Scapegoating: All Violence against Women, Including Rape, IS Punished—It’s Just Not the Guilty Who Necessarily Bear the Blame

Posted on December 25, 2014


Many of the posts published here in 2014 concern how we talk about violence against women.

Criticism of anti-violence rhetoric and policies is sternly denounced or dismissed, including by mainstream, populist writers. Toeing the line of political correctness, they call such criticism “denialist.” To criticize anti-rape zealotry, for instance, is said to mean a critic is a “rape denier.”

This is what the late William F. Buckley called rebuttal by epithet.

Name-calling isn’t an argument. But it’s easier than thinking—and when it identifies you with the in-crowd, it’s congenial, besides. Using epithets like “rape denier” is PC; it makes you one of the team.

The fact is the people who are said to “deny” rape are often the people who bear the blame for all of the rapists and domestic tyrants who never receive the punishment they’re due, and never will.

I had a brief but enlightening conversation years ago with a detective in my local county attorney’s office. I called to report perjury (lying to the court) by a restraining order petitioner. He sympathized but said his office was too preoccupied with prosecuting more pressing felonies, like murder, to investigate allegations of perjury.

His evasion wasn’t the enlightening part.

The enlightening part was this: He opined that the reason why judges so eagerly gibbet restraining order defendants is that they’re straw targets. They’re available scapegoats.

Realize that judges have been told for decades that physical and sexual violence against women is “epidemic,” and the alert status has never been downgraded from red. Judges, furthermore, are hardly insensitive to the expectation placed upon the justice system to arrest violence against women—or to statistics that say a majority of rapes are never reported, let alone punished.

Judges can’t act independently of allegations; they can only exercise wrath upon those who are implicated as abusers…and they do. Physical and sexual violence that’s said to go unpunished is punished—by proxy.

Proving rape in a criminal proceeding is exceedingly hard. There are seldom witnesses, and evidence can be highly uncertain, besides being ephemeral. Because rape is a serious crime punishable by a lengthy prison sentence, the evidentiary bar is high, so rulings can predictably disappoint. Rapists, even when they are reported, may escape justice.

Those accused in civil court, though, are fish in a barrel. Judges are authorized to decide restraining order cases according to personal whim. There’s no “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” criterion to satisfy, and they know they have the green light to rule however they want.

How they’re predisposed to rule shouldn’t be a mystery.

Restraining order defendants aren’t exclusively male, but most of them are of the demonized sex. Courts, what’s more, proceed by precedent, and judges act habitually. So female restraining order defendants face judicial vigilantism by association. Restraining order recipients are trussed targets, and they bear the brunt of society’s lust for vengeance, because they can be made to.

Criticism here and elsewhere of how we talk about rape and domestic violence doesn’t deny that they occur. It urges, rather, that the influence of rhetoric be recognized and that its fervor be tempered. Violent rhetoric, no less than physical violence, destroys lives.

The person who believes otherwise is the one in denial.

Copyright © 2014