April 14, 2008

"We have the abiding conviction that the death penalty... is an excessive penalty for the rapist who, as such, does not take human life."

So wrote Justice White in Coker v. Georgia, and this week, the Supreme Court takes up the question whether the death penalty could nevertheless be constitutional when the victim is a child.
Those facts alone are a powerful argument that executing someone for rape would violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment," argue lawyers for Louisiana death row inmate Patrick Kennedy. The 43-year-old Kennedy was convicted of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter in 1998 in an assault so brutal that the girl required surgery.
Coker was decided in 1977, just before Americans began to focus very seriously on how harmful rape really is, and White's recounting of the facts reflects the culture of that earlier era:
While serving various sentences for murder, rape, kidnaping, and aggravated assault, petitioner escaped from the Ware Correctional Institution near Waycross, Ga. on September 2, 1974. At approximately 11 o'clock that night, petitioner entered the house of Allen and Elnita Carver through an unlocked kitchen door. Threatening the couple with a "board," he tied up Mr. Carver in the bathroom, obtained a knife from the kitchen, and took Mr. Carver's money and the keys to the family car. Brandishing the knife and saying "you know what's going to happen to you if you try anything, don't you," Coker then raped Mrs. Carver. Soon thereafter, petitioner drove away in the Carver car, taking Mrs. Carver with him. Mr. Carver, freeing himself, notified the police; and not long thereafter petitioner was apprehended. Mrs. Carver was unharmed.
Mrs. Carver was unharmed. It's hard to imagine any American judge today ending that paragraph with that sentence.

It took Chief Justice Burger in dissent (joined by Justice Rehnquist) to tell us that Mrs. Carver, whom Justice White called an "adult," was only 16.

86 comments:

Kevin said...

Wow.

Sometimes judges can really be on the side of criminals.

AllenS said...

I'm bothered by:

"Mrs. Carver was unharmed."

and

"was only 16."

Simon said...

FWIW, my take on the case -- written back when LASC decided it, and concluding that SCOTUS "the Supreme Court cannot distinguish Coker in any meaningful sense, and must therefore either reverse the Louisiana Supreme Court, or grasp the nettle and overrule Coker" -- is here. (AllenS will like footnote 10). No prizes for guessing which route I'd rather it take.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

When there is irrefutable genetic evidence of rape, and clear evidence that it was forcible -- I think the penalty should be the complete surgical removal of all male organs.

Rape is a crime of profound violence, not sexual desire. It is intended to show dominance and power, terrorising its victim(s) and others alike.

Death is an appropriate penalty for serial rapists. My suggestion would turn any subsequent attacks into ordinary assaults.

We must, however, be exquisitely careful. Bogus charges of rape go back at least to Joseph and Potiphar's wife.

Women today use bogus charges of rape, or "sexual-harassment" to display dominance and power over men.

In the case of obviously false charges of rape there ought, also, to be serious criminal charges for the female(s) involved. Duke?

Ruthless said...

Another fact (in a dissenting footnote, I think) that has always stuck with me about this case:

Mrs. Carver had given birth just 3 weeks prior to the rape.

Yep, definitely unharmed.

AllenS said...

Ugh,

Rereading, I thought the 16 year old was the rapist.

Roger J. said...

Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson and hopefully Coker--its a good thing that stare decisis isnt immutable.
That passage is genuinely repugnant. Too bad Justice White wasnt raped--

rhhardin said...

It seems to me that rape is overrated today as peculiarly awful.

Assault is already pretty bad. You're not safe anywhere and all that, for either sex. There's the damage.

What's added is the supposed value of feminine modesty, which idea you'd think would be growing weaker with feminism, not stronger.

In the particular case, I think it's not good for society to make the death penalty into a punishment, where it had been abstract justice.

Incomprehension in the face of Justice White is a symptom of a fad. The guy isn't a fool, right? What didn't he see?

A lot of TV.

Richard Fagin said...

So it is only recently that we know how harmful rape is? I doubt that: the death penalty was once widely imposed for certain rapes. It was only in the 1960s and 1970s that a real legal assault on the death penalty began, and it was that legal assault that created the type of nonsense on display here. Justice White showed clearly how vile legal reasoning can become if the Justice is inclined to impose his personal policy preference over the public's choice of criminal penalty. If the death penalty is unconstitutional per se, it should not be necessary to engage in the type of reasoning displayed 30 years ago.

Contrary to assertions made in these comments, we did not "discover" how harmful rape is only 20 years ago. We had to rediscover old truths (including that rape was an egregious, vicious crime) tossed into the trash bin by "reformers" who thought those old truths represented a barbaric part of American society and needed to be excised over the will of the people to protect themselves from predators.

vet66 said...

I vaguely remember those days when it was suggested that women being
raped should just "enjoy" the experience and not fight. Of course, any right thinking human would immediately equate a sister or mother (orhimself) with that advice and see it for the failure of humanity it was.

I see the protesters chanting outside prison gates protesting capital punishment then turn their signs around at the next protest venue and proclaim their right to kill a fetus as a method of birth control. Modern technology provides a "morning after pill" that would assist a victim of rape or incest which negates the need for most abortions.

In either case, the freedom of choice is taken away from the real victim which is the actual debate. The costs of both are tangible in the extreme.

rhhardin said...

I think, on the contrary, that rape as uniquely awful serves (serves who? good question) to keep women in line as psychological victims. If you are raped you are absolutely ruined, ruined, ruined.

As opposed to viewing it as another assault, which would be fairly liberating first of all to victims, in my opinion.

But we don't want you that liberated.

I think there are interesting psychological issues because there are interesting gender issues, but the law about it ought to be made more level and evenhanded.

And not, in particular, take over the terrain.

Ian Hacking covered the discovery of child abuse, which morphed into child sexual abuse, in an old essay in Critical Inquiry. Surely he has a book by now. Probably rape could get the same treatment, and it's probably tied to TV.

rhhardin said...

In fact, on TV, I'd speculate the rape matter is the soap opera women meets the feminists, with general narrative confusion resulting.

Galvanized said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Galvanized said...

"Blogger rhhardin said...

It seems to me that rape is overrated today as peculiarly awful."

