There is no ready lesson?
June 2, 2018 5:29 PM   Subscribe

When The Punishment Feels Like A Crime, Julia Ioffe Stanford professor Michele Dauber is leading the recall campaign against Judge Aaron Persky whose handling of the "Emily Doe" rape case in 2016 [previously] has attracted significant scrutiny.
posted by the man of twists and turns (173 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Brock Turner was sentenced to 6 months in jail for sexual assault. Now voters may recall the judge., contains details of other sexual assault cases that Judge Persky has ruled on.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:36 PM on June 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


The thing that needs to be remembered is this - judicial independence should not and cannot mean unaccountability. In many ways, Persky is a symptom of bigger problems within the culture of the legal community, and his recall should be a simple message to that community - clean your house, or it will be cleaned for you.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:48 PM on June 2, 2018 [62 favorites]


The US already has the second highest incarceration rate in the world; is recalling judges for being too lenient really the direction we want to go in? If we recall the lenient judges while leaving the harsh ones unchallenged, then whatever we may say, whatever nuanced messages we may have about the differences between sexual assault and drug crimes, the message that will be heard is that it is safer to be harsh than forgiving.
posted by Pyry at 6:09 PM on June 2, 2018 [16 favorites]


I think that viewing this as being about leniency vs severity in terms of the whole dang incarceration rate is a bit reductionist, don't you think? I think you can make a case for reducing the incarceration rate while still appropriately sentencing rapists.
posted by entropone at 6:16 PM on June 2, 2018 [105 favorites]


We have two problems with criminal justice. High incarceration rates for nothing drug crimes- and low incarceration rates for crimes like rape/harassment/sexual assault. Wanting rapists to go to jail for more than 6 months doesn't mean you want people found with an ounce of pot to be thrown in jail forever. This is a case of extreme misconduct, not leniency. The message here isn't to be harsh, it's to give a damn about women's lives.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:19 PM on June 2, 2018 [134 favorites]


Emily Doe’s statement, too, was the subject of fevered speculation among the anti-recall crowd. “I can’t prove it, but I think Dauber wrote the victim letter,” Cordell told me. Babcock echoed her suspicion. “It’s so sophisticated for someone who was so young,” she said. Persky’s lawyer, a fellow Stanford alum named Jim McManis, was also sure that Emily hadn’t written the statement. “A person whose identity I am not at liberty to disclose says that it was written by a professional battered women's advocate,” McManis explained. “I can't verify it, but the person who told me this, I value her judgment.”

Whatever sympathy I had for the anti-recall arguments up to that point was completely destroyed by this.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:27 PM on June 2, 2018 [53 favorites]


[Posting a horrifying victim-blaming comment while saying "I'm not blaming the victim" does not absolve you of your horrifying victim-blaming.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:32 PM on June 2, 2018 [74 favorites]


I know people are worked up about the paltry jail sentence, but some seem to be ignoring him having to register as a sex offender. That’s a lifetime sentence and a fairly brutal one.

Sure he can and probably should be punished more, but people saying he got off scot free are missing something significant.

Previously on Metafilter:
When a Predator Wants To Pray
Mapping Sex Offenders
The List (describes both juvenile and adult)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:34 PM on June 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think Brock Turner deserved a much longer sentence, but if Persky is a judge who is generally lenient with and compassionate toward all defendants, rather than just those who are in positions of privilege, then maybe his removal from the bench is not actually a good idea.

That is even before you get into the inherent problems with elected judges and judicial recall.

It's still pretty hard to get past goddamned Brock Turner and 20 minutes of action and every hateful, bullshitty thing about that case, though.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:36 PM on June 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


I think that the standard of punishment we're used to in our criminal justice system is insane, unbelievable, reprehensible. The sentence in this case, as I understand it, was several months in jail, several years of probation, a state-mandated rehabilitation program, a pubic felony conviction (restricting the offender from e.g. voting) and a lifetime on a permanent registry that will be used to restrict the rapist from engaging in many normal activities that would give them a chance to reoffend*. To me, that is an extremely severe sentence for any first-time criminal offense.

I think that sentence would be reasonable if this person (for example) murdered me or my family member, so I also support it in this case of violent assault.

It worries me that I live in a society which believes so strongly in the power of punishment, retribution, and fear that this sentence is considered outrageously light.

*It's worth mentioning that without the state of affairs with the sex offender registry I wouldn't feel nearly so strongly.
posted by value of information at 6:37 PM on June 2, 2018 [13 favorites]


Oops, I learned I was wrong about one thing -- convicted felons can vote in California after their sentence is complete.
posted by value of information at 6:43 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


The recall is supposed to be about more than the Brock Turner case, but about a pattern of giving lenient sentences to sex offenders and domestic abusers, at least according to Dauber.

The article doesn't really go into whether or not that is really true, it just goes on a downward spiral of recounting the bitterness between all the interested parties.

Personally, I am satisfied that Turner is a registered sex offender with a felony conviction, but I do get the impression that sentencing in general is just not consistent.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:47 PM on June 2, 2018


if Persky is a judge who is generally lenient with and compassionate toward all defendants

As I recall, people reviewing his judicial record pointed out several cases where he sentenced similar crimes harshly. The difference? The perpetrators were not white. His tender concern seemed primarily for well-off white men.

I'll have to review the details this weekend, since I am one of those voting on it, but barring any new information, I expect to vote to recall.
posted by tavella at 6:49 PM on June 2, 2018 [52 favorites]


It sounds like Persky is a more-lenient-than-average judge across the board, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that he seems even more lenient towards white, well-off sex offenders? Yeah, that's a bad thing.

I would have a tiny bit of sympathy for him if his defenders weren't behaving so atrociously-- seriously, claiming Emily Doe couldn't have written her own statement? Beyond the fucking pale.

So most of my sympathy is reserved for Emily Doe, who didn't ask for one goddamn second of this mess. And I've got a fair bit of sympathy left over for Michele Dauber, who, at the very least, seems to be deeply principled and acts accordingly.
posted by nonasuch at 6:56 PM on June 2, 2018 [16 favorites]


I think that viewing this as being about leniency vs severity in terms of the whole dang incarceration rate is a bit reductionist, don't you think? I think you can make a case for reducing the incarceration rate while still appropriately sentencing rapists.

