Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Rape culture’ Category

The Monster Within Us

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Picture_bride_kidnapping

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

The Hannah Anderson kidnapping. Some weird shit, eh? For those who weren’t following, a family friend kidnapped a 16 year old girl, torture-killing her mother and brother in the process, and fled to the Idaho wilderness. The FBI tracked him down and rescued the girl, the perpetrator dying in the shootout. (And while I am often a harsh critic of law enforcement killings, in this case, good going guys. A murderous monster with a hostage was killed, sometimes the good guys are the good guys.) So, sick fuck dead, is there more to this story? Yes, yes there is. Here on Doug’s Darkworld we thrive on sick stuff, and this unpleasantness has some curious aspects.

So, the authorities are still mystified as to the perpetrator’s motive. Ah, the wonders of living in a puritan country. It’s not all that mysterious, he wanted to fuck her. And he likely did, although I haven’t found that anywhere in the news yet. Of course rape would be the operative word, she was a victim in every sense of the word. So what causes a man to kill his best friend’s wife and son, and kidnap the daughter? Was DiMaggio insane? In some senses, almost certainly. It was a crime with essentially zero chance of “success,” so clearly he wasn’t thinking rationally. He might have had a brain tumour or other organic problem that destroyed his judgment and impulse control. Maybe he was always a sociopath, but until then had never encountered a situation that brought it to the surface so to speak. Whatever the trigger for the crime was, it did develop over time, as there are reports he was acting strangely towards the girl long before the kidnapping. At the very least the man had a troubled past that more than likely contributed in some ways to his crime.

However, it’s easy to say some guy was “crazy” and let it go at that. Alas, nothing occurs in a  vacuum. So one can at least speculate about what influences might have led to this tragedy. The first thing that comes to my mind is rape culture and the objectification of women. Men are programmed from an early age by innumerable societal forces to think of women as “prizes” that they can obtain somehow. Hell, there’s a whole genre of popular “asshole gets the girl” movies.  Don’t even get me started on the bible and fundamentalist religion. Then there’s advertising. Basically this guy looked at the girl as a sex object despite overwhelming factors that should have dissuaded him. Or think of it this way, if the victim hadn’t been a classically cute blonde girl, would the crime even have happened?

In a more general sense, men kidnapping girls to be their brides has a long history. It was widely practised throughout the world throughout history, and continues to be practised to this day in some parts of the world. It’s fair enough to say that this was a normal part of human mating for much of the specie’s history. This of course doesn’t excuse the behaviour, but it may explain the urge on an atavistic level. IE there was likely an evolutionary advantage to stealing brides from neighbouring tribes, so the behaviour may be at least someone instinctual. Any atavistic behaviour might be, and one has to speculate how many men might engage in the behaviour if the circumstances encourage it? Sadly the evidence is that many people are easily enough induced to do bad things.

As a codicil, Stockholm Syndrome. This is where a prisoner or a hostage comes to identify so much with their captor that they may even defend him. It was named after a bank hostage case where it was discovered that two of the three women taken hostage in a  bank robbery for several days had subsequently married their now jailed captors! About a quarter of people taken hostage appear to show at least some Stockholm Syndrome symptoms. And there is very much scientific speculation that the syndrome is an evolutionary adaptation to women being routinely kidnapped by other tribes. The women who acquiesced to enslavement were far more likely to survive and have children. Curiously, there seems to be little research on my hypothesis, that men may be evolutionary prone to bride kidnapping. Not sure if it means anything, especially in my shallow level of analysis, but it is interesting.

Many kidnap victims don’t exhibit the Stockholm Syndrome. Hannah Anderson, the victim in our case, was back on a social network within days of her release! And she had no sympathy whatsoever for her captor, saying being shot to death was exactly what he deserved. And it’s an interesting footnote to this case, the victim using a social network to share publicly her experience! The mass media played a role in her rescue, and it now plays a role in her recovery. The implications there alone are fascinating, it’s a brave new world.

(The above image was taken in Central Asia in 1871 -72, so it is safely in the Public Domain under US copyright law. It may show a traditional bridal “kidnapping” in progress, the women gesturing with the whip is facing her four “abductors.” I use parenthesis because as cultures evolved, the distinction between bridal kidnapping and arranged marriage gets fuzzy. In this case the Kidnapping appears to be more symbolic than real, one can speculate all they want about what is going on in the photo. Which it is why it made such a great photo for this very much speculative blog post. I am trying to provoke thought, not reach conclusions.)

