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There's got to be something interesting about a weekend in which I am… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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[Sep. 26th, 2005|09:23 pm]
John
There's got to be something interesting about a weekend in which I am told that I help make life hellish for the victims of rape. (Yes, I know; you can stop laughing now.) There's something doubly interesting about it when I realize that, on the whole, it made me feel good.

See, the situation was this. I was involved in a disucssion about fly fishing... okay, you got me, it was about rape, but it would have been more believable if it had started off about fly fishing.



The topic was raised that there was a situation in which an 11 year old boy, who had been raped himself, had raped an 8 year old girl. That was the sum total of the knowledge we had.

Now, some of you probably know how they write rape laws. In a college discussion in New Jersey, a person who knew the law said that there was no "rape" in New Jersey state law, there was "gross sexual imposition", involving touching a non-consenting person on the breasts, thighs, buttocks, or genitals (or forcing the person to come into contact with the perpetrator's own, maybe - it was a long time ago). They're written broadly, to avoid having a rapist walk because some specific action didn't occur. (For example, I have yet to hear of a rape law that required any form of penetration.)

An 11 year old boy who's been raped, his sense of proper boundaries could well have been shattered. I'm sure he did something pretty bad; I doubt they'd have used the term "rape" otherwise. Nevertheless, I can imagine a dozen different scenarios in which there was nothing nastily malicious in his actions. Kids who've been abused in that manner often have screwed up senses of proper boundaries, and have often been convinced that there's nothing bad being done to them.

I can also, of course, imagine some scenarios that are inexcusably brutal. But, geez, while they're possible, this is an 11 year old child! They are *not* the only possibilities.

So, what caused it to be said that I was helping to make the lives of rape victims hellish? I said we didn't know that he had to be incarcerated. We didn't have enough information to make that determination.

See, that's caring more for a RAPIST than the VICTIM. Note, not a hypothetical 11 year old boy who was raped... no, somehow thinking an 11 year old rape victim might not belong in jail meant that rapists were more important to me than their victims. Lord and lady, save us from extremists!

Well, I gave the only answer that make sense to such a ludicrous accusation. I said it was bullshit. Apparently, to other extremists, that was not the right answer. :-)

The good feelings, though... I didn't rise to obvious bait. I stayed calm in the face of some really stupid-ass slander. And, I tried to respond in a manner that might allow understanding to follow, though I had already acknowledged to myself that it wasn't likely to.

More importantly, I didn't get angry, because I realized that these people were blinded by the word. They heard "rape", and they were sure it was an aggressive, malicious act. They didn't want to know more because they didn't think they needed to.

For all that I stayed essentially calm, I do have to admit... this is one of those situations where, if life was fair, there'd be a button you could push, and force a person to know just *how stupid* the statement they just made was. I mean, it'd put Rush Limbaugh and a host of others out of business... but there's probably a downside, as well.

Anyway. There was a time of my life when this would have been upsetting... more upsetting than it had a right to be. I can now hope that it's another time of my life.

Oh: and if I'm ever such a fanatic about *anything*, to the point that I'll get angry because someone else says that there's a possibility that an 11 year old child, about whom nothing is known, doesn't belong in jail, please shoot me. Somewhere besides the head, because, by that time, it'll be clear the head is not a vulnerable target anymore. :-)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: supergee
2005-09-27 11:13 am (UTC)
Rape is far too important a suject to think clearly about.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-02 06:02 am (UTC)
Chuckle; you know, that's funny on two levels. (Okay, you probably know this, and I'll probably be ruining it to explain, but...) Yeah, it *is* too serious to think too clearly about it, because sometimes thinking too clearly means you'll do the old strain-the-gnat, swallow-the-camel bit.

