Monday, August 22, 2011

Extremist Boobz Taylor and Futrelle

First, let's excerpt an astounding debate between conservative blogger Rob Taylor and Prof. Alan Dershowitz, who recently appeared with others in a panel discussion about the Casey Anthony case.

Prof. Dershowitz said this: "I am prepared to believe that Casey Anthony is an example of the age old adage that it is better for 10 guilty to go free than for one innocent to be wrongly convicted. When a guilty person goes free because of doubt, the system has worked. When an innocent person is convicted in a doubtful case, the system has failed." 

Mr. Taylor chimed in: "First, let me say that though I respect Alan Dershowitz​ . . . [t]he idea that it’s better for 10 guilty people to go free than one innocent person imprisoned is objectively wrong."

Mr. Taylor then talked about the falsely accused young men in the Duke lacrosse case: "I will simply point out here that the accused in that case aren’t innocent. Innocent people don’t gangbang hookers, they don’t stiff hookers and they don’t hurl racial slurs at them. Had they been innocent boys minding their business they never would have had an unstable drug addict turning tricks at their party which led to the false rape allegations. Like Casey Anthony​, their own criminality and immoral behavior led them to be the subject of public ridicule – as it should be. . . . . the hysterical hyperbole about an inhuman rush to judgement is liberal/left-libertarian grievance mongering. Three guys stiffed a hooker and got burned. If you rob a dealer you get shot. If you kick a rattlesnake you get bit. My point here is that though they weren’t guilty of rape they were not innocent. They hired two hookers (not strippers), didn’t get the color they wanted and when an argument ensued started calling them the “n” word. Justice prevailed – but they brought this on themselves when they hired and fought with two drug addled hookers. So let’s not pretend there is some deeper meaning here, and not pity degenerates whose degeneracy led them to be the victims of other degenerates."

Prof. Dershowitz: "Let me see if I understand the implications of Mr. Taylor’s views correctly. . . . It is better that seven or eight innocent people go to jail than that one guilty person go free, because for every 10 guilty people that go free, seven or eight will almost immediately go out and kill, rape, steal and abuse again. Thus in one fell swoop, Taylor undercuts millennia of history and tradition beginning with the Bible and covering Blackstone, the framers of our Constitution and the current Supreme Court."

Then Mr. Taylor "clarified" his remarks about Blackstone's formulation: "Justice isn’t a binary proposition where you have to choose between guilty people going free to protect the innocent or punishing innocent people to ensure that victims get justice. We can ensure the guilty pay for their crimes while not putting innocent people in jail."

Prof. Dershowitz: "I am willing to acknowledge that the vast majority of people who are charged with serious crimes in the United States are factually guilty—that is, they did it.  But an important reason why that is so is precisely because we make it so hard to convict the innocent by requiring prosecutors to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and to satisfy the strong presumption of innocence.  In other words, by enforcing our preference for the acquittal of ten guilty over the conviction of even one innocent, we influence the process of charging so as to assure that very few innocents are in fact brought to trial.  That is almost certainly not the case in countries such as Iran, China, Zimbabwe and others in which there is a preference for assuring that even one guilty does not go free, even if that requires convicting many innocent.  So it is for utilitarian reasons that I support our traditional approach."

After the panel appearance, Prof. KC Johnson, the heroic writer of Duke lacrosse fame wrote to Taylor taking issue with him about his comments on the lacrosse case. Taylor's response is breathtaking.  Among other things: "I don't get paid to debate with random weirdos on the web (except in that Frontpage piece). I don't know who you think you are, but the sense of entitlement that drives you to think I need to answer to you is the similar to the one that makes idiots think hookers don't have ways of getting even with them."  And: "Now if you want to rethink what you wrote and contact me in a more respectful manner I might trade a cordial email with you. But right now I'm going to tell you I'm working, and you need to get a real job hippy because it's the middle of the [gd] day and you're trolling me via email."

No comment is necessary.
Second, a man named David Futrelle runs a peculiarity called Man Boobz where he seeks out the stupidest assertions he can find from so-called "men's rights" sites to post to his site with accompanying mocking commentary. The statements Futrelle chooses are often easy pickins' to mock: generally guys with anti-woman chips on their shoulders.  It's when Futrelle ventures far from the most inane comments that he runs into trouble. Like when he tries to debate Paul Elam. He's also prone to positing smug, conclusory assertions as if even controversial matters were self-evident and unworthy of any debate whatsoever. Read it for yourself to decide if I'm right.

