Monday, September 02, 2013

Rape and the Poisoned Chalice of Liberalism

First, some background: while I am sensitive to the criticisms of many in the manosphere that statutory rape laws are misandrist Victorian relics, I am more sensitive to the concerns of parents that their minor sons and daughters not be whored out to the world. So I would only support reforms that both (a) recognize that teenaged girls are not actually innocent snowflakes corrupted only by predatory adults and (b) preserve parental authority over their children.

And since I'm exceedingly unlikely to get (b), then I'll stick with the status quo, thank you very much, if the alternative is the weakening of the legal sanctions that deter (I hope) men from trying to have sex with my daughters, the social, financial, and emotional consequences of which I would be liable.

Which brings me to the furor over the recent sentence handed down in the case of Stacey Rambold, convicted of statutory rape of then 14-year-old Cherice Moralez. The case is aggravated (in my opinion) by several factors reported in the media (with the usual caveat emptor): Rambold was her teacher and in authority over her, and therefore had professional as well as personal obligations; Rambold used "pre-sexual grooming techniques" (the newly-minted dysphemism for seduction); and according to her mother Auliea Hanlon (yes, your inference is correct), young Cherice's subsequent suicide was related to the affair's fallout and that of its prosecution. This last should reinforce the lesson that sex is appropriately reserved for grown-ups -- preferably married grownups -- who can rationally evaluate and assume the risks of their decisions and their consequences.

Rambold was initially sentenced to "treatment" -- an absurdity to begin with. Judging from the pictures Cherice, Rambold's sexual appetite was entirely normal; the problem was that his appetite was, in the context of the law and social norms, undisciplined. But in any case, Rambold violated the terms of his treatment in some fairly trivial ways and wound up back in front of District Judge G. Todd Baugh.

Judge Baugh put the case in the national news by sentencing to Rambold to 30 days in jail + 10 years suspended. Given the aggravating circumstances cited above, I would tend to agree with, well, every other person on the planet that this sentence was on the light side, and probably not within Montana's sentencing guidelines. However, most of the controversy stems from his reasoning: the affair was consensual, and Cherice bears some responsibility its consequences.

However poorly this fact justifies a mere 30-day sentence, the fact itself is entirely commonsense: that statutory rape (i.e., sex with a minor) is a very different thing than forcible rape, a.k.a, "legitimate rape", a.k.a. "rape-rape". And as a commonsense fact, it cannot be allowed to stand in the mainstream media, which is deeply invested in the politically-correct nonsense that "all rape is rape!" Pursuant to this, they have almost to a man opted simply to lie about the facts of the case.

Take the USA Today article linked above. Nowhere does the term "statutory rape" appear; and indeed, only upon close reading (for I had not heard of this case before following the link from Drudge) did I figure out that that was what the crime was. But it's not just USA Today. Search Google News. As of this writing (Friday), the only news outlets that are up-front about this are the Daily Caller and the Huffington Post. Compare that to the thousands of stories that describe the crime as "rape" without qualifiers.

This casting is more than just stylistic judgement. I caught a snippet of dialog on CNN about the case; a legal analyst was trying to explain (without justifying) the judge's decision by pointing out that it wasn't forcible rape. "'Forcible rape,'" replied the female talking head with an eye-roll, "That's so 1980s!"

Ouch.  That has to be the first use of "1980s" as a synonym for "antediluvian" that I've ever heard.

Again, I am, on balance, in favor of laws prohibiting sex with legal minors. But this is the poison to which liberalism has brought us: because we have established "consent" as the sole metric by which to evaluate sexual relations, we are left with basing our laws on a manifest lie, that minors cannot consent, not just in law, but in fact as well, when clearly they can, and do in great numbers.


Elusive Wapiti said...

Seems you and I picked the same day to discuss this, although I missed the all that conflating of non-rape with rape-rape going on in the MSM.

"...because we have established "consent" as the sole metric by which to evaluate sexual relations, we are left with basing our laws on a manifest lie, that minors cannot consent, not just in law, but in fact as well, when clearly they can, and do in great numbers."

Interestingly, we let minors who--according to the letter of the law--could not consent to the sex that resulted in a pregnancy consent to the ending of that pregnancy.

Somehow the act of becoming pregnant bestows all sorts of magical agency which then permits a pregnant teen to consent--and be able to fend off all that emotional duress--to abort her baby.

trumwill said...

I think there's room for sexual liberation but seeing something wrong with a teacher having sex with a student 40 years her younger, and believing that it represents an inherent sexual abuse*. Where it does get more problematic is when we call it rape. It deprives young people of their sexual autonomy, which is something liberals would otherwise support and something I honestly have a difficult time denying, at least of 14 and up. (We'll see how I feel when Lain turns 14.)

Which isn't to say that I think what happened here should be legal. I support a general loosening of these laws, but the teacher-student dynamic does, to me, represent an abuse of influence, or the significant enough of a potential for it that it's not the typical case where I would let people be.

I, too, think that references to what occurred here should include the word "statutory" but honestly it took me about two paragraphs to figure out what was going on.

With regard to Wapati's post, I can't actually find much to demonstrate a disparity between male sentencing and female sentencing. I thought there was, and was going to write a post about it, but I ran across a whole lot of cases where male teachers got the same sort of slap-on-the-wrist when it appeared that everything was as consensual as it could be.

I actually looked up the case of the gym teacher from my high school who was arrested shortly after I graduated. I expected that he was sent to prison. It turns out that he was sent straight to probation.

Justin said...

The MOST common-sense reform would be to make BOTH parties subject to prosecution. Punishing only the older person in a case of "statutory rape" makes as much sense as punishing only the buyer of illegal drugs, while letting the seller of illegal drugs go free.

Dr. Φ said...

It deprives young people of their sexual autonomy

. . . sez the blue-eyed lothario!

Seriously, if you assert something like "sexual autonomy", then all else follows, unprincipled exceptions be damned.