Rights of Victims

Now that every rational argument against the planned religious-sponsored community center has failed, now that the opponents have conceded that the First Amendment protects minority religious rights, and opponents lost at the local level, we’re given the rights of victims argument.

The country’s political and policy leaders should oppose the planned center out of deference to the feelings of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

This is dangerous, and wrong-headed, and a fundamental misreading of our system, but it’s not new. We’ve been heading in this direction for a long time. I think of it as the “Nancy Grace School” of law and policy.

The September 11th attacks were a crime, or act of war, or both, take your pick, against the people of the United States. If and when OBL or any other perpetrator is every captured, the complaint or indictment will read “United States versus OBL”. If there is victim participation it will be in the form of testimony, or an “impact statement” at sentencing. When we invaded Afghanistan, we invaded as the United States.

This distinction is vitally important, and it’s grounded in the idea that any one of us could have been in that building and, further, that the attack was a violation of our laws and our norms. We can’t lose sight of that. When we respond as a country to events on the basis of sentimentality or closure or healing of the individual stories or wishes of victims, we lose that idea, and we always, always end up with bad law or bad policy or both.

I saw this play out in the Roman Polanski debate, again and again. “But, the victim has forgiven him!” You know what? It doesn’t matter. It was never Victim versus Polanski. Never. It was State of California versus Polanski, because the offense was against all of us, or any of us. That’s harsh, but there it is.

I’ll tell you the flip side of adopting this idea, because there is a flip side. When we ground an analysis in the relative worth, individual character or opinion of the victim, we end up (inevitably and always) at the “innocence” of the victim, because we’re human. This cuts both ways, which is why all crime victims should reject it.

We can (and have) ended up at “she asked for it”, or, “he shouldn’t have been there”, in the criminal system. That’s the flip side of letting this get muddled, and letting it become about the individual victim. It doesn’t end well, and we already know it.

The offense was against the People of the United States, and the People of the United States adopted and follow the First Amendment. Any legal or policy or bully pulpit response from democratically elected leaders starts and ends there. It’s harsh and it’s unsentimental and it can border on cruel, but there’s a reason for it. It won’t work the other way. It never does.
We can (and should, and have) respond to individual victims as individuals. I read the stories just like all of you, and they were heartbreaking. Our national response has to remain grounded not in those individual people, but in the larger idea, or we’ve completely lost our bearings.

73 replies
  1. 1
    john b says:

    a paragraph break here or there would do this post wonders.

  2. 2
    Poopyman says:

    @john b:
    The breaks are there, just no blank lines. I can deal with it.

    Excellent points, Kay. I’m gonna be -stealing-borrowing this argument.

  3. 3
    Dan says:

    I second John B’s statement on the paragraph break.

    While I agree with you general premise about the ground zero mosque your attack on taking particular victim’s feelings into account when dealing with individual criminal cases is bizarre and way off base.

    You say:

    “We can (and have) ended up at “she asked for it”, or, “he shouldn’t have been there”, in the criminal system. That’s the flip side of letting this get muddled, and letting it become about the individual victim. It doesn’t end well, and we already know it.”

    This is a really broad and absurd generalization made with zero attempt to back it up. It really reveals a lack of knowledge on your part about the criminal justice system.

  4. 4
    Kay says:

    @Poopyman:

    I see the breaks, too. Anyway, point taken, I’ll use blank space next time.

    I’m new at this, as is probably obvious, right?

  5. 5
    Legalize says:

    All of what Kay says is true. Unfortunately, it’s all been said over and over since 9/11 and the keepers of our national discourse have deemed it irrelevant to the conversation.

  6. 6
    soonergrunt says:

    When we ground an analysis in the relative worth, individual character or opinion of the victim, we end up (inevitably and always) at the “innocence” of the victim, because we’re human.

    Oh, there’s a fair number of assholes around, some on these boards, who are just dying to point out how the US had it coming because of our policies or our power or some other stupid shit.
    On a slightly different note, there are a fair number of 9/11 families who don’t have a problem with the new mosque and some who actively support it. Let’s listen to them as well if we’re going to give the 9/11 families more moral authority than the rest of us.

  7. 7
    Kay says:

    @Dan:

    I would submit we do this. I saw it in Polanski. No one read the statute. There was elaborate analysis of what the victim did and what her mother didn’t do and whether that had any bearing on anything. Why were rape statutes written to exclude marital rape? The definition of rape doesn’t depend on status of the victim.

