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Cruel and unusual punishment
May 30, 2002 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Cruel and unusual punishment from the state that raised me. It reminds me of eugenics. I definitely don't condone rape, but this just seems wrong.
posted by password (77 comments total)

 
They've actually been doing this in California for awhile, as I understand it. And here's the thing -- it works... (or so I'm told by experts)

I mean, it sounds kinda weird to me, too... but the recividism rate for forceable rapists is extremely high. We're just going to let them out to rape again? And again?
posted by ph00dz at 9:50 AM on May 30, 2002


Hey, they cut the hands off thieves in Saudi Arabia .. and wouldn't you guess it: it works!

the recividism rate for forceable rapists is extremely high

I keep hearing this. I would like some data to back it up, please.
posted by magullo at 9:54 AM on May 30, 2002


I agree that it sounds wrong. On the other hand, letting rapists do it again and again is also wrong.

We can look at it from a different perspective, maybe. People are given mood altering prescriptions all the time for depression, or psychotic drugs to help control schizophrenia, so maybe chemical castration does the same kind of thing by affecting the amount of testosterone in the body.

Is it cruel and unusual punishment? At least for rape it fits the crime.
posted by ashbury at 9:56 AM on May 30, 2002


Seems like a great answer to a very tough question to me.

Suppose you've got a repeat offending child rapist - do you lock him up for the rest of his life or come up with a better solution?
Which is more fair to the criminal?
I know if I had the choice between a lifetime in an institution and this treatment - I'd choose the treatment 10 times out of 10. Especially if I knew I had a serious problem that this would help.
posted by TiggleTaggleTiger at 10:00 AM on May 30, 2002


Is it reversable? IE. are the drugs a 1-time thing, or an on-going treatment?

"drugs are used to reduce the amount of the male hormone testosterone the body produces"

That doesn't sound all that cruel or unusual. How is it vastly different than a patient being prescribed medication by their psychiatrist (well, yes it's not voluntary, but... but then again.... Clockwork Orange)...

Perhaps the offender should be given the choice?
a. permanent incarceration (for life, no parole)

b. chemical castration, with psychological rehabilitation, transition programs, and eventual parole, and maybe after 10 years of being "normal", no more injections.

b. surgical castration.
posted by jkaczor at 10:02 AM on May 30, 2002


this doesn't bother me a bit. if you were to ask, i'd say it's a shame that these guys aren't automatically locked up with no chance of parole for the duration of their lives. yet chemical castration, as a lasting effect, seems not much different than sentencing one to life in prison, for both are a permanent denial of freedom.
posted by moz at 10:13 AM on May 30, 2002


Here are facts about rape . According to this (and other) sources, "Convicted rapists have a recidivism rate of 67% (Bureau of Justice. 1991. Criminal Investigation in the U.S.)"
posted by ph00dz at 10:18 AM on May 30, 2002


How about the Death Penalty?
Think about it. By the time the state is ready to either incarcerate you for life in an institution where you are utterly despised, hated and will be horribly tortured; OR, to force you to take drugs that will strip you of sexual motivation, while you live as an unemployable leprous outcast among people one step away from lynching you; isn't it time to consider how much less awful it would be for you just to be put down?

I mean, seriously, does anyone think that any of these men have anything left to contribute to society or even a part thereof? Even their own families?

Ha-ha! Caught you. Just wondering how serious you think the act of "rape" is. Is it worth taking a life? How about a lifetime of torture and deprivation, maybe ending in murder?
posted by kablam at 10:22 AM on May 30, 2002


How about the Death Penalty?
Think about it. By the time the state is ready to either incarcerate you for life in an institution where you are utterly despised, hated and will be horribly tortured; OR, to force you to take drugs that will strip you of sexual motivation, while you live as an unemployable leprous outcast among people one step away from lynching you; isn't it time to consider how much less awful it would be for you just to be put down?

I mean, seriously, does anyone think that any of these men have anything left to contribute to society or even a part thereof? Even their own families?

Ha-ha! Caught you. Just wondering how serious you think the act of "rape" is. Is it worth taking a life? How about a lifetime of torture and deprivation, maybe ending in murder?
posted by kablam at 10:22 AM on May 30, 2002


What's the analog of this punishment for females who commit sexual abuse (for instance, women who molest children)? If a punishment cannot be evenly applied to male and female offenders, is it just? Said another way, have the "chemically castrated" received equal protection under the law?

What other chemical punishments are coming down the road? Just as an example, given the rise of anti-depressant use in the US, should we expect "pro-depressants" to be used for punishment?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know that this practice turns my stomach.
posted by precipice at 10:24 AM on May 30, 2002


Precipice -- they actually remove a woman's ovaries, I believe.
posted by ph00dz at 10:27 AM on May 30, 2002


What about side effects? Especially long-term? It would seem to introduce a level of "cruel and unusual punishment" if, 30 years from now, we find these guys turning up with ridiculous rates of cancer. Who knows, but that's the point, and it's likely a bad idea to go fooling around too much with a person's testosterone levels.
posted by risenc at 10:30 AM on May 30, 2002


risenc -- tell that to the propecia guys.
posted by zpousman at 10:39 AM on May 30, 2002


I can think of a good way to prevent rape: arm women.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:41 AM on May 30, 2002


Rape is mostly about power, not sexual gratification.

The problem is in their head, not their balls.
posted by remlapm at 10:47 AM on May 30, 2002


I can think of a good way to prevent child molestation: arm children.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:47 AM on May 30, 2002


Excuse me, but why do so many of you find this to be wrong? As moz pointed out, this procedure relies on much the same principle as locking someone up for life - that civil society will remain safe from offenders who are rendered incapable of performing said offense. Chemical castration is a procedure which insures that said rapist/molester/offender will not engage in a crime with sexual intent again, simply becasue it will be a physical impossibility to do so after said operation.

