I DID Call the Police. Here’s How It Worked Out For Me.

Over the past 24 hours I have been surrounded in person, online and over media by people announcing they don’t believe the Trump accusers (or the Clinton accusers) because they didn’t call the police at the time of their alleged incidents. I need to get this off my chest. The thing Trump joked about. Well that exact thing happened to me. I did call the police and here is how it worked out for me:

I was a 19-year-old college student in Missoula, Montana. My friends and I went to see Quiet Riot in a bar. It struck us as funny, somehow.

Quiet Riot.

In a bar.

In Montana.

At some point, I was separated from my friends. I went to the bathroom or to get a drink or something, I don’t recall. As I was pushing through the crowd to get back to my friends, that’s when it happened. The exact thing Trump says he can do to women.

Now, a word here about what I was wearing.

Not because it’s relevant to me “deserving it.” But it is relevant to how easy it was to get inside my clothes.

Inside me.

I was wearing a white peasant skirt. Above the knees but not by that much. Loose and billowy. My underwear were white and satiny. Not at all skimpy. Full coverage and loose fitting. I have no memory of my top or my shoes or how I wore my hair that night. I recall the details of the skirt and underwear clearly.

Because they were loose-fitting and that made it easy.

I was pushing through the crowd to get back to my friends. The bodies were packed tightly together and it was slow going. All of a sudden someone’s hand was moving up under my skirt, into my underwear, into me.

It was such a complete shock. One minute I was just walking through a crowd and the next a stranger’s finger was inside my body. I looked over my shoulder and found myself looking into the eyes of the finger’s owner.

The look on his face is something I will never get over.

It said that he knew it was a violation, that he didn’t care because I deserved it, and that there was nothing I could do about it.

He was still inside me at that point.

For years I would think to myself, why didn’t I fucking punch him? Why didn’t I head butt him? Why didn’t I tackle him and start whaling on him and refuse to stop until the whole place came to a halt?

I can only say that in the moment, a lot of things conspired against it. Part of it was the shock. Part of it was the look on his face. In it was something I had never confronted before, never contemplated, never even really knew existed. And it intimidated me. Part of it was simply the tight space. There was literally no room to fight. Our bodies were packed so closely together. The only people paying attention were the ones packed around me and they all had the same smirk on their faces he did.

In that moment, my instinct was only to get away. I pulled away from him, pushed on through the crowd and made it back to my friends. I was breathing strangely and talking choppily. I told people what had happened. Those people told other people. Everyone thought I should call the police.

Of course, I thought, as thought returned. That’s what you do. If you don’t, then he can do it to someone else. You’re supposed to stop him.

One of my friends talked to the owner of the bar. He talked to me and then he called the police (this was before cell phones).

Guess what happened?

Several police cars came. A bunch of cops shut down the concert, shut down the bar, and made everyone in there file out past me in the hopes I could identify the guy. I never saw him in that line of faces. He must have left before the cops got there or maybe he went out a back door. I saw lots of other things. Curiosity. Amusement. Sympathy. Encouragement. Disbelief. Annoyance. Disgust. Condemnation. I saw what it looks like when a face says the word “whore.”

After they were all gone, one of the cops put me into a police car to talk to me. He said the way I was dressed invited certain behaviors. He said that I was 19 years old and in a bar. He said that I was drunk. He said the owner of the bar was going to prosecute me if I ever stepped foot in there again.

Some of you are probably thinking, well yeah, you shouldn’t have even been there and you could have gotten that bar owner in a lot of trouble and you probably cost him a lot of money. I don’t blame you for thinking those thoughts. I don’t think it makes you a bad person. How could I, when I have thought them too?

Those thoughts are why some victims don’t call the police.

I never found out who the finger guy was. Just some random stranger who put himself inside me and then went on his merry way. Maybe we have passed each other on the street and I never knew because it was a long time ago and I was drunk.

It’s weird because our culture seems most comfortable with two models for women in the wake of assault.

In one, the one you see most often in fiction, the woman stops having consensual sex, gets nervous and jumpy around men, is scared to go places, and cries all the time. In the other, her lack of evident distress renders her story unbelievable.

Well, nothing changed in my relationship with my boyfriend. I didn’t stop liking sex. I wasn’t scared of men. I wasn’t jumpy or nervous anywhere. Nothing changed in my classwork. I became more aware of personal safety issues, but the changes were subtle. For the most part, my relationships with people and the world continued as they had before.

I can imagine many reasons victims don’t call the police. Belonging to a familial, social, or religious culture in which victims are perceived as damaged, for example. Fear of losing a spouse or significant other. Fear of having a consensual sexual history divulged. Fear of being perceived as one of those troublesome women who cause too much drama. Fear of professional repercussions.

Of all the possibilities, I can only speak of one from experience. Maybe they feel like they’re acting too normal for anyone to believe the words they would need to speak.

Because sometimes there are no marks on your body and no obvious ones on your soul and you’re a little bit in shock and the façade of normalcy you’re wearing makes you think they won’t believe you. And having to look into all those judging faces as you tell the thing that happened, the thing you yourself sort of agree can’t be that important or it would have left deeper marks – you know that part would leave marks, so maybe you should just cut your losses.

