This American Life 1st and 2nd

I am listening to random TAL podcasts in my car. I am going to blog about them. Please click on the About That Life tab you should hopefully see on the homepage for why I am doing this.

1st podcast: My Damn Mind. I picked this at random, because I could hear someone saying it as My DAMN mind. The first story was about a guy (I am horrible at remember names, so I will call him Joe) who had a manic episode at the hospital and–and I’m not kidding–he got shot by the police.

Guess what color Joe is?

So seriously, this guy had some issues, got his life together, but got hit with some Mania. He had the presence of mind to tell the hospital that he was having a manic episode. But he wasn’t put in psych services, and left in the general part of the hospital. Where there were armed guards/police because hey, why not? And they didn’t understand what was going on, thought Joe was about to attack them, and BOOM. Shot him right in the chest. A “kill shot”, it was called. Joe’s dad is a doctor, and he has other doctors in the family. But still, one of his brothers, upon learning that Joe was in the ER asked, “Did they shoot him?”

I’m sad that I know exactly who “they” is, and why an African-American man was asking that.

Episode 2 was about Doubt. Remember that I am listening to these in my car, and so I’m not writing down names. I want to base these blog posts on my memories, and not on what I read online, so I am hesitate to go back and look things up just to confirm names. So bear with me.

This story was about Michelle, who was 18 and had survived a dozen foster homes to make it to her own apartment and her own life. That is really fucking amazing. She had friends, had some sort of job, she had made it. Then some asshole broke into her house, tied her up at knifepoint, and raped her. And just to add the bastard cherry on top of this crime, he took pictures of her and threatened t put them online if she called the police. She called them anyway.

Then Michelle started calling people she knew, to tell them what happened. She called two of her former foster mothers. One of them, Sherry, thought something was “off”. You see, Michelle was talking like “she was describing making a sandwich”, very flat affect. So Sherry decided that the police should know of her doubt.

Initially, the police did what they do–took the sheets, did a rape kit, got fingerprints. But Sherry’s call put the brakes on things. In a scary fast way, Michelle suddenly became the “suspect”. Her other foster mom talked to Sherry, and both expressed doubt about Michelle’s veracity. Specifically, they thought that her tendency to overreact and show off and act histrionic meant that she very well may have been making this all up just to get attention. As one does.

Now suddenly the consensus was that Michelle was making the whole thing up. The cops called her back in and had her write a statement recanting her accusations, saying that she made the whole thing up. Word got out. The newspapers printed the story, along with her “false” police report and picture. They threatened to pull her public housing from her. The non-profit that managed her housing publicly shamed her. Women who lived with her walked by and yelled things at her. People called her a slut, a whore. She began to doubt herself.

Then, she got charged with filing a false police report. She pled it out, paying $500 in court costs, agreeing to probation, agreeing to counseling for filing the report. Not for being raped, because everyone thought she was lying. Because she was so robotic when she told people. And she giggled sometimes when she was telling the story. And because people like Sherry, who had also been raped at some point, just couldn’t fathom why she wasn’t hysterical and crying and why was she calling everyone and telling them anyway?

Years later, a rape was reported in Colorado. Long story shorter–it was Michelle’s rapist. They caught him, linked him to her rape, and he got 300 years in prison. So, yay. But Michelle spent years with all of this shit. Because one person cast doubt on her.

And that person, her former foster mom Sherry, still says that while she “doesn’t want to blame the victim” and she “knows this sounds bad”, she still thinks Michelle didn’t act quite right.

If this is not a shining shit show example of Rape Culture, then I don’t know what is.

Next up: Police See Things Differently

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *