No, no, no — we were fine with D’Souza’s racism, but the adultery is upsetting

LifeWay Christian book stores still carry Dinesh D’Souza’s books. For now.

The journalistic scoop belongs to Warren Cole Smith of the very conservative World magazine, so we’ll quote from his report first:

About 2,000 people gathered on Sept. 28 at First Baptist North in Spartanburg, S.C., to hear high-profile Christians speak on defending the faith and applying a Christian worldview to their lives. Among the speakers: Eric Metaxas, Josh McDowell, and — keynote speaker for the evening — best-selling author, filmmaker, and Christian college president Dinesh D’Souza.

Dinesh D’Souza says anti-colonialism is un-American. He even says this in D.C., in a city named after George Washington.

D’Souza’s speech earned him a standing ovation and a long line at the book-signing table immediately afterward. Although D’Souza has been married for 20 years to his wife, Dixie, in South Carolina he was with a young woman, Denise Odie Joseph II,* and introduced her to at least three people as his fiancée.

Finally, near 11 p.m., event organizer Tony Beam escorted D’Souza and Joseph to the nearby Comfort Suites. Beam noted that they checked in together and were apparently sharing a room for the night in the sold-out hotel. The next morning, around 6 a.m., Beam arrived back at the hotel and called up to D’Souza’s room. “We’ll be down in 10 minutes,” D’Souza told Beam. D’Souza and Joseph came down together, and Beam took them to the airport.

The next day another conference organizer, Alex McFarland, distressed by D’Souza’s behavior, confronted him in a telephone conversation. D’Souza admitted he shared a room with his fiancée but said “nothing happened.” When I called D’Souza, he confirmed that he was indeed engaged to Joseph, but did not explain how he could be engaged to one woman while still married to another. When asked when he had filed for divorce from his wife, Dixie, D’Souza answered, “Recently.”

Amy Sullivan describes “The Right-wing Rivalry Behind” that scoop:

Needless to say, this sort of thing is frowned upon in the conservative religious circles in which D’Souza is usually celebrated. So it is perhaps unsurprising that the story was broken by Warren C. Smith, a writer and associate publisher for the evangelical World magazine. The publication has a history of covering problems within the evangelical world, and it has not shied away from stories about preacher scandals or church abuse of women. But this particular story may have interested the magazine for a different reason: World’s editor-in-chief is Marvin Olasky, the sometime Bush advisor who is no fan of D’Souza.

Olasky served, briefly, as provost of The King’s College. He resigned shortly after D’Souza became the school’s president. Read the whole thing for Sullivan’s take on the nasty history between these two nasty men.

Christianity Today’s report notes that “D’Souza has regularly appeared in CT’s pages.” One example of that is CT’s report on D’Souza’s hiring at King’s, which emphasized that the conservative activist’s Roman Catholic faith should not preclude him from membership in the evangelical tribe:

D’Souza’s wife, Dixie, is an evangelical, and the family has attended Calvary Chapel, a nondenominational evangelical church in San Diego, for the past 10 years. He has been invited to speak in several churches and colleges, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

“I do not describe myself as Catholic today. But I don’t want to renounce it either because it’s an important part of my background. I’m an American citizen, but I wouldn’t reject the Indian label because it’s part of my heritage,” D’Souza said. “I say I have a Catholic origin or background. I say I’m a nondenominational Christian, and I’m comfortable with born-again.”

He said that his views align with the Apostles’ Creed and C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

That’s the imprimatur — the stamp of approval.

But D’Souza wasn’t embraced by the evangelical tribe just because he affirms the creeds and C.S. Lewis. What made CT and King’s College and the rest of mainstream evangelicalism decide that D’Souza was one of us was his political history — a former policy aide in the Reagan White House, D’Souza is fiercely opposed to abortion, gay rights, feminism and progressive taxation.

As Sarah Posner said, “D’Souza’s … rise in the evangelical world is due in no small part to his conspiracy-minded claims about President Obama’s ‘Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.’”

Yes, conspiratorial warnings about Africans and anti-colonialism contributed to D’Souza’s legitimacy among evangelicals.

Bruce Garrett notes some of D’Souza’s odious political history:

How the man who, while editor of the Dartmouth Review, penned a racist parody of African American students titled “This Sho Ain’t No Jive Bro” and later outed a gay student using stolen mail between members of the Dartmouth Gay Student Alliance can in any sense be labeled a Christian is something confederate Christianists can explain I suppose.

