FEMINISM, VICTIMISM, AND LAW?
This is another follow-up on the Massachusetts legislation whereby the Attorney General of the Commonwealth seeks the power of ‘administrative subpoenas’ (equivalent to federal ‘national security letters’) under the guise of combating sex-offenses.
I’ll start off by doing a thumbnail review of what I’ve been working on throughout previous Posts. Fresh discussion will follow that.
I’ll list here several of the points that I made in the pieces:
- The sex-offense mania (SOM) is a disturbing and dangerous example of how due-process can be subverted in the service of an ‘emergency’
- The SOM is particularly slippery to grasp because it began from the Left, so to speak, rather than from the Right where so many Constitutional dangers of over-reaching government are nowadays considered (and not without cause) to originate. The National Security State (NSS) has always given cause for concern, seeking as it does to regiment the citizenry and expand government police power at the expense of civil liberties. But in the late ‘60s, the Democrats, desperate to replace voters lost through the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of ’64 and ’65, sought to raise up ‘Identities’, voting blocks, and each one of those Identities had its own ‘emergency’ that required immediate action to redress an outrageous wrong that needed to be righted immediately.
- By definition, each of those ‘emergencies’ (and we all know what a bad record government-by-emergency-decree has had in the past 75 or so years) could not wait for the ‘slow’ and the ‘unresponsive’ processes of democracy and democratic politics: citizen deliberation, thorough public discussion and examination, the building of consensus.
- Also, each of those Identities had an agenda and an underlying set of assumptions about American society and culture that was ‘given’, such that ‘discussion’ was claimed to be not necessary, and indeed was a definite interference with the urgent and direct government efforts reputedly required to solve the ‘crisis’. As Goebbels used to say, it’s not a matter of the people needing to think, it’s a matter of the people needing to become aroused and to obey. This is, if you think about it, a fundamental dynamic not of a democratic politics but of a revolutionary politics. (So I call these developments, that have been going on now since about 1968, the Revolution of the Identities. And so, you might say, the country’s democratic politics have been under assault by a revolutionary politics for 40 years).
- So in addition to the dangers of a National Security State that have been budding since World War 1 and that definitely got a huge boost after World War 2, American democratic politics and culture have also been under attack by a very undemocratic politics (although spun as a vigorous effort to expand democracy) embodied in a National Nanny State (NNS).
- One of those Identities was Feminism. I define it with a capital F: I do not mean a movement to encourage and expand the respect for and rights of women, but a strrategized, adversarial, zero-sum revolutionary-type programme to crowbar open a wider role for ‘women’ by reducing the social and cultural and political influence of ‘men’. This is not a wise or healthy path that would support a democratic politics, and as is now widely noted, it resulted in a ‘balkanization’ of the American people, such that one’s identity as an American was subordinated – or even denigrated – in favor of being a member of a particular Identity, in this case a member of a gender, and more specifically, a gender that was ‘victimized’.
- At some point in the later ‘80s, law enforcement began to see that this ‘woman-as-victim’ dynamic was more than just a soft, goo-goo femmy concern trying to intrude itself into the macho mano-a-mano of cop-vs.-perp. Rather, if properly orchestrated, it could become a powerful vehicle for expanding government police power ever more deeply into the lives of the American people.
- As the USSR went away and it looked like the USA was going to be Number One for a long long time, both political parties turned their attention to domestic politics and saw how they could deepen their appeal to ‘the women’s vote’ and look like they were ‘tough on crime’.
- The Feminists (I’m drawing with a broad brush here, I know) assessed the greatest weakness of ‘men’ to be a tendency toward physical violence and a deep-seated propensity for sex. They had been working along these lines since the early ‘70s, but in the mood of the early ‘90s, especially as the Clinton era dawned, they sensed that the government itself (legislative, executive, law enforcement) was receptive to actually enlisting and even bending criminal law to Feminist desires.
- There was something in it for everyone: pols got to look both ‘sensitive’ and ‘tough’, and in all cases busy and effective; prosecutors got to fatten their resumes and burnish their reputations on sensational cases; cops got federal grants; the media got made-for-tv dramas that increasingly required almost no investigative reporting and offered ‘great stories’ just about ready-made; advocates who once were simply concerned citizens trying to fix problems locally were replaced by professional advocacy groups that became indistinguishable from professional lobbyists; and – as you noted – all sorts of follow-on ‘industries’ developed, making money off the thing.
