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September 24, 2021

Time to Stop Blaming the Victim



A few decades ago I was in one of my favorite pubs in Seattle. I eventually made my way to the ladies’ room, which had signs posted in the stalls and by the mirrors: “There have been several rapes & attempted rapes this week. Please be careful.”

Well, that’s good to know. Travel in packs — it’s safer. Some poor woman may get attacked if she strays too far from the herd. Bam! Raped. Should have kept up, Missy. It’s just Nature. So National Geographic.

I’ll admit to some liquid courage, but I walked into the men’s room to check. No signs. Nothing.

I made a few of my own and hung them up.

“There have been several rapes and attempted rapes this week. Please don’t rape people. If you see someone being raped — stop it.”

It seemed then, as it does now, ludicrous that we blame the victims of crime. Oh, there’s plenty of “caution” to be taken but ultimately a crime is committed because someone chooses to do the wrong thing.

I overheard an argument this week. It was a echo of what we’ve heard over and over for the past few weeks. The George Zimmerman court case would have been more accurately referred to as the “Trayvon Martin” trial. What kind of kid takes Skittles to a gun fight?! Black kid in a hoodie. He had it coming. The punk.

Had Mr. Zimmerman been a black man and young Martin a Hispanic kid in khakis, penny loafers and a blue blazer, well, I’m sure he wouldn’t have avoided charges or been granted bail.

So now there’s a teenager dead for absolutely no reason. And there’s a smug, middle-aged coward walking around with a gun to help him feel less frightened. There are plenty of dead teens and smug thugs but we only know the names when the news media decide to grace their stories with coverage.

The pathetic picture painted by the trial was of some Americans’ willingness to see the gun-toting perpetrator of the crime as the victim, and the victim as the perpetrator. Who are we rooting for? The bad guys? Good grief. Haven’t these people read Louis L’Amour? The bad guys suck. The good guys work hard to be good guys, and they’re supposed to get the girl AND the horse she rode in on.

Culturally, we blame the poor for being poor. I’m sure it has nothing to do with 10 of our 50 states choosing to spend more on prisons than on education. Detroit just declared bankruptcy. Pensioners are going to get 10 cents on the dollar. We’d never let that happen to a big bank or a hedge fund. But close schools? That works.

To raise yourself from the bottom of the barrel is harder now than it used to be. If someone is unemployed, it must be his fault, right? I mean, “Get a job, loser!” Oh, sorry, the factory you worked in just moved to India? Can you say, “Welcome to Walmart?” Great. Now fill out the paperwork for food stamps because your new job is part-time, you’ll qualify and you’ll most likely be hungry at some point.

Legislation is being passed across the country to punish victims of rape and incest. Texas just voted down an amendment to exempt women impregnated as the result of crime from their abortion prohibition. Really? I’m afraid so.

I wonder: Did white, male Texas Republicans make those signs for the ladies’ room? I’m so tired of seeing a bunch of men get together and decide women aren’t smart enough to manage their own bodies and lives but somehow are ready to be wonderful mothers (because any idiot can be a great mother, apparently).

I guarantee you this kind of nonsense would be over in a New York minute if men could get pregnant. “Oh, I made a mistake — like getting drunk, or raped — so now the government should force me to give birth …”

Yeah, I can see a lot of men lining up for that program.

I’m telling you, these guys are our homegrown Taliban. This is misogyny in the guise of religious principle. It’s really about blaming women for human nature.

I have yet to see one of these ayatollahs-in-cowboy-boots offer to amend their lady-hating laws to say “Zero Parental Rights For Rapists.” Think that’s a joke? You’re wrong. In 31 states a rapist has custodial rights over the child that results from his crime.

Is this fair to the victim?

Who cares? She’s a woman.

Maybe we need to start making some other signs to hang. Different messages than we get from compassionless conservatives like Texas hair-do Rick Perry.

“Don’t make life harder for folks having a hard time already.”

“Don’t start fights with kids and then shoot them when they fight back.”

“Don’t rape people.”

As Pop Moore has pointed out: At some point, folks who don’t like being walked on — the poor, the oppressed, the raped, the profiled — get up off the floor.

Can’t happen soon enough.

This article is cross-posted at The Anchorage Daily News



16 Responses to “Time to Stop Blaming the Victim”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    Don’t know whether to laugh or cry-

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Yesterday Fake Noise reported Trayvon Martin’s killer came out of hiding just in time to pull four people out of an overturned vehicle. Law enforcement on the scene identified Zimmerman as one of two heroes. Zimmermans lawyer showed up on telly later claiming that this act of heroism did not surprise him. Well,wtf,this whole scenario doesn’t surprise mike from iowa. Call me cynical,but the odds of this not being staged are astronomical,imho. Near as I can tell,the only missing ingredient is a black teen in a hoodie causing the accident to begin with. In order to believe this I’d have to have stoopid written all over my face.

  3. Mike says:

    Outstanding, as usual.
    Maybe it becomes evident to the short-sighted when someone turns on the lights and points at the obvious. Which few do, these days.
    (Why yes, that is third-beer grammar, why do you ask?)

  4. Zyxomma says:

    Well said as always, Shannyn. I read this yesterday through your FB link, and am glad you posted it here.

