San Diego – I rarely check my Facebook page. I was talked into getting one by a colleague but I have to be honest, it is so often far too infantile for me to bear. I honestly have no interest in whether “friends” of mine I actually barely know if at all are enjoying sushi at the fave place or if the latest BFF is so cool. I think most of what I see depicts individuals truly disconnected emotionally, trying to replace personal intimacy (and no, I do not mean sex) with cyber pleadings for attention and are generally, desperately in need of a life. If it were not for a few really creative people who espouse some fascinating perspectives I would simply cancel it.
But today I was greeted by the posting of a link to the story about an 11-year-old girl who was gang raped (all of it captured on a cell phone video so I refuse to prefix this documented crime as “alleged”) by a group of men. According to AP,
“The authorities have arrested 18 people, including two of Cleveland’s [DK: Cleveland, Texas not far from Houston] star high school athletes and adults with criminal records.”
What makes this of special interest is that the community activists from which those men came are all blaming the young girl for the rape. And no, this is not an Islamic group where you would expect that sort of idiocy. Generally this sorry collection of offenders is from a group that normally blames bigotry, of which they themselves are incapable, for their woes. But there are no possible ways to tie this act to current or past race-based inequities real or imagined so the only one left to blame, since as members of an entitled victim class they could not possibly be responsible themselves, is the little girl. And to their shame they went for it.
They said she looked older. Older than 11? So, did she look 20 or even 18? And even if she did, does anyone in any group having some remaining shred of morals think it is OK for 18 high-schoolers and adults to rape a young girl… or even an adult woman? Apparently they do; not just them but their own community of enablers who are now joining ranks to protect them from the evil ‘man’ who wants to hold them accountable.
First some disclosure: I believe the abuse of a child should be a capital offense. That abuse takes away not just their childhood but too often takes away their chance at a meaningful loving life. The perpetrators have not taken life, per se, but they have taken away, in all too many cases, the possibility of being able to fully enjoy and participate in the life they have left. I have no problem with seeing that act, proven to a scientific certainty, being cause for forfeiting the life of the perpetrator; not as payment, that is a debt that cannot ever be repaid, but as simple punishment and an object lesson that we are done accepting and facilitating this sort of behavior.
Of course that will never happen. We have grown into a generally indolent and in some ways sociopathic society that wants quite the opposite: we want a life in which choices and behaviors are free of consequences and concepts of Right and Wrong are tossed aside. We seem to want a life where we can endlessly repeat that we are sorry as a ticket to escape accountability and preferable to not even have to acknowledge that we have done anything wrong at all. And we are facilitating that desire legislatively by increasingly providing legal cover if not outright excuse for perpetrators of all sorts.
I hear all of the time there is nothing we can do since we cannot legislate morality. Really? Morality is nothing more than a paradigm that assigns accountability for behavior. And the more we legislate away that accountability then clearly, the more we legislate IM-morality into existence and common behavior. And we have gone out of our way to legislatively remove accountability for behavior and made it harder and harder for the victims while making it easier and easier for the perpetrator to elude responsibility.
This is one big reason why, after Law School I did not go on to practice law. I never came to believe that as a defense attorney it was my job to get the guilty acquitted, only to help guarantee a fair trial. Unfortunately that attitude is a quick way to go broke as an attorney, so I returned to image making as at least a less ethically slimy way to go broke.
The law says that as an individual I have a right to protect myself from the “reasonable anticipation” of harm. I cannot take that so far as to become the aggressor myself but short of that I can do whatever it takes to protect myself. I would contend that a society, as a collection of individuals, has an equivalent right to protect itself. Our society was established based on a set of governing principles, our behavioral “paradigm,” and we have a right to defend it against any who would seek to tear it down. It does not take some religious notion imposed on the paradigm for most of us to understand that gang raping an 11-year-old girl is not something that should be condoned… for any reason; or that it was somehow her own fault.
Even had she acted seductively, we have decreed that children under a certain age cannot understand the consequences of their actions and are not accountable. This is supported by law and by study after study in psychology. Only in the Muslim world are men viewed as so inherently weak of character and women so inherently evil that the women must be seen as the source of all deviancy and the ones to punish while the men go free since they are, collectively, merely pawns in the hands of the evil seductresses.
That was not our way or our view at least as we set this society in motion. We created, rather, a society and culture in which the work ethic was highly prized, in which individual freedom and integrity was equally valued. We so trusted our collective integrity that we established laws where we were bound by a simple oath to tell the truth and neither torture nor even the benefits of chemical inducement were used to determine whether or not we were telling the truth. We could not even be forced to lie to save ourselves since our Constitution decreed that we could not be forced to be a witness against ourselves to avoid us having to lie about it.
But little by little that paradigm has been chipped away as more and more people, and sadly enough often the lawmakers themselves, seek to find ways to avoid accountability and responsibility for behavior that would be rightly seen as abhorrent and possibly seditious. Seditious? Of course.
When you act in such a way as to damage the foundations of the society and its paradigms then you are slowly destroying the foundations of that society. If you honestly believe the founding paradigms need to be changed then the Constitution itself shows you the way to do it; and it has been done a number of times over the years. It took us a pathetically long time to recognize the value and power of women and recognize that in the Constitution via an amendment, yet even before that time we may not have allowed them to vote but we never, as a society, thought it was OK to rape young girls. Until the Constitution is changed, so long as those foundational laws stand, then ignoring them or spinning them to one’s own ends is destructive to them and therefore to the society formed and defined by them. And that is clearly “subversion of the Constitution” which is accepted as a form of sedition.
I do believe in freedom but follow the old law school dictum that you (all of you) have an absolute right to swing your arms; but that right stops at the end of someone else’s nose including mine. Following that concept, I believe that people have a right to believe anything they want and to act on it but that right stops when it starts to collide with our society’s nose. I think they have an absolute right to search out places — other places — that share their beliefs and go there to be among philosophical friends and live with the consequences of those philosophies. But they have no right to impose those views on this society until or if we decide, as proscribed in the Constitution, to change the rules. We have no legal or ethical mandate to allow someone else’s society to punch our society in the nose.
And to the point of the news report that started this line of thinking, I believe the act of this community to gather around and support the perpetrators of this heinous, and to me capital crime, clearly demonstrates that at least in some communities, our attempts to legislate immorality have worked extremely well. We have come to a point where we have allowed groups to believe they have no personal responsibility for even the most outrageous and egregious of behavior and that fault for all inappropriate behavior by members of that group must, by definition, be found elsewhere.
I beg to differ. No, wait, there is no reason to beg here; I insist on differing and so should anyone claiming even a loose connection with ethics and morality. I believe life is about choices… choices and consequences.
Any individual or collection of individuals that can justify the acts of adult men choosing to be involved in the rape of an 11-year-old girl — or ANY girl for that matter — have no place in my society. Their attitude, and of that anyone who supports them, is not diversity, it is despicable depravity. Excusing that attitude is not enlightened tolerance; it is craven cowardice. So much for “the land of the brave.”
In my opinion, if you honestly believe that ANY adult male should have done anything other than try to protect that girl then I do not wish to share breathing air with you and think you need to be exiled to some middle eastern country where they seem to share your perverted outlook, but in one way or another be removed from our society and from the protection of its laws. If you cannot protect a young girl, much less participate in her assault, then I think you deserve ZERO protection under our laws and should be declared, as in the ancient laws, OUT LAW, i.e. outside the law’s protection and fair game.