Those two themes — racism and anti-gay sentiment — have endured as the hallmarks of much of D’Souza’s “scholarship.”

Alvin McEwen highlights a 2008 article of D’Souza’s titled, “Gay Rights vs. Democracy,” in which he pulls the man-on-dog nonsense.

Here is D’Souza’s idea of scholarship: “Why doesn’t the Fourteenth Amendment protect the fellow who wants to walk down the aisle with his poodle on the grounds that ‘I love my dog and my dog loves me’?” (What is it about the idea of consent that confuses these folks so much?)

Grace at Are Women Human? echoes Garrett’s observation, noting — savoring — the irony that D’Souza’s adultery has done what his nasty racism and homophobia never did, diminished his standing amongst evangelicals. The entire post — a Snoopy-dance of schadenfreude — is great fun, but the kernel of it is summed up in this one tweet from Grace:

Does it matter than D’souza peddles racist, colonialist lies? Nope. But he shared a hotel room with a woman he’s not married to! OH NOES

Or, as she writes in the post itself:

Sarah Posner writes for Religion Dispatches that this (presumed) sex scandal may spell the end for D’Souza’s once rising star. Note, not the fact that he’s been peddling racist and colonialist lies to white Christians for fun and profit for the past forever, but because of what’s assumed about his marriage and sex life. PRIORITIES.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch quotes from a post by Odie Joseph II at Smart Girl Politics, which bears the unfortunate title of “Whatever Happened to Good Ole Hypocrisy?

Feminists and liberals … tore the traditional family to shreds until they reduced us to the shining bastion of zoological (but even animals aren’t this bad and do not depend on the state to care for them) cesspool equality that we have now in every American ghetto and which is seeping out into the middle and upper classes in less animated ways.

Her bogeymen are just like those of her boyfriend: Black.

As women spearhead the demise of the ideal, the alternative to hypocrisy, they spearhead the demise of social order as we know it and love it. Henceforth, all of us will be staring down the barrel of life in a hip hop video or government-funded project. …

Buzzfeed snagged a cached copy of Odie Joseph’s blog (which disappeared when the story broke), which reveals her to have been a fan of D’Souza’s books — and of Ayn Rand.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “This is not about sex” – Ken Starr

    Resulting report: A porn novel disguised as a report to the public.

  • Lori

    You get that being a race other than white does not prevent someone from being racist, right?

    Racism noun

    1.a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races  determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race  is superior and has the right to rule others.

    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

    3.hatred or intolerance of another race  or other races.

    Please note that specific races are not mentioned. That was on purpose.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    That entire section was sarcasm, hence the sarcasm tag. I thought the links for “single” and “situation” made it clear I wasn’t being serious. Apologies.

  • fraser

     One of the problems with slight differences in age (quite aside from the general principle, on which I agree with you) is that at least some states don’t give the age difference. So 15 years later, someone looks him up and discovers this 32 year old guy likes having sex with 15 year olds.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sarcasm tag didn’t come through on the email notif. Nor the links.

  • fraser

     And “tough on crime” is still considered a winning political strategy. And the only way to be tough on crime is to push for tougher laws than we’ve already got.

  • fraser

     Except that would imply we property owners here don’t have an absolute right to do as we want, which will never fly.

  • fraser

     Likewise, she has no problem asserting that women shouldn’t have the right to vote. That’s no less sexist because she’s a woman herself.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Of course ‘tough on crime’ is a winning political strategy. For-profit prisons are a profitable thing, and any reduction in the number of criminals reduces their profits.

  • MissMikey

    Does reading the whole essay make those snippets make any sense? I understand the thrust of her argument, but –boy howdy– I could not make head or tail of those two quotes, no matter how many times I read them.

    And a big WTF to a “Government funded Hip-Hop video.”  What is that even supposed to mean??

  • Hawker40

    “More than one term comes to mind: Collaborators, Traitors, Opportunists, Assholes…”

    We are all influenced by our parents (or those who act in thier place).  I’m quiet sure that Mister D’Souza was quite influenced by his father, who benefited from the colonizers, and projected this upon President Obama whose father did not benefit from European occupation.

  • J_

    Along with the existence of gods, I totally reject belief in the middle section of Dinesh D’Souza’s hair.

  • Magic_Cracker

    That was Capone. Dillinger was gunned down by the FBI.