Futrelle took issue with our blog in a recent comment on his site, found here:  He writes:

"And while we’re talking about the false rape society, it’s a site than not only exaggerates the number of false rape accusations . . . ."

Really?  We try not to exaggerate the number of false rape accusations, and if we've done that, we apologize to our readers. We go out of our way to point out that the prevalence of false rape claims is largely unknowable, that's the nature of a rape claim. But if the entire universe of false rape claims consisted only of the cases we profile here, that would be sufficient to justify our advocacy since so few others give a damn about the rights and dignity of persons accused of loathsome sex crimes.  We have good reason to suspect it's a significantly bigger universe. We've come to the realization that it's not particularly healthy, or even important, to engage in an Oppression Olympics.  It sidetracks important issues. And we certainly don't accept the proposition that advocating for the victims of wrongful rape claims hurts the victims of rape, as if it were a zero sum game. Persons of good will are offended by both crimes.

". . . (and conflates cases of mistaken identity or cases dropped or not proven in court with cases of deliberately false and malicious accusations) . . . ." 

I mean, really? Because we try to be very careful to describe the news stories we report accurately. Again, I apologize to our readers if we've done this, but I would be surprised if any such "conflation" is even close to common here. It would be nice if our readers, including Futrelle, would point out these awful conflations when they see them. The fact is, I routinely change or even delete posts when people bring errors to my attention. Akin to how the New York Times changed a story in which it referred to a rape accuser as a "victim" after I brought it to their attention.

". . . but it also argues that rape itself is rare, which is clearly absurd. Take a look at this post:"

Two points.  First, "rare" certainly is not a good word in this context. We shouldn't use it, and we apologize to rape victims for any occasions when we have. Words matter, and "rare" trivializes rape. Too many women, girls, and boys are trapped in and forced to endure sexually abusive relationships because they have nowhere else to turn; too many young men, new to prison after being convicted of non-violent crimes, are victims of chronic and brutal rapes, and silence is their only prudent option; too many persons in the inner city, where every social pathology is heightened by poverty and hopelessness, know rape as a way of life. "Rare"? No, there are far too many rapes. 

What is absurd is the notion that "rape" is "normalized" -- that's the word the extremists use -- among males generally, and that American college campuses, statistically safe places, are cisterns of male sexual predatory misconduct.  Those are extremist positions that don't ring true to the vast majority of people but enjoy a certain currency on extremist blogs.

Second, the centerpiece of the post Futrelle references is a link to a blog written by a Pittsburgh-Post Gazette blogger named Chad Hermann. This is "clearly absurd," Futrelle?  Go debate him--he's one of the best writers out there, and scary smart.  I'd enjoy that. Mr. Hermann demonstrates the dishonesty in frequently touted rape statistics (and, implicitly, he describes the unhealthy politicization of the rape field).  He does this by crunching the numbers commonly used by sexual assault counselors on underreporting (he uses a 90 percent figure, significantly higher than RAINN's number, for example) and comparing them with the numbers of sexual assaults reported. He shows how, even using their own numbers (on the high end), one-in-four college women are not raped; in fact, the real number is not even in that universe.  (If the "one-in-four" were true, our college campuses would be more dangerous places than even the Tadmor Prison in Syria, where the bloodthirsty guards butcher inmates with axes for the fun of it. What sane parent would pay to allow their daughter to attend such a place? And what sane woman would attend a co-ed college?) 

It is always mystifying to me that some people are offended when confronted with facts that show rape isn't an epidemic along the lines of the Black Death. Again, neither Mr. Hermann nor we are saying that rape is not a significant problem. We're saying only that the dialogue about how to address the problem must start with the unpoliticized truth.  (Cue Futrelle: "The truth--that's bullshit!")

David keeps peculiar company. The first site he lists as an antidote to this and other sites he hates is Pandagon. You know, Amanda Marcotte.  Ya want some quotes to mock, folks, look her up.