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  • Technorati: graph / links

    The first duty of the state


    by Rumbold on 17th March, 2009 at 2:14 pm    

    Peter ‘you can’t call gays homos anymore’ Hitchens is in trouble once again after suggesting that any woman who had a drink or two and went home with a man is foolish:

    “It does mean that a rape victim who was drunk deserves less sympathy. You can hate rape and want it punished, while still recognising that a woman who, say, goes back to a man’s home after several Bacardi Breezers was being a bit dim.”

    Not really. Women have a right to expect that they can spend an evening with someone of their choosing without being raped. If Mr. Hitchens’ point was simply that drunken women are more vulnerable to sexual assault because of reduced awareness, that would be one thing. But that is not what he said (he even managed to take a swipe at Muslims later on, for no apparent reason).

    However, it was Mr. Hitchens’ subsequent conclusions that I wanted to debate. He criticised the compensation culture that sees several hundred million pounds being awarded to victims of crimes. I think that the idea of compensating people for having been victims of crimes is problematic too. Firstly, there is no link between the perpetrator of the crime and the ones (i.e. the taxpayers) who have to pay for the compensation. Nor is there a link between the state officials (whether the police or other bodies) who may have failed the victim, and the taxpayers who pay the compensation. Moreover, there is the difficulty in deciding who gets what amount. Does victim A deserve more money than victim B?

    In spite of this, there are good reasons why victims should be compensated. Victims are likely to have been affected, sometimes seriously, by attacks, whatever their nature. This can affect a person’s psyche, their position at work, physical state and so on. Thus the compensation is awarded in recognition of the possibility that the victim will not be able to earn as much as he or she would have prior to the attack. It is also an admission of failure by the state, as it shows that the state has been deficient in its first duty; protecting people, whether from external or internal attack. Perhaps there are those who don’t deserve the money, or those who get too much, but in general I think that it is right to give money to victims of serious crimes, as a way of trying to help them to get their lives back on track.

    (Via Chicken Yoghurt and Newswire)



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    45 Comments below   |  

    1. marvin — on 17th March, 2009 at 2:36 pm  

      I’m sure if Peter Hitchens was anally raped after a few glasses of port he’d feel differently about the issue.

    2. munir — on 17th March, 2009 at 3:20 pm  

      marvin
      “I’m sure if Peter Hitchens was anally raped after a few glasses of port he’d feel differently about the issue.”

      Doubt it since he comports himself as if that is precisely what has happened. Private schools are notorious for that stuff dont you know.

    3. Katy Newton — on 17th March, 2009 at 3:32 pm  

      a woman who, say, goes back to a man’s home after several Bacardi Breezers was being a bit dim

      Is it dim to expect that he would refrain from assuming that going home with him was the same as saying yes to sex, or dim to expect that he would respect your right to change your mind if you said yes initially and then decided against, or just generally dim to expect that he’d be able to control his sexual urges rather than letting them control him? What if you didn’t have a drink but you did go home with him? How dim are you then?

      I hate Peter Hitchins. I really do.

    4. Leon — on 17th March, 2009 at 3:46 pm  

      His piece is beyond grotesque.

    5. Don — on 17th March, 2009 at 3:47 pm  

      Smug,supercillious git.

    6. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 17th March, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

      As a woman who most often goes out alone, I often worry about this. I not stupid, I have seen enough news reports and movies to know this does happen. Why would I risk putting myself in any dangerous position? I also know how people think, any man who would ask me home .. no matter what he may claim … S E X is on his mind.
      I never think anyone deserves to be raped and then blamed for it … but why can’t you ask women to think and be responsible for them selves?
      I’m sorry but if anything did ever happen …I would blame myself.

    7. Rumbold — on 17th March, 2009 at 5:04 pm  

      The Queen of Fiddlesticks:

      “I never think anyone deserves to be raped and then blamed for it … but why can’t you ask women to think and be responsible for them selves?”

      Excuse me? Unless you are in the Julie Bindel mould of ‘all men are probable rapists’, then why should going to someone’s house be dangerous? Women (and men) have a right to do act in this way without fear of serious assault.

    8. Ravi Naik — on 17th March, 2009 at 5:29 pm  

      The title of his article is “How the Left censored the blindingly obvious truth about rape”. And what is this obvious truth that this pompous arse sees? That rape victims are dim when they drink too much, and deserve little sympathy and less compensation money when they have been abused.

