Evening Ethics Deep Breaths, 2/9/2022: Words Matter!

1. It’s called ‘the law,’ you ignoramuses.  In Ohio, Miranda Smith, a true sicko, was charged with rape involving a two-year-old child, Her conviction was reversed by The Ohio Supreme Court after an appeals court had upheld the trial court. The grounds for the reversal was that her (disgusting and horrible) conduct, which she admitted to, “only” constituted gross sexual imposition under Ohio law. Gross sexual imposition is a lesser charge, and might result in less punishment, though not if the sentencing judge has his head screwed on right.

What did the woman do? Oh, Smith had her two-year-old son insert a ‘sex toy” into her vagina, took a video of the act and sent it to her boyfriend. (Now there’s something you don’t see every day.) How the trial and appeals court allowed a conviction for rape to stand, I’ll never know. The statute defines what the child was made to do as a sex act, but its should be obvious that one can’t be charged with raping oneself. Whatever it was that this mother did to her child, it wasn’t rape. “The state asks us to … conclude that Ohio law requires only an act of insertion and that it does not matter whether it is the victim or the defendant who does the inserting. In other words, the state is essentially asking us to rewrite R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b) to make the statute fit the facts of this case. We cannot do that, though.” Oh, I can think of at least one SCOTUS justice who would probably argue that doing exactly that is what “feels” just. Naturally, the “Think of the children! mob” went bonkers. Consider these arguments from activists:

It’s this focus on the language of the law rather than the impact the crime had on the child that troubles those who advocate for rape and sex crime survivors.

Amy Dudley is the director of the only accredited rape crisis center in Montgomery and Preble counties, the YWCA Dayton’s Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence. She said the fact that a defendant’s arguments seemed to matter more in this supreme court case than the long-term impact to the child is why laws need to change.

“If we can say that a 2-year-old was complicit in (Smith’s) sexual conduct, what does that say for older survivors?” Dudley said, after reviewing the case and watching oral arguments.

YWCA Dayton’s CSSV focuses on adult survivors, but Dudley said research supports the fact that child sex crime survivors feel effects far into adulthood, and having to relive trauma or come to terms with it later in life can cause even more issues than the initial abuse.

“They’re becoming these unhealthy adults with mental health issues and other issues that sometimes aren’t addressed,” Dudley said. “(For adult survivors) if the law wasn’t there to protect this child in this case, when will it?”

Seeing a person’s sentence minimized in a crime of this type is something that could have impacts on the entire process of helping survivors, Dudley said. That’s why it’s important that the justice system turn toward a “survivor focus” while giving everyone involved the rights they are owed.

This is the kind of “justice” the ascendant mindset of the totalitarian woke would inflict on us. The actual law doesn’t matter, what matters is giving people what they are “owed,” whether the law used to do it applies or not.

2. Proving that something good can come out of the worst Ethics Train Wrecks. The crack-brained idea that Mike Pence could stop the official election of Joe Biden was never going to work even if Pence had been foolish enough to try it, but at least now Congress is motivated to clean up the obscure and badly drafted  Electoral Count Act of 1887.  A bipartisan group of Senators and another group of Democrats are working to rewrite the law, and has released draft legislative text.

The new bill would clarify that the Vice President has no power to reject a state’s electors (that part needed no clarification) and ensure that state legislatures cannot appoint electors after Election Day in an effort to overturn their state’s election results, another tactic that would have never stood up under judicial scrutiny. States would get additional time to complete legitimate recounts and litigation; there would be a guarantee of time to allow limited judicial review to ensure that the electors appointed by a state reflect the popular vote results in the state; specific and narrow grounds for objections to electors or electoral votes would be enumerated; and would raise the requirements for Congress to consider objections without broad support by both chambers of Congress. Good, good, all good.

The vagueness of the law allowed some of Trump’s incompetent lawyers and advisors to assure him that trying various stunts to stall the election of Biden were legal (there was no way to “overturn the election,” despite the dishonest Democratic/ MSM narrative. I guarantee that Trump never read the 1887 Act himself: he relied on a bunch of irresponsible yo-yos. He’s accountable, no question. But this wasn’t Trump’s plot, just as the riot at the Capitol wasn’t his doing.  Badly drafted laws cause mischief. This one should have been overhauled long ago.