In the weeks that followed, a victim’s advocacy group called me several times. “I’m fine,” I told them each time. Because I was fine and what else was there to say? We all knew they were never going to find that guy. We all knew they weren’t out looking.

Because I was fine.

The feeling of that strange finger inside of me would return viscerally at the oddest moments, though. For the first year, it happened a lot. Then I thought of it less often. Now the memory of that finger has lost its sharpness.

Not the look on his face though. That part will never fade.

I never thought my clothes were inviting. Even if I had, I still wouldn’t have judged myself for wearing them. Nor for being 19 and in a bar. Nor for being drunk.

I judged myself for not fighting back. That part bothered me even more than the look or the finger. Because I’m only responsible for me. And I just stood there and took it and did NOTHING to wipe that smirk off his face.

It’s been 25 years and I just cried when I typed those words.

If someone were to do the same thing to me again now, I like to think I would fight back this time. I guess you never know until it happens.

I’m not sure I would call the police.

If Trump Is a Pig, Does It Matter If Bill Clinton Is Also a Pig?

"And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Bill Clinton admitted having extra-marital sexual relationships. One of them was with a much younger intern who was, for all intents and purposes, his employee. The relationship with Monica Lewinsky was icky and troubling due to the assumed power differential between the two parties – but there was nothing illegal about it.

Bill Clinton was accused of raping and sexually assaulting other women. No jury has found him guilty and he is therefore presumed innocent. Some people who feel strongly about due process for other men accused of crimes they deny committing, do not seem to grant the same benefit of the doubt to Bill Clinton.

Donald Trump has also been accused of raping and sexually assaulting women, including a 13-year-old girl. He has never been convicted by a jury and is therefore presumed innocent. Yet, again, some people who feel strongly about due process for other men accused of crimes they deny committing, do not grant the same benefit of the doubt to Donald Trump.

Trump admits the following:

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Cue the moral relativism. Nothing is good or bad except in relation to something else. No time should be wasted discussing one thing if there is something more egregious available to be discussed.

But Bill Clinton!!! Why aren’t we talking about Bill Cliiiintonnn?!

Go ahead and talk about it! No one is stopping you. We’ve been talking about the allegations against Bill Clinton for decades. Talk about them some more if it floats your boat. I know it’s a novel concept, but we can actually talk about more than one thing at a time. And, now bear with me here because I know this one is hard, but they can both be bad.

If we never talked about anything except the absolute worst, most seriously bad thing in the universe, we would only ever talk about war, cancer and entropy.

Oh, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump might be sexual predators who should not be allowed anywhere near public office…but what about serial killers, hmmm? They actually kill people, why aren’t you denouncing them?

What about the fact that the Earth might get hit by an asteroid any moment and we would all cease to exist and you’re just distracting from the real issues by talking about who should be President? Of a country that’s only existed for, like, a couple hundred years? Weighed against the fate of the planet that has existed for more than four billion?

You’re so small….

But while all the partisans enlightened people who know what really matters are discussing the truly important things – like rehashing decades old unproven allegations against a man who is not running for office – let me clarify a couple of things.

First, Bill Clinton was never convicted. He denies the allegations. Donald Trump was accused by his own words. People can decide for themselves if that’s a distinction that matters, but it does exist.

Second, the problem is not that Trump said a bad word or spoke vulgarly or objectified women, as some like Sean Hannity have suggested – attempting to contrast that with Bill Clinton’s (alleged) conduct. Trump’s “words” described “actions” he claims he engaged in. As Robby Soave writes at Reason: “Grabbing an unsuspecting and unwilling person’s genitals is a criminal act of sexual assault under any definition of sexual assault.” I do not find Trump’s phrasing to be as definitive as Soave. But at a minimum, it suggests encounters that are deeply ambiguous on the issue of consent.

People can decide for themselves how important that is to his fitness for office. Don’t expect everyone else to ignore it.

 

Why [Most Of] You Should Vote Third-Party

So… People talk about a vote for Gary Johnson being a vote for Hillary (even though some say he poaches more Dems than Reps), and how a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Trump.

I mean, almost nobody is actually excited about voting FOR Trump or FOR Hillary, but they’re scared that a vote for a third party increases the odds that the anti-Christ from the other party will get elected and destroy America. So the stakes are, of course, VERY high.

But really… What is the penalty for voting third party? What is the penalty for most of the people in the US? Does a third-party vote really make a difference to the outcome?

The answer is no. And we have the Electoral College to thank(?) for that.

According to Wikipedia (I know, it’s not the MOST reliable source, but it’s close enough for government work), somewhere around 73% of Electoral Votes are basically already sewn up. Those are from states that are historically not competitive in the slightest.

From the results of presidential elections from 2004 through to 2012, a general conclusion can be reached that the Democratic and Republican parties start with a default electoral vote count of about 191 each.[8] In this scenario, the twelve competitive states are Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, and North Carolina.[9]

For example, I live in California. I know flat out that Hillary is winning California. And thus Hillary has effectively already locked up California’s electoral votes simply by winning the nomination.