It always pisses me off when I hear people nay-say on legislation regarding chemical castration for repeat offenders, claiming that it is inhumane. This is not inhumane. When a person is sick, it is inhumane for society not to want to cure them. We shuffle people who could be potentialy cured under the rug and into the annals of system and statistics, like so many other inherently sick people (drug addicts, etc). If you want to talk about inhumane, we can talk about how most rapists get less than 5 years behind bars, a shorter sentence that many non-violent drug offeners in this country. If you want to talk about inhumane, we can discuss the fact that many repeat-rapists perform an estimated 10 offenses before they ever get to see a court room for the first time. If you want to talk about inhumane, we can outline the fact that 85% of repeat rapists continue to rape after they are released from their short prison sentences, offending another potential 10 victims before they will see the court room for the second time. If you want to talk about inhumane, let's talk about how in many states (my state included) it is still legal for a man to rape his wife. If you want to talk about inhumane, let's talk about the alientation that women who get raped experience, where our bullshit notions of 'female purity' extend themselves to looking down on a victim as 'dirty' or even 'deserving' of said crime simply by the way she dresses. Often times, it is for these reasons that many women do not report the crimes. Of course, none of this has made it to the metafilter discussion board as of yet. How convenient.

It pisses me off even more when these nay-sayers of chemical castration are the same people who claim to be pro-capital-punishment in the same breath. If that's not hypocrisy then I don't know what is. 'Yeah, eye for an eye man, but wait....oh you want to cut off their balls and render their manhood void....oh...I don't know about that.' This is an example of the same red-neck vigilante bullshit that has been tainting our collective self consciousness for far too long. This fucking system needs changing, and since most of the men in the robes behind the bench won't begin to understand the effects of rape anytime soon, we must do something which is proven (yes, this is a fact - journals in Europe who have written on said procedure claim that it does work) to keep an offender from raping again.
posted by tiger yang at 10:49 AM on May 30, 2002


What if they're innocent, but convicted?
posted by password at 10:54 AM on May 30, 2002


insomnyuk,

You can think of a good way to prevent rape: arm women.

Which is a great idea--because rapists are never armed, and children never get into mommy's purse.
posted by squinky at 10:54 AM on May 30, 2002


The only thing that worries me is the fact that there is no second-strike. One strike, and its chemical castration. Now while this is great for the people who do horrible things, this country has a fairly good track record for convicting innocent people (which of course is debateable) but even if it didn't, if there is the slight chance of convicting someone who is innocent, shouldn't there be a second chance before such an extreme procedure?
posted by benjh at 10:55 AM on May 30, 2002


Rape is mostly about power, not sexual gratification.

It's a mistake to think the two could ever be separated.

Sex and power, that is.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:59 AM on May 30, 2002


Chemical castration is reversible, so if someone was found innocent, they stop taking the drugs. That ends the punishment. From the newspaper article linked below:

"Surgical castration isn't really more drastic than chemical, said Gordon Cappelletty, who directs the adult and adolescent sex offender treatment program at the California School of Professional Psychology at Fresno, Calif.

Both are reversible."

I have no problem with this as a punishment. I'm guessing a sex offender would rather take pills to avoid lengthy prison terms than skip them and go out and rape again. In fact some sex offenders have asked for the treatment to stop them (Medical, legal experts debate merits of castration bill).

It doesn't work in all cases though, apparently violent rapists aren't helped by this treatment.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:13 AM on May 30, 2002


Which is a great idea--because rapists are never armed, and children never get into mommy's purse.


So, the best way to face down an individual who is armed is then to be unarmed one's self? And, as far as getting into mommy's purse- it was drilled into *me*, early on, that One Does NOT Go into A Woman's Purse. Not that my mom had a gun in there. I never did. Oddly enough, parents *can* control the behavior of their children. Shock. Suprise.

It's not the full answer by any means... but arming women can be a positive step. In a disarmed society, we simply go back to the tyranny of the big and strong over the weak.

Want to say a 6'10", 260 pound bruiser doesn't have a lethal advantage over a 5'0", 98 pound weakling in the absence of weaponry? I'll listen. Then I'll laugh.
posted by dissent at 11:17 AM on May 30, 2002


The problem is in their head, not their balls.

Actually, the head is a chemical and electrical organ, and is directly/indirectly controlled by hormones, stimulants, etc.

That is a fact. Do you own male a dog? Is the guy fixed?

Anyone who does own one can easily estabilish hormone-based behavior before and after. Before, we had to literally beat him off with a stick, after, only once or twice a month, and then... actually related to roughing around (IE. it is a mental dominance thing...), but certainly completely different than the first case.

Yes we are "human", but quite honestly, if our brain is not wired a certain way, or we have chemical imbalances, willpower only goes so far. Of course, establishing the baseline of what a "normal" functioning brain is supposed to look like might be an impossible task. Who is "normal", how much of "normal" is simply societal bias?

Frankly for those who are horrified that I equated animal castration to human castration... Face it, we aren't that dissimilar from the animals we share the planet with, at least on a biological basis... We just like to think "differently"...
posted by jkaczor at 11:17 AM on May 30, 2002


remlapm,

I've heard that power thing before. I don't believe it. I do believe the problem is in their head though.

An example from nature: Have you ever seen mallard ducks mating? It's disgusting. I've seen on more than one occaision 3-5 males to one female, mating in the water-- the female looks like she's panicking and drowning.

Personal experience: I was working a cramped office discussing a case with a co-worker-- we were sort of wedged into a tight space between a desk and some filing cabinets, and she said something like "the chart's right here...", then she's turns around, bends at the waist in her mini-dress and opens the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet to retrieve the file.

So now her bent over ass is about four inches from the front of my pants--to my horror, my first reaction was to grab her and mount her. I could feel this energy pulse through my body trying to get me to do just that.

Of course I didn't. Because it would have been wrong-- I stepped away and got away.

And no-- she didn't do that on purpose-- she was just clueless, and in a polite society, why should she have to be careful about doing things like that anyway.

I think rape is perfectly natural. If you're an animal. The point is-- we're not animals, but some people behave that way. Which is unfortunately why they're in cages. (not saying that that everyone in jail deserves to be, but some certainly do).

