… or … Republicans Attack Franken for Opposing Rape

No, no … maybe this ..

Thirty Senate Republicans Prefer Rape over Justice

Or perhaps …

Al Franken Does Right Thing: Republicans Get Mad

Oh, forget it. I’ll never decide on a title for this post. Just watch the story:

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  1. #1 Jackal
    December 3, 2009

    According to the DoJ, 1/5 of women in college are sexually assaulted, and only 5% of these assaults are reported. Often, this is because the University/School dissuades the victim from going to the authorities, and instead does it’s own form of justice in which the assailant is forced to write an essay or attend a class. Like when I had an unlawful pet on campus, I had to write an essay and attend a health seminar. Because, to the university, having a hamster and raping a student are the same level of offense. How about we cut government funding from all colleges and universities that dissuade victims of sex crimes from seeking justice?

  2. #2 NewEnglandBob
    December 3, 2009

    The Republican Party: representing bat-shit crazy fuckwads with a smile.

  3. #3 Bob
    December 3, 2009

    I’d like to see what constitutes sexual assault in the DoJ report you read because I find it really difficult to believe that 20% of women in college get raped.

    The Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin for 2008 gives an overall figure of 0.8 sexual assaults per 1000 individuals – 0.08%. But focusing on young adults (16-19, 20-24), the rate increases to about 2.2 per 1000 which is almost triple the overall figure but still very small – 0.22%. The US population is roughly 51.2% female and the vast majority of sexual assaults are against women; if we assume the gender distribution in colleges mirrors the general population and all sexual assaults are against women, the figure increases again to about 0.43%.

    And that’s being charitable. If you’re black or poor, you’re more likely to be a victim of violent crime, which would tend to depress this figure for college women since they tend to be more white and more affluent. And this figure covers the whole spectrum of sexual assault of which rape is a subset.

    Another interesting statistic from this bulletin – overall, 41% of sexual assaults are reported.

    The data in this bulletin comes from the National Crime Victimization Survey, so take that for what it’s worth. But assuming it’s a reasonable information source, I find it hard to believe that college women are 46 times more likely to be sexually assaulted yet would report the assault 1/8th as often as other women their age.

    I’m not trying to minimize the seriousness of sexual assault, but is it possible you’re overstating your case?

  4. #4 Bob
    December 3, 2009

    Ah – sorry – the link to the Bulletin referenced above is at http://www.ojp.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cv08.pdf

  5. #5 Gray Gaffer
    December 3, 2009

    “poutrage”. I like it. Why should they be seen as “pro Franken” and not as “pro rape victims”? I thought his bill represents the very epitome of non-partisan legislation.

  6. #6 itzac
    December 3, 2009

    I said this on digg in November:

    From a DoD memo opposing the amendment: “It may be more effective to seek a statutory prohibition of all such arrangements in any business transaction entered into within the jurisdiction of the United States, if these arrangements are deemed to pose an unacceptable method of recourse.”

    I have to agree with this statement. While Jamie Leigh Jones’ experience is a tragic example of the problems and abuses of the war in Iraq, this amendment is a crap way to deal with it.

    I would add that Franken’s amendment would still need to require that KBR and other contractor’s employee contracts conform to the laws of the US, regardless of the location of the employment.

    Of course I’m not naive. I know this has nothing to do with why those GOP senators voted against the amendment. And I know that the Democrats are using this incident to make the republicans look bad, which is fine with me. But at the end of the day, the result is a law that is too narrow and specific to be effectively enforced. It should be a separate law covering all employment practice in US Jurisdiction. And it should cover more than just sexual assault.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    December 3, 2009

    Bob, you’re understating the amount of rape significantly by not noting that those numbers are annual and that you need to add all the years to get the cumulative rate. However, the 1 in 5 statistic is out of date. I ran all the math here.

  8. #8 Dave
    December 3, 2009

    Stephanie and Bob:

    I think you may be talking at cross purposes. I suspect Bob read Jackal’s claim, “1/5 of women in college are sexually assaulted” to mean 1 out of 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college. That was my reading of it at first. That does seem an incongrous number. Your post, which you linked, as I read it, calculates a greater than 1 in 10 lifetime chance at today’s rates (10.4%), and greater than 1 in 20 by age 25 (5.5%). I dont doubt that, and based on Bob’s use of a comparable annualized rate (0.22% vs your 0.18%) I doubt he does either. Nor do I doubt the 1 in 8 by college age and OVER 1 in 4(*) lifetime historical figure. As you point out, this is consistent with a 3-fold drop in the annualized rate. But there is a distinct difference between a rate of assault “by college age” and one while “in college” and the latter appears to me as the natural reading of Jackal’s comment.

    (*) I believe it, but it astounds and depresses me.