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    The football analogy is wrong because in that case, size is the issue.  If a 14yo were the same size as a 20yo, I’d actually see no problem with him playing college football, if he made the team and attended the college.  I don’t doubt there are 14yos out there who could do it.  Certainly there are 14yos who could actually *hurt* some 20yos they were playing football against.

    The problem is, *anybody* is at risk for manipulation or exploitation when it comes to sex.  A 15yo can be just as manipulative and predatory as a 20yo.  A 25yo can be the victim of manipulation and abuse of power.

    Those should be the issues, not age.  Yes, when a 15yo is *actually* being coerced, manipulated, or exploited, then that should be taken into account, as I believe it should also be taken into account when it happens to a 30yo (why is manipulating/coercing somebody over 16/18 okay?).  But, we shouldn’t ruin the lives of young people in their late teens and twenties based on the *possibility* that they might manipulate somebody.  I had a good friend, when we were 16, who dated a 28 year old.  I have a friend who is married to a man she started dating when she was 17, who was 25.  These were normal, as-healthy-as-any-other relationships.  It’s absurd to imagine that the men involved in these very consensual relationships were or are dangerous predators who need to face severe legal penalties and lifelong public humiliation.

    And, I’m not buying that the life experiences of a 15yo and 21yo are all that different.  That’s not the world we live in today.  In many cases, their lives will be far more similar–both living at home, both financially supported by parents, both in school and/or working a crappy part-time job–than the lives of a 22yo and a 30yo.  And yet one relationship will land the older partner on a sex offender registry for life, and the other won’t.

    As to contracts, most states allow young people to start working at 14. They are able to enter into an employment contract.  Why can they do that, but not consent to sex?  

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    “Gosh, it’s too bad our laws don’t distinguish between statutory offenses and violent ones. If only there were some kind of assault laws that applied to non-consensual sexual activities, and if only those laws could distinguish between adult victims and minors. Boy, it’s too bad that the only law we have is the statutory rape law… ”

    You do realize that statuatory rape charges often carry penalties just as if not more severe than penalties for violent rape and that people who are convicted of them end up on sex offender registries, often for life, yes?  Do you have any idea how many 19 and 20 yo men are now branded lifelong sex offenders on a public registry because they had sex that their 15yo girlfriend really, really wanted?”I see that as wildly disempowering to young women, as well.

    “I remember being a teen girl, and it is ridiculous to assert that, at 15 or 16, I was incapable of saying either yes or no to sex whiskey / cocaine / commercial truck driving / a pilot’s license / enlisting in the military / premeditated murder carrying the death penalty.”

    Actually, I was totally capable of saying yes or no to drugs; is that not why we have a “just say no” campaign?  If we felt that young people were incapable of making decisions about whether to drink or take drugs, what’s the point?Sex is natural; I’d argue it’s a human right.  Denying the right to consent to sex to post-pubescent adolescents in every circumstance is wrong.  And that’s what we’re doing: we are telling every 15yo girl out there, no matter how mature, how responsible, how many responsibilities or life experiences she’s had, that she is incapable of making her own sexual decisions.  I find that appalling. If we want to have a culture of healthy adolescent sexuality, then a huge part of that is empowerment, and that means empowering post-pubescent teens with the right to consent AND not consent.

    And, make no mistake about it, these ages are arbitrary. Look at international age of consent laws. In some places, including some states, the age of consent is 18; if you have children, do you want one of your children being labelled as a sex offender for life because, at 21, they had a consensual sexual relationship with somebody a week away from turning 18? In some countries, it’s 21. In others, it’s 14. There is nothing magical about any of these ages.

  • fraser

    I’m surprised no-one has yet brought up D’Souza’s lovely assertion a few years back that American conservatives and Muslims really should get along great. Once we explain to them that we hate sexual license and women dressing sexy and gay marriage and sexy TV shows and all that sexy stuff, and that all that is just the fault of liberals rotting our culture from within, they’ll love us.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Hey, I didn’t write the Objectivist Bible! It’s not my fault you’re not God! In any case, you can always rent or lease!

  • BaseDeltaZero

    (conflicted, too, ’cause without the potatoes they brought back to Europe, my ancestors and my girlfriend’s would quite possibly have starved.)

    Yeah, but they could have brought back the potatoes *without* doing all the horrible things they did.

    Post-pubescent teens are capable of consenting to sex, and cases involving them should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, not by blanket laws.

