Tuesday Talk*: Crime Goes Down, Rape Goes Up

The FBI released its crime statistics for 2018, an eagerly awaited metric to determine what to do about the panoply of interests involved in dealing with crime, law and punishment. And the news was, as anticipated, pretty darn good.

FBI data released Monday suggests that the violent crime rate in the U.S. remains on a decades-long downward trend, falling by 3.9 percent in 2018. Overall, the violent crime rate has plunged by more than 50 percent since the highwater mark of the early 1990s.

The drops came across categories of violent offenses, including murder, non-negligent manslaughter and robbery, and property crimes like burglary, larceny and vehicle thefts, while aggravated assault numbers remained about flat.

But then there was one crime that just wouldn’t behave.

The rate for rape bucked this trend however, up slightly for 2018, and in each of the last six years.

This raises some difficult questions, too easily answered by the unduly biased. Are toxic men becoming increasingly rapey year upon year? Did the #MeToo movement remove the stigma of rape, making women feel more comfortable and inclined to report it? But then, it’s been rising for the past six years, well before #MeToo caught fire.

The intrepid Radley Balko considered some of the possibilities.

Assuming, as might be reasonable, that men didn’t morph from perfect gentlemen to raping animals over the past six years, Radley raises far more likely reasons why the stats show an increase in rape reporting. Then again, this is a six year trend, not an explosion in the wake of #MeToo.

Violent crime did not decrease across the board in 2018, however, and one category is in the midst of a slow but persistent six-year upward swing: rape. For the 2013 statistics the FBI changed its outdated parameters of rape—then defined as the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female”—to a more modern definition structured around consent, rather than force. Ever since, the rate has been on a steady surge, up more than 18 percent in that period.

There have been a few paradigm shifts when it comes to rape over the past decade, one of which is that being the victim of rape is not the shameful thing it once was, empowering women to come forward and bring the crime to police. Simultaneously, there has been a shift in the meaning of the word “rape,” in which it’s become untethered from any cognizable definition.

I suggested that Radley should give some consideration to this influence as well, that the criminal definition of rape no longer reflected the woke understanding of rape, which had effectively become any sex act a woman decided was rape, whether before, during or after. Days after. Months after. Years after. As Aziz Ansari learned, even the failure to read the secret inner emotions of an unhinged date was tantamount to rape.

Moreover, the constraints of factual honesty have taken a backseat to achieving “rape justice,” meaning that if a woman believes that she was raped, despite the absence of facts to support such a belief if one was to view what occurred by any objective basis, the distortion of allegations (which is a nice way of saying lies) were an acceptable means of assuring that the rapist was punished. So what if she uses lies to manufacture a rape scenario out of an otherwise entirely consensual encounter if she believes she was raped and the conclusion is to punish her rapist?

There is no empirical evidence to determine which of these factors has produced the six years of increase in the incidence of rape. It’s highly unlikely that any academic would conduct a legitimate study to do so, as empiricism has become a tool to prove an outcome under the guise of empirical neutrality. Ask the wrong questions of the wrong people and you get the results you want. Then, everyone can quote your study to prove that men are toxic rapists, women (almost) never lie about being raped and everything that happens proves their survivorship, one way or another.

Are so many men rapists? Are they becoming even more rapey by the year? Have women been raped all along, but are only coming forward in the past six years since the stigma of being raped has been diminished? Or has the definition of rape, and the collateral constraints of facts that show otherwise, become a mere hurdle to surmount to assure that every women who believes she’s been raped can do everything in her power to assure her perpetrator gets punished and her truth is vindicated?

Is there any way to determine which, and to what extent, these competing factors explain the six year rise in rape while all other crime continues to fall? And what does this do to our carceral lust when it comes to reducing the barriers to rape conviction and increasing the punishment of these toxic rapist men?

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.

31 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk*: Crime Goes Down, Rape Goes Up

  1. Sgt. Schultz

    It’s not that Balko’s rationale was wrong, but that his failure to consider any unwoke explanation as contributing to the problem, to even respond to you, shows how he’s now just another tool for the social justice warriors. What a shame to lose one of the most reliable and honest voices in crim law, but he’s sacrificed his integrity to be a pawn of the outrage mob.

    1. SHG Post author

      When there’s no conflict, Radley is every bit the agitator he always was. When a conflict arises with the orthodoxy, he has his struggles.

  2. default_steph

    Ok you got me, but didn’t want my IP logged on here. Didn’t want to post this all on twitter either. So

    As said., If one truly wanted to study current trends. A simple statistical analysis could measure 1) per capita deviation 2) “completed alcohol/drug-facilitated penetration” deviation 3) convection rate deviation 4) attempted vs completed forced penetration deviation.

    The analysis would have to use data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).

    But it would be about the only way to sniff out what class of rape is on the rise. That is, the ‘random rape’ vs rape under “coercion.” With the latter most typically associated with persons known to each other and usually involves alcohol. Which is a common narrative of “campus rapes.’

    As you noted, this is a fairly touchy issue in the academy. “The Dark Side of Man” by Michael Ghiglieri is a good read that covers these kinda of topics.

