After reading comments in a post titled Big Story on the Michigan Messenger at the blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars with a link to a story about a teacher who had her body used as a canvas against her will while she was passed out and who alleged having been sexually assaulted before she passed out, I wrote:
I'm troubled by the dismissive response of some commenters here. The line from Raging Bee: "leaving themselves vulnerable to harm" is deeply problematic since most of us could be accused of doing this many times even if we never drink alcohol.
There was a murder case in my area earlier this year where the man who broke in used the homeowner's gun to kill a father, his son and to try to kill the mother. Having a gun left that family vulnerable to harm, but it didn't cause the jury to find the defendant not guilty and I doubt that Raging Bee or others would be so quick in that case to put any responsibility for this horrific crime onto the victims or to use it to minimize or negate the responsibility of the man who exploited this vulnerability.
Vulnerability is not what causes people to take actions which exploit someone's vulnerability. The cause lies within those people who view vulnerability as an opportunity. If someone doesn't consent or can't consent then the only legal choice is to not take an action unless it is an emergency such as taking someone to the ER.
Since this non-consensual behavior was done by teachers that raises serious questions about what non-consensual actions they will approve of or tolerate when done by students to other students.
In another comment Democommie wrote to me:
Nice analogy--totally inapt, I think--but nice, nonetheless. Yes, multiple murders is equivalent to what happened here.Here's my response:
You are wrong that my analogy is inapt and your response supports my point rather than disproving it. The reason it feels inapt to you is that you take someone committing multiple murders seriously enough that you automatically reject focusing on how victims made themselves vulnerable or using this to reduce perpetrator responsibility.
The amount of shifting of responsibility onto the vulnerable person is usually linked to personal opinion of the seriousness of what the non-vulnerable person did to the vulnerable person.
If those who made themselves vulnerable are partly responsible for what was done to them then this must always be true no matter what was done to them or how they made themselves vulnerable. If it isn't always true then it is never true and only reflects on the bias of those placing responsibility on certain vulnerable people.
After this comment Democommie got more personal and claimed that I was trying to make drunk shaming and murder into equivalent offenses. He wrote:
The discussion on this thread, in the majority of its comments has been re: whether it is appropriate for the criminal justice system to be involved in this and whether the available statutes offer a legal structure for doing so.
What he misses is that bias about women "leaving themselves vulnerable to harm" can and does skew this type of discussion and it can and does skew real life consequences for those who harm other people.
This portion of his comment is highly relevant because along with drunk shaming, this woman reported a sexual assault and there are clearly available criminal statutes to cover this unless people view victim drunkenness as nullifying the possibility of a sexual assault.