Tuesday, February 03, 2015
UK: Men will have to prove a woman said 'yes' in tough new rules for police investigating date rape
The argument "For" below, folowed by an article against
Date rape suspects will now need to prove that a woman consented as part of tough new rules on the way sex offence cases are investigated.
The Crown Prosecution Service said the time has come to move beyond the idea of 'no means no' when it comes to identifying situations where women may have been unable to give consent.
As part of the major overhaul, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, said she wanted police to ask suspects how they knew the alleged victim was saying yes, and was doing so 'freely and knowingly'.
The CPS wants to tighten the law against offenders who target people incapacitated through drink or drugs, or where the alleged rapist holds a position of power over the victim.
Questions on consent should also be raised where the complainant has mental health problems or learning difficulties, it was said.
The rules also aims to stop suspects using social media to construct ‘false narratives’ to help cover their tracks.
Numbers of rape cases coming to court in the past two years have risen by 30 per cent but police remain concerned that as many as three quarters of victims do not come forward.
Mrs Saunders said: ‘For too long society has blamed rape victims for confusing the issue of consent – by drinking or dressing provocatively for example.
'But it is not they who are confused, it is society itself and we must challenge that. Consent to sexual activity is not a grey area – in law it is clearly defined and must be given fully and freely.
‘It is not a crime to drink, but it is a crime for a rapist to target someone who is no longer capable of consenting to sex through drink.
‘It is now well established that many rape victims freeze rather than fight as a protective and coping mechanism.’
Speaking at a conference yesterday, Mrs Saunders added: ‘We want police and prosecutors to make sure they ask in every case where consent is the issue – how did the suspect know the complainant was saying yes and doing so freely and knowingly?’
New CPS rules say such situations include where someone is incapacitated through drink or drugs or where ‘a suspect held a position of power over the potential victim – as a teacher, an employer, a doctor or a fellow gang member’.
The ability to consent to sex should also be questioned where the complainant has mental health problems, learning difficulties or was asleep or unconscious at the time of the alleged attack.
Also covered are domestic violence situations and those where ‘the complainant may be financially or otherwise dependent on their alleged rapist’.
During the conference a hypothetical case was examined by police and prosecutors involving an 18-year-old student in her first week at university who went to a party with an older male student, drank and took drugs then woke to find him in her room.
She repeatedly told him to leave but he took off her clothes and when it was clear that he was about to rape her, she gave him a condom for protection.
Prosecutors and police were asked whether the man should be prosecuted for rape – and an overwhelming number said yes.
In discussion of the case, it was recommended that should a complaint have been made, police should check social networking sites as standard practice for evidence and to check if the defendants had posted comments putting a deceptively innocent spin on the night.
New guidelines issued to police and prosecutors warn that ‘offenders may take steps which, on the face might seem normal or reasonable, to distance themselves from an offence or to reframe the offence … in order to undermine or pre-empt any allegation’.
Officers are urged to watch for suspects being over-friendly or seeking reassurance and reinterpreting events leading up to the offence as spontaneous rather than planned.
The conference heard that other examples of behaviour to try to conceal an offence of rape include boasting to friends, pretending to fall asleep afterwards, or making counter-allegations.
Delegates were told by Martin Hewitt, a Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, that the rise in reporting of rapes was ‘unreservedly welcome’. The conference heard this was partly due to abuse scandals involving figures such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.
But Mr Hewitt added: ‘The reality is that we are still only getting 20-25 per cent of those who suffer the offence … 75 per cent of those [who are raped] are not coming forward.’
Charities today welcomed the new guidance, saying it could boost victims' confidence in the justice system.
Katie Russell, from Rape Crisis England & Wales, said it was 'vital if the criminal justice system is to become fit for purpose for survivors of sexual violence'.
She said: 'Rape and other sexual offences have long been under-reported, with the Government estimating that only 15 per cent of those who experience these horrific crimes choose to go to the police.
'Through our frontline work at Rape Crisis, we know that among the many reasons for survivors' reluctance to report is fear, including fear of not being well treated by the criminal justice system.
'We hope the police, Crown Prosecution Service and others will continue to strive for positive change of this kind to enable the cultural shift necessary for sexual violence survivors to receive the criminal justice they want and deserve.'
The number of rapes in Britain hit a record high in 2013 - with more than 35 women attacked every day according to the latest official figures, released in October.