  8. 8
    Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army says:

    The “respect for the victims” in this case is bullshit on many levels, but to me it seems the most dangerous is the idea that the very existence of Islam is an insult to the victims. If we can block a Muslim community center in deference to the 9/11 victims, then the obvious next step is to ban Muslims from going near ground zero at all. Actually, better just make it everybody from the middle east and central Asia, because somebody who lost a loved one in the towers might think they were Muslim, and that would just be heart-breaking.

    Some of this hubbub also comes from the fact that most people don’t fully understand just how crowded that part of Manhattan is. Two blocks is pretty tiny in most towns, and would only hold a few hundred people at most. In Manhattan, those two blocks hold hundreds of thousands. There’s literally a medium-sized city’s worth of people in those two blocks. It’s not really that close to ground zero by that measure.

  9. 9
    Bulworth says:

    Sounds like conservatives are making their own “empathy” argument. I thought that was supposed to be bad, that we weren’t supposed to take account of people’s “feelings” and that only the letter of the law is important.

  10. 10
    Kay says:

    @Dan:

    Dan, can the victim drop a complaint? Can the victim say “you know what, I’ve given this some thought, and reached closure. I forgive the perpetrator, so no harm, no foul”.

    Or is something larger at stake?

    What is our system grounded in? Retribution by individuals? Their personal sense of justice?

    That can’t be right. Victims are given an opportunity to speak at sentencing. If they think the sanction isn’t sufficient, they change the law. They don’t say “join with me and ignore it, and impose some extra-legal sanction”.

  11. 11
    gogol's wife says:

    Thank you, Kay.

  12. 12
    Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army says:

    Now make it single spaced and it’ll be juuuuuust right.

    Regardless, the post is worth the eye strain. Thanks.

  13. 13
    Dan says:

    @Kay: Maybe we do it in the court of public opinion, but lets not forget the state of California still has a warrant out for Polanski, and until a recent setback was actively trying to get him returned to the United States.

    The idea that prosecutors shouldn’t take into account the feelings of victims of crime when exercising their authority and discretion in the criminal system is absurd.

    The victim’s feelings/input should never 100% control what a prosecutor does, but for a prosecutor to not take into account the feelings of a victim and adopt a hard line the crime was committed against “all of us” mentality is absurd.

  14. 14
    Michael says:

    Wow. Since the GOP is so interested in the feelings of victims, you’d think that Ronald Fucking Wilson Fucking Reagan wouldn’t have gone to Philadelphia Mississippi to announce his candidacy using a bunch of racist dog whistles a mere 16 years after the killings there.

  15. 15
    someguy says:

    I don’t care if it’s Bin Laden himself putting up the money for the mosque. It should get built because it pisses off the right people.

  16. 16
    Kay says:

    @Dan:

    I didn’t say prosecutors should adopt a hard line and ignore the feelings of victims. I said we shouldn’t base public policy on the feelings of individual victims, and this mosque campaign begins and ends there, because there’s no legal justification for it.
    So how did we get here? Mayor Bloomberg is the one and only public figure who has addressed the broader public interest. Why is that?

  17. 17
    Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army says:

    @Dan: No, crimes are committed against the state, not the victim. That’s why criminal trials are called state vs. defendant.

    I don’t understand why prosecutorial discretion is being brought up in regards to bigots using the 9/11 victims as a prop. If a prosecutor chooses not to pursue a case against a suspect because the victim chooses not to cooperate with a prosecution, that doesn’t mean the state has no interest in the crime. It just means that prosecutors don’t like to pursue cases they can’t win in court.

  18. 18
    david1234 says:

    Aren’t the efforts to block the center extremely insensitive to the families of the Muslims who were killed in the attacks on 9/11?

  19. 19
    Phoebe says:

    I’m all for sensitivity to the victim’s feelings, but when the victim’s feelings are racist crap, then fuck the victim’s feelings because they shouldn’t be catered to.

    This is why I hate Obama’s support of the death penalty, in cases “so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment.” It’s either okay or not okay, and the outrage-meter should not come into it, ever.

  20. 20
    burnspbesq says:

    @Dan:

    This is a really broad and absurd generalization made with zero attempt to back it up. It really reveals a lack of knowledge on your part about the criminal justice system.

    Bullshit. You’re the one who doesn’t understand the criminal justice system. Putting the victim on trial has been the cornerstone of the defense in every rape case since the beginning of time. It has to be done with a bit of subtlety nowadays, but it’s still there. Yes, it’s despicable, but if (God forbid) I ever got a pro bono assignment that I couldn’t get out of, I wouldn’t hesitate for one second to do it. A criminal defense lawyer’s first, last, and only duty is to zealously represent the defendant, while staying within the bounds of the law and our ethical rules.

