A reader writes:
Look, I am as outraged as anyone by this gang rape, but take a breath. The Times article was not biased against this girl - the word "vicious" is right there in the headline. The reporter obviously went around town and talked to people, and he got the kind of quotes that are in the story.
The reason why you probably are not hearing from voices defending the girl is not because of reportorial bias but because of the surrounding context of the case that the Times, with praiseworthy motives I'm sure, chose to suppress. Bluntly, the scene of the crime is a mostly black neighborhood; the alleged perpetrators are all black; the victim is a Latina and no longer lives in the school district.
In other words, I would bet you that you do not have significant Latino population in this town to defend the girl as such. Otherwise, I would expect the reporter would have quoted some. But the converse is also true. Since the town is overwhelmingly black, the alleged perpetrators are all black, and the victim is not black, what we seem to have here is some collective rationalization going on.
In short, there is a racial dynamic to this case that the Times and everyone else chose to ignore. I don't want to draw undue attention to it, but it is there, and that probably more than anything else explains why we didn't get more quotes defending the young girl.
Jezebel updates its coverage with a statement from the NYT:
We are very aware of and sensitive to the concerns that arise in reporting about sexual assault. This story is still developing and there is much to be learned about how something so horrific could have occurred. But nothing in our story was in any way intended to imply that the victim was to blame.
Neighbors' comments about the girl, which we reported in the story, seemed to reflect concern about what they saw as a lack of supervision that may have left her at risk. As for residents' references to the accused having to "live with this for the rest of their lives," those are views we found in our reporting. They are not our reporter's reactions, but the reactions of disbelief by townspeople over the news of a mass assault on a defenseless 11-year-old.
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