  5. Beaglemom says:

    I am also very tired of the “blame the victim” attitude so prevalent in the media that it has become an almost national byword. As for Detroit, what is happening is a tragedy that should never have happened. Our esteemed governor, who ran as the businessman who could save Michigan (never mind that President Obama and Gov. Granholm had saved the auto industry) put an emergency manager in Detroit who is 1) not from Michigan and 2) a bankruptcy lawyer. This weekend the managing jerk announced that there were no plans to ask for help from Washington. I hope the people of the city go over his head and the cowering head of our governor and go directly to Washington. The city was bled dry long ago and honest, hard-working ordinary people are blamed for something they never had any control over – a one industry town that deserted its workers.

  6. ~Sil in Corea says:

    Well-said, Shannyn!
    I’ll admit to having a flashback. We can only protect ourselves the best way we know how to, at the time.
    Education and awareness help. I’m glad you put up signs in the men’s room!

  7. mike from iowa says:

    Here is an interesting fact from Feb 2004 through Feb 2010 people listed on the known terrorist lists applied for 1225 firearms and 3 explosives background checks. 91% of the firearm requests and 100% of the explosives requests were granted because terrorists are allowed by law to buy weapons in the good ol’ U.S.A.. I doubt the NRA wants to deprive enemy combatants of their 2nd amendment rights.

  8. mike from iowa says:

    You did not receive the official “Trayvon Martin is on trial” memo? If he had only walked away from a stalker he’d be alive today(except he probably would have been shot in the back while fleeing custody).The wannabe Rambo ignored orders not to pursue an innocent man who just happened to fit the racial profile of young Blacks suspected of crimes in that area,except the trial wasn’t about race. Martin also had traces of marijuana in his system,which every one knows turns hippies into stark,raving,vicious animals,unless of course they are trying to defend themselves from unidentified strangers with guns. But ,because for some reason Trayvon was not able to defend himself at trial the jury had no recourse except to depend on the non-testimony of the man who committed this heinous crime and let him walk. Zimmerman may again be armed,but not with the gun he used to kill an unarmed Black teen. The Justice Department has detained the weapon as evidence and rwnj are screaming holy hell about violations of Zimmerman’s 2nd and 4th Amendment rights. Martin is dead,so he apparently isn’t covered by the Constitution. Great post as always,Shannyn.

    • DaninANC says:

      Say true things. Don’t pretend possible (or probable) scenarios in your head are known to be true. Avoid exaggeration and hyperbole.

      • mike from iowa says:

        What is not true? Zimmerman was ordered by police dispatcher not to follow Martin. Zimmerman himseld said Martin fit profile of kids commiting crimes and getting away. He also said Martin wasn’t going to get away. Martin sure as hell was unarmed and Zimmerman just as surely killed him. Medical examiner stated before and after the trial,which Martin couldn’t attend because he was shot dead for no apparent reason,that Martin had traces of marijuana in his system. After the trial he stated that the amount of marijuana in Martin was possibly sufficient to affect Martin’s behavior. In other words Martin could have been so mellowed out he wouldn’t likely be capable of anger. RWNJ are screaming about Zimmerman’s rights. And most of all,Shannyn always does a fantastic job with her writing,even if you can’t read and comprehend her musings.

        • DaninANC says:

          a) Zimmerman wasn’t ordered.
          b) There is no reason to think that Zimmerman would have shot Martin in the back.
          c) there is no reason to think that dead men aren’t covered by the constitution. Rather, acts with no witnesses are rarely punished, regardless of whether or not a man dies.

          • mike from iowa says:

            Dispatch-” Are you following him?”
            Dispatch-“We don’t need you to do that.”

            I never claimed Zimmerman would shoot him in the back. I said he probably would have if Martin had walked away from the confrontation. The fact that Martin was already dead made shooting him in the back for fleeing a moot point. Why does your side cheer Zimmerman for self defense and not accord Martin that same right? He had as much right to be where he was and he also had the right to self defense against an unidentified threat-e.g. Zimmerman. Since Martin was not commiting ANY crime,why was he allowed to be killed?

            • DaninANC says:

              I don’t cheer Zimmerman. I suspect that he’s a power hungry wannabee cop. That said, I think that it’s very important that we think clearly about the notion of self defense, and presumed innocence. One does have the right to use deadly force to protect oneself from current violent acts that cause you to fear for your life. One does not have the right to use force (deadly or otherwise) to dissuade a wannabee cop from following you. And, when accusing somebody of murder the burden of proof is with the prosecution.

              We don’t know what actually happened that night, and it pains me to see so many of my fellow travelers banging on this drum. This is how our justice system is supposed to work.

              • Alaska Pi says:

                No we do not know what happened that night. We do, however, know that it highly possible that Mr Martin felt the circumstance he was in put him at risk as much as Mr Zimmerman says he felt he was at risk.
                This law , SYG, changes a longstanding sturdy notion of self defense to something rather different.
                I would suggest we call it Last Human Standing Wins The Coin Toss.

                I would also request you to think seriously about what constitutes a “reasonably cautious and prudent person”

                from jury instructions to jurors :

                “In deciding whether George Zimmerman was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge him by the circumstances by which he was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real.”

                Mr Zimmerman flunks that test right off the bat no matter what he contends happened after he got out of the vehicle.
                And actually- should a wannabe cop following you put you in fear of your own life under this current law , you DO have the right to use use deadly force to “dissuade” him. That is how SYG works as opposed to the old common law notion of self defense.
                There is inadequate evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that young Mr Martin did so but he has the same rights as Mr Zimmerman. HAD the same rights. He’s dead.

  9. karen marie says:

    Hear hear!

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