The charge of rape is a successful way to smear your enemy. When political agitator Andrew Breitbart was met with Occupy protestors one year at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he started screeching, “Behave yourselves and stop raping people!” Russian President Vladimir Putin used this slander brilliantly when asked if gay athletes would be safe in his country during the Olympics. He replied, yes, “Just leave the kids alone.”
(Rand Paul has been obsessively calling Bill Clinton a predator because of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Sorry, Rand, she was 20 years old and consenting. That barb is also 20 years old…by the way.)
It’s easy to see people whom we don’t like as sexual predators. It’s easy to vilify people as the perpetrators of rape. No one likes a rapist. Right? You’d think.
Unless…you know…we like them. Fans who enjoy the music of Michael Jackson questioned the motives of those who came forward with allegations of abuse. Woody Allen admirers won’t accept the idea he could have sexually abused his adopted daughter. The charge is dismissed as inappropriate for the public sphere. Everyone who serves in the U.S. military is automatically a hero; we refuse to think they’d ever rape someone. Catholic priests are transferred and “treated” within the church instead of being put in jail like secular pedophiles. We give a very wide berth to those whom we hold in esteem when it comes to sexual assault.
Think I’m off? Thousands of students at Penn State rioted when Joe Paterno was fired as head coach after it was known he covered for Jerry Sandusky’s prolific career as a child molester. They were not rioting because they were outraged Paterno had enabled eight children to be raped; they were outraged he was no longer going to be their school’s coach.
We have a simplistic view of sexual assault: Rape is done by bad people. We don’t like bad people. If we like people, they can’t be bad and therefore can’t really be rapists. When the Steubenville rapists were sentenced CNN reporter Poppy Harlow lamented the end of their promising futures. The assault was well documented on social media (by the defendants)—there was no doubt they’d raped an unconscious girl at a party. And yet somehow because the rapists got good grades—it was a sad story for them to be punished.
Which leads me to the rather extreme case of Bob Jones University. For decades accusers were denounced as liars and sinners. According to reports anyone who came forward with allegations were told turning in a member of the fundamentalist community would tarnish Jesus Christ. A student activist who called for board member Chuck Phelps’ removal and for a committee to review sexual abuse allegations on campus after Phelps covered up a rape and made the 16-year-old victim apologize for her “sin” of pregnancy, was expelled just days before he was set to graduate. The act is seen as retaliatory for his speaking out against this insular institution. The university is under scrutiny this week for firing the consulting organization hired to investigate sexual abuse on campus. Now victims have no other options but to talk to the satanic New York Times.
We can dismiss BJU as what happens when you have absolute power in a fringe group—but it points to a larger issue the secular world is guilty of as well. We have a rape excuse problem. We have no compunction with the charge of sexual assault as long as that person is an abstract evil caricature and not someone with talent, standing in the community, dog tags or a bible.
Rape is rape.