I don't think you can consistently support lower incarceration rates with the condition that only victimless crimes receive shorter sentences. To reach the incarceration rate of Sweden or Finland would require over a 90% reduction in our prison population (~650 prisoners/100k for US, ~60/100k for Sweden/Finland). In the US, prisoners convicted of rape account for slightly more than 10% of the total population, and violent crimes perhaps 40% : reducing the incarceration rate will require shorter sentences even for serious, violent crimes.
posted by Pyry at 6:58 PM on June 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


I would be interested in moving towards a Scandinavian system. I am not in the slightest interested in beginning that by retaining judges who apply Scandinavian sentences for crimes against women and for crimes committed by the privileged, while applying American standards to PoC.
posted by tavella at 7:05 PM on June 2, 2018 [83 favorites]


And of course, as people have noted above, the anti-recall organization appears to be run by dreadful people, which does not make me think any warmer about Persky. I don't recall the exact language, but there was a billboard they put up near me months ago, that I looked at and said "if I wasn't already planning to vote for recall, that alone would have moved me there."
posted by tavella at 7:10 PM on June 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


a big part of california's sentencing laws is how much it is based on priors (even putting aside three strike priors, which is a whole other story). this is why nonviolent drug offenses can result in decades long sentences-- i.e., the defendant also has (for a common example) two prior residential burglaries. but rich white college students like brock fuckface arent likely to have any, so that plays a big part in his low sentence. that is a structural, statutory issue pertaining to our obsession with punishing recidivists (career criminals), not a judicial one, so the recall wont fix it.

ALL THAT SAID... being a judge means exercising discretion. what persky should have done was recognize that this was (at least in layman's terms, if perhaps not legally) a *forcible* rape by a defendant who we know is already structurally favored by the system. it was persky's job to strengthen the punishment in a case like this, at least to accept the DA's rec of 6 years. likewise, it would be his job to dismiss certain priors sentencing enhancements in a case of a poor person with a long but nonviolent record who is facing 15 years for felony possession.

it's about judgment and the proper exercise of discretion within the penal code the judge is operating in. and here he epically failed. so fuck him, he should go.
posted by wibari at 7:20 PM on June 2, 2018 [17 favorites]


Maybe I'm over-empathizing here, but I also hate his supporters' insistence that actually Judge Persky is a liberal, a progressive, a registered Democrat! First of all, that's not remotely surprising. He wouldn't have been elected in Palo Alto if he didn't play for the "right" team. Second, being screwed over by a liberal (a progressive, a registered Democrat!) isn't any better than being screwed over by someone of a different political affiliation. In some ways, sexist men who describe themselves as feminists are the most infuriating -- they're the ones least likely to accept that they're behaving against their professed ideals.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:25 PM on June 2, 2018 [32 favorites]


To me, that is an extremely severe sentence for any first-time criminal offense.

Statistically speaking, the odds that this is Turner's first criminal offense are negligible. The reason why rape convictions should be harsh (I would argue) is because the rate of reoffending is extremely high and the rate of conviction is very low.

It's also worth noting that, given his modus operandi, there is effectively no constraint on his ability to re-offend.

Perhaps, if you care about compassion for rarely-prosecuted crimes, you should spend your energy worrying about white-collar criminals instead of what happens to rapists.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:28 PM on June 2, 2018 [49 favorites]


That’s a lifetime sentence and a fairly brutal one.

Good, I'm excited for him to suffer for the rest of his life.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:54 PM on June 2, 2018 [48 favorites]


>To me, that is an extremely severe sentence for any first-time criminal offense.

Fortunately these terrible consequences can be entirely avoided by not fucking raping people.

I personally think the rapist should be concluding his punishment at about the same time that the person he raped has pretty much forgotten about it and isn't really bothered by it any more.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:01 PM on June 2, 2018 [65 favorites]


Yeah, I’m one hundred percent okay with a rapist being known as a rapist for the rest of his life, but that doesn’t mean it alone is even a sufficient punishment, much less “harsh.”
posted by corb at 9:00 PM on June 2, 2018 [20 favorites]


The recall is supposed to be about more than the Brock Turner case, but about a pattern of giving lenient sentences to sex offenders and domestic abusers, at least according to Dauber.

The article doesn't really go into whether or not that is really true


Weird; the article I just read did. Granted, it wasn't the bulk of the text, but it was there.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:45 PM on June 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Like seriously even in Animal House they don't rape the chick who faints. This behavior is literally worse than Animal House.
posted by bq at 10:21 PM on June 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


I find this recall campaign quite concerning, although I admit uncertainty about what impact it will have. Recalling judges for unpopular decisions has pretty obviously troubling implications. But more so, it harms us all to seek a system of retribution.

In the case of someone who rapes someone, we know there is no evidence that jailing him will reduce the likelihood that he rapes again. So we want to jail Brock Turner because we are rightfully angry that black men receive no leniency, we are rightly so angry that there is no cost to being a rapist, if you are a white man. But we all know, the research is overwhelming, that prison does not prevent future harms. So we want, simply, to punish him. He did harm, so he should be harmed. By harming him we get a feeling of relief. That is not a system I want.

We should exert pressure on judges, to the degree they have choice, to reduce incarceration. But I don't think we can pin our cultural excusing of rape on judges, especially not on this one judge who happened to have made the evening news.
posted by latkes at 10:31 PM on June 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


leniency in sentencing is a cool idea. let's absolutely, positively, not start that ball rolling with violent rapists first though, okay?
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 10:52 PM on June 2, 2018 [47 favorites]


Wish the article had said more about AB 2888. Sounds like hardly anyone you'd trust on these matters supported it. This quote from Gov. Jerry Brown, wow:

"As a general matter, I am opposed to adding more mandatory minimum sentences. Nevertheless, I am signing AB 2888, because I believe it brings a measure of parity to sentencing for criminal acts that are substantially similar."