    I agree.  The problem is when minors start having sex with non-minors. Because non-minors have significantly more power, experience, and maturity than minors do, that means it may be difficult for them to meaningfully *not* consent.  It’s relatively easy for an adult to put a teenager in a situation where they can’t say ‘no’ without significant consequences (or at least the fear of such consequences).  To prevent this the law condemns *all* such relationships.

    Please tell me this is sarcasm. Most of your comment pretty clearly isn’t but the next paragraph pretty clearly is, so I can’t tell on this bit, and if it is not sarcasm then I will be obligated to wallop you.

    Yes, the statement with links to two counterarguments in is clearly made in absolute seriousness.

    You get that being a race other than white does not prevent someone from being racist, right?

    I’ve definently heard it said that it *does*, because races other than white do not have the power to discriminate against others.  Never actually believed it, though – there’s a difference between ‘racism’ and ‘racial oppression’ (leaving aside the fact that the modern west was not the only power to ever exist)

  • Beroli

     

    First, Akin was pillorized for making that distinction, for claiming
    that statutory rape and forcible rape are not the same thing.

    What?

    Akin was pilloried in part for claiming that only forcible rape was “legitimate” rape. (Plus the little fact that he was making false medical claims as a justification for laws.) If you don’t recognize that it’s possible for rape to be neither forcible, nor merely statutory, I, wow. I don’t know what to say. Except that this is the first time I’ve seen anyone suggest that failure to recognize statutory rape was even on Akin’s Top 50 list of offenses, and I hope it’s the last time.

    His failure to recognize the existence and criminality of coercive rape was one of many parts of what got him pilloried. Nothing to do with statutory rape.

  • Beroli

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I think my ethics are fine with
    separating the kind of people who would buy an Objectivist Study Bible
    from their money.  

    But are they fine with being known as the author of the Objective Study Bible?

    Better use a pen name and not tell anyone associated with the project your real name.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, the statement with links to two counterarguments in is clearly made in absolute seriousness.

    Link I can see from an email notif (or would if I got email notifs of my own comments): http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mbekrpZ3Tt1rpqpg5o1_250.png
    Link I cannot see from an email notif: the graphic has nothing to do with the conversation at the moment, it’s just conveniently open in a nearby tab.

    Pretty much the only formatting I get to see in email notifs is capslock and paragraph breaks, actually. If somebody replies to a comment with formatting, I can see the HTML in the comment-this-was-a-reply-to bit, but those bits get truncated. I also do not get notifs for edits.

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    “Akin was pilloried in part for claiming that only forcible rape was ‘legitimate’ rape. ”

    Legally, there are only two kinds of rape: forcible and statutory.  I’m not sure what you mean by “coercive” rape, but date rape would be included under forcible rape.  There is no legal category for coercive rape.  The sex that occurs during a rape is either unwanted, in which case it’s forcible, or wanted by somebody under the age of consent, in which case it’s statutory.  Any unwanted sex, whether it’s obtained by actual violent force or by threats and coercion, is legally considered to be forcible rape.

    So when a politician says that, say, abortion funding should be reserved for cases of forcible rape, they aren’t intending to exclude date rape victims, but to exclude statutory rape cases. They are saying that the situation of a pregnant 15yo who had a 19yo force himself on her while she was too drink to say no at a party is in a different situation than a pregnant 15yo who initiated sex with her 19yo boyfriend. At the level of them being different situations, I don’t disagree, and if abortion funding is limited only to rape victims (which I don’t necessarily agree with), I see no problem with making that distinction.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Hey, um. Lori with the rainbow-y sheep thing? There’s another Lori around here. Is that also you?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So when a politician says that, say, abortion funding should be reserved
    for cases of forcible rape, they aren’t intending to exclude date rape
    victims, but to exclude statutory rape cases.

    Somehow I doubt they’re being that considerate.

  • Ginny Bain Allen

    So much conjecture abounds in this “breaking” news.  Why is it news anyway?  Is it anyone’s business but Dinesh’s?  The Bible says no.  If it is true, I am disappointed in him, but he is a mere man.  There is only One perfect.  I’m more concerned over all the unloving, unChristlike vitriol directed at him, and how his privacy was not protected.  Revenge, unforgiveness and judgement are evil strongholds, and you know what the Bible teaches on the tongue.   The lives of some are an open book, while the lives of others contain many closed chapters.  Mr. D’Souza is in my prayers, as I hope he is in yours.   

