August 24, 2016

CATHY YOUNG: Stop calling Nate Parker a rapist: In our current cultural climate, there’s no way for a man to shake the charge of rape, even after he’s found innocent.

The much-anticipated October opening of “The Birth of a Nation,” the story of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion, is now clouded by past rape allegations against director, writer and star Nate Parker. Already, critics are lined up against the film. In a New York Times op-ed, Roxane Gay declared she won’t see it; a black popular culture site refused to review it. A blogger for the Seattle alternative paper, the Stranger, has called for the studio to “pull the plug” on the movie altogether.

The twist: Parker was actually tried, and acquitted, on the rape charge 15 years ago.

For many, it seems, an accusation of rape now equals guilt not only before there is a conviction but even after a not-guilty verdict. This may look just to those for whom “believe the survivors” is an article of faith. But such “justice” will inevitably shatter lives — and may hurt victim advocacy by lending credence to fears that rape accusations are a danger to the innocent.

I’m beginning to think that’s true myself.

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