Uma leitora me mandou por email uma carta fantástica que enviou pro NYT pra contestar a reportagem sobre Rafinha Bastos, que faltou ao seu depoimento no Ministério Público. Vou reproduzi-la aqui, sem mudar uma vírgula, porque eu certamente não poderia ter feito melhor. Pra quem não domina o inglês, a Libu deixou uma tradução nos comentários (obrigada!).
My name is Aline Ramos and I am a Brazilian citizen working on a PhD in philosophy in Canada.
Yesterday, when I read the article "A Brazilian's Comic Mania: Social Media" on your website, I was quite shocked to see an outrageous representation of Mr. Rafinha Bastos, the Brazilian "comedian" being portrayed.
I understand that Mr. Bastos is supposed to be some sort of internet celebrity, and that Mr. Larry Rohter (who wrote the article) is supposed to be some kind of specialist in Brazilian affairs. Now, because of the alleged expertise of the latter, I certainly expected A LOT more research on his part - and more frankness, I guess. The article briefly mentions that Mr. Bastos was questioned by a prosecutor because of an offensive joke involving rape victims ("More seriously, prosecutors here recently questioned Mr. Bastos about an admittedly offensive joke of his about rape victims.") It seemed quite disingenuous of Mr. Rohter to leave out the details of this case, so let me clarify it for you: Mr. Bastos, in a recent interview for the Brazilian edition of The Rolling Stone Magazine, said that "a man who rapes an ugly woman does not deserve to go to jail, rather, he should be given a hug!"
Note, however, that, in Brazil, like in most countries, we have laws which condemn rape and sexual violence, and Brazilian women - just like American women, alas! - do believe that such laws exist for a reason, and rape victims should be protected. Hence, we, Brazilian women, do not find these jokes amusing at all. And this is just one among the many offensive jokes Mr. Bastos makes both during his shows and online (e.g. on twitter). To be clear: Mr. Bastos is currently being prosecuted for inciting violence against women! And Mr. Rohter wrote a 3-page article explaining why Mr. Bastos has become a celebrity and why he is some sort of genius. If that is not guile (coming from an alleged expert in Brazilian issues), then I don't know what is!
I should also add that today, following the publication of the article, Mr. Bastos failed to show up for a hearing with the D.A. concerning the above-mentioned lawsuit. When a news website asked him about his absence, he just responded that people should not be concerned with his public hearing, but rather with the article published in the NYT. I'm sure all the publicity he has been receiving may even help him get away with the offensive comments. It is really amazing what influential international media can do to help criminals. I applaud Mr. Rohter for that!
It is quite pitiful to see a newspaper of the caliber of the NYT publish an article lauding and aggrandazing a person who is known for having such despicable morals, and who is not, I assure you, nowhere near the national hero Mr. Rohter wants us to believe he is.
Honestly, I don't claim to know exactly how things work in the media world, but in academia I see a lot of people struggle to fight against discrimination, verbal offenses and hate speech, so it pains me to see a man who bluntly ignores not only social etiquette but also the law (no wonder he is being prosecuted) being extolled by one of the biggest and most respected newspapers in the world.
As an academic, I expect a lot more from the NYT (and Mr. Rohter) in the future, especially in terms of research and artlessness, and, as a woman, I sincerely expect the New York Times to apologize (to all women).
Yours sincerely, Aline.