Please tell me that was meant facetiously. Ask a rape survivor if rape is overrated, especially if it's someone you love -- how rape often robs one of her/his future, aspirations, the onset of depression and sometimes suicidality, let alone the physical damage and psychological trauma. That's like saying that shellshock (traumatic stress disorder) of soldiers coming home is overrated, which it isn't.

But rather than death penalty, which would only fit for the crime of rape in some particularly violent cases, I recommend castration -- clean cut, swift, right at the source, nipping in the bud so to speak. Castration is the punishment best fitting the crime.

But, again, rape being overrated? That statement is grossly incorrect...and feminine modesty and sex have absolutely nothing to do with it. It's a violent and potentially murderous crime, no matter the sex, age, or values of the victim, wherein she/he is usually hollowed out and left a shell to further deal with fear of the perpetrator returning, or someone like him/her, whether it is actually probable or not. There is more than one way to kill a person -- physically or in spirit otherwise.

rhhardin said...

Please tell me that was meant facetiously. Ask a rape survivor if rape is overrated, especially if it's someone you love -- how rape often robs one of her/his future, aspirations, the onset of depression and sometimes suicidality, let alone the physical damage and psychological trauma.

I imagine it depends on the person, and whether they can get more out of being a victim than not.

The mood today is pro-victimhood as a life choice.

Everyone's an enabler.

As opposed to ``Okay, fine, get over it.''

rhhardin said...

Soap opera is everywhere.

Zeb Quinn said...

Which is more "harmful"? Being beaten to a bloody pulp all about one's head and body, or being forcibly (but other than that nonviolently) raped?

Cue the Final Jeopardy theme.

Pogo said...

A friend of mine when he was a young man of 11 was repeatedly sodomized by a priest over the course of a year. This man had done this with other boys as well; how many is unclear.

By the time my friend was in his 20s he began a downward spiral that led ultimately to several suicide attempts. He spent months in psychiatric hospitals.

In my view, the death penalty is not only not ecessive, it is insuffucient as punshment.

Those who belittle or discount the harm caused by rape are ignorant. To say
"get more out of being a victim" is a good example.

It displays a profound ignorance of the effects of trauma on the human mind and body. Today I am sitting in a neurology lecture discussing the effects of traumatic events like earthquakes or job loss or robbery or rape, causing stroke, heart attacks, and post traumatic stress disorder (the same syndrome soldiers get, previously known as shell shock), describing the neurocardiac and neurohormonal changes arising from external events.

I very much doubt you'd be willing to stand in front of a group of VA Hospital soldiers and tell them they were merely "getting more out of being a victim".

TMink said...

While I have not been raped, I work with people who have. Most of them were raped as children, some of them repeatedly.

It is interesting that I have currently one patient who was beaten up, and over two dozen who were raped. That is because rape is worse than a simple or even brutal battery.

Rape causes more psychological harm because it involves our sexuality, a very personal and powerful aspect of ourselves. It leaves the survivor confused, ashamed, and frequently asexual or homosexual. Not everyone who is gay or lesbian was born that way, some were made that way.

I think it is the shame and the violation that causes the emotional fallout. Then there is the whole thing of being normally sexually reactive when seeing an aroused partner or getting aroused yourself leads to flashbacks. Flashbacks suck. And then there is the fact that in a really brutal beating the person becomes unconscious and is able to not be present while some of the damage occurs. Most rape and abuse victims have to dissociate mentally instead of losing consciousness. Uncontrolled dissociation sucks too.

You can trust me rhhardin, if you are able to trust, that rape and sexual abuse is indeed worse than a simple or even a brutal battery. Battery can be bad enough too.

While there are people who exaggerate and lie about being victimized, people who were raped and sexually abused have no need to.

Trey

rhhardin said...

I think it is the shame and the violation that causes the emotional fallout.

I think it is soap opera that leads to incuriosity about shame and violation, and a general branching out of the pool of victims to accomodate the life-choice segment.

Sexuality is pretty simple, but you don't get quite what you wanted. It's an area of a thousand displacements, one of which is feminine modesty, which is what is violated.

These displacements are governed largely by TV and its narratives, which in turn are determined by the tastes of soap opera women.

So TV takes over the legal system, is the proposal.

TMink said...

"Sexuality is pretty simple"

I think we philosophically part company there RHH. Neurolically sex is a huge event just in terms of attraction and vulnerability, even without orgasm involved. And relationally it is the area our most deep satisfaction and wounding.

So I think we have widely divergant world views in this area. But I can tell you that there are lots of people for whom their rape and sexual abuse remains private, but it is a private hell, not a private pity party. Pity parties are best with attendants.

Trey

rhhardin said...

Maybe you're in love with the displacements, or with the ``helping'' professions.

One of the complaints Guggenbuhl-Graig had with therapy was that it wound up not taking the patient seriously as a person.

Middle Class Guy said...

As one who is for capital punishment, I do believe that there are some crimes, not involving murder, that are heinous enough to be considered for capital punishment.

TMink said...

Well, I am a psychologist, and I do love my job! That is different from being a part of or a parasite on the victim culture.

I tire quite easily and quickly of professional victims. I believe in and support personal responsibility and coping. The point of therapy is to get on with your life. So as a conservative and as a psychologist who actually helps people, I can say categorically that I am not part of the victim culture.

Acknowledging an injury and milking it are quite different.

Trey

rhhardin said...

Acknowledging an injury and milking it are quite different.

Socially constructing an injury sort of crosses those possibilities, which would make them not very different at all.

Zeb Quinn said...

Whizzer obviously knew she had been raped. That was a given. So when he wrote she was unharmed he was saying he hadn't beaten her, slashed her, shot her, or imposed any other physical violence upon her. He was saying other than having been raped she was unharmed. Hey, that's why the case was there in the first place, after all. Is the single incident of the rape of an adult women all by itself sufficient constitutionally to support the death penalty? That's the core issue. And they said no.

Fundamentally I'm opposed to capital punishment. Always. So efforts they make like this to winnow and divine distinctions between cases strikes me as sophistry.

downtownlad said...

