Thursday, May 16, 2019

Behind the Times

In 2012, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer was interviewing a young native woman about a sexual assault she had reported. In short, the officer was basically fishing for some sort of evidence that the young woman had been at least somewhat cooperative with the man she said assaulted her, asking if there were "at all turned on" or subconsciously "responsive to his advances."

Cue the outrage machine. Which is all fine and good. But I'm not sure that it's newsworthy as presented. Sure of the officer's line of questioning, and his clear suspicions that the young woman was making a false report, belong more in 1912 than 2012. But what are people to do with the fact that an unnamed RCMP officer was being a Neanderthal seven years ago?

More useful, I think, would have been a broader examination of what was done with the case at the time, and if the RCMP a different institution now than it was then. As it is, the readers can rest assured of their moral superiority over the single officer, but not really much else.

As it stands, it's a click-bait link. And while those have value from the point of view of engagement metrics and click-through rates, they're less valuable as actual sources of useful information. But I suppose that useful information is a secondary concern for most news organizations. After all, if people will click through as long as the headline promises something to be upset about, news may not be worth the time.

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