      While there should be campaigns to create awareness about drinking and all the dangers that it entails, the issue of rape is a deeply serious one to make such a callous and cold argument.

    9. Rumbold — on 17th March, 2009 at 5:32 pm  

      I am surprised that it didn’t create more of a storm when it was published last year. But happily for him, he was able to get away with it. Until now.

    10. persephone — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:16 pm  

      Why does Hitchens focus on women & the decisions they make when men also do such things? No mention is made of the men/boys (can’t remember if they were drunk or not) who decided to go to Nielsen’s house & were killed. I don’t remember an outcry in the press in the same way that men/boys should be more responsible (or labelled as dim) by deciding to go to a strangers home.

      Lets replace the word dim with vulnerable. The criminals (rapists or serial killers etc) who do this intentionally seek out those who are vulnerable (vulnerable by being drunk, living rough for eg) they are quite clever in targeting them.

      Being vulnerable does not make you an accessory to the crime which is what writers such as Hitchen are doing.

    11. MaidMarian — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:17 pm  

      ‘It is also an admission of failure by the state, as it shows that the state has been deficient in its first duty; protecting people, whether from external or internal attack.’

      That’s quite a statement!

      The state can not possibly be responsible to this level for the actions of (presumably) everyone. Unless you are talking about mass curtailment of civil liberties. Perhaps best leave that to one side!

      That’s not to say that victims of crime should not receive some form of compensation - just not for this reason.

      It is not the state’s role to, essentially always and everywhere offer the sort of guarantees that your quote suggests you believe. Indeed, taken to its end-point this comes close to saying that the state ought to pre-empt events - clearly a step too far.

      Can I suggest Sunny that you raise this very interesting question about the rights and wrongs of compensation for victims in a thread that does not have the Hitchins spectre and rape questions contaminating the discussion?

    12. Amrit — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:18 pm  

      ‘Women’, not ‘Woman.’

      You can hate rape and want it punished, while still recognising that a woman who, say, goes back to a man’s home after several Bacardi Breezers was being a bit dim.”

      O rite, Peter - and what about when women are raped and they’re NOT in the guy’s house, for example? Like… let me see… that John Worboyes feller. Gee, that complicates your stupid bullshit assumption, doesn’t it?

      Advocating careful drinking is one thing, but people going ‘women should be responsible for themselves’ is just bollocks, I’m sorry. Why blame the victim? Why not blame the man who had enough agency and lucidity to realise his vicious desire to achieve sexual gratification?

      Victim-blaming, especially when directed at women, gets into this slippery slide (as it did when this was originally flagged up on LibCon), where you end up with the argument that in that case, you might as well not leave the house at all. GREAT!

      It exasperates me so much. I mean, you wouldn’t blame the victims of a school shooting for being at school, would you?

      More on the insidiousness of victim-blaming on my blog for anyone who may be interested…

      http://gts-kjb.blogspot.com/2009/03/rihanna-chris-brown-gossip-folks.html

      persephone - you GET ME.

    13. The Dude — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:24 pm  

      So if a woman has a drink, it’s her fault she got raped! I wonder if Hitchens does some black cabbying in his downtime? I don’t care if a woman is pissed clean out of her head that doesn’t give ANY man the right to rape her. Mind you any woman that would willingly go to bed with that scum (Hitchens) deserves what she gets. Sleep with dogs and you’re bound to get flea’s.

    14. Don — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:35 pm  

      Of course she is culpable, just as she would be culpable if she crashed a car and injured someone while drunk…

      What? Have a few drinks and then go back for coffee and a chat is comparable to having a few drinks and taking charge of a large lump of metal capable of lethally high speed? No, Hitchens minor, not remotely comparable.

      As for the compo aspect, sure there will be (well publicised) anomalies but, as you say, there should be a pot available for those who have been damaged through no fault of their own. And failing to identify a potential rapist, regardless of one’s level of sobriety, does not place one at fault.

      Hitchens minor stops short of saying that the rapist is less culpable in this situation, but that is where the logic leads.

    15. Don — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:37 pm  

      Persephone,

      Spot on, and more succinct than I was.

    16. marvin — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

      women (and men) have a right to do act in this way without fear of serious assault.

      Women (and men) should be aware that going to a strangers house is very risky indeed, regardless of their rights under the law…

      Going to Cold Habour Lane in Brixton at 3am completely inebriated wearing thousands of pounds worth of jewellery would be a very stupid thing to do. The chances are you would be robbed. That shouldn’t however affect the sentence of the robber. A crime is a crime.

