Friday, January 13, 2012

Clarification Would Be Nice

Here’s another example of a news report that is too brief and lacking in detail, given the important subject matter. It is just three sentences long. The title is “Incest Defendant Gets 30 Years” and it comes to us from…

A Hopkinsville man will spend at least 20 years in a state prison for having sex with a girl in his family, Christian Circuit Judge Andrew Self ruled this week.

Now, “incest” in a news report could refer to rape, or it could refer to consanguinamory. Those are two very, very different things. It is like saying a man will go to prison for “having intercourse” with a woman.

I don’t refer to rape as “sex.” Sex is a beautiful thing involving consenting participants. Rape is an ugly violation of one or more people. Also, “a girl in his family” may or may not refer to a minor. This could be his sister, his niece, his daughter, his stepdaughter. The article doesn’t say what the actual charge was. The headline calls him an “incest defendant,” but with a prison sentence like that I’m guessing it was a rape of a minor girl, in which case I hope he serves his full sentence, But, if this was a matter of consensual sex with a female of the age of the consent, it shouldn’t have been a criminal matter and this was an unjust prosecution. Either way, it is important news and there should be more information provided. They can do so without revealing the identity of the victim.

The two remaining sentences shed no light on the situation. There’s not even an indication that the victim referred to in the article made a complaint, or if this was a matter of consensual sex that someone else reported.
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