The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has announced it will no longer carry George Will’s syndicated column:

“Starting today, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson replaces George Will on Thursdays and Sundays.”

The editor, Tony Messenger added:

“The change has been under consideration for several months, but a column published June 5, in which Mr. Will suggested that sexual assault victims on college campuses enjoy a privileged status, made the decision easier. The column was offensive and inaccurate; we apologize for publishing it.”

EdshowI think this is evidence that the continued attention devoted to that misogynistic spew from George Will is helpful, somewhat ironic considering Mr. Will has looked down on hashtag activism. Note to Mr. Will, people who use hashtags such as #survivorprivilege also buy newspapers and pay attention to who exactly is advertising where.

What bothers me more than Mr. Will’s original column is that it ran in so many newspapers. His column apparently runs in over 460 newspapers (as of June 18, 2014) meaning hundreds of editors thought it was o.k. to print. These editors did one of the following:

    • Didn’t read the column (I really doubt this one)
    • Read it but didn’t think it was offensive at all
    • Read it and found it provocative (I’m looking at you Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post)
    • Read it and thought is was offensive, but had nothing else to fill the spot and the deadline was tight and so thought I’ll print it and hold my breath

In case the editors of American newspapers need an etiquette lesson on how to respond to opinion pieces by rape apologists (because I’m sorry, writing that rape victimhood is a coveted status is the very definition), the correct action is to not print the column and instead run a piece about why you didn’t. Don’t have time to crack out  out 1,000 or so words yourself? Ask any woman on your staff. Or a local freelancer. Or a journalism professor.

Why that didn’t happen, well, to me it is really a bigger problem than the opinions of Mr. George Will.

By printing the George Will’s column hundreds of newspaper editors revealed that Mr. Will isn’t the only one who trivializes sexual assault.



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  1. Trouble is, Will is not alone in his stupidity. Many people believe this nonsense. Getting the discussion out in the open is a necessary step in educating the ignorant. Yes, far better to run a companion refuting his idiocy, but at least the debate was opened up. Not printing it feeds in to the “it’s all a conspiracy!” mindset that lets small minds ignore facts that don’t confirm their biases.

  2. Of course rape is serious, offensive, criminal, cowardly and disgusting. And Mr Will should certainly have chosen his words more carefully especially the references to conferring special status on victims. But, c’mon, there is no possible way the statistics offerred can be plausible, unless, of course, as in the case of marriage. we decide to redefine rape to fit the template

  3. Good to know someone has woken up and realized rape is not a game or some fun activity for women that can be parodied in columns and everywhere else. But what’s sad is that when women like Belle Knox say that doing porn is empowering and is being feminist it sends the wrong messages to people like George Will.

  4. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if most of the editor DIDN’T read his column. I think that’s the most likely scenario. When you have a syndicated columnist like George Will, editors assume that his column was edited at the original paper. They just pull it from the wire and plug it into its regular spot without a thought or a glance. This assumption is based on my experience in three newsrooms. That’s not an excuse, but it’s an explanation. Then, the best thing to do after the fact — once it was run and done — would be to run an apology and yank it from their online sites. So, the editors are still at fault and could do more, but I think your first option of the four is actually the most likely for the vast majority of papers.

  5. I would have thought that the editor didn’t read the column before printing it. I’d guess that the popularity or otherwise of a columnist is gauged on the number or readers’ responses; if there are a lot of unhappy readers, the editor might then read what it’s all about, and then make a decision.

  6. Do they still HAVE editors? I often wonder, as a former small newspaper editor. I see so many things I’d have shredded going to print. And even in books…I see so many errors.

  7. A quick point to offer some insight about how syndicated columns work, since I previously worked for several newspapers–the number of papers out there who run George Will’s columns doesn’t necessarily equal the number that ran this particular column (it just means that’s the number that pay for access and could have run the column if they chose to). Most columnists’ work is sent out as part of a wider subscription service with many writers from which to choose, and most papers do skip around to get some variety in who they print from week to week, unless the editor is a big fan of someone in particular.

    So, hopefully a lot of editors saw this and had enough sense not to print such an obviously offensive and backward opinion. Unfortunately, the Washington Post continues its tone-deaf defense of the indefensible idea that it’s not a “legitimate” rape unless it’s violent and the myth that women are more likely to cry rape for attention rather than not report it at all. Infuriating.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and info.

      I suspect (hope) some did not run it. However, I suspect many are swamped and didn’t have a chance to proof it. Still, if you don’t read it and print it you have now also become responsible for those words.

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