That's some HIRE 👏 MORE 👏 WOMEN 👏 GUARDS 👏 logic.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 10:58 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just got in from seeing a show and I got to laugh a lot and I should not be looking at the internet but here we are. This is long because I’m tired and after writing all odnthe text below I’m too tired to to edit and too mad to delete.
reducing the incarceration rate will require shorter sentences even for serious, violent crimes.
posted by Pyry at 9:58 PM on June 2 [3 favorites +] [
I strenuously disagree. We could use our justice resources for rehabilitation and also prevention. We could address the social issues of power imbalance that lead (not all) men to feel entitled to the bodies of women. We can decrease the rate of incarceration by not putting people in jail for several kinds of offenses. We can decrease our incarceration rates by having the kinds of social supports and true recidivism prevention measures that are needed for all kinds of crimes.

We could also acknowledge as a country that the folks targeted by law enforcement for crimes like Public Urination (which gets you added to a sex offender list in many jurisdictions) are in need of help before they’re so desperate that they’re peeing in dark alleys, subway stations, and parks, rather than using carcerel justice to assuage the fears of (not all) white women and the white men who profess to protect white women and white children.

Mostly this would require true investments in education, stable families, and true access to birth control and safe abortions so that people of all genders aren’t afraid of further victimization when seeking support and care. I have a strong feeling that crimes against women would go down if we believed women about the small things AND the big things. Currently our society doesn’t even trust women to report their own pain severity or assess whether they’re in immediate physical danger. A few weeks back there was a story about a Mac n cheese restaurant that created a way to deal with the harsssment faced by employees. The company reports a decrease in crappy behavior from patrons. While there may be a chance that those customers took their crappy behavior elsewhere, I’m hopeful that they were subtly discouraged from harassment altogether.

Crime prevention is not accomplished by putting people in jail and it’s nkt accomplished by deflecting the crime to a more vulnerable victim. I don’t contend that jail is designed to prevent crime. Brock Turner didn’t do what he did did to Ms Doe because there are inadequate sentencing patterns for white male predators. There was inadequate sentencing because a large group of Americans still thinks it’s ok for white guys in general and especially like Brock Turner to do what he did. And Brock Turner did what he did because a lot of Americans think it’s ok to rape unconscious women in alleys if you can convince yourself that you could call it something other than rape.

Reducing our incarceration rate requires not pushing our attitudes about prevention onto changing the behavior of victims which just sends the message of “He’ll go after some other more vulnerable victim” and “if you don’t police your own behavior then it’ll be your fault if someone commits a crime agains you. (dress this way, be in these places, travel in groups, don’t drink, be careful) and instead focused our attention on prescribing behavior to the populations we know to be most likely to commit these types of crimes. (Don’t touch strangers, don’t drug People’s drinks, don’t use a situation of someone else’s lowered inhibition to gain activity they would not do if they are sober/unthreatened/felt safe).

Reducing the incarceration rate requires fewer people to commit xrimes, and less commission of racist policing. We need fewer incidences of both over-policing and of under-policing. I don’t have any advice in how to accomplish any of this.

But I will end with the plea I give here a lot. Men, tell all the men you know that this shit is not ok. The Brock Turners walk among you. They think they’re normal and you’re just too PC to agree publicly with them so they either keep quiet or they make jokes ranging from totally subtle to totally gross. Don’t wait for the joking to start. That discomfort you fear about starting an awkward conversation? Your discomfort at the knowledge that you will discover you have rapists and rape apologists as friends? I’m trying to be compassionate for you, but while that is real, it is nothing compared to constantly having to assess whether the guy you’re on a date with is or isn’t going to take no for an answer.

It’s not even a country mile close to that discomfort.

Reducing the incarceration rate for sexual crimes will require the commission of fewer rates of sexual crimes. The rate of incarceration and the length of sentences should not be conflated. We know that crimes of sexual violence are under reported and under prosecuted and underconvicted. We also know they are under prevented. Stop telling victims that we have to report these crimes to prevent them from happening.
posted by bilabial at 11:05 PM on June 2, 2018 [36 favorites]


The idea that letting Brock Turner pretty much slide can be any part of a movement against the carceral state is beyond misguided. Apart from the injustice of it and the fact that it doesn't challenge the status quo in any way, powerful people and the people who identify with them will simply never be interested in addressing a problem until it's a problem for them personally, as well as their evil little sons.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:12 PM on June 2, 2018 [58 favorites]


we know there is no evidence that jailing him will reduce the likelihood that he rapes again.

No, but it will reduce it for the duration of his jail term, at least. Letting him loose definitely means he is loose to prey on more women. It doesn’t seem like he has even kind of admitted full culpability yet.
posted by corb at 11:21 PM on June 2, 2018 [21 favorites]


That’s a lifetime sentence and a fairly brutal one.

This is the smallest violin playing for all the men who rape unconscious women behind dumpsters.

Do you want to know who else besides rapists spend their entire lifetime wanting to avoid talking about an event in their past because it makes others give them dirty, disapproving looks?

Rape victims.
posted by AlSweigart at 11:49 PM on June 2, 2018 [64 favorites]


But we all know, the research is overwhelming, that prison does not prevent future harms ... By harming him we get a feeling of relief. That is not a system I want.

what on earth are you talking about? by your logic, punishment can't work and retribution is illegitimate so... we should just let violent criminals do whatever they like? seriously?

when it comes to drugs crimes, it's true that incarceration is not a good solution. but when it comes to rape and other violent crimes, the punishment should be so lengthy, decades, so that by the time they get out, they're too old to want to do violence again (the research really IS clear on the decline in violent tendency by age). and it is right that the sentence is that long. and damn right, retribution is very clearly a part of the justification for incarceration, and citizens should not have to apologize for that.

none of that is to detract from the racial and class injustices that exist in the current system. but your notion that punishment is inherently illegimate, absent those concerns, is just... bizarre.
posted by wibari at 12:59 AM on June 3, 2018 [15 favorites]


I'm putting in a good word for the journalism. It described a complex situation clearly, and I didn't have to plod through cruft about how people look.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 1:00 AM on June 3, 2018 [22 favorites]


I did not find anyone comparing the repeat offense figures for this judge's convicts vs others who received stricter sentences for the same crime. Was his leniency a factor?
As for the 'favours rich white guys' argument, all I could read in the article was that he had no bias on race (mentioned by someone representing mostly black clients).
posted by Laotic at 1:08 AM on June 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think Australia had a somewhat more rational response to something like this - in the case where some members of the public disagreed with what they saw as overly lenient sentencing in an assault case on a paramedic - the main thrust of the campaign focused on changing the law so that minimum sentences must apply.

