Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crime and Victims

"Murder was in fact a fairly uncommon event in Ankh-Morpork, but there were a lot of suicides. Walking in the night-time alleyways of The Shades was suicide. Asking for a short in a dwarf bar was suicide. Saying “Got rocks in your head?” to a troll was suicide. You could commit suicide very easily, if you weren’t careful." - Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett.

Of course this would approximately sum up my opinion on victims.  For those who make them victims, that is, the criminals - well, it's still murder.  But it's also suicide.  Complicated?  Not really.

There are genuinely innocent victims, to be certain.  Equally certain is that many victims have a hand in their own undoing - that, though victims, they were not innocent of the circumstances which led to their downfall, though in all cases they are innocent of the fall itself.  You didn't murder yourself, after all; you merely committed suicide.

This is a point, one of a few, on which I (believe I) have some divergence with Ayn Rand - she holds that human nature is not a force of nature to be taken for granted, which I grant, but I make the important distinction that not everybody with a human face has a human nature.  There are genuinely fucked up people out there who have not a trace of humanity left to them, whatever the reason, and feeble protests that it should not be so will not keep you either safe or alive.

Nobody debates the concept of responsibility when somebody mouths off to a three hundred pound guy and gets his nose broken - you were courting danger, and you found it.  In an ideal society, should you have the freedom to mouth off?  Certainly.  Does this individual have any right to hit you for your opinion?  Not at all.  Are you an innocent victim who has no responsibility for what happened?  Not a chance.

When we say The World Should Be - that's it.  We're wishing.  A hundred and thirty pound clean-shaven well-dressed man wants to be able to safely walk down the worst parts of town at night?  Well, yes, he should be able to.  But if he does, he's asking for trouble, and he's going to find it.  Wishing won't make it otherwise.

I hold this opinion on muggings, I hold this opinion on murder, and I also hold this opinion on rape.  We do not live in an ideal society.  Whine all you want that a woman should be able to walk safely down the bad part of town drunk - yeah, should be able to, but you're courting trouble if you actually do it, and trouble has a tendency to proposition both quickly and firmly.

Life's unfair.  Kind of sucks.  But hey, I rolled fortunate.  I'm a mean two hundred pounds, know how to throw a solid punch (and even more solid kicks), and know how to swagger like a man with murder on the mind.  I have an extremely high tolerance to pain, and go into a berserker rage when I get angry.  I am practically invincible - young, strong, male!  I can go wherever I want... right?

No.  I'm not invincible.  I can break bones with my bare hands, but my skull is no thicker for it, and a single swing of a solid object from somebody half my weight can still very easily kill me - shit, I have a cracked bone in my arm right now because I clumsily blocked a falling door I was installing with it, and a pulled muscle in my back from catching several dozen pounds of falling toilet (was installing a new one).  I'm big, tougher than normal (neither injury has stopped me from working on the house), and quite capable of being a real bastard in a corner, but that just gives me better odds, because I'm still human - and I don't want to gamble my life against a junky with a baseball bat who decides he wants my shoes.

I, a revolver-toting Texan capable of taking and dishing damage, will not walk an unsafe street.  Why?  Because that's just not smart.  And no amount of "I should be able to" is going to give me back my life if I commit suicide by proxy.  No amount of toughness or swagger can defy the laws of physics, and a skull just isn't that strong.

I hold this opinion on murder.  And I hold it on rape.  Yes.  The victim can be responsible - not for the crime committed against them, but for the circumstances which allowed the crime to happen.  This is not the kind of responsibility which absolves the perpetrator, this is the kind of responsibility for your personal self which determines what "opportunities" other people get with you.  Because you know what?  Some rape victims are responsible - responsible for putting themselves in a dangerous situation, NOT for being raped.

It is a minority to whom it can apply - most rape victims aren't the victims of some dark stranger in an alley, but somebody they know and trust and who is human enough to fucking know better - and a minority of them who made genuinely dumb decisions. (Even in the tiny minority of cases in which it might apply, is it helpful to tell a rape victim that she's responsible for making some bad decisions?  Fuck no.  It's hurtful, one of the worst things you can tell somebody.)

Except, very possibly, for maybe THAT.  There is absolutely no excuse for telling young women you're supposedly teaching rape avoidance classes to that they should be able to walk a dark alley at night half-naked and drunk.  You don't want to blame the victim?  People who don't think their personal decisions enter into whether or not they're being raped don't enroll in a class which teaches them to make better personal decisions, in order to avoid rape.  These students didn't come here to be told they're not responsible for a rape which might occur, they came here to try to prevent it from occurring.

You tell a young woman that, and she takes you seriously, and something bad happens - and you ARE responsible for a rape, and not just in the "I could have made better choices sense," because you fucking knew better.

And for the notion that we should hope there's a bystander standing around to save us?  Fantastic.  I'll readily volunteer.  If I, or some other noble wannabe Batman, happens to be wandering down the bad part of town at the same time, I'll shoot the bastard.  Problem solved, IF I happen to be around, which let's face it, I'm not going to be, because unlike the poor girl wandering drunk and naked after someone crippled her survival instincts by telling her she isn't responsible for using fucking common sense, I don't put myself needlessly at risk.  I value my skull.  It holds my hat up.

Buy a goddamn gun, if you're going to take stupid risks, and be responsible for your own goddamn safety.  I have neither the time nor the energy nor the stupidity to play guardian angel for poor schmucks betrayed by the very individual who was supposed to teach them how to be safe.  Bystander, indeed.  Fuck you, lady.  Next you're going to be telling the bystanders they should jump up and down and yell instead of doing something while the victim just lays there and takes it so the police have a clear idea of who the victim is so they can arrest the right person when (if) they show up.

Not only does she value some idealistic reality more than the safety of her students, she seems criminally misinformed on another important factor - rape by strangers is unusual.  Most rape is committed by those you know.  And bystander interference just doesn't enter into situations of trust.  Her rape avoidance class, if this post is an indication, not only puts its students at risk for the type of rape she's teaching them to "avoid," but ignores the type of rape they are actually somewhat likely to encounter.

Yeah.  I'm rather pissed.  Time to go read something nice and relaxing and calm down a bit.

No comments:

Post a Comment