Yes, some of them are crazy. But a lot of them are just animals-- no morals and they don't care.
posted by squinky at 11:17 AM on May 30, 2002


Given the horrific nature of rape and the proven rate of recidivism, I don't see anything cruel or unusual about this procedure. Chemical castration is acheived by the continuing administration of depo provera or a similar drug. This is easily reversible if evidence came to light that the subject was wrongly convicted - simply stop administering the drug.

I am also curious about the statement that rape is about power, not sex. This is almost universally asserted, but I am unaware of its source. Is this something well proven by clinical studies? Or is it a politically inspired cliche? Or a bit of both?
posted by John Smallberries at 11:22 AM on May 30, 2002


And the date rape drug?
posted by Postroad at 11:27 AM on May 30, 2002


I think rape is cruel and unusual.
posted by SpecialK at 11:35 AM on May 30, 2002


Squinky; you made me laugh out loud.

So now her bent over ass is about four inches from the front of my pants--to my horror, my first reaction was to grab her and mount her

I choked water through my nose on that one.

As for the topic. I am a bit of a hard liner on crime and punishment. I think they should just unleash Lorena Bobbit on rapists. But, I have been known to be a bit extreme in my responses to some things.

Ultimately, rape is an extreme violation of an individuals rights. I would have no problem passing extreme judgement on the guilty.
posted by a3matrix at 11:41 AM on May 30, 2002


That link about surgical castration being reversible is misleading: sure someone could get a testosterone prescription, but that just replaces the hormone the testicles used to produce, it doesn't change the fact that the man in question still has no testicles. I'm in favour of offering chemical (or surgical) castration as an option instead of some jail time (as is being done in some places), or even as a mandatory part of the penalty, but I'm opposed to using surgical castration as a punishment, since it cannot be reversed in any meaningful way, and it's not like there's a 100% success rate when it comes to convicting the right person. I don't think chemical castration is cruel and unusual punishment, but I think surgical castration is.
posted by biscotti at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2002


I'm all for the law with the following provisions; it must also include therapy. As some have mentioned before me, rape isn't generally about sex, it's about power...and I don't know if just toning down testosterone levels is going to make these men any less dangerous or if it means they will become tool users in their rapes.

As to being heavily armed, that doesn't do you much good unless you live in a state that allows you to carry the weapon in an easily accessible location; i.e., shoulder holsters, belts, etc., and you're trained to kill instantly and without question. Rapists generally have the element of surprise to their advantage and there's no time to be digging around in your purse for a gun. Also, a gun can be taken away from someone fairly easily unless they are trained to unholster and fire in one smooth movement...and to continue firing until the gun is unloaded. (And maybe even reload and continue firing, but juries tend to get upset when you do that.)

However, some basic fighting techniques are fairly effective, assuming you're dealing with an unarmed assailant. Knees break very easily and no matter how short a woman is, she can still kick out your knees. Eyes are especially vulnerable, as are testes, and that soft area under your chinbone...you can dislocate someones jaw with very little effort if they are standing behind you.

All that being said, I am trained in both forms of defense and I did carry a gun for a while and none of it stopped me from being attacked. It did stop me from being raped, but only because it bought me enough time that help arrived.

What some of you seem to forget is that these people are worse than animals. They attack those that they see as weaker than them, and they do it for kicks. The scum that attacked me had a knife, a gun in the car he was trying to force me into, a prior conviction rap sheet that was longer than my arm, was on enough crack to fund Bolivia, and kept coming at me despite a dislocated knee. (That just pissed him off, really.)

I ended up in the hospital with a fractured jaw, broken ribs, punctured lung and a medical bill that took me almost 3 years to pay off...which is less time than he served in prison.

Yeah, I don't think chemical castration is too harsh. What I would have done to rapists is too harsh. Chemical castration is the easy way out for the bastards.
posted by dejah420 at 11:49 AM on May 30, 2002


"I think rape is perfectly natural. If you're an animal. The point is-- we're not animals"

and:

"But a lot of them [rapists] are just animals"

and:

"my first reaction was to grab her and mount her. I could feel this energy pulse through my body trying to get me to do just that."

Damn Squinky, were you born illogical or did you work at it? You seem to be saying that we all possess an innate desire to rape, but that we usually end up repressing them due to the tenants of modern though and the confines of sexual discourse that comes with it. I just don't buy it. I have no desires to 'mount' a woman against her wishes. Do I therefore not fit into your equation of what an 'animal' is? So, some of us are animals and some of us are not? Man, stop the presses on the new Anthripology text book...we have a new theory! This is not about our own animalistic behaviors, as you have apparently decided that 'we are not animals'. It's about who's sick in the head and who's not. According to your own notions of animalistic regression, your Harlequin romance tale of office love seems to hint at your own desires to regress yourself (albiet temporarily) to a cro-magnon state of sexuiality, but the cornflower-blue walls of the cubilce around you and the 'civil world' it represents pulls you back at the last minute. Would you act the same way if we were living in caves? I don't think that you think you would. Please don't cast me as a member of your silly office-fuck-fantasies any time soon, cause I don't buy it. Thanks.
posted by tiger yang at 11:55 AM on May 30, 2002


My problem with chemical castration is that testosterone plays more than just one role within the body. Most obviously, low testosterone reduces muscle mass and increases body fat (hence the chubby eunuchs) but it also plays a role in blood production, bone formation, metabolism, and liver function.

Will chemical castration take into account the changing testosterone levels of the rapists throughout their life? That is once their testosterone begin to fall in the thirties and forties will they reduce dosages or cease administrations? Is their an established level of testosterone that represents chemical castration?

Would it be cruel and unusual punishment if these criminals ended up with malfunctioning livers and low-density bones? Can it be addressed by other forms of supplementation?

