June 23, 2007

Political Date Rape

Justin Katz

Although some readers will surely see it as over-the-top rhetoric, I can't help but find something analogous to "dating violence" in the General Assembly's treatment of lower governments. To politically capitalize on a horrible murder, the state legislature has — without any argument or evidence that such legislation will do one bit of good — mandated actions by local school districts, even as it has reduced or flatlined its funding of them:

Named after a 23-year-old North Kingstown woman who was brutally murdered in fall, 2005, by her former boyfriend, the “Lindsay Ann Burke Act” will require every school district in Rhode Island to develop a model dating violence policy and a policy to address incidents of dating violence involving students. Each school district will also be expected to provide dating violence training to school staff who have significant contact with students, with such training to include basic principles of dating violence and warning signs of dating violence.

The bill also calls on each school district to incorporate dating violence education that is age-appropriate into the annual health curriculum for students in grades 7 to 12. That education, the bill says, should include defining dating violence, recognizing violence warning signs and characteristics of healthy relationships.

Hopefully our dutiful papa, the governor, will veto this advance. If not, or if the General Assembly overrides him, perhaps the towns will find it in themselves to tell our state's part-time oligarchy that no means no, especially if the would-be tyrants won't even pay for the proverbial dinner.

I changed the phrase "date rape" to "dating violence" within the body of this post in keeping with the conversation in the comments section. Please see that conversation for critical context.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.


Hardly over-the-top rhetoric when you consider how political gang rape is an annual occurance on Smith Hill and the taxpayer, be they Democrat or Republican or man or woman or black or white or union or non-union, is the victim. Things will change in Rhode Island only those of us out here in the real world stop fighting with each other over perceived political differences and start fighting back against the ruling class on Smith Hill who have no concern for or interest in anything about us other than our wallets. Every school district needs to ignore this due to lack of funding. If the Assembly doesn't like it make them enforce it. It is past due the time when not only cities and towns but the governor slap down these rapists.

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 5:57 PM

Although some readers will surely see it as over-the-top rhetoric

Here's one! I think that's abhorrent.

Posted by: mrh at June 24, 2007 12:24 AM


Why? Is it because rape is such a horrid crime that its more general definition as "an outrageous violation" cannot be allowed? Or is it that you believe that the state is right to continue to demand things of the towns (and the people of Rhode Island) without any attempt to find the resources for them?

People in a position of power are forcing themselves on those with less power for their own gratification — of one sort or another. How is that not analogous to date rape? (Arguably, Rhode Island can be said to consent to its government's actions by electing these folks in the first place, but so goes the flawed argument, as well, of those who point out that victims of relationship violence often stay with the people who abuse them.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 24, 2007 7:53 AM

Dear Justin,

I suggest you propose your questions not to mrh but rather to a woman who has been date raped or at least a date rape counselor.

The experience may be enlightening.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at June 24, 2007 2:19 PM

Neighbor, please.

A state mandated a policy, and then didn't provide funding for it. That's not exactly an example of great governance. It might not even be good policy. I don't care either way. But comparing it to sexual violence against a woman?

You really need me to spell out for you why it's offensive? Yes, it's because rape is such a horrible crime that to trivialize it by comparing it to a (let's be honest) minor political action you happen to disapprove of is insensitive, callous, and thoughtless at best. It's offensive because you're using the analogy of date rape to decry a program designed to reduce dating violence. That's cold.

It's not analogous because it's bizarre to compare mandating a school program to a physical assault. It's not analogous because instituting an educational program cannot seriously be considered to be an exercise of power for the purpose of self-gratification in the same way that forcing a woman to have sex against her will is. I can't believe I'm typing this.

Seriously. I'd say the same thing to anyone who made such a ridiculous analogy, whether they were my friend or not, and whether I agreed with them on the point of policy or not. You (and commenter Tim) ought to be ashamed.

C'mon. You know I'm right.

Posted by: mrh at June 24, 2007 2:27 PM

Can the General Assembly be this out of touch with reality?

They level funded education, saying off handedly, let the cities and towns get their spending under control. (By the way, I happen to agree. But much of that "spending", honorable solons, is on your puppet masters, the NEA.) Then they mandate a new education spending initiative for the cities and towns? Remedial math lessons are in order here.

I'd love to be at the upcoming meetings of some of the Democrat city and town committees. They're going to burn effigies of their political brethren on Smith Hill.

Posted by: SusanD at June 24, 2007 2:54 PM

The subject of the legislation is broader than a particular instance of rape. Here's bill sponsor Lanzi: "Not only do we need to protect students from physical harm, we also must protect them from emotional and verbal abuse and harassment that can lead to more overt kinds of violence." I offer this as context for the analogy (and to be more precise, I've changed the instance of "date rape" in the body of the post to "dating violence").

This is not an isolated incident on the part of the General Assembly. Even as they refuse to make the necessary broad spending cuts, even as they stick it to taxpayers with privatization prevention measures in the late hours of the night (to which, I'll confess, I should have alluded in this post as being specifically on my mind), even as they force tax increases down to lower bodies of government, they manage to suck some blood from a poor girl's horrible experience in order to give the impression that they have Rhode Islanders' well-being at the top of their minds. And they've done so with no pretense of argument that there is a need, no argument that their mandate will yield any benefits, and, yes, no promise of resources. You're being generous, indeed, to describe this as a "program" with any "design" to it at all. It's a demand to design programs, and perhaps it's coldly cynical to think so, but my take is that politicians like to wrap themselves in the armor that extreme horrors provide in the hopes of deflecting criticism. That is what I found sufficiently offensive to justify the language of this post.

I'm sorry, but I'll not be ashamed. What is happening governmentally in this state is absolutely appalling and is affecting people on a grand scale. I'll not consent to neutered language in decrying that state of affairs.

Yes, it appears that I shouldn't have published this post if I lacked the time to enunciate the broader context in which I thought it obviously fit. Yes, in making my analogy I relied on the broader sense of "dating violence" and even of rape (which one hears consistently to be less about sexual gratification than about the gratification of feeling powerful). But if the feeling of powerlessness and abuse that the ruling class in this state seems narcissistically oblivious about perpetuating is not analogous to the emotions that underly the experiences of "dating violence" victims, then I'm not sure that a powerful analogy could ever rightly be made about anything.

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 24, 2007 3:16 PM

Once again... a conservative's true colors show through.

Posted by: Pat at June 24, 2007 5:26 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.