(Trigger warning: While this post does not discuss rapes and assaults in detail, several of the linked articles do.)

Now that the Steubenville rapists have been convicted and sentenced, we have in front of us a sterling example of the kind of coverage the media considers appropriate for a story about two young men who raped a young woman, photographed the rape, distributed the photos on social media, and took time out from the rape to text jokes to their friends about their crimes.

In a remarkable example of tone deaf media coverage, CNN’s Poppy Harlow referred to the sentencing of two men who made their victim’s suffering into a visual joke as “incredibly difficult to watch.” She then urged viewers to stay tuned because “for the first time in this whole trial we have now heard from these two young men.” In a classic example of why I find the passive voice so sinister, Trent Mays then stood up in court and gave the classic non-apology, “No pictures should have been sent around, let alone even taken.” Viewers were then treated to a weeping apology from Ma’lik Richmond, and to Harlow’s bizarre attempt to put a heart-warming spin on the story by noting that Richmond’s father, who had never said “I love you” to his son, said it then. Coverage from other CNN reporters and several other news outlets was equally sympathetic towards the perpetrators.

Somehow, I find myself moved to write about rape culture today.

In a previous post I argued that libertarians should start to think about rape, and the institutions that shelter and protect rapists, as a topic that could benefit from a libertarian approach. After all, the action of rape violates our belief that “interactions should be peaceful exchanges between consenting parties.” And the culture that protects it confirms everything that public choice theory has taught us about the “dangers that come into play in dysfunctional institutions.”

Several commenters on my earlier post suggested that I was merely telling everyone something we all knew already. Rape is bad. Yawn. Perhaps now we can get back to a topic that really matters? Like raw milk?

I’m not so sure everyone knows rape is bad. And with left-leaning CNN’s sympathetic–even maudlin–coverage of the young lives destroyed when rapists are convicted for raping people swirling in a noxious stew with the asinine statements about rape made by so many of last year’s Republican candidates, maybe it’s time for what Students for Liberty calls the “radical center” to do a little talking about rape culture?

Though it’s probably the best term we have, I actually hate the term rape culture. It’s a blanket term that is all too often expanded to cover anything the user finds obnoxious or offensive. I will never forget, for example, a freshman year discussion about Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress” where several students in my English class objected to being made to read this relic of rape culture. (The professor handled it admirably, by the way, in case you were wondering if I was oppressed.) So, I want to be very careful about this.

It might be best to think about rape culture as a set of concentric circles that surround the center point of rape. (I’m leaving aside the legal definitions of rape that vary from state to state and just relying on the general definition of “non-consensual sexual contact.”)

Circling out from that center point are such activities as:

  • Legal protections for certain kinds of rape—for example, spousal rape
  • The institutional protective instinct we see in military rape cases, prison rape cases, church rape cases, university rape cases, and so on.
  • Indifference to and mismanagement of victims and physical evidence in rape cases by police and medical facilities.
  • Media coverage, like CNN’s, that focuses on the crime’s effect on the perpetrators rather than the victims
  • Faux-scientific explanations that suggest victims are complicit in their own rapes—such as Todd Akin’s comment about how pregnancy doesn’t occur from “legitimate rape” and the infamous case in the Italian Supreme Court where it was declared that it is impossible to rape a woman who is wearing blue jeans.
  • Cultural blindness to rapes that do not conform to the stereotypical “Stranger jumps out from behind bushes and grabs woman, rapes her, runs away” pattern.
  • Arguments such as “The victim shouldn’t have been in that place/had that drink/worn that outfit/attended that party.”
  • Excuses such as “boys will be boys” or “men can’t be raped” or “it must have been a misunderstanding” or “it’s just morning after regrets.”
  • Rape jokes.

Let me be very clear here. Everyone will have a different reaction to the above list. Everyone will rate the severity of these items differently.  Everyone will find things on the list that seem to them to be worth taking action about and some that seem trivial. That’s fine. What matters is that we know that rape culture includes that whole list (and probably a great deal more that I haven’t thought of just now) and that when we talk about and think about and write about rape and rape culture, we have that list in mind, instead of some parody version of rape culture that leads to visions of humorless feminists demanding the blood of kindergartners who dare to kiss their classmates.

What matters, now that we have that in mind, is what we do. And what we do will depend upon who we are.

  •  Is the rule of law your particular passion? Why not make it a point to write and talk about the ways in which the law fails rape victims? Or the ways in which the police fail them? Or what happens to prisoners who are raped behind bars?
  •  Are you concerned about character education and the need for a virtuous citizenry? Maybe a look at what our culture does to men and women when it trivializes rape and makes it entertainment is in order.
  •  Are you a public choice theorist? Next time you’re thinking about the ways that institutions fail, why not consider the question of rape and institutional protection?

There are all sorts of ways to make libertarian arguments about rape. We just need to make them. And when we make arguments about rape in general, we need to let people know that the arguments are being made *by* libertarians. We could:

  •  Wear our best libertarian /anarchist/liberty loving t-shirts to a Take Back the Night March or a SlutWalk.
  •  Volunteer to be campus SAFEwalkers, and wear some liberty gear while we do it.
  •  Turn some of our blogging/column-writing/You-tubing attention to stories like Steubenville, Penn State, and so on.
  •  Take responsibility for calling out, and calling attention to, the kind of rape culture that strikes at the heart of the particular libertarian principles that matter the most to each of us individually, in a way that is consistent with those principles.

We don’t have to stop talking about raw milk. Or flat taxes. Or drones. We shouldn’t. We should just consider talking about this too.

After all, when the left and the right are saying incredibly stupid things, it’s a really good time for libertarians to say something smart.

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  • j r

    Several commenters on my earlier post suggested that I was merely telling everyone something we all knew already. Rape is bad. Yawn. Perhaps now we can get back to a topic that really matters? Like raw milk?

    Is that really how you perceived the dissenting opinions from that post? From what I recall, there were very few people who outright dismissed the post. In fact, it got a lot of comments and lot of attention in other places.

    What most of the dissenters, myself included, were getting at is that there are actual reasons why more libertarians aren’t overtly feminist. Those reasons cover a whole range, from basic demographics to the progressive bent of contemporary feminism to the fact that many people view rape through the lens of criminal justice and not gender studies.

    However, I am still struck with the impression that saying something smart still seems to be mostly about status-signalling. Now maybe status-signalling is part of destroying the vestiges of rape culture that you mention. If so, I’m happy to be proven wrong, but show me that Slut Walks and Take Back the Night marches actually reduce the incidence of rape. Show me that an idea like victim-blaming is useful, because I simply cannot see a way to reducing sexual assaults that doesn’t squarely address any number of risky activities in which young people take part.

    If we are going to talk about feminism, then let’s really talk about it. Let’s take these ideas apart and see where there is value and where there is none.

