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Ethical Issues About Naming Names

by on September 27, 2011

The discussion in class really got me thinking today about why we don’t include the names of alleged rape victims, and what is the harm in doing so. We touched upon some of the arguments in class today, two of which I have always been torn between: giving the name in hopes of eliminating an undeserved stigma or protecting the privacy of the alleged victim. So, naturally, I googled this scandal and came up with a few great articles. However, there was one in particular that really struck me.

It is a blogger named Cynthia Tucker who writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the piece, she literally writes some of the exact words that Raz said in class today (maybe he read it prior to class?). It seems to me that the difference between the teleological pro and the deontological con (principle to protect victims of sex crimes) is one of short-term and long-term consequences. The short-term consequence would be that the victim might experience a sense of discomfort or a violation of his or her privacy immediately following the accusation and subsequent trial. The long-term consequence would be that rape victims would have a better presence in the media as stronger individuals who don’t have to be stigmatized. Additionally, this could also be seen as a weighing of consequences instead of teleological versus deontological: The “greater good” for the “greatest number of people?”

Please note that there are some seriously hilarious comments after the article. Some of them make sense, but a lot of them are Cynthia-Tucker haters who make really weird arguments as to why we shouldn’t give the names of rape victims. The more logical arguments suggest things like keeping both the accused and accuser’s names secret or releasing them both, so the guilt is not decided before a trial ensues. The most prominent argument was that the torment of publicly naming victims was just insult to injury–to which a lot of readers said that it should not be any different than how we report victims of other crimes. My logic: we will go up to a person who just witnessed a murder, which is very traumatizing, but we tip-toe around rape and everyone involved. I agree with Ms. Tucker in that the stigma has to stop somewhere; why not first in the media?

What do all of you guys think? I realize we still haven’t finished our discussion in class, but I really found this topic particularly interesting. I am even more interested to hear what else is said in class on Thursday.

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