The XX Factor

Rape Clip-Art

A fairly horrific portrait is beginning to emerge of the New Jersey man on trial for allegedly raping five of his daughters, impregnating three of them, and systematically terrorizing his family for years. The 51-year-old man, whose name media outlets aren’t publishing in order to protect his victims, is being compared to famed Austrian dungeon master Josef Fritzl , who fathered seven children with the daughter he kept captive for 24 years.

That level of depravity is difficult to illustrate, as demonstrated by The site used this stock photograph -of a man forcibly holding down the wrist of a woman who’s clearly struggling to escape-to accompany an Associated Press article.

Unable to run a mug shot, the CBS art department apparently decided it was just as helpful to give readers a bird’s-eye view of a rape in progress. Pure prurience is nothing new on the Web, but I would expect more discretion from the first network news division to have a woman as its public face . It’s obviously time to lower my expectations. How does the image, which a colleague called “rape clip-art,” add anything to the story? It doesn’t enhance the piece. It’s more likely to enrage a reader (if that reader is me, apparently) than enlighten her.