  21. 21
    Kay says:

    @Dan:

    I don’t think law is strictly partitioned from “public opinion”. That’s a nice idea, but how does it work?

    How can it be? Elected officials make law. They change the law by making a sympathetic case to the public. In this case, the opponents can’t do that, without changing the First Amendment, so they’re waging a political battle to force candidates and elected officials to “choose sides”.

  22. 22
    Svensker says:

    @Kay:

    So how did we get here? Mayor Bloomberg is the one and only public figure who has addressed the broader public interest. Why is that?

    I believe it is at least partly because there has grown up over the last 20 years (long before 9/11) a whole cottage industry intent on demonizing Muslims that is intertwined with hardline support for Israel So the problem is, when you start talking about the broader public interest of supporting Muslims, you bump into the Israel connection. And that topic is just too tricky, for one reason or another.

    Look at Wiener and Schumer — two NY Dems who usually have NO problem showing their pro-Israel side and some anti-Muslim/gentile bias either. But Bloomberg came out with his speech and the two of them have kept their mouths shut. Can’t piss off Bloomberg and all his money, but don’t want to get in trouble with their ultra-Orthodox supporters either. Wiener just did come out with a very mealy-mouthed “it’s not the government’s business” statement. I’d bet old Chuckie is not going to say a word.

  23. 23
    stuckinred says:

    @soonergrunt: Man I’ve been wondering if you were back. . .are you?

  24. 24
    Poopyman says:

    @david1234:

    Aren’t the efforts to block the center extremely insensitive to the families of the Muslims who were killed in the attacks on 9/11?

    Obviously so. But that doesn’t count since they’re, well, Muslims.

  25. 25
    PTirebiter says:

    The public’s view is largely informed by cop shows and anecdotes ripped from today’s headlines.

  26. 26
    Dan says:

    @Kay:

    To answer your first question in the state of MA (the only state I practice in) yes they can for misdemeanors. (as long as the judge signs off on it)

    Victims are allowed to speak at sentencing, but for years when I was a prosecutor I would speak at length with victims and take into account their individual feelings when I was constructing my recommendations.

    A hypothetical:

    Two teenage kids (twin brothers) regularly go out for a night of drinking. They always go home together and they take turns driving drunk home from these nights on a regular basis. One night they both get in the car after drinking way too much. One in the passenger seat one in the drivers seat. Big car accident. Passenger dies.

    This is DUI Motor Vehicle Homicide. For this hypothetical lets say a normal recommendation in a case like this is 5-7 years in state prison followed by probation.

    The parents of the deceased lobby you as a prosecutor that they are going through so much pain with the loss of one son and beg you to consider a reduced sentence or extended probation so that their family is not left without any children at all as a result of this tragedy.

    Do you ignore them and insist on recommending the 5-7 years? Do you consider they way the victim would have felt about his brother serving 5-7 for behavior they both engaged in regularly.

    Its a tough situation, but in my mind to tell the family that you will not consider any lower sentence in this particular case because you don’t adjust recommendations based on the feelings of victims is just insane……

  27. 27
    Kay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I would even defend prosecutors on this, as long as they stay within bounds.
    They (can) rely on a sympathetic victim. I get that. I accept it. It affects how they present the case. There’s an analysis there. I think it’s dishonest to deny that. It happens.
    I don’t mean they don’t pursue the case if the the victim is less than sympathetic, but to say they don’t take it into account, as far as public (or jury) opinion, is not true.

  28. 28
    Phoebe says:

    Also, can people stop talking about what the law is and isn’t, and confine themselves to what the law should or shouldn’t be? The latter is much more interesting.

  29. 29
    Kay says:

    @Dan:

    Dan, I feel as if you’re making my argument. You, as a prosecutor, built your case (partly) on the stories of the victims.

    Again, I didn’t say “ignore the feelings of the victims”. I said if you, as an individual, became unmoored (responded as a human being) to that victim and recommended or lobbied for an extra-legal sanction ( “let’s shun this kid when he gets out!”) you’re out of bounds.

  30. 30
    Dan says:

    @burnspbesq:

    what is your definition of “putting the victim on trial”

    If my client says that he had consensual sex with a woman who accuses him of rape am I “putting her on trial” by cross examining her about the fun she was seen having with my client that night and introducing evidence to show that she went with him willingly back to his apartment?

    Is that “despicable”?

