In response to a controversial “Hurricane Andrew” column published in last month’s issue of the paper, we have encouraged readers to submit letters to the editor. This one was submitted by Isabel Chamberlain, class of 2019.
It’s quite seldom that something as trivial as an opinion piece in a high school newspaper keeps me awake till the early a.m. on a school night. Yet here I sit, at two in the morning, in an attempt to convey my anger towards Andrew Kolondra’s column, “Hurricane Andrew.” If you haven’t had the chance to pick up the August issue of The Patriot Post yet, the article discusses inaccurate statistics that “leftists love throwing around.” Not only is the article itself inaccurate, but it belittles major issues women face today and perpetuates rape culture while patronizing the Democratic Party and portraying liberals as whiny and inferior to conservatives.
The article starts off innocently, explaining that statistics used in journalism are often false and that he, in the course of his column, plans on debunking some often proposed by liberal journalists. He also mentions his inspiration for his article: a book by acclaimed mathematician John Allen Paulos called “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper.” A single glance on Paulos’s Twitter page riddled with liberal news sources and negative comments towards Donald Trump makes it quite obvious that, if he were to read this article, he’d be quite disappointed.
First, the article makes a feeble attempt to debunk the wage gap between women and men. The author claims the wage gap is not due to blatant sexism in the workplace, but instead, their chosen career path and experience beforehand. Kolondra claims that, rather than the perpetuated 77 cents that women make to a man’s dollar, women actually averagely make roughly 93 cents to every man’s dollar, citing the American Association of University Women. Naturally, my first instinct was to check his source. Like I expected, his statistics were skewed. The American Association of University Women reported that women only make 80% of men’s salary on average, though the number shifts depending on the particular state. New York shows the smallest wage gap at 89% while Wyoming shows the largest at 64%. The article goes on to explain that the wage gap even worsens with race. For example, a Hispanic or Latina woman only makes approximately 54% of what a white man makes. A Native American woman makes 52% of what a white man makes. At this rate, The AAUW has reported that women won’t collectively reach equal pay until 2152.
Kolondra’s article later discusses sexual assault. He attempts to “debunk” the statistic that one in every five college-aged women have been raped in their lifetime. He claims this is inaccurate because the source, which he failed to cite, used too broad a definition for rape. He went on to further state that in a proper study, sexual assault should not include forcibly kissing someone or sexual interaction while intoxicated. In reality, a study on the percentage of women raped or sexually assaulted on a college campus cannot report an accurate statistic because, according to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, more than 90% of those sexually assaulted on a college campus do not report it. Regardless, the NSVRC explicitly states that one in every five women in college will be sexually assaulted while one in every five women will be raped, and that number increases for women belonging to the LGBT+ community.
What’s more important than his flawed statistics however is Kolondra’s perpetuation of rape culture. He implies that it’s okay to forcibly kiss women against their will and that sex when one party is intoxicated and unable to properly give consent should not be considered rape. By doing so, he proposes the idea that it’s okay to forcibly kiss women and have sex with intoxicated women when they cannot give proper consent.
Kolondra’s article was highly misogynistic as well as imprecise. It uses inaccurate data to maintain sexist viewpoints and defend rape culture, an extremely dangerous thing to do in an environment as influential as a high school campus. Statistics should never be manipulated to prove a point, particularly in the field of journalism.