    • PSG

      I run in to this clash of behaviors when I enter a discussion about rape. And speaking as both someone more than kinda-sorta feminist, and a victim of what meets the legal definition of rape, I try to insist that although (in thought) we SHOULD be able to wear whatever we want, go wherever we choose, and do it whenever we wish – that isn’t real world — and because of this reality we need to be self-regulating; aware of ourselves and our surroundings. Wise over whim. I don’t blame myself, or another victim who foolishly finds herself in a bad way, but that someone else should take a lesson away from it. I feel accountable for being there. That’s very different from blame. It’s owning my part of it, and learning from it. Those scars never fade.
      Certain activities promote unfortunate, unintended consequences. Period. (The activities I was involved in with anything but pure.) So, in between the PC crowd trying to assert ‘impowering’ propaganda, which sometimes seems to encourage a ridiculously blinded mentality, I’d really like to see more focus on how women should be careful, to avoid whatever harmful situation they might be able to control.
      I don’t see that as pro-or-not feminist, just rational.

  • jdkolassa

    Sarah, just so we can have an example of what you’re talking about, is this sort of post–from a libertarian blog–on rape what you’re looking for? Is this the message libertarians should be saying?

    http://thoughtsonliberty.com/is-rape-preventable

    (Yes, I am stirring a pot. No, I don’t care.)

    • http://profiles.google.com/entelechy77 Kurt Horner

      I think you already know that such a message is not what she’s calling for. The linked article pooh-poohs an idea that would greatly reduce rape primarily on the basis that it wouldn’t eliminate rape. In fact, Maxwell’s statement shouldn’t even be controversial. The fault of a crime lies solely on the perpetrator.

      • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

        “The linked article pooh-poohs an idea that would greatly reduce rape primarily on the basis that it wouldn’t eliminate rape. ”

        Can you elaborate here? What idea is the article pooh-poohing, and why do you think that?

        • http://profiles.google.com/entelechy77 Kurt Horner

          The article refers to Ms. Maxwell’s suggestion that the way to decrease rape is to focus on what potential perpetrators shouldn’t do, rather than what potential victims should do. The author then says that this is a bad idea because it won’t magically whisk all rapes away — an argument that makes no sense at all.

          • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

            I don’t think the author was trying to say that taking steps to eliminate culture or educate people were a bad thing. She was just attempting to say that even with 100% perfect social conditioning (that doesn’t violate someone’s rights, I think), there’s no way you’re gonna get rid of rape completely, and so it’s never a good idea to completely disarm people or remove their ability to defend themselves.

            [Full disclosure: I’m the editor of the blog in question, though the post is not mine]

          • http://profiles.google.com/entelechy77 Kurt Horner

            I don’t think the gun control angle was well integrated into that blog post, since it was referred to fairly obliquely. The argument is also odd since one could easily oppose gun control AND accept Maxwell’s argument that cultural factors are the biggest contributor to the incidence of rape. Also, it seems highly unlikely that gun control would increase the rape rate nearly as much as ending rape culture would diminish it (given that most rapes occur in circumstances where a weapon is unavailable and/or the victim is in no state to wield one). So, the argument is oblique and seems to exclude several options.

  • DavidBernstein

    All good points but you neglect the one part of society where rape is institutionalized, well-accepted, and joked about: prisons.

    • Ted Levy

      Actually, David, Sarah mentions prison rape twice in her post…

      • Michael Cust

        ‘Actually’ used in political-discussions is always an expression of smugness. You can correct him and not be a dick.

        • http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski Matt Zwolinski

          Is using the word “actually” actually worse than calling someone a “dick”?

          • Michael Cust

            Yes. It’s a surreptitious form of contempt. It leaves the receiver feeling hurt without knowing why. Moreover, my disapprobation was third-party retaliation. Ted’s smugness was aggressive.

        • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

          Actually, I’m pretty sure smugness is warranted when the poster in question clearly didn’t read the post.

          • DavidBernstein

            I did read the post, “neglecting” is not the same as “not mentioning,” though as I acknowledged below, I did miss the second reference. And still, I’m not sure what prison rape (or church pedophile scandals) has to do with “rape culture,” which is a feminist construct that seems totally inapposite to the case of same-sex prison rape. What “cultural” commonalities do (a) a guy slipping a mickey into a woman’s drink a at a bar and then molesting her; (b) a priest molesting a ten year old altar boy; (c) a prison gang forcing anal sex on a fellow ale prisoner; (d) a street criminal attacking a woman walking home from work; (e) a step-father molesting his adolescent step daughter; and (f) a 35 year old guy having “consensual” sex with a 17 year old in a state where the age of consent is 18 have in common? These are all legally rape, and all but F are *clearly* properly defined as such, but they don’t seem like intrinsically related cultural phenomena.

          • j_m_h

            One of the things they all share is the establishment, or at least the pretense, of dominance. I’m not sure if that’s all part and parcel of the feminist view of a rape culture where men need to maintain that image of social dominance or not suspect so.

          • Michael Cust

            Your retort to my claim that someone is hurting someone else’s feelings is to, in part, try and hurt mine? Hate, however mild, is immoral.

          • Sean II

            So long as one’s aim is true, hate can be a moral imperative.

            I, for example, really dislike you. If I should graduate to full-on hate anytime in the next few hours, it’ll be a result of your moral defects, not my own.

          • j_m_h

            But how is one to know one’s aim is true? Hate itself can be a moral defect, regardless of it’s underlying rationales.

          • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

            No?

      • DavidBernstein

        I did see the first one, but I was thinking of the “what can you do” part of the post, where I did in fact miss that sentence at the end. Sorry.

    • Sergio Méndez

      Actually, I think the problem of the culture of rape in prisons follows exactly the same logic with rape against women in the streets: in both cases they are ways of affirming domination (and yes, masculinity AS domination), by brutal means (in one one case against prisoners you want to to keep subordinated, in other against women you want to keep subordinated).

      • DavidBernstein

        Why don’t street rapists target men then? Wouldn’t that be a greater show of domination? And why do they disproportionately target young women, as opposed to older women?

        • Sergio Méndez

          Maybe because rape is used, in the street, as a way of GENDER domination, one specifically used by men against women? While rape in prison follows the domination logic, but then of simply priosner against priosner?

          • DavidBernstein

            You think some street thug is sitting there thinking about “gender domination” when he contemplates rape? Really? And if so, why, again, younger women? Can’t you dominate an 80 year old or a 50 year old as well as a 20 year old?

          • good_in_theory

            So rapists out of prison are indifferent between raping women and raping men? That they allegedly tend to target younger women (are there stats on that, though) doesn’t speak at all to whether or not it is primarily women that are targeted.

          • DavidBernstein

            Yes, there are stats on that. You can find many of them at Owen Jones, Sex, Culture, and the Biology of Rape: Toward Explanation and Prevention, 87 California Law Review 827 (1999). Of course women are primarily targeted, because men primarily want to have sex with women. And yes, if it were primarily about power and domination (the standard feminist theory), rapists shouldn’t care if it’s men or women, and indeed, it would show more dominance by a man to attack another man. That’s not to deny that culture effects things, it’s to deny that “rape culture” is close to an adequate explanation of the problem.

