Or--here's a good subtitle--just another reason not to watch CNN.
Those among the professional commentators--and I admit I am one of them--who choose to apply words like "fascinating" and "interesting" to the daily news events are annoying me even more than usual with their coverage of the proverbial media firestorm over a case of rape in Steubenville, Ohio. One salient characteristic of this case is that there is no doubt as to what happened.
The perpetrators of this sickening incident were not only criminal, but they were shameless in that they had the idiotic idea to record the various phases of the incident with their smart phones and send out messages sharing what they did. From the digital penetration of a drunken young woman in a car, to carrying her unconscious body around by the wrists and ankles, they Tweeted and messaged their way through an hours-long rape until word began to get to the authorities.
And the reaction? Let's classify it into three groups: the residents of Steubenville, the talking heads on the television screens, and the media-at-large (including everyone else). The residents of Steubenville are divided, of course, between those who are horrified that two young men who are members of their almighty high-school football team would have committed a heinous crime, and those who are mouthing the cliches of enablers.
The talking heads on television have come out with something that we might tend to think that we haven't seen before: agonized sympathy for those poor young men whose lives are now going to be traumatized by the punishment they will receive. Folks, in case you didn't notice during the election season last year, rape has ceased to be a crime in the right-wing. Among commentators and politicians, rape is now a legitimate expression of sexual desire if a woman is incapacitated or unwilling.
And that brings us to Candy Crowley, a woman that I used to respect. She is the person who made the major emotional "those poor boys" speech that is so out of proportion to rape as a serious crime that her comments have become one side of the stake-out of who is right and who is wrong. Crowley is apparently heartbroken that two fine young men are going to be punished just because of a trivial night spent violating an unconscious victim. This is going to cause her so much trouble that I could almost feel sorry for her, except for the title of my article: she is repeating history.
Some of you may have had a reaction when I wrote about Dennis Rodman and his trip to North Korea recently, in that I made a remark distinguishing him from other NBA athletes whom I referred to as thugs and rapists. I was, of course, referring to basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, who was accused of rape several years ago and, of course, paid no penalty for it, if by "penalty" you mean punishment. He is still an NBA superstar and I assume that it would be considered extremely politically-incorrect to bring up the unsavory subject of rape in connection with his present life.
So what do we have on Ohio? Another incident of athlete rape. You would think that there are parents somewhere who try to teach their growing boys about being good people, but children don't always listen even to the best advice, and these boys are children--little boys dressed up in hormone-laden bodies that are near leaving childhood behind.
But today history repeated itself in that Fox "News" intentionally released the real name of the accuser in the Steubenville case. Removing the protection of anonymity from women who present a threat to powerful men is a well-known tactic in cases of rape. Death threats and vilification ensue, and in our age of social media I suppose the young woman might as well take down her Facebook page because it will be an immediate target of those who seek to hurt her.
A blogger who describes himself as an ex-Mormon leaped to the defense of the rapists online as he chose to quote a well-known LDS leader, Spencer Kimball, who wrote: "...the victim is not blameless." The LDS Church, guarding their domination over women as fiercely as they possibly can, will not fail to blame the victim.
Taking a clue from primitive Christians everywhere, those who put their mouths in gear before their brain is engaged have begun emphasizing that the young women was drinking while underage--as was everyone at the party, which was private and well-stocked with liquor, not asking anyone for identification or enforcing drinking laws in Ohio. They have emphasized what she was wearing, party attire, and they did not always stop short of saying that she asked for it.
So let's go with that line of thought. Conservatives, who are the one polluting the Internet with complaints about how "liberty" is going down the drain when a chit of a girl objects to being raped for a few hours, unconscious, also love to accuse various people that they don't like of longing to put "Sharia Law" into effect in America. I think that if you believe the logic of what the girl had on provoking rape, Sharia Law would solve that problem. Obviously, if she had been wearing a burqa no one would have been provoked to rape her. If she had been confined to her home on pain of death, no one would have had access to her. But that is not true either; women are raped in Muslim countries, to say the least.
And the fact remains--as Randi Rhodes put it on her radio show today--if a woman is lying in the street, naked and incapacitated, that gives NO ONE the right to rape her. What you do in a situation like that is get her some help, not pick her up by the wrists and ankles and take her off somewhere to rape her.
How far does this go? If a resident of an extended-care home, or a hospital, is incapacitated, like I was with morphine five years ago, does that give hospital orderlies or family members the right to violate the unconscious patient? Does that suggest that men could dispense with the formalities of taking a girl out to dinner, and just drug her and have "sex" with her?
Contrast this with the puzzled preoccupation of how Republicans are trying to create "outreach" to us so that we will vote for them more. The outlet for Republican talking points, Fox "News," released the actual name of the Ohio victim today, much like the circumstances of the Kobe Bryant trial, as history repeats itself and there is no backlash:
"What [Bryant defense attorney] Mackey did in front of a packed courtroom in Eagle, Colo., was skate dangerously close to violating Colorado's rape shield law, which is supposed to protect—in most cases—an accuser's sexual history from being introduced in court. First Mackey casually mentioned the accuser's name in court. She apologized—then dropped the name five more times." [People Magazine website archives]
So Fox has already released the name of the Ohio victim. Even CNN seems to be above this level of conduct, even if their commentators are stupidly unaware that rape is still a serious crime. So the Republicans, in my opinion, are not doing "outreach" to win new converts to their political cause.
What they are doing, if we can judge by the CPAC conference over the weekend, is "saying things." That is what they are doing. They are testing the waters to see if there are words and phrases that they can use to wrap around their party platform to make their stated principles more palatable to the American people. Like, here we go: we want to prohibit every American woman from terminating a pregnancy under any circumstances. Hmmm, how about we just say that we are "absolutely pro-life"--does that sound better?
Bottom line: the media has totally ignored, or forgotten, that rape is not an act of sex; it is an act of violence. The two teenagers who committed aggravated rape on another drunken teen in Ohio, and recorded their deed, and broadcast the deed into cyberspace so that their friends would share in their delightful evening, did not have sex with that girl. They committed an act of violent power upon her--and they wanted credit for it, which is why they sent out their messages and texts and photos. Until we get our heads wrapped around rape as a CRIME once again, we will see no improvement in the Republican Party's beating around the bush as they try to assert that all men have the right to all women, willing or not.
For more info: Meanwhile, Arizonans are focused on the upcoming Supreme Court review of one of our election laws, which demands that one prove their citizenship when registering to vote. I don't know how the state government would enforce that one, since they arrested a truck driver not long ago, who had a professional CDL driver's license that can only be obtained by a citizen, and put him in jail under the "papers, please" law. Does Arizona law enforcement know what documents prove American citizenship, besides a birth certificate? And if I produced my birth certificate (from Illinois) to register, how am I to know that it would not be challenged by the Arizona Birther contingent?