Wednesday, September 28, 2005

To Every Indictment, Spin Spin Spin

One thing you have to give Republicans credit for is their outstanding ability at spin. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, a grand jury has returned an indictment against house majority leader Tom DeLiar... I mean DeLay, for conspiring to violate political fundraising laws. The guy has already been under been under investigation by the House Ethics Committe three times recently. What's that old adage about "where there's smoke"? Still, according to DeLay's spokesman Kevin "Pinocchio" Madden, who took a break from sucking the GOP's wart-ridden cock long enough to release a statement, this is nothing more than a Democrat misusing his office in order to take partisan revenge on poor innocent Mr. DeLay.
He mentioned two other other instances (once in the 80's and once in the 90's) where prosecutor Ronnie Earle brought charges against Republican politicians and was unsuccessful. This he holds up as proof that Earle is nothing more than a sour grapes Dem using his office to push a personal agenda.
Tellingly Madden forgets to mention that in his 27 years with the Public Integrity Unit he has prosecuted 15 elected officials, 12 of whom where Democrats.

EARLE HAS PROSECUTED FOUR TIMES AS MANY DEMOCRATS AS REPUBLICANS: “Over Earle’s 27-year tenure, his Public Integrity Unit has prosecuted 15 elected officials, including 12 Democrats.”
It also turns out that he has something of a reputation as a goody-goody Boy Scout type, whereas Mr. DeLay has a somewhat different public mien. Read the whole thing over at Think Progress, and the next time you hear a Republican defending DeLay or badmouthing Earle, ask them why their nose is growing and if they wouldn't mind closing their mouth, as the rank stench of bullshit is overwhelming.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Don't tread on me
First off, let me apologize to the 3 people who actually read this blog for my recent lack of posts. I have been ill and unable to sit in my computer chair (henceforth known as the Torturous Seat of Doom) and doped up on painkillers besides. Not exactly conducive to essay writing. And there’s been a ton going on out in the larger world… you know, beyond my keyboard.

3 days ago there was an anti-war demonstration in DC that was 100,000 strong. Even though the stumbling demented child king that is our President wasn’t there, the large turnout gives me hope that this country is finally starting to wake up. I am also pleased that only a "few hundred" people showed up to support Bush. Smirky Q. Fuckup was "monitoring" the hurricane Rita situation from Colorado. Wonder what costume he was playing dress up in?
Ol' Brownie spent six hours blaming FEMA's feeble response after Katrina on the Democratic leadership of New Orleans with absolutely no mention of his own magnificent incompetence. I guess he didn't see how the media bent over and begged to be reamed again after Bush sorta kinda in a roundabout way took responsiblity for the clusterfuck... as much as the federal government was responsible anyway. The fact that the arrogant fuckwad who couldn't think of even one mistake he'd ever made offered up this meaningless nerfed mea culpa shocked the media stupid. Or more so than usual.
Speaking of stupid, those Intelligent Design asshats are once again getting press, this time because a school board in Pennsylvania is trying to defend the teaching of this "theory" in public schools. They don't see this as a problem, and just love to imply that there's a fierce debate among scientists as to the veracity of evolution. News flash... there isn't. ID proponents know they don't have one minimal scrap of proof for their theory, so instead do their damndest to poke holes in evolution and then consider this "debate". In another school district in PA (what the hell is in the water there?) it is now a law that science teachers must discuss the inspirational poem "Footprints in the Sand". Let me repeat that... science teachers are being told they must discuss an inspirational poem. As if our country wasn't dumb enough. Rational, reasoning thought was unavailable for comment, as it was curled into a fetal ball and screaming in pain. I found it amusing that while these wastes of sperm are busily trying to theocratize our country, a recent study is saying that "religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide".
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.
I've said it before and I'll repeat it now: if there's anything in this country that needs to be regulated, if not banned outright, it is religion.
And lastly, one of the plethora of criminals in the Bush camp has got his nuts in a ringer. Tom Delay, a blight on society if there ever was one, has been indicted. Of course, even though he's been warned by the House Ethics committee 3 times already in the recent past, this is nothing more than the Democrats being their sneaky snarky selves, and wasting honest Texas Repuglican's tax money.
DeLay has denied committing any crime and accused the Democratic district attorney leading the investigation, Ronnie Earle, of pursuing the case for political motives.
DeLay, 58, also is the center of an ethics swirl in Washington. The 11-term congressman was admonished last year by the House ethics committee on three separate issues and is the center of a political storm this year over lobbyists paying his and other lawmakers' tabs for expensive travel abroad.
I can't remember the last time I have so fervently wished for someone to be sent to the proverbial "pound me in the ass" prison. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Marital Rape Laws and Their Evolution

