Monday, 3 December 2012

How a word can kill a man (SPOILER ALERT: It doesn't.)

Serioulsy, WTFail, Fiorito. I could easily rename this article, "How to scare monger about false rape reports in 6 easy steps."

1. Latch onto a story that involves a man.

2. Create empathy for him and make him a flushed-out, fully-realized character.

3. Introduce into the story the woman who reported the potential abuse, and make sure to make her a cariacature, make implications against her mental health, and lead to audience to dismiss her concerns outright, regardless of how valid they may have been.

4. Let the audience know upfront what was only discovered after the report was investigated to make the report seem unfounded.

5. Blame any consequences (in this case, him being deported) on the person who made the report, rather than on the protagonist of the story

6. Wrap things up nicely by telling people they'd better not report any suspicions of abuse, etc, because it could lead directly to death. Do not pass GO, do not collection $200, when you report abuse someone DIES.

There are lot of things wrong with our immigration system, so I'm not going to give Big Brother the thumbs-up for deporting this guy.

At the same time, there are also a lot of things wrong in a culture where an immigration story turns into a morality tale about not tattling on someone just in case. You know, I hope the woman who made the concerned call to police is planning on or presently studying to be a social worker. Because that is exactly what social workers are trained to do, and I'm pretty sure also obligated by law to do.

You want to make this a story about an immigration policy that doesn't make sense and needlessly boots people out of our country to their detriment and at a loss to our communities? I'm totally behind that. You want to make this a story about how scary it can be to find yourself accused of a crime you didn't commit? I'm with you on that, too.

But be honest about both the wording and the consequences. For starters, this isn't a false accusation - there was a child crying to such a degree someone seemed concerned enough to report it. It was an unsubstantiated report, because once investigated it was deemed no crime had taken place, or at least no evidence of a crime could be established.

And Husteclaber Cardoso is alive and well. He is not a political prisoner or being targetted by a corrupt government or criminal organization. He may very well not take very good care of himself and his sister and friends could have valid concerns for his ability to support himself.

This isn't a case of a hysterical woman making up a story and getting an innocent man deported and killed, and framing it as such is dishonest and does a great disservice to survivors of sexual violence and the small percentage of persons who have had false reports made against them.

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