Well if it's Constitutional to execute gay people for having sex (as Instapundit and Powerline so vociferously argue), then I don't see the harm in executing rapists.

downtownlad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

I think Zeb has identified the basic issue: capital punishment. Seems to me the decision process is in favor or not in favor; if in favor, then for what. I come down on the "in favor" side, but not for the case of child rape--which I DO regard as heinous, and should be punished by life without parole.

rhhardin said...

Fundamentally I'm opposed to capital punishment. Always. So efforts they make like this to winnow and divine distinctions between cases strikes me as sophistry.

The death penalty, in the case of murder, shows the place that society accords the voice of the victim, a voice that is missing. It's neither punishment nor retribution.

Nothing of the sort happens here. The victim's voice is plenty audible, and gets taken into account in the usual way.

So, anyway if that reason for supporting the death penalty resonates with you, it's not sophistry at all.

TMink said...

RHH, I was interested in having a conversation with you, but you have turned my gentle disagreement into insults. This leads me to believe that you are either a jerk, or were sexually injured yourself, or sexually injured someone else, or just do not know what the fuck you are talking about at all.

Of course, it could be a combination of some or all of the above.

DTL, I do not read powerline and so cannot comment upon their statements about executing people who have sex with their same gender. But I read Instapundit a lot, and you are completely mischaracterizing Glenn's thoughtful and libertarian position that who people have sex with is none of the government's business.

You are lying. It makes anything else you say completely untrustworthy. If you care about anything other than negative attention, I suggest you stop.

Trey

rhhardin said...

RHH, I was interested in having a conversation with you, but you have turned my gentle disagreement into insults.

What insult?

JohnAnnArbor said...

downtownlad is like the Rev. Wright for militant delusional homosexuals.

peter hoh said...

Trey,

Thanks for speaking up with your 10:05 post. You covered what I wanted to say as I read through the thread.

Joe said...

If the evidence in the most recent case is incontrovertible, I not only support the death penalty, I'll pull the trigger. And no, I'm not exaggerating. (If someone were to rape one of my children, let's just say there wouldn't be a trial.)

TMink said...

"Maybe you're in love with the displacements, or with the ``helping'' professions."

This is an insult in that you disparage my statements by ignoring their substance and making ad hominem attacks. You side step the point to discuss the emotions of someone you never met. You posit that I am emotionally unqualified to agree with you.

"One of the complaints Guggenbuhl-Graig had with therapy was that it wound up not taking the patient seriously as a person."

Here you insult my profession. It is my job to take people seriously as persons. It was perhaps inadvertent, but quite insulting. As was putting "helping" professions in parentheses.

Then later you wrote: "Socially constructing an injury" after I had posted at 10:05 just a bit about the neurological and relational damages caused by rape and sexual abuse. The damage is now verifiable through modern brain scans. It can be seen and measured.

Social construct, hardly!

I would appreciate a discussion about the dissociative symptoms and PTSD that occur after rape and sexual abuse, I would appreciate a discussion about the brain damage that occurs after rape and sexual abuse, I would appreciate and engage in any discussion about the facts.

But it seems that your agenda is to deny that rape and sexual abuse are injurious. That is clueless and indefensible to anyone who has a working knowledge of the research in the field or even a passing knowledge of people who were in fact sexually victimized.

Trey

rhhardin said...

Ah, you're one post back and just taking umbrage now. That had me confused.

Isn't it fairly common for helpers to see themselves as helping?

No matter what?

Goffman's _Asylums_ is a nice eye-opener, not that he's down on the mental health profession, just interested.

I daresay you can produce neurological damage with any social construct. Something has to be going on inside, after all.

Just plain old language produces changes.

As far as helping, if you were a woman and raped, would you rather be married to a guy who thinks it's no more than an assault, or a guy who thinks you're irretrievably damaged?

Which would be true?

Let's compare the neurological damage.

rhhardin said...

I see Guggenbuhl-Craig in fact has a book ``Power in the Helping Professions.'' I don't think I was channelling it. Probably it's an old ironic cliche and he just used it for himself.

Anyway I ordered it just now.

I'll probably be worse in a few weeks.

rhhardin said...

Of course it's possible Guggenbuhl-Craig writes the reverse of what I expect. But he has a love of paradox that will probably come through.

That's the risk you run, ordering books.

reader_iam said...

As far as helping, if you were a woman and raped, would you rather be married to a guy who thinks it's no more than an assault, or a guy who thinks you're irretrievably damaged?

Too easy of a strawman to bother to knock down.

It's shame there wasn't someone around earlier today when I first read this post, so that I could bet and win that rhhardin would be hanging out, getting his jollies.

Creepy, the threads which rhhardin to make his presence and persona most, and most copiously, known.

Folks, there'll be no serious discussion on this thread about the topic. I knew that eight comments in, Trey's and others' efforts notwithstanding thereafter. In a dark way, it's sort of funny that rhhardin manages to make this topic, and others like them, all about him and his little soap opera by reducing it to mere soap opera on the part of others.

Brilliant, in a twisted way.

reader_iam said...

Zeb: Fortunately, I have not been beaten "to a bloody pulp" all around my head and body. I have been attacked and mauled by a dog, requiring scores and scores of stitches and three plastic surgeries, after the initial patching up. Many decades later, you can still see a couple of faded scars (and there are others, worse, under my hair, you can't see).

I'd rather go through that again than be sexually assaulted again, let's just put it that way. However, I wouldn't presume to speak for someone else.

Next question, guys?

Pogo said...

nice work, reader

I gave up early on, but shouldn't have even engaged at all

the subject pisses me off too much

Pogo said...

nice work, reader

I gave up early on, but shouldn't have even engaged at all

the subject pisses me off too much

reader_iam said...

I am not a fan of the death penalty, though not fanatically or 100% anti either, as I've previously stated in other Althouse threads.

Trooper York said...

Sorry reader, I won't comment on rape threads. I remember Tex Antione and know my place. Let rh have his fun. I don't think anyone is listening anyway.

reader_iam said...

Why shouldn't you comment on those threads? Good grief.

Also, you're not creepy.

Ralph said...

I remember in Life of Johnson discussion of an Anglican priest who was executed in the late 1700's for forging his rich student's name on a letter of credit or something like that.

