Silsbee Texas: Apologists for Rapists

A girl was raped in the Texas town of Silsbee by a student athlete.  Since the rape, she has been ordered to “lay low”, kicked off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer (when ordered by superintendent Richard Bain Jr) for her rapist.  The community turned against her, supporting the rapist (and his accomplice), calling her a slut, and a bitch (one cowardly family even going so far as to put their 2 year old up to the task) and even threatening her life.  The Supreme Court of the US has shown brazen moral bankruptcy in refusing to hear her free speech case (rape victims don’t rate as high on their priority list as corporations seeking to influence elections).  As a result she now owes school district $45,000 in legal fees.  (You can donate directly here, or commission comic art with all proceeds going to help pay the fees here (via)).  Trigger Warning: Full Details Here.

While it is worth calling attention to the heroic actions of the two young men who broke down the door (putting an end to the attack) and even attempted to chase down and confront her attackers (in one case succeeding), on the whole the town of Silsbee and its citizens have shown themselves to be the very worst sort of people.  There is a vile rotting husk of flesh where there ought to be a heart, and their actions epitomize so much of what is deeply wrong with our country.  They need to be taught a lesson in morality.

I’m not sure what form that lesson ought to take, whether a boycott will have any meaning for instance.  Given the campaign of shame and harassment aimed at this young woman, I think it only appropriate to respond – legally – in kind.  Below the fold is contact information.  For the superintendent of schools.  For city hall.  A link to a google search with a list of Churches.  Call the superintendent and let him know what kind of person he is.  Call city hall and let them know their town is no longer the home of “Tiger Pride”, their new public face is “Rapist Pride”.  Call the churches and ask ministers and priests to work their thoughts on rape into their sermons.  Clearly communicate both what you think of the people you call, the community at large, and what it is their moral responsibility to do: Regardless of their court victory, the school district owes the rape survivor and her family an apology – and to absolve them of any responsibility for paying the district’s legal fees.

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Tea Party vs Abortion – The New Fight

The exceptions for the health of the mother, rape, and incest are under attack.  As the anti-abortion movement exposes its true face – a theocratic desire to control women’s reproductive options in all circumstances – they are also removing all pretense at compromise.  The newly invigorated anti-abortion movement is going to oppose contraceptions.  They are going to force children to give birth.  They will fight tooth and claw to not only destroy Roe v Wade, but to go further and actively pass legislation making childbirth mandatory for any woman fertilized during sex.

This is the battle we are facing and to win it we need to pull its arguments entirely out of the shadows.  (We also need a new consistent and memorable name for the anti-abortion crowd.  Potentially “forced-birthers?”).  When Republicans argue against contraception they are really saying “Women do not have the right to prevent themselves from being impregnated”.  When they remove or reduce the rape exception they are saying “Women do not have the right to withhold consent from being impregnated”.  A woman who is raped can go to the doctor and get medication to handle any std’s picked up – but will not be able to prevent pregnancy – even if that was the rapists aim.  When conservatives oppose exceptions for the health of the mother they are saying “Women do not have the right to life saving medicine if they are pregnant”.

The right wing’s vicious new hard line on abortion is an assault on more than a woman’s right to choose to give birth or not.  It is an assault on a woman’s right to live and aiding an abetting rapists at inflicting trauma.  If we are going to win we need to tackle this extremism head on and aggressively.

Dear Less Famous Feminists: Language Miss!

Harriet J has a largely brilliant post over at RH Reality Check.  In it she makes a passionate plea for famous feminists to stand up to Naomi Wolf’s execrable defense of Julian Assange.  (Before we get started, I want to make clear that there is a difference between believing the charges against Julian are politically motivated – which I do – and failing to take the issue of rape seriously).  The issue at hand is how we talk about consent, and that is a very important conversation to have.  However on reading her post I was jarred by running into the unfamiliar terms “Zhe” and “Hir”. Had Harriet become a lolcat? No, it turns out she was simply using gender neutral terms.

This is a problem.

The English language badly needs gender neutral pronouns, this is true.  However Harriet’s use of them in her post were counterproductive for a few reasons:

  1. She does not use them consistently.  This is confusing for the reader.
  2. To the uninformed they are obstacles to understanding.

The consistency issue is self explanatory.  If you are going to make use of new pronouns you need to do so consistently, not haphazardly.

