Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm sure you've heard, watched, or read news reports about a Kannapolis man who a couple of weeks ago allegedly hired a man on Craigslist to rape his wife in their bedroom while he watched. The husband was arrested three days later after a police investigation determined he was involved. Since then, lots of details have come out, including that this was a part of the man's fantasy. The alleged attacker was arrested yesterday. Most media outlets have a policy in that they don't publish or broadcast the names of rape victims. And the local media outlets I've encountered the story on so far have gone a step further by not even giving the name of the husband who has been charged because they believe that would be too close to identifying his wife. That is truly to be commended.

Unfortunately, these anonymous people who love to go on news websites and spew hate and negativity don't have such morals. A few of them have gone onto the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office website to get information about the case. Even though they're accessing what is indeed public record, they feel the obligation to post this info in the comments section of the articles about the rape case on some of the news websites--the same info, such as the husband and wife's names, that the news sites refused to publish. Some people seem to have nothing better to do with their time or if you think this is your duty as a "citizen journalist," then why don't you post your real name alongside your comments instead of some anonymous listing or unattributable screenname. We real journalists have bylines--and ethics (stuff I was taught in J-school, beyotch).

But throughout the carnage in the comments section, which I admit that I'm guilty of oftentimes reading though I quickly get turned off by the ignorance, a few commenters have revealed an interesting and very bizarre detail to the life of this couple. It appears that the husband and wife who are at the center of this case (which the media has dubbed the "Craigslist rape case") made national news about three months ago for something completely unrelated. The wife made a bold move in her career that garnered the attention of MSNBC, CNN, and others. While this is certainly an interesting tidbit, I'm not going to divulge anymore details here. The careless commenters who uncovered this bit of information actually linked to one of the national news stories from three months ago, and in that story the husband, wife, and their two kids are all photographed at their home. They seem so happy then.

The way I believe the story from March was uncovered and linked to the current news stories is that once one or more of the commenters found the name of the husband who's being accused of planning the attack on his wife, they recognized his name from the earlier story. This certainly wouldn't be hard to do in a small town like Kannapolis. I'm sure residents around there, as well as throughout Charlotte, are buzzing about this bizarre twist. And the major news outlets are probably grappling with how or whether to report on it. But I say let people chatter amongst themselves--that's been going on since the beginning of time. Once you start putting sensitive information onto the Internet, it's out there for the whole world to see. And as our society has shown time and time again, some of us don't have much decency.


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