This is a difficult post for me to write.
The Buffalo News is my hometown paper. My sister works there, and I'm friends with a good percentage of their sports department. I think that Dan Herbeck and Lou Michel are two of the finest investigative journalists in the business.
All that being said, the paper blew it big time today with its reporting on the Patrick Kane story.
In Sunday's story updating the ongoing investigation into rape allegations against Kane, Herbeck and Michel wrote a story that included an interview with Mark Croce, the manager of a Buffalo bar Kane was seen in the night of the alleged rape. From the article:
But Croce told The News that he and several of his employees noticed a young woman “hanging all over” Kane at SkyBar for at least two hours that night, putting her hands on his arms and “being very forward, very flirtatious with him.” He said he does not know the woman and does not know her name.
“It was almost like she stationed herself near him and was keeping other women away from him,” Croce said. “I noticed it and kind of laughed about it.”
A bar manager that night also noticed the woman’s behavior with Kane, Croce said.
Croce said the woman and a female friend “followed” Kane as he left the nightclub with a couple of male friends around 3 a.m. last Sunday.
“I don’t know if this is the same woman who made the rape allegation against him,” Croce said. “I only know what I saw that night on my own premises. If you’re going to ask what happened between them after they left that night, how would I know?”
The News could not independently verify whether the woman Croce described is the same woman who made the rape complaint to Hamburg Police.
On one hand, I understand how publishing this happens. There is an information vacuum in this story, with authorities (and Kane's camp) all no-commenting the media. This is a huge story, people want details, and in the absence of official statements, this is the type of information reporters find. It does paint a picture of Kane's behavior that night.
That being said ...
It is utterly and totally irresponsible for The News to print this information. Even as the reporters hedged their bets, saying they could not confirm whether it was the same woman or not, there is no place for those paragraphs in any news story about any rape case.
What those paragraphs do is victim blame, pure and simple. It sets the table for the nauseous defense that the victim was asking for it. That she led Kane on. That there couldn't possibly be any rape because she was all over him.
Bullshit. It's bullshit.
Even if the woman was hanging all over Kane all night, even if she left the bar with Kane, even if she went to his house, even if she went into Kane's bedroom with him ... the second she (or any woman) says "stop" or "no," that's it. Everything that came before it is irrelevant. Once she says "stop" or "no," game over.
That quote in today's story - that's an example of rape culture. It's pervasive, especially in the hyper-masculine sports world. And it's got to stop. And it doesn't stop with women learning how to behave. It stops when men learn how to behave.
My daughter is nearly 5 now. Ever since she started talking, whenever we're playing, if she yells "stop!" or "don't!" while we're tickling or I'm carrying her up the stairs or we're on goofball island, I stop immediately. I do that because she has to know that she's in charge of what happens to her body. That her "stop," "don't" and "no" carry all the weight in the world, they are magic and powerful words. I hate that I have to teach her that lesson, but this is the world we live in.
It's world where rape culture is too dominant and too unnoticed.
There's no place for this culture in the news. There's no place for it in journalism. There's no place for it in the world.
And The Buffalo News - inadvertently I'm sure, with no bad intentions and looking only to inform its readers - contributed to that culture with its irresponsible reporting today.
UPDATE: Comments on this post are now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated in a civilzed manner.