It is the obstacle they create that is crucial.  The issues of consent and the Assange case specifically are both hot button issues.  Communicating clearly is essential.  Given the relative obscureness of gender neutral pronouns (and lacking any introduction), they appear as typos and function as the sort of specialized language one might find in a term paper – jargon.  Jargon serves a useful purpose – it can form a mental shortcut of sorts – a method for passing larger amounts of information in a shorter amount of space.  However technically specific language is the domain of the specialist – not the layperson.  The use of such language alienates potential supporters.

As for her point, it is well made.  Naomi Wolf’s comments on rape need to be answered by someone who can concisely convey that there is more to rape than overt physical violence.

Religious Conservative Incestual Rape Apologists

Sharron Angle is making public a textbook psychotic position on the horrible matter of incestual rape that leads to a pregnancy.  Digby Reports:

Sharron Angle has a plan for girls who are raped by their fathers and get pregnant. Force the little girl to have a child and then adopt both of them out to a new family!

Angle: I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I’ll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said ‘I know what you did thank you for saving my life.’ So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.

No word on what happened to the incest victim, but that’s really not something anyone should waste much time worrying about.

And anyway it just shows that God provides many good alternatives to abortion for for young girls who are raped by their fathers — perhaps we could just bend the rules a little bit and the little girl could marry her daddy so they could make a new family all their own.

That she leaves out the rape victim – aka the baby carrier (you know, the non-woman as per fellow Republican Christianist David Vitter) – is telling.  Nuts like these really don’t give a shit about mothers.  They aren’t anti-choice, they are anti-mother.  And God help you if you become a mother against your will, or if becoming a mother poses serious health risks.  Because they sure as hell won’t.  At that point you cease to be a woman, cease to be a rape victim, and become an incubator.

Let’s put the positions of these religious nuts who advocate forcing raped girls to bear their father’s children into context.  Consider the biblical story of Lot and his daughters.  He offered them up to be raped by strangers, and later had offspring with them.  Is this what religious conservative mean when they suggest using the Bible as a basis for law in our country?

Ignorance and Incompetence Mar Sex Crimes Battle

This article at the BBC bears reading:

“Ignorant” officials are obsessed with punishing victims of trafficking rather than targeting those behind the crime, a report claims.

They cite specific examples, this looks like more than mere claims.  Until we make viciously and effectively prosecuting slavers, pimps, and rape organizers a priority over attacking sex workers and immigrants without documentation, we will not make progress stopping slavery.

Articles like this engender a certain natural rage and helplessness.  How can we help?  There’s a lot we can all do to help fight slavery and human trafficking.  In addition we can organize campaigns from the grassroots to start dialogues and set the tone.  Criminals who force adults and children to have sex for their gain, and who bring in slaves to do unpaid or low paid work under threat, should face the same penalties as cross state kidnappers and murderers.  The crimes are that serious.  We need to recognize their victims as just that, victims.  Thus make every effort you can to set the priority to supporting trafficking victims and taking down slavers.  Every tool for PR is open to you: letters to the editor, blog posts, emails, word of mouth, and social networking status updates.

We need to electrify public opinion so that there is a real demand to end these crimes, rather than the current status quo of prosecuting the victims and letting the criminals escape to prey on more innocents.

Its Hard to Say Rape

Its hard to say rape, nevermind talk about it.  Yet talking about rape is the surest way to fight it.  Leaving rape as an unspeakable part of our discourse leaves victims and criminals out of the public consciousness, and only serves to aide rapists and rape-apologists.  The more we talk about rape, the less they have to stand on.

I’d like to talk about the date rape scene in Observe and Report, as well as Lil Wayne’s interview on Jimmy Kimmel.  They both provide an opportunity to discuss one of the more problematic and persistent aspects of rape apologetics: the notion that the victim deserves or wants the rape to occur.  (Trigger Warning).

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Preventing Prison Rape

From Alas, a Blog (via Our Descent Into Madness):

In a letter published in The New York Review of Books, David Kaiser of Just Detention International argues that we could significantly reduce prison rape, if we genuinely wanted to.

Why aren’t we doing this?  Do we consider the rights of inmates to be that unimportant?  Is it just for people, jailed for nonviolent offenses, to suffer the profoundly damaging crime of rape because they had to spend a year in the lockup?

Our prison system is a human rights nightmare, and we cannot in the even the lightest sense claim to be a country with respect for the rule of law when we allow it to be so violently broken.