Kansas City Star takes heat for opinion piece criticized for blaming rape victims

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some Kansas City Star readers are concerned following an opinion piece that was published on Saturday. The newspaper's publisher has since apologized.

"Women can take action to prevent rapes." 

The three column article by contributor Laura Herrick hit The Star's website Friday night and ran in print Saturday.  Herrick begins the piece by stating rape is not a victim's fault, and "no means no."

Herrick goes on to tell women to "take charge of your bodies and your sexuality by being sober enough to stop unwanted advances."

Haleigh Harrold with the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) called the article “victim blaming.”

"That silences other victims from coming forward and sharing their experience and that creates an environment where sexual assault is going to continue to happen,” Harrold told FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien.

The public backlash from Herrick's article was swift, and publisher Tony Berg pulled Herrick's article from The Star's website. Berg did not respond to FOX 4’s request for an interview, but did issue an apology in the Sunday paper, saying in hindsight that it should have never been published.

There has been some criticism of Berg for pulling the article as well.  The Star is a private company, so pulling the opinion piece did not violate Herrick's free speech rights. Assistant law dean at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Alan Rostron, says unpopular speech needs the most protection because it promotes public debate.

“There is a strong tradition in America of protecting speech, not only when it is something that everybody likes,” Roston said.

"There is not point, for instance, in publishing a bunch of racist ranting and raving that doesn't enlighten anybody, but to publish ideas that I might disagree with and other people disagree with, that can still be very valuable, it makes us think,” he continued.

While Harrold doesn't agree with what was written in the piece, she is thankful that it's sparked conversations on the issue of rape.