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When Political Correctness Endangers Women

Dear Gothamist: It may be politically correct to omit descriptions of race from crime reports, but it’s also dangerous.


It’s getting exasperating how much the political correctness police have permeated our culture. It’s impossible to outline all of the normal human behaviors, such as assigning a newborn a gender, that people warn everyone against doing now—including calling anything “normal!” While this can be frustrating, few would describe the phenomenon as dangerous. Yet while reading a crime report in Gothamist, a local (and left-leaning) blog covering topics in New York City, my frustration with our increasing politically correct culture turned to fear.

When a crime occurs that meets a particular level of violence, or if it appears to be a part of a pattern, the New York Police Department (NYPD) will sometimes issue alerts to the public for information. These alerts generally come with a description of the crime, victim, time, and location. The role of the media in cases like these is to disseminate the information. Gothamist, however, seems to edit the suspect description in one serious and misguided manner: they omit the race of the perpetrator, a major identifying characteristic. A survey of their most recent reporting on local crime, compared to that of other New York news outlets, highlights what seems to be an editorial decision on the part of Gothamist (which didn’t respond to a request for comment) to avoid reporting on a crime suspect’s race. Compare the descriptions of suspects here versus here; here versus here; and here versus here.

A Nondescript Description

The first story that tipped me off to this editorial policy came after the victim of a brutal sexual assault on the wealthy Upper West Side came forward in an attempt to identify her attacker. She told reporters (emphasis mine): “I know exactly how he looked. I know exactly. He made the mistake of leaving his hat in my apartment…. I’m not afraid and I’m still not going to be afraid and this man is not going to make me afraid.”

This is how Gothamist described the rapist: “The suspect is described as a man standing around 6 foot 2, around 35 to 40 years of age.” From this incredibly vague description we would gather that he could be Derek Jeter, Bradley Cooper, or Jay-Z.

Scott  Lomenzo /
Scott Lomenzo /
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Featureflash /
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s_bukley /

The suspect isn’t described solely in that manner by police or other press coverage of the crime. The New York Daily News, another liberal publication, mercifully described him in full as such: “Police described the suspect as black, about 6-feet-2 and 35- to 40-years-old. He was last seen wearing a white and brown striped shirt.” This expanded information, coupled with the time and location of the crime, could actually make an individual pause to wonder if someone they knew who fit this description in the area at the time could be the perpetrator.

The Gothamist report was published the day after the Daily News report of the same crime. Information regarding the suspect’s race was available at publication time, yet Gothamist refused to give readers an accurate description of a man who forced himself into a woman’s apartment before forcing himself on her sexually, hindering the NYPD’s efforts to apprehend him.

Justice Demands Honesty

We’ve been hearing a great deal about the “rape epidemic” and “rape culture” recently. We’re told one in four women on college campuses is sexually assaulted over the course of her attendance. Kevin Williamson of National Review took the explosion in coverage of this so-called epidemic to task recently, highlighting how sexual assault has actually statistically been on a downward trajectory. The “rape epidemic” hysteria, perpetuated by the Left, always needs to create new victims for its fabricated and ever-expanding war on women.

If justice for the victims of sexually-based offenses was the true objective of Progressives, taking on the mantle of catching this woman’s rapist would be of utmost importance. One would think, then, that a website with as wide a reach as Gothamist, and one whose editors strive to toe the Progressive party line, would bend over backwards to help catch a rapist. One hopes that anyone with a sense of obligation to the greater good of society—a mantle Progressives theatrically and sanctimoniously bestow upon themselves—would understand that, sometimes, life isn’t politically correct, and our desire to strive for a more perfect society should not stop us from bringing justice to victims of violence, for their sake and for the sake of future victims.

In a wonderful brief essay in Time magazine on the nature and recognition of evil, Camille Paglia writes, “The horrors and atrocities of history have been edited out of primary and secondary education except where they can be blamed on racism, sexism, and imperialism — toxins embedded in oppressive outside structures that must be smashed and remade. But the real problem resides in human nature, which religion as well as great art sees as eternally torn by a war between the forces of darkness and light.”

Evil exists, which is unfortunate, but a reality nonetheless. And to acknowledge as much doesn’t blame either the victim or society at large. When women are harmed, it is not because a “rape culture” is embedded in our society. It’s because of the existence of evil. Denying the existence of evil does not erase it, just as denying the race of those responsible does not erase racism. It only serves to protect evil, allowing it to strike again. And that denial sets a frightening and dangerous precedent for any reporting, especially that of violent crime.