Highlighting Wonkette Wisdom

There was a bit in a piece by Wonkette writer Robyn Pennacchia that was too good not to signal boost:

I have a theory on why women are the primary audience for true crime, for why we are the primary audience for crime procedurals. It’s because justice, for us, is a kind of escapism, it’s a kind of fairy tale — about as likely to happen in real life, to us or to anyone we know, as a pumpkin turning into a carriage. Nearly every single woman I know who has reported a rape or a sexual assault to the police has been told, more or less, to fuck off, nearly every one has been retraumatized. We have hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits, just hanging around in warehouses.

I, too, have watched hours of Law & Order in its original and SVU incarnations. I, too, have come to the conclusion that the criminal justice system is aptly named. How do I combine a dislike of how rule of law is exploited to produce its opposite and along the way perpetuate injustice after injustice with an affection for shows such as this? It’s exactly what Pennacchia said: fantasies can be as comforting as fresh baked bread.


  1. ardipithecus says

    The one positive result I can see from the Jian Ghomeshi kerfuffle is that a lot of Canadians are talking about alternatives to the Criminal Justice system for resolving sexual assault complaints. There is widespread agreement that the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ threshold is too high, and that the JG case illustrates that beautifully. OTOH, the bar is seen as too low in the civil courts. There is the additional problem with civil courts that there is too little perception of justice being done no matter what the outcome. That is, the consequences fall short of feeling just.

    Civil courts don’t do anything to protect the public (mostly females here) from further danger.

    The conversation has been directed toward some sort of court which is dedicated to sexual offences, taking them out of the Justice System.

    Another idea might be to allow judges to decide cases based on the level of evidence available, ranging from civil actions to criminal, so that there is no actual bar to get over beyond preponderance of evidence, but where evidence is sufficient, some sort of protection (incarceration most likely) is available..

    The discussions are in their infancy, and such things take time. I hope it doesn’t fizzle.

  2. says

    @Bot Fux: Thanks!

    Curiously, in Canada there is already another venue: the HRTs. HRTs aren’t civil courts or courts for traditional torts/lawsuits. They have damages caps that don’t exist in traditional courts, for instance. However, the tribunals have a specific mandate to deal with discrimination and harassment as codified in each province’s Human Rights Code. Where tort courts generally have no or very limited power to issue protective orders or anything similar as part of a tort judgement, the HRTs have much less latitude to award money but much more latitude to issue corrective orders. Further, seeking action through the HRT does not generally prevent a tort claim for the same underlying behaviors.

    For these reasons, the Canadian system is already significantly more flexible than the US system. I haven’t heard a lot of these discussions, but it’s very possible they’re happening outside my orbit. The JG trial got major coverage out here in BC, but not so much as it did back east.

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