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‘Unlawful Command Influence,’ an Obama facepalm moment … more like Obama shoots himself in the foot, what was he thinking?

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Obama-Facepalm1

“I expect consequences, so I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable – prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”

This is what President Obama had to say earlier this year when discussing sexual assault in the US military. Harsh words indeed, and they resonate with those who oppose rape culture. I  can only but agree, rape is a terrible crimes, and should be dealt with harshly. There’s never any excuse for sexual assault, claiming a woman was “asking for it” is saying the perpetrator was a goddamn starving monkey offered a banana. We are better than that, animal nature is  no excuse for any other crime, why should it be an excuse for rape? “But judge, all those people in the bank were counting money in plain sight! I’m poor and I couldn’t help myself!” Yeah, right. I’ve said even harsher things than the president about rapists myself, I suspect most people have.

However, I’m not the Commander-in-Chief of the US military speaking publicly on the issue. And here we have a problem, a big problem. A problem that made military lawyers blanch when they heard the words above. Let me illustrate. Some soldiers are interrogating suspected terrorists. The king walks by, and clearly in their earshot says that terrorists should just be summarily executed. What do the soldiers do? It doesn’t take much imagination to think that at least in some cases the soldiers would promptly kill the suspects. Their king in as much said they should do so! And if the king wanted them to get fair trials, isn’t that what he would have said? What the king said is called, in legal parlance, ‘Unlawful Command Influence.’ A commander who makes “suggestions” about how a situation should handled is unduly influencing his underlings, whether he meant to or not. And president Obama did just that, he suggested in the strongest possible terms what the punishment for this offence should be. Will people in the military be influenced by this, or is this purely an academic discussion?

Alas, it’s not. Defence lawyers have raised the issue of ‘Unlawful Command Influence’ in a military trial of two service members, and the judge in the case issued a ruling. He ruled that if the two defendants were found guilty, they could not be punished with a dishonourable or bad conduct discharge because of what the president said. Oh dear. Two guys might get convicted of sexual assault, but they will get a slap on the wrist. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what Obama intended. OK, somewhat sure. He is a lawyer, so he has to know he needs to be careful of what he says in public. And he’s been CinC of the US military for more than four years. So one would think he would be aware that he needs to be careful with what he says about the military justice system. That’s just the first, and to me the most perplexing aspect of this. Did Obama make a mistake by accident … or design?

The other aspect to this situation is how the left and anti rape culture activists responded to this. They were outraged, at least from my less-than-scientific survey of the scene. The typical attitude I encountered was that Obama had the right to say what he said, and that this was a perversion of justice. Well, correct on both counts. Obama has the right to say pretty much any damn thing he pleases, so what? Just because someone has the right to say something doesn’t mean it was  a good idea to say.  Another tiresome misuse of the concept of rights basically. And of course its not just, those guilty of sexual assault should see serious consequences for their misguided decisions. However, this isn’t about justice or the president’s rights, it’s about the law. And in the framework of the law, Obama gave those in the military accused of sexual assault aid and succour.  I find it troubling that so many simply defend the president rather than admit he made a tactical error at best.

Most humans seem to be blind to the flaws of their chosen leaders. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing in the evolution of the species remains to be seen I suppose. As one last observation on this sad situation, yes, that a military judge is allowing this defence is probably an example of rape culture. The military is a profoundly misogynistic culture that not only tolerates and defends rape, it actively encourages it sometimes. When I was in the service in the 1970s the career servicemen I knew fondly recalled the good old days of the fifties and sixties when if a service member was accused of rape,  he was just transferred to another base in another country and thus immune from prosecution. The same way the Catholic Church handled allegations of child molestation. While there are fine people in uniform, there are plenty of others who see the military as the last bastion of male privilege and are profoundly misogynistic in their world view. Fortunately many people in and out of the military are trying to change that. They have my support.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, yadda yadda yadda. I don’t even know who the copyright holder is, it’s a pic that’s all over the web. And to end on a more positive note, check out what this Australian general had to say about the problem of sexual assault in their military, Obama should take a cue from him before he propounds on the topic again.)