Even with these concerns I am still in favour of chemical castration of repeat sexual offenders and particularly child molesters. I would just like them to do it as humanely as possible..
posted by srboisvert at 11:57 AM on May 30, 2002


its medication. chemical castration is something both prostate cancer and endometrioses patients live through, or rather have to deal with. Often it's the same exact drug.
why not a rapist, which may well be a form of illness too?
posted by dabitch at 11:57 AM on May 30, 2002


Squinky: I saw that movie too, only the girl was trying to fix the photocopier. Then her roommate came in, and all three of them got it on together.

On topic: In principle, yes, chemical (or even physical) castration is a solution to rape; but only if you accept that (a) legal process and medical diagnoses are always perfect and (b) medical procedures are always the proper way to "fix" a problem. That was the accepted wisdom with regard to lobotomies as recently as the 1960's, I believe; prior to that, female circumcision was considered an acceptable means of preventing masturbation by women (which it certainly did).
posted by yhbc at 12:09 PM on May 30, 2002


It is amazing how gullible you guys are.

Convicted rapists have a recidivism rate of 67%

Is that high? Compared to what? Let's see the overall recidivism rate.

Of the 108,580 persons released from prisons in 11 States in 1983, an estimated 62.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.8% were reconvicted, and 41.4% returned to prison or jail.
- U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics


So a 5% (well within error, I bet) is cause enough to cut someone's balls off? Are you fucking kidding me?

I hate to defend the worse of the worse, but I thought this was a civilized place. This thread is hardly so.
posted by magullo at 12:14 PM on May 30, 2002


I guess should read the links I provide more carefully:

An estimated 24% of those serving time for rape and 19% of those serving time for sexual assault had been on probation or parole at the time of the offense for which they were in State prison in 1991.
- U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics


Ahem ... that sounds more like a 24% and 19% recidivism rate to me ...

I wonder where the good folks of the University of Alaska got their data from. I guess not where they claim it came from.

How bizarre is all this!
posted by magullo at 12:24 PM on May 30, 2002


do these rapists tend to have higher than normal testosterone? Or is there something else missing or additional which causes them to either be unable to control urges which may be fairly common or to have urges which may not be common at all (as with everything, most likely there is a continuum)?

I thought a lot of rapists / child molesters had requested these kinds of treatments, so i don't think it's cruel & unusual. If a defendent is adamantly against the treatment and would prefer jailtime, though, he should have that option.

It is true that for most mammals there isn't a clear cut difference between sex and rape. Unfortunately it has even taken the human race rather a long time to make that distinction; for much of our history the difference was distinguished by whether the woman you had sex with was your property or another man's (e.g., her father's). Once her father sold / gave her to you, you could do what you wanted. in most cases, fathers and sons in law made deals where they tried to make the bride happy, but still, it was ultimately up to them, not her.

female circumcision was considered an acceptable means of preventing masturbation by women

this is only meaningful if you think that masturbation by women is a crime. Also this would not be reversible.

Is that high? Compared to what? Let's see the overall recidivism rate. Of the 108,580 persons released from prisons in 11 States in 1983, an estimated 62.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years

There are a few differences though. Many felony charges are motivated by financial gains or are situations that result from financial dealings gone awry (black market regulation, basically). These kinds of felonies are not the result of what could be regarded as a medical problem; they are the result of social problems.

Rape has no benefits; like assault or unpremeditated murder it is the result of bad impulses, poor impulse control and probably bad situations as well that stir up those negative impulses to start with (e.g., the way being angry about something unrelated might make someone more likely to blow up over something minor). Trying a medical solution isn't a punishment; it's an attempt to actually fix the problem. They have anti-depressants; maybe they'll come out with anti-anger meds.. this seems to me in the same vein.

So a 5% (well within error, I bet) is cause enough to cut someone's balls off? Are you fucking kidding me?

chemical castration leaves the balls intact and can be reversed. What's the problem?
posted by mdn at 12:32 PM on May 30, 2002


magullo:

That is not a 24% and 19% recidivism rate. That is just what it says it is -- rapists being caught while on probation or parole. Not the same thing.
posted by jennyjenny at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2002


magullo: I couldn't see any reference in the links you provided about what offense the reoffenders were on parole for at the time they committed the sexual assaults/rapes. The linked pages only seem to indicate that people who'd committed some form of crime were likely to reoffend, but didn't say anything about whether they were likely to commit the same sort of offense again. If you see what I mean. Someone on parole for a crime unrelated to sexual assault who then commits a sexual assault doesn't really tell us much about how likely it is that any given rapist will reoffend.
posted by biscotti at 12:36 PM on May 30, 2002


You have a good point, magullo. To be fair, perhaps we should cut the balls off of all convicted felons. Or, maybe a "Two Strikes" policy would be effective. I mean, one ball is probably sufficient for most tasks.
posted by groundhog at 12:43 PM on May 30, 2002


Just an odd thought: I read sometime back that Prozac had been prescribed by court order in a few sexual assault sentences--it decreases the sex drive for a significant percentage of people wo take it, and, tends to reduce obsessive thinking, both of which would be of use for treating sexual offenders. I Googled it just now and found some confirmation of this but not anything terribly linkable. Of course, it lacks that beloved punitve stick-it-'em component that making people take depo-prover has, but if it works, it works, hey?
posted by y2karl at 1:24 PM on May 30, 2002


That is not a 24% and 19% recidivism rate. That is just what it says it is -- rapists being caught while on probation or parole. Not the same thing.

I don't know what legal definition recidivism has in Texas, but Florida, for instance, is pretty clear about it:

The Florida Department of Corrections defines the recidivism rate as a rate at which inmates return to prison or a sentence to Community Supervision for a new crime occurring within 24 months of the offender's date of release from prison ... The DC selected 24 months as their follow-up period for two reasons. First, data indicate that most recidivists re-offend within two years of release. Second, in order to use recidivism as an outcome measure for various programs and interventions that take place while the inmate is incarcerated, it is necessary to keep the follow-up period relatively short. This is because the more time that elapses after release, the more difficult it is to attribute subsequent actions (e.g., whether the offender commits another crime) to events that happened while incarcerated.