  • Beroli

    Avatar-less Lori, the legal expert who’s never heard of coercive rape, is most definitely not the same Lori who has an avatar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    FYI, the two links were to the Wikipedia articles on incest & domestic violence.  I had a moment of “huh?” myself until I saw what they linked to, which cleared it up pretty well even before I got to the sarcasm tag.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Hey, um. Lori with the rainbow-y sheep thing? There’s another Lori around here. Is that also you?

    I was wondering the same thing.  I mean, I can understand if someone is having login trouble, hence the multiple accounts, but the respective positions of the two accounts seem a little unusual, based on what I know of rainbow-y Lori’s prior writings here.  

  • Lunch Meat

    Why is it news anyway?  Is it anyone’s business but Dinesh’s?  The Bible
    says no.  If it is true, I am disappointed in him, but he is a mere
    man.  There is only One perfect.  I’m more concerned over all the
    unloving, unChristlike vitriol directed at him, and how his privacy was
    not protected.  Revenge, unforgiveness and judgement are evil
    strongholds, and you know what the Bible teaches on the tongue.

    Did you say the same thing to Mr. D’Souza about his hateful slander against President Obama and LGBT people?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    If it is true, I am disappointed in him, but he is a mere man.  There is only One perfect.  I’m more concerned over all the unloving, unChristlike vitriol directed at him, and how his privacy was not protected.

    I do not think that anyone here will disagree with you on the point of this being an unfair scrutinizing of D’Souza’s private life.  To the extent we are expressing dislike for him has more to do with his position on other issues than it does with his private actions.  However, our commentary on this matter is not to condemn him for any such sexual indiscretions (though some of us may express distaste at the manner in which he did them) but rather to observe and discuss the reaction of the Evangelical community at large to this.  

    A big part of the reason why you will find a lot of people from different viewpoints, particularly those from outside the Evangelical community, commenting here is a kind of cultural curiosity.  As has been mentioned, there is something of a culture shock that implications of racism on D’Souza’s part go unmentioned, while the infidelity is considered a deal-breaker.  Outside of the values-voter subculture, both things would be considered bad, but the racial implications he has made would be given much more negative weight than the (alleged) adultery.  

    The contrast can make for fascinating discussion.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    FYI, the two links were to the Wikipedia articles on incest & domestic violence.  I had a moment of “huh?” myself until I saw what they linked to, which cleared it up pretty well even before I got to the sarcasm tag.

    Yeah, that is what I saw too.  The citing of specific instances embedded in a statement asserting not knowing any seemed a pretty big give away that it was sarcasm.  

    Maybe there was a Disqus formatting error with the links that only applies to certain browsers?  Or maybe we were just referring to different links.  

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Wall-o-text. Sorry.

    First, Akin was pillorized for making that distinction, for claiming that statutory rape and forcible rape are not the same thing.

    No, Akin was pilloried for claiming that rape cannot cause pregnancy, and that only “forcible” rape was legitimate.

    And, you do realize that statuatory rape charges often carry penalties just as if not more severe than penalties for violent rape…

    [ citation needed ] 

     Do you have any idea how many 19 and 20 yo men are now branded lifelong sex offenders on a public registry because they had sex that their 15yo girlfriend really, really wanted?

    No, I don’t know. How many are there? I assume you know, because you’re asking it in challenge. Is it a lot? A few? Dozens? Hundreds? Tens of thousands? Do you know the percentage? Is it 10%? 25%? 50%? Does every 19-year-old man get branded a sex offender for sleeping with their really, really horny (and totally mature, experienced, utterly-free-from-coercion) 15-year-old girlfriend? Because if I don’t know, and you don’t know, what rhetorical point are you trying to score here?Here’s what I do know: all of those hypothetical men would first be investigated by police. A district attorney would then review the specific case, in context of the information from the police, and made a decision whether or not to press charges. And those men were convicted either by a judge or jury, or chose to plead guilty after being informed of the consequences.  That’s three layers of process to distinguish “a mature, sophisticated, independent minor attempting to offer meaningful, informed consent” from “unwanted assault”.

    they had sex that their 15yo girlfriend really, really wanted?

    Oh, and since when was “I really, really want this thing” a sound justification for a teenager’s behavior? That’s the hill you’re going to fight on?

    Actually, I was totally capable of saying yes or no to drugs; is that not why we have a “just say no” campaign?

    If young people (and by the way, stop making this about you, the unique snowflake; society and laws are built around the mean, not the outliers) really were capable of effectively evaluating the risks and consequences of their decisions, there wouldn’t be a need for a “just say no” campaign. If teenagers were capable of accurately judging the long-term consequences against short-term benefits, we wouldn’t need PR campaigns, now would we?