- Even more disturbingly, a highly dubious ‘science’ was created overnight, not often supported by mainline universities or medical/psychological organizations but rather represented by scads of ‘think tanks’ and ‘experts’ who assured us that this was a terrible and weird and horrible malady for which there was no known cure, although that didn’t stop them from supporting draconian laws and sentences.
- ‘Spectral evidence’, that stunning dark-ages practice of a court accepting as fact the unsupported – indeed invisible – assertions of a complaining party, was costumed in scientific garb and introduced as the cutting-edge discovery of ‘repressed memory’. According to its proponents, it is not only possible but probable, that a memory of a personally traumatizing experience can be buried beneath consciousness, for years or even decades, and can then emerge suddenly into consciousness, even more vivid and more clear and more pristine than any ‘normal’ memories.
- Worse, as it came out in the aftermath of the profoundly disturbing Duke University gang-rape case, one feminist academic asserted in genuine revolutionary form that “facts don’t matter”. You can’t conduct legitimate justicial process on an assumption like that. And to grant the government, any government, ‘freedom from facts’ is surely not a road any citizenry should want to take.
- Legally, even more ominous developments took place: the Violence Against Women Act of ’94 introduced into American justice the nasty European practice of ‘denouncement’, whereby police could deprive a citizen of liberty and property merely on the unsupported word of another (and hardly disinterested) citizen; the government police power was invited – in fact, its presence was demanded by advocates – into the bedrooms of the nation. ‘Date rape’ demanded that courts accept the word of one party (however, a party anointed as ‘the victim’) without any further evidence, to the great detriment of the accused.
- With the specifically ‘sex offense’ laws, beginning about ’96, evidentiary rules were eased (thus those ‘memories’ could be introduced), leading to the weakening of the ancient legal wisdom of ‘statutes of limitations’, established in response to the common-sense awareness that after a certain period of time has passed, witnesses die or their memories fade, corroborating evidence – for either party - would be lost, and consequently it would be almost impossible for any human court to reasonably assert the validity of any finding it might make or any sentence it might pass.
- Worse, the ‘sex offender’, a term which no professional mainstream medical or psychiatric organization authorizes as a legitimate diagnostic category, was subjected to another totalitarian or authoritarian government ploy, ‘civil commitment’. And not only civil commitment in lieu of criminal conviction and imprisonment, but civil commitment added on after the imprisonment. Since it is ‘therapeutic’, the Supreme Court has opined, then it’s not a ‘punishment’; the Court, however, did not care to figure how ‘therapeutic’ any such commitment could be since there is no known therapy for what – as the serious medical and psychiatric professionals have indicated – is not actually a medical or psychiatric diagnosis. It’s a ‘preventive’ detention, designed to prevent ‘pain’ and ‘outrage’. This begins to pervert the traditional Western concept that criminal justice can and must only be applied to an ‘act’ after it is committed; if the government wants to ‘prevent’ something today, what else will it decide to ‘prevent’ tomorrow? And what if it decides that sex-offenses contribute to the weakening of ‘national security’? That they constitute an American form of ‘Wehrkraftsversetzung’ (a ‘disintegration of defensive capability’ in the original Nazi)? After all, so much of the legal and publicity machinery of these stampedes of the 1990s seem to have come from the Third Reich or the USSR. To the victors belong the spoils, perhaps.
- Worse, the hue and cry was raised for ’special courts’. For the ostensible purpose of bringing more expertise and efficiency to certain types of cases, special courts were erected for Domestic Violence cases and are being demanded for Sex-Offense cases. One New Jersey judge was overheard declaiming that the purpose of the court was to bring swift relief and justice and closure to the wife, and that this was to be done at the expense of the husband. So much for determining the truth from the facts. The concept was not new; it was called ‘Volksgerichtshof’ in the original Nazi; it was very successful as a vessel for applying the Nazi concept of ‘blood justice’ (which, it appears, has raised its awful head here renamed ‘gender justice’).
- Worse, the old Communist/Fascist ploy of ‘registration’ was introduced, and not simply one’s information kept on a file card in some KGB or Gestapo office, but publicly available on the Internet. Additionally, a series of restrictions on where one could move, on travel, and on where one could live function as the equivalent of ‘internal passports’, restricting not only movement but employment possibilities. Again, the Supreme Court opined that this isn’t ‘punishment’ since one’s conviction is a matter of public record, and even if it is punishment for all practical purposes, the public safety – the old ‘emergency’ ploy – justifies it.