    If that is “putting the victim on trial” then I guess you are right, but our system is based on protecting the rights of the accused.

  31. 31
    Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army says:

    @Dan:

    Its a tough situation, but in my mind to tell the family that you will not consider any lower sentence in this particular case because you don’t adjust recommendations based on the feelings of victims is just insane……

    That’s nice. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand, which was bigots using the 9/11 victims as an excuse to act like bigots, but whatevs. You seem to be having fun, so carry on, I guess.

  32. 32
    cat48 says:

    Good post, Kay! More, please. Miss you in comments.

  33. 33
    soonergrunt says:

    @stuckinred: My job with the non-profit aid agency got deleted in a budget cut. I never actually made it overseas.
    No problem. Back at home and working the job boards. Something will come up.

  34. 34
    catclub says:

    I think one problem that is overlooked in Kay’s analysis,
    with which I agree, is that there was a huge victim’s compensation fund, established by the government, for 9/11 victims, but for no others.

    This was a bad precedent – it was not needed for OK City bombing victims – why only the 9/11 victims?

    It was bad precedent, it was emotionally based, it was bad law, as Kay predicted, when responding emotionally to victims’
    “needs”, and it will continue.
    Rather than our being able to say: “These victims have ALREADY been extraordinarily compensated by our system, unlike any other terror victims. So let’s decide they have been compensated as mush as our system can allow.”

    But no.
    Nonetheless, they are SO SPECIAL we have to continue to accomodate their emotional needs.

    It would be hard to imagine forbidding a gun shop to open _near_ some place where a person was killed in the US.

  35. 35
    Dan says:

    @Kay:

    Perhaps we agree more than we disagree.

    I took your initial post to mean that victims feelings should be ignored when determining what is just in terms of how a case will be handled by a prosecutor or the justice system.

    I think we do agree that although victims feelings should be taken into account they should not be the controlling factor in deciding how a prosecutor or judge handles a case.

  36. 36
    geg6 says:

    @Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army:

    This.

    And Kay, this post is the awesome. And I can only assume Dan is unfamiliar with the basis of American criminal justice. Crimes are committed against the people as exemplified by the state. Civil law is where you get to address your individual issues. Have any individual victims of 9/11 sued to stop this? And would arguing for remedy by stopping this community center (the main purpose of the building, by the way) hold up even in a civil action? Doubtful in the extreme

  37. 37
    Dan says:

    @Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army: Dude relax. I told him in my initial response that I agreed with his premise as it applies to the NY mosque the only part of post I took issue with was how it applied to broader context of the criminal justice system.

    My apologies. From now on I’ll try only to post within the boundaries you set for me.

  38. 38
    curious says:

    very well said.

  39. 39
    Dan says:

    @geg6:

    Again, I agreed with his premise in this particular case, but was arguing the foolishness of never allowing the victims feelings to play into how a criminal case is handled by prosecutors.

    I am somewhat familiar with the basis of the American criminal justice system, but thanks for the insult anyways.

  40. 40
    Brachiator says:

    The country’s political and policy leaders should oppose the planned center out of deference to the feelings of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

    The September 11th attacks were an attack on the entire country. The intent, which failed, was to put fear into the hearts of everyone, not just those who lost family and friends.

    From this perspective, the feelings of those who remain, or even the feelings of New Yorkers in general, do not merit some extra special consideration which would call for the suspension of the rights of those who want to establish the cultural center near the WTC site.

    To the contrary, to give in to bigotry would be to give in to the terrorists.

    In addition, those who want to insist on some connection between the people who are attempting to build the cultural center and the September 11th attacks are manufacturing outrage. They really need to stop.

  41. 41
    PurpleGirl says:

    @PTirebiter: wherein at least one cop will question why they are investigating the murder of pimp, prostitute or other type of usually a bad guy and they are reminded by the lieutenant or the ADA that the crime is important and we investigate the crime and they were still a person.

    Kay: good post

  42. 42
    curious says:

    along the same lines, remember ann coulter’s charming comments on the 9/11 widows after they got a little mouthy with the bush administration.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2006/06/06/coulter-911/

    couching these arguments in terms of respect for the victims’ views only seems to happen when the victims agree with people like coulter.

  43. 43
    Kay says:

    @Dan:

    Dan, I’ve said three times that I don’t expect you to ignore the victims in a criminal prosecution. You disagree with me, on my broader point, so you’re going to continue to insist I said “ignore the victims in sentencing recommendations”.
    Actually, I think the error is in terming victim input as “rights”. They’re not rights, at least not a defined and enforceable “right”. Victims have some rights, but this is not that.
    It’s subject to interpretation, and there’s the problem.

