Whether Tara Reade’s accusation is “credible,” as has become the newly popular yet largely meaningless word, or not doesn’t particularly interest me. Had it been raised at the time, had she complained to police, had it blossomed into a criminal prosecution where it would be subject to the normal rigors of the legal system and her accused, Joe Biden, been given the opportunity to defend, we might have something. Now, 27 years later without any possibility of it being subject to legal scrutiny, it’s just noise.
You may disagree with me. You may offer the litany of excuses about why Reade might be disinclined to complain to the police, about how traumatized women fail to complain, tell conflicted and false stories, shouldn’t be “silenced” by being expected to do what is required of every other putative crime victim. Of course, if she had but the police refused to act upon her complaint, that would be a different discussion. But that didn’t happen.
One of the little lies that form the foundation of the big lie is that false rapes are extremely rare. This, too, has been the subject of a great deal of discussion. It’s a zombie argument, essentially impossible to kill as it gets repeated over and over. In the Daily News, Cathy Young gives it another try.
The existence of false allegations of sexual assault or rape has been something of a taboo in our culture since the rise of feminist anti-rape advocacy in the 1970s, and especially since the past decade’s feminist revival. Even after Rolling Stone’s shocking tale of a fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia was exposed as a hoax in early 2015, pundits such as legal analyst Sunny Hostin stressed that the supposed victim, a student named Jackie, should not be branded a liar. (Evidence showed that the main perpetrator Jackie named was a made-up boyfriend she had impersonated in messages to friends.) Hostin noted that “only about 2% of rapes that are reported are false.”
The percentage is in a constant state of change, which is understandable since it’s essentially a fictional number taken for granted as it’s floated out in public.
Yet that often-used figure appears to have no credible source. While Hostin and others have attributed it to the FBI, the bureau’s statistics show that 8-10% of rape reports to law enforcement are “unfounded” (i.e., closed by police after determining that no crime occurred). These figures undoubtedly include some reports that are not false, but they also likely miss some false reports as well. (A large number of complaints are never resolved; some wrongful allegations result in prosecution or even conviction.) Studies of campus sexual assault reports show a similar pattern.
Ultimately, no one knows the “real” rate of false allegations — especially ones made to the media, not to authorities.
The more obvious reason why “no one knows” is that absent evidence that proves an accusation to be false, such as a guy being in a different city on the date of the alleged rape or DNA proving that it was some other guy, how would one know with certainty what transpired between two people when there was no one else around? There are other pieces of evidence that can tend to show the truth or falsity of an allegation, such as the near-impossibility of Tara Reade’s allegations being true because there is no place in the halls of the Senate where it could have happened without anyone seeing Joe Biden do the dirty.
But there is another “false rape” problem that implicates the stats upon which the edifice of “Believe Women” is built. In the first redefinition of rape, it changed from forcible to consent under the “no means no” standard. But it was 2014, merely six years ago, when two law professors made the absurd argument that requiring the victim to say “no” was too burdensome and misdirected.
Two profs, Kathleen Bogle, teaching sociology and criminal justice (whatever that is) at LaSalle, and Anne Coughlin, a lawprof at UVA, apparently recognized the confusion wrought by an excess of passion and a dearth of reason and decided to fix the problem. Their post at Slate is entitled The Missing Key to Fighting Sexual Assault on Campus, with the subtitle, Universities must make clear when having sex with a drunk person is a crime.
When the crime of rape was tethered to both a cognizable definition and constitutionally adequate notice, such that the male understood where the line was and he would be committing rape by crossing it, the incidence of false rape accusations was entirely different. There were objective standards one could focus on to determine whether an accusation met the minimum bar of what constituted a crime.
A complaint, for example, that the woman was drunk, enthusiastically consented and participated in sex, and decided the next day that her freely-given consent was invalid, and so the fellow with whom she shared a fun and invigorating evening the night before morphed into a rapist the next day. That the man was drunk too is irrelevant to the new calculus, but it’s irrelevant regardless.
Not only are there false rapes in the sense that sex never happened, or that sex happened but the accused was not the perpetrator, but there are false rapes in the sense that it was rape only because the accuser sincerely believes she was raped, even if the conduct involved fails to meet objective elements of an offense. Under the current regime, where the definition of the crime has become so squishy as to include whatever conduct the woman believes to be rape, we have eradicated the ability to distinguish between “real” and false” rape accusations because the word has been reduced to substantive meaninglessness. What was once a heinous crime is now whatever the “survivor” says it is, even if a good time was had by all.