This makes more sense to me than eliminating a single judge - it's like a game of whack a mole. The focus should be on rule of law, not a person's personality and tendencies.

There was an Australian specific study - polls regularly find most people think judges are too lenient in sentencing... But a study of 987 jurors across 124 criminal trials showed that after sitting through all the evidence of the case, this perception is reversed - 62 percent of the time they recommended a more lenient sentence than the judge.

So naturally the judicial community would be a bit hesitant to take on public opinion for harsher sentences.

The point of a judge is that he is professionally trained and has decades of experience and all the evidence of the case available to him. I suppose it's a bit like how the opinion of economists lost to the Brexit vote... The argument is made that the expert is complicit in the inequality and injustice going on.
posted by xdvesper at 1:22 AM on June 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


The US already has the second highest incarceration rate in the world; is recalling judges for being too lenient really the direction we want to go in? If we recall the lenient judges while leaving the harsh ones unchallenged, then whatever we may say, whatever nuanced messages we may have about the differences between sexual assault and drug crimes, the message that will be heard is that it is safer to be harsh than forgiving.

This is what brocialism looks like. "Yeah sure, women's issues are important I guess, but nobody will understand that nuance so women's concerns have to be swept under the carpet again." Revolution first, women's rights and safety later, I guess.

To reach the incarceration rate of Sweden or Finland would require over a 90% reduction in our prison population (~650 prisoners/100k for US, ~60/100k for Sweden/Finland). In the US, prisoners convicted of rape account for slightly more than 10% of the total population, and violent crimes perhaps 40% : reducing the incarceration rate will require shorter sentences even for serious, violent crimes.

Matching Sweden's incarceration rate does indeed require matching Sweden's violent crime rate, unless you want to start letting violent criminals walk free. It's like, maybe the way to address the discrepancy you mention is to tackle the underlying misogyny in US culture to reduce the rate of rape. The Swedish target is not one to hit at all costs - society still needs protecting, violent crimes against other people still need punishing. Hitting the Swedish target isn't just about reducing sentences, it's also about reducing crime itself. You can damn sure that if there were af high a rate of murder and rape in Sweden as in the US, incarceration rates would be higher than they are. As they should be, in that situation.
posted by Dysk at 1:30 AM on June 3, 2018 [50 favorites]


"damn right, retribution is very clearly a part of the justification for incarceration, and citizens should not have to apologize for that"
Citizens and anyone who contributes to a society where retribution is part of the justification should very much apologise for that. It's a disgusting, immoral practice to punish someone for reasons not to do with re-habilitation or prevention.
Minimum sentencing is abhorrent as well, as it cuts away any possiblities of the judge making a decision that accomodates the circumstances of the case.
None of this relates directly to Persky or Turner. Turner probably should have gotten a longer sentence. Punishment for retributions sake is disgusting, but that doesn't take away from consideration of longer sentences for purposes of rehabilitation or prevention.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 1:33 AM on June 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


And I fully agree with several commenters upthread who have pointed out that the issue with the US justice system is not simply reducible to too many people are in prison, all sentences are too harsh. Rape is underreported, underprosecuted, and in many cases like this, excused with affluenza, dismissed, or treated as fundamentally minor. Rapists is not where you want to find improvements in your incarceration rate, and certainly not first and foremost.
posted by Dysk at 1:36 AM on June 3, 2018 [15 favorites]


I rented a room to student who was a sex offender. I never got the particulars, but I do know he had to be in bed at 9 pm every night. This rule was enforced through random police spot checks every other week and would be for the next ten years. Of course, this also meant he had to inform his neighbors why the police were there, couldn't drink, couldn't get many jobs, had very limited choices in terms of where he could live, etc. Within a very short time of meeting anyone he would have to reveal he was a sex offender. Even if he doesn't go to jail Brock's status will always be a central part of his life.
posted by xammerboy at 1:44 AM on June 3, 2018 [5 favorites]


Even if he doesn't go to jail Brock's status as a sex offender will always be a central part of his life.

Unless of course other authority figures meant to apply the law equally and evenly and without disregarding crimes against women take a similar tack to this judge. This sort of man clearly gets special treatment. What's to say he won't future?
posted by Dysk at 1:47 AM on June 3, 2018 [23 favorites]


This makes more sense to me than eliminating a single judge - it's like a game of whack a mole. The focus should be on rule of law, not a person's personality and tendencies.

That's why Australia doesn't elect judges, because elections select for personality and tendencies. If judges get there by election, they should be removable by election as well.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:49 AM on June 3, 2018 [11 favorites]


Unless of course other authority figures meant to apply the law equally and evenly and without disregarding crimes against women take a similar tack to this judge. This sort of man clearly gets special treatment. What's to say he won't future?

My story is anecdotal. I'm not an expert. My feeling was this kid was getting the preferential treatment reserved for privileged upper middle class white kids without priors attending expensive and prestigious universities.
posted by xammerboy at 1:59 AM on June 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don’t understand the arguments of the anti-recall side, in the particular context of the Californian system. They are worried that, if Persky loses, future judges will be biased by public opinion because their job security depends on public opinion? Then why have they not been campaigning for years to stop electing judges? If you have a system where judges fight elections to keep judicial roles, why would you not have a system that allows the public who appointed the judge to have a vote on allowing him to stay? The process-based argument they want to make—the importance of preserving judicial decision-making from popular pressure—is totally incoherent with the legal system they are working within.

