Mayella Ewell accused Tom Robinson of raping her. She, a white woman with an aggressive family, made for a compelling victim against a black man in a segregated South. The state tried Robinson, white men tried to lynch him, and it became quite clear at the trial that there was no way Robinson could have raped Mayella Ewell.
Notwithstanding the evidence, an all-white jury still found Robinson guilty. Robinson was eventually killed trying to escape jail. He was innocent of the crime. Zerlina Maxwell, an opinion writer in the Washington Post, would have stood with Mayella Ewell in "To Kill a Mockingbird."
After Rolling Stone magazine retracted its story of rape at the University of Virginia, Zerlina Maxwell penned a column for the Post titled "No matter what Jackie said, we should automatically believe rape claims." Only after public outrage did Maxwell and the Post walk back her piece to "we should generally believe" rape claims.
Maxwell was not alone. As the Rolling Stone story percolated in the press with a sensational tale of gang rape in a fraternity house at the University of Virginia, many members of the press not only responded breathlessly to the allegations but attacked anyone who suggested the story sounded too good to be true.
A young woman named Jackie claimed she had gone to a fraternity party with a young man. That young man led her upstairs to a room where a half dozen young men gang raped Jackie. She went to three friends and two of her friends dissuaded her from going to the authorities lest their chances of getting into a fraternity be ruined.
The fraternity in question came under attack -- both verbally and with physical damage to its property by an outraged mob. Faculty members protested. The University of Virginia president demanded a police investigation. When others called the too-good-to-be-true facts into question, the reporter who wrote the story, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and others attacked those who raised questions. The doubters were accused of supporting rapists, denying the holocaust, and being "rape truthers."
Turns out the story was a fabrication. Rolling Stone first tried to blame the victim. But students at the University of Virginia began coming forward. They said Rolling Stone never reached out to them. Sabrina Rubin Erdely had to admit she never contacted the alleged rapists for their comment. Jackie's friends say they were not contacted either.
Rolling Stone finally had to retract the story.
What is going unsaid, however, is how quickly the press was willing to believe all these things about young white men who were portrayed as conservative, privileged and in fraternities. The media, with the help of people like Sabrina Rubin Erdely, have bought into the idea of a phony "rape culture" complete with mostly fabricated statistics that 1 in 5 women on college campuses are victims of sexual assault. That is simply not true.
But the media believes that statistic, and it shapes the media's reporting. They want it to be true because it confirms their biases against young white men, College Republicans, fraternities, etc. A media that denounces racial profiling and stereotyping routinely stereotypes others.
The secular left, of which the media serves as priest and prophet, has developed their own religion with their own canon, sacraments and mythos. The cause is more important than truth and fact. "The nature of the evidence is irrelevant; it's the seriousness of the charge that matters," has become one of their commandments.
These stories are going to keep happening because the left's mythology outweighs facts and evidence. The Rolling Stone article and its progeny are the left's version of Aesop's fables -- stories to relate their morals. It does not matter that the rape at the University of Virginia was not real. Because "rape culture" is supposedly real and fraternity boys are silver-spooned Satans, the story has power. The left must continue building the canon of their religion, of which Rolling Stone's bunk article plays a necessary role.
Most of the media uncritically believed Sabrina Rubin Erdely because she fed their bigotry and the mythology that guides their life's work. It will happen again.