          • good_in_theory

            Not if it’s about the power and domination *of women*. You’re not dis-confirming anything here.

          • DavidBernstein

            So we’re back in a circle, because if power and domination of women are the main motives, then you have to explain why a certain age group of women are victimized much more frequently than women of other age groups.

          • PSG

            Opportunity?

          • good_in_theory

            Except, no, that doesn’t follow in the least.

          • Sergio Méndez

            David:

            “You think some street thug is sitting there thinking about “gender domination” when he contemplates rape?” But then, that doesn´t mean it is the ideology behind rapes (by the way, you again repeat again the myth that rapes are commited by some unknown stranger that jump on women in dark alleys, when it has been shown that most rapes are commited by people the victim knows and trust – husband, boyfriend, friends, family, etc).

          • DavidBernstein

            I didn’t repeat that “myth,” I used it as one of several examples that have no obvious cultural similarities to each other.

  • gliberty

    Thank you. This is brillaint post, and well needed.

  • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

    Sarah,

    This is not to disagree with the thoughts expressed in your post, nor is it meant to distract from the serious issue you have raised and the quite reasonable and thoughtful respsonses you have suggested. But, I posted what you see below towards the end of your last thread on this subject, and (surprisingly, at least to me) received no comment either from you or anyone else. So, forgoive me, but I will try again:

    Since this fire is still smoldering, I will throw a little gas on it. Of course rape is a horrible crime, and of course libertarians should be outraged by it, especially when it is aided and abetted by public institutions (like the military) over which we should (as a society) be able to exert control. But for all our flaws, we do not generally condone it. A convicted rapist faces years in prison, and a serial rapist is likely to spend decades, if not life, in prison under not very luxurious conditions.

    So, here is my question: where is the libertarian outrage against the treatment of women in other cultures, where women are harshly oppressed generally, in all aspects of their lives, i.e. where they can’t vote, drive a car without their male guardian, get a job; where they are subject to female genital mutilation, honor killings, forced marriages, deprived of an education and any chance of being much more than chattel? Why don’t I hear much more about this here at BHL, and on other libertarian sites? In your words, “[All of these things are]…a crime against the beliefs that libertarians hold most deeply. We should be angrier. Why are we not angrier?”

    • good_in_theory

      What means do you propose to effect change in places where libertarians don’t participate politically? Trade sanctions and embargoes? Colonization and foreign rule? Invasion? Funding of opposition parties and/or paramilitary guerrillas? How are these problems one’s which US libertarians, living and participating in US communities, can do much about, outside of solidarity with liberal movements internal to those countries?

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        How about starting with clear, unequivocal public condemnations by opinion leaders, writers, politicians, etc. of such oppression? How about not selling such regimes weapons that are used to repress internal forces favoring liberalization? How about cutting off foreign aid to such regimes? How about attempting to shame the leaders of such nations? Effecting change is not necessarily the only purpose of moral philosophy, its also important to get clear in our own heads about the boundaries between acceptable and immoral conduct.

      • Sean II

        I dunno, GIT…I’m pretty sure the United States should be considered a place “where libertarians don’t participate politically”.

        We’ve got about as much chance of influencing events in Steubenville as we have in Esfahan. In both cases our only weapon is to say “Hey, hey, hey. Knock that shit off! You’re about one step away from becoming the target of a very provocative paper in the Ozark Watershed Review of Human Values (rejection rate = 40%).”

        • good_in_theory

          My political opinions are marginal, and yet I find plenty of opportunity to act upon them in the institutions and social relationships I occupy.

          • Sean II

            Ah, but now you’ve switched between “how do you propose to effect change”, in your first comment, to “I find plenty of opportunity to act upon [my political opinions]”, in your second.

            You’ve retreated from talking about results to talking about mere inputs. I didn’t say libertarians couldn’t act, I just said they couldn’t have much impact.

            Also, no offense GIT, but I’m pretty sure you don’t either. I’m pretty sure that if you furnished me with an example of how you claim to be the change you wish to see in the world of your “institutions and social relationships”, I’d probably find it a very modest effort indeed.

          • good_in_theory

            What an inane line of argument. My “inputs” certainly have an effect on the situations I find myself in and the situations those I work with find themselves in. That they are insufficiently grand for your pretensions is irrelevant.

          • Sean II

            That’s not quite the same as providing me an example.

            But let me double down. I think the most energetic thing you do to serve your political convictions is probably to patroll this website, making sure that no libertarian long forgets the futility of his hopes to reach the left.

          • good_in_theory

            I prefer to remain anonymous, and if I were to identify the things I’ve been involved in recently, it would make me potentially identifiable, because the things I’ve worked on get covered in local and state news. But feel free to project your own inadequacies on to me.

          • Sean II

            That’s too bad. I thought we were about to play us a classic game of What’s My Line? I was going to open by asking “Do you work with your hands, or do you mostly use the coercive power of the state to get things done?”

            Also, I should point out that as a libertarian, I don’t need to project my political frustration onto you. Strictly speaking, you and others like you are the cause of my frustration in practical politics.

          • good_in_theory

            Mostly it concerns the internal policies of public and voluntary institutions, so “state coercion” doesn’t have too much to do with it.

    • http://profiles.google.com/entelechy77 Kurt Horner

      1) We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Opposing sexism at home and abroad seems entirely possible.

      2) Sexism at home is likely to get more attention because we live HERE, not over there. I see nothing wrong with people prioritizing issues that have more immediate impact on their own lives.

      • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

        Since we can “walk and chew gum at the same time,” why do we need to “prioritize”? Why can’t libertarians do both? Exactly how much energy does it take to speak out about the horrific treatment of women in many foreign cultures? Many, if not most libertarians, are “cosmopolitan,” meaning that they believe the welfare of foreigners is as important as that of their fellow citizens, which is why they generally favor open borders, unfettered free trade, and other things. I see no excuse for silence.

        • http://profiles.google.com/entelechy77 Kurt Horner

          What silence? Frankly, given that most publicly prominent libertarians lean toward the right (and tend to be Western men), most libertarian criticism of sexism is directed at non-Western societies. The silence problem is that many libertarians ONLY want to talk about sexism in, say, Muslim countries.

    • Janet Neilson

      Open borders.

  • http://twitter.com/russnelson Russ Nelson

    I would question the phrase “circling out”, which implies a strict hierarchy. I think that “Sticking out” would be a better term, implying different responses, characteristics or aspects of coercive sexual relations. You then put different segments into categories such as “dismissing the crime” or “justifying the crime” or “blaming the victim” by placing them next to each other.

    Minor quibble.

