Archive for January 16th, 2011

Once victim, always victim—that’s the law! –  Thomas Hardy

The concept of a victimless crime is a theoretical absurdity; to be sure there are thousands of such crimes on the law-books of every jurisdiction in the world, but generally governments defeat arguments against such laws by defining the victim as some vague collective entity such as “the crown”, “the state”, “the peace” or my personal favorite, “public decency”.  But since the Cult of Victimhood has become supreme in the United States (and to a lesser extent other Western countries) it has become less popular to define such entities as the victims; more often nowadays they are replaced with less vague (though equally collective) entities such as “children”, “women”, various minorities, etc.  In my column of January 9th we talked about the shift from blaming prostitutes for leading innocent men astray to the Swedish Model’s blaming of men for exploiting poor helpless prostitutes; we pointed out that the two ideas are both equally absurd because both presume one malevolent criminal and one helpless victim when in actuality prostitution is a private arrangement in which no government has any legitimate interest.  The attempt to define any phenomenon in inapplicable terms always creates such absurdities; if a mad dictator established a law that all moving entities on a farm are to be considered animals, how would you define tractors, irrigation booms and hay-balers?  Incorrect assumptions inevitably engender nonsensical classification.

In general, governments love the Cult of Victimhood because it trains the sheeple to think of themselves as faceless members of some docile herd which can expect nothing but slaughter.  This not only makes them more tractable, it also gives individual demagogues ready-made campaign rhetoric.  All a politician need do is find a herd he feels comfortable with (women, homosexuals, ethnic minorities, child cultists, religious fundamentalists, the poor, etc), adopt their rhetoric wholesale, and promise them whatever it is they want to hear.  Once he gets in power he can then push for cosmetic changes which convince his followers he’s on “their side” but actually change nothing, and he’s in business for life.  But sometimes, reality gets in the way and such a politician’s promises of action are revealed as nothing but sand castles.  What happens then?  If you are a politician who has promised something which is literally impossible to deliver due to economics (“a chicken in every pot”), human nature (“an end to all prejudice against gay people”) or the physical laws of the universe (“protection of all citizens from natural disasters”), you might succeed in lying your way through an entire career but then again, you might not.  Sooner or later the pigeons will come home to roost, and if you’re still above ground when they do, how can you keep them from pooping all over your roof?

The answer, of course, is to lie some more.  But when an elephant has made itself at home in one’s parlor, no mere garden-variety lie will do; it’s time for a really BIG lie.  One classic dodge in such circumstances is to blame some unpopular “them” (such as communists, Jews, “illegal aliens”, etc) for the problems and then declare war on that group.  If the opposing political party has recently made some high-profile blunder they are natural scapegoats, but the best choice for this strategy is a group which by its very nature is secret (or better yet, nonexistent) so that one can accuse anyone who opposes the crusade as being a member of it.  The problem with this strategy is that pedophiles and terrorists can only be blamed for so much; not even the stupidest voter is going to believe that Satanists are responsible for every mugging.  So when politicians are confronted with a problem too large to be ignored and too widespread to be blamed on any one group, they resort to the biggest lie of all: redefinition.

In the 1980s the US Congress recognized that there simply wasn’t enough money to support the vast number of mental patients under state care any longer.  So government-employed and government-subsidized psychologists were pressured to invent the new and improved doctrine of “de-institutionalization”; in other words the government paid them to lie and say it was better for mental patients to be let loose on the streets than to be confined in state institutions.  So they were released, and the enormous population of “mental patients” was redefined practically overnight as “homeless people”.  The insoluble federal government problem was thus redefined as a local social problem, and Pilate declared his hands clean.  Similarly, “broken homes” were considered a major problem in the ‘60s and ‘70s, so we just redefined them as “single-parent homes” and declared them to be a good thing.  Presto!  The problem disappears.  Only like a stage magician making some large thing vanish, it’s really still there; you just can’t see it any more.

As I said at the beginning of today’s column, the government sometimes finds it convenient to define people as victims who are not so as to justify the enforcement of laws against consensual crimes.  But sometimes, it does the opposite; when faced with potential embarrassment over the inability to decrease crime rates, a government may define crime victims as not being victims at all.  While some governments and agencies are busy defining voluntary adult prostitutes as a kind of rape victim, other governments and agencies have been equally busy defining rape victims as voluntary participants in sex.  It has become clear that police departments in cities all over the United States, including but by no means limited to Baltimore, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, St. Louis, St. Paul and Virginia Beach, routinely classify rape reports as “unfounded” after cops pressure women to recant via intimidation, accusations of lying and threats to “investigate” every aspect of the victim’s personal lives.  Some of this behavior may be due to misogyny, good ol’ boy attitudes or just plain epidemic laziness, but most of it seems to be motivated by pressure from above to make it seem as though the police are actually doing their jobs (“see, the rape rates have decreased; vote for me!”)

Far be it from a silly whore to tell these heroic crime-fighting professionals how to do their jobs, but I do have one teensy suggestion:  if police departments in all these cities would reassign their vice squads to rape duty, and spend the money they waste on “stings” to investigate rapes instead, they might be able to REALLY reduce the rape rate instead of pretending to.  I realize protecting women probably isn’t as much fun for these big heroes as victimizing them, but maybe it’s time to start requiring cops to produce results for their pay like everybody else.

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