Rape culture, victim blaming and the need for real men

The debate between teaching women to protect themselves from rape and teaching men not to rape – a debate that flared up in the New York Times and the Washington Post last week – is a false choice. It should not be one or the other. It should be both. In fact, it really needs to be all three, because a critical component is far too often ignored.

No one thinks twice about other security precautions – No one is accused of enabling thieves by advising people to have anti-theft protection for their smartphones, not to leave their valuables unattended and lock their cars. Yet somehow, when women are advised in good faith to take precautions to avoid being victimized, the person giving the advice is lambasted as enabling rape culture, blaming the victim or excusing the rapists.

It does not help women for feminists to shout down legitimate advice on self-protection. At the same time, it does not help when all men are cast as rapists, with messages in men’s urinals telling them that they hold in their hands the power to stop rape. (Grow up, by the way.)

It should not be either/or. It should be all three. Women should be advised not to put themselves in a position where they could be attacked, and if they are attacked it should be very clear that the rapist, and only the rapist, is responsible. Parents should teach their sons to respect women and not take advantage of them, and both high schools and universities should teach the same message.

But we always ignore the critical third component, something that could stop a lot of this from happening – especially at parties where alcohol is flowing. Men should protect women. Instead of laughing and taking pictures or video, real men should step in if they see a woman being victimized and stop it. Men who see women who are inebriated and unable to protect themselves should make sure that woman is safe. That is what a real man does, and sadly many of the high-profile rape cases over the last few years has demonstrated that there is a lack of real men.

"Working together" is a childish solution to gridlock

The most annoying and frustrating part of the government shutdown earlier this month was the mainstream news media’s childish and simple-minded coverage of the debate between the two parties. There was some more adult-oriented coverage by pundits and columnists, but overall it was a shocking failure by the media to do its job.

The gridlock in Washington that led to the shutdown is about much more than the two political parties refusing to “work together” or being unable to “do their jobs.” There are real and deep philosophical differences between the parties that cannot be glossed over by simply saying the parties should “work together.” The news media cast the whole debate though the lens of relationships and did not delve deeply into the issue and explain what the parties’ positions were.

A significant opportunity to educate the public was lost.

Let’s boil it down to the basics. If a Political Party 1 believes Policy A to be destructive to the country, you can and should expect them to work against it. That can be done by not providing funding for the implementation of the law or by outright repealing it. When the latter option is not viable, the former option is one way to pursue the goal of eliminating the destructive policy.

Meanwhile, Political Party 2 passed Policy A believes it to be necessary to solve or mitigate a problem we face to simply give up and allow it to be repealed or de-funded, so they will fight to make sure it is fully implemented. We cannot expect Party 1 or Party 2 to abandon what they believe is best for the county simply in the interest of “working together.”

The news media reports that trust and confidence in Washington to be at an all-time low, but to a large extent they are directly responsible for the public’s dislike of Washington by refusing to do their jobs and report on the complex issues the two parties are debating, the solutions each party has to solving the problem, and explanations as to why each party is using particular tactics in the legislative impasse. Those who rely on the mainstream media, then, are left ignorant by this populist garbage and throw their hands up in disgust.

Stop obsessing about party unity!

We’re hearing more about “party unity” at the national level, and that has trickled down to the local level. This continues a common theme, and shows that Republicans can be very short-sighted. Republicans’ obsession with “party unity” ignores political reality, creates missed opportunities and actually divides the party further. It needs to stop.

The reason the obsession with “party unity” ignores political reality is because you cannot have “party unity” and a big tent. It is impossible and will never happen. A big tent means that all kinds of people are welcomed into the party, including people that disagree (sometimes vehemently) on core philosophical issues. You will always have factions within a political party that has a big tent. We can be unified or we can have a big tent, but we will never have both.

The missed opportunity comes from focusing on the negative instead of the positive. Suppose Bubba will not support Republican A, but will support Republicans C, D and E. Bubba is very motivated to help F. Instead of obsessing about Bubba not supporting A, channel his energies into supporting C through F, and especially F. Browbeating Bubba is a waste of energy, because you will not change his opinion about A.

