Rape and the law

The conservative view of rape: the end of responsibility in society

Rape is like the rain. Prepare for it like a good girl.

Disgusting, isn’t it? This is the view that a number of conservative pundits hold. In the last year I’ve heard politicians say things like, “Woman should prepare for rape the way I prepare for financial rainy day”.

Last March Zerlina Maxwell spoke to Sean Hannity. There had been a suggestion that women should be trained to use guns to prevent rape. Ms. Maxwell made the revolutionary suggestion that women shouldn’t be responsible for preventing rape; men should. This sentiment came from an equally revolutionary concept that people in America be responsible for their actions. This must have occurred to someone, at least in passing, since the crime of rape is on the books and is considered a felony that often results in incarceration.

Clearly the conservative pundits feel that the law has not kept up with the realities of life. I assume that these talking heads must have decided that the laws on rape are simply a nod to liberal factions, not actual laws. Not actual legislation regarding actual felonies.

Zerlina’s refusal to accept the conservative method of preventing rape resulted in an even more bizarre reaction. Zerlina, who was clearly concentrating on the crime of rape, stepped on the toes of a group of men who, for unfathomable reasons, became quite angry.  Their reactions include suggestions that she be raped and killed. A victim of rape herself, Zerlina was also attacked on the basis of her race; Zerlina is black.

All in all this is ugly and un-American. I will admit that I would love to have any women I cared about armed with a gun to protect her from harm. I am from New York where no one “plays”. But I also have to admit that arming vulnerable citizens is a complex prospect, not guaranteed to be successful. As Zerlina pointed out, the man who attacked her was someone she knew and a gun would not have been helpful unless she would have had reason to be carrying it with someone she knew.

Do we live in a society where people are all worthy of “the pursit of happiness”? Does this not include an aggressive and over-arching effort to prevent egregious crimes that are identified as egregious on the books? Or do we fall back on an idea that satisfies our sense of American justice but absolves us of responsibilities for doing more than paying lip service to our own laws and the fundamental rights we are provided in the constitution.

Is the constitution something that needs to inform our society or is it a show piece that becomes inconvenient when we are called to manifest it as the basis of American society? Zerlina Maxwell asks us to do just that and for that she is marginizedl and threatened in a way that is beyond cowardly. We are a nation of polarities. Even if Zerlina is wrong about arming women to protect them, we still owe our founding fathers and our citizens a clear run at the America that is touted as the home of free, superior to all other nations. It may be time for us to decide what an American truly is.

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