Matt Forney
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rehtaeh parsons

Rehtaeh Parsons, Steubenville, Rape Hysteria and Feminist Vigilantism

NOTE: This article was originally published at The Spearhead on May 1, 2013. I’m re-posting it here as the site is now defunct.

A hundred years ago in the Jim Crow South, black men suspected—not convicted, not tried, merely suspected—of raping white women were hunted down by angry lynch mobs and hanged from trees. We in the 21st century are not so barbaric and uncivilized.

We hunt men suspected of rape down online and metaphorically hang them; smear them, dox them, shout “GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!” long before they can be tried in a court of law.

Enter the case of Rehtaeh Parsons. Parsons was a Nova Scotian teenage girl who died after trying to hang herself supposedly in response to having been gang raped, then having photos of the rape distributed online. The Canadian Mounties investigated the case but was forced to drop it because they couldn’t find enough evidence to charge her alleged rapists. Following Parsons’ suicide, Anonymous took up her cause, digging up enough evidence for the RCMP to re-open the case. Both Nova Scotian Premier Darrell Dexter and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have also gotten involved, pledging new laws to ban underage “sexting” and “revenge porn.” This is all good… right?

Except that no one has managed to actually prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Rehtaeh Parsons was raped.

To their credit, Anonymous has refrained from their usual scorched earth tactics by turning the info on Parsons’ alleged rapists over to the police rather than publicizing it. But despite the fact that the RCMP still hasn’t charged any of the perps (nor is there a guarantee that they will be able to, or that the courts will find them guilty), the Canadian media and feminists in general are rushing to crucify the boys along with anyone who doesn’t want to light the torches. For example, National Post columnist Christie Blatchford is being raked over the coals right now for an article in which she essentially asked people not to rush to judgement:

But Postmedia sources point to huge problems with the case that made it virtually impossible to take to court, chiefly the shifting accounts from Rehtaeh herself and independent evidence, including retrieved online messages, that supported the suggestion the sex that took place was consensual.

At no point in her article did Blatchford allege that Parsons wasn’t actually raped, or that she deserved it, or anything like that; all she argued was that the case against Parsons’ rapists is still weak enough that no one can make a definitive call on what happened. In response, professional Liberal smear-meister Warren Kinsella called her column “hateful garbage,” while VICE Canada’s Patrick McGuire called it “tasteless” and “insane.” For what it’s worth, Glen Canning (Parsons’ father) had a reasonable response, but his voice is being drowned out by the chorus of leftists screaming for Blatchford’s head.

Additionally, as Blatchford pointed out in her column, other people have been making the same point: an anonymous pamphleteer has been going around Halifax posting up flyers reminding people that there are “two sides to every story” and not to rush to judgment. This too has the feminists up in arms.

For all their chest-beating about being “progressives,” leftists and feminists have had a disturbing amount of success in regressing rape cases—and the public’s perception of them—back to the Jim Crow days, the days of the torch-wielding mob. The reason why Western jurisprudence frowns on vigilantism is because angry mobs, whether they wield shotguns or keyboards, have a poor track record when it comes to determining guilt and administering justice. The blind emotionalism of the Crowd can and has gotten innocents killed or destroyed their lives, and despite its flaws, our system of courts, judges and juries and its various precepts, such as the presumption of innocence and Blackstone’s formulation, has proven to be the most effective way to punish criminals and uphold the law.

With the number of high-profile false rape cases in recent years—Kobe Bryant, the Duke lacrosse team, Ben Roethlisberger, Julian Assange—you would think that people would become less hysterical about rape. Instead they’re becoming more so, to the point that simply stating that an accused rapist is still innocent until proven guilty is grounds for being denounced as a victimblamingmisogynistwhodoesntthinkwomenarehumanbeings. High-profile feminists like Jessica Valenti have even argued for abolishing the presumption of innocence in rape cases, which would literally take our justice system back to the Middle Ages.

None of this is really news to us in the manosphere, but there’s a new, disturbing dimension to rape hysteria: it’s starting to interfere with the prosecution of actual rapists.

The recent Steubenville case is a perfect example. The mainstream media and leftists lauded Anonymous for getting involved in the case, and while it’s a good thing that the rapists were prosecuted, the mob storm that was kicked up around the story arguably hindered more then it helped. Breitbart contributor Lee Stranahan has been covering the various lies and rumors that sprouted up around the story, and even documented several instances where Anonymous’ involvement actually hurt the prosecution’s case and obstructed justice.

In response, Anonymous began an Internet-wide smear campaign against Stranahan, posting his address, harassing his wife and children, creating an Encyclopedia Dramatica page about him (link NSFW), and dredging up every skeleton in his closet (link NSFW) in an attempt to discredit his reporting. The Anons even went so far as to taunt Stranahan about the death of his infant daughter. These smears were subsequently repeated by the left-wing blogosphere, with not a single person bothering to factually refute any of his claims. Indeed, as Catherine Fitzpatrick wrote, it’s particularly rich that the smear artists tried to attack Stranahan for his erotic photography, seeing as Anonymous was birthed in the swamp that is 4chan’s /b/, a notorious source of child porn and other disgusting shock material.

But the ultimate problem here isn’t Anonymous. It’s the idea that rape is so horrific a crime, so evil that we can chuck centuries of legal precedent and draw and quarter anyone we even suspect might be guilty of it, or anyone who isn’t eager to form a posse and string up the accused. And if both Steubenville and the Rehtaeh Parsons case are any evidence, things are getting worse. If on the off-chance that the RCMP still can’t level charges against her accused rapists or a jury finds them not guilty, the Canadian media and feminists will have conspired to destroy these boys’ lives for absolutely nothing. You think Kinsella, McGuire and their ilk will issue so much as an apology? I doubt it.

And if what happened to Lee Stranahan is any indication, the feminists and the angry mobs they’ve unleashed have no reservations about silencing anyone who opposes them.

Lest you doubt that these howling maniacs hold the levers of power, let me remind you what happened to another one of their victims: Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Mourdock ran for Senate as the Republican candidate last year and was heavily favored to win until a debate two weeks before the election where he explained why he opposed allowing women who have been raped to get abortions:

Mourdock added: “I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize: Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Mourdock is an evangelical Christian, who believe that God dictates the course of events in our world. By that logic, when a woman is raped, it’s still a horrible act, but it happened for a reason: maybe the kid is going to grow up to be the next Albert Einstein or George Washington. You don’t have to agree with Mourdock’s viewpoint—I don’t—to understand the reasoning behind it.

Feminists seized on Mourdock’s remark and smeared him as being “pro-rape,” a lie the mainstream media was all too happy to repeat. Within a week, his lead in the polls had evaporated. He ultimately lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly by a six-point margin.

We’re in for some dark days ahead.

Read Next: Why Are Feminists Such Weaklings?