There’s a post at the recently-launched Culturemap Dallas edition that’s been making some Internet rounds because, er, it’s shockingly offensive and wrong-headed (and lazy, to boot). Since I have worked with Culturemap’s Austin and Houston editions for about a year and a half now on a number of stories and columns in that time, my name’s been associated with the brand pretty fully, so I thought it would be a good idea to say something.
In any case, the post speculates wildly, despite doing no research or reporting, that a teenage girl in Dallas may have lied about her rape by an 18-year-old Highland Park baseball star named Ryan Romo. It’s offensive on the basis of the substance of its commentary, which is a textbook example of victim-blaming (a since-removed version of the post featured the word "victim" in scare-quotes like that) and a product of the sort of culture that makes it risky for people who’ve been raped to speak up; and it’s offensive on the basis of its reporting, which is non-existent, citing supposed “common-sense” arguments ("Kids are supposed to mess up. They lie. They cheat. They get caught. They grow up. But throw a sex act in the mix, and childish ways are all but left behind") that are utterly nonsensical (though sadly common), and without even so much as calling a lawyer, a psychologist, or anyone else who can offer any sort of precedent or background to verify that the author isn’t just pulling her argument out of her ass.
Which is especially troubling, because the author is Claire St. Amant, the managing editor of Culturemap Dallas. It’s always really awkward, as a freelancer, to criticize people in authority positions at outlets that help pay your bills, but obviously St. Amant needs to be criticized here.
I’ve never met, or worked with, Claire St. Amant. The editors I’ve worked with closely at Culturemap Austin are good people of integrity, and I trust them. Both those editors and the editors of Culturemap Houston have stood by my work when it’s caused some degree of controversy for calling out behavior similar to that of St. Amant’s in the past. I hope that they’ll take this post in the same spirit as the other things I’ve written.
That said, yeah — I’m embarrassed right now that my name is associated with the Culturemap brand. I’m really disappointed in St. Amant’s judgment and of Culturemap’s choice to publish such offensive — and stupid! — bullshit. Just to be clear, in case anyone who associates my name with Culturemap wants to know how I feel about it, that is how I feel.