- And just to top it off, almost all of these laws include a provision that police may arrest without further ado anybody they have ‘reasonable’ suspicion is either a sex-offender or an unregistered sex-offender. And worse: a provision that no police officer can be held liable for false arrest or for any damages should his/her zeal be misapplied, no matter how much trouble caused for the individual arrested. It’s also vague whether the various post-9/11 databases meant to identify potential terrorists are also tied into State databases (rumor is some congressman from upstate New York now wants a separate federal database) for sex offenders: can you fly? Can you get a passport? Can you get your license renewed?
- Within the dismayingly short time of a couple of years in the later ‘90s, the whole web of laws, judicial practice, police and prosecutorial practice, media ‘reporting’ that simply played-up the ‘horror’ and didn’t investigate the validity of any incidents, were all working so smoothly that the jury-pool of almost any court in the country could reliably be assumed to be confident and determined in its mission to convict.
- This was the result of an almost Goebbelsian predictability to the ‘reporting’ designed to arouse the passions and distort the judgment of the citizenry: terrible thing done, ‘man’ is sex-offender, victims outraged, heroic cops nab him; ‘experts’ shocked; pols determined to pass even more laws.
- And an even more disturbing pattern of ‘reasoning’ designed to undermine public discourse and deliberation: if you don’t believe the (self-declared) victim, then you must support rape/child abuse/pedophilia/fill-in-the-blank; to ask questions is to ‘revictimize’ the ‘victim’; to take time for careful due process and deliberation is to be insensitive to the victim’s ‘pain’ and even to indicate that you yourself must be a victimizer/rapist/pedophile/ fill-in-the-blank. You can’t conduct justicial process like this.
- Worse, you can’t conduct the affairs of a democracy like this; there is no room for public discourse and deliberation. Granted, some of those Norman Rockwell paintings of town meetings were a little idealized, but he was on the right track.
- And so this whole sex-offense thing has contributed to a massive degradation of democratic discourse and politics in this country. As well as lethally – and possibly irretrievably – damaged Constitutionally grounded law. As well as poisoned many many citizens’ ability to grasp the real nature of the American ‘genius’ passed on to us from the Framers.
- And it is very hard to avoid the conclusion that the Revolution of the Identities, at least in its Feminist and Victimist variant, has created – with the assistance of Congress and the courts and the connivance of the media – a class of persons within the country who are guilty by their very existence. The Revolution has created here in the US a class of ‘kulaks’; they are called ‘men’. You can’t run a democratic politics like this, when half the citizenry sees and defines itself primarily as a victimized and outraged gender, and the other half sees itself as a hunted class of proscribed targets. And no government that tolerates such a divisive situation, let alone abets it, can long last.
- And all of this was in place before 9/11.
- And lastly, I think that what we’ve seen since 9/11 – especially in Iraq and maybe soon in Iran - is an application of the ‘sex offense’ play not on the domestic field, but on the field of foreign affairs. If we look again at the run-up to this monstrous wreck of a war we started in Iraq, weren’t all the old sex-offense ‘moves’ made: demonization of a targeted individual, false ‘science’ by fake ‘experts’, prosecutorial misconduct reaching even beyond dirty tricks and outright lies to the most reprehensible forms of illegal abuse, selective media reporting that refused to inform the citizens of all the facts but instead just parroted what the government wanted the spin to be. In a dark moment, you might wonder if the government didn’t look at how well the sex-offense gambit worked, and figured it could be used to start preventive wars overseas. And that it figured that the American people would approve.
I’m wondering if ‘feminist’ law and the ‘victimist’ focus are compatible with any actual Constitutional – American – legal praxis at all.
Now before I go any further, let me make something clear here: I am not ‘against’ ‘women’; I do not wish to ‘turn the clock back’ on ‘women’. But I do believe that the core thrust of ‘feminist’ law, especially as evidenced in Domestic Violence legislation and the sex-offense mania has essentially subverted and derailed not only American law but American politics – democratic politics – and that if We don’t get the ship of state back on course in this regard then We are heading for the iceberg, the rocks, and the edge of the abyss itself.
It was back there in the Patriot Act: that ominous phrase that the Act was intended to be used against ‘terrorism’ but also ‘other crimes’: this effectively meant that the whole panoply of dark powers legalized by the Act could without further ado be turned against any citizens for any reason whatsoever. And should that happen, then anyone protesting could be gently but forcefully advised that it’s all legal because it’s right there in the law. Ja – pervektly legal, Kamerade. Berleen inzists on alles being legal. Ja. Yah.