3. They just can’t play it straight. From a mostly fair story about the above, the Times had to stick in this: “Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger are the only Republican members of the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, which left more than 150 police officers injured and resulted in several deaths.” Thus it continues to press the false narrative that the riot “resulted in several deaths.” The riot resulted, as in “caused,” exactly one death, and that was Ashlii Babbitt, who was shot by a police officer under circumstances that had their colors been reversed, would have had a different kind of riot in D.C. A Senate report on the Jan. 6 riot found that six other people died “in connection” with the riot, which is meaningless. One died of a stroke, One died of an overdose. One died of a heart attack. Five police officers who dealt with the mob died after the riots; none of their deaths can be attributed to the events of the day. “Connected” is a weasel word designed to permit deception. “Caused” is false.

4. This isn’t accurate either. From the same story: “Republican National Committee voted to censure two members of the party, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, in a resolution that described the events of Jan. 6 as “legitimate political discourse.” That is referring to this part of the resolution censoring the two virulent anti-Trumpers:

WHEREAS , Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse , and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes ,

There is little doubt that the Jan 6 Commission is chilling dissent and seeking to persecute many who were not engaged in violent rioting. The resolution does not call the riot “legitimate political discourse.” Trump’s speech to the gathered protesters was “legitimate political discourse” (though irresponsible, unpresidential and stupid)  and the Commission is trying to criminalize it as well as those who came to D.C. to protest the election.

5. And today’s dispatch from The Great Stupid...The University of Washington Information Technology Department’s new IT Inclusive Language Guide  has these highlights:

  • “Blackout date,” “black list,” “blackbox,” and “black hat hacker” are forbidden because they are negative. “White list,” and “white hat hacker,” among other uses of “white” to denote “good” are similarly banned. The politically correct alternatives for “black list” and “white list” sare “deny lists” and “allow lists.”
  • Grandfathering” or “grandfather clause” are banned because “grandfather clause” originated in the American South in the 1890s as a way to defy the 15th Amendment and prevent black Americans from voting.
  • “First class” is also verboten, because it “implies that this particular value is the best quality or in the highest grade, and thus others under this group are second-class or lower class. Using cultural hierarchies in people-people relationships to denote relationships between things is a form of classism, which is prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class.”

20 thoughts on “Evening Ethics Deep Breaths, 2/9/2022: Words Matter!

  1. Someone at that fine institution of higher learning may have thought that it was a box from the Jim Crow era of things for a certain category of person.

    Safer to rename those boxes on airplanes as “cuboid recorders”.

  2. In my opinion the term Black when referring to a person’s ethnicity due to pigmentation is inappropriate. Most African Americans are no more black than European Americans are white. Each is a grade of pinkish brown. Some are very light skinned while others with more melanin appear darker.

    It would be simpler to simply ban the use of Black to describe people than to ban a whole host of terms that have long been understood to reflect good and evil. Black simply represents darkness (evil) while white represents light (goodness). It was the very people who seem to be complaining are the ones that relatively recently adopted the term Blacks to represent themselves as a class. It is they who are misappropriating cultural standards so it is they who should adopt a different term to describe themselves if they find the adjective black a pejorative.

    • I’m inclined to agree. To be fair, though, one of the oldest and longest-used labels for this collection of ethnicities in the United States (before the label stumbled and fell off the back of the euphemism treadmill after many ) was “Negro,” which literally means “Black.” Its connotations were about as neutral as you could get at the time: it was used by people from all different factions until people started deciding to be offended by it. (Except for some organizations which didn’t get the memo, I suppose.)

      If humans are going to argue over labels, they should put some thought into what they really want for the future. For best results, I might suggest nonsense words that don’t mean anything else, or whose meaning has been long forgotten by most, or perhaps which simply reference an old obsolete name for a geographic location.