The whole debate sounds pretty messy and personal and as though it is ultimately about defending a tight-knit legal culture against a challenger who is perceived as an outsider; the principled arguments about process and incarceration rates seem like a veneer over what is really an angry defence of a person a lot of them happen to like against a person a lot of them find off-putting. Very depressing read, for anyone who cares about the rule of law.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:15 AM on June 3, 2018 [19 favorites]


Kreitzberg also said that it was not unusual for a judge to take steps to prevent a convict from losing a job (as in the Chiang case) or a chance of a career (as in the cases of Gunderson or Keenan Smith). In fact, she argued, this should be the desired approach.
Is this one of the ways that you get racism-without-overt-racism? If there's a minority with a higher unemployment rate, they will, on average, get harsher sentences under this rule even while the system maintains plausible deniability about its racism.
posted by clawsoon at 4:08 AM on June 3, 2018 [25 favorites]


These sorts of blithe statements about our culture is brocialism in a nutshell. Everyone is for reducing violence against women, right up until the point when they decide that goal somehow conflicts with any other priority.

It's a disgusting, immoral practice to punish someone for reasons not to do with re-habilitation or prevention.

By those standards, the GSK, Joseph DeAngelo, deserves a slap on the wrist at most. He is, after all, in his 70s, and it's unlikely that he would even have the strength in a few years to reoffend. Yet most people seem to be fine with him dying in prison, because criminal prosecutions are evidence that, in a civilized society, murderers can be stopped through the force of law.

By those standards, white-collar crimes should rarely result in prison, since blacklisting the offenders from certain positions is probably sufficient.

Please, spare your sympathy for the poor aged serial killers and bankers. Don't waste it on young rapists who have their entire lifetime to reoffend.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 4:38 AM on June 3, 2018 [22 favorites]


I am not interested in hearing anything about white felons needing help getting or keeping their jobs.

I don’t want to hear a single breath of a syllable about it as long as people of color keep hearing respectability politics nullshit excuses for the systemic and environmental racism that keeps their communities under and unemployed.
posted by bilabial at 4:42 AM on June 3, 2018 [32 favorites]


I really don't understand how it's "brocialist" of me to say that I find the idea of punishment being about retribution to be disgusting. I said I thought Turner should have done more time, but it should be for reasons of rehabilitation or prevention.
"Everyone is for reducing violence against women, right up until the point when they decide that goal somehow conflicts with any other priority."
Retribution is quite specifically the part of the punishment equation that isn't about reducing violence against women. It's not the same as specific or general deterrence. It's the part that says someone should be made to suffer, because they made others suffer. I left the door wide open to anything that reduces violence against women. You're just demanding that you be able to have revenge. Which is understandable to want, but revenge is not something the law should exist to provide. Otherwise we may as well just literally torture people for their crimes. If retribution is what you're seeking, there's better ways than incarceration.
On a slightly more charitable re-reading it feels like maybe you're conflating general deterrence with retribution. Part of prevention is more than the single person re-offending, but deterring others through the punishment they fear they'll receive if they commit a similar crime.
I really resent the implication that I'm throwing women's safety out the door when what I feel I'm doing is criticising the idea of revenge as part of the law. If I'm missing something and revenge for revenge's sake does increase women's safety, I'd like to know how.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 5:37 AM on June 3, 2018 [9 favorites]


If it's not clear enough, the reason I believe Turner should do more time is for one of prevention, in order to prevent the many others who feel they will not be punished severely if they carry out similar assaults. The same with your DeAngelo and white-collar criminals. You're accusing me of something I cannot see that I have said.
If I showed sympathy for Turner or similar in my statement, again, I'd love to know where it was so I can avoid seemingly expressing such sentiment in future. That was not my intention and I can't see how anything but a very bad-faith reading of my comment is sympathetic to Turner.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 5:56 AM on June 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


If I'm missing something and revenge for revenge's sake does increase women's safety, I'd like to know how.

When your definition of "revenge" includes incarceration, yes, revenge does increase women's safety.

Putting Turner in prison definitely is a preventative measure. So long as he is in prison, he cannot rape another woman. (Prison rape, sadly, is a thing, but this is a reason to argue for changing the ways we handle prisoners, not for his freedom.)

Upon preview: Can you distinguish between "revenge" and "prevention", in that case? From what I can guess from context, that really means that you should be supporting elevated sex offender registrations -- punishments should be happening in the public eye for prevention to be most effective.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:05 AM on June 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


I'm generally against incarceration in a broader sense, but this is not the place for raising those concerns, because it is the primary method of prevention currently employed, and sex offenders regularly escape that method of punishment.

The person I was responding to was fairly explicitly saying they believed in retribution as part of the reason for incarceration.

As you've just said, incarceration is a preventative measure in this case.
I do definitely believe there's a strong distinction between revenge and prevention. The support for revenge as part of punishment is the main reason, as I understand it, why many people seem to be completely fine with prison rape, because they believe in "eye for an eye" thinking. The argument in favour of revenge is the same argument which says prisoners should be effectively tortured, because they want the state to inflict suffering in response to suffering.

I don't know much about elevated sex offender registration, but yes, I suppose if the evidence supports that as a more humane & effective way to go about prevention and rehabilitation I would support it.

As I see it, revenge is not a good reason for incarceration. That does not preclude the possibility of lengthy prison sentences as a general deterrent to others engaging in that behaviour.
I maintain that supporting the idea of "revenge" is a disgusting policy. The idea that arguing against revenge is the same as arguing against incarceration is frankly confusing to me. It's the inclusion of revenge as a reason for incarceration as opposed to practicing incarceration for reasons of prevention (including deterrence) and rehabilitation that I'm trying to push back against here.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:32 AM on June 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


You're just demanding that you be able to have revenge. Which is understandable to want, but revenge is not something the law should exist to provide.

