Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Last Call For The Real Victims

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at University of Virginia is suing Rolling Stone magazine for defamation, fallout for its now discredited and retracted campus rape story from last year.

The chapter of Phi Kappa Psi said in a statement that it would pursue all available legal action. The announcement came a day after a team from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism concluded the magazine failed to follow basic journalistic safeguards in publishing the story, which accused the fraternity of hosting a gang rape.

The story sent shockwaves through the sleepy campus about 70 miles (113 km) from the capital Richmond. Students held demonstrations on campus as well as in front of the fraternity house, which was vandalized after the article was published.

"Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers," Stephen Scipione, the president of the fraternity chapter in Charlottesville, Virginia, said in a statement.

Proving that in a court of law, well, the guys at Volokh Conspiracy admit that's not going to be much of a problem.

Corporations and unincorporated associations that have recognized legal identities (such as unions, partnerships and the like) can also sue for defamation that causes injury to their organizational reputation, independently of whether any member was defamed. For instance, if someone falsely accuses a corporation of defrauding customers, this might hurt the corporation’s reputation even apart from injury to any particular employee’s reputation. And this is true even for nonprofit corporations, see, e.g., Lega Siciliana Social Club, Inc. v. St. Germain (Conn. Ct. App. 2003); Gorman v. Swaggart (La. Ct. App. 1988) (yes, that’s the Swaggart you’re thinking of). As the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 561(b) puts it, 
One who publishes defamatory matter concerning a corporation is subject to liability to it . . . if, although not for profit, it depends upon financial support from the public, and the matter tends to interfere with its activities by prejudicing it in public estimation.

The allegations of such group misconduct at the fraternity house certainly do harm the fraternity as an organization “in public estimation.” Therefore, if the chapter has independent legal existence, whether as a corporation or as an unincorporated association, and if it can show loss of income from potential members or from donors — or other loss stemming from, for instance, punishment by the university — then it could potentially prevail on this. And the central fraternity could also sue for similar losses, on the theory that its reputation has been tarnished both at UVA and elsewhere.

On the other hand, the organizations can’t recover damages for the emotional distress flowing from the injury to their reputations (since they lack emotions). Individuals can recover such emotional distress damage, even above and beyond actual lost income.

So yeah, I think Rolling Stone may have to settle on this one, and that's before the individual defamation suits are leveled.  Where this goes from here, well I'm betting a lot of legal mess across the board, but if there's one guaranteed result from all this it's that campus sexual assaults and rapes will be even less likely than they are now to be reported, especially against fraternity members.

One Bad Apple, All Lives Matter

Hot Air's Jazz Shaw demonstrates perfectly the problem with the perception of police brutality in America towards people of color, and specifically black men, and does it in two paragraphs.  Number one:

Yesterday, when I wrote about a police shooting in the northeast corner of Illinois, I received some of the same questions which always come up after the cops kill a suspect. Why, some readers ask, must you always defend the police? Why don’t you talk about the bad cops who act maliciously? In general, the answer has been that there are so many good cops and so few bad ones that they tend to merit the benefit of the doubt. But in nearly every one of these situations I have included the caveat that police forces are composed of fallible human beings and there are some bad ones out there. Unfortunately, we seem to have found one of them in South Carolina.

"One bad apple."  Got it.

Number two:

Unfortunately, this incident will be run up the flagpole to build on the narrative that there are armies of racist, evil cops out there. It’s equally sad that essentially all of the media coverage – including the article linked above – still has to begin with “a white officer” and “a black suspect” since this would be an equally tragic story regardless of the race of the actors involved. That can’t be avoided, but the best thing that South Carolina can do at this point is to ensure that Officer Slager has a speedy, fair trial and, if found guilty, is punished appropriately. That’s the only thing that will maintain the credibility of the police and keep the system on track.

"All lives matter."  Got it.

But some lives aren't as equal as others.

So keep yelling "one bad apple" and "all lives matter" until a white cop shoots and kills another unarmed black man, and we can play this game all over again, to infinity.  It'll always be "one bad apple" but that apple will always be a white cop killing a black man.  It'll always be "all lives matter" but it will always be a black victim shot and killed by a white cop, and the victim deserved it.