    Sex is natural; I’d argue it’s a human right.

    If we’re talking about sexual activity with other parties, then I’d say you are deliberately conflating the capacity for sexual activity (a physical measure) with the ability to offer meaningful informed consent. (a psychological measure) Your right to sex doesn’t override my consent, nor does an inability to consent constitute an unfair denial of your rights.

    Denying the right to consent to sex to post-pubescent adolescents in every circumstance is wrong. “right to consent”? The issue is not a “rights” issue, it’s a capacity issue. A minor cannot offer meaningful, informed, un-coerced consent any more than a non-citizen can vote in an election. That’s why we have different criminal sentences for minors, why labor laws affect minors differently than adults, why minors can’t engage in legal contracts… I don’t see you arguing against those examples of minors being treated differently under the law. You don’t object to minors being unable to acquire bank loans and credit cards on the basis of their age. Why is sex suddenly magical and different and unique?
    And that’s what we’re doing: we are telling every 15yo girl out there, no matter how mature, how responsible, how many responsibilities or life experiences she’s had, that she is incapable of making her own sexual decisions. 

    By the way, we tell this sort of thing to 15-year-old persons all the time! We tell them that no matter how mature and responsible they are, they cannot drive a car on their own. We tell them that no matter how many responsibilities or life experiences they’ve had, they cannot enlist in the military. We tell them that they’re not capable of making decisions about consuming alcohol. We tell them they are incapable of making financial decisions or engaging in legal contracts. Why is sex so magical that you think all the legal protections should be swept away. 

    If we want to have a culture of healthy adolescent sexuality, then a huge part of that is empowerment, and that means empowering post-pubescent teens with the right to consent AND not consent.

     “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” You’re not arguing for the right to “not consent”. You’re not arguing that teenagers have the choice to NOT consent to the advances of middle-aged adults, because they already have that right protection. You’re arguing for removing protections against exploitation under the banner of “empowerment”. Let’s test some variations:“If we want to have a culture of healthy  workers, then a huge part of that is empowerment, and that means empowering teens with the right to work unpaid overtime with no mandated breaks for meals!”“If we want to have a culture of healthy immigration, then a huge part of that is empowerment, and that means empowering immigrants with the right to work free from encumbering labor and immigration laws!” 

    And, make no mistake about it, these ages are arbitrary….There is nothing magical about any of these ages.

    I addressed this once already, but I’ll spell it out:1.) Yes, the ages are arbitrary. Any age will be arbitrary.2.) Age is an objective, empirical, verifiable measure that roughly correlates to experience. “Maturity”, “sophistication”, and “worldliness” meet none of those standards. If you’re going to write laws, they need to be based on empirical standards.3.) Pointing out the age limit is arbitrary does not justify eliminating the age limit. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_fallacy

    But, if they CAN consent, isn’t it possible that some might choose, freely and consensually, to have sex with somebody older than they are?

    Grounding an argument in “isn’t it possible” is bad policy. Isn’t it possible that some people can responsibly drink alcohol and then drive motor vehicles? Then why do we have these laws that prevent it? Isn’t it possible that some people can safely operate motor vehicles at 100 miles per hour? Then why do we have laws against that? Isn’t it possible that some people might be able to tell if spoiled meat had been disguised with CO2 and other agents? Then why have food safety laws? Couldn’t employees choose to work longer hours? Why have labor laws? 

    How is it possible that a 15yo can consent to sex with a 17yo, …but is completely incapable of consenting to sex with a 20yo and is the victim of a horrible predator…

    How is it possible that a 115 lb boxer can fight a 130 lb boxer and it be a fair fight, but if they try to fight a 225 lb opponent, it’s horribly wrong? If even one featherweight boxer is strong enough to compete at the heavyweight class, shouldn’t we just eliminate all of those separate weight classes? Doesn’t a single exception justify the elimination of every category?Look, I get that you believe you were a mature, intelligence, sophisticated 15-year-old who was way ahead of her peers. Maybe you were. (Then again… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect) But your specific, isolated example doesn’t justify removing the protections applied to the entire population. 

    Human nature is far too variable to have these sorts of blanket laws, especially when, in our society, the penalties for violating them are so outrageously harsh.