    1. SHG Post author

      It would all be simple, but for GIGO. You make the assumption that many make, that the input information is substantively valid, even if its statistically valid. The NCVS is a good example. But sourcing such information is hard, bordering on impossible, and complaints to police, indictments, etc., don’t align with the desires of statisticians as they’re not meant for that use, but to accuse and convict.

      There is no magic way to collect accurate data in an adversary system that requires two sides to make whatever claim best suits their ends.

      And I’m now selling your IP address to some guy in Bangalore. Bwahahahaaa.

      1. default_steph

        Should have plainly said making deductions from extrapolated data is a fool’s errand, which doesn’t stop many people from publishing on this topic. Enter the (1 in 4) or (1 in 5) claim as noted….

        The DoD has been having this issue for a few years now. Despite an unknown amount of money dumped into its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, their numbers keep climbing.

        The DoD recently even admitted that lectures on “awareness” yield no benefits in curbing undesirable behavior, which is consistent with current research. But every year, we bring the “awareness.”

        Although it would be interesting to compare the statistics from the two samples we have ‘ok’ data from against the national sample. The two being the DoD and DoEd. Both publish annual data on internal sexual assaults.

        Did you at least get the money upfront for my IP? They have a habit of not paying….

  3. delurking

    As long as we are speculating, we should be our own Devil’s advocates. Another untestable hypothesis is that all of the publicity showing that police ignore rape accusations lead to more men believing they could get away with rape.

    1. SHG Post author

      So the only thing stopping men from raping at will is the fear of getting caught? You live in a very strange world.

      1. delurking

        At the margin, it is highly unlikely that the supply/risk curve is flat. How the vast majority of men might react to this knowledge is irrelevant. For the hypothesis to be true, it would only need to be true that there exist some men who change their propensity to rape if the perceived risk level changes. It seems very likely to me that such men exist (no one disputes it for burglary, for example), but I have no way to estimate the magnitude.

      2. Patrick Maupin

        Apparently true for some men. There was a 1-in-3 statistic bandied about a few years back. That was nicely debunked by Jesse Marczyk in a Psychology Today article, “Exaggerating With Statistics (About Rape)” in 2016. One point Jesse makes is that the same sort of studies show that far more people would engage in murder than rape, in the absence of consequences.

    2. default_steph

      Don’t have the hard numbers on this right now. But possibly recall that Europe has lower per capita rape rates and have higher conviction rates on rape cases.

      This has led a few to say what you have suggested. That a higher likely hood of conviction affects the number of rape cases involving ‘predators’.

      Where this gets lost on an American audience is that not all rape cases are the same. Or is the profiles of persons accused of rape. This narrowly applies to sociopath, psychopath, etc. Not when two people get blackout drunk and bad choices are made. With that making up a good amount of cases.

      But one should ask Judge Neomi Rao what happens when you suggest not to get blackout drunk…. And I’m not suggesting we should increase punishment in the states.

      1. Nigel Declan

        Comparing rape statistics before and after a material definition change by the FBI is like comparing football statistics before and after the forward pass became legal. The raw numbers will go way up, but it will be impossible to discuss causality in any meaningful way, since we will be comparing apples and Buicks.

  4. L. Phillips

    It’s definitely Tuesday and we are now debating space alien rape so I’ll throw in my two cents. It seems odd to me that the woke can decry what they see as the over-incarceration of drug offenders and yet call for a war on “rape” that includes heightened arrest and incarceration. All in the same breath. Some logical consistency would be helpful.

    1. Patrick Maupin

      Drug-dealing may not be the example you are looking for. A libertarian belief in autonomy could easily result in the belief that rapists should be locked up and the key thrown away, and drug dealers left alone.

      1. L. Phillips

        I’m not a libertarian (obviously) but I have arrested one. His doctrine as explained during the ride and booking was more in the line of drug users should be left alone as long as they are not harming others to support their habit and drug dealers should be locked up. Only one data point I grant you but one more than “could easily ‘.

        Oh, the beef was trespassing unrelated to either drugs or rape.

  5. Rensselaer

    “For the 2013 statistics the FBI changed its outdated parameters of rape—then defined as the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female”—to a more modern definition structured around consent, rather than force.”

    Call me crazy, but couldn’t the fact that now men can be raped according to the FBI have something to do with the rising rape report rate? This change would sweep in a lot of statutory and prison rape that formerly wouldn’t have counted. Because it seems like before 2013, men didn’t count for the purposes of rape reports (I would assume they fell under some other category of sexual assaults).

    1. SHG Post author

      Especially space alien men. It’s possible, but pretty sure that prison rape isn’t included. I could research, but frankly don’t want to make the effort.

  6. ExpatNJ

    The Rolling Stones beg to differ with the FBI data:
    “… Don’t you know the crime rate is going up, up, up, up, up …”
    ~ “Shattered”, 1978 album ‘Some Girls’, a song which is a reflection of American lifestyles and life …

  7. ExpatNJ

    Perhaps a review of this movie will provide a better explanation of Space Alien rape:
    “Earth Girls Are Easy”, 1988 Sci-fi (Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans).
    (the reader is left to access the appropriate links to view).

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