I couldn't see any reference in the links you provided about what offense the reoffenders were on parole for at the time they committed the sexual assaults/rapes.

Good, but beside the point, since what I was trying to prove is that the recidivism rate of rapists is about the same ... or way lower than that of other felons. I think, given the data provided, this has been proven. In any case, if you want to get picky about criminal statistics provided by the US Department of Justice, show me others that prove them wrong. That is what I've been asking for. I hate rapists as much as the next person, but I hate the intentional and interested dumbing down of large groups of people even more.

To be fair, perhaps we should cut the balls off of all convicted felons.

Fair enough. But then you'll be as barbaric as the Saudis and the Taliban (at least when in comes to legal sentences). That is my point.
posted by magullo at 1:25 PM on May 30, 2002


Upon reGoogling, I found this:

SRIs can be prescribed in the usual "antidepressant" doses for sexual impulse disorders even in the absence of significant affective symptomatology. When effective, SRIs can selectively mitigate sexual impulsivity and preserve "normative" sexual desire and behaviors associated with reciprocal affectionate activity. A distinct effect on sexual as well as depressive symptoms is commonly apparent by week 4 after initiating pharmacotherapy (Bradford 1995b; Kafka and Prentky 1992b). In addition, antidepressant pharmacotherapy may diminish the vulnerability to "negative affective states" (e.g., irritability, depressed mood) commonly reported to precede sexual offending behaviors. Because of these effects on nonsexual target symptoms and syndromes, serotonergic drugs may offer additional therapeutic benefits in comparison with antiandrogens.

reciprocal affectionate activity
--I like it!
posted by y2karl at 1:29 PM on May 30, 2002


"From TiggleTaggleTiger: Suppose you've got a repeat offending child rapist - do you lock him up for the rest of his life or come up with a better solution?"

This isn't intended as a flame or anything, but do you have children? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the answer is "no" because I can't think of one reason that any parent would want the person who raped their child to not be in jail for the rest of their natural life, and you wouldn't really care about "Which is more fair to the criminal?".

What's unfair is that some sick fucker is paroled and rapes yet another child, or worse. We've all seen the headlines and heard the stories. Imagine having to tell a child that the person who hurt them is back on the streets... or what if you were the person who has to tack up posters of a child missing, wondering if something horrible has happened to the child you used to kiss goodnight to every night. What if you were the woman who was raped by your neighbor upstairs? Wouldn't you want to make sure that these people never hurt anyone else again?

I'm all for chemical and/or surgical castration... but maybe that's because I never want my children, my wife, or anyone I know to have to deal with that pain, and the discomfort that the perpetrator has from this will be far less that the pain and suffering he/she inflicts on anyone else.
posted by crankydoodle at 1:33 PM on May 30, 2002


You can't recidivate if you're dead. Arm the women. If this is an issue of power, then why deny the women the great equalizer? All of these various punishment schemes sound like vigilante justice, no one seems to care about self-defense. And no one has talked about rape prevention. I guess that's not the main thrust of this thread, but people are dancing around the issue with all kinds of interesting ideas.

I can think of a good way to prevent child molestation: arm children.

Since children are different from grown women, the analogy is false. Good try though, with the emotional appeal and what not.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:48 PM on May 30, 2002


tiger yang,

"I have no desires to 'mount' a woman against her wishes."

Nor do I-- which was sort of my point.

"your Harlequin romance tale of office love seems to hint at your own desires to regress yourself (albiet temporarily) to a cro-magnon state of sexuiality, but the cornflower-blue walls of the cubilce around you and the 'civil world' it represents pulls you back at the last minute. Would you act the same way if we were living in caves? I don't think that you think you would. Please don't cast me as a member of your silly office-fuck-fantasies any time soon, cause I don't buy it. Thanks."

um-- this wasn't an office fuck fantasy. This was a temporary feeling. An emotional feeling-- more like sudden anger or fear rather than even lust. I've never experienced anything like that before or since. Fantasies usually require fantasizing-- which in the split second I'm talking about I really didn't have time to do.

It happened-- I'm just sayin'.

I am deeply sorry for my thought crime, I shall report to the nearest reeducation and protein retrieval center at once.
posted by squinky at 1:51 PM on May 30, 2002


crankydoodle I'm goign to go out on another limb and ask you the following: "if it was you son the child rapist, would you like him killed or castrated?"

Now, I am not inferring your kid will do anything of the sort, but these days and with these crowds, all you have to do is shout: "child abuser" and the rest hits you before you know it. Has happened before, will happen again. That is one of the many reasons to think about the rights of the criminals - not necessarily of the guilty ones, but of the innocent ones.
posted by magullo at 1:59 PM on May 30, 2002


In any case, if you want to get picky about criminal statistics provided by the US Department of Justice, show me others that prove them wrong. That is what I've been asking for. I hate rapists as much as the next person, but I hate the intentional and interested dumbing down of large groups of people even more.

I'm not being picky about the stats you posted at all, I'm saying is that it would be useful within the context of this discussion to know how likely it is that a convicted sex offender will commit further sexual assaults upon release. The stats you posted don't answer that question (not a complaint, just an observation, since I can't seem to find the sort of stats I mean either). If we're talking about recidivism as evidence in favour of castration, we should at least be specific about what we mean by "recidivism" (i.e. a robbery committed by a prior sex offender seems irrelevant in terms of this discussion, since it's not a sex offense).
posted by biscotti at 2:02 PM on May 30, 2002


You can't recidivate if you're dead. Arm the women. If this is an issue of power, then why deny the women the great equalizer? All of these various punishment schemes sound like vigilante justice, no one seems to care about self-defense. And no one has talked about rape prevention.

insomnyuk, you are asking for yet another form of vigilante justice. Arming women to attack their attackers is foolish for several reasons;one of which is that this society does not equate rape with death. Rape is bad; murder is worse. So mace, a bright light, a stun gun, etc. are all viable options. Arming them with weapons capable of causing death only create a new set of harmful circumstances. (plus all the gun-control arguments that are completely irrelevant)
posted by BlueTrain at 2:06 PM on May 30, 2002


I can think of a good way to prevent child molestation: arm children.