    …do you even bother to read my arguments? Do you follow the links I include, to thinks like prosecutorial discretion? Do you understand the concept of a jury trial, or of our legal system in general?Yes, we have blanket laws. We also have a justice system that allows for application of those laws on a case-by-case basis, precisely because of the variability of human nature. We have seat belt laws. Does that mean no one anywhere ever drives without wearing a seat belt? No. Does that mean anyone who drives without a seat belt is pulled over & ticketed? No. We have consumer protection laws. Does that mean no one ever gets scammed? Does it mean that anyone who runs a scam gets thrown in jail the first time charges are filed? Age-of-consent laws are protection laws. They protect a class of people against exploitation. To successfully argue against those laws, you need more than a handful of exceptions; you need to show that such exploitation is already prevented through other laws, or that it is so unlikely and so rare in the entire population that the law is unnecessary. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    In practice, “tough on crime” normally ends up meaning “tough on pot smokers, easy on violent offenders, especially if the crime of those violent offenders was against women whom they knew, even more if they were in a relationship with those women.”

  • Tricksteron

    I don’t think they’re confused so much as repelled.  To them it’s an either/or of rigid hierarchy vs. bloody anarchy with nothing in between.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That’s what I thought at first. I was like… wait. This can’t be Lori. Has she been body-snatched? Has her account been hacked?

    I wish this other Lori would change her name, because I keep doing double-takes. I don’t expect someone with the name Lori here to be spewing garbage, let alone garbage of this extreme level. It’s confusing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And stealing $100 gets massive jail time and stealing $100 million gets a comparatively tiny fine and perhaps a mild scolding.

  • Hawker40

    The FBI used to keep (perhaps still does) a “profit to jailtime” ratio for various crimes.  They factored in likelyhood of being caught, chance of being convicted, amount of jailtime plus parole (with factoring of ‘hard time’ included) vs amount of money gained.

    The worst was armed robbery, with hefty jailtimes and lousy profit.
    The best?  Insider trading.  Huge profits, hard to catch and convict, soft jailtime.

  • Tricksteron

    We can only hope it’s a tie.

  • Tricksteron

    And the rehabilitation has already begun!  I wonder if he had to kiss Pope Rush’s ass ring?

  • Marc Tompkins

    >>Yeah, but they could have brought back the potatoes *without* doing all the horrible things they did.

    Um… you did read the previous paragraph where I mentioned being consumed with rage, no?  Doing good without doing evil doesn’t seem to have been an ethical or physical possibility for these people.  And even the good they did (looking at it from the wrong end of the telescope as we do) seems to have been accidental.

    If you understood me to be apologizing in ANY way for Pizarro, you misunderstood me entirely.

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    I’m sorry, can you point me to somebody being convicted of “coercive rape”?  Legally, there is no such category.  Sorry, but that’s the fact of it.  A date rape scenario is a forcible rape.  A situation where a woman is too drunk to give or not give consent is a forcible rape.  Legally, those are considered forcible rapes.

    If by “coercive rape” you mean something like, I don’t know, somebody being guilt-tripped into sex, well, I don’t think that *should* be considered rape.  Are you a douchebag if you try to guilt-trip women into having sex with you?  Yes.  But, those women still have the choice to walk away.  Rape isn’t about making bad choices; it’s about having your choice taken away.  A date rape victim had her choice taken away; a woman who had a man jump out of the bushes and hold her down had her choice taken away; a woman too drunk to know what was going on had her choice taken away.  A woman who had sex with a guy because she was afraid she’d lose him otherwise or didn’t want to hurt his feelings did not have her choice taken away, and we absolutely shouldn’t consider that rape.  If that’s what you mean by “coercive rape,” then I’m glad we don’t have a legal category for it.  

    I once babysat a friend’s children for free for several months because she guilted me into it.  She wasn’t, like, legally guilty of enslaving me; I had the choice to tell her, “Hey, I can’t watch your kids any more.”  It would have been awkward for me, which is why I didn’t do it, but it was a choice.  Just because a choice is hard, doesn’t mean we don’t have it.  

    When a woman has her choice taken away, that is rape, and it’s wrong, and it should be fully prosecuted.  But, when we start pretending that women can’t make choices, that women have no sexual agency–which is what we do when we say that no 15yo, no matter how intelligent, mature, or responsible, is capable of consenting to sex or that a man who uses a guilt trip to get a woman to agree to sleep with him has raped her–then we are not helping or empowering women.  We are turning them into victims who are unable to make their own sexual choices, even when those choices might mean doing something a little bit hard (like hurting a guy’s feelings).

