Wednesday, February 11, 2015

One in Five Women Murdered in the U.S. According to CDC

One in five women are murdered or are victims of attempted murder.  That is the latest report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Say WHAT????"

You heard correctly.  That is what the CDC reports.  Now, one might wonder why the Center for Disease Control is reporting on the number of murders rather than, say, the FBI or DOJ, but there you have it.  So accept it.  Plus the President confirmed it.  (And he's black, so if you deny it then you obviously hate blacks and are a racist).  Whatever you do, don't deny it.  (Don't you care about the victims of murder?!  Are you calling the victims liars?!)

Is it reasonable to be skeptical of such a report or to think that surely it cannot be correct, especially when it is reasonable to think that there might be political interests involved?  Is it reasonable to think the statistics might be terribly skewed for political reasons since the head of the CDC is appointed by, can be fired by, and answers directly to the President of the United States?  Is it reasonable to think that a President who is known to be a liar (not to mention bullshitterand who has claimed as true the incredible and discredited meme that 1 in 5 female college students have been sexually assaulted?  I think the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, "Yes."

I have a wife and two daughters (and three sons but who cares about them). If this statistic were true, I should think that it's probable that someone will attempt to murder one of them (there's a 60% chance that one will face an attempted murder or will be murdered if such stats are accurate).  I have five terrifically adorable nieces.  If this statistic were true, then I should expect that one of them will be the victim of murder or attempted murder.

But of course I do not expect any of this [but if I did, I do have this].  I know that the murder rates are nowhere near that high from common experience and other statistics.  The reason that the murder rate is not that high is because murder is a felony punishable by life in prison, and such punishments deter crime.  And the same is true of rape; it is a felony punishable by life in prison.  Of course there is good reason to think that rape (and attempted rape) go unreported more often than murder (or attempted murder).  But no serious study has ever shown that it goes unreported anywhere near enough such that one should think that 20% of the female population have been raped or have been victims of attempted rape as the President claimed the other night.

On to the real CDC report...

Let's first start with the question, "What is rape?"

Here is how Attorney General Eric Holder defines it:
 “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”  The definition is used by the FBI to collect information from local law enforcement agencies about reported rapes.  
That's not a great definition of rape (though it's a slight improvement on the old definition). The definition at least appears to rule out the following as an instance of rape: a man being forced to have vaginal sex with a woman without his consent (or a man being forced to have sex with another man who is on the "receiving end.")  But perhaps I'm wrong and we should interpret the definition to include those cases as rape.  It also seems to preclude other instances of rape but I'd rather not be so graphic as to mention them.  

Here is a working definition of "rape" not too dissimilar from Holder's: the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against his or her will or having sexual intercourse with someone without his or her explicit or tacit consent.

This definition would cover the rape of women or men in typical cases of forced rape and would also include having sex with someone who is passed out who has in no way given consent for someone to have sexual relations with him or her while unconscious.

How does the CDC define rape?  We'll get to that.  First..

Here is the CDC report.  Here is the questionnaire which they sent out. Here is an explanation about the questionnaire.

Criticisms of the report can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

In short, the heart of the criticisms can be summed up with the following: The questionnaire and subsequent report engages in the act of providing persuasive definitions.  In a persuasive definition one defines a term T that in ordinary usage has a strong, negative emotive meaning (such as "rape" or "violence") in such a way that it includes in the definition actions, events (etc.) that do not properly speaking fall under the meaning of the term T and which do not carry the same degree of emotive force as actions, events etc. under the ordinary definition of T.

Take, for instance, the actions on the questionnaire which fall under the category "Intimate Partner Violence."  If one answers "yes" to the following question then this counts under the broad umbrella of intimate partner violence:

"How many of your romantic or sexual partners have ever insulted, humiliated, or made fun of you in front of others?"

If anyone has ever been insulted in front of others this counts under the label "Intimate Partner Violence."  This is to engage in a persuasive definition since "violence" does not include under its ordinary meaning being insulted in public.

Under the "sexual violence" heading we find the question:

"How many people have ever kissed you in a sexual way when you didn't want it to happen?"

So the first time I kissed my wife (when I found out immediately!  Oops...) when she didn't want it to happen then counts as sexual violence.  (Shy girl that she was, I'm pretty sure she didn't think I committed an act of sexual violence).

Another instance of sexual violence is counted if you answer affirmatively to this question:

"How many people have ever verbally harassed you in a public place in a way that made you feel unsafe?"

The questionnaire is plagued with such instances, so much so that one might begin to wonder whether it was designed to elicit a high affirmative response rate...

Finally to the elephant in the room:
Rape is defined as any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm, and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent. 
Rape is not only defined as the completed, unwanted...but also as attempted rape.  So if someone fails to rape you (in the proper sense of the term) but attempts to rape you, you have been raped!  If you didn't really want to have sex, but then got drunk and changed your mind, then this could also count as being raped!   If you weren't really in the mood to have sex and didn't want to, but then you did It nonetheless to make you wife or husband happy one night, this falls under the category of rape!

Two problems (there are more) with engaging in the practice of giving persuasive definitions in this case in particular are that (a) it devalues the harm done to real rape victims and (b) it wrongly labels as rapists people who are not really rapists.

The President is not so stupid as to fail to know that the definition of "rape" used is misleadingly expansive.  He is not so stupid as to fail to know that when the public hears "rape" they have a much narrower understanding of the meaning.  When they hear "rape" they think of rape.  But the President has no concern with being truthful.  He lies.

In conclusion, I respond to a comment about the previous post:
I don't find fault in Dr. Borland calling a politician a liar. I have a problem equating the lie about weapons of mass destruction coupled the subsequent loss of life and desolation of a country with a statistical lie that might help prevent women from being raped.
Presumably that is exactly how people like Obama are thinking.  It's all about the "narrative" (liberals love to talk about narratives) which can come in the form of either fiction or nonfiction; it doesn't matter.  What matters is not whether the story is true; what matters is that it's a "good" story.  Ends justify means. But presumably the President is not only concerned with reducing rape (and who is not concerned with reducing rape other than rapists??).  He is concerned to keep himself and a constituency gainfully employed which thrives on there being class, gender, and racial strife.

There is no end to progress.  

Be safe.  Here's one for the road (song at 2 minutes):

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