As requested by Joe in this post, I am finally posting the research paper I wrote about the Marital Rape Laws (or lack thereof) in most states.

In the criminal justice system, rape has always been considered a crime. Recently, laws involving marital rape have started to surface and evolve. The current laws in place exist with a higher frequency than in previous years. How have these particular laws evolved since their introduction, what are the causes of this evolution, and has their introduction led to stricter enforcement?

Presently in the United States, the rape of a spouse is a punishable crime in every state due to stricter sexual offense codes passed in 1993. However, even though marital rape has been criminalized, there are still at least thirty-three states that grant exemptions to the perpetrators of marital rape in certain cases. This reluctance to prosecute offenders could be linked to the history of marital rape laws within the criminal justice system and within society itself. As far back as the nineteenth century, issues of marital rape were addressed by legislators of the time. Chief Justice Hale of England was reported as writing, “[t]he husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given herself in kind unto the husband which she cannot retract” (Russell 17). This early view of the nonexistence of marital rape was largely based on other marriage laws at the time which legally stated that wives were to be subordinate to their husbands. The idea of subordination of wife to her husband resulted in the first organized women’s movement which met and campaigned in Seneca in 1848. Primarily, they sought for equal status to men in society, however feminists of the time stated that “a woman’s right to self-possession [was] the foundation of her equality” (Hasday 1). The views and ideals sought by the women of this time established a foundation for the beginning of the reformation of marital rape laws, even if it would take almost one hundred and forty years for the definitions to begin to change.

Hale’s view of the impossibility of marital rape was carried into the United States and is easily seen in their initial formation of rape laws where the traditional legal definition of rape is stated as “sexual intercourse with a female not his wife without her consent” (Barshis 383). Laws and statements such as these diminished any claims a woman sought to make if raped by her husband; she was his property according to the law, thereby giving him rights which overrode her own. This idea was first challenged with the beginning of the various women’s and feminist movements of the seventies. To these movements, the idea that being married excluded a woman from being raped was ludicrous. They argued that the exemption of husbands in the case of spousal rape failed to grant equal protection to all women from being raped. With women’s rights being brought to the forefront of the political scene in the seventies, the lack of protection of women with regard to marital rape was finally brought to light. While no major changes were immediately made to the previously standing definitions of rape at the time, continued movements in favor of women’s rights have led to the passage of the current marital rape laws held today.

Throughout the nineteen seventies, as the feminist and women’s movements advanced, several things occurred to further the move of marital rape into an acknowledged form of rape. The first of these was the increasing independence of women at home and in the work place. As many more women became financially secure through their own means, they began to separate from the norm of settling down with a husband simply to be a housewife. This time period also saw a spike in the divorce rate as many women finally felt capable of leaving their husbands to support themselves. The sudden increase in the divorce rate combined with the decline in the economic authority of men led to an undermining of the principle of marital unity (Ryan 956). With rising economic self sufficiency and less reliance on marriage, feminists began to see the country’s rape laws as serving only in the interests males. According to the feminists, the rape laws of the time favored the protection of a male’s sexual right to have female property as opposed to protecting women and their sexual integrity (957). With the increasing independence of women, both in the job market and in societal life, women’s rights groups began calling for an end to the marital rape exemption.

