“Clementine Ford is a freelance writer, broadcaster and public speaker based in Melbourne. He writes on masculism, pop culture and social issues.” So reads his profile on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website.
On December 1st, major Australian news outlets reported that Ford has been receiving a torrent of abuse online for earlier reporting a woman to her employer for making sexist comments to him and racist jokes elsewhere. The woman’s employment was terminated as a result and a secret Facebook community was set up by other men “in support” of Ford. Their aim: to report other women with the aim of causing harm to their reputation and livelihood.
There is no question that the original woman’s comment was inappropriate and that she should not have advertised her place of employment before commenting. However, it does not justify Ford’s actions resulting in her dismissal, seeing that she was not representing her employer when she spoke, as well as the fact that plenty of other, less drastic measures were available to him, such as the Facebook block function or police mediation. Two wrongs do not make a right.
And so, the time is nigh for the all-seeing eye atop the angry lighthouse in the bowels of MRA Mordor, to shine its withering light onto this man’s work and tell the world that it is his – Ford, that should be fired from his job as a columnist. He is a bad reporter, who cites fraudulent sources, does not do his own research, quotes out of context and suffers from borderline potty-mouth evident in the emergence of excretory themes in almost every article he commits to the public realm.
A lesson for women’s rights activists on real oppression, June 19, 2014. In this article, Ford covers the International Conference on Women’s Issues, held in Detroit that year. He muses on why the Women’s Human Rights movement cannot be trusted to discuss women’s rights and why he believes they are wrong, nay, evil misandrists. This article is a jumble of ignorance masquerading as informed opinion, but it is when Ford attempts to cite statistics to support what he is saying that we find outright fraud. He writes;
“…only 3 per cent of those accused of rape will ever be convicted” and links this website as his source.
This writer was at first confused as the site quotes a different figure – 2%. Then I looked up the link as it was around the date of Ford’s article. Does @Neil Gaiman knows she’s featured here (on RAINN, not AVfM)? If not, Neil, I’m sorry, I loved “American Gods” and I think you are one of the best contemporary English writers. You might want to talk to your agent about this though…
The figure in question has changed, due to an update in source, and more on that later. But all the figures here have been revised down, most significantly the first one, despite citing the same study. How is this possible? Did RAINN misread the study? Also, what is this Justice Department and how is it different to the Department of Justice?
It turns out that this study does not appear to exist. The closest to it, that I can find is a paper titled “Criminal Victimization 2011”, on p8 of which one can find the following table:
The figure most pertinent to the final one appears to be the one for 2010 – a 49% report rate for “rape/sexual assault.”
Next, we look at the final score – the reported 2% or 3% of total convictions of reported rape. The later study titled “Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2009 – Statistical Tables” (note the year – 2009, the closest to the reporting figure for 2010 above) allows one to re-construct the chain of statistics for prosecution of rape allegations. These are poignantly known as “attrition rates” in other literature. 49% reported to police * 48% that proceed to trial * 68% conviction rate * 89% of whom are jailed results in 14% of all rape accusations resulting in a conviction. Not two or three per cent. I hope the reader will forgive me if I neglect to look up the June 20, 2014 source, seeing that RAINN appears to be pulling figures out of thin air and Ford does not bother to check their sources or to look up comparable statistics on his own.
The Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2010 paper titled “Family Violence – A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114)” sheds some light on this matter for Ford’s home country. Its Section 26 offers a glimpse of the situation somewhat erratically broken down by state and age of victim, but very usefully for the same basic time-period as the American reports cited above. All the crucial elements are present – trial and prosecution with reporting figures available from Section 24 of the same paper.
Therefore, the Australian figures from around 2007 are as follows: 30% reported to police * ~17% (between 15-19%) proceeded to trial * 61.3% were found to be or pleaded guilty. This document can deliver the desired 3% figure, if one chooses a lower conviction estimate, which in that fluctuates between 20-80%. And if one looks at the 2005 PSS study (p21) , the reporting rate is even lower – 19%, resulting in a 2% conviction figure.
I strongly doubt that Ford meant to quote the ALRC but referenced RAINN with its “Justice Department” statistics instead. Even if that was the case, this article has been online for more than a year and no-one appears to have spotted the error or bothered to inform the publisher or the readers and print a correction of American statistics as relevant to an American women’s rights convention – the article’s subject, or analyse and reference Australian statistics instead. A measure that would have “paid off”, had it been attempted – they happen to coincide with Ford’s 3% claim. Coincidence naturally not being evidence, but I digress.
Rape is a serious issue. The least helpful way of discussing it is by means of false statistics. Behind each percentile is a person, let us not forget that.
Ford’s piece is notable for one other major gaffe – the most quote-mined quote by Paul Elam, justifying whomever is so inclined to accuse her of being a “rape apologist.” It originates from this article dating from 2010, which has long since sported a disclaimer, advising the reader to thoroughly consider its context. This is a slanderous, uninformed claim, unworthy of an ABC reporter.
Likewise, the infantile, crass language that Ford inserts into almost all his articles appears here in paragraph 4. It is the literary equivalent of drawing a penis on one’s school desk, something that this man has not been able to outgrow in him thirty or more years of existence. As he puts it in his short biography – now removed, but still available through reference by ABC and preserved by the Google archive;
“Please give him a job and/or some kind of paid work as he is now 30 years old, and his mother no longer finds it cute when he asks her for money.”
Yes please, somewhere in the private sector, and away from keyboard.
Clementine Ford is a fraud and should be fired from his job as a columnist for the ABC or any other publication he writes for.