Care of Julia, we get this Nebraska version of The Handmaid’s Tale not from some fictional world, but from the United States, circa 2007 (the same year when a Supreme Court justice finds the need to tell you little ladies that because you might regret some of your decisions, we won’t let you make them).
Anyway, submitted for your approval (or disapproval) is a case of a 24-year old woman contending she met a man at a party, and seemed to lose consciousness only to find herself waking up, apparently having had sex that she clearly doesn’t remember consenting to, i.e. she was a victim of “date rape” or certainly some other kind of rape.
Rather than use common methods of swaying a jury to find for acquittal– such as permitting extensive attacks on the victim’s credibility by bringing in evidence of her loose morals and so forth– this judge decided that many words around this issue were too inflammatory.
That they made the defendant sound guilty, and that they implied a crime….”Rape” is a legal conclusion- he thought. We cannot call it rape until a jury says it’s rape. (Hear that women? You can’t know something is rape until there’s a vote. I suppose being there doesn’t grant you any special insight.) So he banned some words. Nobody in his courtroom may use these words, when it comes to this trial:
No one can say that the hospital did a “Rape Kit” and they can’t say that at the hospital she was treated by the “Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.” In fact, inside the courtroom no one can even say that the defendant is charged with 1st Degree Sexual Assault.
So what, if anything, was allowed?
Ms. Bowen is allowed to say that she and the defendant had “sex” or “intercourse”, which she complains (and very rightly so) implies the exact opposite to a jury, that the acts were consensual and non-traumatic.
Got all that? Not from some disturbing past… but from a future dystopian Orwellian future called “America, 2007”. Congratulations, guys: you need never take “No” for an answer, ever again, sayeth Judge Jeffre Cheuvront, at least. (Those not in his judicial catchment area in Nebraska may still want to think about this…)
The punch-line is that, for the second time (the first after a jury could not agree on a verdict last year), Judge Cheuvront has declared a mistrial. Justice delayed indefinitely is justice in Nebraska, it seems.
Anyway, let me quote my own knee-jerk reaction, sent to Julia by my earlier e-mail:
Obviously, when you’re making the world safe for unlimited patriarchal authority, you do have to enforce a few rules every now and again. I mean, it’s kind of like what Justice Kennedy said recently: the little ladies will just come to regret certain choices, so I’m going to do them a favor and make those choices for them. Also, I really do get the feeling that Nebraska is much closer to having its finger on the pulse of America than we are in our little European island fiefdom. That we keep electing Neanderthals (and metally challenged Neanderthals at that) keeps coming as a great shock to us; but if we were more familiar with Middle America and the Deep South, we might be more… understanding… of this phenomenon.
But everything is thematic: this is the war on reason and knowledge just going to an Alice in Wonderland level in a courtroom,as opposed to a legislature, a jail or a battlefield. Here, the vic just drew the wrong judge: there are an infinite number of more subtle ways that the judge could guarantee an acquittal, all without drawing the ire or even the attention of feminist bloggers or anyone else…indeed, there is an argument that political pressures just shouldn’t have a place in the courtroom– even with a wackadoo judge, because it serves to undermine judicial impartiality. The problem here is that this psychopath (the judge that is) doesn’t even want the victim… er, the defendant that is… to even FEEL BAD while the charade plays on around him. For THAT bit of nonsense, the fellow (the judge that is) should be removed from the bench. We have no room in our hearts for incompetent hacks who insist on outcomes that the system can’t deliver.
Also, a friend of mine … points out, accurately, that the Duke rape prosecutor case is a classic example OF GOOD OLD PATRIARCHY IN ACTION. Why? The perceived vics were privileged WHITE BOYS… when is the last time a prosecutor was even CRITICIZED, let alone disciplined, fired AND DISBARRED for bringing a mistaken prosecution against A BLACK MAN?
Did I say all that out loud? Or, as that popular genius from Tennessee might say… “Indeed”.