Various methods were used in revising older marital rape laws to bring them up to current standards and attempt to do away with the exemption. Some states simply removed the clause relating to the exemption, while others changed older laws which had made marital rape a lesser crime (if even a crime at all) than rape. In Pennsylvania, one law that made marital rape a lower level offense than spousal rape was repealed and removed any language that suggests the relationship between the victim and the offender was relevant. North Carolina and Washington DC both “amended their laws to specify that marriage [was] not a defense to certain crimes” (NCVC 1). Other states have taken steps to separate marital rape from rape, providing separate definitions and penalties for each. For example, in West Virginia marital rape is defined as sexual penetration or sexual intrusion without consent of the perpetrator's spouse whereupon the perpetrator must use forcible compulsion or a deadly weapon or inflict serious bodily injury upon anyone (1). This law specifically states the qualifications which must be met for a marital rape to occur, however, the penalties for rape and marital rape to occur differ. Both are felonies, but marital rape incurs a two to ten year term of imprisonment while rape carries a heavier ten to thirty-five year term. Differing penalties can also be seen in the California rape laws where “a person who commits non-spousal rape by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury may not be sentenced to probation or suspended sentence” (1). Currently, only seven states classify marital rape separately from rape, yet even in doing this, the lighter sentencing shows that they still fall back on antiquated views of marital rape somehow being less severe than rape.

Though all states currently have marital rape laws in place, many still have not revised exemptions which provide for the lack of accountability on the part of the husband. Many of these exemptions allow the husband to avoid prosecution even if he forcibly rapes his spouse while she is mentally or physically impaired, unconscious, or even asleep. This exemption gives rise to another problem with marital rape laws: even though they have been implemented, are they enforced? In many cases, victims of marital rape are often treated with an air of dismissal by authorities when reporting the crimes against them. A series of interviews conducted by Bergen found that police officers in some cases will not allow the victim to file a complaint against her husband and in some cases will refuse to collect medical evidence. This lack of enforcement by police officers has roots in the societal notion pre-nineteen seventy that there was no way a wife could be raped by her husband. Some existing precincts have taken steps to offer programs which seek to train officers about the realities of marital rape and how to properly question victims. While these measures may help increase police understanding of the existence of marital rape, they do not assure an increase in enforcement. Many police officers hold long-standing sexist or religious beliefs that wives cannot be raped by their husbands and no amount of training or programs can get past these.

Lack of enforcement from police officers is one problem when dealing with marital rape laws, but what about obstacles faced from legislators? While attempting to revise marital rape laws in Maine, one legislator remarked, “Any woman who claims she has been raped by her spouse has not been properly bedded” (1). Attitudes such as this at the level of law making slow the enforcement of new implemented marital rape laws further down into the criminal justice system. If the person at the top of the chain holds to the idea of a woman being unable to refuse her husband, then why are the members of law enforcement under this legislator going to attempt to enforce a law which is passed off more as a joke than something serious. Even with laws in place, if those who implement them lack a strong belief in their enforcement, then the laws truly are ineffective at prosecuting those who commit marital rape.

Another problem faced by law enforcement in understanding marital rape is that making and enforcing relevant laws and policies becomes increasingly difficult because marital rape shares no causal factors in common with domestic violence (Frerichs 2708). Domestic violence is often believed to be a precursor to marital rape, but some cases of marital rape show incidence of previous domestic violence, while others do not. This makes it more difficult for law enforcement officials to find patterns between cases of marital rape and establish a behavior pattern based on offenders. Without a definable pattern of behavior or a common thread between victims and perpetrators, it becomes increasingly difficult for law enforcement officials to determine who the victims are likely to be. It also creates problems when attempting to predict who is likely to offend based simply on a history of domestic abuse. The lack of previous domestic violence can also lead to bias when an accusation of marital rape occurs. A study conducted by Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling found that in cases of reported marital rape where a given history of physical abuse did not exist, participants in the study were more likely to place blame on the victim or minimize the seriousness and severity of the rape (Langhinrichsen-Rohling 945). If this is the attitude facing marital rape victims, is it possible for the criminal justice system to implement unbiased enforcement of marital rape laws?

