Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Response To...

...this: Link and this: Link

This subject is slightly irritating, because nobody seems to acknowledge that there are two COMPLETELY SEPARATE spheres of blame under discussion:

There's blame for behaving in an irresponsible manner.

And there's blame for the rape.

They are not the same thing.  I don't think you acknowledge this, and I don't think QP or LabRat are acknowledging this.

It's perfectly possible to behave in an outrageously irresponsible manner -without- getting raped; whether or not you get raped for behaving irresponsibly is not a matter of luck of the draw, but a matter of the personal decisions of others around you, which takes it out of your moral sphere.

Which brings us to the second frustrating quandary in this whole discussion, the idea of the "Force of Nature," which QP references.

The vast majority of people, the vast majority of the time, are wholly informed and in control of their decisions.

This is not to say that all people are in control of all of their decisions all of the time; any one of those factors can break down.

Excessive alcohol or drug consumption, as you mention, can severely impair your ability to make responsible choices, and can reduce some people to that "Force of Nature" variable.  We necessarily hold people morally responsible for what they do after they intentionally impair their ability to make the right decisions, that doesn't mean they have the ability to make said right decisions after deliberately impairing it.

Mental illness (or being intoxicated against your will) can -also- reduce people to a "Force of Nature" variable, and we as a society tend to be more reluctant to hold somebody morally responsible for their actions in these states.

To say we should never treat human beings as a force of nature, impossible to thwart, is wrong, and for precisely the same reasons as trying to treat actual forces of nature as volitional entities; you're ascribing qualities which do not exist.

There are three major problems beyond these two quandaries where most discussions get mired.  First, something almost nobody is discussing - the vast majority of cases of what the legal system would define as rape, the rest of us would call consensual sex (waking your partner up with oral sex is an example I used on my blog).  We have a legal system which blurs the definition of rape to smear a lot of innocent people, which tends to make those of us most likely to get smeared (if I, as a man, went to court because my girlfriend woke me up with oral sex against my will, I would not be taken seriously by the jury; if she took me to court for the reverse situation, she would) leary of the whole affair.

Second, there's a huge gray area called "consent" which makes everything screwed up.  If I say "Yes" and later think "No," I'm no longer consenting, and that was in absolutely no way conveyed to my sexual partner.  I know that sometimes I think I say things when really I didn't, and merely thought them, which can add an additional problematic element which we're all aware of - and that's without even getting into the fucked-up fact that "No" doesn't always mean "No."

And third, that there is this dichotomy of ideas that EITHER defending accused rapists is morally repugnant, OR we should argue that rape isn't really rape.

That third problem is what really turns this argument into a moral shitstorm, because nobody seems willing to challenge the dichotomy.

To challenge it:

First, the idea that accusation=guilt is FUCKED.  UP.  It's not misogynistic to defend men accused of sexual assault, and it's not even misogynistic that this means some guilty parties might go free - rule of law requires favouring freeing the innocent over punishing the guilty.  I blame this idea for turning rape into a philosophic gender war.

Second, the idea that guilt should be negotiated away with mitigating factors is ALSO fucked up, but I have less interesting things to say about that.

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