And yeah, some people take it so seriously that they don't think clearly.
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From: tigermorph
2005-09-27 01:35 pm (UTC)
Oh: and if I'm ever such a fanatic about *anything*, to the point that I'll get angry because someone else says that there's a possibility that an 11 year old child, about whom nothing is known, doesn't belong in jail, please shoot me. Somewhere besides the head, because, by that time, it'll be clear the head is not a vulnerable target anymore. :-)

LOL.

And HUG.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-02 06:02 am (UTC)
Thanks, and hugs back atcha.
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[User Picture]From: nsingman
2005-09-27 02:25 pm (UTC)
John! Are you suggesting that people accused of rape deserve due process?

I wish I'd been there, so I could discuss my opposition to rape shield laws. I find people who foam at the mouth to be entertaining, personally. :-)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-02 06:04 am (UTC)
Oh, geeze, I'd forgotten all about that due process stuff; I'm such a liberal! :-)

(And wow... that's the beautiful (or is that beauteous?) and oft-praised one? I don't think I've ever looked carefully... she probably ain't praised oft-enough! :-))
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[User Picture]From: nsingman
2005-10-02 03:17 pm (UTC)
That is Connie, yes, and thank you. The photo was taken back in 2002, at a wedding in Arkansas.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2005-09-27 02:46 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you've encountered the sorts of people of whom a mutual friend would say "Stop being on our side - you make us look stupid."
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-02 06:05 am (UTC)
Chuckle; yeah. But she was trying to help me re-prioritize, so it wasn't, you know, *nasty*.

(I'm not kidding... she said that!)
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[User Picture]From: pagawne
2005-09-27 03:06 pm (UTC)
At the risk of sounding like a "Bleeding Heart Liberal" (tm), it sounds as though the 11 year old boy needs treatment much more than he needs to be locked up. Yes, the 8 year old girl needs help, but so does the boy. I see 2 victems of rape here.
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[User Picture]From: ljgeoff
2005-09-27 03:58 pm (UTC)
Indeed.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-02 06:08 am (UTC)
Nod. I finally figured out that it was probably the word; they heard "rape", and it gave them an idea of what it must have been like, and just didn't parse that an 11 year old is more likely to be screwed up than malicious.

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[User Picture]From: blackthornglade
2005-09-27 05:04 pm (UTC)
If this is online, you can steal my "Logic go Boom!" icon for your next post. :) (If there is one.)

Sometimes people scare me.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-02 06:11 am (UTC)
Chuckle; thanks. I actually walked away, refusing to play the game anymore. Once it gets that wild, there isn't any winning, and I haven't got the time or the energy.

I'd have to *care* to build up the energy, and to do that, I'd have to open myself up to being hurt... and once they're flailing like that, opening myself up is always a bad plan.
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[User Picture]From: desiree_2877
2005-09-27 10:46 pm (UTC)

no worries on making life hellish for rape survivors

Hey there! Just wanted to say that in my humble opinion - you did and said the right things totally. I despise ppl who make snap judgments without having all the facts. Sometimes it's not possible to make any kind of accurate judgments simply because there is not a way to be certain that the "facts" in question are actually true. Anyways as a survivor of rape at the hands of someone who was supposedly a trusted "friend", myself I don't think you made anyone's life more hellish. I'm 36 now an this happened when I was in my midteens - so anyways - one has to deal with the cards one was dealt regardless I suppose. Take care !
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-10-02 06:17 am (UTC)

Re: no worries on making life hellish for rape survivors

Thanks... honestly, I didn't have any worries. In a sense, it was like someone telling me that I didn't understand mathematics (I have a master's degree in math); I know what I've done, and I know who I've helped, and it's so silly for someone who doesn't know me to make such an accusation that I couldn't take it seriously.

But it would have hurt if it'd been made ten years ago, and it would have made me angry a few years ago.

I mean, I've said stupid, clumsy things about rape in the past, and it's possible I'll say something stupid and clumsy and oafish sounding in the future... but no matter what I say, it won't mean I make people's lives hellish; it'll mean I said something stupid.

The day that becomes a crime, the whole world's in trouble!
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