  44. 44
    shortstop says:

    Again, I agreed with his premise in this particular case, but was arguing the foolishness of never allowing the victims feelings to play into how a criminal case is handled by prosecutors.

    That’s a foolishness she never committed. Did you miss this?

    If there is victim participation it will be in the form of testimony, or an “impact statement” at sentencing.

    It’s okay to say, “Oops, I misunderstood” and let it go. Beats manufacturing opposing opinions that haven’t been expressed.

  45. 45
    Kryptik says:

    My issue with the whole damn thing is that saying that the project ‘should be opposed for the sake of respect to the 9/11 victims’ smacks of the conflation between the terrorists and Islam as a whole, and signing off on opposition to it basically says ‘YES, WE THINK ALL OF ISLAM IS OUR ENEMY’. And that only breeds bigotry and continues to be the most absolute counterproductive way of dealing with our issues with the radicals.

    The whole thing is couched in trying to make the whole of Islam and every single Muslim in the world out as a monolithic enemy to be eradicated. And that upsets me, because of the bigotry, historical blindness, and just absolute logistical clusterfuck that worldview endorses.

  46. 46
    Dan says:

    @Kay:

    Sorry, I meant for my last post to reflect that I understand the distinction you were making and I agree. It could have been worded better.

  47. 47
    aimai says:

    Maybe someone else has said this upthread, my connection is dicey, but I disagree that this is the problem with what is going on in this case. I agree with Kay’s point about the “victim’s rights” shtick. But the real, serious, problem is that of the assignment of collective guilt to all muslims and to the islamic faith.

    Look: there isn’t a single victim in this case. There are multiple victims, with multiple points of view–because there are multiple kinds of victims. And there were some criminals. But the people who want to build the mosque aren’t the criminals. They are just some people who share some markers of identity with the criminals. There’s no reason to drag the victims statements, or feelings, into the discussion of the mosque at all. To me its like asking all the earthquake victims in Indonesia to weigh in on the rights of brown haired people to rebuild shops near the damage from the quake. A whole lot of people have brown hair. Indonesian people have brown hair. Why should some shop owners be attacked as though they need to make reparations for an act they didn’t commit?

    New York Muslims were also victims of 9/11 qua New Yorkers. Where do Sarah Palin and any subset of actual New Yorkers (very few) or non New Yorkers who are survivors of 9/11 (Boston lost a plane load of people that day) get off telling New York’s Muslims that they can’t live in New York and build a mosque, a library, or a rec center?

    The entire notion of “victims” and “criminals” here is misplaced. The survivors of 9/11 a) aren’t a distinct group from the people who want to build the mosque and b) don’t have a legitimate claim of victimhood over and against all Muslims in the world, at all times and places.

    aimai

  48. 48
    Dan says:

    @shortstop:

    Quote from the post:

    “I’ll tell you the flip side of adopting this idea, because there is a flip side. When we ground an analysis in the relative worth, individual character or opinion of the victim, we end up (inevitably and always) at the “innocence” of the victim, because we’re human. This cuts both ways, which is why all crime victims should reject it.

    We can (and have) ended up at “she asked for it”, or, “he shouldn’t have been there”, in the criminal system. That’s the flip side of letting this get muddled, and letting it become about the individual victim. It doesn’t end well, and we already know it.”

    I think a fair reading of that statement is that the poster doesn’t believe that prosecutors should ground their analysis of a case on who a victim is or how a victim feels about it and that recommendations of prosecutors shouldn’t be based on how an individual victim feels.

    I think Kay made the distinctions clear in her subsequent replies and I actually think we actually agree on the topic.

    Your suggestion that my posts on the subject came out of thin air or that I was “manufacturing an opposing opinion” to something that wasn’t expressed is unfair.

  49. 49
    Phoebe says:

    @Kryptik: Exactly. Obviously.

    Dragging the feelings of the victims into it when
    a] some of them were muslim,
    b] you don’t even have any 9/11 widow[er] petition to show evidence of victim outrage,
    c] how are we even defining victims? [Kay’s point, I believe]
    just throws stupidity grease on the bonfire of counterproductive bigotry.

    This whole thing could not be wronger.

  50. 50
    Keith G says:

    I so hate the ” victim’s rights” movement. It is among the several most heinous social movements of the last few decades and has caused much mischief and injustice.

    “We need closure” has become the watchword of groups wanting to limit appeals in capital cases and other odious enterprises.