Since children are different from grown women, the analogy is false. Good try though, with the emotional appeal and what not.


I just thought one bit of simplistic nonsense deserved another.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:09 PM on May 30, 2002


BlueTrain: I was under the impression that if you unfortunately kill someone in the immediate act of self-defense, you are not, in fact, committing murder. How is a women using deadly force to protect herself from rape a vigilante?

Arming them with weapons capable of causing death only create a new set of harmful circumstances.

Like what, less rapes?
posted by insomnyuk at 2:12 PM on May 30, 2002


The way they define it in New York State, if you are attacked, you can defend yourself. If there is a clear way that you can get away from your attacker safely, then killing him is not justified. If not, then you can.

Let me just say here that I recently completed the NYC IMPACT/Prepare, Inc. course in self-defense, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I would recommend it to any woman of any age or size.

I take issue with the idea of arming women with guns, simply because guns can be taken away, and you don't always want to carry a gun everywhere -- shopping, sleeping, going to work -- carrying a gun at all times would not only be not likely to protect you, but would raise safety issues for any children or teenagers you might have around you as well.

However, I do believe that women should be armed with ways to defend themselves if they are attacked. They should take self-defense classes. They should learn early that their lives are worth defending, and how to defend them.

(They should also read this book)
posted by jennyjenny at 2:29 PM on May 30, 2002


And no one has talked about rape prevention.

Wouldn't that be the point of the castration?

Can you really think of no better alternative than arming women? So what would you consider arming women, allowing them to carry concealed weapons?
posted by adampsyche at 2:42 PM on May 30, 2002


Arming them with weapons capable of causing death only create a new set of harmful circumstances.

Like what, less rapes?


Killing potential muggers, or better yet, an innocent bystander? Yeah, this stupid argument is the same used in death penalty cases. Hehe, the death penalty deters the criminal, huh huh...because the accused are guilty before proven innocent, correct?

How is a women using deadly force to protect herself from rape a vigilante?

Like killing a potential rapist without due process as being unconstitutional? ESPECIALLY when there are non-deadly options available...(you trying to score points with rape victims here?)
posted by BlueTrain at 2:57 PM on May 30, 2002


Killing potential muggers, or better yet, an innocent bystander?

Unbelievable. So someone who is attacking a woman is only a 'potential rapist'. I see. There is no opportunity for prevention, because the deed has not been done until it has been done. There is no buildup, no warning signs. Un-fucking-believable. I guess, according to you, nothing can be done until penetration occurs. Your thought process is so utterly muddled that you can't tell the difference between a potential rapist (anyone with a sex drive) and someone who is attempting rape.

ESPECIALLY when there are non-deadly options available...(you trying to score points with rape victims here?)

This is the most bizarre ad-hominem attack I've ever seen. I feel sick to my stomach.

Can you really think of no better alternative than arming women? So what would you consider arming women, allowing them to carry concealed weapons?

jennyjenny suggested a possible alternative, but I think giving women the ability to carry a concealed weapon is a worthwhile. I don't propose forcing anyone to be armed, I propose allowing them to choose that mode of defense for themselves. It brings in the element of uncertainty. Rape-contemplatists may wonder if women are armed or not, and decide it's not worth the risk of finding out. And if they do try, the likelihood of them succeeding is lessened.
posted by insomnyuk at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2002


You can't recidivate if you're dead. Arm the women. If this is an issue of power, then why deny the women the great equalizer?

I don't think having to wear a holster with a loaded gun in it 24 hours a day is really a "great equalizer", but maybe that's just me. If there are women who want to arm themselves, they can do so, or if they can't carry a concealed weapon in their state, they can lobby for that right.

I do agree that self-defense is a good idea, and probably almost as effective - good techniques will work if you have the chance to take action; the biggest concern would be if he had a weapon, since he might use it when you start taking action. But he might use it as you draw your gun, too, so I'd rather spend some time exercising and learning to use my body to defend myself than carry a gun with me everywhere I go.

Of course, to actually feel safe using defense techniques, you have to be pretty convinced they actually would work, as opposed to the "scream no and kick him in the balls" approach, which I wouldn't bet on when faced with a gun. That's the big problem with guns though - whoever draws first has a major advantage. I would not want to own one, but I would be interested in a class on them, where I could learn to tell whether, e.g., the safety was on or not, or, how hard the trigger would need to be pulled on various models, so that if I ever were in such an unfortunate situation, i could make smart decisions about how to handle it. jenny, did that program you mentioned go into that sort of thing (I tried a google search but got nothing)?
posted by mdn at 3:13 PM on May 30, 2002


There is a hell of a lot more to self-defense than screaming no and kicking in the balls, although those are sometimes genuinely useful things to do. Self-defense includes verbal strategies (often, an attacker will size you up verbally first, and 'interview' you to see if you will make a good victim.) It includes setting boundries with strangers and with people you know (most women who are raped know their attacker).

(The IMPACT class that I took does offer a weapons class. )

The thing that people don't seem to be addressing here in the "Give women guns or not" debate is that most rapes are committed without a weapon, or if there is a weapon it is used primarily as a way to intimidate the woman -- the attacker does not plan to use it.

More often than not, the rapist is relying on you to be passive. He does not expect a fight, because women in our culture and many other cultures are socially conditioned never to fight. So if you fight, he is surprised. And surprise can give you the upper hand.

I think it is up to the individual woman whether she wants to carry a gun or not, but I do think that training can make a big difference in how you respond in an adrenaline-charged situation.

I think that the vigilante argument that a lot of people here are making is pretty much moot, anyway -- can you remember the last time you read a news story about a woman who killed her attacker? How about the last time you read a news story about a woman who was killed?