Revenge and retribution are hardly synonymous. Retributive punishment is a controversial concept, but it is usually believed to include elements (proportionality, due process, a tight focus on concepts of moral desert) that distinguish it from the ordinary understanding of revenge. It’s far from obvious that providing retributive punishments for wrongs isn’t one of the functions of the law. In the Brock Turner case, for example, the victim clearly feels that some right of hers has been disregarded precisely because he has not been duly punished. She argues precisely that the trivial sentence trivialises her, minimises the wrong against her, cheats her of something due to her. That’s a very complex moral claim that she’s making, but it’s not a claim without a foundation in most traditional understandings of justice and I think it overstates liberal objections to retributivism to call it a desire for “revenge” or “disgusting”.
posted by Aravis76 at 6:36 AM on June 3, 2018 [34 favorites]


I really don't understand how it's "brocialist" of me to say that I find the idea of punishment being about retribution to be disgusting.

It's the context in which you've chosen to bring it up. Maybe once rape and violence against women are taken seriously, that'll be different. Until then, perhaps there are better areas on which to focus your objections.
posted by Dysk at 6:36 AM on June 3, 2018 [30 favorites]


Because if there is one area in which sentencing and punishments are not too harsh, this is it.
posted by Dysk at 6:37 AM on June 3, 2018 [29 favorites]


I think the context argument is quite fair, Dysk.
That's not what steady-state strawberry gave as their reasoning though. They gave an argument that I was disregarding women's safety in the name of being against incarceration, which is a gross misrepresentation of what I've said.
It is shameful though that I've taken up so much space in this thread, and the longer I go on the more weight the context argument has, unfortunately.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:16 AM on June 3, 2018


I'm generally against incarceration in a broader sense, but this is not the place for raising those concerns,

Except that it kind of is, because all of your other statements are impacted by that belief. I'd argue that those concerns are the ones you are speaking from -- not from, say, the concern about the victims of sex offenders, or the ways in which rapists are rarely prosecuted.

I don't know much about elevated sex offender registration, but yes, I suppose if the evidence supports that as a more humane & effective way to go about prevention and rehabilitation I would support it.

Once again, you seem concerned about the sex offenders, not about the actual victims themselves.

My point is, if we believe in punishment for the sake of prevention (as you say you do for GSK), that requires publicity. We should be able to point to a sex offender in a grocery store and say "this is what happens to you when you commit a crime." If that's not something you think should happen, then you can't talk about desiring prevention above all else.

(Just to take the worst case scenario: the GSK is actually a case where punishment is definitely done for what you would definite as retribution. There are very few serial killers who would look at the GSK and think "I should stop doing this." The odds of the GSK being a threat now, let alone being a threat in a few years, are quite low. And there's very little reason to believe that punishment is going to help him with rehabilitation. Yet convicting a serial killer is something that we hold to be a good thing, because criminal actions need to have consequences.)
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:21 AM on June 3, 2018 [12 favorites]


In law school, a professor taught us the words of a certain British lord: “Men are not hang'd for stealing Horses, but that Horses may not be stolen.”

I do not hold with hanging, but the words still encapsulate a fundamental principle of Anglo-American theories of punishment.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:47 AM on June 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Even if he doesn't go to jail Brock's status as a sex offender will always be a central part of his life.


Yeah, somehow I doubt Brock Turner will ever be forced to "rent a room" rather than just have his parents buy him a house. Given that his entire family seems to think that rape is no big deal I'm happy that he'll have to mention it at all--even as we recognize that his options as a registered sex offender are likely far, far greater and more lenient than for anyone of lower income or higher melanin.
posted by TwoStride at 8:28 AM on June 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


In 2015, Ikaika Gunderson, 21, beat and choked his ex-girlfriend, confessed to police, and “three months later pleaded no contest to a felony count of domestic violence,” according to Baker.

Instead of giving Gunderson prison time — potentially up to four years — Persky cut him a break. He delayed sentencing for more than a year to give Gunderson a chance to attend the University of Hawaii and play football, as he’d always dreamed of. At the end of the year, Persky said he’d reevaluate the charges against Gunderson if he completed, among other requirements, a domestic violence program. This was very unusual and may have violated federal law that puts restrictions on where offenders can move out of state, Baker noted.

Persky, however, didn’t have Gunderson monitored. Within a year, Gunderson failed to meet requirements in the agreement (including part of the domestic violence program), dropped out of the University of Hawaii, and was arrested for another domestic violence charge in Washington state when he allegedly punched his father.

Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell, who’s appeared on national news outlets typically defending Persky, said that “[t]here are so many problems with how this case was handled that I’m not even sure where to start.”
We cannot let men like Persky hold office of any kind. It doesn't matter what laws are on the books, because they will find a way to break them - these people, themselves, cannot be allowed to remain in positions of authority once they've been discovered.
posted by mordax at 10:09 AM on June 3, 2018 [36 favorites]


Even if he doesn't go to jail Brock's status as a sex offender will always be a central part of his life.

How in the fuck is this seen as punishment? We're at the point culturally where we're so excusing of rapists (and so dismissive of the brutalization of women) that the literal truth just being known is seen as punishment. Like he's somehow entitled to live his life hiding the fact that he rapes women.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:38 AM on June 3, 2018 [41 favorites]


Not only that but Brock Turner has not had a single moment of remorse or rehabilitation and someone in the article still talks about when "enough is enough". Like, a decent starting point would be when he understands that raping an unconscious woman is bad, and we'll work from there?
posted by threetwentytwo at 10:50 AM on June 3, 2018 [26 favorites]


That's why Australia doesn't elect judges, because elections select for personality and tendencies. If judges get there by election, they should be removable by election as well.

Well, the other option is executive appointment, and that's working so well in the US. :-/

Persky sounds like he thinks rape is an "oops" crime - "oh sorry; I didn't realize it would actually BOTHER this women if I put my dick in her," rather than both a crime of violence and an attempt to inflict long-term psychological trauma. It's not the "light sentence" part that should get him thrown out; it's that he's sympathetic to the perpetrators because he fails to understand the law.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2018 [13 favorites]


status as a sex offender will always be a central part of his life.

How in the fuck is this seen as punishment?


Sex offender status is its own fucked-up set of problems. Whether it unjustly punishes him is debatable (I agreed that I'd need to see some sign of remorse before I thought any penalty was too harsh), but it also severely restricts his potential spouse and children's lives in the future.