    17. Ravi Naik — on 17th March, 2009 at 6:56 pm  

      Hitchens minor stops short of saying that the rapist is less culpable in this situation, but that is where the logic leads.

      Indeed. His argument leads to “the rapist is less culpable when he attacks a more vulnerable victim”.

      In Peter’s defense, and based on the calibre of his articles, I have to say that he is not that bright (like his brother), and I do not think he is able to think two steps ahead. Which is why he hides this rather embarrassing handicap with pompous titles, like “Here is the glorious truth that I am presenting you that the Left doesn’t want you to see.”

    18. Don — on 17th March, 2009 at 7:10 pm  

      Going to Cold Habour Lane in Brixton at 3am completely inebriated wearing thousands of pounds worth of jewellery would be a very stupid thing to do.

      OK, I’ll change my plans for Friday night. Thanks for the head’s up.

    19. MaidMarian — on 17th March, 2009 at 7:25 pm  

      Amrit (12) - ‘It exasperates me so much. I mean, you wouldn’t blame the victims of a school shooting for being at school, would you?’

      That is a great way of putting it, but it effectively goes back to Sunny’s point about compensation as a mark of ’state failure.’ Should the state be blamed for someone buying a gun and deciding to shoot people? For compelling people to be at school?

      I say not. People should be compensated for having their life ruined (though s Don correctly points out, quantifying that is a mug’s game), not because the state can not micro-control everyone.

    20. The Dude — on 17th March, 2009 at 7:49 pm  

      On the day that Mandela was declared the new president of South Africa, I was in Soweto, along with thousands of others, drinking myself silly, in celebration. My camera kit (about 5K’s worth) was left in the middle of the street outside the sherbeen. In the morning, there were bodies all over the place ( many of women in various degrees of undress) but I don’t remember any women getting raped or my camera gear getting stolen. Please note that this story has been heavily censored, to preserve the dignity of this forum. I reiterate, a woman has the right to be a woman without fear or favour of some creepy guy crawling all over her. There is a thing called self control and we men should start learning how to practice it.

    21. persephone — on 17th March, 2009 at 8:45 pm  

      Hey Dude @ 20

      I raise a glass in (guilt free) appreciation.

      After all, not all men lack self control or are to be mis-trusted. A point that Hitchens does not realise that he is making about his own fair sex.

    22. persephone — on 17th March, 2009 at 8:52 pm  

      Thanks Don

      Amrit - as to victims et al - I have just read Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera (founder of karma nirvana) and was amazed at all that she had achieved

    23. Rumbold — on 17th March, 2009 at 8:52 pm  

      MaidMarian:

      It twas I who wrote the article.

      “The state can not possibly be responsible to this level for the actions of (presumably) everyone. Unless you are talking about mass curtailment of civil liberties. Perhaps best leave that to one side!”

      No, I am not saying that the government can always protect everyone against crimes, nor would I want it to try and do so, because, as you say, this would require a massive curtailment of civil liberties. But I do think that it is right that we compensate people if they are not protected from serious crimes. But the main reason, as you (and I) say, is because their life is damaged by this.

    24. Amrit — on 17th March, 2009 at 9:42 pm  

      LOL @ MM.

      Sorry… I didn’t mean for you to read that into what I said (though I’m intrigued that you did!). I just meant that blaming the victim in this instance is as illogical as blaming the victims in school-shootings. Nobody asks to have that done to them, do they?

      And the likes of Hitchens can protest all they want, there’s only one place that that sort of victim-blaming comes from, and it’s misogyny, because as persephone so astutely pointed out, you don’t generally see men being slagged off for getting violently assaulted when drunk unless they had been verbally abusive or violent in the first place.

      That’s what makes it so appalling when people smugly proclaim ‘Well, what does she expect going round that guy’s house?’

      Erm… maybe she was too drunk to consider calling a friend or a taxi? Maybe in her inebriated state, she feared that travelling home alone might be dangerous (ironically)? We all know that alcohol makes people make bad decisions, so it’s unfair that one gender gets more stick for that fact than the other! And yes, men should be expected to keep it in their trousers, because many men do manage that perfectly well. As persephone says, Hitchens is doing his sex a disservice and making himself look like more of a creep here. My Englishman couldn’t be on that low a level if he tried.

    25. cjcjc — on 17th March, 2009 at 9:47 pm  

      If I were to get drunk with a complete stranger, accompany him back to his house for a “nightcap”, only to find myself (non-sexually) assaulted and robbed, I would not find it unreasonable for friends to sympathise but also to suggest I had been a bit daft.