  9. #9 Paul Murray
    December 3, 2009

    “… 1/5 of women in college are sexually assaulted, and only 5% of these assaults are reported. …”
    “… Because, to the university, having a hamster and raping a student are the same level of offense.”

    Riiiight. “Rape” is the same thing as “Sexual Assault”.

    Or is it? You *are* aware, for instance, that assault does not necessarily mean actually touching the victim, whereas rape usually does?

    Yes, leering and making crude comments is wrong. It is sexual assault, and universities should impose some behavioural standards on their students. But that’s a long, long way from rape, and if you don’t agree then maybe you should speak to a real-life honest-to-god genuine vitim of actual rape.

  10. #10 Tornadiza
    December 3, 2009

    Paul: I was raped in the course of a home invasion a few years ago. the guy who did it was charged with “Sexual Assault”. The ra – Er, Sexual Assault counsellor took great offense at my using the word “rape”.
    I was raped in college, and because the student was Sudanese, nothing was done when I reported it, and, this is in order of occurrence: I was called a ‘whore’ (“the only women who talk to men in Sudan are prostitutes”), then, I was informed the rape was a political act because he saw the channukiah (you call it a menorah) on my shelf, and thirdly, I was told if I went to the police, they, the Uni’s foreign student services would make it a racial issue, the little freak then proceeded to stalk and threaten me and he knew nothing would be done to him.

  11. #11 Stephanie Z
    December 3, 2009

    Dave, when the subject came up last time, there was a certain…rancor about the numbers. Just trying to head that off with a little clarity this time. 🙂

    Paul, don’t be an ass. Rape is a subset of sexual assault. Sexual assault is also a legal classification, which means that no matter the form, a college or university should not be trying to pressure a student not to seek a legal remedy. And fuck you and your arrogant and insane insistence that there are only some few “genuine vitim”s.

  12. #12 Bill James
    December 4, 2009

    Tornadiza [10] – This occurred in Sudan?

  13. #13 Abstruse
    December 4, 2009



  14. #14 Bob
    December 4, 2009

    I don’t want to get into a numbers game; my point was that with a few minutes of Google-fu and a calculator I could cite mostly trustworthy data and tease out a figure much smaller than what Jackal posted. Stephanie is absolutely correct on this being annual frequency (% chance/year) rather than a cumulative or lifetime probability – mea culpa.

    Anecdotally, the 0.43%/yr frequency strikes me as really low, given the spectrum of activities considered as sexual assault, and my gut feeling is that 1 in 8 is more reasonable than 1 in 5 or a four-year cumulative estimate of (1 – (1 – 0.0043)^4) = 1.7% or about 1 in 58.

    But to back up, Jackal gives no source for the data presented and leaves a lot of ambiguity (e.g. is the 20% figure cumulative over a lifetime? just the college years?) Despite this, some pretty strong claims are made, claims that I don’t believe are supported by the evidence.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m making a back-of-the-envelope estimate and I’m simplifying a lot, trying to be conservative in my approach (i.e. slightly overestimating probabilities, not wetting my pants over Sen. Franken acting like a decent human being.) I don’t believe anyone is served by drawing conclusions from baseless numbers and while one might call me out for doing exactly that, recall I’ve cited my source, shown my work, and have not made a positive claim. I just don’t see how Jackal gets 20% from the numbers published by the DoJ.

  15. #15 JasonTD
    December 4, 2009

    And I know that the Democrats are using this incident to make the republicans look bad, which is fine with me.


    I pretty much agree with everything you said, except this. Sooner or later, we, as voters, are going to have to demand that politicians take their jobs seriously. Laws have the power to dramatically affect people’s lives for good or bad. It is no wonder that so many people (myself included) are so cynical about both sides of the political aisle.

  16. #16 Dave
    December 4, 2009


    As I suggested in my earlier comment, I think Jackal is conflating and older lifetime risk (1 in 4 in the mid-80s and 1 in 10 now, so obviously was 1 in 5 sometime between then and now) with risk while in college. Doing my own back of the envelope calculations, using modern data, I get a 2.84% or 1 in 35, while in college. Still several orders of magnitude too high, but a definitely lower number than 1 in 5.


    Im not sure anyone is suggesting that Franken proposed the law to make Republicans look bad. And if that were the case, I would agree with you. However, given that many Repubs have made fools of themselves over this, I dont have any problem with the Dems exploiting that fact, doing so doesnt in anyway lessen the seriousness of the law.

  17. #17 real-life honest-to-god genuine vitim of actual rape
    December 4, 2009

    @9, I think you’ve missed the mark there. Leering and making crude comments is sexual harassment and sexual harassment and rape are next door neighbors.

