5 years ago: The barrel of a gun

5 years ago: The barrel of a gun February 28, 2013

Feb. 28, 2008, on this blog: The barrel of a gun

One of the nice things about being a liberal is that you never need to pretend that you’re actually a barbaric hoodlum who only behaves civilly due to fear of punishment from the 101st Airborne.

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  • I’m more concerned with the ones who aren’t pretending.  Be it libertarians or RTCs or whatever.

    The idea that the only reason they don’t go on rape and pillage fest at the drop of a hat is fear of punishment is quite disturbing.  It also makes me think it’s a very, very good thing that they believe they will be punished if they do so.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yeah, and they call *us* the immoral ones!

    Irony was permanently broken the first time that conversation ever happened. 

  • Carstonio

    This sounds like the rationalization of restrictions on women through the claim that they need protection from husbands or fathers. I don’t remember whether I wrote this the first time, but the core assumption behind the mentality Fred describes is that others need the threat of violent coercion from the state. The holder of the mentality believes zie has no need of such threats, probably seeing hirself as the stalwart defender of civilization bravely holding back the barbarians. 

  • I’ve seen enough men claim that all men are naturally rapists, and that other men are just too frightened to admit it, to have the opposite opinion from yours. I think most of these people mean exactly what they say. They comfort themselves by thinking that they’re honest and everyone else is just as horrible as they are, but lying about it.  

  • Carstonio

    That’s not really the opposite of my theory, just an elaboration on it. Very true that such people are projecting. I mistakenly assumed that it was obvious from my post that they were deluding themselves. I’d love to watch a woman confront one of those men and ask why she shouldn’t fear belong alone with him, just to see him frantically dissemble, deny and fumfuh. 

  • These men are saying women should  fear being alone with them. 

  • Carstonio

    You’ve heard men explicitly say that about themselves as individuals? As in, “A woman should be afraid to be alone with me”? Logical for everyone else to conclude that those men pose a danger to public safety and should be locked up. We should challenge them to voluntarily submit to life in prison, just to see what their reaction would be. I expect their answer would be the same one that’s been given for millennia – that it’s somehow the woman’s responsibility to avoid being alone with those men. If these men really believe that about themselves, they should just cut off their genitalia.

  • I do not “fear” punishment so much as take it into consideration as the cost of doing a potentially transgressive action.  I would not take a horrible action for its own sake, but I might if I felt that the need for it outweighed the punishment I would invite by doing so.  I might conceivably kill someone, for example, but circumstances would have to be pretty extreme (like say I was struggling for my life) before that became even plausibly a good idea.  

  • Penn Jillette has what I think is the best response to this: “I’m ALREADY raping and killing everyone I want to! That number is ZERO! What’s wrong with you?”

  • “All men are naturally rapists” is an exaggeration; however, unfortunate experience has shown that a far higher percentage of men will rape if circumstances present them with the opportunity to do so with impunity, and especially if peers and/or leaders are encouraging them to do so, than will risk punishment by raping under peacetime conditions in a modern, civilized, [somewhat] gender-egalitarian society.

    The film Casualties of War, and the true incident on which it was based, illustrate this reality well.  I, and probably most men viewing the movie, would like to think that we would react to the situation portrayed in it at least as ethically as Pfc. Eriksson does, if not better (i.e. find a way to save the girl).  Most of us can at least truthfully say that we would not have acted as Sgt. Meserve or Cpl. Clarke do in actively instigating and carrying out the abduction, gang-rape, and murder — but I suspect far more of us than admit it would turn out to act as Pfcs. Hatcher and Diaz do, protesting weakly if at all, and ultimately going along to get along, if we were placed in the same situation.

    Never having served in the military, let alone in a small infantry unit on detached patrol for extended periods in hostile territory, I cannot say for certain who I might become under that degree of stress, or how I might react if the teammates on whom my life depended and the NCO whose orders I had been trained to obey without question or hesitation decided to abduct and rape an enemy civilian.  As I said, I would like to think that I have as much integrity as Pfc. Eriksson, but I would also prefer never to have to find out whether that’s actually the case.

    Also, I suspect few if any men are born with no potential whatsoever to become rapists; those of us who would not commit rape under any circumstances behave that way because we were socialized to do so.  Further improvements to socialization could reduce the incidence of rape substantially, but probably not to zero, as some small fraction of people are so innately lacking in empathy that it’s not possible to teach them not to use violence to take what they want.

  • WeWantPie

    The men who say this usually position themselves as the rare, special snowflakes, alone among men, who care enough about women’s safety and freedom to warn them about “all the other” men – but of course, not enough to challenge “all the other men.”  And how convenient for male privilege, generally, is that?

  • AnonymousSam

    “All men are rapists” and “boys will be boys” seem to go hand in hand with some people, along with a hefty dose of “it’s only a problem when women make it a problem.” I saw a ‘lovely’ example of it today.

    TW: Domestic abuse minimalization, ROT13 ciphered: http://www.rot13.com/

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    Orpnhfr gur cuenfr “n ybg bs crbcyr yvxr orvat va nohfvir eryngvbafuvcf” unf fhpu n qvssrerag zrnavat va pbagrkg.

  • Um, in a hypothetical highly implausible scenario where taxes are voluntary but this has somehow not (yet?) made the world otherwise any different, then of course I wouldn’t pay taxes, because the US government spends lots of money on things that are wasteful and arguably harmful (like our bloated military budget) and even the beneficial things it does are often hard to justify as top priorities for humanity. 

    So in that scenario I’d just keep giving money to the charities I’d be giving money to anyway, probably giving more. That said, if we imagine campaigns against disease in Africa and so on being more or less entirely successful, but voluntary taxes in the US leading to local police and so on being badly underfunded, it’s a totally different story.

  • Carstonio

    Probably most people of both sexes have the potential to grossly abuse power in circumstances such as war. Rape is fundamentally a crime of power. There are few more repulsive claims than the one of rape being a crime of lust, because it blames the woman for not giving consent. The man couldn’t help himself? Bullshit.

    I see the power abuse in rape as being specifically about entitlement, where cultures explicitly or implicitly teach men that women exist for male benefit and pleasure. Except for the small fraction innately lacking in empathy, men who would commit rape also behave that way because they were socialized to do so. Reducing rape through beneficial socialization is not simply teaching men that rape is unacceptable. It’s about social equality regardless of sexual identity, the elimination of privilege.

  • I see the New Hampshire House of Representatives is still way too large.