  • jstrummer

    I’m not sure who exactly this post is directed at. Maybe libertarians. And since I’m not a libertarian anymore, maybe I should discuss it. But whenever I hear libertarians – save Radley Balko – talk about criminal justice, I am just amazed at how poorly informed it is. We have a criminal justice system that, when it does discover and prosecute a sex offenses, does it with a vengeance. The outlier is Steubenville. But were these 16 and 17 year olds (who are adults under my state’s law) where I practice law in North Carolina, they would be looking at 25 years mandatory minimum with sex offender registry for at least 30 and possible lifetime.

    It is a horrific system. We also have federal laws which now permit the indefinite detention of certain types of sex offenders. The registry itself is a travesty which, once meant for “violent sexual predators” has now expanded into a catchall for even misdemeanor offenders of sex-related laws.

    In addition, we have a child protective service culture, especially when it comes to minors, that assumes that children do not lie, that has created rape shield laws that seem sensible in the abstract (why should the woman/accuser be smeared as a slut) but that end up creating real due process problems for the accused who, it must be remembered, last I checked, is still innocent before proven guilty.

    So while it’s good to rail against a rape culture, be very careful how this is an instantiated in the real lived criminal justice system which is, sadly, not a good system at all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.bloh Joe Bloh

      You said it all.
      Basically…. they only televise it when someone “gets away” with Murder (or rape), and then the populations get pissed and pass more litigation.
      The laws are very harsh already.
      People need to get being sheep.

    • Sean II

      I’m afraid you’re being very unfair here. I was one of Sarah’s loudest and most frequent critics in the last thread, but you’ve got it wrong this time.

      Nothing written above indicates that she fails to understand the problem with sex offender registries, child protective services, federalization of crime, and mandatory minimum sentencing. Had you stayed a libertarian, you might be in a better position to remember that we complain about those things all the time.

      As far as I can tell, she only made one definite misstep here today: the claim that rape accusations sometimes amount to “morning after regrets” is not categorically false, and therefore should not be listed as a manifestation of rape culture. Consensual sex followed by regret is no doubt one of the things that causes false accusations, and it would be terribly dangerous to start teaching people (and thus, juries) that regret is just another rape culture excuse. As long the crime of rape exists, defendants must be allowed to present consent as a defense.

      But that’s just a quibble. On the whole, this post was much better than the last one, and in fact, the last one seems much better in its light.

    • Kirsten Tynan

      Oh? So when a Missoula man was convicted of raping 2 14-year-olds, 7 years younger than him at the time of the rapes, one of whom he raped after she had consumed half of a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor, got a plea agreement in which he went to jail for 90 DAYS TOTAL (just 45 days per child rape!), was that prosecuting him with a vengeance?

      Just checking.

      Reference: http://missoulian.com/news/local/missoula-man-convicted-of-raping-teens-will-serve-days-in/article_4035d262-f310-11e1-b398-0019bb2963f4.html

    • Kirsten Tynan

      Note that the following are median sentences, not median time served which is a fraction of the actual sentence. If you look at mean instead of median, the numbers are still half or less of what you report for North Carolina in particular. Based on this, it looks to me like North Carolina is an outlier.

      From the “Felony Sentences in State Courts” series of reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics
      Reference: http://bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbse&sid=28

      2006
      Median maximum sentence length for rape (state): 96 months (8 years)
      Estimated prison time to be served for rape (state)

      2002
      Median maximum sentence length for rape (state): 60 months (5 years)

      2000
      Median maximum sentence length for rape (state): 72 months (6 years)

      1998
      Median maximum sentence length for rape (state): 72 months (6 years)

  • Michael Cust

    Considering libertarianism is overtly male and the fastest growing _egalitarian_ cause in Western-society is anti-feminism, this post, and the general BHL flag-waving for feminism, seems anachronistic. (If you’re wondering how anti-feminism is egalitarian the short answer is that social and sexual equality are a zero-sum conflict because women’s sexuality is hypergamous. As women’s social-status is raised, they find fewer men attractive. More men go childless and/or sexless and more de-facto harems form. Men didn’t exclude women from public-life because they’re power-hungry and sexist. It’s because women are hypergamous and men, being naturally disadvantaged in reproduction, wanted access to sex.)

    And what rape-culture? I’ve never been in a discussion with any man, or group of men, in my entire life that have said anything that has implied he has committed rape. This post seems like the concern is from outer-space.

    • http://profiles.google.com/entelechy77 Kurt Horner

      This post is a perfect example of why feminism needs to be better understood in libertarian circles. Michael claims to be pro-equality, while peddling evo-psych bullshit and claiming that rape doesn’t matter because he doesn’t personally know a rapist.

      I’m also put off by the notion that libertarianism is “overtly male.” Perhaps there are fewer female libertarians because they keep meeting douches like Michael Cust. So, one thing we could do is call out such people, and tell them to stop pretending they love liberty when they oppose liberty for half the human race.

      • Michael Cust

        “Evo-psych bullshit” = moralistic fallacy

        See also libertarians who think climate-change is fake because the policies needed to address it violate their values or Christians who think evolution is false because it contradicts their source of values, the Bible.

        Both are identical to feminists in the face of evolutionary psychology. The reason feminists deny evolutionary psychology’s truth is because it entails their prized social-equality comes at the expense of sexual-equality. There are two kinds of equality that conflict and you can’t have one completely without destroying the other.

        A middle-ground prescribed by liberalism would be nice, say no restrictions on women pursuing the same opportunities as men, but also no special privileges (e.g. legally-guaranteed maternity leave, division of male assets at divorce).

        • http://profiles.google.com/entelechy77 Kurt Horner

          First off, the moralistic fallacy would be saying that we should treat women a certain way because of their evolved nature — i.e. this would be problem for YOUR argument, not mine.

          Secondly, evolutionary psychology is a controversial and young field which has nowhere near the kind of theoretical consensus that exists in biology or even climate science.

          Third, the particular hypergamy theory that you have expressed is not even something that all EP theorists would agree with, let alone use as a justification for socially enforced gender roles.

          Fourth, the notion of natural hypergamy is absolutely ridiculous when you consider that for most of humanity’s existence there WAS NO STATUS LADDER TO CLIMB. We were hunter-gatherers, and such societies have extremely shallow hierarchies (if any) and often have women in significant leadership roles. Yet, surprisingly according to your daft theory, humanity managed to survive in these terribly maladaptive societies for hundreds of thousands of years. How did they do that?

    • djw

      If you’re wondering how anti-feminism is egalitarian the short answer is that social and sexual equality are a zero-sum conflict because women’s sexuality is hypergamous.

      Can someone translate this into English for me?

      • good_in_theory

        Women marry up, therefore if women are equal to men, shittty men don’t get any women, therefore the only way to ensure that men have the same level of access to women as women have to men is to keep being chauvinists, therefore anti-feminism is the new egalitarianism.

        tl;dr: some bullshit.

        • djw

          Thanks.