Individual congresspersons have already had occasion to express surprise – if not often open regret – that they voted for some ‘power’ in the Act; they had – now they tell us! – not really read the thing (and I wonder if anybody in Congress thinks that it’s their responsibility to read laws before voting for them any more). But, in spite of their ‘feelings’, the Act stands.
In a ballsy move, the Attorney-General and the District Attorneys of Massachusetts are trying to sneak some of the same Patriot Act powers into the Massachusetts statutes. Of course, they didn’t try to introduce a ‘Massachusetts Version of the Patriot Act’ for the public’s consideration. Noooooo. The heroic protectors of the citizenry tried to sneak it by the people of the Commonwealth quietly stashed aboard the ‘emergency’ vehicle of ‘protect the children’; isn’t this sorta like trying to sneak weapons over guarded frontiers in ambulances and stuff?. It’s a method of proceeding that’s disturbingly similar to the ‘terrorist’ tactics of … less developed parts of the world. That’s a coincidence. Golly.
How did we get to a police state? I think that if – theoretically – ‘women’ were indeed all this oppressed 24/7, then it stands to reason that they would be fearful and – who could deny their humanity? – a tad desirous of revenge after all these ages and ages of oppression. And (courtesy of the vote-addled Dems) having the entire police power of the US government at one’s disposal to – ummmm – bring some closure … well that would be quite the thing. So, conceptually speaking at least, one half the population once lived in fear of ‘rape’ and now lives on revenge and a fancied ‘payback’ while the other half lives in fear of being labeled a ‘batterer’ or a ‘sex offender’, and maybe for stuff suddenly just ‘remembered’ from decades ago.
This is not the recipe for a mature People able to focus on the monster challenges that have been facing this country for 40 years: industrial base slipping into obsolescence, new economic competitors arising, economy slipping and unable to provide decent employment, the dollar becoming ‘symbolic’, the military becoming the only ‘solution’ to every problem in foreign affairs; just as – by most curious coincidence – the police power is the ‘solution’ to every problem domestically. If you tried this in a soap opera you’d be laughed out of the office of every suit in Hollywood.
And I think it was conceptually within, even demanded by, ‘feminism’ – at least that ‘feminism’ of the period of the 1970s that formed the ‘justification’ for all the legal derangements that have followed. After all, if ‘men’ are defined primarily as rape-machines and sex-maniacs by nature, and if the goal is to eradicate a ‘rape culture’ by inserting the police power of the state and federal governments into every possible venue where men might try to perpetrate ‘sex’, then a police state was pretty much the only way to go in order to accomplish the vision. And if all law – according to the deconstructionist and feminist theory – is merely an expression of whoever can get power over making law, then Constitutional process and praxis is going to have to go too.
And, it would appear, so it has. Going, going … almost gone.
And do we think that a Democratic victory in November is going to solve this frakker of a problem? Not a Republican victory certainly – or rather, not a Rightist/Nationalist victory. But the days when Democratic = Liberal = for-the-Constitution are gone, baby, gone.
And how hard would it be to get folks to accept that ‘terrorists’ (however widely defined) are ‘evil’ when ‘sex offenders’ (verrrry widely defined) are ‘evil’ because – well – because ‘men’ are evil. And dangerous. 24/7 and 365. That’s half-the-world that formed an axis of evil 40 years ago (and I’m not talkin’ about the Commies here). Hell, you could almost say that everything since 2001 is just ‘Act 2’ … or, ‘just the next logical step’.
Democrats don’t want to talk about the ‘conceptual’ problems with their decades-long support of feminist-victimist law. After all, there’s no way of escaping the logical consequences: they embraced a philosophy – such as it was – that virtually guaranteed a police state and a conceptual and emotional civil war of one half the country’s population against the other.
And now what can they do? Admit that they didn’t think things through back then? Admit that they lost control of the whole thing decades ago and now can’t figure out how to stop it and are hoping that – like Mr. Micawber – ‘something will turn up’ to save their and the Republic’s future? Admit that they’ve decided to just keep stringing things along, getting re-elected and set for cushy jobs after ‘retirement from public service’ until … well, until. Most not-impressive. But such – as Gore Vidal put it, borrowing from the wry Soviet citizenry – is ‘our modern American reality’.
And what are We gonnna do about it?
Labels: ACLU of Massachusetts, administrative subpoena, American Law, critical legal theory, Democratic political strategy, feminism, Gore Vidal, Rule of Law