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I AM WRITING WITH REgard to Hanna Rosin’s article on “stalking” (“Let’s Stalk About It,” 11/5). As one of Rosin’s interviewees, I found this piece sensationalistic and distorted. Rosin clearly set out to do a hatchet job on the stalking law and therefore made no effort to fairly present it or its rationales. First, Rosin presented the stalking law in its broadest light, quoting only one portion. The provision she ignored defines a stalker as “any person who on more than one occasion engages in conduct with the intent to cause emotional distress to another person or places another person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury by willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following and harassing that person.”
Second, and more important, Rosin takes as truth the word of two men who were interviewed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to their former girlfriends’ claims of stalking. The men deny they threatened the women; that’s apparently the end of the matter for Rosin. Using this standard, Rosin must believe there should be no domestic violence laws whatsoever, because men who batter and abuse women routinely deny it. While it may surprise Rosin to know this, women do not go around calling the police because they broke up with their boyfriends. They do not enjoy encounters with prosecutors. Women call the police and the prosecutors because they are frightened of their boyfriends, and they are frightened of them because the men act or speak threateningly or violently. Had Rosin bothered to interview the women who made the reports to the police, or even the police who the women had called, she would undoubtedly have learned why they made the reports, and their stories would undoubtedly have differed from the men’s.
Consistent with her determination to stick to her theme, Rosin also took her quotations of me out of context. I did not say simply that “legislation is not really the solution.” I said that legislation is not the whole solution, but is a vital first step, because it gives the frightening behavior a criminal name and motivates the police to take it seriously. I also believe, although I do not remember for sure, that I asked and she promised to run any quotations by me. Of course, she did not.
Finally, I question Hanna Rosin’s ethics. She misrepresented to me and at least one other interviewee who she was writing this piece for, claiming it was for the New Republic. Washington City Paper may not be pleased that she thought this ploy was necessary to garner our cooperation, but unfortunately in the future it may be, if the paper continues to publish articles of this shoddy quality.
The National Law Center, George Washington University, Foggy Bottom