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    You live in a lovely world of legal fantasy.  That is NOT how the justice system works.  There is no discretion in these cases.  There is no room for it.  I mean, why the hell do you think that 1% of our population is currently incarcerated and 5% are under the supervision of the criminal justice system?  Because we do such a great job taking things on a case by case basis?

    People aren’t taking jury trials.  When you are told that you will get 10-15 years if you are convicted, or you can plead guilty and get 3 years probation, who is going to risk a trial?  Almost nobody.  It’s an enormous problem in all sorts of areas, and especially in these kinds of non-violent sex offenses.

    I’m not sure what people are so afraid of?  I mean, I guess I do: age of consent laws, and our extreme punishments for violating them, largely come from 1) racist fears (people didn’t want black men defiling their white daughters) and 2) homophobic fears (people didn’t want gay men “recruiting” their definitely-couldn’t-be-gay-no-way sons).  But liberals and progressives need to think critically about these laws, and consider whether they are actually making us safer and young women more empowered, or are being used to police the sexuality of young people in heavy-handed, Draconian ways.

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    First, I’ve been on Disqus for a long time with this name.

    Second, I think it’s really funny how upset people get if you point out hypocrises around sex.  God forbid anybody question the idea that *maybe* it’s inconsistent to say that a 15yo should be able to get birth control and have an abortion without needing any adult involvement while at the same time saying she is incapable of consenting to sex.  We can’t upset the current sexual paradigm, after all.  

    Third, I forget that trying to talk rationally about sex is like banging your head against a wall.  Apparently suggesting that a lifetime as a sex offender for having consensual sex with a girlfriend is maybe not necessary is “spewing garbage.”  Who knew?

    As a mother to two young sons and a toddler daughter, I fear for where we’re headed if this is how *progressives* think about these things.  And I sure hope that none of you have a 19 or 20yo child who dates somebody a few years younger than them who sends them a naked picture or who they have sex with.  Because their life would be over: a lifetime on a sex offender registry, no chance of anybody hiring them. Your children wouldn’t deserve the punishment that would come along with that, even if you think, theoretically, that they would.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What is your solution?

    If I were writing laws, I’d say a thirteen-year-old cannot legally consent to sex, a fourteen-year-old can legally consent to sex only with fourteen- to fifteen-year-olds, a fifteen-year-old with fourteen- to seventeen-year-olds, a sixteen-year-old with fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds, a seventeen-year-old with fifteen- to twenty-one-year-olds, and an eighteen-year-old with anyone sixteen or over. That permits teens to explore their sexuality with people presumed to be at a similar maturity level.

  • Obotsarelonelyfools

    I totally agree.

    Ive seen team Obama play the race card for 6 years now.

    I understand this very well.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ive seen team Obama play the race card for 6 years now.

    There is no desk large enough to accommodate the force of my karate headdesk.

    Too bad I didn’t invest in a Nerf desk when I had the chance.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Hmm…mentioning that his wife of twenty years helped him build his career gives me a lot less sympathy for her. His career is being a total shithead. 

  • hidden_urchin

    Also, it is apparently absurdly easy to end up on the sex offender registry for non-sexual things.  I had a classmate in college who was arrested for public urination in close proximity to a school one night.  He was drunk and there were no kids present but he still got nailed. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    Public urination?

    Christ, even as late as – what – 1995, that would probably just get a citation from a cop. Especially if done in a back alley at night because you had to “go”.

  • geraldfnord

    What is these people’s problem with consent?  Simply put, they believe human beings to be totally depraved, and so (at least if they are not of the Elect) their decisions are actually probably the worst they can possibly make—they often make exception for those decisions that will be disciplined by the Market, which is to say the collective will of the rest of us heavily tilted toward that of our richest (and so most obviously Elected) fellows, but some not even then.  People are bad, deserve the eternal punishment awaiting most of us, so how can our decisions carry much weight.

    (Does this sound like the mirror-image of their claim that we on the Left want the Gummint to make all decisions for foolish ol’ us?  That’s because that vision is based on a little truth—there are authoritarian twerps of all stripes—and an awful lot of projection, which it always is.)

    No, consent is much less important than God’s voice in the heads of my shepherd and priestly ancestors, as interpreted by millenia of obsessives, misanthropes, and those who must believe six impossible things before breakfast lest their gruel (or, oddly given the literature, bacon) lose its savour.


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