So a vote for Trump in California accomplishes nothing. It is a wasted vote. In fact, it’s worse than that, because it’s a vote that–should he be elected–signifies that he has broader national popular support than he does. And a vote for Hillary? Although I’d be voting for the winner of my state, again, it’s a wasted vote. And it signifies again a broader amount of national popular support than is warranted.

And in a state like Alabama, for example, the reverse is true. Trump will win Alabama handily. It’s not in play, so your vote for a major party candidate does NOT meaningfully affect the outcome.

What about a vote for Gary Johnson (or Jill Stein)? Well, even though it’s unlikely either one will win, every vote cast for either them is effectively a vote of no confidence in the major party candidates. My vote doesn’t do anything to change the likely outcome of the election, but it sends an actual message to whichever R or D wins. It sends the message that I don’t support either of them.

Of course, some will ask “what if”? What if something really strange occurs and my vote is the deciding factor in whether or not Trump wins California, or someone in Alabama is the deciding factor if Hillary wins there? My answer to that is simple: if California or Alabama are actually “in play” in 2016, it means that one candidate is winning in a landslide, and at that point not only do individual votes not matter, individual states don’t matter.

I understand the idea of voting pragmatically, of voting for the major party candidate that could possibly stop your dreaded, horrible, evil opponent from taking the Oath of Office.

But for roughly 392 Electoral Votes, your vote does NOT affect the outcome. There is NO penalty to voting third party. It’s not a vote for the opposing candidate.

So why not try it, just once? If you’re not happy with either candidate, and you don’t live in one of the dozen or so “swing states” where the individual state outcome might decide the election, vote your conscience. Unlike Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I’m pretty sure a vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself on November 9th.

Quote of the Day: Honest Debate Edition

popehatOver at Popehat, Ken White makes the point that gun control advocates should have the balls to say that all firearms should be banned instead of using purposely vague or misleading language (as people on the Left tend to do). Using vague, sometimes Orwellian terms tend to creep into other areas of our private lives

I want [gun control] advocates to learn the difference [between ‘automatic’ and ‘semi-automatic’ firearms for example] so I can have some level of confidence that I know what kind of proposed government power we’re debating […]

[…]

Gun control advocates may argue that it’s pointless to define terms because gun control opponents will oppose gun control laws no matter how they are crafted. […] But it’s not a logical or moral excuse for not trying. Urging vague and unconstrained government power is not how responsible citizens of a free society ought to act. It’s a bad habit and it’s dangerous and irresponsible to promote it.

[…]

We live in a country where the government uses the power we’ve already given it as a rationale for giving it more: “how can we not ban x when we’ve already banned y?”

Nationalism Vs Patriotism

gadsden

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States. Americans will celebrate declaring their independence from the British Crown in 1776. Hopefully many will take time to reflect on what their country stands for and what makes it unique in the world.

I recommend reflecting on the idea of patriotism itself. What makes patriotism, a generally good thing, different from nationalism, which usually leads to many terrible things? There is definitely a fine line between the two concepts. Nationalism vs patriotism is one of the oldest arguments in history.

What is a patriotism? Lawrence Reed at the Foundation for Economic Education has an excellent definition.

I subscribe to a patriotism rooted in ideas that in turn gave birth to a country, but it’s the ideas that I think of when I’m feeling patriotic. I’m a patriotic American because I revere the ideas that motivated the Founders and compelled them, in many instances, to put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line.

 

What ideas? Read the Declaration of Independence again. Or, if you’re like most Americans these days, read it for the very first time. It’s all there. All men are created equal. They are endowed not by government but by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Premier among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government must be limited to protecting the peace and preserving our liberties, and doing so through the consent of the governed. It’s the right of a free people to rid themselves of a government that becomes destructive of those ends, as our Founders did in a supreme act of courage and defiance more than two hundred years ago.

 

Call it freedom. Call it liberty. Call it whatever you want, but it’s the bedrock on which this nation was founded and from which we stray at our peril. It’s what has defined us as Americans. It’s what almost everyone who has ever lived on this planet has yearned for. It makes life worth living, which means it’s worth fighting and dying for.

Or as Benjamin Franklin said, ““Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”

America is more than just a place, it’s an ideal. It’s a land where people are free to say what they want, believe what they want, and do what they want as long as they don’t hurt others or destroy their stuff. It’s a land where everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their life. It’s a land where people govern themselves and no government can exist without the consent of the governed.

We believe all men are created equal and are always equal in the eyes of their Creator.

A patriot believes in an ideal, not in a particular place. There is nothing exceptional about a country that has no ideals.

Nationalism on the other hand is all about flag-waving, a particular place, or even a particular ethnic group or religion. It is a mentality of “my country, right or wrong” instead of being an honest critic where necessary of one’s government. It often includes hatred of those who are different.

What worries me is that for far too many Americans this country is becoming less about ideals and more about a place on the map. The second we stray from our ideals is the second America is no longer worth celebrating.

Be a patriot, not a mindless nationalist.

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