Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sensationalism or Are we Just in Denial?

Charges have been made by Chief Ferguson and others that the response to the party in Roslyn by the national media has been sensationalized. Sending nine people to the hospital for alcohol poisoning even without the overlay of "rumors" that the drinks were spiked with date rape drugs is a very, very unusual incident and in all fairness, is deserving of considerable media attention. I could find no incident where so many people in such a high proportion of attendees were hospitalized when I did a google news search using the keywords of "hospitalization after party alcohol." I'm listing links to most of the incidents I did find from the last month or two.

Huge underage party of 500 people in Florida-four hospitalized, parents charged.

Adrian Michigan, teen found unconscious at party, hospitalized.

Vassar-September 18-19, five students needed medical attention (it does not appear these are all from the same party).

Fall from balcony 200 person frat party.

Teen Drunk Driving Crash that sent nine to the hospital.

Dartmouth-clearing the house before calling for aid for woman on couch.

If you read these posts you will note the nearly constant discussion of "social hosting laws" or charges for serving alcohol to minors. The question of how the underage partiers in Roslyn got their liquor or whether there should be liability for the hosts or others for providing the alcohol itself has been curiously not addressed here or in other local media. You can read an interesting article from Dallas on strategies focusing on curbing adult providers of liquor here. Given the two alcohol distribution related initiatives on this year's ballot in the upcoming election, you would think that someone, somewhere (should this have been you Daily Record in your articles on the alcohol related ballot initiatives-I think so)would also address the impact that costcoization of hard liquor might just have on underage drinking. With the exception of the teen drunk driving crash which really is an apples to oranges comparison, there really isn't anything quite like what occurred in Roslyn 9 days ago and it is a stretch to say that the national media has sensationalized the incident.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hate Crime: The Party in Roslyn Gone Wrong?

While Central Washington University prepares to enforce its policy on underage drinking by handing out suspensions (including, presumably, the young women who were victimized in the incident), the larger question of whether a hate crime occurred at the Roslyn party is going unaddressed. Underage drinking in Kittitas County and how it should be handled is already a sensitive issue here. It's part of the debate in the County Prosecutor's race. Should every minor in possession charge be prosecuted to the fullest extent under the law?

Last summer I had the opportunity to sit on a jury in Lower County District Court evaluating an underage drinking situation. Many of my fellow jurors expressed serious concern that county resources were being expended on such a trivial matter. Richard Young who is running for County Prosecutor has publicly indicated that he feels too much attention is being paid by the County Prosecutor's office, under County Prosecutor Greg Zempel, on taking minor in possession charges to trial and not settling them before trial.

Whatever the approach is to handling the underage drinking situation accompanying the dreadful and horrifying incident of what appears to be the deliberate and "targeted" drugging of women, I worry over the possibility that this is a hate crime against women that will not be addressed or appropriately reported as such. The Matthew Shepard Act passed in 2009 specifically expanded federal hate crime law to include the reporting of crimes motivated by a victim's perceived or actual gender. Whether the FBI could become involved in investigating this matter is determined by whether the act is a felony and whether the federal government had jurisdiction or one of several other qualifying events occurered such as a failure to act by state and local officials or a request for for federal assistance from local officials.

Let us insist that there will be accountability for the perpetrators of this incident as well as their victims. And, if the evidence continues to indicate this was a targeted attempt to render women as a class vulnerable, let us not forget what happened and hold our state and local officials accountable as well for following through and investigating and reporting this as a potential hate crime.

Update: No date rape drugs just Four Loko.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Central Washington University Party Rape Scheme

In light of this weekend's high profile story on the party gone wrong in Roslyn, I am linking to one of my blogs from 2008 on the problems of college drinking for women and sexual assault. KOMO news carried a video report on this year's Roslyn incident which appears to be a mass distribution of a date rape drug.

Labels: , ,