A school of 1970s and 80s feminism held that rape is a defining part of the relationship between men and women. Rape is at the back of every man's mind, apparently, an intrinsic part of his desires. Indeed, these feminists argued that penetration was in itself an act of male domination; sex was rape even if the woman thought she was consenting.
It appears that the Dworkinite school of feminism has wound up working at the UK Home Office. The assumptions - that all men are potentially rapists, that rape is part of everyday life, that all defendants in rape cases are guilty - now form the backbone of policy documents and legal reforms.
The government last week announced new measures to 'increase rape convictions'. Not to improve evidence gathering or social services, but to increase convictions, a demand that is normally restricted to totalitarian states. In the ensuing debate, everybody seemed to assume that nearly all defendants are guilty - they talked of 'rapist' and 'victim' not 'defendant' and 'witness' - and the question was simply how to lock more men up. Indeed, solicitor general Mike O'Brien claimed that only 'between three per cent and nine per cent of rape claims' were 'vexatious' (1). He didn't reveal how he knows this - surely the question of guilt is for the trial to decide?
The law has now taken something like Robin Morgan's view on board. The 2003 Sexual Offences Act makes consent 'active, not passive'; if a woman goes along with sex but doesn't give explicit active consent, it's rape. Official promotion campaigns in men's mags present rape as something that any man could stumble into on a drunken night out. Rape is presented as part of the everyday way men relate to women.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently delivered these remarks at the American Enterprise Institute:Read the whole thing.
I’m talking today about the use of foreign law in American judicial opinions, and most of what I have to say is unfavorable, so I feel I should begin by pointing out that I am not a xenophobe. I don’t mind foreign law. In fact, in my years as a law professor, I used to teach foreign law. You don’t understand your own language until you’ve taken some foreign language, and I think you do not understand your own legal system—its distinctiveness, and what drives it—until you examine some other system.
I do not take the position that foreign law is never, ever relevant to American judicial opinions. It sometimes is. For example, in the interpretation of treaties, whose object is to have nations agree on a particular course of action, I am inclined to follow the interpretation of other signatories so long as it’s within the realm of reasonableness. I also think that foreign law is sometimes relevant to the meaning of an American statute. For example, our Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act permits suits for property “taken in violation of international law.” We had a case a few terms ago involving the seizure of some valuable paintings by the Nazis. Obviously, whether the person seeking to have the paintings restored was entitled to them depended upon whether that person owned the paintings—and that was a question of Austrian law. So we obviously had to consult Austrian law for that purpose.
I think foreign law can also profitably be discussed in the opinions of U.S. courts where it is consulted to predict results of a particular ruling. You can look to foreign law and say, gee, they did this in Germany and the skies didn’t fall. That’s certainly a very valid use of foreign law.
But those are not the uses that worry people. I think people are concerned principally about the use of foreign law in the interpretation of the United States Constitution. Even there I have to tell you I cannot say it is never relevant. Of course, the foreign law I think is relevant is very old foreign law. Very old English law—because what is meant by the terms of our federal Constitution depended upon what Englishmen in 1791 considered due process of law, what they considered to be cruel and unusual punishments, and so forth. So I use foreign law all the time. But it is all very old English law.
What about modern foreign legal materials? Well, that is where I get off the boat. It is my view that modern foreign law can never be relevant to an interpretation of the meaning of the United States Constitution.
OTTAWA - Canada's foreign affairs bureaucracy is proving its well known anti-Western credentials once again with the announcement that effective immediately it will be creating a special department to deal specifically with the world's Muslim community.Shouldn't that be Muslim Communities Islamic Villages Working Group Operational Unit Strategic Bureau Think Tank Charge D'Affaires?
The group, to be known as the Muslim Communities Working Group Operational Unit*, institutionalizes an informal group created in the summer of 2005 under the previous Liberal Government. According to an internal memo, the new department will "serve as a clearing house... for issues concerning relations with the Muslim world... and take the lead in providing timely, strategic advice on relations with the Muslim world, and the lead in creating a policy framework for our overall approach to this subject."
"Canadians should be deeply troubled by this announcement and what it says about the agenda of Canada’s foreign affairs bureaucracy," explained Joseph Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the Institute for Canadian Values. "Certainly, if foreign affairs functionaries were concerned about ethnic sensitivities or religious tolerance, they would have created a department to deal with Hindus and Christians, whose populations approximate that of the Muslim world. Why the favouritism?"
Particularly worrying is the involvement of Crystal Procyshen who will serve as policy and operations officer of the new unit. Ms Procyshen is well known for her radical anti-Israel views. In an article written in 1997, she wrote that "Israelis, in order to fulfil their political prophecies of a Zionist state where they would be safe from persecution, are propagating a recurring cycle of hatred towards the Palestinians as they struggle to expand the state of Israel."
Other statements written by Ms. Procyshen include allegations that:
"Since the Israelis illegally occupied the autonomous regions of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, they routinely torture, kill and deprive Palestinians of their rights. Under Israeli control the Palestinians have no freedom of movement, no freedom of speech or press, no jury of peers, no trials , imprisonment without just cause, no right to education, no right to an attorney, no right to property, no right to trade or profit..." and,
"If East Jerusalem comes under full Israeli control, the Palestinians cannot (sic) pray at the Temple Mount or Holy Sepulchre."
Ben-Ami called this last accusation particularly odious. "In the first place, East Jerusalem was under Israeli control since 1967, although some of that control was shared with Palestinian security as part of the disastrous Oslo Accords, so she clearly had no idea what she was writing about," he said. "But the part about Palestinians not being able to pray at Temple Mount? That's pure fiction from start to finish."
Ben-Ami says the new government must make reform of Canada's foreign affairs establishment a top priority.
"Canadians want our country to be a principled player in world affairs, not a lackey to the sort of extreme anti-Western ideology that has enslaved our foreign affairs establishment for a generation. It has been the proverbial tail that has wagged the dog for years and it's time for that to change.
"The only question is whether Minister MacKay is up to the challenge."