Confusion Arises Over Rolling Stone Rape Story

Rolling StoneThe late withdrawal of Rolling Stone of its highly controversial rape article that supposedly talks about a rape case that transpired in Virginia opened the door to various legal damage claims. Media watchers and victim advocates said that it has also raised some eyebrows as to how the university handled the situation,

Tobe Berkovitz, a media expert at Boston University said that, “If I was that fraternity, I’d have a lot of big legal offices on my speed dial and I would just be teeing them up.” He also said that, “The University of Virginia is, I think, also responsible for not thoroughly investigating and sort of going beyond what would be responsible for an administration to make sure that justice is served. I think they have failed on pretty much every level.”

The report published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism last night dubbed the story behind such article as “A Rape on Campus,” published in Rolling Stone last November, a “story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.”

The report which was posted on the magazine’s website, accompanied by an apology from Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana, who also announced that the publication was officially retracting the story stated that “The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking,”

The article talked about a student referred as “Jackie who said she was supposedly raped by at least seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house a couple of years ago. The absence of her cooperation however did not give the police that strong of an evidence to work with.

The report also suggests that people offered to validate her claims were not interviewed, and as a result gave serious doubt on Jackie’s claims.

Laurie Meyers, founder of Community VOICES, a victim advocate group who has extensive experience counseling rape victims said that “If these stories are going to be written about, then they have to base on facts. I don’t think it does anybody any favors if they’re not,” She added that, “But on the other side of it, as a person who works with victims … most often they did not want to go and file a police report, so there was never documentation there. But did it mean to me that they weren’t sexually assaulted? No, and it was my job to assist them. I don’t even know what to say at this point.”

“On the one hand, women who are actually raped are going to find that people are going to be much more skeptical of them because they have seen yet another lurid campus rape story explode.” He further explained that, “Second of all, it has tarred men as presumptive rapists on campus, particularly fraternities, and that created greater gender divisions. Even though this story has collapsed, that division will probably remain.

LA Trying to Rewrite Debunked Law

LawAfter ten grueling months since the ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eradicated an ordinance in Los Angeles city that forbids living in vehicles, the people in charge of making laws in the city seem to have changed their minds as they are now looking into rewriting it.

Based on a statement released the previous week, Los Angeles Times reported that Mike Feuer, one of the most distinguished attorneys in the City, proposed a new and supposedly “better” version of the law.

The 9th Circuit had the original law stuck down as what they call unconstitutionally vague, saying it appeared to be too harsh and seem to single out the homeless. The law also clearly stipulates that, “no person shall use a vehicle … as living quarters either overnight, day-by-day, or otherwise.”

Appellate Judge Harry Pregerson wrote in Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles  that, “Section 85.02 is broad enough to cover any driver in Los Angeles who eats food or transports personal belongings in his or her vehicle,” The judge also added “Yet it appears to be applied only to the homeless. The vagueness doctrine is designed specifically to prevent this type of selective enforcement.”

According to his report last month, the Times said, Mike Feuer suggested a less expansive definition of living in a vehicle, which is a clear indication of his willingness to help out the homeless. He also added another proposal which contains a different law that provides special permits for what he called as ‘car camping” on nonresidential streets.

 Despite the old law had been on the books for a whole, its implementation have already commenced prior to the decision, specifically in gentrifying Venice Beach neighborhood in LA. There have been reports that residents in the area have complained that vehicle dwellers are not as good as they seem as they throw litter in the streets, make unnecessary noises and relieve themselves in alleys.

Based on an interview with Civil rights attorney Carol Sobel, who represented the plaintiffs in Desertrain, Feuer’s proposal was “a vast improvement,” nonetheless that homelessness continues to become a serious problem. Los Angeles is currently associated with multiple initiatives that appears to be “anti-homelessness”, these include the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, but Sobel says there isn’t even enough housing for the top-priority recipients in those programs.

The newspaper revealed that in one of their interviews, Carol Sobel stated that, “There is a problem with putting people in jail for performing life-sustaining functions when there is no other place to do it.”

Republican Defends Controversial Indiana Law

Same SexOne of the most prominent names in the republican side of the government gave an Easter surprise to gays and lesbians across the United States last Sunday

The former senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, uttered a homophobic term while defending the controversial religious law that was recently uphold in Indiana. This is the same law that some believe empowers businesses to refuse to render service to gays and lesbians.

Experts suggest that the law is “designed” in order to safeguard and preserve the religious views of the business owners from Indiana. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with the Gay community as Gay activists argued he law will open the door for discrimination, which will not only affect them, but lesbians and the transgender as well.

With a not so warm reception it received from the American people, the law was amended to include terms that give “minimal” protection based on sexual orientation.

During his appearance on CBS News’ Face The Nation, Santorum, The former presidential candidate who ran for the highest position in the state in 2012 and is known for having plans of running this coming election, showed his full support for the original bill without the changes, calling discrimination a “two-way street”.

He further added to the controversy by directing the flow of the discussion around the issue of executive overreach, which many consider as a familiar refrain for conservatives. The senator also went as far as asking questions whether such law would be equally reasonable if the government required a gay business to print signs saying, “God hates fags” for a client like the Westboro Baptist Church.

That Kansas-based church is openly homophobic, claiming US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are God’s punishment for US laws that protect gays and lesbians.

One of the usual targets for supporters of gay and lesbian rights, Santorum unquestionably knew the free speech buttons he was pushing by using a homophobic slur, however activists were also quick to point out his comparison is misleading.

Stuart Gaffney, from Marriage Equality USA, told DC Dispatches that, “Santorum is confusing this [debate] by asking whether a business should have to print hate speech,” he added, “No law requires businesses to provide that service”.

Last week, Gaffney pointed to a ruling in which a Colorado state agency found in favor of a bakery that reportedly refused to decorate two cakes from a customer with Bible verses rejecting same-sex marriage.