  18. #18 Katharine
    December 4, 2009

    Tornadiza – where was this so I can make sure that that university gets kicked out of my grad school applications lineup?

  19. #19 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    December 4, 2009

    Memo to John Thune – paying my taxes to support a company which treats rape victims this way is against the interest of this Minnesotan. You worry about South Dakota’s interest, which seems to be to prevent rape victims from getting an abortion. I’ll worry about Minnesota. Holding government contractors accountable is serious legislative work.

  20. #20 Stephanie Z
    December 4, 2009

    @13 WTF?

    Abstruse, are you two or a psychopath?

  21. #21 katydid13
    December 4, 2009

    Reminds me of another Minnesota Senator who got flack for being insufficiently deferential when he first started . . .

  22. #22 itzac
    December 4, 2009

    Dave, I said exactly what JasonTD says I said.

    I’m sure the “pro-rape” senators would have opposed any similar legislation, even in its optimal form. But the “pro-rape” tag is PR bullshit. These guys are just protecting the interests of their campaign funders over the right of individuals to seek justice. That should be vile enough.

  23. #23 catgirl
    December 4, 2009

    The problem of rape in universities isn’t limited to the silly in-school “justice” programs. Even when a victim goes to the real police, it’s often dismissed as not being real rape, because apparently it doesn’t count unless a stranger jumps out of the bushes and violently rapes someone. Then on the off chance that the detective actually takes the victim seriously, they often won’t bother to prosecute because it’s too difficult to get a conviction.

    It may be hard to believe that rape is so common if you are only looking at it from the view of a violent, lurking stranger. When you accept that rape has occurred any time one of the people involved does not consent to sex, then it’s not as surprising that the number is so high.

  24. #24 skeptifem
    December 4, 2009

    Well, I for one am SHOCKED. They usually care so damn much about women, right? ha.

    All the rape nit-pickers- fuck you guys. A girl I knew in high school got held down and forced to perform oral sex on a bunch of guys, and when she told me this she said “it wasn’t like rape or something”, contrasting her experience of a violent intrusion on her person with ‘real’ rape. This is what rape culture is made of, a society where women can be sexually assaulted or raped and not even really know it because its so normalized and minimized by other people. The impulse to invade someone elses body without consent is extremely fucked up no matter who is doing it or what tactic is chosen. It always needs to be taken extremely seriously. The people raising the concerns are dudes anyway, I really doubt that they know what it is like to deal with that (and every woman deals with a physically or verbally intimidating guy or a groping in their lifetime). Its always really horrible, and yes, being assaulted (rape or not) is really damn common. The violent dudes in the bushes type of thing just doesn’t happen very often, and it seems like rapists pick women who are less likely to be believed:


  25. #25 Dave
    December 4, 2009


    I guess Im not clear on what you are claiming then? Are you suggesting that Franken proposed this piece of legislation as a bit of political theater intending to force the Repubs in to a no-win situation? Or are do you feel that Franken proposed this piece of legislation with a genuine intent to right what he saw as a wrong, and the fact that the Dems were able to use the Repubs objections against them is additional gravy? Or something else?

    If the former, I have to hand it to you; you completely blow me out of the water in terms of cynicism. What, other than his being a politician, makes you think Franken operates on that level of manipulation?

    If the latter, then what do you disagree with that I was saying? Isnt JasonTD then wrong to suggest that Franken wasnt taking his job seriously when proposing this legislation?

  26. #26 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    December 4, 2009

    When we live in a society that thinks it is funny for people to have bumper stickers to promote date rape, (Get ‘er Drunk and Get ‘er Done) it is not surprising that so many people don’t get that sexual assault and battery are fucking wrong! And that includes unwanted sexual comments.

    And it also means that it makes it okay to consider campaign donors’ legal bills over rape victims.

    Fuck the 35 Republicans. They saw the chance to make a clear moral decision and chose wrong.

  27. #27 Clay Barham
    December 4, 2009

    Republicans have been split since WWII, with the emerging conservatives threatening the leadership of established republicans like Nelson Rockefeller, Scott, Heinz, Nixon and even Earl Warren. Republicans have always been the moderate party, from Hamilton, Clay and Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt. The 19th century Democrat was the conservative and libertarian, cited in THE CHANGING FACE OF DEMOCRATS on Amazon and http://www.claysamerica.com. The 20th century Democrat follows Rousseau to Marx, threatening individual freedom to the point they invite greater numbers of conservative Republicans to emerge past and swamp the establishment republicans like McCain and Graham to save America from returning to Old World elite few ruling the many.

  28. #28 Aconite
    December 4, 2009

    Clay Barham@27, did you just spam comment threads with the word “Republican” in them with an ad for your book? Or am I just being really thickheaded and not seeing what the heck your comment has to do with the thread it’s in?