After my father remarried 20 years ago, several times my step-monster dropped the conversational brick at extended family dinners of having been raped by several Mexicans at gunpoint and then aborting the baby (between the salad and main course). It took us a while to realize that she likely has Munchausen's (and other things, like addiction to pills, surgery, and quacks), so I'd like to see the police report on that one.

Trooper York said...

Somethings you don't joke about, and if you don't really know much about something, you should leave it to the people who do.

Sorry about the dog story. My buddy just had to put down his lab that bit his baby daughter in the face on Friday. The dog was ten years old and had coexisted with 4 other little ones with no problem, they loved each other. But she bit the youngest bad for some reason, no one can figure it out. It was very crazy and emotional for them. I can only imagine what you went through.

The only equivalent story I can tell is when I was bitten by a stripper in the Palomino Club in 1986 but that is a story for another thread.

I guess that makes us the bitten people that Barack Obama was talking about.

Back to doing returns.

Cedarford said...

There is justification for maintaining the death penalty for heinous murder, treason, and espionage and sabotage in wartime.

However, I think the moral case for maintaining a death penalty would be weakened and seriously opposed if we broadened it to include a range of other crimes such as assaults that leave a victim brain-damaged, severely mutilated, paralyzed, or raped. Or serial armed robbers. Someone that defrauds the elderly of their life savings.
[Or who defraud the government of more than a million dollars, or sell diluted medicine or tainted products. (Chinese do "organ-harvesting" for those transgressions).]

Or political prisoners that authorities say are an extreme danger to the state..Heretics if we ever go with a universal religion...and so on...

rhhardin took a pretty courageous stand. Pretty much rejecting the feminist argument that rape is somehow far, far greater a trauma than say, having an eyeball knocked out in a pistol-whipping. Calling it part soap opera. I agree with him. It is awful, but rape crime advocates and the cult of female victimization have overblown what the Victorians called "a fate worse than death".

Even when rape was a capital offense, it had more to do with it being a crime against honor and the right of the male possessor of the woman to be the sole procreator than it did with "trauma". And, it is a crime uniquely vulnerable to false accusations - as it invariable happens without witnesses and falls under the "he said, she said" area of doubt - unless of course you have groups of different social status and the woman or man's word is tilted by that. "The white woman said the nigger raped her. That's good enough. Now get the rope." "Allah be praised, there is no way a good tribe of Muslim men raped those black pagan women, as charged.."

Pogo - Today I am sitting in a neurology lecture discussing the effects of traumatic events like earthquakes or job loss or robbery or rape, causing stroke, heart attacks, and post traumatic stress disorder (the same syndrome soldiers get, previously known as shell shock), describing the neurocardiac and neurohormonal changes arising from external events.
I very much doubt you'd be willing to stand in front of a group of VA Hospital soldiers and tell them they were merely "getting more out of being a victim".


Pogo plays victim's champion, which invariably calls for the skeptic to confront a "champion's" cherished victim's group face-to-face and "tell it to them!!" He begins listing a litany of reasons why people can turn into helpless quivering protoplasm for the rest of their lives by suffering various "victimizing trauma" like earthquakes, losing a job, rape. Some psychologists now enable and grant lifetime helplessness and victimhood (unless pricey psychologists can cure) the person suffering loss of a pet or having a boyfriend dump them.

Mankind evolved in harsh, brutish conditions that in many ways toughened us to endure life when life was full of death, war, pestilence, famine. With wolves and leopards jumping out of the brush and chewing off the head of one of the 4 surviving kids out of 8 born from 2 wives, one who died giving birth. Systematic rape, enslavement awaited civilization.

But no one could afford to stand around with the leisure to moan the rest of their lives "poor, poor pitiful old me." when any of 100 things happened. The choice was to get up and move on with life, or die, because there were no enablers sympathetic enough to agree that persons experiencing negative insults were free of the need to function for extended periods.
Only when we had the productivity to afford leisure did professional victimhood become fashionable. The Victorian woman of wealth who had maids to handle things while she mourned and languished on a divan about the offense to her honour or loss of her half-brother Smedley in some "awful colonial place"...

Historically, we see - despite feminist and sensitive men's screams to the contrary - that rape is not that big a deal. Preferable to being beaten. Preferable to elect to remain living with an abusive husband, learning to accept it and not let it dominate life - rather than returning a failure to be a burden in the parent's household. And in war, we have ample modern studies on the extent of "long-lasing dehabilitating trauma" of mass rape in wartime. There really isn't much....war holds far worse traumas. 5-6 million German women were raped at the end of WWII. 4 million Chinese and other Asians by Japs. In todays African conflicts, rape is as "normal" for those people as execution, mutilation, disfiguring&crippling beatings and knife assaults.
And African women say, better rape than the worse other things...

German women interviewed said every woman in their town was raped by conquering Soviets, even grandmothers. Attractive women and young ones 12-35 were raped multiple times. Almost all said they were getting on with their lives the next day. Same with their men that watched daughters, sisters, wives raped by Red Army at gunpoint. All were pissed. But rated the rapings lower in "traumas of war" than losing loved ones to combat, being bombed, loss of house if they were cleansed from the East, typhus, forced labor. Many said the hunger in 45&46 was far worse than rape.

After the initial conquest, the Germans interviewed (with similar tales from China, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, the Baltics) said they simply sucked up all the war traumas and got on with rebuilding their lives in peacetime - mentally put rape and renting out their bodies for food or favors well down the list of "the worst things that happened to me and my family in the War".

The historical perspective is important. It suggests, as rhhardin suggests, that rape victim advocates have overblown and overstated the trauma of rape. And the fallacy of claims that in war or peacetime crime - rape stands only next to death as the worst thing possible, and deserving of the worst sanctions..

rhhardin said...

There is, of course, the competing theory to mine that the female mind is just a mess. My own claim is that the female mind is sensible and valuable.

Did I notice support from cederford? I will have to reread that.

Revenant said...

Rape is a crime of profound violence, not sexual desire. It is intended to show dominance and power, terrorising its victim(s) and others alike.

That's a load of horseshit.

Beth said...

I vaguely remember those days when it was suggested that women being
raped should just "enjoy" the experience and not fight.


