Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: Should Rape Be A Capital Crime?
Rhymes With Right: Should rape be a capital crime?
It would be easy to simply say “Yes.”
But the reality is that isn’t my position.
My position is “Hell yes! Why on earth would any sane person with a functioning moral compass believe otherwise?”
But then again, a middle school classmate of mine was abducted, raped and murdered only days after she finished eighth grade. A number of women close to me have been sexually assaulted as well and I have watched them struggle with the devastation these vicious crimes have caused in their lives.
So yes, I definitely support the creation (actually, the re-creation) of the crime of capital rape, with the death penalty as an option when the circumstances are particularly heinous and the identity of the rapist is particularly clear. It would not be available in every case and like capital murder, would require certain findings by either the judge or jury before a sentence of death could be imposed. But in the end, it is beyond question that some offenses can only be properly punished with the ultimate sanctioned.
The Razor: A long time ago my girlfriend at the time was gang raped on a beach by strangers. I had a ring-side seat to the emotional devastation that comes after the crime, the insensitivity of the authorities including two cops who were cracking jokes as she was treated in the ER and being awakened by her screams in the middle of the night as she relived the attack. I take this crime very seriously, which is why I see maladjusted idiots who claim to have been raped or threatened with the crime, such as Meg Lanker-Simons, a student activist at the University of Wyoming, as doing real damage to women and undermining the hard-earned respect victims of rape have gained in the legal system over the past 30 years. The rape threw my girlfriend into an abyss and in my attempt to save her I was dragged into it until I was pulled out by a family member. She disappeared into a pit of drugs and the sex industry, and our paths never again crossed.
But we survived. As best as I can tell she rebuilt her life and appears to be thriving in her hometown. Because of this I do not believe rape should be punished with death. Yes, the attack is devastating, but one can recover from it, survive and perhaps even rebuild what has been lost – unlike victims of other capital crimes.
JoshuaPundit: I think we’re dealing with a couple of issues here. I think, first of all, we need to have formal legal degrees of rape just as we have with murder. There’s obviously a big difference between two adults who get intentionally and willingly get intoxicated and end up having sex that one of them might decide later he or she didn’t want and a case where someone is physically forced or coerced into sex, abducted by a stranger or a group of strangers or has something like Rohypnol or GBH administered to them unknowingly.
In the latter cases, where there is clearly no ‘gray’ area and no reasonable doubt, I think the death penalty is warranted. Because rape lasts a lifetime. And as with child molestation, when you look into the background story behind many violent sexual assaults, the number of repeat offenders who should never have been walking around free in the first place is astounding.
We also live in perverse times where a number of women have found it expedient to accuse men of ‘rape’ for revenge, as an exercise in power, because it’s convenient or simply to draw attention to themselves, because the current political climate and the War on Men in America allows them to do so with virtually no real fear of punishment in all but the most egregious cases. In that context, I think we also need extremely harsh penalties for women (and it is overwhelmingly if not exclusively women who do this) who make what turn out to be unfounded accusations.
Bookworm Room: Should rape be a capital crime?
As with murder, there are degrees to rape. Here’s the lowest degree: someone I know worked for a judge who was trying a rape case. The victim was not only dumb as a post, but it turned out that everyone involved in the party that led to the “rape” had been skunk drunk. The victim initially thought that the defendant was her boyfriend (although the boyfriend had a cast on his arm and the defendant didn’t), so she gave consent. Then, when her dull brain finally woke up and she realized it wasn’t her boyfriend, not only was the defendant drunk, he was also about 3/4 of the way through the act and therefore didn’t respond to her drunkenly slurred “No.” Rape? Well, eventually it wasn’t consensual, but…
Colleges today claim that 1 out of every 4 women has been “raped.” That’s just a false number. Even adjusting downwards, though, to meet some semblance of reality, a lot of those college rapes involve something called “gray rape.” This is the situation in which the woman gets absolutely drunk out of her mind. The guy is often equally drunk. She either agrees to sex or doesn’t protest but, when she wakes up the next morning, she feels “violated” and cries “rape.”
There’s also the rape scenario that sees a woman fail to say “no” because she felt intimidated. She didn’t say “yes,” but the guy didn’t hear her say “no.” Later, she says it was rape — and from her point of view it was, because she felt forced to have sex. Except he will say, rightly, that she never said “no.” One might say that his behavior made it clear that he was going to have sex regardless of whether she said “no,” but the fact is, she didn’t. Hmmm.
There’s the Duke University case where the “victim” just lied, for reasons of her own. A lot of these stories crop up in the British press.
And finally there are cases such as the Cleveland case where a man imprisoned, raped, beat and forced abortions on three women (through malnutrition and beatings), and he did this over the course of a decade. I think an American-style capital crime is too sterile and humane for him. Of course, because it’s important that we don’t descend to the realm of savagery, I know that, as a matter of law, the “due process” death penalty that isn’t “inhumane” is the right way to go. But as a matter of satisfactory justice and revenge, if there weren’t a Constitution, I would smear him with honey, stake him out in the Texas desert on a very hot day, and leave him there. And should they so desire, I would let his victims watch, while waving before his eyes tall, cool glasses containing a drink of their choice.
My point, of course, is that giving the death penalty for rape fails to take into account the fact that as is the case with killing people, there is a broad range of intents and actions that have to be considered. In certain cases, the rape is sufficiently brutal and horrible that it is tantamount to taking a life (or a substantial part of a life), making the death penalty reasonable. In other cases, even though it is a violent and terrible act, it does not rise to the emotional level of a capital crime. And then there are the PC situations in which men are made the victims of consensual acts that women later regret. Just imagine if the death penalty was available for those crimes too…
Well, there you have it.
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2 thoughts on “Forum: Should Rape Be A Capital Crime?”
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Within the current laws for forcible rape and sodomy there are levels of punishment which fit the severity of at least the physical damage done and certainly payment for victims counseling to address the mental and emotional damage should be mandatory as with other assault convictions. Example, severity of injuries, use of a weapon or drug, position of trust held by attacker, age of victim, etc. I wonder though if the panel considered or addressed the real possibility of many more of these unfortunate victims also being murdered as a result of the crime being punishable by death as happened when kidnapping was made a capital offense. Just a question. I’m a woman who believes in capital punishment being carried out at the time of the attack if the person believes their life or person is threatened. Perhaps if that right were more fully supported in society and the courtroom we would have fewer victims.