In the scheme of criminal justice politics, gender has grown to be a rather persistent problem. The clash between tacitly favoring women by reducing expectations of evidence while increasing the value of their feelings, and recognizing the politically unpopular notion that they can put a person in prison with no greater proof than mouthing the words, “I said No!”
Ironically, those who push the gender agenda like to wrap themselves up in feminist rhetoric, when the soul of their point is that women are too weak, too emotional, too incapable to fend for themselves. And those who note the obvious are labeled by the dreaded misogynist epithet.
At Concurring Opinions, University of Miami lawprof Mary Anne Franks goes after a local Georgia lawmaker for doing the unthinkable, calling those who accuse “accusers.” This is a direct slap in the face of the feminist cult of victimhood, and Franks isn’t going to stand for it.
Georgia state representative Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) has recently proposed a bill that would require the word “victim” to be replaced with “accuser” in the state’s criminal codes. If this were the whole story, the bill might pose a moderately interesting metaphysical question: aren’t all crime victims merely accusers unless and until a court delivers a conviction?
While the answer to that question is perhaps rather obviously no, that is not the question the bill actually raises: Rep. Franklin doesn’t think that people who claim to have been robbed, assaulted, or defrauded are merely “accusers.” No, those people are still “victims” even before a conviction is handed down, and indeed even if no conviction ever materializes. The bill only applies to certain crimes – namely, rape, stalking, and family violence. That is, the only crimes affected by this bill are those crimes disproportionately committed against women and committed disproportionately by men.
I’ve broken up Franks’ lengthy paragraph (you know how lawprofs write) to make it marginally readable. While she includes what purports to be a link to the proposed bill in her content, it’s not. Here is a link to the Georgia bill, Franks’ link goes to the opposition party’s criticism of the bill. It must have been an inadvertent mistake, no doubt.
As Franks teaches criminal law, as well as “law and gender,” one might suspect that she would recognize the nuance that there are two independent elements basic to any prosecution, the first being that a crime has been committed, and the second that the defendant committed the crime. But nope, no room for nuance when it comes to the gentler sex.
What accounts for this exceptional treatment? Neither the bill nor Rep. Franklin himself offers insight into the bill’s logic, and so we are left to speculate. Perhaps Rep. Franklin has fallen victim (or do I mean accuser?) to the unfounded yet persistent belief that false accusations of rape are significantly more common than those of other crimes. The bill provides yet another opportunity for misogynists to rehash hysterical statistics on false rape reports…as well as a host of other anti-feminist canards, such as the claim that feminists don’t believe women ever lie about rape. How wearying it is to have to cover the same ground, over and over: of course people sometimes lie about rape.
She’s quite right that thinking is hard work, and obviously has tired her out, though not sufficiently to prevent her from sticking the word “misogynist” in there, as no righteous feminist rant is permitted without calling their enemies names and impugning their motives in the absence of basis.
While Franks’ point, that there are other crimes aside from those disproportionately committed by men against women where it’s unclear that a crime has in fact been committed, thus making it unclear whether the person is victim or accuser, there is no crime which is disproportionately based on the mere say of one person against another. Violent rape is a clear exception, but it’s also a great rarity.
While few criminal defense lawyers would disagree with Franks if her point was that all purported “victims” be referred to as accuser until such time as a conviction was had, such that they aren’t brought into court on a stretcher, evoking sympathy before any evidence that a crime was committed has been adduced and approved by a jury. But she isn’t saying that, and certainly doesn’t mean that. The point here is that rape victims and victims, no additional proof required. If a woman cries rape, then rape it is, and anyone who questions the
accuser victim is a misogynist.
Rather than leave any doubt as to the emptiness of her logic, Franks rams it home with this reasoning.
Even if there might be some merit in a general prohibition on the term “victim” prior to a court determination that a crime has been committed (although whatever merit this prohibition would have is meager indeed, as it defies logic to claim that a person has only been victimized if some perpetrator is proven guilty of the crime in a court of law. This would mean that all unsolved murders have no victim; all unreported crimes have no victim; all crimes not resulting in convictions due to bad lawyering or jury error have no victim), to apply this prohibition only to crimes committed primarily against women is simply unjustifiable.
“All unsolved murders have no victim?” Here’s where we get back to that whole thoughtful nuance thing that kicks the crap out of feminist rhetoric. You see, unsolved murders leave dead bodies behind. Most crimes have evidence that facially supports the occurrence of a crime. That’s what the knife sticking out the dead person’s chest means, that someone killed him. But even then, it’s impossible to say it’s a murder until we know that it wasn’t some women fending off a would-be rapist who, after the fact, decided to become part of that grand under-reporting statistic. Screw the dead body, who’s the real victim here?
On the other hand, the vast majority of alleged sexual assaults and rapes come with no evidence that a crime occurred. The only thing that distinguishes a rape is a woman’s word that she did not consent to sex. That’s a pretty big difference, yet one that eluded Franks when she chose to disparage Bobby Franklin’s motives.
Not knowing Franklin or having any particular reason to defend his family honor, I won’t ascribe lofty purpose to his sponsorship of this bill. At the same time, placing the mantle of victimhood on anyone merely because of gender is wrong and irrational. If there were any real feminists left out there anymore, they would denounce these neo-feminists whose argument is ultimately grounded in the notion that women are just too weak, too fragile, to manage without special dispensation.
Neo-feminism does neither women nor law much good, demeaning both in the name of an agenda. It doesn’t matter in a court whether women are the gentler sex, especially deserving of the title “victim” lest their feelings be hurt. Either there’s proof of a crime or not, regardless of how many men are called misogynist in the process.