        • martinbrock

          Women marrying up is a problem for shitty men only if men marry more than one woman or if some women refuse to marry rather than marrying an equally shitty man.

          • David

            Furthermore (insofar as this theory is at all accurate), it seems like not the kind of problem libertarians should care about much. It’s not like men are entitled to a wife or sexual partner. Smacks of social engineering to try to do anything about it.

          • martinbrock

            Agreed. If a woman wants to marry a man with many wives, that’s up to her.

          • good_in_theory

            Well yes, it’s not a very bright comment. I was just doing the work of translation, as best I could.

    • Janet Neilson

      Follow some of the links in the post if you feel you’ve been under-exposed to rape culture.

  • StackedMidgets

    This is a subset of a larger cultural problem.

    What has the US replaced courtship rituals with? A group rutting ritual that often includes mass intoxication, date rape, and gang rape.

    This case is just such a group rutting ritual gone awry.

    I disagree with your approach here, because you’re trying to change a rutting ritual that quite deliberately exists to muddy consent and other rational faculties. The problem is in the ritual itself and its existence as an effect of a broader state-directed cultural change.

    Saying “we must reform this rutting ritual to be less rapey” does not seem to have worked, as it has been tried by many better-funded feminist organizations. Saying that libertarians, with our limited resources, should try to reform an unreformable cultural mode, with little evidence that said cultural mode can be reformed through the application of more propaganda, isn’t persuasive to me.

    So here is my ‘libertarian’ approach to rape: redistributive justice rather than punitive justice. Victims should be restituted by perpetrators. Security providers need “skin in the game,” because democracy creates perverse incentives for security providers to cover up real crimes and instead prosecute fake crimes.

    Also, I think that it’s wise to take a negative cultural stance on these group rutting rituals that pass for “parties” in our generation.

    You can’t just say that “rape culture is the problem” without recognizing that the cultural vacuum that used to be occupied by courtship is now occupied by co-ed bacchanalia fueled by cheap beer and bad pop music which often results in the repeated rapes of women.

    You have to be blind deaf and dumb to not be aware of the incredible frequency of rapes at these kinds of events. Part of this is due to widespread cover-ups of rape statistics on college campuses by complicit college police forces, I suppose, but I’m sure that everyone knows some woman who has been raped at one of these “parties.” If you’re a guy who has been on the dating market for a while, you know how widespread these rapes are.

    So, yes, as a libertarian, I consider this issue to be deadly serious. However, I sharply disagree that joining hands with a left wing that quite purposefully reduces the level of security in society and using their methods to accomplish the goal of reducing sexual violence against women is a wise one.

    Doing a “take back the night” song and dance doesn’t work when you have governments and universities quite happily funneling money into organizations that run these parties and preventing proper law enforcement on campus.

    “Calling out” rape culture is meaningless if, out of the other side of your mouth, you condemn the former social structures that preserved the security of women. The repeated efforts of the left removed the traditional guarantors of female security from their social role, and replaced them with… what, exactly?

    Slut walks?

    No wonder why rape has become such a horrifying epidemic. T-shirts don’t stop rapists.

    Guns do, friendly muscleheads do, and cultural structures that value the security of women do. Do tell me how that ‘revolt against the patriarchy’ is working on campus.

    What it’s been replaced with are negligent government patriarchs (lazy donut-eating cops who wave away rape complaints) and predatory men who are no longer held in check by cultural strictures. As in, not replaced at all: women experience a degraded provision of security, and it’s called “liberation.” If you’re not liberated from the fear of sexual assault, what sort of freedom is that, particularly in a libertarian sense?

    • Ted Levy

      Stacked midgets: I believe in your last paragraph you mean “restitutive justice,” not “redistributive justice”

      • StackedMidgets

        Quite right.

    • http://a1bundy.tumblr.com/ Al Bundy

      This seems off the mark to me. The number of rapes in the U.S. (per 100,000) have been trending downward every year since 1992. Yes, many rapes are not reported but it’s reasonable to assume that whatever the actual number, it’s also decreasing each year along with the reported number. Has the casual hook-up culture you are talking about increased or decreased since then?

      • StackedMidgets

        Do you trust police statistics?

        • http://www.facebook.com/joe.bloh Joe Bloh

          I trust that when police say “rapes” are going unreported, that they want us to believe it is worse than we think.

          thus, If rapes have gone DOWN, then the “unreported” rape has as well. OR… it is now being reported.

          In which case, it has Definitely gone DOWN.

          This rape “problem” is important, but Libertarians must FOCUS on getting a Third Party that can eventually lead to a presidency, and worry about the personal vendettas for later

        • http://a1bundy.tumblr.com/ Al Bundy

          If there’s counter-evidence that on a particular topic they shouldn’t be trusted I’d try to find out where the real number lies/ who’s right. But with nothing else to go on that’s where I’d start and yeah I’d trust them. (Doesn’t mean I trust police as a general rule or think they are good at dealing with rape or a multitude of other issues though)

          If alcohol plays an outsize role I think the solution is to lower the drinking age so students can learn sooner how to drink responsibly and not put themselves in potentially dangerous situations just to acquire alcohol and drink alcohol without punishment. I think trying to change the “courtshift rituals” that many young people engage in is quixotic. I

          Looking back it doesn’t look like your saying exactly that though. Can you elaborate what you mean by “skin in the game” and restitutive justice in this this case?

        • Sean II

          On a micro-level, no…I don’t trust police statistics. But it’s really difficult to fake a large, steady, nationwide decline of the kind Al is talking about.

          And that decline does pose a problem for your theory. If those crazy kids with their hip-hop and their short-shorts are just out there running Wild in the Streets, then why isn’t the number of reported rapes going up or at least holding steady?

          If nothing else, you’d need to build yourself a tack-on theory that explains why the type of rapes encouraged by “casual hook-up culture” are especially likely to go unreported. That burden is all yours.

        • Damien S.

          Do you trust victim surveys? We have more to go on than just what’s reported to the police.

    • Sergio Méndez

      StackedMidgets:

      Just a question: Do you actually think during the time of “chivalry”, rape was not common too?

    • Sean II

      “This is a subset of a larger cultural problem”

      That may be the only part of your comment I wholly endorse. I think it might also be your only common ground with Sarah.

      Much as I don’t like the born-to-be-mild, proud-to-be-outdated, unhip-is-the-new-black, conservative curmudgeon schtick you pulled there (and if you say you weren’t provocatively going for that, I’m calling you a liar)…I think there is room for a discussion along similar lines.

      I’d just begin that discussion differently, by setting aside the criminal term rape and asking libertarians to consider: “Just how much of what goes on in the sexual culture is something a libertarian should support?”

      I have no interest in going back to your chivalrous, courtly love nonsense, in part because it never existed, but also because it does the least libertarian thing I can think of: it destroys a whole category of freedom in the name of preventing crime. But I would love to know what a fully, thickly libertarian sexual culture would look like. I’m quite sure what we have today ain’t it.

