To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Still with the Duke case. Which brings up echoes of Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, etc.

Some people wonder whether it is possible for a prostitute or a girl of lax morals to be raped. I have a couple of thoughts.

First, the personal responsibility thing is a real stumbling-block for some. Let's consider this scenario: I park my car in a public lot, leave an expensive laptop on the seat, and go off without locking my car doors. When I come back several hours later, the laptop is gone. Was I foolish in leaving the laptop unguarded? Absolutely. Was the thief wrong to take it? Amazingly, some would say that since I didn't lock the thing up, it was fair game and I have no grievance. Compare this to a different scenario, in which I lock the laptop in the car trunk when I think no one is looking, and the thief has to break into the trunk to take the laptop. In the second scenario I would deserve more sympathy and probably get more consideration from the police, but I don't think there is a difference in culpability for the thief. In both cases, he knew he was taking something that didn't belong to him. The fact of the matter is, that while theft is wrong and people shouldn't engage in it, if your laptop is stolen you won't have it anymore, so it behooves you to lock the thing up. And locking up your laptop isn't controversial or counterculture like acting like you have some morals is so most of us just secure our property without thinking much about it.

So consider a case in which a woman goes to a man's hotel room in the middle of the night, or contracts to strip at a party for money. Maybe she has it in the back of her mind that anything might happen, and maybe she's OK with that. Then if sex occurs, is it possible that it was rape? People say, what did she go there for? I've heard that over and over.

Here's an analogy that I find useful. Suppose that you decide that you want to do something to help the homeless. There's a homeless shelter down the street from your workplace, and you arrange to go there one afternoon and take a tour. If you like what you see, you're prepared to make a large donation. The people who run the shelter meet you at the door. They know what you're there for, and they very nicely start showing you around. Once you get well inside, though, they push you up against the wall, go through your pockets and take your wallet and your cell and PDA, grab the watch off your wrist, and then hustle you over to the front door and push you out into the street. Were you robbed? Well, what did you go in there for? You were probably going to give them some money anyway, right?

Not that I think this scenario describes the Duke case. If the reports are true that there's no DNA match and the timeline doesn't add up, I'm thinking this one was a false accusation. We'll see what happens when (if) it goes to trial.

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