I am not sympathetic to the argument, "any woman who decides she could love such a rapist creep deserves to live with the stigma and restrictions that he's earned," and even less sympathetic to "it's fine for his kids, should he ever have any, to never be allowed to live within easy walking distance of their school or have friends over for a party;" I don't think either of those actually makes the community safer.

And while "dude should indeed have severe restrictions on his activities for the next couple of decades" is probably reasonable, "dude should not be able to live close to a school when he turns 60" is probably not.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:08 AM on June 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


It wouldn't surprise the hell out of me if Turner's family worked to get him in front of a generally lenient judge. Anyone know whether this is reasonable?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 11:28 AM on June 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Also, regarding the rather startling opinion up thread that several months in jail and several years of probation should be an adequate sentence for murder, much less rape: in Sweden, that Scandinavian model, the standard sentence for murder is life, with conditional release averaging 17 years (PDF) The average time served for a rape conviction is 27 months, 59 for aggravated.

Given Turner likely would have gotten at least a year off for good time, the requested 6 years was far closer to a "Scandinavian" sentence than the 3 months he actually served.
posted by tavella at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2018 [31 favorites]


I understand and share the rage at the fact that white men rape so routinely and that punishment is so unequal for white men of privilege compared to African American men. This case exposes the extremes of how unfair our system is, how racist it is, how little it cares for women. But I can't get behind a feminism that calls for increased incarceration - for anyone. What do we actually wish for? I want:

- An end to rape and to the culture that encourages men to see women as sexual objects to be owned and abused.

- An end to mass incarceration, mandatory minimums, and a culture of punishment and retribution.

- An end to white supremacy and to prisons as a continuation of the institutions of slavery - where African Americans are uniquely trapped in ever lengthening sentences in ever more inhumane prisons.

But how to achieve these goals? We have good data that says locking up Brock Turner for longer does not prevent or reduce rape. That pressuring judges to use harsher sentences does not protect women.

To those who say, judges are elected in California so they should be up for repeal: The majority of California lefties who have spent any time thinking about this already oppose judicial elections: shielding judges from some of the political pressures that are on legislators allows them to make more unpopular decisions - which we WANT much of the time.

To those who say, we should reduce violent crime before we reduce incarceration: look at the decades of research in our own country and look to other nations that imprison less: incarceration rate & duration is just not tied to frequency of violent crime. Reducing violent crime does not reduce incarceration, and rates of incarceration have no impact on rates of violent crime.

To those who say, at least when locked up a rapist can't harm anyone: Look to the data and stories we have about the frequency of prison rape and assault. Moving someone who rapes to prison does not stop him from raping. It just changes who his victims are. Importantly, people come out of prison worse than when they went in. Prison is rarely a place where people learn the harms, own their harms, and grow and change their behavior. Not in the US where prison is based on retribution instead of rehabilitation.

I get and share the rage at Brock Turner, at a system that doles out inhuman punishments to those who already have the least agency and reserves compassion for those who already have power. I want to change that now, and I work to change that now, by protesting prisons, protesting ICE, voting for DAs who oppose mass incarceration, connecting with prisoners, calling out racism and misogyny, working for women's equality. But I just can't agree with a pro-incarceration argument that could just as easily be used to continue and replicate our deeply unjust and broken system of prisons.
posted by latkes at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2018 [15 favorites]


but it also severely restricts his potential spouse and children's lives in the future.

This is all squarely in the region of 'things that Brock Turner is responsible for'. How on earth would it be otherwise?
posted by threetwentytwo at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2018 [31 favorites]


I want to change that now, and I work to change that now, by protesting prisons, protesting ICE, voting for DAs who oppose mass incarceration, connecting with prisoners, calling out racism and misogyny, working for women's equality.

That’s all very nice, but the only pertinent bit you’ve mentioned is “working for women’s equality,” and, conveniently, that’s the one you’ve given the least amount of detail about. How, exactly, are you working for equality, and how do you square that equality with your willingness to allow rapists to walk around unchecked? Throwing up your hands in the air and declaring that rape can’t be stopped isn’t an answer.

If rapists are not stopped by prison time, there are alternatives that would definitely stop him. Sadly, I don’t think you would approve of those alternatives.

Your response - conflating one problem with many - is brocialism in a nutshell. Everything for women’s equality, so long as it doesn’t involve details.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 12:25 PM on June 3, 2018 [12 favorites]


Your response - conflating one problem with many - is brocialism in a nutshell. Everything for women’s equality, so long as it doesn’t involve details.

If you want to critique my argument, great. If you want to name call, yawn. I'm a woman so, yeah, not a bro. I've been a feminist my whole life, participated in feminist direct actions, made feminist political art, written women's health self-help educational materials, campaigned for feminist women politicians, personally called out men in my life and at work. But more important to this discussion: Opposing mass incarceration is feminist. Mandatory minimums harm women. Mass incarceration harms women. I fight the prison industry not just because yes, there are women who are unjustly imprisoned, but the impact on women of having so many men behind bars is also crushing. Mass incarceration is absolutely a feminist issue. Rape is a real and terrible problem - but incarceration is not a solution. That's what the science says, that's what we can see with our own eyes by just looking at our incarceration rates.
posted by latkes at 12:41 PM on June 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


Well, the other option [to election of judges] is executive appointment, and that's working so well in the US. :-/

Well, there are other options - or at least, other forms of executive appointment that are more nuanced than 'X, because he is my mate / I like his politics'.

In England & Wales, judges are selected for appointment by the Judicial Appointments Commission (there is a corresponding body for Scotland, which has its own legal system). To give an idea of the criteria, there's about to be a selection for Recorder (part-time judge of the second most junior level of judiciary), with the selection requiring defined competencies.

Yes, the notice of appointment may say "The Queen has appointed name to be a Circuit Judge on the advice of the Lord Chancellor, the Right Honourable David Gauke MP and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Right Honourable The Lord Burnett of Maldon", but what that means is that the Minister for Justice and the senior judge of England and Wales have, in the name of the Head of State, approved the JAC's selected candidate.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:45 PM on June 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


So, please: what is your solution?

