An Alabama news outlet is apologizing after an extremely awful joke made it into the headline of a story about a rape.
On Sunday, AL.com (which includes coverage from The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, Mobile's Press-Register and others) published this story about the arrest of two men accused of a brutal rape in Guntersville. The victim was raped and thrown into a ditch by her assailants. It's a particularly horrific story that presumably requires a level of sensitivity to the subject matter. However, somewhere in the process of publishing this story to the website, someone thought it would be a good idea to make a joke in the headline.
The original headline (as shown in the screencap above) read: "Guntersville men faces charges of rape, sodomy after assaulting, then —literally—ditching intoxicated girl."
Literally ditching her. It's really hard to see who thought this was a good idea or why, exactly. After receiving complaints, AL.com quickly apologized and changed the headline.
@jknail1 Thanks for tweeting us! The writer didn't intend to make light of the situation, and we're rewriting the headline right now.
— AL.com (@aldotcom) July 7, 2014
— Jessica Fleming (@pastorjoebob) July 7, 2014
When we talk about rape culture, these are the kinds of things we mean. Is this the absolute worst, most evil thing that could ever happen? No, of course not. This instance is probably just one person (or perhaps a few) making a stupid decision because they lack the empathy and awareness to understand how serious the topic is. It's just one more example of the collective callousness in a society where rape victims are ignored, second guessed or just plain laughed off on a regular basis.