  51. 51
    Kay says:

    @Dan:

    I think we make bad policy choices when we ignore the implications to the broader public interest. I think we end up with laws like the Adam Walsh Act, where weak-willed state legislators were bullied into bad law by basing the system on a single sympathetic victim. The Adam Walsh Act is a disaster. It led to the ludicrous result of registering all kinds of people as “sex offenders” for 25 years, and this “victim’s rights” argument has led to the ludicrous result of weighing the “rights” of the victims with the First Amendment.
    They’re not the same thing. It’s not a “balancing act”.
    It’s the wrong analysis. We’ll never get to the right answer relying on the wrong analysis.

  52. 52
    ChristianPinko says:

    “Rights of the victims” — these are the same victims that Glenn Beck hates, right? Just checking.

  53. 53
    shortstop says:

    Dan:

    Your suggestion that my posts on the subject came out of thin air or that I was “manufacturing an opposing opinion” to something that wasn’t expressed is unfair.

    I don’t think your posts on the subject came out of thin air and really didn’t say such a thing, Dan. This comment, however, to which I did limit my remarks, is a wholly manufactured version of what Kay actually said:

    the foolishness of never allowing the victims feelings to play into how a criminal case is handled by prosecutors.

    aimai:

    The entire notion of “victims” and “criminals” here is misplaced. The survivors of 9/11 a) aren’t a distinct group from the people who want to build the mosque and b) don’t have a legitimate claim of victimhood over and against all Muslims in the world, at all times and places.

    Exactly. And it’s a notion that can only be held by folks who are convinced that Muslims cannot be full Americans and indeed are working as a whole against the best interests of those who are Americans.

  54. 54
    Phoebe says:

    @Keith G: That’s really the Prosecutor’s Rights Movement, protecting the rights of prosecutors from public scrutiny as to how they railroaded some poor guy[s] onto death row just to close a case and “win” one.

    The only closure they care about is closing the view onto what they did. They use the victims and their families for what they can; when the victim’s family is telling people “we don’t think he did it and we want them to find the real killer” they say some patronizing thing about how grief has affected their states of mind, and wish them closure. Closure closure closure, walk on by.

  55. 55
    Lysana says:

    @Dan:

    If my client says that he had consensual sex with a woman who accuses him of rape am I “putting her on trial” by cross examining her about the fun she was seen having with my client that night and introducing evidence to show that she went with him willingly back to his apartment?

    It’s the usual denial of a woman’s right to say no that’s the fundamental basis of rape trials from the defense’s perspective. Denying a victim’s right to refuse two hours into a four-hour encounter due to the prior one hour and fifty-nine minutes, during which she could quite easily have been debating her alternatives while not telegraphing she was doing so, is why rape trials are so heinous to those of us who’ve been attacked and doubly so to the women who go through with the prosecution of their attackers. And the fact she changes her mind does NOT affect the guilt of the accused. Ignoring “no” is rape. So, sure, the defense attorney can try to make it sound like she should’ve stopped it before going to his apartment. It’s all s/he has against the physical evidence of forcible intercourse that should have been gathered at the hospital she went to as soon as she left his apartment. If there’s physical evidence, the state would do the victim a favor by insisting on sticking to that and forcing the rapist to attempt to prove it wasn’t him instead. You know, like how murder trials are handled?

  56. 56
    matoko_chan says:

    @shortstop: more than that short.
    the christofascists and WECs are righteously P.O’d that we are losing the xian war on Islam.

    Islam – which is, like Christianity but unlike contemporary Judaism, an evangelising and expansionist religion – is a bigger challenge.

