CUSTOMER SERVICE

Posted in Quick Hits on December 16th, 2013 by Ed

Some people have the puzzling ability to say useful things about important topics while simultaneously presenting themselves in such an obnoxious way that people will refuse to listen to them. You want to agree with them but they're just so…off-putting. Either they're full of themselves or they're beholden to every buzzword and fad on the planet or they're the type of person who defines themselves as an oppressed victim to the point that if you agree with them, they will get mad and make their argument more ridiculous until you don't.

Basically just picture the kind of people who spend their lives writing Tumblrs about Thin Privilege and Trans-species identity crises and oh my god I'm so sorry I don't put a trigger warning on this post that it was going to include consonants.

With that caveat, it is most definitely worth your time to read this post entitled, "I accompanied someone to the police station to report a sexual assault, and this is what happened." I made a concerted effort to avoid getting hung up, as I tend to do, on how stupid it is to describe oneself as a Professional Sexologist or to talk in that ridiculous patois of Tumblr Social Justice speak (Thanks for the "tw" Trigger Warning, as if people are too stupid to see the title of the post and figure out that it will talk about sexual assault).

As you can tell there are some elements of that corner of the internet that I find highly irritating – and more importantly, highly counterproductive. But it's impossible to get to the end of that post and think, "Well, yeah. That's pretty much exactly what happens." I have never reported my own sexual assault, thank god, because I've never been sexually assaulted. But take cumulatively all of your experiences with the police, with medical bureaucracy, with the small town mentality, and with the too-obvious-to-belabor reality that in sex crimes it is the victim who goes on trial. Consider all of that, read this narrative, and try to say with a straight face that any part of it is implausible.

What percentage of sexual assaults go unreported can only be estimated, but one certain thing is that it's a lot. And it's really not hard to figure out why. I wonder how much of the sub-mediocre performance of the local police in this tale is a specific antagonism toward people who accuse sexual assault and how much of it is being terrible at their job in general. In reality it is probably some of both. It is a problem I have no idea how to solve. What is clear is that our entire justice system is compromised if this is how cops behave – and I don't doubt that some do. Metaphors about homes built on rotten foundations seem trite, but for an accuser/victim in these cases there are already enough roadblocks. The least the cops can do is follow their own rules and procedures and do their jobs without serving as self-appointed judge and jury. If the victim is lying, as so many people so often seem to be convinced, then it is the job of the legal system – not Officer Fred at Podunk PD – to bring that to light.