You remember right, vet. I heard almost exacly that advice from a male speaker at an assembly in my high school, back in in 1976 or 1977 -- he didn't go so far as to say enjoy it, just to give in and not fight. Luckily for me, I didn't believe him -- it was a much better strategy to rage, kick, scream, and yell for help.

Shout out to Pogo, Trey, reader, Trooper and Peter. Good efforts, all.

As for this case, I have to stick with my overall doubt of the death penalty's usefulness. The risk of executing an innocent person for any crime outweighs any other factor for me. And there's some reason to worry that juries, if uncomfortable with the idea that an accused rapist could be executed, might be less prone to convict accused child rapists.

I'm with Joe in that, having followed this story from its beginning here in Louisiana, I understand, emotionally, wanting to pull the trigger on this guy myself. But I'm just as happy to see him rot for life in some dank pit in Angola prison.

blake said...

rhhardin is a replicant; he would fail the Voight-Kampff test.

blake said...

Male rape has only been briefly mentioned here. If the trauma associated with rape were just "soap opera" concerns, what about the guys? They seem also to be pretty messed up after being raped, though they have no apparent love of being a victim or of soap opera plots.

Freeman Hunt said...

Which is more "harmful"? Being beaten to a bloody pulp all about one's head and body, or being forcibly (but other than that nonviolently) raped?

I don't know, but I know that I would be willing to gouge out someone's eyes with my bare thumbs to keep from being raped but probably not to keep from being beaten up.

I fully support the death penalty for forcible rape of a child. (Though I wouldn't mind if this penalty required a higher standard of evidence than is required for a guilty verdict.) I also think that human trafficking (slave trading) should carry the death penalty.

Jill M. said...

Kudos to the comments that reflect both an assault and a rape can be extremely traumatizing, and that the result of either on the victim (both ARE victims) is a matter of the totality of the circumstances. Here is the beginning of a non-exhaustive list: life experiences prior to the attack, age at attack, age of attacker, gender of attacker, viewpoint of gender roles in society, whether attacked by someone you trusted, in a place you felt safe, whether terror was involved...and on and on.

There is a strong argument to be made that the effects of rape will more likely be more intense for a rape victim than for a victim of other types of assault.

The argument that sex-related topics are special and especially troublesome emotionally, socially and psychologically is supported by the treatment of sex-related topics in our society. One notable example of treatment is that by the US Supreme Court when it comes to First Amendment protections. USSC treats sex-related content differently from other content by tending to find content obscene when sexually-related (unless plausible argument for artistic expression exists). Sex-related content is the only content the USSC has allowed to form the basis for allowing legislation that is based on the "secondary effects" of speech (e.g. the crime that is associated with neighborhoods with adult theaters). Mere violence has not received similar treatment by the Court.

Whether you agree with this special treatment, it is difficult if not impossible to deny that sexualized topics receive special treatment in most parts of U.S. society. It follows that rape thus carries with it an aspect that is a "plus" to battery.

While this seems to be an amusing exercise of theorizing for some who have posted on this thread, the comments that pit one type of attack against another for dominance as the "worst" type of attack probably don't understand the aftermath of an attack.

Lastly, rape may be seen as "about sex" because it has a sex element, but it cannot be separated from themes of power and dominance.

Elliott A said...

We need to rewrite the 8th amendment. Punishment is only cruel in the fashion of middle age torture, for the purpose of inflicting pain. If the purpose is just punishment for a horrific crime it is not cruel. The death penalty is not unusual, it has been a mainstay of the British and American legal tradition. Once upon a time, you were hung for stealing a horse in America. The damage caused to an individual by rape is too large to quantify; no penalty is too severe

John K. said...

Blake speaks my mind:

I wonder whether Cedarford or rhhardin would rather take it up the ass in a prison gang rape or get their eyeball knocked out from a pistol-whipping. Black eye patches can be quite dashing.

rhhardin said...

Rape is everybody's favorite unanalyzable crime.

No political cause fails to attach to it.

How is it that feminine modesty comes up? If there were no men, would be there be feminine modesty? Would a woman's intimate parts be intimate? I'd guess they'd just be an annoying hygiene problem, and not worth the value of a kneecap, which at least takes care of itself.

Now suppose there are men but they're not interested or attracted to a woman's intimate parts. No change, right?

What makes a woman's private parts sacred is a fantasy of perfect love, and men attracted to them, and her preserving the purity of her attractive private parts for a husband who would gladly die for her. The knight in shining armour.

It's for him and that fantasy that feminine modesty arises. What's sacred is that fantasy, not the private parts.

The Vagina Monologues tries to rewrite that so the vagina is sacred for the woman herself, whence the confusion about what the crime of rape is.

A useful confusion to many people.

Rape is a crime against the husband. Assault is the crime against the woman.

But the husband has long ago displaced his attraction to love for her, so she has what she wanted already. He'd be angry over the assault, which is what the crime amounts to.

Or future husband.

Hence also the problem with the legal doctrine that a husband can rape his wife, rather than assault her.

Does anyone have a better phenomenological take on feminine modesty?

John K. said...

Not that I'm qualified to speak on this matter, but it seems to me the brutal harm in rape is not so much about "feminine modesty" as it is about humiliation. As I recall St. Augustine spent a lot of effort in assuaging the conscience of a convent of nuns who'd been raped by maurading barbarians. Part of their sense of guilt had to do with the nagging feeling at the back of their minds that part of them "enjoyed" the experience, involuntarily as it were. I also seem to recall seeing a movie or TV show episode where the male victim of rape had a similar experience (which may have been not so much a matter of arousal as blood flow), which according to the story is not unheard of, and was so ashamed that he killed himself.

From this perspective, it does seem that being raped, whether the victim is male or female, seems objectively more horrific that getting one's eyeball knocked out of one's head. Like torture, it violates intimately one's free will, the center of one's self or close to it.

That said, it does seem that in the aftermath of such experience the healthiest response would be to realize that "it wasn't your fault," to overcome the feelings of humiliation and to realize that the depth of who you really are abides in places that no rapist can reach.

rhhardin said...

John K., nice point.

But suppose, having dealt with the assault aspect, the advice is go home and show your husband you love him.

Would that seem to work better?