  • Ted Levy

    I must say, with all respect to BHL and Sarah, that the comments (10 so far) seem more thoughtful than the original post. (“more” is a comparative claim; that is NOT to say the OP was not thoughtful.)

  • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/ Bill

    Well said Sarah. This, I think, is the key: Maybe a look at what our culture does to men and women when it trivializes rape and makes it entertainment is in order.

  • Guest

    I think the last ring on your concentric circle of rape culture is better catogorized under the category of “anything

  • http://a1bundy.tumblr.com/ Al Bundy

    I think the last ring in your concentric circle of rape culture would be more accurately categorized under “anything the user finds obnoxious and offensive.” I know you say that everyone will see things on your list as having different levels of severity or triviality. But I’m not saying that “rape jokes” are merely a trivial part of rape culture, I’m denying the assertion that they contribute to rape or people thinking rape is ok at all.

    Perhaps someone has some evidence for this, but that assertion sounds to me like when people used to blame satanic rock music for teen drug use, or blame school shootings on video games. An easy target to be sure, but little to back it up.

    Which is a shame, because while I agree with you about most of the things on that list being serious problems, like you I also hate to use the term. Because it seems to me that the majority of people that do have a tendency to lump people that talk about rape in a way they don’t like with people and institutions that actually allow rape to happen, defend rape, and even rapists themselves. And I would loath to be lumped in with those doing all that lumping.

    I know this seems like a quibble, but I think it speaks to something more important. A few weeks ago I read a blog post titled “Social Climber Faux Anti-Racism,” which broadly speaking is about people whose method of “fighting racial injustice” is to just get really offended about everything and act sanctimonious and self-righteously and chide others for their taste and use of language. Aside from being annoying, the problem with this method is it shifts attention away from the structural issues that actually hurt minorities in favor of who’s more aware and sensitive pissing contests. It doesn’t help anything except the egos of the aware and sensitive. Rape culture based cultural-critique often seems like the feminist version of that.

    Despite all that, I am with you 100% that libertarians should get involved more with a whole host of social issues (women’s rights, drug war, immigration, etc. etc.) that we have something to say about, and wear our political affiliation proudly. If for no other reason reason than to show people passionate about those issues that we put our money where our mouth is.

    One more thing: I know I’ve brought this up before, but how can we have a discussion on rape from a libertarian perspective and not talk about sex workers’ rights and legalizing prostitution?? I can’t think of a single group of people in the country in a more vulnerable position when it comes to rape, precisely because their line of work has been deemed illegal. Here is place that we clearly have something to say, and it’s an issue marginalized even by most progressives and even a fair number of feminists.

    Sorry about the extra long post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.erzen Mark Erzen

    The line is the sand in this case is drawn at the wrong spot. An argument against the victim is that we’re protecting the victim’s right to dress suggestively, go to a locally hosted party for teens that serves alcohol, drink until she pukes, go to another, more “private party”, pass out, wake up the next morning in the strange place — and NOT have anything bad happen.

    Wait a second. The victim and the accused are 16. There’s a reason drinking is not legal until 21. There’s a reason that we’re not allowed to serve alcohol to minors. There’s a curfew where 16 year olds should be at their home under the watchful eye of their parents.

    So, what are we supposed to do? Point out everything that went wrong in this case and go after those that are responsible: The homeowners of the house that had the party. The people that acquired the alcohol. The parents of the accused who let their kids stay out so late and drink. The parents of the victim, who didn’t see any issue with letter their child stay out all night and drink. The victim – probably has been punished enough, but worth pointing out her bad choices anyway. A good way to defend yourself is to not put yourself in a defenseless state.

    I think the libertarian should point out that as long as we have all these laws on the books to “protect” our children, we might as well enforce some of them. At the very minimum, folks should point out that the parents apparently did nothing to protect their children.

    Anyway, expecting a small group of drunk teenage boys to exercise good judgement was where the line was drawn.

    • PSG

      It is my understanding the the victim had told her parents she was staying overnight at a friend’s house and that they were not aware of her actual location. I’d say the fault there is that the parents did not confer with the other family, to verify this sleepover, but some kids have a gift for not raising suspicion.

      “Anyway, expecting a small group of drunk teenage boys to exercise good judgement was where the line was drawn.”
      It could be expected, but given the character, mistakenly so.
      I do agree that the adults are greatly responsible for the outcome of this event – it was a coach, after all, from the school that had the major gathering and provided or allowed consumption? That this was a regular practice, known to the community? This is what I’ve read.
      I don’t have a problem with semi-monitored events – attended such parties myself as a youth, where the elders knew we were drinking…but this sounds like something the adults could not actually contain, that they themselves were irresponsible, and therefore something that shouldn’t have happened.

      Sometimes the grownups have to act like grownups, and not be cool.

      It does not excuse the actions of those boys, though. It only provided an opportunity that night, where instead it might have happened another time. I’ve seen the video. Drunk or sober, that’s the stuff those kids are made of.

      • martinbrock

        I hardly tasted alcohol and was never intoxicated before college.

        I hadn’t head of this case before today, and I haven’t seen the video. Was she unconscious when they penetrated her?

        • PSG

          We have lived very different lives.

          From the reports when this first made news, she was either awake but completely wasted, or unconscious. There was more than one assault. (In one of the videos – it’s clear that she’s not really ‘there’.)
          I do not know what has come out as fact during the trial.

          • martinbrock

            In the video you saw, was she unconscious when they penetrated her?

          • PSG

            In the video in the car, taken by one of the boys from the front (which kept getting pulled – it might have been linked to Gawker or Reddit – can’t remember who had it, being so long ago now) she was what appeared to be a bit of both. Back seat, passing out or coming to, I can’t say. She was incapacitated. It wasn’t a long video, but she appeared unaware of her predicament and not actively participating.

            I think the story was that this video posted/shared from his phone, and later deleted, but not before someone else had copied it. My understanding is that this is also what happened to the painfully long ‘belligerent boys’ video (where she is not seen but being discussed), and the pictures, that everyone is talking about. I’ve only seen the videos, had no need to see the picture. Enough, already.

          • martinbrock

            Do they penetrate her in the videos you saw? After reading this post, I’m apparently supposed to believe that a female reporter at CNN sympathizes with rapists because she’s inculcated in a culture insensitive to rape. Having lived in the same culture for five decades, I’m guessing that the facts aren’t so simple.

          • PSG

            There was only one brief video with HER in it. Dark, in a car as they were driving (I’m guessing.) I could not tell beyond physical contact what they were doing to her, as I did not feel inclined to study in detail, but they were focused on the genital region.
            The other video is of the boys talking and laughing, at length, about her having been “raped” – those words, repeatedly – and being “dead.” “She is so raped!” That video is, what, 12 or 14 minutes long? Tiresome.
            And they thought this was all so very funny, scoffing at the idea that what they’d done was wrong.
            It’s there, documented.

