My friend Beth Slovic, at Willamette Week (where I used to work), just wrote an excellent piece on a Facebook fatwa launched by female students at Lewis & Clark College in Portland against an alleged rapist. Student Helen Hunter initiated the fateful encounter with Morgan Shaw-Fox, sending him a text and going over to his place, drunk. But the make-out session quickly got violent, Hunter said. She struggled against him, tried to get him to stop, he told her to “choke on it.” Hunter realized what had happened was wrong, but she didn’t know exactly what line it crossed, or how to deal with it. She described it as “gray rape.” Thanks a lot Laura Sessions Stepp.

So Hunter wrote an anonymous letter to the school newspaper, not naming her assailant, which quickly became the talk of the campus. Soon Shaw-Fox’s name got out. It turned out many other young women had had similar experiences, and I don’t know how you call them gray. But before anyone could file an official complaint, or a police report, students started a Facebook group outing Shaw-Fox as a rapist.

My first reaction is that this is the wrong way to go about things. I have this thing about due process. And I remember our historical tendency of accusing innocent men of rape when they’re, you know, the wrong color. But friends who’ve been victims of date rape say there’s no other solution. I’ve watched murder trials where the guy gets off and “everyone” knows they did it. At least in those cases, someone filed charges.