Because there's nothing wrong with the woman with respect to her fantasy of the knight in shining armour. That still works.

Ralph said...

But rated the rapings lower in "traumas of war"
Our lives are relatively so easy and safe now.

Caroline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John K. said...

rhhardin:

I'm not sure I fully understand your question, but I'll just answer superficially by saying that Rob Roy is one of my favorite movies of all time. In that movie Rob Roy's arch-enemy Archie (played by Tim Roth) rapes Rob Roy's wife (played by Jessica Lange). She subsequently discovers she's pregnant and is not sure whether the baby is Rob Roy's or Archie's. She doesn't tell Rob Roy (played by Liam Neeson) because she knows that Rob Roy will try to kill him and she's convinced Rob Roy will be bested by Archie's superior swordplay. When she's finally forced to tell him about the rape and the baby, and that she thought about trying to abort but couldn't bring herself to do it, Rob Roy tells her, "It's not the baby that needs killing." Rob Roy goes looking for Archie, but Archie succeeds in capturing him, and mocks him about the rape, saying that it seemed to him that not every part of her objected. At another point in the movie, one of Rob Roy's children asks his mom how the baby was going to get out. Rob Roy quips "I imagine the same way it got in." So he still loves his wife and doesn't view her as defiled. Presumably, he is ready to raise Archie's child. And yes, Rob Roy kills Archie at the end.

What a great movie.

Cedarford said...

Elliott A said...
We need to rewrite the 8th amendment. Punishment is only cruel in the fashion of middle age torture, for the purpose of inflicting pain. If the purpose is just punishment for a horrific crime it is not cruel. The death penalty is not unusual, it has been a mainstay of the British and American legal tradition. Once upon a time, you were hung for stealing a horse in America. The damage caused to an individual by rape is too large to quantify; no penalty is too severe.


Garbage.

Elliot A would have a point if we were back in the 18th century through early 20th when it was a mainstay and 200 offenses, including writing bad checks, could get someone hanged and in America "nigger lynchings" for rape accusations were common.

Part of the problem with "daeth for rape!!" is not just the historical record suggesting that it is someone less than the "mind-shattering, spirit-shattering" crime feminists with fragile psyches claim it to be, there are problems with degree, lack of evidence in capital cases, and a huge problem with false accusations being common.

1. Unlawfully killing a person ranges from being a misdemeanor to a capital offense. Rape can range from a woman kidnapped, beaten, raped at gunpoint, beaten some more and spending weeks in the hospital - to two folks getting naked hot and heavy and the guy believing she wants intercourse. Who begins penetrating her and withdraws on her objection but who has now met all legal definition of rape - penetration w/o assent on misunderstanding from her being aroused, reponsive and wet up to that point, she was set to go all the way. Within that range, just as with killing someone misreading a doctors prescription up to being a serial mass murderer, there are dramatic variations in law. Add in drunk or drug-impaired couples with different memories, each thinking they know the truth. Or a woman who claims she was date-raped, but then dated the same guy for several more months..."until the awful memories came flooding back and I was a helpless victim!!" And unacceptable variation in states where sex that is legal in one state between a 16 and 18 year old is statutory rape and a 20-year felony if one of 20 cases has parents that want to prosecute because they dislike their willing nympho daughter's BF.

(IMO, the guy who penetrates his naked, necking date by mistake and honors her objections shouldn't even be in court. And statutory rape's heavy charges should rest on more than parents being OK or not with their kid's boyfriend and prosecutorial discretion whims..)

2. People wanting "Death for rapists!!!" have to confront that jurors weighing a guilty verdict that could kill a man confront a lack of evidence in a majority of rapes. Not just "He said, she said" but non-conclusive forensic evidence. And even with forensic evidence dubious evidence then spun, based on the bias of the feminist rape nurse examiner or DA. Evidence that could arise from a completely innocent source and context having nothing to do with a rape. "A search warrant, ladies of the jury, showed the defendent had porn on his computer of a nature that sexualized and objectified women who were sometimes in the same position as the victim...and there were condoms and KY in the vile man's bathroom that we charge were part of his "rape kit".."

3. False accusations of rape, which women rarely get prosecuted for, amount up to 42% of all rape accusations brought to authority's attention in several studies. Accusations of child molestation regularly come up in bitter, contested divorces, so much it has the nickname of the "Woman's thermonuclear bomb" for gaining child custody, because a simple accusation will result in an order she keeps sole control of the kids while the accusation is investigated.
When people talk death penalty for rape or child molestation, where lies and fabrications are so common - unlike murder -(and combined with feminist bias in the legal system, law failing to assign degrees of rape as they do with homicide) the chances of railroading the innocent goes up geometrically.
Anyone in favor of death for rape has to also be in favor of death for any jilted or otherwise angry, even conniving woman filing a false accusation.

JohnK - I wonder whether Cedarford or rhhardin would rather take it up the ass in a prison gang rape or get their eyeball knocked out from a pistol-whipping.

The question really is if I beat JohnK until he is brain-damaged or knock out one or both of his eyes in the pistol whipping that drops his IQ down to 50 - if that is a 25-to-life felony or a death penalty-worthy offense like John and others claim a husband forcing a fuck out of his wife, is.

Zeb Quinn said...

So, anyway if that reason for supporting the death penalty resonates with you, it's not sophistry at all.

It starts with the fact that I'm uncomfortable with the state having that power. It bothers me. When you put that together with the inevitability of caprice and mistake, it's enough to tip it to me being opposed to it. I'm not strident about it. I don't persevorate about those who are put to death. I have very little in common with other death penalty opponents, and I disagree with many of their tactics. I just don't like it.

John K. said...

Cedarford:

Everything you just wrote -- problems of proof, false accusations, ambiguous naked necking situations, marital rape etc. -- is entirely valid and entirely beside the point.

Earlier, however, you said that "rape is not that big of a deal," and cited all the mass rape that's occurred in wartime as a case in point. No big deal, huh? I've observed before that you seem to be a major apologist for all the "shit [that] happens" in war. It makes me wonder whether you've participated in any wars, and if so what kind of "shit" you made "happen". . .??