Personally, I would like to see a whole lot more of the former.
posted by jennyjenny at 3:35 PM on May 30, 2002


There is a hell of a lot more to self-defense than screaming no and kicking in the balls

what I said was Of course, to actually feel safe using defense techniques, you have to be pretty convinced they actually would work, as opposed to the "scream no and kick him in the balls" approach, which I wouldn't bet on when faced with a gun. So, yeah, there is absolutely a lot more to defense than that one only-sometimes-effective technique. If he makes his intentions clear before he grabs you, approaches from the front, and has no weapons, that's all you need. But there are a lot of other possibilities. (And if it wasn't clear, I did not at all intend to suggest that that was what you learned in your class - I consider that the "common knowledge" defense that anyone could use without having done any training)

I study hapkido and actually feel secure about defending myself, in general. Before I found hapkido, I tried tae kwon do, and while it was fun, I realized that I didn't feel like I'd actually be able to use what I'd learned in class on the street against a 200 lb attacker.

Though what probably matters most is confidence - I don't doubt the reason you don't come across vigilante justice very often is that people who would be able to do it are the least likely to be attacked in the first place. If you look scared, you'll make a better target.
posted by mdn at 4:13 PM on May 30, 2002


jennyjenny,

I would recommend to any defender that you assume that your assailant is a competent martial artist. Ever notice how many martial arts schools there are...

Learn the finishing moves. Expect them to block your low kick to the knee. Fight with the biggest guys in your class.

Take a real martial arts class in addition to adrenal response (which is really different, but equally valuable-- so take adrenal response in addition to martial arts too).

By "real" martial arts I mean train at least 3 times a week for the rest of your life. The style is probably not too important (assuming it's a self-defense rather than sport-only style). You will forget your one month of training by next year unless you're constantly practicing.

I recommend Marc Tedeschi's book "Hapkido : Traditions, Philosophy, Technique" very highly. Most of the Hapkido black belts I know own or intend to buy it soon.

"a news story about a woman who killed her attacker":

oops-- she wasn't being attacked-- she was being yelled at.

insomnyuk, I think BlueTrain's point is that if you encourage all women to be armed, every perceived threat has the potential to escalate, and the woman will do the escalating simply because they're afraid.

I'm a large, scary-looking man. I often go running. I'm very glad that the many times in my life that women have gotten that paranoid look when I approached on the jogging path did not result in them drawing a weapon on me (though one woman did make it clear she had a can of mace-- which, I'm pretty sure, is assault, or at least brandishing a weapon-- or am I, by virtue of my size and sex, always a brandished weapon? How fair is that?) Making it really easy for all women to get a carry-permit is gonna get me shot.
posted by squinky at 4:18 PM on May 30, 2002


Henson expressed regret for the shooting. "I should have just let her do whatever," she said. "I'd rather be dead than have her dead."

jesus christ! are people morons? There are certainly ways of subduing your opponent without killing them. That was really depressing and once again I think it's really important that guns are treated more like cars - i.e., you get a learner's permit to take classes in how to use it, and then get a license when you've passed the class. Carrying a gun without these should be a crime. I don't see what problem people could have with that.

good points, squinky.
posted by mdn at 4:53 PM on May 30, 2002


Squinky: I think there is a rather large chance that the woman in your office bent over in front of you like that on purpose. It doesn't mean she was necessarily interested in you; she could have just been on a sexual power trip, or wanted to see how you would react. You of course did the right thing in not "mounting" her right there, but there's no reason to feel guilty about your desire to do so.

I agree with Ty that sex and power cannot really be separated, and I suspect that rape is often motivated by a feeling of sexual powerlessness. Castrating someone who feels that way may nullify the chances that they will ever commit the same crime again, but it seems to me that the subject would only feel more powerless, and that in their own warped view, they would continue to feel that they were justified in lashing out at the society that had disempowered them from lashing out to begin with. This kind of thinking could easily lead to lashing out in another way.
posted by bingo at 5:00 PM on May 30, 2002


Squinky -- I would recommend to any defender that you assume that your assailant is a competent martial artist.

You know, that's a good point and all, and I don't know the statistics for the rate at which competent martial artists attack women, but I would assume it to be pretty low. Your average attacker is not going to expect you to fight back, and a well-placed groin kick, or a heel of the palm to the nose will often give you time to get away.

Also, the story you linked was from Friday, September 29, 2000. You had to go back pretty far to find a story to illustrate your point. Which, I think, says what I was trying to say in the first place -- that this happens very rarely. (BTW, I'm really very anti-gun -- I'm talking about self-defense with one's hands)
posted by jennyjenny at 5:11 PM on May 30, 2002


The problem is in their head, not their balls.


How about a prefrontal lobotomy, then?
posted by alumshubby at 5:45 PM on May 30, 2002


bingo,

as your gender is "obviously male", I'm afraid I can't take your word on the whole "sexual power trip" thing.

While I've no doubt that that sort of thing occaisionally happens, I'd bet it's almost certainly far less often then even the chastest of castrated males would guess.

jennyjenny

I absolutely agree. Martial artists are almost always really nice people. But, Mike Tyson is a martial artist of sorts...

As to the story, that's the only one I know of, but then, other than Chandra-- fortunately, I don't know of any dead women either, not to gloat, I live in one of the five safest places in the country...
posted by squinky at 5:57 PM on May 30, 2002


What women tell Rape Crisis lines

97% of callers knew their assailant
Less than 7% had reported the assault to the police

It is estimated that 5-10% of reported cases of rape or sexual abuse each year involve male victims.

How might knowing your attacker affect your ability to retaliate with 'deadly force'?

squinky - 'I often go running...Making it really easy for all women to get a carry-permit is gonna get me shot'.
in a world of paranoia, perhaps. if you were likely to rape them (hypothetically) , looking at the statistics, they might be unlikely to shoot you, unless that is their usual greeting to acquiantances.
posted by asok at 6:07 PM on May 30, 2002


Like jennyjenny, I also went to self-defence training and talks by the police on preventing attacks, and whether or not to fight back. I'm in Canada, so guns aren't an option. Anyways, you give me a gun and even with training, all I'd probably do is shoot myself in the foot.

