If any one out there reading this is wondering why I am not commenting on the Shirley Sherrod story, it isn't because I'm such a loyal Hope Koolaid drinker. I have three reasons:
1. I have nothing to add that every other blogger and their mother haven't already said
2. I do think the administration screwed up, I don't think there's anything they can do but apologize and try to reinstate her, and they have done that already.
3. I'm so sick of reading transcripts of press conferences full of Sherrod questions and NOTHING else. I'm sorry she was unfairly fired, but SERIOUSLY guys, people go through a lot worse without getting a single member of the press corps to ask Robert Gibbs about it.
Dear Mr. President,
One in six American women will be the victim of rape in her lifetime. With that kind of statistical frequency, it is a safe bet that we all have women in our lives affected by this. I certainly do, and I say this only to emphasize that I do not take the issue lightly, nor to I mean to belittle or minimize the damaging affects of this crime. I don't know that there are statistics available for the number of people, male or female, who are lied to for sex, but I'm guessing, based on personal experience, that it's much, much higher. People lie. People lie all the time, about important things and stupid things, and people lie even more when they think they can get what they want. I don't think that lying to some one in order to have sex with them, in general, is a criminal act. Israeli courts, who have convicted an Arab man of rape for allegedly claiming to be Jewish, disagree.
The idea that consent can be contingent on a partner's racial identity or religion is absurd. While withholding or misleading a partner about some information, such as knowledge of HIV or other infection, can and should be grounds for criminal complaint, there are obvious differences between the harm done by a person's religion and their HIV status. This verdict is based primarily upon an accepted racism, an antipathy that is now given the force of legal precedent. Absent any hard evidence to substantiate the woman's claim that he lied about his identity, the most damning evidence this man could have faced is the inescapable reality of his own race and the judge's belief that a jewish woman would need to be deceived in order to consent. This kind of institutionalized racism ought to be condemned by Israel's allies.
Beyond the racist implications of this decision, the language of the decision declares the court responsible for the protection of women from "smooth-tongued criminals," surprisingly paternalistic language from a female judge. I wonder, had this been the case of a Jewish man being deceived by an Arab woman, would she have been charged with rape, as well? As a woman, I find this idea that women lack the judgement to protect themselves from men who lie insulting.
We all have to take responsibility for the way we treat one another and for the decisions we make. Deception in pursuit of casual sex, while morally questionable, is hardly on par with the trauma of actual rape, and this disturbing decision should not pass without the strong condemnation of all who would see racism and sexism divided from the laws of any nation.