Here is where the division comes in. By obsessing about “party unity” and bitterly complaining about any disagreement within the party, we only highlight those divisions and make them more visible. By browbeating Bubba or even attacking him, you make him resent the party leadership and harden his opposition to A. Minimizing what Bubba considers to be a core issue alienates him further and hardens his opposition to A even farther. Why not focus on where we are united, namely Bubba’s support of B through F?

Having these arguments in public – as was done last week with an ill-considered blast e-mail – makes it even worse by making the Republican Party look inept and in chaos. All of this needs to stop.

If we are serious about winning elections in Monroe County, we need to put aside this foolhardy and counterproductive obsession with “party unity” and stop worrying about divisions within the party that will always exist. This is especially true for a party that has not won countywide since the huge Republican wave in 2002, where we picked up a 2-1 majority on the county commissioners and a 5-2 majority on the county council. (Individual candidates have won, but the party overall has done poorly.) Instead, we should focus on where we are unified.

Sounding the alarm over Facebook privacy… Yawn

A headline in The Register sounds the alarm: “TEENS in TROUBLE as Facebook EXPOSES them to the entire WORLD.” The warning in the Christian Science Monitor is a little more subdued, warning that “Facebook pulls back privacy curtain on teen posts.” Parents should be very worried about their teens, right?

Wrong.

All Facebook has done is allow teenagers to share their status updates and so forth as “public,” something they can do (and many actually do) by simply lying about their age in the sign-up process. It is not unusual for pre-teens to have Facebook accounts (with the support of their parents) by claiming to be at least 13. In other words, posts are no more public than they were before, and people can lock down their privacy settings to limit the audience of their posts. They can even (gasp!) close their Facebook accounts.

Teen activity on the Internet should be monitored by their parents. They should watch what their teens are posting. It does not hurt to be your teen’s “friend” and having access to their account is not unreasonable. With proper parental monitoring, there is no need to worry about this new setting. As always, parents should teach their teenage sons and daughters this lesson: Never post anything on Facebook you would be horrified to see on the front page of the newspaper or as the lead story on the nightly news.

If they are not behaving properly, limit access to the computer or take away the smartphone. Be a parent.

Government e-mails and public records

From an article in the Herald-Times on Sunday, regarding what e-mail messages on government e-mail accounts should be public records and which should be retained::

In Bartholomew County, things like personal correspondence, meeting reminders, non-email communications or routine information requests that do not result in administrative action, policy decision or special compilation are not considered part of public record.

All e-mail sent and received by government e-mail accounts should be public record, including personal correspondence. That account belongs to the taxpayers. Obviously, there should be exceptions for things that are specifically protected by law, but that is very limited. (And sensitive information should not be sent via e-mail anyway, because of security.)

As far as retention, there is the issue of storage. You can crash an e-mail server by having too much on there.

Barack Obama, civility, and the government shutdown

After a deal ended the debate over the government shutdown and raising the nation’s debt ceiling, President Barack Obama actually said this in a speech:

When we disagree, we don’t have to suggest that the other side doesn’t love this country, or believe in free enterprise or all the other rhetoric that seems to get worse every single year.

This is amazingly hypocritical, considering the Obama regime’s comments during the shutdown.

After accusing Republicans of terrorism, hostage taking and extortion, Obama now tries to take the high road by calling for more civility. This is laughable and absurd, given Obama’s own uncivil behavior.

I said on Hoosier Access last week that the Republican strategy was flawed from the start, but Obama’s stance that he will not allow the debt ceiling or the government shutdown to be used as a negotiating tactic is disingenuous.

Obama knows the Republicans, who control one branch of Congress, have no leverage in discussions about delaying or defunding ObamaCare, cutting spending, or any other legislative or budgetary matter because any legislation passed by the House is dead on arrival in the Senate. So if the Republicans are to get Obama and Senate Democrats to concede anything, they need to find a way to use the legislative process to try to get concessions.

That is not hostage taking, terrorism or extortion, despite Obama’s hysterical rhetoric over the last month. That is basic political tradeoffs – Obama gets something he wants in exchange for the Republicans getting something they want. The way he has behaved over the last month demonstrates how immature and petulant Obama is, and how emotionally unqualified he is the be President of these United States.