An extra 4,000 women were raped in the year to June than in the previous 12 months - a shock 36 per cent increase in a year - police recorded crime figures revealed.
Overall, 13,455 women reported being raped in 2013/14 – the highest in 10 years of recording the crime. Attacks on men, girls and boys also soared – with the number of rapes almost twice as high as a decade ago.
Martin Hewitt, a Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, told the conference yesterday that the rise in reporting of rapes was ‘unreservedly welcome’.
But he said these figures still only represented between 20-25 per cent of those who are raped - meaning 75 per cent are still not coming forward.
Despite the increase in the number of rapes being reported, the conviction rate over the same period fell.
In 2012/13 police sent 5,400 cases to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2012-13, representing just 31 per cent of all reported rapes they had received.
Of the cases sent to prosecutors for trial, around 60 per cent result in convictions.
It represented a 3 per cent drop from the previous year, when 63 per cent of cases resulted in convictions.
The Office for National Statistics said the increase in reports of sex attacks could be due to an 'Operation Yewtree' effect – where the prosecution of celebrity figures such as Jimmy Savile for historical offences has encouraged other victims to come forward.
It said improvements in police recording of sexual offences could be another reason for the rise.
The argument against:
Let’s face it, we’ve all done it at one time or another. Shared a cab home with someone we shouldn’t have; invited the wrong guy in for coffee.
Unless you’re a saint, the chances of getting through life without making at least one disastrous sexual choice are very small.
The point is to live and to learn. To acknowledge when you’ve made a mess of things, and to avoid making the same mistakes again.
This is never easy, especially the part where you have to take a long, hard look at yourself and admit that, ultimately, you don’t much like what you see.
There is, of course, another way. You can blame someone else. You can make excuses. You can attempt to alleviate your own feelings of guilt and self-loathing by pinning responsibility on another.
And, in this day and age, that means crying rape.
It used to be that women who made stupid mistakes with men, who had non-violent sexual encounters in dodgy circumstances — while drunk or otherwise intoxicated, in the heat of the moment or for a million other reasons — did not wake up the next morning and decide they had been raped.
They took a shower, gave themselves a stern talking to, maybe told a friend about it, had a bit of a cry — and then moved on as best they could, vowing along the way never to end up in that kind of damn stupid situation again.
Now, in our modern it’s-anybody’s-fault-but-mine culture, there’s a far easier option. Blame the bloke.
Forget that minutes before the alleged assault you were twirling your bra around your head, or twerking in his face, or entwining yourself in his legs, or quoting from Fifty Shades Of Grey.
Even as you urged him on — yes, yes, yes! — you still meant no, didn’t you?
That, at least, would seem to be the view of Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, who yesterday said the time has come to move beyond the idea of ‘no means no’.
In other words, date-rape suspects will have to prove they obtained explicit consent.
Not only is this laughably absurd: ‘Hang on a moment, would you mind awfully just signing this pre-prepared document?
'If you could just place a tick in the boxes next to the acts that you do consent to, just leave the others blank, and sign and date here, then we can proceed. Now, if you’d care to resume the position . . .’
But, more worryingly, won’t men in rape cases automatically be presumed guilty until they can prove they have obtained consent? However appalling a crime rape may be, this cannot be right.
What makes this still more shocking is that it seems to be part of a political attempt to push up rape conviction rates and meet targets.
Because although reports of rape have risen sharply in recent years, actual convictions are lagging behind. And that doesn’t suit the so-called ‘vagenda’: the all-men-are-rapists brigade, top feministas like Harriet Harman and the femi-fascist Twitter mob who, increasingly, seem to hold sway in public policy.
After 2005, when conviction rates hovered between five and six per cent, Harman and others made clear their determination to push up conviction rates. The politically correct Alison Saunders has now taken on the cause.
And so, instead of initiating an intelligent conversation about, say, whether the proliferation of free-to-view violent pornography on the internet is having a negative effect on people’s sexual and social morals, or why it is that young people consider getting blind drunk and insensible to be a normal part of social interaction, our DPP comes up with ridiculous suggestions like this one.
Take the path of least resistance, why don’t you? After all, they’re only men. Who cares if they don’t get a fair trial?
Already it’s pretty hard for a man who is even just suspected of rape. His identity is public; that of his alleged victim is not.
The moment he is arrested, he loses his right to anonymity — even if charges are never brought. This is because, the police and pressure groups argue, protecting the identity of the victim encourages others to come forward.
