Quick hits: 11/26/14

QuickHitsAbout to get started on my Thanksgiving cooking. A couple of stories I’m keeping my eye on:

Sexual assault on campus. The story from Rolling Stone was absolutely chilling, if not completely surprising. There’s been a big push this year to make awareness – and prevention – of this a priority. The RS article has reverberated across the nation – not to mention Charlottesville. UVA’s president has suspended “all fraternal organizations and associated social activities” until the spring semester starts January 9th. The UVA Board of Visitors has adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy, although no one is quite sure what that means yet. I’m guessing that students will face expulsion, something that hasn’t happened in the past even when a student admits to sexual assault. Virginia AG Mark Herring named independent counsel for the board, after it was revealed that the initial choice was a member of the same fraternity at issue in the RS article.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of reported sexual assaults on campuses has increased 50% between 2001 and 2011. That’s just the reports. As RS made quite clear, there are still far too many sexual assaults that go unreported. While I applaud the colleges and universities for improved lighting and encouraging the use of apps, the culture has to change. Sexual assault isn’t acceptable. Period.

Speaking of culture ….

Ferguson. Did anyone really expect that the officer would be indicted? I certainly didn’t – and this New York Times editorial gets to the crux of the matter: the county prosecutor. I’d also lay a lot at the feet of the governor, who should have replaced the prosecutor at the start. Barring that, no other outcome than the non-indictment was possible. This was a case study for all who think that justice is blind. Yes, sometimes it is, but never when someone is putting a thumb on the scale as the prosecutor did here. That’s what makes the governor’s actions so damning. He knew this prosecutor and his lack of a record on prosecuting in officer-involved shootings. As FiveThirtyEight pointed out, it’s pretty rare for a grand jury to not indict.

Since the case is now closed, the prosecutor released the information given to the grand jury. (NPR has them here.) As reporters have combed through them, the photos of the officer’s injuries and his testimony have been the focus of many articles. Nevermind that most folks facing indictment never get a chance to testify before the grand jury (although Law & Order makes it seem like a regular occurrence). The officer did – and his testimony was, well, racist – check out this Vox article.

While I firmly believe there is nothing to be gained by rioting, there has to be a response to justice denied. (And no, not the lukewarm response the president gave. He might as well have remained silent, since he didn’t say anything.) It would have been better for this case to have been tried, as opposed to it being decided behind closed doors. That’s what removal of the prosecutor could have accomplished. Even if the officer was acquitted, doing the public’s business in public was the way to go.

Back to my Thanksgiving prep. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

UPDATE: How in the heck could I forget about Bill Cosby? The allegations are damning. I believe the women. And shame on the media for ignoring this for so long.

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