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July 10, 2005 - What Democrats Could Learn From a Rape Prevention Program

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World's Laziest Journalist

July 10, 2005

By Bob Patterson


[Rape is a very delicate topic and we will try to avoid our usual snarky style, but may have to use one or two impolite words to make a point quickly and clearly.]


A newspaper assignment some years ago landed this columnist at a rape prevention program given by a woman from the Los Angeles District Attorney's office.  There weren't many single males in attendance, so we realized that maybe that evening had given us a unique perspective on the topic.  Recently we realized that some of the lessons learned there, might be of interest to the Democrats in today's tumultuous world of American politics.


For those who maintain that rape doesn't exist, the speaker offered to get any Doubting Thomas a night in the slammer with advance word, spread to the regulars, that the new guest didn't believe in the concept.  She apparently never had any takers for her offer.


An ounce of caution is worth a pound of cure, and so listeners were advised to always be aware of their surroundings and to be especially careful in remote areas such as parking structures late at night. 


The audience learned that a ring of house keys can be turned into a very vicious version of brass knuckles by letting some of the keys protrude between the fingers of a closed fist.


Gay Talese, in his book Thy Neighbor's Wife, related an incident where a woman, into swinging, prevented a rape that was about to occur by confronting the perpetrator and aggressively making the offer to be a willing victim in lieu of the unwilling one.  She didn't make the offer in legalese terms; she put her suggestion in very blunt terms using an expression that ladies didn't often say back then.  They guy was so intimidated and disconcerted that he abandoned the attempt and fled the scene.


One radical defense strategy, folks were told, was for the intended victim to go limp.  There was some anecdotal evidence that when the woman does that the rapist, who is more attracted to the struggle than the sex, will cease and desist.  In one of the stories, when the woman went totally limp, the rapist became very confused and alarmed and ran away.  That was an extreme reaction in a desperate situation and, perhaps, the use of that defense mechanism in such dire prediction has changed in the years that have elapses since attending that program.


Recently when assessing the political scene, we recalled the "go limp" defense advice.  This method of rape prevention might be worth some consideration for the Democrats who cannot seem to avoid repeatedly being attacked verbally by the leading conservative talk show hosts.  What would happen if the Democrats did the equivalent and metaphorically go limp?


What would conservative talk show hosts do if the Democrats suddenly stopped asking about a plan for the American involvement in Iraq?  What would happen if, when those talk show folks turn to the Democrats for the shouts about when will it come to an end, they just shrugged and said something like: "We have to keep looking for Osama in the places where the president sends the troops."  What could they say about Democrats who responded like that?   


When the conservative talk show hosts talk about a strict interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court why don't the Democrats ask if they mean that the country should literally go back to the concepts in play in 1776?  Back then, founding a Republic meant that only landowners could vote and only men could own land.  Shouldn't the Democrats ask if that also means that the framers of the Constitution tacitly approved of slavery?  They didn't mention it, and it was prevalent in the Southern States when the Constitution was written, so why not include questions about that in a the debate about strict interpretation of the Constitution?  Then the Democrats could point out how curious it is that women and Negro voters are helping the Republicans achieve their attempts to turn back the clock. 


After the Live 8 concert, on Tuesday July 5, the conservative radio folks tried very hard to make it sound like they were denigrating the concert and efforts to help Africa, but were not being racist by doing so.  The snide attitude toward throwing more money away came through loud and clear, the other part of their task may not have been as easily discerned by listeners.


The Democrats could divert attention away from the topic of proper parliamentary procedures for debate about selecting a new Supreme Court Justice to something else, like: Are jail cells being occupied by cancer patients who were smoked cannabis when they could be used to house those sex offenders who are running about the country unregistered?  The Democrats could ask: "If you were a judge, which category of offenders would you rather have filling up the prisons?" 


The Democrats could divert attention away from "staying the course" to speculating about other matters such as: If the current president is so obsessed with secrecy, what will be put in his future presidential library?  His military records?  His documentation for believing in Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction?  Journalists who contend with the "silent treatment" must wonder if the library will be empty and resemble a mausoleum?   The Democrats could go limp on the timeline for Iraq and switch to speculating about the contents for Bush's library.


Why should the Democrats respond to a booby trap question that will get them labeled as "unpatriotic" when they can shift the focus to something non-controversial (the going limp strategy?) like a presidential library, for which they will be asked to approve funding?


Instead of fighting about border enforcement and the fact that it is mostly the children from the lower middle class and poverty level families that are signing up for the armed services, should Democrats point out that these are two problems that might be attacked simultaneously?  Why can't the armed forces send recruiters down to the Mexican city being used to prepare for the walk into the United States and offer young men citizenship in return for two years of active duty in special Spanish speaking units?  There's a plan that would simultaneously offer a solution to two big problems and defuse the "no plan" mantra. 


[Editor's Note: the conservative commentator Max Boot suggested such a plan in February and recently suggested it again in his Los Angeles Times column of June 16 – create a "Freedom Legion" patterned after the French Foreign League.]


When the conservatives accuse the Democrats of not having a plan, why don't they shrug and say: "We'd capture Osama?"  The conservative talk show hosts are so used to not getting a snappy bumper sticker slogan in return that they might be upset by the fact that the posse of Rush clones consider glib phrases their personal territory and not a tactic they want to face.


The conservative talk show hosts enjoy watching the Democrats give knee-jerk reactions to certain provocations.  Underscoring the importance of the topic by not responding at all would be a way to metaphorically use the "go limp" defense.  It could possibly shock the "feed the Democrats to the lions" crowd into asking: "What happened?"  A vague and quotable response might make citizens stop and think.   Many Americans have grown accustomed to the usual Monty Python concept that Democrats spouting contradictions is effective arguing.  A low-key (i.e. go limp) reply might be more effective than a very predictable one at this stage of the 2008 presidential election.


The folks who always read this weekly feature of Just Above Sunset online magazine will notice that this installation didn't follow the usual format.  See how disconcerting the baseball concept of a change-up pitch can be? 


Come back next week and we will resume the usual modus operadi.





Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com





Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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