Yet it is not infallible. Last year, in the case of Ben Sullivan — the Oxford Union president who was accused of rape by a fellow student — it turned out to have been a misunderstanding among students. He, however, remains forever tainted.
That is not to say that, when bad things happen, the perpetrators should not be held to account.
In the recent controversial Ched Evans case, the former Sheffield United footballer was convicted of raping a young woman whom his friend had picked up in a fast-food restaurant.
The girl in question was very drunk, so drunk, in fact, that she remembers very little of what happened, and was unable to say whether or not she gave consent.
Nevertheless, it would be hard to argue that what Evans did was anything other than a vile act of sexual exploitation.
But if you take the Saunders world view, the girl herself is wholly without reproach. This is clearly not the case. No one forced her to get blind drunk and in so doing place herself in danger. Actions have consequences. Women need to understand that.
In August last year, Judge Mary Jane Mowat, who spent 18 years on the bench in Oxford before retiring, claimed the rape conviction rate would not improve until women stopped drinking so heavily.
‘I’m not saying it’s right to rape a drunken women,’ she added. ‘I’m not saying that it’s allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman.’
She simply explained that a jury in a case where a woman can’t remember what she was doing ‘because she was off her head’ is less likely to convict.
She was speaking a basic truth. For her trouble she was vilified by the feministas.
In fact, far from making it easier for women to accuse men of rape, we should be making it harder.
Not by going back to the bad old days of misogynist judges and sexist juries; but by ensuring that the charge really is rape, and not just a change of heart, a change of circumstance, an act of revenge or simply an attempt to appease a sense of guilt or self-loathing.
Changing the parameters of what can be construed as rape to serve a clear politically correct agenda — not just to improve conviction rates for rape, but also to appease hard-line feminists — is very dangerous.
Not only is it deeply insulting to those women who, through war or religious bigotry find themselves victims of rape, it will not help safeguard women from violent sexual offenders such as serial rapists.
Nor will it make any difference whatsoever to domestic abuse cases — the average wife-beater doesn’t generally ask for permission in triplicate before he smashes his woman’s face in.
It will, however, destroy the lives of young men who are not habitual sexual offenders, but who pay for one act of grotesque idiocy by having their lives and reputations forever destroyed. I, for one, fail to see how that can be construed as justice.
The Left Realizes Too Late that Political Correctness Is a Virus
And now it’s eating their movement from within
There are few things in life as exquisitely pleasurable as watching the terminally silly fight among themselves, and, for those of us who have turned the practice into a spectator sport of sorts, this week certainly did not disappoint. On Tuesday, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait decided that he was tired of watching people he dislikes use the tactics on which he himself likes to rely, and, with 4,700 words of deliciously biting criticism, set off something of a firestorm. “The language police are perverting liberalism!” griped Chait. “The new political correctness has bludgeoned even many of its own supporters into despondent silence.” And then, right on cue, came those knocks at the door.
Over at Crooked Timber, Bell Waring reacted precisely as her target had predicted that she would, proposing that Chait “has a skin so thin that he cries when someone gets the butter knife out of the drawer anywhere within six blocks of his apartment, and is also so allergic to his own tears that he then needs to use his EpiPen and ARE YOU HAPPY NOW BLACK FEMINISTS1/1//!” At Gawker, Alex Pareene lamented repeatedly that Chait was a “white man,” and, among other things, accused him of “operatic self-pity.” In the pages of In These Times, meanwhile, Sady Doyle leveled a charge of “blatant racism” and suggested without embarrassment that Chait’s begrudging call for a less totalitarian political culture represented little more than a cover for his “white male tears.” It was, as one might expect, drearily predictable and depressingly stupid — just one more blood-stained grudge match between the Judean People’s Front, the People’s Front of Judea, and, when he can be bothered to show up, the Popular Front as well. I loved every minute.
