If you named names about the obvious Baltimore "media desert," you would begin with such right-wing radio troglodytes as WBAL and WCBM, often National Public Radio (the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA the only exception to the rulers), the Sun (a right-of-center operation), and all the TV stations and programs except for Amy Goodman's show, Democracy Now.
The three letters to the editor in response to Van Smith's article titled "City Paper photographer accused of raping his daughter" (Mobtown Beat, May 14), by Adam Rosenberg, Catherine Pascale, and Heather Brantner (The Mail, May 28), all ring with an excessive emotionalism which belies the reporting and facts of the subject case while pontificating, when read together, for their political objective-what I'll call the "rape victims' rights industry."
When read apart, the letters are even more curious. Rosenberg preloads his diatribe with Spiderman references and the history of the Constitution, and attempts to use the unenforceable ideals the Society of Professional Journalists espouse without appearing to know the difference between a news story and an opinion piece. He attacks both City Paper and the writer, and then demands an audience with same for a discussion. This writer wonders how that tactic works for Rosenberg in his private life.
Pascale takes the rhetoric of Rosenberg and further escalates it. Her argument seems to be that if a newspaper reports about an alleged sexual-abuse case, no future alleged sexual-abuse victims will ever come forth-both a silly idea and one which appears to not understand how our legal system works.
The Brantner letter is the most off-putting and reeks of inquisitional arrogance of the kind today's youth, bolstered by social media, often practice, believing their views are omni-correct and that they are entitled to edit those who oppose their views by organizing, for example, against college commencement speakers. Brantner appears to believe that the police and courts should use her group's victim-centered approach and just convict the alleged perpetrator without due process, and that Smith should just keep his trap shut about what is going on in a public criminal case which has severe penalties.
The writers make many other specious arguments while attempting to say the Sun or Justin Fenton would never report in such a way, when, in fact, they report similar stories all the time. The writers seem to believe an allegation of rape is never made falsely, but if it is, that it is a minuscule number, and that Baltimore police have redone their rape stats because of a story by Fenton in 2010-none of which is true. The idea that people do not make false statements against those they are involved in legal proceedings, i.e., child custody proceedings, with is without merit. It is unbelievably common. The one study named by Rosenberg is hardly on point.
Smith's subject story conforms to all the rules of journalism. He did not take any one side, nor would the subject of the story, assuming he was rational, believe the story to be pro his position or helpful to his standing in society. Further, clearly, the authorities are involved and the subject of the story will have his day in court, one way or the other.
Taken together and individually, what the writers stand for is not America. I hope the next time they call, City Paper editors hang up on them.
William C. Bond
Editor's Note: This week marks the first full issue since Jenn Ladd, our now-erstwhile staff editor, left to join the Baltimore Business Journal. When the paper was free from grammatical errors over the last two years, it was usually as a result of Jenn's diligence as a copy editor. She also edited the Film section and vastly increased our collective knowledge of food and alcohol. She will be greatly missed.
Corrections: In the story "Wild Child" (Stage, May 28) Lola Pierson's previous play Office Ladies was called Office Girl, and musical collaborator Alex Scally was called James Scally. In addition, the photo credit should have been Rashid Zackat, not Rashit Zackat. City Paper regrets the errors.