Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Rape Again? Really?

For some reason, a certain kind of right-winger just can't get enough mileage talking about rape.
Let's suppose that you, or I, or someone we love, or someone we care about from afar, is raped while unconscious in a way that causes no direct physical harm—no injury, no pregnancy, no disease transmission. (Note: The Steubenville rape victim, according to all the accounts I've read, was not even aware that she'd been sexually assaulted until she learned about it from the Internet some days later.) Despite the lack of physical damage, we are shocked, appalled and horrified at the thought of being treated in this way, and suffer deep trauma as a result. Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?
After adding some thoughts and clarifications, he edits his "thought experiment" to clarify the issue(s) involved:
Some commenters have suggested that Question 3, unlike Questions 1 and 2, involves a violation of property rights. T his seems entirely wrong to me; in each case, there is a disputed property right - a dispute over who controls my computer, a dispute over who controls the wilderness, a dispute about who controls my body. To appeal to a "respect f or property rights" solves nothing, since in each case the entire dispute is about what the property rights should be in the first place. 
Not only does he attempt to compare our reactions to pornography to our reactions to the discovery we have been raped; he then insists the whole matter boils down to "property rights".

Another point of clarification reads:
I'm having trouble articulating any good reason why Question 3 is substantially different from Questions 1 and 2. As long as I'm safely unconsious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn't the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits? And if the thought of those benefits makes me shudder, why should my shuddering be accorded any more public policy weight than Bob's or Granola's? We're still talking about strictly psychic harm, right?
If a person is having trouble articulating why outrage over pornography and outrage over environmental destruction are substantially different from rape, I think there are more issues than bad analogies afoot.  The second sentence, with its ending phrase "reap the benefits", certainly offers a view of moral choice that raises more than a few red flags.

Why would anyone believe it acceptable to use a rape victim as an example in a thought experiment?  Are people like this so atrophied in their moral faculties that it doesn't occur to them this is yet another violation?  What the hell is wrong with these people?

Virtual Tin Cup

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