Providing a nice overview of the contretemps, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto wrote that he would primarily be “rooting for casualties.” This strikes me as being the correct approach. It is enormous fun for conservatives to write long essays that rail against and mock the scourge of “political correctness,” and yet, as I am coming to learn, it is also a monumental waste of our time. As a genuine “liberal” in the classical sense of the word, I have no particular objections if people wish to descend into surrealism and intolerance. But I am under no obligation to indulge them either. Rather, I think that the best way of responding to somebody who tells you that they are “offended” is to first ask, “so bloody what?” and then to go and do something else. The most effective means of dealing with those who want to talk about who you are and not about what you have said is to repeat your proposition clearly, and to ask kindly if they have an answer to it. The most sensible way of reacting to the sort of ridiculous word-salad that the Left’s sillier emissaries have now perfected is to cackle derisively in their faces. Most people are pretty busy, and they do not have time to start each and every discussion with a re-litigation of whether or not there is such a thing as objective reason, or with a knock-down brawl on the subject of whether the Enlightenment was a Good Thing. If your interlocutor’s opening gambit is that conversation itself is a tool of the oppressors, why not just go get a drink instead?
Indeed, one has to wonder how long it will be before a more substantial backlash begins. “I am out of ideas,” the socialist blogger Freddie DeBoer admitted yesterday afternoon, before inquiring rhetorically what he is supposed to conclude when he sees so “many good, impressionable young people run screaming from left-wing politics because they are excoriated the first second they step mildly out of line?” Among the things that DeBoer claims lately to “have seen, with my own two eyes,” are a white woman running from a classroom simply because she used the word “disabled”; a black man being ostracized for suggesting that there is “such a thing as innate gender differences”; and a Hispanic Iraq War veteran “being berated” for using the phrase “man up.” Worse for him and his interests, perhaps, DeBoer also claims to have under his belt “many more depressing stories of good people pushed out and marginalized in left-wing circles because they didn’t use the proper set of social and class signals to satisfy the world of intersectional politics.” What, he asks in exasperation, is he supposed to say to them?
I have a few suggestions here. How about, “Stop bullying my students with your nonsense, you insufferable prigs?” Or, “This is a place of learning, not a witch trial, and we do not treat people like that here. Capiche?” Or, “If you can’t tolerate people who don’t agree with you, why are you engaging in argument at all?”
I daresay that if I had been in any of the situations that DeBoer describes, I would have walked happily out of the class. Why? Well, because there is simply nothing to be gained from arguing with people who believe that it is reasonable to treat those who use the word “disabled” as we treat those who use the word “n***er”; because there is no virtue in arguing with people who refuse even to entertain the possibility that they might be wrong; and because there is no good reason for smart people to subject themselves to barrages of epithets, delivered by people who have not yet been taught to think critically. On rare occasions, people with extremely ugly views do need to be exiled from polite society. But such occasions are — and should by rights be — few and far between. If your first response to somebody’s suggestion that there are palpable differences between men and women is to shout the words “homophobe,” “transphobe,” or “misogynist,” you are no more deserving of attention than is, say, Alex Jones. “Answer not a fool according to his folly,” the King James Bible suggests, “lest thou also be like unto him.” Why, one has to ask, does DeBoer tolerate it?
Once upon a time, “political correctness” was little more than a benign left-wing version of old-church-lady tut-tutting. Today, by contrast, the designation is used to describe what has become a sprawling, unhinged, and invariably unfalsifiable conspiracy theory that can be used to dismiss anybody who violates this morning’s edition of the progressive catechism. “Gosh,” one can almost hear DeBoer and Chait asking themselves, “have we unleashed a brigade of poorly educated, parodically self-indulgent, and chronically illiberal morons into our movement, the better to destroy it from within? And, if we have, will we ever be able to rid ourselves of them?”
The answer to the latter question, one suspects, may well be “No,” for as Hollywood has taught us repeatedly over the years, it does not pay to unleash unpredictable viruses into the ecosystem — even if one gains temporarily by doing so. And make no mistake, “political correctness” is a virus — a nasty, cynical, destructive sickness that is akin in both theory and in practice to the sort of irritating malware that pushes endless streams of nonsensical dialogue windows onto your grandmother’s computer and prevents her from e-mailing her friends. In the “politically correct” settings that Chait and DeBoer are describing, no sooner has a freethinking person started to say, “Well, I think” — than a grotty little pop-up box has appeared to interrupt him with a stream of tosh. “Error 349xxf9: Privileges unchecked,” a typical response might read. Or, if we are dealing with a more serious case: “Error 948xxer11: Tolerance Level Low: Fault at LGBT Sector Cis*Trans*Kin: Intersectionality Improperly Allied.” As within computing, the genius is the panic that this provokes. Just as scareware thrives on the elderly’s touching belief that they can “break” the computer by clicking on the wrong buttons, so today’s young are so terrified of politically-correct bullying that they fail to do what is obviously necessary, which is rolling their eyes, clicking quietly on “cancel,” and uninstalling the problem completely. The Left is arguing about the right level of “political correctness”? A plague on all their houses. Want to go to the pub?
