Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Rapeublican Party: Juris-My-Diction Edition

It kinda-sorta started with Rush Limbaugh calling "slut" on a woman testifying before a House Committee.  It kicked itself in to high gear when then-Senate candidate Todd Akin announced that women's bodies had a heretofore unknown protection against conception, which is why rape victims don't get pregnant, which is why abortions for rape victims are unnecessary.  Later, then-Senate candidate Richard Mourdock opined that, as God has created the fetus through rape, well, then that fetus is a gift.  Being a fetus (a pre-born baby, in current parlance) it should be provided every protection under the law anyway; it can't help that God wanted it's mother raped so it could come in to the world, right?

Is it any wonder radio blabber Stephanie Miller has called the Republican Party the Rapey Party?

More evidence has emerged that, when it comes to the matter of rape, the Republican Party doesn't quite know when to stop.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R[ape]-VA) is holding up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) because of some additions made by the Senate.  One in particular, apparently, sticks in Cantor's craw.  When accusations of domestic violence occur on reservations, under new provisions, tribal courts would have jurisdiction even when the accused is not a member of the tribe.  Current law limits jurisdiction in such cases to state and federal courts; state and federal law enforcement, however, is usually too far away to be effective, while tribal law enforcement is present, able to react quickly.

As a writer at Huffington Post notes, this comes at a time when there is an appalling level of violence against Native women by white men.
One in three Native American women have been raped or experienced attempted rape, the New York Times reported in March, and the rate of sexual assault on Native American women is more than twice the national average. President Barack Obama has called violence on tribal lands "an affront to our shared humanity."
Of the Native American women who are raped, 86 percent of them are raped by non-Native men, according to an Amnesty International report. That statistic is precisely what the Senate's tribal provision targets.
Just to be clear, the changes proposed in the Senate version do nothing more than allow local law enforcement to act because those with jurisdiction under the current law just can't react in a timely fashion.  As Congress is granted the power to set out the structure and jurisdiction of federal courts (including the tribal courts that operate on native lands under their laws), his resistance to this change amounts to little more than a tantrum.

Over an issue, namely rape, that has become a theme tripping Republican politicians again and again this year.  Which leaves me wondering if Cantor is as smart a politician as people say he is.  I would guess Cantor would insist he is not "defending" rape of Native American women by white men, but standing on some principle or other about which legal system should have jurisdiction in certain kinds of criminal cases.  Except, alas, it is the very class of cases that keep getting Republicans in trouble.  As soon as the word "rape" appears anywhere near a story, it seems to me a Republican politician would run as fast and far as possible.

Which tells me Cantor isn't a very smart politician.

And, yes, if it appears I am giving Cantor the benefit of the doubt, trusting his word on his reasons for objecting to the language in the proposed amendments to VAWA, I am.  Against a background in which white southern men defended the rape of women of color as a right guaranteed by the institutions of slavery and Jim Crow.  So I think I'm going a long way on this one.  All the same, it certainly appears as if the Republican Party has a rape problem they just can't get rid of. 

Virtual Tin Cup

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