      I don’t see how that situation would change if I had been sexually assaulted instead.

      None of this excuses the assailant.

    26. Clairwil — on 17th March, 2009 at 10:24 pm  

      Sorry but I think it foolish to go up the road with anyone you don’t know or to get yourself into a state where you don’t know what your doing. Doesn’t give anyone the right to rape, assault, muder you but commonsense tells us that you are better placed to defend yourself relatively sober in a public place. I do not believe all men are rapists but just as I don’t give someone bank card and pin because they seemed nice and had bought me a drink, I believe I am responsible for my own safety and avoid placing myself in a vulnerable situation when it comes to looking after my own body which is slightly more important than the meagre cash in my bank account.

      Quite apart from anything else if you do go back to someone’s house drunk and they rape you it’s virtually impossible to prove in court in the absence of any signs of violence. Whilst you have every right to do so I don’t fancy your chances of any redress under the law for any violation of that right.

    27. Sunny — on 17th March, 2009 at 10:58 pm  

      I reiterate, a woman has the right to be a woman without fear or favour of some creepy guy crawling all over her. There is a thing called self control and we men should start learning how to practice it.

      Exactly.

      cjcjc - in fact, as I said on LC, your argument is exactly the same that the Saudis use when they say women should cover up so that men are not tempted.

      Funny, you’re always cussing the Saudis, and yet now you’re agreeing with their view on women.

    28. Clairwil — on 17th March, 2009 at 11:27 pm  

      Sunny,
      I’m sue cjcjc can speak for him/herself but what the Saudi view often seems to imply or rather seems to be interpreted to imply is that men can’t be expected to control themselves unless women cover themselves up. If I understand cjcjc correctly what he/she is saying is that men do not have the right to assault drunk women but some will in certain circumstances and therefore it’s a bit foolish not to acknowlege it and take precautions accordingly.

      Men should exercise self control but until all of them without exception do I shall continue to take reasonable steps to avoid needless risks.

    29. The Common Humanist — on 17th March, 2009 at 11:28 pm  

      Brothers and Sisters,
      LO, Behold, we are united on this - Peter Hitchens is a tool*.

      TCH

      *Feel free to substitute any insult of your choice.

    30. douglas clark — on 18th March, 2009 at 1:09 am  

      Clairwil,

      Good to see you back.

      Even in the most extreme cases some men seem unable to separate their sexuality from their humanity:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1874471.stm

      ‘Tis a nasty business being a prude.

      —————————————-

      You are quite right to say that women need to be aware, but they ought to have the full force of the law behind them, whether they are aware or not?

      I think that being vulnerable, whether drunk or just naturally daft, ought to be no excuse for a predator.

    31. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 18th March, 2009 at 8:26 am  

      I don’t see how anyones “rights” are being challenged, or even brought into this conversation at all? everyone has the “right” to live free of danger … please let me know when the world is perfect. Until then, I think I will continue to be responsible for myself (best as I can)

      I actually feel sorry for men, they get blamed for everything. How is it women are always sooo innocent? aren’t we the mothers of all these men (and woman)?
      Somehow feminism has decided equality meant to engage in a power struggle even with our sexuality. So, Men should exercise self control, but women don’t have to? They can dress and act and do as they wish? …
      I’m sorry I have to ask this, just for the sake of asking it - but if you will make excuses for women being drunk and vulnerable, couldn’t people make the same excuse for men being drunk and aggressive? ( which I’m not myself making for them here)

      anyway … this home office report, really makes things kinda equal in the victim by gender department -see page 15 … that is unless you notice the huge difference in “base” numbers.
      http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs06/rdsolr1206.pdf

      and here are a few links to men who are tried of seeing themselves blamed for everything …

      http://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=3452&cp=4

      http://tinyurl.com/d7oak

      I’m not in denial over anything, ironically at this moment there is program on in the background about rape in the military.
      I just don’t think laws or monetary compensation really make people respect each other. Identity politics includes gender, and I’m for a little more unity there too.

    32. cjcjc — on 18th March, 2009 at 8:49 am  

      I’m not sure my argument is the same as the Saudis.

      Suggesting that you lock your front door when you go out is not the same as suggesting that no-one can resist an opportunity to walk in and steal the telly, is it?

      Clairwil expresses it perfectly.

