Today The Stranger published an editorial submission from Mayor Ed Murray. That sentence is, in itself, troubling without taking into account the fact that Murray’s guest editorial was a blathering, vile screed in which he stated what powerful, white men always say when they’re in danger: look at the alleged victim’s criminal record, they must be lying. (That this particular Seattle news source – one that once championed the alt and the underground – would publish this piece is only further evidence that it has now fallen victim to the very same bland gentrification that has swept across our city. It’s been happening for a while, though, so I don’t know why I was so surprised to see it.)
Murray’s editorial reads like a too long, rambling, late night Tumblr rant (that could use a little editing, btw). In it, Murray attacks his attackers. He takes on the politics of the lawyer representing his accuser. He takes on the decision of the Seattle Times to publish the original story without “any information or evidence that might refute the accusation,” demonstrating, “that the story was verifiably false and that is [sic] should not, could not be printed.”
Most troubling, though, is his attack on one of his former accusers, claiming that “his extensive criminal history is very relevant.”
“The first accuser attempted to take his accusation public only after he sought payment from me. He has a history of making false allegations against other guardian figures. And, most importantly, law enforcement had long ago investigated and declined to prosecute.
“Additionally, his extensive criminal history is very relevant. I would never suggest that those with criminal histories cannot be victims of abuse. Rather, his criminal history proves he cannot be trusted.”
These statements could suggest a feeling of betrayal, as they imply that Murray felt himself to be a guardian figure to his earlier accuser. Statistically, though, a victim of sexual assault is much more likely to have been assaulted by such a figure.
These statements also seem to suggest that, because law enforcement declined to prosecute him, the earlier allegations were false. This is also statistically unlikely, as the prevalence of false reporting has been found in several studies to be less than 10% of the time.
But, to continue, then, and personally attack his accuser, is at best unnecessary and at worst perpetuating a system of power privilege that is an underlying cause of rape being a significantly under reported crime in this country.
I speak from experience here, as a survivor of childhood sexual assault from a guardian figure – a crime that went unreported based on the assurance of my attacker that no one would believe my word over his. It’s as a victim of rape that I’m most let down by Murray right now. I don’t know if these current allegations against him are true or not. But Murray really missed the ball on his public response to them. Where he could’ve responded with empathy and compassion towards his alleged victim, and, by association, all of those who were victims of rape, he instead immediately went on the attack.
I’m not sure that’s that sort of behavior anyone is looking for in a guardian figure.