      More importantly than names, I feel, is how people want to define their cultures going forward. That’s something humans always seem to have trouble with, because there’s never been a meta-cultural vocabulary before.

  3. I don’t think #1 is so clearly an inappropriate charge:

    Ohio R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b), as referenced by the Ohio Supreme Court states:

    Section 2907.02 | Rape.
    (A)(1) No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another who is not the spouse of the offender or who is the spouse of the offender but is living separate and apart from the offender, when any of the following applies:

    (b) The other person is less than thirteen years of age, whether or not the offender knows the age of the other person.

    If the factual statement that she compelled the child to commit “sexual conduct” with her were proven true in court, she appears to be guilty of statutory rape based on the child’s age alone.

    The supreme court, however, ruled that inserting the sex toy was not “sexual conduct”, but a “gross sexual imposition” where a different part of the statute applies:

    Section 2907.05(A) | Gross Sexual Imposition
    (A) No person shall have sexual contact with another, not the spouse of the offender; cause another, not the spouse of the offender, to have sexual contact with the offender; or cause two or more other persons to have sexual contact when any of the following applies:

    (4) The other person, or one of the other persons, is less than thirteen years of age, whether or not the offender knows the age of that person.

    The issue is less clear when we examine the definitions:

    Section 2907.01 | Sex offenses general definitions.
    (A) “Sexual conduct” means vaginal intercourse between a male and female; anal intercourse, fellatio, and cunnilingus between persons regardless of sex; and, without privilege to do so, the insertion, however slight, of any part of the body or any instrument, apparatus, or other object into the vaginal or anal opening of another. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete vaginal or anal intercourse.

    (B) “Sexual contact” means any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.

    (C) “Sexual activity” means sexual conduct or sexual contact, or both.

    [emphasis added]

    Sexual Conduct is defined as inserting a an object into the vagina, which is the act the mother was found guilty of committing. Under plain text of the statue, the mother and child had “sexual conduct”, while the child was under the age of 13. Thus the mother could plausibly be found guilty of rape.

    The court found that it child using the sex toy on the mother did not constitute sexual conduct. I am not certain the logic the court took to get there.

    There well may be other relevant portions of the law. I am not a laywer, and certainly not an Ohio lawyer.

  4. “Sexual Conduct is defined as inserting a an object into the vagina, which is the act the mother was found guilty of inducing her child to commit

    • Huh? You can’t rape yourself. The child wasn’t raped. The state Supreme Court’s opinion is irrefutable. In no rape is the “insertee” victim. In no rape is the one who consented to said insertion the rapist.

      • There is also a standard principle of legal construction not to interpret a law to mean what there is no question but that the drafters did not intend the language to mean what is being claimed. The child is a victim of child abuse, not rape. The child was not raped. Occam’s Razor leads one out of any temptation to say a rape statute was violated.

        • The issue I can’t reconcile is that sexual conduct doesn’t define the accused as being the one who penetrates. It is defined as a set of activities that occur, namely penetration. Penetration occured, and one of the participants was under the age of 13.

          “Sexual activity”, conversely, is defined as contact with the genitals. Gross sexual imposition is defined as sexual activity without consent, etc, rather than sexual. However, no contact with the child’s genitals were alleged. It was the child that made contact using the “toy”. So did the woman grossly sexually impress herself?

          The sustained charge is that the women illegally impressed her son to use the toy on her. However, It seems plausible enough to me that the woman could be accused of raping her child by inducing him to penetrate her with the toy. By analogy, if the woman were truly despicable, she would be guilty of rape if she forced the child to have intercourse with her, despite the child technically penetrating the mother.

          Penetration with a toy is certainly less aggregious than the latter, but it still seems to fall under “rape”. The gross sexual imposition section doesn’t address the fact that it was the child making contact differently than the rape section. I am not seeing how the mother’s behavior fits under the lesser charge any differently than it does under the more serious charge.

          [I will now be looking at cat photos to stop thinking about this awful case….]

          • I will admit based on the common definition of “rape” the behavior doesn’t fit well, but it seem to plausibly fit the statutory definition, and more or less by design given how broadly “penetration” is defined.

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