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After Miss D.C. 2009 Jen Corey‘s claim that the Washington Examiner mischaracterized her sexual assault as a simple “bar fight,” reporter Tara Palmeri firstdefended herself by claiming she doesn’t always write her own stories. Now, the paper has revealed its second line of defense: Accusing Corey of being a bad sexual assault victim.
After registering Corey’s complaint with the Examiner‘s coverage of her assault, J.P. Freire, the Examiner‘s associate editor of commentary, has decided to lend his expert opinion on the appropriate response to being sexually assaulted! And the appropriate response is: “to get away as fast as” possible. Thank you, noted sexual assault victim appropriateness expert J.P. Freire! What would victims of sexual assault do without J.P. Freire making things “fair”?
Let’s follow the trajectory of the Examiner‘s response here: Corey was concerned that the paper had mischaracterized her experience with sexual assault, conflating her self-defense with “controversial” aggressiveness befitting a “bar fight.” Palmeri responds by claiming that she didn’t write the story—-she just represented an intern’s work as her own. Then, editor Freire jumps in to suggest that the paper’s mishandling of sexual assault is justified because Corey wasn’t a demure enough victim for Freire’s taste.
Never mind that Corey has spoken publicly about all the potential tactics available to victims of sexual assault—-from physical self-defense to verbal diffusion strategies to running to safety to reporting to authorities. Never mind that she’s emphasized that there is no one “ideal” way to respond to an assault. Never mind that it is, in fact, the Washington Examiner that has been goading every beauty queen it can squeeze a quote out of into adopting Corey’s own self-defense strategies. Never mind all that! I’d hate to let actual reporting get in the way of some dude offering glib 140-character solutions to sexual assault over Twitter:
Bonus: Freire has previously written on the dangerous problem of institutions mischaracterizing sexual assault! In April, Freire criticized Duke University’s “disturbing” new sexual assault policy, which he said makes “no clear distinction between genuinely horrifying behavior and non-offenses.” You don’t say.
UPDATE: Freire has posted a response in the comments.