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Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” advice columnist for the Chicago Tribune,has declined to publicly respond to criticism of a column she wrote last month in response to advice-seeker “Victim? In Virgina.” You know the one: The column informing a rape victim she was a “victim of your own awful judgment,” calling the crime “sex” that “shouldn’t happen” instead of rape, and suggesting that the victim “involve the guy in question” in order to determine whether he raped her or not.

Dickinson has declined to print any of the letters criticizing her response to the rape question, but she has responded personally to one concerned reader. “Did you even read my column?” Dickinson shoots back, before criticizing the reader for not being “more educated, careful, respectful and circumspect” in her criticisms of Dickinson’s advice. E-mail exchange after the jump.

Reader writes in:

From: [Redacted]
Sent: Saturday, November 28, 2009 2:33 PM
To: ctc-askamy
Subject: Please pass this on to the rape victim you attacked in your Nov. 27 column

Here is the Virginia code’s definition of “Rape”;

“A. If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness who is not his or her spouse or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness’s will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person, or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness, or (iii) with a child under age thirteen as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.”

If the lady who wrote to you asking for help never gave consent and thus had sex against her will (see 1) OR if she was too incapacitated by alcohol to legally consent (see 2), she most certainly was raped and she should know that the law is on her side, even if you aren’t.

Oh, and you’re being talked about here:


Couldn’t happen to a nicer rape apologist.

Dickinson responds:

From: ctc-askamy [mailto:askamy@tribune.com]
Sent: Sat 11/28/2009 3:56 PM
To: [Redacted]
Subject: RE: Please pass this on to the rape victim you attacked in your Nov. 27 column

Did you even read my column? I quoted extensively from the Rape, Incest and Abuse Hotline’s definition of rape and suggested that she check her state’s laws? Where I said that if she says no at any point, it’s rape? I don’t know if you didn’t bother to read my column or if perhaps it was edited heavily in your paper, but please . . . how dare you call me a “rape apologist.”

I see you are a student or affiliated in some way with [law school]? I would expect someone from [law school] to be more educated, careful, respectful and circumspect. I’m not sure why I would expect that, but I’ll adjust. Meanwhile, I don’t pass inanities along to people who write in to my column. I figure this young person has suffered enough indignity.

Amy Dickinson

Photo via Smithsonian Institution