June 8, 2007

Comments can have consequences

Posted in Feminism at 2:42 pm by The Lizard Queen

She had a history of mental and emotional problems, as well as a history of questionable choices where men were concerned. Still, does that mean 18-year-old Sara Clark deserved to be brutally raped? And her (apparent) suicide, was that just a natural consequence of her earlier poor decisions?

I came across this Daily Mail article (editorial?) while just poking about online. Here are some of the author’s speculations as to what was going through Sara Clark’s mind as she headed to the footbridge she (ostensibly) jumped off of (emphasis added):

Was she replaying the terrible events of just three days earlier when she’d been brutally attacked and raped in a recreation ground near her home as she returned after a night out with friends? Did she fear that the police didn’t believe her claim – as she had tearfully confided to her parents?

Had what was left of her fragile self-esteem evaporated after reading the local newspaper’s website, on which readers had responded to reports of the attack on her with comments that she was “stupid” for being out so late alone or that she had probably had “an argument with a boyfriend and cried rape”?

Whatever was going through her mind, Sara Clark had made the decision her life wasn’t worth living.

The writing is a bit melodramatic, but perhaps you see my point — I think often people who leave comments on the internet forget that just as they’re originating from an individual, they’re going to end up being read by an individual. Are the comments on that news story (which I couldn’t find, but you can see similar shit on any Shakesville post about rape) what drove Clark to commit suicide? Doubtful, or, at any rate, they certainly weren’t the sole cause. Still, as others have said numerous times, this shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Usually they’re talking about societal causes behind actions, but I think the reverse applies as well — the internet removes the potential consequences from speech, which means that people feel free to say things ranging from “she/you had it coming” to “oh come on, who would rape her/you?” without having to face the distress or horror or rage of the recipient of those comments.

Yes, I know I’m stating the obvious here. Still, I think it’s something that bears repeating.

On the other hand, I seem to have attracted a troll of my own, and one who employs the rhetoric of the Westboro Baptist Church, no less. Fabulous! 🙂


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