Friday, June 27, 2008

The Future Looks Limp for Louisiana Rapists

A groundbreaking new law created by Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal (R), will hopefully have would be rapists thinking twice before they decide consensual sex isn't for them. This bill, forcing convicted rapists to undergo chemical castration, was signed into law by a frustrated Jindal when the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that executing child rapists would be considered unconstitutional, as the death penalty is reserved for convicted murders.

I am grappling with a few thoughts on this matter. While I cannot hide the automatic giddy feeling that overcomes me when I think of some asshole rapist dealing with a limp dick for the rest of his life, I wonder how effective this law will be. The language used in the law is "convicted rapists," and according to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), convicting a person of rape is not an easy, or common, task.


So replace "jail" with "chemical castration," and you've got 15 out of every 16 rapists able to still get it up despite their dirty deeds. It makes sense, though, the court is always a tangled mess on these issues. What do we expect, it's the punishment that's changing, not the entire way the justice system works, right? Yeah, but still...consider the outraged governor calling rapists "monsters," and the Supreme Court ruling "atrocious, " and then he signs in this intense and unique law to show how serious Louisiana is about punishing those who rape. Yet, how often is anyone really going to get the wind sucked from their sails? I'm guessing not much. I'm not calling for a reformatting of the justice system, I'd just like to see a little more convicting and a little less boasting.

In addition, is anyone else bothered by the frequency of people focusing on child rape as the issue? Don't misunderstand me, child rape is certainly a serious issue, but I tend to believe all rape is a serious issue and I like to avoid classifying one as better or worse than another. Unlike sex crimes prosecutor Kat Bartholomew who told CNN, "In my opinion, the rape of a child is more heinous and more hideous than a homicide." She went on to explain sexual assault on a child "takes away their innocence. It takes away their childhood. It mutilates their spirit. It kills their soul." Wow, does anyone else think this woman could use a lesson on even handedness from Olivia Benson?

Let me reiterate, I do think raping children, who are vulnerable, is definitely one of the absolute worse things a person can do. However, I have a hard time with making it a more legitimate crime than raping someone of consent age. The constant attention to child rape as the only heinous crime adds to the ease society already has blaming victims over the age of 16 or 17. Once you become legally and emotionally in control of your sexuality it becomes less easy for people to believe you didn't want it.

Lastly, I just want to touch on this whole "mutilates their spirit...kills their soul" thing. Really, Kat Bartholomew? Is that where we're going with this? Nothing like branding someone a tarnished victim for life. Does a rape stay with a survivor for ever? Sure. Can it affect one's future personal and intimate relationships? Of course. Is it horrible? Yes, yes, yes. I never want to minimize anyone's experience, but it is just that, an experience, and it affects everyone differently. There are common symptoms like PTSD, depression, etc., but not everyone who is raped is automatically lost cause. There is certainly no reason to brand victims and survivors with a scarlet "R." Rape is awful, but let's not re-victimize those who have suffered from it by insisting they are soulless now.

So to recap:
  • Louisiana decided to chemically castrate rapists, deflating their chances of raping again
  • This will probably only affect 1 out of 16 rapists
  • Officials make it sound as if rape is only a serious issue when it affects children
  • If you are raped you become soulless
There's a lot of little of things to pick apart here, what are your thoughts on any of this?

(Thanks to John for the link)

Update: Sorry the flow chart got cut off, I don't have photoshop to fix the sizing issue. To get a better idea, please click on the RAINN link.


Jaho said...

I think that this leads into another important policy question: Why is the conviction rate so low, and what constitutional steps can state goverments take in order to increase the conviction rate. I am somewhat suprised that for all of the money poured into Emily's List and Planned Parenthood (which is fine) from feminist donors, there isn't an effective national campaign to increase the rape conviction rate.

Kristin said...

Also the fact that she said rape is worse than homicide, as if the victims would be better off dead than coping with their terrible experiences and attempting to live a fulfilling life. I understand that she was trying to highlight the seriousness of the issue, but those comments were a little out of hand, to say the least.

Hannah Geyer said...

If you believe in bodily integrity for people, you believe in bodily integrity for all people.

Plus, since rape is about power, not sex, focusing this whole thing on the penis is kind of distracting the focus from that.