            If you haven’t seen the video of the boys in their celebratory stupor, you need to do so instead of asking me my interpretation of it.
            I do not know if the car video is still online anywhere.

          • martinbrock

            I assume the video is now tough to find online, and I’m less interested in the content than in its characterization here. We’re discussing a rape conviction, and you’re describing teenage boys acting like assholes toward a girl they’d fondled on a video and then posting the video online. Maybe there’s a lot more to it than that, but you aren’t describing anything else.

          • PSG

            It is not for me to describe to you, as I find it disturbing, and an annoyance. If you want to verify whether or not these boys condemned themselves, you will have to view the video(s) yourself.
            I came away with a perception of braggart callousness, that the girl was nothing to them but a depository for their contempt.

            It would seem that whatever those videos and still images showed the court, along with witness testimony and admissions, some sort of significant legal action was required to rehabilitate the offenders.

          • martinbrock

            You freely describe the video to me above. I only want to know precisely what you saw.

            I don’t know what, if any, legal action is required to rehabilitate the boys, but I generally favor minimal state action. The state is not the only source of rehabilitation, and it tends to be polarizing, dividing the world into victims and victimizers while casting itself in the role of heroic protector. This self-lionization of the state has nothing to do with rehabilitating anyone.

            The girl also needs rehabilitation, not protection. No state can protect her from drinking herself into a stupor again, and we have no reason to believe that she’d have been raped otherwise.

          • PSG

            I agree she needs rehabilitation and some form of counseling, as do the boys. Yes.
            She committed a crime by drinking underage. She practiced extremely poor judgement, all around.
            But they did commit a more heinous crime, even poorer judgement, and were fully aware of the harm they’d brought to her.
            Well, perhaps they weren’t smart enough to realize she had consumed dangerous amounts of alcohol, resulting in the less than able condition she was in…
            This girl, in her state of inebriation, was unable to give consent. (You might argue that we don’t know the conversation that they had. I almost expect that at this point.)
            They physically and personally violated her, repeatedly. And then spent the rest of the night laughing about raping her. I don’t really care how you want to define rape or the extremities thereof…they assaulted her, and admitted it.

            Do you not agree that what they did was egregious and predatory? I guess you can’t answer that, because you haven’t tried to find the video of THEM describing their behavior in their own words, and don’t like the way I’ve answered you. I can’t tell you precisely what I saw without writing an article myself, and at this time, so late after viewing, would likely be inaccurate if I tried to give you a precise retelling. I am going by what stuck with me.
            (And that was written with a small smile, not a middle finger.)

          • martinbrock

            We’re all opining about tidbits, because tidbits are what we know. You seem to have more tidbits than I, and I’ve asked you to share them, but I don’t know how egregious and predatory the boys were. I only know that they talked trash about fondling a naked, drunken teenage girl while drunken themselves. If they did more, you haven’t said so. Since you seem to support the prosecution, I suppose you’d say more if knew more.

            I do know that people generally think in terms of polarized archetypes like “rapist” and “victim”, “good guy” and “bad guy”. I don’t see such a stark contrast between the boys and the girl in this case. I see three drunken teenagers behaving irresponsibly, and I see an allegedly rape-insensitive culture rallying around the girl.

            I also know, according to the post here, that a female reporter at CNN treats the boys so sympathetically that Sarah is a little incensed. Poppy Harlow presumably knows many facts of the case. It’s her job. Why would I assume that she’s a rapist sympathizer influenced by a culture insensitive to rape as opposed to assuming that Sarah is hypersensitive, particularly since I see no evidence whatsoever of a rape-insensitive culture around me, quite the contrary?

            The DA in this case has already announced 16 more prosecutions of teenagers for rape or being accessories to rape. That’s a rape-insensitive culture? Child sex abuse is also a heinous crime, but waves of hysteria resulting in false or grossly exaggerated accusations of the crime and prosecutions are well established.

          • purple_platypus

            Why do you care so much about whether and under what circumstances she was penetrated? That (a) displays a truly remarkable lack of understanding of the harms a sexual assualt can do regardless of the physical acts involved, and (b) is seriously creepy.

  • mercrono

    I like this post, and I appreciate how concrete it is, both with regard to the incidents of “rape culture” and also with specific suggestions for libertarians trying to emphasize that we are at least as concerned about rape as other political groups.

    I also share Skwire’s dislike of the term “rape culture,” and I wonder whether it wouldn’t be better to give up on the phrase entirely. Clearly it’s not an empty or meaningless concept — the listed items all seem appropriate, though in varying degrees of severity, of course — but I’ve noticed that the term almost never leads to a productive discussion. It seems like whenever the phrase is used, the conversation just spirals out of control into a meta-controversy about how people should react to people reacting to people commenting on rape or whatever, and everyone gets mad and offended. I imagine that’s partially because those accused of contributing to “rape culture” are usually doing something that they see as harmless, but the term is so sharp that it sounds like you’re accusing them of supporting rape, or even being rapists themselves.

    Of course, maybe that sharpness is the whole point of the term, and clearly it’s important for people to realize they might be contributing to social problems without intending or even realizing it. But I still think the term is probably net counter-productive, and I’d be interested in some alternative. Maybe something like “rape blindness” or “rape evasion”? Those terms more clearly suggest that the problem isn’t that there are lots of pro-rape people out there, but that even those who would never hurt another person themselves can still unintentionally normalize or encourage actual rapists. But that’s just off the top of my head, and I imagine others can do better.

  • PSG

    “…instead of some parody version of rape culture that leads to visions of
    humorless feminists demanding the blood of kindergartners who dare to
    kiss their classmates.”

    I found this rather striking, as a mother to a third grader, who last year (8 years old) was roughly handled by a classmate as he attempted to forcefully kiss her on the playground. Grabbed, would not let go despite her tearful rejection. He didn’t get the kiss, as she managed to break away, but she was so troubled by this that I saw it in her eyes when I picked her up from school that afternoon. And no, I didn’t get a call.
    There was a small ‘gang’ of boys trying to overpower the girls, only to kiss them, but in an entirely inappropriate manner. It lacked that innocent Kindergarten vision I see the author trying to conjure.
    (I did not demand a blood sacrifice, but clear to all that this should not happen again.)

    It is sometimes difficult to sort sweet childhood curiosity from the more unpleasant activities they have somehow come to practice, and I don’t trust the school administration to make that determination for me. ‘NO TOUCH’ is a sadly broad policy, but makes the job easier for what I have found to be the simple minds enforcing it.

  • martinbrock

    Teenagers get incredibly drunk and do incredibly stupid stuff. What are you supposed to do about it? Teach your children well but don’t obsess over everyone else’s children, because they’re beyond your control.

    Does this case indicate some sort of cultural insensitivity to rape specifically? No. There is no cultural insensitivity to rape in my neck of the woods. If anything, there’s a cultural hypersensitivity.

