosque in a shopping center. It was fairly clear that this decision was at least partly motivated by racism and religious prejudice, as many people waved protest signs in the shopping center that said things like “Islam wants no peace.” Also, when many of the protesters were interviewed, they cited ridiculously overblown concerns about terrorism. These false attacks were often veiled through concerns over potential traffic and parking issues, but the shopping center where the mosque was planned for was mostly empty, making those concerns baseless. Even more galling, the city council approved a Pentecostal church in a retail space just last summer. Luckily, Kennesaw’s mayor has said they will revisit the issue, and I would hope the federal government will step in to protect the group’s First Amendment rights if they fail to approve the permit soon.
Scott Stapp on a downward spiral
Creed has always been one of my favorite bands, but its frontman appears to be in need of some serious help. The whole episode started on November 26, when Scott Stapp posted a 15-minute video saying that he’s completely penniless and living in a Holiday Inn. He also says that he’s been the victim of a “vicious attack” and that many involved with his music career have stolen money from him. He claims that the IRS has frozen his accounts, and in a subsequent interview said he believes this was because he said in an interview that he wouldn’t vote for President Obama in 2012. He also denies rumors that he has relapsed into alcoholism and drug use. Later videos he posted and later took down show him reporting these alleged crimes to the Boca Raton Police Department, and talking about how God has been taken out of American culture.
I’ve been one of Stapp’s more zealous defenders over the years because I like his music, but even I am finding his story hard to swallow. The most damning piece of evidence might be that was placed in a 72-hour psychiatric hold after being found on the side of the road in Madison County, Florida on November 13. Police said that Stapp appeared “wasted, incoherent, and rambling that someone was trying to poison him.” It was also revealed that Stapp received $1.5 million in advances in 2013 for his latest solo album Proof of Life, in addition to sharing in a $3 million payment with the other members of Creed for their 2009 album Full Circle, leaving many to wonder how that much money was stolen from him. Entertainment attorney Dina LaPolt told The Hollywood Reporter that a lot of checks and balances are in place to prevent a theft of that scale that she admits did happen to some artists back in the day.
On top of all that, Stapp’s wife Jaclyn filed for divorce, claiming that her husband left their home in October and has been on a drug-fueled binge since, sending her disturbing texts and threatening to harm or kill her and their children. Stapp’s teenage son Jagger also allegedly tweeted a similar message. Stapp’s Creed bandmates Mark Tremonti and Brian Marshall have reached out to try to find him and get him help. Marshall was successful in reaching Stapp, and has said that he needs medical help before he surrenders to his disease. Other sources close to Stapp have said similar things in interviews. While I’ve run out of patience for Stapp’s well-documented antics over the years, as a Creed fan I do hope he is able to get the help he needs before something truly terrible happens.