You say that "rape is not that big of a deal," and to prove you wrong it's an eminently fair question to ask, would you say the same if it was your ass on the receiving end of the stick? You get all touchy and threatening when your own hairy orifice is in question, which indicates that you think rape is a bigger deal than you say it is.

Note I haven't said that I think rape by itself is worthy of the death penalty. (Forcible penetration of a prepubescent child very well might be.) But all those rapes of all those German women by all those Soviet dogs sure as hell was a big deal. What's the real difference between the degradation and humiliation suffered by those women and the degradation and humiliation of my hypothetical of you being ganged up on in a prison cell by a big strapping Jew and a big strapping Negro?

Note also that I haven't said that those German rape victims should have languished away the rest of their days bemoaning their fate. But I sure wouldn't hold it against them if quite a few were changed by or found it difficult to overcome that horrible experience, just as I wouldn't hold it against you if you were a changed man after leaving Lev and Leroy's cell.

reader_iam said...

Zeb's now interested in turning the discussion back to the death penalty issue. No surprise there.

What a coward, you are.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

I'm prepared to discuss my definitions of rape, and of sexual assault. (They might even surprised you.)

Are you all?

Revenant said...

It seems bizarre to me to give someone the death penalty for rape when so many worse things don't merit it. Say someone gouges out my eyes, blinding me for life. That probably gets them, what, eight years in jail? Who here wouldn't, if given the choice between being raped and being blinded, choose the former?

Rape is a horrible thing, but it isn't even close to the worst thing you can do to a person without killing them.

blake said...

I'll bite, though I may not be your target audience.

Right now I have this vision of a group f men standing around telling women that, you know, rape is nothing to get agitated about.

It's, uh, very retro.

John K. said...

"Rape is a horrible thing, but it isn't even close to the worst thing you can do to a person without killing them."

Apparently my attempt to add a little perspective by positing the male posters being on the receiving end of rape hasn't had the impact I thought it would. Perhaps the demographics of the Althouse commentariat leans more homosexual than I'd assumed.

TMink said...

"I daresay you can produce neurological damage with any social construct. Something has to be going on inside, after all."

If this is so, then dismissing an event as a social construct is meaningless. You are arguing against yourself.

"Just plain old language produces changes."

These changes are not measurable with the current technology, and they are not trauma.

"As far as helping, if you were a woman and raped, would you rather be married to a guy who thinks it's no more than an assault, or a guy who thinks you're irretrievably damaged?"

This is a false dichotomy. If my wife were raped I would treat her as someone who was assaulted and would be sensative to her sense of violation. No one can ruin her for me, I love her. I think she would be changed by the experience, but our relationship and my choices would influence the vector of the change.

That is what I do as a therapist, I nudge the vector of the change.

"Let's compare the neurological damage."

Again RHH, this is a false comparison. The research on sexual abuse recovery has shown that the perceived relational stances and behaviors between the survivor, perpetrator, and significant others affect recovery. Someone who sees the survivor as "ruined" negatively affects the recovery process.

The modesty and ruination themes seem to be your concern and social construct.

But to the question at hand, I am agnostic on the death penalty since I could not carry out the sentence. I do not work against it, as I can understand and appreciate the thoughts of people who support it. So I am firmly, but personally, in the life imprisonment camp.

Finally, I wish you could sit with me tonight as I lead a group for children who were sexually abused. I wish you could see their frightened little faces when they first get to group, their growing confidence as they learn that it was not their fault, their growing anger at what happened and their learning how to protect themselves, their realization that they are not ruined. It would do your heart good.

It certainly does my heart good.

Trey

Zeb Quinn said...

Zeb's now interested in turning the discussion back to the death penalty issue. No surprise there.

What a coward, you are.


What are you talking about?

Zeb Quinn said...

Long ago (as in the 1970s) I accepted as a fact that rape is an awful traumatizing and heinous crime that men didn't take with the degree of seriousness and sensitivity they should. As a law student I realized the truth that women who had been raped were raped again by the system when they sought justice against the raper.

Then came the push for women to be allowed to serve in combat. It was pointed out that raping women is a common practice for victorious soldiers, and that if taken POW, American women could expect to be raped, indeed gang raped, and subjected to all manner of brutalities of a sexual nature.

The response by the feminists to that? "So what? Eh, rape isn't so bad. Rape is no big deal. Many things are worse than rape."

So I don't know where it all comes down.

Revenant said...

Perhaps the demographics of the Althouse commentariat leans more homosexual than I'd assumed.

Because in your world male homosexuals aren't bothered by male-on-male rape?

Perhaps the idea of having something forcible inserted into your anus is the most horrible thing you can possibly imagine, but you're abnormal in that regard.

rhhardin said...

Finally, I wish you could sit with me tonight as I lead a group for children who were sexually abused. I wish you could see their frightened little faces when they first get to group, their growing confidence as they learn that it was not their fault, their growing anger at what happened and their learning how to protect themselves, their realization that they are not ruined. It would do your heart good.

What do you think of this passage

The one-sided, unipolar or split-off mythology of the innocent child and victim has the capacity to hinder our therapeutic work with sexually abused children - or adults. The manner and method many therapists use to deal with the guilt feeling of ``abuse'' victims amply demonstrates my point. Children who experience sexual abuse often feel guilty. They have the impression that they, somehow, were at fault. Older children, in particular, have ambivalent feelings about the abuse. They are uncertain whether the experience did not provide them with a certain pleasure. They often wonder if they failed to defend themselves or possible encouraged the perpetrator. Many psychologists reject these guilt feelings out of hand as completely unjustified. They maintain that in no way can there be a question of guilt. They encourage children to forget the guilt, to put it out of their minds.

This therapeutic position can be harmful for the psychological developmentof a child. Therapists simply think of and accept the child as a victim.They energetically reject and deny any attempt on the child's part to assumeany responsibility for what happened or at least to recognize his or her ownambivalence. Therapists thereby impose a victim psychology upon the child,a psychology which says that for everything that happens there is alwayssomeone to blame. They nip in the bud the child's growing awareness thathe is at least partially responsible for much that happens to him - or atleast for the back and forth tension between rejection and acceptance. Thistherapeutic position does not take the child seriously as a human being.

Nichevo said...