    • j r

      The state will now impose on these boys a harm grossly disproportionate with the harm they imposed on the girl, and I’m supposed to call that “justice” because anything worthy of the name “rape” is a fate worse than death, much less decades in a cage.

      That is where you lost me. They were charged as minors, will spend a couple of years in a juvenile facility and their records will be cleared at 18. They got off quite lightly.

      • martinbrock

        If you’re right, I lost touch with the facts of the case, but the whole “rape culture” thing still rings incredibly hollow to me.

        • j r

          You don’t know anything bout the facts of the case, but you’re still offering an opinion about the punishment based on your pre-existing ideological beliefs?

          How is your position any more justifiable than the “rape culture” position that you ostensibly oppose?

          • martinbrock

            I know the facts presented in this post and in a CNN.com article that I read earlier. In reality, none of us knows more of this case than we’ve read in similar accounts.

            Every word that leaves my mouth under any circumstances reflects my pre-existing ideological beliefs and couldn’t possibly reflect anything else.

            I don’t presume to justify my position. “Justice” is everywhere and always a political construct.

          • PSG

            It is not widely discussed, but she was said to have been assaulted more than once, through-out the night, as the boys brought her from and to another party. Held down (literally) in the basement, and in the car, and whatever else the boys are referring to in that video. There were originally two videos circulating – that I saw; the boys mocking her as “raped” and “dead”, and another inside that car.
            It wasn’t a 5 minute ordeal.
            This was noted in early reports and a few current articles online.

          • martinbrock

            Lots of passive voice is being used here. The CNN.com article refers to the behavior inside the car as “fondling”, and I doubt that CNN is covering up a brutal rape. If they held her down, as she resisted, in the other video, that’s relevant, but “holding down” could describe a lot of routine behavior in consensual sex.

        • PSG

          I’m curious to know what you believe a suitable sentence would have been? Two years community service at a Rape Crisis Center?

          • martinbrock

            If the boys or the girl were my children, I’d address their problem drinking, not sentence them to a political reeducation camp, and I don’t see how this sentence helps rape victims at a crisis center either.

          • PSG

            But what of consequences? Shame on you, don’t do it again?
            Problem drinking is fixable, but I wonder how deeply the problem thinking reaches…

          • martinbrock

            If you believe that only the state can administer a lesson more persuasive than “shame on you, don’t do it again,” you surely want a state more powerful and more pervasive than I want.

            I believe, on the contrary, that people live exemplary lives for the sake of their family and friends, coreligionists, coworkers and customers and to leave a legacy for their children, not for fear of men in the state imposing their iron will.

            In fact, the state is utterly feckless by comparison, and the weaker these other influences become relative to the state, the less integrated, orderly, disciplined, useful and happy a social organization becomes.

          • PSG

            This last post could come close to convincing me that you’ve read nothing about Steubenville, for it seems the community there as a common consensus holds these boys unaccountable, being unfairly prosecuted, and the victim as responsible for what they did to her. Their parents, family, friends and school continue to support them as if there were no wrong-doing beyond boys-will-be-boys, and that is not conducive to any sort of personal reform.
            I’m starting to have a difficult time believing you are as naive about this case and still willing to put such a solid opinion in print.

          • martinbrock

            I suppose you grossly mischaracterize the boys’ parents and others in the community opposing this prosecution. I suppose they hold the boys accountable and condemn their behavior without also approving the criminal justice response, and I suppose they also hold the girl accountable without simply reversing the simplistic “victim” and “victimizer” roles.

            “Naive” is just another label you assign here. I don’t pretend to know much about the case. Why would I not question a state locking two boys in a cage for two years after a night of drunken misbehavior? I have no direct line to God telling me what’s ultimately Just here. I leave that sort of hubris to the statesmen and people imagining themselves statesmen.

        • Sergio Méndez

          Disproportionate? 2 years for rape is disproportionate? What the fuck?

          • martinbrock

            “Rape” is clearly a broad and ever broadening category of behavior. Yes, for the behavior legally classified as “rape” in this specific case, two years in prison is disproportionate.

          • Sergio Méndez

            Martin:

            “Treating the boys simply as criminals and the girl simply as victim” How the fuck would you call somebody who is raped, except as “victim” and how the fuck do you treat those who commited the rape as criminals? This is unbelievable!

          • martinbrock

            Your moral indignation is inside of your head, not mine.

          • Sergio Méndez

            “Your moral indignation exists in your head, not mine.” Well, that is obvious, so..what?

            “I don’t divide the world simply into victims and victimizers.” This is not a question of dividing the world. This a question of what qualitatif do you give the a person who has being raped except than “victim” and what other qualification do you give to a the raptists as “criminals”.

            Now, let me ask you…what the heck has being raped with having a alcohol problem or not? Are the boys “criminalized” for having an alcohol problem or for raping a girl?

          • martinbrock

            We’re always dividing the world into categories in our heads. Everything in our heads is about dividing the world this way.

            Being raped is not like having ten fingers rather than nine. “Rape” describes a very broad category of behavior with many, increasingly blurry boundaries.

            In this case, having an alcohol problem clearly had a lot to do with being raped, both for the girl raped and for the rapists. The boys are being criminalized because they became drunk with a girl who also became drunk and then had sexual relations of some sort with the girl.

            Under current law, having sex with an intoxicated woman can be rape regardless of other circumstances, because the alcohol impairs consent. The rapist can be culpable for his act regardless of the intoxication, but the woman cannot consent if she is sufficiently intoxicated, and sex without consent is “rape” by definition.

          • purple_platypus

            Somehow, lots of people get drunk and manage not to rape people. That you can’t imagine this tells us a great deal more about you than it does about this case.

            And, makes you someone I don’t want to be around if there’s alcohol involved, even though I’m a guy. Just saying.

          • martinbrock

            I can easily imagine people getting drunk and managing not to rape people, so your statement can only tell us about you.

            Imagining yourself holier than I comforts you but has no effect on me and has no relevance to the points you ignore here.

    • Sergio Méndez

      “No. That’s not blaming victims. It’s facing reality.”

      More than “not blaming the victims” is turning into natural their behavior “hey, its natural every time boys get drunk they will go and rape girls in a party…is just the way things are”. But then, that is false. People donpt go around raping or commiting crimes when they get drunk, just for getting drunk. They are part of a culture that tolerates and even – in subtle ways sometimes, more open in otherrs- encourage them to act in that way.

      • martinbrock

        “But then, that is false.”

        So I’m glad I didn’t say it or anything remotely like it.

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  • C’mon

    Propagating the idea of “rape culture” is really myopic and is an attempt to tear down an important aspect of our legal system: innocent until proven guilty. The victim/ accuser has the burden of proof upon their shoulders not the other way around.
    By propagating this myth of a “rape culture” you’re saying that: If someone says they were raped—then they were—and we must not question it.

    There’s no excuse for rape. But that doesn’t mean we should stop questioning the validity of the accusers claims just because it involves rape.

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