Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rape and the Lynch Mob Mentality

Looking around at the news today, it would seem that the entire "First World", including Great Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Spain, and so on, are fighting an all-out war on rape.  Personally, I have a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault.  Having been a victim of it, I cannot think of a more horrifying or traumatic experience anyone could go through, and the last thing I want is for anyone else to go through what I went through.

No one who isn't also a sociopath is "pro-rape", and there is no way that anyone could not support a "war on rape".  Its a common sense issue, right?  We want to stop sexual assault from happening, so hey-ho, let's go!  You've got to cheer such an effort on, right?


The problem isn't the idea of a "war on rape."  The problem is how its undertaken.  The way its pursued.  Make no mistake, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about such a thing, and by Hannibal's Feathery Hat, people are going about it the wrong way.  All the wrong way.  Its being undertaken with the same fervent enthusiasm as a lynch mob.

And folks, that's just wrong.

I want to make it clear:  I am not defending rapists.  I'm not promoting rape.  What I am doing is pointing out the problems in the way the issue is handled, because while I want to see an end to rape, I also don't want to see innocent people's lives destroyed.  Not only the innocent whose life is destroyed when they are raped, but the innocent whose life is destroyed by the false rape accusation.

So there are some things we need to stop doing, if we're really serious about finding the truth and punishing those who are the true monsters in this situation.  So here are the problems, as I see them.  Let's start with the big one.  The "live grenade" in the middle of the discussion.

Problem 1:  The Accuser is always assumed to be telling the truth.

It is a dangerous thing to have doubts about a person making an accusation of rape these days.  Especially if that person is (like in the majority of rape cases) a woman.  To doubt the accuser is to court being branded a rape apologist.  You'll be castigated for "blaming the victim.  There are a ton of support groups out there with names like "We Believe You" and "It's Not Your Fault", just ready to protect and support the accuser on the slimmest threads of evidence.

This has become so bad that even when a rape allegation is exposed as a web of lies, as in the recent Rolling Stone scandal where it turned out that rape victim "Jackie" had apparently not even had sex on the night in question, much less been raped, a writer for a prestigious national-level newspaper insists that we must automatically believe all rape allegations anyway because "incredulity hurts the victims."

So the accused is assumed guilty until proven guilty, all without the benefit of a court trial, or even an investigation into the accusation.  What's that?  "What happened to being found innocent?"  Silly child.  There's no such thing as an accused rapist who is actually innocent.  What an absurd idea, that someone could be accused of rape and then found to not have actually done what they were accused of.

Ida B. Wells, an African American journalist who lives during the late 1800s and early 1900s, once said of the lynch mobs who were murdering black men for myriad "offenses" that basically boiled down to "being black in the wrong place at the wrong time", "The word of the accuser is held to be true.  The rule of law reversed, and instead of proving the accused guilty, the accused must prove himself innocent."  The level of belief in the accuser is startling, to be honest, and the demonization of anyone who dares question the accusations is simply wrong.

What's happening now is the same thing.  Its a lynch mob mentality.  No, rape suspects aren't literally lynched, but the effect is the same.  Such people are condemned on the word of the accuser and see their lives destroyed without due process of law, and without any further confirmation of their crime.  And in most such cases, the suspect turns out to not have committed the crime in the first place.

Questioning an accusation (and I include any accusation, not just those for rape) is not and should not be taken as an attack on the virtue of the accuser.  Its simply the way our society, and the justice system that our society supports, is supposed to work.  You have a presumption of innocence and it is your accuser's responsibility to show otherwise.

I've seen it bandied about that "only 2% of all rape accusations are proven false."  This number is actually a lie; the actual percentage of rape accusations that are proven false (according to the US Department of Justice) is 16%, not 2%.  And I can hear you out there, saying, "But Jack... if only 16% of rape accusations are proven false, that means that 84% are true!"

Nope.  Again, according to the Department of Justice, only 27% of them are proven true.

For those of you who have basic math skills, you might notice that this means that only 43% of rape cases have a definitive conclusion, guilty or not guilty.  The remaining 57% are "undetermined", which means that while there is evidence that something may or may not have occurred, there isn't any evidence at all showing that the "something" in question was a non-consensual sexual encounter past the "he said, she said" (or "he said, he said", or "she said, she said") level and thus no determination can be made at all.

The lynch mob mentality says that in these 57% of cases, the "victim" is to be believed, despite the fact that there isn't any evidence supporting the claim.  Sorry, but that's not how our society works.  In our society, the accuser either makes the case, or else the accused is considered innocent of the crime forever more.

Problem 2:  The accused is protected from cross-examination.

The claim is that cross-examination is too tough, and that we need to protect the "victim" from being re-traumatized by such questions that might poke holes in her (I say her, because when its a man making the accusation, no one gives a shit that he might be re-traumatized by the questioning) story.  Activists claim that accusers who are cross-examined feel like they were "raped all over again".

This has lead to the use of special investigators by colleges who all by themselves have the power to make binding decisions regarding the college's reaction to a rape accusation.  The aim of such extra-legal "courts", in which the accused has no right to counsel, no right to appeal, and no real right to defense, is to "spare complaintants from cross-examination" and "avoid the adversarial court process."

This obsession with sparing women from cross-examination is a blatant violation of the Constitutional rights of the rape suspect.  The Constitution guarantees a right to confront your accuser, to question them, to present counter-evidence in your defense.  Something that is not permitted in these collegiate star chambers that assume the accused is guilty until proven guilty.

My question is why aren't women upset about this attitude?  Seriously, this is infantilization of the first water.  According to this concept, women are too fragile to cope with the trial process.  The very thought of a delicate flower of womanhood being forced to go into a court-room in the presence of the monster who dared violate her...

Of course, technically until the verdict is rendered, the "monster" is still an innocent person.  Perhaps that's why we don't want to have the "victim" cross-examined... there might be a chance she's lying.  And now we're back to Problem 1.

Problem 3:  Rape Culture

Fear-mongers claim that women are surrounded, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, with the threat of rape, as evidenced by the existence of Playboy Magazine and rock music with raunchy lyrics and soap operas and Lifetime Original Movies.  Women in our society are "drowning in a sea of misogyny", as journalist Laura Bates called it.

Even as the US Department of Justice figures show that the number of rape incidents are declining in this country, Feminist groups pour oil on the fire that is the panic about rape.  Rolling Stone runs a graphic and senstional story about gang-rape, online forums sprout everywhere so that women can "tell their own rape stories", memoirs are written about sexual assaults, and warnings of "1 in 5 women will be raped" (a myth that has been proven false multiple times, but somehow still won't die; the actual number is 6 in 1000) all contribute to the idea that all women, everywhere, are at risk of being raped, and that all men, everywhere, are potential rapists.

And this is blatantly not true.

Problem 4:  Women are being infantilized by the very people fighting the "rape war".

The problem with the way the "war on rape" is being prosecuted isn't just that its victimizing men who haven't done anything wrong.  The problem is also that it is patroninzing to women.  I touched on this earlier, but its true.  The assumptions regarding rape are as insulting to women as they are damaging to men.

Under the disguise of "protection of women", women are actually demeaned and treated like fragile children who are incapable of taking care of themselves.  The myth of female vulnerability, which depicts women as incapable of handling the stresses of a job, an education, and life in general without the help of others, or without special rules and regulations protecting them from these stresses, is at the core of the problem.

Why do women put up with this?  Why aren't more of them speaking out against such condecending treatment?

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