Posts Tagged ‘rape culture’
‘Unlawful Command Influence,’ an Obama facepalm moment … more like Obama shoots himself in the foot, what was he thinking?
“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.)
On the way to work today the bus got mired in traffic. Then I saw emergency lights ahead, the police were routing traffic into one lane. Getting closer I saw why. There was an injured kitten in the road, a half grown little stripey guy. One of the cops was standing so as to keep him in the shade. For some reason the sight just about to broke my heart, I cried on and off all day. So much sadness in the world, this just put me over the edge I guess. I hope the little guy made it.
I’ll be glad when the election is over. It’s been one of the uglier elections in my memory, if not the ugliest. I still honestly don’t give a crap who wins, both candidates have aspects that are so so creepy it makes my flesh crawl. Both candidates are a tool of the bankers, militarists, and energy cartel. Obama’s social policy window dressing is a bit better, but living in a theocracy might actually make Americans snap out of their revery. More on point, I think if Superman got elected, we’d still be hosed. America is like a stately old oak tree … completely rotted out inside. It looks majestic, but one of these days there will be a stiff breeze and down it goes. It’s not going to be pretty.
Obama. Barrack “kill list” Obama. I find it more than disturbing that the POTUS maintains a kill list, a list that can and has included Americans. It’s disturbing in and of itself, but that no one is upset about it is just plain scary. Nixon had an enemy’s list, and was excoriated for it; Obama has a kill list, and no one cares? People went wild over non-existent “death panels,” but don’t care that Obama has set himself up as a death panel of one? I am not reassured.
Then we have the rapist’s right’s party. Think about this: We have a Senate candidate Mourdock claiming that a rape pregnancy was a gift from God and couldn’t be aborted. He said he anguished over this question before coming to that conclusion. I’m a little unclear what he anguished over. He couldn’t have anguished over how he would feel if he were raped and impregnated, since that can’t happen to him. So he must have anguished over how he would feel if he raped and impregnated someone. And he concluded that whoever he, or any man, chooses to rape; if the woman is impregnated, she must bear the child. The rapist gets to choose, the raped victim doesn’t. Right. Romney endorsed this guy. Ryan holds similar view. This is crazy, a perversion of Christianity, and an example of rape culture. Again, not reassured.
I like Jill Stein, but nothing short of a miracle will get her in the White House. It might make a good science fiction story, or an unlikely Hollywood movie. I think they put Ron Paul back in cryogenic suspension, I don’t know where he went. Probably conveyed to media purgatory. There’s other stuff on ballots. I’m cynical about it all. The special interests have it locked up, even when they lose, they have the lawyers and the money to fix it. Legalized corruption on a scale never before seen in history. See, the USA is still number one! On the other hand, unlike so many people, I’m not going to freak out no matter who gets elected. Whoever gets elected has my support, at least initially. Whoever wins has an unholy mess to contend with, and the last thing America needs now is sore losers. My studied neutrality may only last to the acceptance speech, tomorrow is another day.
Lastly, so as not to be accused of excess negatively, can I envision an encouraging outcome on election day? Yes. Yes I can. I hope the winning candidate sees an injured kitten in the road, and his heart is softened and his mind is cleared, and he gives an acceptance speech that resonates with all Americans, and opens a dialog that begins to heal this fractured land. See, I can still dream.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Not being used for profit, it’s just such a lovely image, I couldn’t resist. I got it from this site. It’s destruction from Hurricane Sandy. The image says a lot to me. Who is this woman? Where is she going?)