Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bloggers Distort James Taranto's Column

This week, James Taranto took a look at consent laws:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304558804579374844067975558

Here's a key excerpt:

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes, at some campuses the accuser's having had one drink is sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt:

Stanford's definition of consent to sex imposes a concept that is foreign to most people's idea of adult consent and inconsistent with California state law. Stanford policy states that sexual assault occurs "when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable of giving consent . . . if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol." In other words, any sexual activity while intoxicated to any degree constitutes sexual assault. This is true even if the activity was explicitly agreed to by a person capable of making rational, reasoned decisions, and even if the partners are in an ongoing relationship or marriage.

In theory that means, as FIRE notes, that "if both parties are intoxicated during sex, they are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other." In practice it means that women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.

This has, unfortunately, led to a chorus of Internet critics, perhaps half of them lacking in comprehension skills and the other half simply intellectually dishonest, referring to Taranto as a "rape apologist" or similar slur to that.

I'm amazed that so many people can read Mr. Taranto's column and completely misconstrue (or willfully distort) what he is saying.

Mr. Taranto is NOT talking about a drunk man forcing himself onto a drunk woman who's either saying no or is passed out (which would be rape, whether it's a man doing it to a woman or a woman doing it to a man).

He IS talking about two drunk people consenting to sex -- and then later someone decides that a woman cannot consent to sex when she's drunk -- except that HE is drunk too and that technically HE cannot consent to sex, either. So, technically, they have committed rape or sexual assault against each other. That was obvious to me the first time I read it. How could so many others not get it?

Monday, February 10, 2014

...And, Other Times, Guns Can Bring an Early Gun to Crimes

Letter I had published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on February 9. Below the link is my original draft.

http://articles.philly.com/2014-02-09/news/47171572_1_gun-violence-climate-change-film-tax-credit

Enough of the exploitation of tragedy to malign the NRA (Wilkinson, Jan. 28). I'm neither an NRA member nor a gun owner, but I am certain that those who do belong in those categories are just as horrified by the deaths of innocent people as anyone else.

The Columbia Mall in Maryland, like so many sites of similar tragedies, was an official "gun-free zone." This did not deter a disturbed person from arming himself and committing murder. In fact, a similar situation in the Clackamas Mall (Portland, Ore., December 2012) came to a premature end when the gunman was confronted by a law-abiding citizen who happened to be armed (including a concealed carry permit).

This doesn't suggest that arming everyone is the answer, any more than stricter gun-control measures are. There are no easy answers, as much as we wish there to be.