Sunday, May 20, 2007

Death Penalty For Rapists Meant To Protect Most Rapists?

In the comments thread of Pandagon: The creepy uncle factor about the sex crime charges against Former South Dakota Republican representative, Ted Klaudt CFW (who also made references to the book and character Lolita to minimize the alleged actions in this case) wrote:

Calendar age versus psychological age is an important point that N does not overlook . So one can be 15 to 17 in calendar years but a good bit older (or younger) psychologically.

I responded:

This logic is one which supports repeated abuse by making excuses for sexual criminals. Once someone else has violated a child then this logic means it shouldn’t be a crime (or much of one) for the second, third or Nth sexual exploiter or rapist. It also leaves the rapist as the arbiter of psychological age. Since the rapist wants to rape, the flimsiest detail will be used as proof of advanced psychological age.

This logic shifts our judgment from the choices and actions of rapists to the choices and actions of rape victims. If you judge the rapist less harshly because the rape victim didn’t respond as you believe traumatized victims respond then you are thinking like a rapist.

The only acceptable sexual contact for a foster parent toward a foster child is none — period.

Nothing the foster child does or has experienced — before, during or after the contact — changes what is and isn’t acceptable. (end of my Pandagon comment)

This man's attitudes puts a different spin on this story: Texas lawmakers ok death for child rape. On the surface this move seems to say that Texas lawmakers take rape seriously, but CFW's use of the death penalty to show that this man is different from those child rapists who deserve to die shows that the death penalty has the potential to benefit many rapists who are seen as being less than total monsters.

CFW's rapist-excusing attitude is by no means unique to him.

The result is likely to be that a few rapists will be subject to scorn and aggressive prosecution with widespread public support while the rest of the rapists are excused or their actions are minimized. There are enough stories already which seek to highlight the injustices endured by statutory rapists. We don't need stories where non-statutory rapists become defacto victims because "sob, sob" this rapist doesn't deserve to die like those other rapists.

The logic used by many of those who say they take the problem of rape very seriously seems to go something like this:

1) The death penalty is appropriate for child rapists because they are guilty of a serious crime.
2) It wouldn't be appropriate to put this man to death for what he did to that child or those children.
3) Therefore, this man didn't commit a serious crime and is not a true child rapist.

What that means is that the assessment of alleged rapists guilt is often based on personal opinions about whether different rapists should be put to death. This personal assessment in turn is frequently based on stereotypes about what rapists look like and act like in general and victim blaming rather than an assessment of the crime itself or the harm that crime did to its victim or victims.

Instead of the death penalty for rapist being part of a strong opposition to all rapes, the death penalty for some rapists has the potential to benefit the majority of rapists.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:21 AM   0 comments links to this post


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