    Look, there is a lot of disagreement about proselytizing in Islam…some scholars say dawa can only be done by example for instance….but muslims cannot actually proselytize the People of the Book– we all believe in the same Allah. In truth, the great majority of muslims don’t care if christians want to believe in the jesus godhead…..we just care A LOT that christians want to MAKE us believe in it too.
    The underlying current of this whole discussion is muslims dont want to be proselytized or evangelized or missionaried by christians, and christians believe it is their right and their sacred duty to proselytize.
    The Bush Doctrine was a giant evangelizing/proselytizing effort thinly disguised as “implanting western-style democracy”, and COIN is just the Bush Doctrine scaled down to village size.
    That is “why they hate us.”
    OTOH, it seems christians bitterly resent not being allowed to proselytize in MENA.
    I think it is because of evolution…..Christianity evolved from Judaism, and evolved proselytizing as a method of increasing reps. Islam evolved from both Judaism and Christianity, and evolved defenses against christian proselytization (jews don’t proselytize, which why Caldwell has no problem with them), by becoming more inclusive….including the sacred texts of the older religions, and absorbing the congregants of the two older religions with the People of the Book and the doctrine that all humans are born muslim. thus removing the exclusivity of jewish genetic lineage and the necessity of being “saved” by accepting the christ…..and much later from the doctrine of original sin….original sin was evolved as a defense against gnosticism, so it is true that the three branches continued to evolve separately.
    But of the three, Islam is the most recent, and has evolved counter strategies to the original jewish and christian reproductive and conversion strategies.
    I think a lot of christian angst is that Iraq and Afghanistan have utterly rejected the judeo-xian western culture Bush tried to impose on them.
    That is why we went to Iraq, lost in Iraq, and why we are now losing an unwinnable war in Afghanistan.
    Bush didn’t understand that when muslims are empowered to vote, they WILL vote for shariah.

  57. 57
    Rathskeller says:

    @PTirebiter: I actually just finished “Homicide: A Year of Life on the Streets”, where David Simon, later to write “The Wire” spent a year with the Baltimore homicide squad. It was an outstanding book, but related to your comment, I was especially struck how independent the homicide squad was from the prosecutors during the initial investigation. They were just trying to clear murders, even if they hated the victims and murderers equally, e.g., dealer on dealer violence.

  58. 58
    Rathskeller says:

    @aimai: Thanks once again for your clear thinking. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read a comment of yours and thought, “well, no” or even “meh.” Thanks many times over.

  59. 59
    Bella Q says:

    Kay’s point is simple, accurate, worth shouting at every opportunity. The opponents of the Cordoba House must couch their opposition as if it were based on the “feelings of the 9/11 victims” in order to (unsuccessfully) disguise that fact that it’s really a product of their bigotry that is based in fear (and regularly whipped up by the right wing noise machine). It is worth noting how often actual individual families of 9/11 victims are cited or quoted in these opposition remarks….

  60. 60
    Svensker says:

    @aimai:

    That was beautifully stated. Thank you.

  61. 61
    Mayur says:

    @Lysana: Getting a bit OT, but: Um, no.

    It is certainly a tragedy that so many sexual assaults go unreported and that guilty rapists walk free, but it would be a far greater affront to our justice system to flip around the burden of proof in a criminal case. It is *not* the accused’s burden to prove that he or she is not guilty.

  62. 62
    matoko_chan says:

    @aimai: its far more simple than that…..the christians are losing their global war on Islam.
    a lot of their angst gets expressed as anger that they have to observe religious freedom for muslims here in “real” amurrikka while being denied their cherished goal of building churches in Mecca and Medina….and while muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan are utterly rejecting western judeo-xian style democray in favor of shariah law and islamic jurisprudence.
    the whole victimhood dealio is just cover for what is really pissing them off.

  63. 63
    CorgiFan says:

    @Kay:
    Sorry if I missed this, but why do you call this the ‘Nancy Grace School’?

    Background: I’m not a CATV subscriber. I’m much happier not having the cable hate news networks beamed into my home, so although I know who Nancy Grace is, I don’t know what her views tend to be…?

  64. 64
    matoko_chan says:

    Clash of civilization cheerleaders.

    The battle over the ground-zero mosque is more than another battle in the heated culture wars. It is a watershed moment: the point at which liberal multiculturalism capitulated to the relentless march of political Islam. Muslim radicals around the world rightly will view it as a triumph over the feckless American infidel: Even the site of their deadliest attack against America is not free from Islam’s looming presence. This event signifies the loss – the defeat – of American will and purpose in the struggle against jihad.

    see? victimhood is just thin cover for the 21st century crusaders.
    wallah, its relly about evolutionary theory of culture.

  65. 65
    tkogrumpy says:

    @Dan: I don’t believe it is absurd at all. I could be convinced that you don’t know the meaning of the word absurd though.

  66. 66
    ed drone says:

    Victimhood is also used as a reason to continue the war in Afghanistan. That unfortunate girl whose nose was cut off is used as a reason to stay there and fight. I wonder how our being there now kept her so safe, you know? I mean, when we were there, she was attacked. So if we leave, she will get attacked? If we stay, she will be safe? Does it matter?

    Is it in our interest to spend our blood and treasure to try to save a population under duress? If so, why didn’t we interdict Saddam more than we did, to save the Kurds, following the first Gulf War?

    We can’t set policy by who will be hurt, if it affects our security and sanity.