    33. douglas clark — on 18th March, 2009 at 9:12 am  

      cjcjc,

      I think it was a Conservative Party motion that said:

      “A naked woman, carrying a bag of gold, should be able to walk from Lands End to John of Groats without fear”

      I paraphrase, because I’m too lazy to look it up.

      What is perhaps worth pointing out is that the practicalities of living in our society are a tad different. But the law should apply to that person just as it does to others, I think.

      Which was probably the point of the motion. The law is an ass if it does not protect the vulnerable?

    34. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 18th March, 2009 at 9:25 am  

      but douglas, I agree the law should protect! but if you do some deeper research there are many clearly taking advantage of this particular law ..so in what ways does the law need to protect itself sometimes to remain effective?

    35. cjcjc — on 18th March, 2009 at 9:53 am  

      Douglas I agree.

      That does not mean that some people do not behave stupidly.

    36. douglas clark — on 18th March, 2009 at 10:14 am  

      The Queen of Fiddlesticks @ 34,

      Sure. There are always people who exploit anything.

      But most people that are victims of crime are just that, victims. I’d have thought, correct me if I am wrong, that proving a crime in a criminal court was just about the highest level of proof that our society ever expects. If the victim of that crime is recompensed then they are within the framework of the law. I can imagine a truly Machiavellian person exploiting that. I cannot see that being something even a grifter would undertake lightly.

      As cjcjc sort of says, there are also people who go out of their way to be victims. I do not know how you legislate for that. The law is there to protect the weak as well as the strong. And the compensatory element is probably the least of it.

    37. Rumbold — on 18th March, 2009 at 10:15 am  

      The Queen of Fiddlesticks, cjcjc and others are missing the point, I think. No one is saying that women shouldn’t be careful (because their is the chance of assault). What, I, and mnay others take issue with was Peter Hitchens’ assertion that a raped woman who had been drinking was a “bit dim” for going back to a man’s house. The difference in tone and language is important.

      The Queen of Fiddlesticks:

      Nobody is saying that men don’t suffer from violence, or are to blame for all violence against women. But we are talking specifically about a man raping a woman.

    38. The Dude — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:19 pm  

      The Nigerian law of the Jungle!

      I’ve got the right to rip you off, turn you over and screw you blind, if you’re stupid enough to be taken in, by me.

      Result: Nobody does business with Nigerians. Period.

      It doesn’t stop people from being stupid it just stop them being stupid in the presence of Nigerians. If they want to be respected, even trusted, it’s the Nigerians that have to change NOT their victims.

    39. Clairwil — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:26 pm  

      Douglas,
      Of course women ought to have the full force of the law behind them. But I get very uncomfortable with everyone insisting women do not need to take care of themselves and exercise a bit of caution. There is nothing wrong with telling people they have the right but pointing out that there are plently folk out there who do not respect that right.

    40. The Dude — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:29 pm  

      Something else

      If a man can’t control himself, it’s HIS problem NOT the woman’s. Pornography is freely available and so is your right arm. Men really don’t have an excuse. My mum taught me that if a woman was naked and covered in gold, I had NO RIGHT to trouble her in ANY WAY. Any man that could forced himself on a half pissed up girl, is a sad, sad, sicko and a disgrace to his sex.

    41. Clairwil — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:31 pm  

      Rumbold,
      Perhaps I wouldn’t have used the phrase a ‘bit dim’, I think I would have chosen naive.

    42. Clairwil — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:33 pm  

      The Dude,
      Your mother was right but none of that alters the fact that some men think might is right in this sort of situation. Until all men think as you do I’d suggest the ladies exercise a bit of caution.

    43. The Dude — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:39 pm  

      Or I suggest the ladies direct the said scumbag my way and I’ll work some might is right into his sorry ass.

    44. Clairwil — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:45 pm  

      Douglas,
      Sorry just clicked on the link above. Exactly how batshit mental does one need to be to think like that?

      I was at a Postivite Action In Housing training event a while back and the person taking the training was telling us about some folk from the Strathclyde Fire Dept she’d been dealing with who’d been told that for reasons of ‘cultural sensitivity’ they were under no circumstances to touch a Muslim woman -though quite how they were expected to establish a woman was Muslim in a burning building was never explained. Happily PAIH intervened and the fire dept dropped the policy. Funnily enough no Muslims or more specifically Muslim women had been consulted in drawing up the Fire Dept’s original policy.

    45. Clairwil — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:47 pm  

      The Dude,
      I suspect you might be kept rather busy.

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