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Don't Downplay Rape



In your article, "Conflicting Reports," (Feb. 6) on crime in Humboldt County, I challenge a phrase in the graphic titled "2012 Reported Crimes." In the pie slice referring to both Eureka and to Humboldt County generally, it says, "Forcible rape, 10%."

Excuse me? What is "forcible" rape? Is there any kind of rape that isn't forcible?

The whole goal of journalism is to unpack the misconceptions, myths and mythologies and to report scrupulously on everything from policies and practices to laws and language. In this case, the language originated with the California Department of Justice, who provided the data. It's the reporter's responsibility to note the language used and comment on it.

Since the reporter didn't, let's spell it out, shall we? Rape, by definition, is forcible. Adding the caveat "forcible" implies that rape, by itself, is no big deal, just a little incident. Just a soft, woolly teddy bear.

Louisa Rogers, Eureka

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