Quantcast

«

»

Aug 19 2013

The Parable of “But That’s Not Theft!”

Ah. I see the fail is out in force, and some of our more despicable community members are attempting to redefine rape out of existence. Some of these shitlords are, themselves, rapists or wanna-be rapists who would like to ensure society will not recognize them as rapists and act accordingly. Some of them are proper little fanchildrenz, who wish to convince themselves that their heroz never in a billion trillion years committed the horrific act of rape, so of course the non-consensual sex those heroz inflicted upon other people totes wasn’t rape.

Neither of these categories are likely to understand the following parables, as they are motivated to not understand. To them, I am not speaking.

But there may be those in the audience who are wearing their rape-culture goggles, and as a result can’t see rape as rape. For them, the following series of parables may be of some benefit.

Some of the many things that are not consent. Not having clear, enthusiastic consent means you should probably err on the side of not raping someone. Photo courtesy Garry Knight via Flickr.

Some of the many things that are not consent. Not having clear, enthusiastic consent means you should probably err on the side of not raping someone. Photo courtesy Garry Knight via Flickr.

Parable 1: “But That’s Not Theft!”

Mr. Sherman is a very famous bloke, and ever-so-valuable to this community. He’s got a column in a venerable old magazine! He’s written many books! He’s in high demand as a speaker!

You are one among the many thousand who respect him. One of this books even changed your life. So far, so wonderful.

He’s bound to have lots of money. Rolling in it. And when you have the good fortune to meet him at a seminar, you’re shocked and flattered that this famous wealthy person wants to spend time with little old you. He even invites you to the bar for a drink that evening. And you find yourself walking on clouds.

Mr. Sherman has two drinks with you, while you burble about how life-changing his books have been, trying not to sound too over-flattering. He seems to like you. Compliments your intelligence. Admires your sense of style. In fact, after the first drink, he even asks if he can wear your watch.

A very lovely and valuable old watch, not something you'd let just anybody wear. Image courtesy Darron Birgenheier via Flickr.

A very lovely and valuable old watch, not something you’d let just anybody wear. Image courtesy Darron Birgenheier via Flickr.

It feels terribly awkward, but you decline. Family heirloom. You’d feel very uncomfortable letting anyone borrow it, even Mr. Sherman. So sorry!

You’re very relieved when he takes that refusal in stride.

After your second drink together, you both decide the bar is growing too loud, and decide to seek somewhere quieter. You offer to pay for the drinks – after all, you’re having a great time, and you want to give your personal hero something nice. Mr. Sherman protests it’s not necessary, but gracefully accepts.

Hungry, you go to dinner together. You share a bottle of good wine, and though you want to be frugal, you let Mr. Sherman talk you into the very expensive steak-and-lobster entree. And you enjoy it! You even order dessert. Why not live a little?

At the end of the meal, Mr. Sherman tells you he’s forgotten his wallet. How embarrassing. Could you possibly cover the check?

It’s $150, what with the wine and caviar and everything. You hesitate. You don’t want to do this – you’re not rich, and this will blow your food budget for the entire weekend. But you don’t feel you can say no in these circumstances, so you pay up, plus tip, but tell Mr. Sherman that’s it. You’re broke.

Well, of course he understands. And to show his appreciation and prove there are no hard feelings, he invites you to his room, where he’s got a nice bottle of sherry. You’ve both had so much fun talking, it would be a shame to end it now.

When you get there, he gives you plenty of sherry. And he admires your cell phone. What a beautiful device! Brand new, the most recent model, really fast and smart. Mr. Sherman would love to try out a phone like that. His SIM card would fit yours – could he borrow it for the weekend? He’ll swap his phone with you.

You advise him, feeling very uncomfortable, that you don’t really feel like that’s a good idea. You’d rather not.

Mr. Sherman understands completely. And gives you a very nice gin and tonic, as the sherry was a bit too sweet. And by this time, you’re so drunk the room’s begun to wobble. But you don’t feel you can decline another. And then the evening’s drinking catches up to you.

The rest of the night’s a blur, but you remember flashes. Like when Mr. Sherman takes your watch off, and you’re pretty sure you asked him not to, but he didn’t seem to notice and you were too plastered to insist he give it back. You were pretty much passed out when he took your cell phone. And you were completely unconscious when he ran off with your car keys.

I'm sure your car was very nice. So kind of you to give it away. Image courtesy John O'Nolan via Flickr.

I’m sure your car was very nice. So kind of you to give it away. Image courtesy John O’Nolan via Flickr.

You wake up, hung over and hurting, and find your stuff gone.

Have you been robbed?

Really?

Mr. Sherman didn’t take your stuff at gunpoint, right? Isn’t it true you paid for the drinks and dinner? And you willingly went back to his room, and drank yourself comatose – on his alcohol, you know. Why would you have done that when you knew he wanted your watch and cell phone? Isn’t it possible you changed your mind about giving them to him? And since you let him take those, why should anyone believe you when you say you definitely didn’t give him permission to take your car? Where’s the evidence he did any of that against your will? He doesn’t need to steal stuff – he’s rich and people give him things all the time. Aren’t you just saying he robbed you because you woke up regretting the fact you’d given your heirloom watch away? You’re just trying to get attention by accusing somebody famous! And really, if you actually did get robbed, why didn’t you report it to the police?

This is what you hear from friends, acquaintances, hotel security, the seminar staff… by the end of the ordeal, you choose not to report it to the police, because they won’t do anything when it’s just your word against a famous person’s, and if you press charges, Mr. Sherman and his fans will make your life hell, and he won’t even be convicted if it ever does make it to court because, hey, you were drunk and just asking to be robbed. Besides, you can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you didn’t give him your stuff.

You let the matter drop because you can’t go through more of this and worse.

Does that mean you weren’t really robbed? Or that Mr. Sherman isn’t a thief?

Think carefully before you answer.

 

Stay tuned for our next episode: the Parable of the Enema.

5 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Oh no, that’s some terribly good modelling right there. Suitable for tossing at the hypothetical and legalistic JAQ-a-trolls.

  2. 2
    cham826

    Thank you! I’ve been thinking for years that if a comparison between rape and robbery were made it might just get through to some people. My question has always been this: if a man visits an ATM on a downtown street, and, as he walks away, he counts his money in full view of everyone on the street, if he is then robbed, was he asking for it? Would would this be a valid defense for the thief?

  3. 3
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Some of them are proper little fanchildrenz, who wish to convince themselves that their heroz never in a billion trillion years committed the horrific act of rape, so of course the non-consensual sex those heroz inflicted upon other people totes wasn’t rape.

    There is something so familiar about people being so quick to leap to the defence of such odious people, but I couldn’t quite figure out what. And then it came to me.
    When we atheists point out to believers that their chosen deity causes bad things to happen to people they will respond that we are misinterpreting said deity’s actions, or re-define ‘bad’ in a special deistic-only way; will always blame those to whom the bad things happened; and will attack us for pointing out the problem in the first place.
    Yet so many of those who will call out the religious for their defence of the indefencible are doing exactly the same thing when their ‘skeptic heroes’ are caught out, complete with re-defining, victim-blaming, and attacking the accusers. It’s almost as if they want to live up to the idea put forth by the religious that organised atheism is just another religion.

  4. 4
    Kevin Schelley

    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant Dana.

  5. 5
    John Phillips, FCD

    Stay tuned for our next episode: the Parable of the Enema.

    I lolled.

Comments have been disabled.