Ilana Mercer is likely only one of many people who don't understand why this jury would find Warren Jeffs guilty on both counts and still be sane. The underlying flaw in her thinking is plain to see in the second quoted section:
With the guilty verdict against Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the folks have proven that they hoisted their pitchforks, rather than hone their reasoning skills, during deliberation [...]
Did he hold down the victim so the perpetrator could have his way with her? No he didn’t. The rape charges against Jeffs stem from his having allegedly arranged the marriages of underage girls, not from violence he initiated against the complainant. And in particular, Jeffs is accused of encouraging a minor, and member of his church, to consummate her marriage. But does urging someone to engage in what one perceives to be marital sex amount to being complicit in a rape, a very brutal crime indeed?
This assumption that an adult, who is the voice of God to that child, needs to hold a 14 year old girl down to be guilty of facilitating rape is to effectively say that coercion is a myth. But coercion isn't a myth. That's not merely my belief, that's a fact.
Under the right (or wrong) conditions anyone can be coerced to do what they absolutely do not want to do. When this is denied then the coercer is given not just a green light, but a high five. They escape accountability and their victims are blamed.
By this standard all prisoners of war who denounced their home country without a gun pointed at their heads should have been tried and found guilty of treason.
Instead of even seeing the possibility that this girl was coerced into marriage and then into sex, Ms. Mercer falsely turns what Warren Jeffs did into "encouragement" despite evidence that what he did could not be in any way described as true encouragement.
Sex or hell.
If that girl believed in hell and had her prophet giving her that false choice, there was no real alternative option given to her. In this group the impact of the choice of hell wasn't just what would happen to her after death, it would have been immediate since the whole community looked to their prophet for guidance. Do what you are told or lose everything and everyone you know. What encouragement.
With the fear of hell in her heart she is then forced to do what she has been commanded to do: have sex when she is unwilling. That's as brutal as any forcible rape.
Yet many people deny this or minimize it until they might as well deny it. I'm glad for them that they have never experienced anything which would give them a way to relate to what this girl experienced.
True encouragement does not condemn the "encouraged" to hell for refusing to do what the other person encouraged her to do. This environment which increases the potential for abuse of power may be so foreign to some people that they refuse to accept its existence. That is a very dangerous mistake.
For those with children, what do you tell your child on the first day of school? Likely it includes, "Do what the teacher tells you to do." We assume our teachers will not misuse this power and the isolation of the classroom, but we rely on school administrators and the law to ensure that we can make this assumption.
We understand that teachers don't merely encourage their students to sit down and comply. They have the power of coercion but under the it's just "encouragement" model the teachers can never be held legally responsible for misusing that power as long as they don't use physical force.
Are you really okay with that?For more on this verdict checkout the reporting on CNN or AP.