First Impressions of Krakauer’s MISSOULA
by William Skink
Yesterday I bought a copy of Jon Krakauer’s book Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. I didn’t intend to binge read, but the way Krakauer weaves the narratives of the rape victims and their experiences with the “justice” system, I had a hard time putting it down.
Many readers of this blog will recall posts from jhwygirl, Patrick Duganz, JC and myself during this period of intense scrutiny. I don’t have time right now to compile a list of relevant posts, but I’ve browsed a few and they are certainly validated by Krakauer’s storytelling. It’s a story we wouldn’t be talking about without the courage of the victims and the fearless reporting of Gwen Florio, who brought the public scrutiny to the systemic barriers stacked against victims who report being sexually assaulted.
I’m sure plenty of people will share their impressions as they read the book. For those who don’t read the book, my hope is you keep your mouthes shut and fingers idle. To have an opinion worth sharing, you must read the accounts represented by Krakauer.
The agency most exposed for perpetuating rape culture in Missoula is clearly the Missoula County Attorney’s Office, so before you go out and spend money on an Andy Smetanka’s revisionist rape culture denial poster maybe spend some time reflecting on the fact Missoula elected rape culture enthusiast, Kirsten Pabst, to lead the office she bailed on, mid-scandal, to protect rapists from the consequences of their crimes.
In one of the most disturbing passages, highlighted over at Intelligent Discontent, we see the truly fucked up thinking regarding consent from one of the primary agents of injustice in this sordid story:
So even if you’d given it previously, that doesn’t count if you’re asleep, right?” “Correct,” Pabst replied. A moment later, however, she hedged: “Well, it depends. That’s not really a hard-and-fast rule. But some people would argue that if I go home with someone and we say, ‘Well, we’re going to go have sex,’ and then I fall asleep and wake up and he’s having sex with me—some people would say that’s consensual, and some people would say it’s not.” The questioner followed up: “What does the law say?” “I don’t know the answer to that,” Pabst answered. “There is no hard-and-fast rule.”
There will be more to write, but one thing is clear: Missoula, there is still an immense amount of work to be done.