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Thursday, June 21, 2007

The 'R' Word?

Apparently there's a new word being banned from our language - though not a word you might expect and not a ban that should be taken lightly (if accepted at all). The word we're forbidden to use is "rape", but you can still hear it said on the air, in the papers, and especially in public conversation between people of any gender, race or ethnicity. You just can't use it in court. You especially can't use it in court during a trial over a rape conviction.

Oh, did I just say the R-word? I meant "sexual assault". Oh, I can't say that either? How about "nonconsentual sex"? Good, that one's still allowed. For now, at least - since the Nebraska judge who's on a word-banning rampage decided to let "sex" itself slide. So far, the list that the judge has allowed to be banned in sexual assault cases is: "rape", "sexual assault", "victim", "assailant", and "sexual assault kit". So I guess you can't even call them sexual assault cases!

How the hell can you be charged with a crime if the courts won't even let you use the name of the crime itself? Nebraska law offers judges broad discretion to ban evidence or language that present the danger of "unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues or misleading the jury." The most common word that has been allowed to be banned from courts is "victim" - because they claim it implies that a crime was committed. The word implies that the person was the subject of an action that is categorized as unwanted or unfavorable. A negative action is not necessarily an illegal action. A defendant could be the victim of a joke or the victim of a mugging - the word 'victim' doesn't mean a crime was committed. Being in COURT means a crime was possibly committed.

Can we not use the word "defendant" because THAT implies that a crime was committed and someone is defending either the action or circumstance or some other defense? It's a TRIAL - we KNOW that a crime was committed if someone's in CRIMINAL COURT. Banning the use of words that imply what we already know to be true is utterly ridiculous.

But it gets worse - because they wanted to also ban the words "sex" and "sexual intercourse", because those words supposedly imply a LACK of crime. The lawyers claim that using "sex" in a sentence inherently implies that it's consentual, which will bias the jury, so they should ban it from this case as well.

This is shaping up to be a horrible "rape"... I mean "sexual"... I mean "nonconsentual"... Um, a horrible "some-personal-and-private-act-that-may-or-may-not-have-been-legal" case.

What was the reason again for banning these words? Something about not wanting to mislead the jury? Oh, well I'm sure that all of the discussion about banning these words and reminding the jury that none of these words are being used so they don't prejudge anyone - that'll certainly keep them led in the right direction. What's that?

Oh - the jury is completely in the dark about this!

What could be more misleading to a jury than hiding the fact that certain words are not going to be used in this trial - words that describe what the trial is about and that they need to decide whether or not it happened and whether or not the defendant did it.

Did WHAT? You can't say it! How can they make an informed decision on the facts of the case to decide if the defendant raped the plaintiff or not if nobody's allowed to use the word "rape"???

None of this is right.

And even though the word "victim" is forbidden in that court of law, it is the court of law itself that has become the victim in this insane debacle.

Sorry, rape victims. To the Nebraska courts, you're all just "unwilling sperm recipients" now.

1 comment:

princess said...

Damn. Now what am I going to call my rape fantasies?