For sheer volume of nonsense, it's hard to top Judith Reisman, the religious right's favorite anti-sex crusader. In this Worldnutdaily column, she's responding to this article by Glenn Reynolds at MSNBC.com. It's filled with all the usual distortions and illogic one has come to expect from Reisman. Reynolds cites this article in the Washington Post about a new DOJ report that says that rape has gone down 85% since 1970:
The number of rapes per capita in the United States has plunged by more than 85 percent since the 1970s, and reported rape fell last year even while other violent offenses increased, according to federal crime data.
Reynolds points out the obvious:
What's different since 1970? Lots of things, of course, though bared midriffs and short-shorts are back. But probably the most relevant difference is porn. In 1970, some people argued that porn caused rape. Since 1970, though, porn has exploded. In 1970 you had to work pretty hard to find porn. Now you have to work nearly as hard to avoid it.
But rape has gone down 85%. So much for the notion that pornography causes rape -- or, at least, if it did have much effect in that direction, it would be hard to explain how rape rates could have declined so dramatically while porn expanded so explosively.
Reisman, of course, objects to this and attempts to argue against it. She fails miserably. First of all, she completely distorts what he said. She claimed:
He opines that pornography possibly prevents rape (the old discredited "safe-outlet" theory).
But in fact, Reynolds explicitly does not argue that:
So while I won't go so far as to argue that porn actually prevents rape, it seems clear that the claims of some people -- including a commission headed by former Attorney General Ed Meese back in the 1980s -- that pornography promotes rape are, at best, overstated.
Such distortions are par for the course for Reisman, as is the stunning illogic of her attempt to respond to the substance of the DOJ report. First, she wonders why the government's stats only account for rape of those over 12 years of age:
As proof, Reynolds quotes a U.S. Department of Justice claim that in 2004 rape of "people" over age 12 radically decreased with an "85 percent decline in the per-capita rape rate since 1979" (DOJ's National Crime Victimization Survey of "thousands of respondents 12 and older").
But the FBI also estimates that "34 percent of female sex assault victims" are "under age 12" (National Incident-Based Reporting System, July 2000).
Since the DOJ data excludes rape of children under age 12, child rape may be up 85 percent, for all we know.
Although the FBI and local police departments are now swamped with teachers, police, professors, doctors, legislators, clergy, federal and state bureaucrats, dentists, judges, etc., arrested for child pornography and for abusing children under age 12, the Department of Justice excludes those small victims from its "rape" rates. Why?
Does Reisman really believe that the government doesn't keep track of the rates of rape for children under 12? Of course they do. And if she wanted to find those stats, she could easily have found them. The fact is that the rates of child abduction, rape and molestation have also been going down over the same time period, even while media attention paid to such incidents has skyrocketed. Such statistics are just compiled in a different category, which makes Reisman's implication that they're just ignored pretty darn silly.
Even more silly is her suggestion that the DOJ is protecting pedophiles in the department. Is she seriously suggesting that Bush's justice department - the one that has ramped up pornography prosecutions immensely, siphoning away resources better spent on real crimes - is in actually trying to cover up the harm of pornography? One of the hallmarks of the truly delusional is the willingness to suggest conspiracies even among those who agree with them. For the True Believer, anything other than total acquiescence to their views is proof of conspiracy. Anyone who can accuse the Bush administration of being too soft on porn is clearly living in fantasy land.
I'm an old-school feminist. Equality is enough for me. I don't need blame and I sure as hell won't pretend to be a victim. Getting out of my way is enough. I'll take care of the rest, thank you.
And this idiot isn't CELEBRATING? This is YAHOO! news. I remember being terrified of rape when I was younger. I wouldn't walk alone at night. I wouldn't ride alone with a stranger in an elevator. All men were potential predators. An 85% decline in rapes is fabulous, delightful news. I will spread it far and wee. Thank you for reporting it!
This is yet a prime example of someones ideology completely stopping a thinking mind. An 85% reduction in rape is an outstanding thing. I'm not saying porn caused this but for the sake of shits and giggles lets say it did. An honest person can see the value in something for others they themselves may not enjoy. Rarely is something all bad or all good.
I guess any indicator society is actually improving and getting better won't work for people who like to pretend the end is near and the world is groaning to a close.
It's the same thing as with sex education. Even if studies were done which did show that porn helped to reduce rape, they would still be against it. But I was always told that rape was not about sex, and if that is the case then I would think porn wouldn't help.
I was always told that rape was not about sex, and if that is the case then I would think porn wouldn't help.
That's probably true for stranger rape, but I'm not so sure that it's true for acquaintance rape (aka date rape). The figures for 2004 are 31% stranger (see here). I haven't been able to find the comparable statitistics for 1970. It would be interesting to compare them.