Not sure where I come down on the issue, if it can be put in such terms. I used to think it was a fate worse than death, but watching the Sergio Leone spaghetti Western, Once Upon A Time In The West, with Claudia Cardinale, I thought a little differently.

She is raped and threatened with rape at different times during the film, but she says something like (I have no transcript and it's been a while): You can do whatever you want to me, but when you're gone, I'll have a bath and it'll be like you were never here.

Now you can jump on this - but I found it a remarkable feminist affirmation of strength. She was certainly not going to let such a thing destroy her. Of course (?) she had been a prostitute in New Orleans before coming west...

The fact is it won't destroy you if you don't let it. Of course there are always possible complications but to quote another feminist icon, Anais Nin, "She isn't made out of soap, she won't wear out."

...Now like a quadratic equation, there are two right answers. I would absolutely be inclined to kill a rapist or to countenance same. Whereas I might theoretically sit still for a beating, I would almost certainly fight to the death to defend myself against being raped, and if someone were to say that a woman had used disproportionate force by shooting a rapist or attempted rapist, I would a) laugh b) slap his face c) disagree.

And then again, of course, any woman can say anything she likes against any man with precious little chance of repercussions. So there's that to consider.

TMink said...

RHH, I think that is a very interesting quotation. It would be aplicable with older, post sexual children, and is something important to think about. I appreciate your posting it. Thanks.

I really hate the psychologists and others in the "helping" professions who support the passivity and victimization of their patients, it is a real problem. I do not see it as any problem for the 4 to 10 year olds that I worked with tonight, but for certain status rapes, the article mentions an possible important consideration.

The kids I was working with tonight are a different story. One, she is 6, thought her stepfather raping her was her fault because she was wearing her mother's nightgown. The passage has nothing to do with her. You agree?

In general, I hold to a way of working with abuse survivors that goes through three stages. In the first, they are victims and afraid of being re-victimized. In the second, the are survivors and angry as a way of protecting themselves against re-victimization. In the third they are thrivers and wise enough to avoid most situations in which they might be victimized, or shoot the person who is trying to perp them between the eyes with their legally carried handgun. Obviously, not all of the pack heat, but you get the picture!

Creating victims is for charlatans. Supporting people growing into responsible adults is what I do.

Trey

rhhardin said...

You agree?

Beats me.

Guggenbuhl-Craig seems to be a Jungian, which I haven't read more of, but maybe his archetypes correspond to what I call soap opera ; soap opera being then the marketed form of archetypes.

So the question would translate to whether you're selling soap opera.

His aim in the chapter (in _From the Wrong Side : a paradoxical approach to psychiatry_) is to explain the hysteria surrounding child sexual abuse.

rhhardin said...

I wonder if you could characterize the hysteria, interestingly, as the defending of soap opera.

An angle Dorothy Rabinowitz did not try, in a long series over at the WSJ. To her it was only deplorable and inexplicable.

TMink said...

While there certainly is some hysteria regarding abuse and at times all things psychological, I think I would become hysterical if you actually answered a question.

The pattern of your posts, and lack of answers, leads me to believe that it is no use attempting to engage in any type of dialogue with you.

If you need help for an improper and dangerous attraction, get it. It will hurt you and perhaps others. Stop looking for justification through minimization. That appears to be your ultimate aim.

I hope I am wrong, I fear I am not.

Trey

reader_iam said...

With regard to Rabinowitz, I think you're engaging in a bit of apples and oranges. The point of her work was not to minimize the impact of sexual abuse/assault on those who actually experience it, but rather to expose the travesty of the Michaels and Amirault cases and false, mass accusations of abuse, issues of recovered memory, and corrupt questioning methods of investigators. Both extremes are harmful and dishonest--dismissive minimization and wholesale fabrication.

Rabinowitz went into journalistic hero status to me with regard her work in this area, and for a very long time hers was a lonely, courageous voice. Further, like Cathy Young, I believe "the fact that she never got a Pulitzer for her writings about the Michaels case and the Amirault case is a disgrace" (quote from Cathy in the comments section of her linked post).

Does it surprise that it's possible to dislike said minimization of individual experience (and the attempt to rewrite the narrative to suit an agenda) AND to dislike the dishonest hysteria of such cases as McMartin, Amirault and Michaels (an attempt of a different sort to write a narrative to suit an agenda)? That it's possible to find some of the statements that you and others have made as offensive and stupid, AND also to have nothing but contempt for, among other things, perpetrators of false memories, false-rape accusers, and a mindset that can result in 6-year-old boys being suspended for sexual harassment?

This is why I get so impatient on this subject--constellation of subjects--and, really, rarely engage in conversations about them anymore, especially online. There are very few dogmatics on either side of the issue with whom I think it's worth bothering to discuss it. It gets too damn annoying, on the one hand, to deal with those who say "oh, it's no biggie, what's your problem" and, on the other hand, those who appear actually to believe that children never lie (or are led to lie or misinterpret) and women never make false accusations on behalf of themselves or others, or that if they do, it's somehow OK. I don't accept either extreme, and I don't think very much of their purveyors.

rhhardin said...

I believe the Amerault guy is still in jail. He won't confess.

Occasionally a WSJ editorial comes up on it still.

TM, I recommend you check out ``Thomas Mann and Eighteenth-Century Comic Fiction,'' a tracing of the influence of Laurence Sterne on Thomas Mann by a Tristram Shandy scholar.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I imagine it depends on the person, and whether they can get more out of being a victim than not.

The mood today is pro-victimhood as a life choice.

Everyone's an enabler."

I know someone who was raped as a child. She would refer to it as being molested, not raped, if you could get her to refer to it, which she won't, except to those closest to her, and even then rarely. Very rarely-- and then just to explain why she wouldn't go to a particular family event (while the guy was still alive). Now, she never mentions it.

She has severe sexual hangups to this day. Which she won't address.

Which has put strains on her marriage, and deprived her of quite a bit of happiness she would otherwise have had. But she doesn't blame her rape on the way she is. She just says this is the way she is.

Maybe she's right. Maybe the rapes had nothing to do with it. I think common sense suggests otherwise. And hers is a counterexample to the idea that the problem with women and post-rape trauma is them wanting to play the victim.