Why is the public so determined to misread American Sniper?
BEST picture nominees Birdman and American Sniper represent the schizophrenia of the western mind, circa 2015.
The pretentious Birdman is the critics’ favourite, starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up actor angsting over his miserable existence, made miserable by his selfishness. Between levitating in his dressing room and bizarre appearances of the action-hero he used to play in movies he now reviles, he is trying to stage a play.
It’s a movie which appeals to people so engrossed in their own petty concerns they have lost sight of the real world.
But with the twitterati in raptures, a 92 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and movie stars at the Golden Globes fawning over Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, this sour, self-indulgent black comedy is the Emperor’s New Clothes of the Oscars season.
It will be a travesty if it wins over Clint Eastwood’s (as usual) brilliant American Sniper, the true story of war hero Chris Kyle, an American Navy SEAL who served four tours of Iraq and became the most lethal sniper in US military history.
Bradley Cooper as Kyle gives the performance of his life, having bulked up 15 kilograms through a daily regimen of five-hour workouts and 6000-calorie meals. His portrayal is so accurate it brought Kyle’s widow Taya to tears.
Eastwood, who was against the Iraq war, takes a spare, nuanced view. There is a poignant subtext in the context of an Iraq in the grip of ISIS today, that all those hard-fought gains were squandered by President Obama’s feckless withdrawal of troops in 2011.
But Eastwood does not make these political points. Instead, he conveys the enormous sacrifice of the troops engaged in brutal urban warfare against al Qaeda to regain control of Iraq between 2003 and 2007 - and the suffering of their families at home.
Sniper is the opposite of a jingoistic celebration of violence, but it treats with respect those who do violence in our name.
Cooper portrays Kyle as he was, a gentle bear, a man’s man, with 160 confirmed kills to his name, and no remorse. “I was just protecting my guys… I am willing to meet my Creator and answer every shot I took.”
This is how the real Kyle spoke, before he was murdered in 2013 at a Texas gun range by a veteran he was trying to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
He was even more direct in interviews for his 2012 autobiography.
“For the most part, the public are very soft. You live in a dream world. You have no idea what goes on on the other side of the world. The harsh realities that these people are doing to themselves and then our guys and there are certain things that need to be done to take care of them.”
Clearly Sniper has touched a chord with the public. It opened in Australia on Thursday, taking an extraordinary $1 million at the box office that day. In the US it broke records with A$107 million in its opening weekend.
And yet, the movie is copping vicious flak in the lead-up to the Academy Awards next month, slammed as pro-war, anti-Muslim propaganda.
Last week in Los Angeles, “murderer” was scrawled in red paint across a billboard. Seth Rogen, of all people, likened it to Nazi propaganda, and Michael Moore declared snipers were “cowards”.
The Guardian called Kyle a “hate-filled” serial killer and pychopath and questioned why “simplistic patriots” are calling him a hero.
Based on their extensive knowledge of the bars and coke lines of LA and Sydney’s eastern suburbs, some people seem determined to misread Sniper. It is being used as a proxy for criticising all things military and, by extension, the battle against the terrorism they deny exists.
The masculine male who is needed, once again, to fight this existential threat is their ultimate target - which is why Sniper offends them so.
Birdman is more suited to their solipsistic concerns, which are only viable in a world made safe by men like Kyle, “rough men who stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”
Men like Australia’s Afghanistan war hero, Ben Roberts-Smith, VC, MG.
In his Australia Day address last week, Roberts-Smith said: “Australian soldiers and the broader military are at the coalface – they are the face – of our defence, of our efforts to overpower the lethal forces of terror and insurgency rampaging throughout the world. The terrifying and tragic siege in Martin Place … told Australians that we’re neither remote nor immune.”
On this Australia Day weekend, it’s worth remembering, “the freedoms and rights we’ve always fought for and won at great cost to our own are again under serious and continuing threat.”
That’s reality, not the Birdman fantasy in which people move about in a bubble of privilege, ignorant or scornful of those who take care of distasteful things, who dispose of their garbage, kill the animals they eat, create the wealth they enjoy, provide the power they consume, and keep them safe from the enemies that want to wipe the smug smiles off their faces.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.