Words cannot adequately express my seething rage and disgust toward the INDY for publishing that story on Justin Williams ("Broken record," April 9. The myopic view of an alleged rapist and abuser as the "tortured artist" is frankly a story I have heard one too many times. Guess what? A lot of people have demons of various kinds. A lot of us have been abused, raped or humiliated at various times in our lives. Most of us do not turn around and become abusers.
But my purpose in writing is not to demonize Justin, but to call you out, INDY, for publishing a story about this man. And yes, you can say that you tried to contact his "victims" (and who can blame them for not speaking to you) and that you presented a "balanced" story about him. But at the end of the day, we both know that bad press is still press, and you basically shined a spotlight on this dude.
Kudos to the folks at Phuzz Records for canceling Justin's record (at great expense to themselves), and kudos to all the people in the music scene (Ryan Martin, for one) who seek to create a scene that is safe for everyone.
Shame on you, INDY. You have lost all credibility with this long-time reader.
Phaedra Kelly, Carrboro
The INDY's profile of Justin Williams is a disservice to women. Regardless of what you think of the situation, it was crass and irresponsibly worded. "A gifted singer-songwriter whose personal problems get in his music's way." Really? His music's way? It's also fair to say his personal problems stopped being "personal" problems as soon as he started assaulting other people. The article in question is apologist. It sends the message that a history of rape and violence against women is excusable for artists.
It was also disappointing to see an INDY freelancer post the following on their public Twitter account: "Saying that it sucks when an allegedly bad person makes good music doesn't make you an apologist. It makes you a realist. "
That's not what the article "said." The allegations against Justin Williams were listed without any analysis or criticism.
Fortunately, Justin did an excellent job of further implicating himself. I found one quote to be especially laughable: "If I fucking beat a chick up and raped her, and everybody knows me and everybody knows the chick, I'd be in prison," Williams says. "I would at least have gone to court for it. I would have been tried. "
Perhaps, in the name of journalism, it would have been worth noting that 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, and 97 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail. The American system of justice fails victims of sexual violence every day. The "if I did it I would be in jail" argument doesn't hold any water.
The conversation to be had here is if it's more important to value the respect and safety of women over the respect of someone's work. Ending the article by noting that Williams' songwriting has "deepened" gave the INDY's answer.
Rachel Hirsh, Raleigh
Did anyone read the article about Justin Williams before it was printed? If so, every one of you is a rape apologist. The article was violence against women. And I want to clarify that it's possible to write an article about serial rape/assault without inciting the sort of shame and degradation that you inflicted upon rape survivors that may have read the article. To call yourselves progressive is hilarious; but I guess you're the type that have accomplished the label by voting for the first black president and eating organically (some of the time).
Williams justifies his innocence by claiming he would have been tried at this point. So, Mr. Williams, the reason you have never been tried at this point is perhaps the amount of shame it takes to report your abuser and never have that abuse validated by our court system is not worth it to many women.
The INDY has put the proverbial hand over women's mouths by printing stories as to why Williams may act out as if to excuse him from his actions. A troubled childhood does not make Williams any less responsible and I shouldn't feel forced to empathize. The fact that you even attempted to communicate with one of the women he assaulted shows your complete insensitivity to the subject. And to point a finger at Ryan Martin as if his actions are silly, as if he ignited the controversy, is absurd.
I would have hoped that a publication such as the INDY would have considered the repercussions of the article before perpetuating the same rape culture you would quickly denounce if you met a cute feminist girl at a party. Thank you for picking your battles ever so delicately in order to maintain your position of journalistic power. You get to define rape. You get to define who Justin Williams is.
Emily Martin, Greensboro