One thing that did stick with me was the cop who told us that anything could be turned into a weapon, even a ballpoint pen. There's lots of damage a woman can do. The trick is overcoming the fear and getting angry enough to fight. Especially if the attacker is someone you know, which is often the case.

But we're already off topic. The question of whether or not chemical castration is an option. You bet it is. Do I care if there's a risk of side effects? Well, not really. The side effects of rape are worse. And yes, the wrong people get convicted of crimes, but that's another argument. You could use that logic to argue against incarceration and all other forms of punishment. All sentencing is based on the idea that the system works. And whether or not it does is a different thread.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:51 PM on May 30, 2002


"crankydoodle I'm goign to go out on another limb and ask you the following: "if it was you son the child rapist, would you like him killed or castrated?""

In a word? Yes. I would support any sex offender being chemically and/or surgically castrated. Should a serial rapist be put to death? Not sure; I guess it would depend on the case history, but at a minimum life in prison and chemical and/or surgical castration.

I didn't say anything about child abuse (IRT your links), but I don't think the "trawling" is fair or right, especially without reasonable suspicion. I think that, at times, people cry out "child abuse" too readily... and what I mean by that is to me; spanking is not child abuse, and I think anyone who has been abused (truly abused) would admit the same thing. And if anyone who reads this doesn't believe it don't flame me; it's just my opinion... I have a lot of experience with abuse and its victims, so I believe I do know what I am talking about.

There's a huge difference between swatting your kid on the behind and beating the crap out of him/her. I think that the former can be effective, but the latter is criminal and the perpetrator should be punished.
posted by crankydoodle at 9:23 PM on May 30, 2002


as your gender is "obviously male", I'm afraid I can't take your word on the whole "sexual power trip" thing.

While I've no doubt that that sort of thing occaisionally happens, I'd bet it's almost certainly far less often then even the chastest of castrated males would guess.


I'm not claiming that my point of view derives from being a woman, and that fact that I'm not one doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about.
posted by bingo at 10:38 PM on May 30, 2002


Whoa. Not too much that I can add here.

Although (nothing personal, but I'm too tired from work to go googling in depth), chemical castration in the "field" (?) of paedophilia (which seems to be one of the hot topics here) hasn't seemed to work that well yet.

While chemical castration does deal with the physiological symptomology that may (or may not) be related to the attacker's motivation, it doesn't deal with the psychological drive that led the attack in the first place.

Although I may hypothetically have had rape fantasies in the past, as well as a normal or high testosterone level, I have never acted upon them. This is a conscious choice, not a biochemical one.

Besides, to paraphrase a doctor studying Depo Provera use (God help me if I can remember the reference), if a person with a violent sexual modus can't use his genitals normally (due to chemical treatment), they will sometimes find surrogate objects to use in their place.

In fact, there is a type of killer known as a picarest (sp? - escapes me right now) who prefers to use stabbing or penetrating weapons (such as a gun) to replace the normal penetrative sexual act (yes, they tend to be males, by the way).

In addition, some doctors have found high levels of testosterone to possibly lead to some diseases, such as arteriosclerosis, so we may actually be contributing to a elongated lifespan.

As I have rambled on a bit too long at this point, I do support chemical castration as a tool in a course of treatment, but not as a treatment itself. Multiple recividist sexual criminals are most often not driven solely by organic impetuses, but also by mental ones. To solely treat one and ignore the others would be a crime. Of course, we must also consider that for some, there is no cure...
posted by Samizdata at 11:38 PM on May 30, 2002


in case anyone's still reading this, more details on the bill passed by the OK legislature but not yet signed by Gov. Keating (and it doesn't look like he will, for now):

Authorizes chemical castration for conviction of first- or second-degree rape or forcible sodomy. A second or subsequent offense allows judges or juries to impose surgical castration [all in the linked article above]

"The bill requires a positive identification through DNA testing before surgical castration can be imposed.

It also requires at least two aggravating circumstances such as rape of a child under 14, a particularly atrocious or cruel sex crime, a juvenile record of a sex offense or significant physical injury to the victim." [from the Tulsa World]
posted by tolkhan at 11:06 AM on June 1, 2002


Thanks for the heads up...
posted by Samizdata at 1:44 AM on June 2, 2002


just felt i had to clear this up:

squinky - 'An example from nature: Have you ever seen mallard ducks mating? It's disgusting. I've seen on more than one occaision 3-5 males to one female, mating in the water-- the female looks like she's panicking and drowning.'

this is not a good comparison with human beings, any more than comparing the sexual habits of bees might be.

'the males (drakes) and females (ducks) are kept at a ratio of approximately one male to five females'

squinky - 'I've heard that power thing before. I don't believe it.'

care to back this up? you are going against all the evidence that i have seen.
the arguments for sexual motivation fail to move me. rape is an expression of selfish self-doubt on the part of the rapist imho.
posted by asok at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2002


afaik removing the testicles of a man will tend to make him easier to get along with, and better at expressing his emotions. the testosterone drop causes a female like behaviour change. many women who are married to men who have been castrated say it has radically changed their relationship for the better.
posted by asok at 6:50 AM on June 2, 2002


many women who are married to men who have been castrated

wherever did they get a pool of women married to castrated men? I mean, where did they even get a pool of castrated men? Voluntary castrations (for singing) stopped last century; involuntary ones for criminals, homosexuals, & the mentally ill have only happened occasionally within this century...
posted by mdn at 6:47 AM on June 4, 2002


mdn: two groups I can think of off the top of my head where you'd find castrated men are testicular cancer patients and men with other hormone-dependent cancers.
posted by biscotti at 7:02 AM on June 4, 2002


BTW, voluntary castrations for body modification enthusiasts (and we are talking radical orchotomy here) does have a loyal following which seems slowly on the rise...
posted by Samizdata at 8:51 PM on June 14, 2002


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