The sociological implications of the enforcement or non-enforcement of marital rape laws is vast. By granting women the ability to refuse sexual advances from their husbands, it gives women a small degree of power. While being able to report spousal rape may not seem to hold any importance to a society, it actually grants women standing within a marriage as equal and willing participants: something the women’s groups struggled to earn for years. The implementing of stricter marital rape laws also erodes the hold of some extreme conservative views which have been in place since the founding of the country. When these laws are enforced with a degree of regularity, they show a society that a woman has a higher standing in a marriage than in previous decades: she is no longer property; she has marital rights as well. The trends of non-enforcement of these laws hold different sociological implications. By ignoring victims who report marital rape, law-enforcement officials are stepping backwards to the more traditional views handed down through this country. Refusing to prosecute or follow through with charges only serves to make the man feel justified in his actions, knowing that he can get away with marital rape with little or no fear of reaction from law-enforcement officials. Marital rape, in its current form within the written law system has added to and expanded the rights a woman holds within a marriage. Within the acting arm of the law, enforcement of existing rape laws is selective at best. For the most effective stance to be taken against marital rape, programs need to be implemented within law enforcement to effectively investigate and prosecute reports of marital rape. Written laws without a physical body to back them up offer nothing to victims who may need to use them.

Presently, America is drifting back into a more conservative stance. It is possible that this shift could result in an erosion of the progress made with regards to marital rape legislation. Much of the progress made to improve upon older laws was made in the seventies when women’s rights were a top issue, yet current government has taken a more regressive stance in its views on women (with particular regard to their sex lives and procreative abilities). If such a regressive stance against women continues it is possible that marital rape laws could slowly lose what standing they have gained as fewer and fewer law enforcement officials are pressured to take action.

Marital rape laws presently exist in a variety of forms. Some of these forms are strict and leave little to no room for exemption to the offender, while others still have exemptions which hold the potential to allow women to be victimized by their own husbands. The laws that are in place today are largely a result of nearly two hundred years worth of feminist and women’s movements pressuring government to make changes to allow a woman to be more than property to her husband. Though they have been implemented nationwide, the current marital rape laws lack enforcement for a variety of reasons from personal biases to lack of knowledge about dealing with victims.

Barshis, Victoria R Garnier. 1983. “The Question of Marital Rape”. Women’s Studies International Forum. 4: 383-393

Caringella-MacDonald, Susan. 1988. “Parallels and Pitfalls: The Aftermath of Legal Reform for Sexual Assault, Marital Rape, and Domestic Violence Victims.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2:147-189

Daane, Diane M. 1994. “Level of Violence in Marital Rape: Policy Implications”. Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Frerichs-Rebecca-Lynn. “Domestic Violence and Marital Rape: Intra-relationship Correlates of Intimate Partner Abuse.” Dissertation Abstracts International. 63-07A: 2708.

Harman, John D. 1984. “Consent, Harm, and Marital Rape.” Journal of Family Law. 3: 423-443

Hasday, Jill Elaine. 2000. “Contest and Consent: A Legal History of Marital Rape.”

Kirkwood, Mary Kay. 2001. “Marital Rape: A Student Assessment of Rape Laws and the Marital Exemption”. Violence Against Women. 7: 1234-1253.

Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Jennifer. 1998. “Marital Rape: Is the Crime Taken Seriously Without Co-occuring Physical Abuse?” Journal of Family Violence. 4: 433-443.

National Center for Victims of Crime. “Spousal Rape: 20 Years Later” Victim Policy Pipeline. 2004.

Russell, D. E. H. 1990. Rape in marriage. New York: Macmillan Press.

Ryan, Rebecca M. 1995. “The Sex Right: A Legal History of the Marital Rape Exemption”. Law and Social Inquiry. 20: 941-1001.

Withers, Nancy A. “Marital Rape”. North Central Sociological Association. 1988

X, Laura. 1999. “Accomplishing the Impossible: an advocate’s notes from the successful campaign to make marital and date rape a crime in 50 US state and two countries”. Violence Against Women.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Morals Test

This test only has one question, but it's a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision. Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous. Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.

THE SITUATION: You are in New Orleans to be specific. There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions. You are photo journalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water. Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.

THE TEST: Suddenly you see a man in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer. Somehow the man looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is. It's the President, George W. Bush. At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever. You have two options - you can save the life of the President, or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most famous men. Here's the question, and please give an honest answer...

THE QUESTION: Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen...

The media finally gets something correct.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Any Questions?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Quick Question

I am short on time today, so I just have one question I would like to ask:

Tell me, how prepared are we for another massive terrorist attack?