    Ed

  67. 67
    Brachiator says:

    @ed drone:

    That unfortunate girl whose nose was cut off is used as a reason to stay there and fight…. So if we leave, she will get attacked?

    The girl is in Los Angeles, being treated for her injuries. Is this OK with you, or should we just throw her back afterwards and leave her to her fate?

    Aisha had been given away by her Pashtun family in Oruzgan province at age 12 to pay a debt and married to a Taliban fighter, according to the Time article and staff at Women for Afghan Women. She fled, but her husband tracked her down last year and cut off her nose.
    __
    She was left for dead, but managed to make her way to a shelter in Kabul, where she stayed until Wednesday, when she boarded a plane to the United States to receive treatment at the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills.

    And no, I don’t think that US foreign policy can primarily be based on the pain and suffering of innocents, but neither do I think that a person can claim to be progressive and cling to isolationism and an insipid neutrality.

  68. 68
    Tonybrown74 says:

    @Brachiator:

    I don’t think that US foreign policy can primarily be based on the pain and suffering of innocents, but neither do I think that a person can claim to be progressive and cling to isolationism and an insipid neutrality

    We’re not clinging to isolationism and neutrality. People are basing their decision on reality. Shit’s not getting done and no one sees a solution to the problem, except for, “well, we need to continue to do this and watch our people die, because it just seems like the right thing to do.”

    At some point, an adult has to realize that whatever it is we’re doing, it ain’t working. There is nothing more that we can do.

  69. 69
    JR in WV says:

    My viewpoint is in agreement with several who have remarked on the Muslim victims of the twin towers attack. 10% of the victims were Muslim.

    For a country overwhelmingly Christian, with a sprinkling of Jews of various flavors, that’s a really big number. Many were probably back-shop employees, printing, mail-room, restaurants, but some were hi-level financial analysts and investment bankers.

    So I’m sick and tired of bigots trying to blame Islam for the attack.

    The actual attackers on board the planes were 84% Saudi Arabian. There was 1 Egyptian, one UAE and 1 Lebanese. It was a Saudi attack, and then we got to see George W Bush hug, kiss, and hold hands with a Saudi Prince.

    The most disgusting display of misplaced affection in the history of the nation! Bush should have been hounded from office the NEXT Day! He kissed a prince of the nation that attacked us. No excuse!

    The Saudis – including relatives of Osama bin Laden – were assisted in flying out of the country while every other aircraft was grounded! Bush helped them escape!

    He should have informed the Saudis that they were going to round up every Imam who preached holy war against the USA and deliver them in custody in 48 hours or a state of war would be declared. And every cent raised by them deposited in the account to assist survivors.

    But no, he Kissed the Prince! Downhill ever since.

    Worst President Ever! We’re still paying for his leadership of the country, and will probably never recover from his and Chaney’s deliberate malfeasance.

    Argh.

  70. 70
    matoko_chan says:

    @Brachiator:

    I don’t think that US foreign policy can primarily be based on the pain and suffering of innocents

    wallah…..can it primarily be based on stupidity then?
    we couldn’t prevent that happening last year when we are there in strength.
    the Taliban are already resurgent, one talib is pwning 13-14 coalition forces according to LGT Barno’s op-ed in the FT(firewall).
    the afghan war is immoral, unjust and unwinnable, and the only reason we are there is that that retarded WEC Bush was too dumb to get that muslims will vote for shariah when they can vote.
    we are LOSING and there is no way to win.
    it doesn’t even matter if western judeoxian democracy is “superior” to islam– because muslims won’t vote for it.
    this is meaningless bullshytt and and people are dying for nothing.
    lets take our broken teeth and our empty wallets and go home.

  71. 71
    Meg says:

    Kay, thanks for the post. Well said.

  72. 72
    kay says:

    @aimai:

    I agree with everything you wrote, but I feel as if we’re down the rabbit hole once we accept the premise and say “some of the victims are Muslims”.

    I want to stop accepting this premise, and I’m afraid once we start looking at the victim’s status, and arguing on that basis, we’re halfway there.

    I like this part of what you wrote much better:

    There’s no reason to drag the victims statements, or feelings, into the discussion of the mosque at all.

  73. 73
    Nutella says:

    Thanks, Kay.

    In this issue and many others we too often lose sight of the fact that justice, to be justice, must be blind. That is, the identity of the victim must not matter at all in determining the seriousness of the crime. It’s a tough standard to meet consistently but decent people and decent societies must continue to work towards that ideal.

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