It'll always be.

Pounded Puppies, Or The Adventures Of Hurricane Hugo

Doctor Science over at Obsidian Wings has a pretty good rundown of what's going on with this weekend's Hugo Award nominees in sci-fi, and the nasty proceedings that followed.

The bottom line is that a couple of male, white sci-fi authors with a conservative bent put together a slate of nominees for their fellow travelers to vote for.  They were able to make some headway last year, but this year nearly all the nominees were on one of two slates, one made by author Larry Correia, and the other by America's Favorite Techno-Racist(tm), Vox Day.

Since Day was involved, that attracted the Breitbart crew to further the cause, and the results were pretty predictable:

This year there were two, largely overlapping "conservative" slates: Sad Puppies 3, put together by Brad Torgerson, and Rabid Puppies 2015, by Vox Day. The result: the Best Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, Editor (Long Form), and Editor (Short Form) categories contain *only* Puppies nominees, all others have been shut out. Only two non-Puppies are in the Best Novel category and in the two Dramatic Presentations, and there's only one each for Pro Artist, Fanzine, Fan Writer, and the Campbell Award.

Correia turned his own nomination down out of some goofy act of selflessness, or something.  Vox Day on the other hand sees this as the first step in the destruction of sci-fi publishing houses like Tor Books, and in the Grim Future of White Supremacy, all authors are Vox Day.

Some of the other nominees turned down their nominations because they realized they were being used by the various "Puppies" campaigns as cover to deter calls of racism/misogyny, but Doc reminds us that it's all manipulative nonsense.

What's kind of stunning to me is how resolutely the Puppies have ignored issues of *quality* in assembling and arguing for their slate. Last year's slate was unbelievably, insultingly weak -- and I say that as someone whose fiction reading is mostly fanfic. I know a *lot* about bad writing, but I also know the difference between "bad, but I like it" and "objectively well-crafted". Since Torgerson put together the SP3 slate, I feel safe dismissing it out of hand — he's demonstrated that he doesn't have the minimum level of competence at English-wrangling necessary to pick lists of "the best stories". 
I often enjoy things that aren't even trying for excellence, but that's not what awards are *for*. Part of what bemuses me about the Puppies is that having high standards, believing in excellence, thinking that there are objective standards of value that don't have anything to do with popularity — these are all things I associate with traditional conservatism. And yet the Puppies seem to be doubling down on a pugnacious rejection of high literary standards — and, in their work, even such bourgeois affectations as grammar. 
Another reason I won't vote for anything touched by the Puppies is that two of the most prominent people involved -- indeed, the two most likely to benefit from the slate -- are IMHO actually evil. 
As a rule, I don't believe in calling a person "evil". Every human is capable of evil actions as well as good ones, you can't split people into neat "good" and "bad" piles. 
However. Sometimes there are people who are pretty consistent about doing evil and seem to be proud of it, so it's fair to just cut to the chase and say they're evil people. If they do something nice, then you can be surprised.

He's of course talking about Vox Day, real name Theodore Beale (a guy who rides that "white people are genetically superior to others" train like a boss) and his sidekick John C. Wright, who once called the writers of Nickelodeon's Legend of Korra series "traitors" and termites" who needed to be "exterminated" .

Nice couple of guys, who ended up with a bunch of Hugo nominations between them.

But why do I saw Wright and Beale are the most likely to benefit from the slate?

Wright's case is obvious. With 6 nominations in 4 categories, he has a pretty good chance of adding "Hugo Award-Winning Author" to his resume. 
Beale, it turns out, is the founder and maybe editor-in-chief (it's not clear) of Castalia House, a small independent publishing company (supposedly) based in Finland, which ~~somehow~~ managed to put out nine Hugo-nominated works in its first year of operation. 
That's just another way this conservative, partisan SF movement is like conservative American politics: look for the grift. Most of the people on the Puppy slates won't get Hugo Awards, but they'll find themselves with bad reputations in the fandom and the industry for years to come. Beale and Wright, though, may well get richer -- while still being admired for their forthright courage against lefty bullying by the followers they've led to harm.

Needless to say, No Award is looking like it might sweep the Hugos this year.


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