His arrest... led to soul-searching about the treatment of women in France and a new assertiveness challenging male behavior. Responses to the latest news seemed to suggest that the debate had become less clear-cut.What to do with all that insight gained? This reminds me of the old Tawana Brawley story, which led to soul-searching about racial bigotry and then turned out to be a fraud. One solution back then was to claim the insights are still good, even if the news that triggered the soul-searching was false.
“This is a slap in the face of the feminists,” said Marc Marciano, 53, a trader in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a Paris suburb....
In her book "The Alchemy of Race and Rights," lawprof Patricia J. Williams wrote that Brawley "has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her and even if she did it to herself."
I vividly remember a job talk at my law school in which the candidate described a racially charged incident with the police. He was questioned about whether the incident really happened that way, and his response — delivered quickly and glibly — was that the anecdote worked as an object of study from which to spin off insights whether it was true or not. The job talk was exceedingly well received.
If that seems terribly wrong to you, explain why, when we consume works of overt fiction — novels and movies and so forth — we feel that we derive insights applicable to the real world. I think some fictions resonate. They seem to speak to real life. They are not purely escapist fantasy. If it isn't wrong to use some works of fiction in our efforts to understand the real world, is it necessarily always wrong to use a news story presented as true that later turns out to be false?
UPDATE: "Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on Friday as the sexual assault case against him moved one step closer to dismissal after prosecutors told a Manhattan judge that they had serious problems with the case."