And, for that matter, why are you okay with anti-racist ideologies that protect rapists? History has shown us that the punishments extended to white men have nothing to do with those applied to POC. If anything, giving white men harsher penalties might help motivate anti-incarceration attitudes.

“Feminist art” that lets unrepentant rapists walk free is worthless.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 12:46 PM on June 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


There's nothing about opposing mass incarceration in America that requires one to oppose imprisoning wealthy white men convicted of sexual assault - wealthy white men convicted of sexual assault are not and have not been victims of mass incarceration in America. And, importantly, opposing mass incarceration was not Persky's motivation in handing down the light sentence; whether you support or oppose imprisoning the rapist in this specific case, Persky is not an ally in either the fight for prison abolition or for women's equality. There are zero reasons to keep him there and many reasons to replace him with a true ally who will fight for those causes. We can, and should, do better.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:05 PM on June 3, 2018 [34 favorites]


"Feminist art” that lets unrepentant rapists walk free is worthless.

Art that changes how we think about men and women and sex and consent will do a damn sight more good than just calling for harsher punishments. It changes minds - it can prevent rapes. Harsh punishments just sets up yet more violence - prison never did anyone any good. You want to radicalize someone and make them more violent? send them to prison for a long time.

Rape will not be stopped by punishments. In the 17th century, rape was published by hanging, and it didn't do anything to stem the rampant sexual violence.

But you know what has made my world less sexually violent than my mother's or my grandmother's? Feminist art - and public campaigns and talking and changing the culture. We have a long way to go, but this will do a lot more good than braying for vengeance.

as for caring about sex offenders and victims: a lot of people care about human rights - even the rights of humans we don't like. You don't get to pick and chose - no more than the racist, transphobic or homophobic person down the road gets to chose who has rights and who doesn't.

and as for the name-calling: that's just dismissive and not worthy of Metafilter.
posted by jb at 1:46 PM on June 3, 2018 [9 favorites]


There are zero reasons to keep him there and many reasons to replace him with a true ally who will fight for those causes. We can, and should, do better.

I might think so - except that lots of people who know way better than I do what kind of judge should be on that bench think that Persky should not be recalled. And I trust public defenders who have worked with him over random people on the internet.
posted by jb at 1:50 PM on June 3, 2018


except that lots of people who know way better than I do what kind of judge should be on that bench think that Persky should not be recalled.

yeah and those "good people" who don't want Persky recalled keep casting doubt on whether the Rape victim whom Persky victimized by prioritizing her rapists freedom over a victim's safety was smart enough to have even written her own victim statement. Real good people. As stated above, the types of people and the arguments they've been using, who are defending Persky really hammer home that he needs to be recalled.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:54 PM on June 3, 2018 [23 favorites]


This is a guy who let a domestic abuser slide and then he shockingly! (not) re-offended. This is a guy who called Turner's rape of an unconscious women behind a dumpster "20 minutes of action" that he shouldn't have to pay his whole life for. This is not the hill to die on. This is a judge who give lenient sentences to white male offenders whom he identifies with and who doesn't understand the crime of rape at all. This is a guy who should have been recalled a long time ago.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2018 [22 favorites]


And again, I will note:

This isn't the only time Persky's pulled this shit. Hypothetical arguments about how judges might be impacted are fine and all, but Persky let a man beat and choke his ex, and then walk because that guy was good at football.

The situation with Brock Turner isn't some kind of anomaly. It isn't a principled stand. It's a man using his position to go soft on a particular kind of rapist.

As for arguments about how harsher sentences don't fix stuff: anybody floating that is missing the point. This isn't about how a judge has a problem with the sad state of our prison system, this is about a judge letting affluent white men get away with crimes because they're good at sports. Those are two different things, and selective enforcement is absolutely corrosive to society.

If people who worked with him are cool with him continuing to practice, we need to remove them too, not trust a bunch of shitbags who're covering for each other.

Upon preview:
Totally behind Homo neanderthalensis here.
posted by mordax at 1:59 PM on June 3, 2018 [25 favorites]


and as for the name-calling: that's just dismissive and not worthy of Metafilter.

what name calling? pointing out that leftist arguments that tend to ignore the issues of marginalized folk as "brocialist"?
posted by anem0ne at 2:15 PM on June 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


but it also severely restricts his potential spouse and children's lives in the future.

There's a phrase that my therapist taught me (a lifelong victim of abusive gas lighting) to help recognize when I am not responsible for my abuser's situation, including the situation they are in once I come forward about the abuse. We refer to these things as "natural and logical consequences". It is natural, and logical, that a man who has no problem raping women would have a harder time finding a woman to partner with.

I'm seeing a lot of disconnect here about the meaning and impact of what he did. Like the judge, when he said that "20 minutes of action" shouldn't ruin the rest of his life. As if he's only a rapist while he's actually raping someone, and at all other times he's just a regular old guy who should be able to live a regular old life.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:22 PM on June 3, 2018 [28 favorites]


as for caring about sex offenders and victims: a lot of people care about human rights - even the rights of humans we don't like.

I am unaware of any human rights instrument that says that imprisoning a rapist, after a fair trial (with a lawyer, opportunities for appeal, and all other forms of due process), is a violation of his human rights. Some US prisons may involve forms of inhumane and degrading treatment that do qualify as human rights abuses, but the legal solution to that is to sue the prisons to fix their conditions, not to just stop bothering with criminal justice altogether.

And the basic principle that you can be deprived of your liberty for committing a crime—for example, for violating other people’s fundamental human rights—is perfectly consistent with respect for human rights. Otherwise, it would be incoherent for human rights tribunals to ever grant custodial sentences, and it really isn’t.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:22 PM on June 3, 2018 [16 favorites]


> mordax:
"As for arguments about how harsher sentences don't fix stuff: anybody floating that is missing the point."

It was quite a long piece and there are multiple conversations here, many of which presuppose they're addressing the same element. When the CA assembly's response was to unanimously pass a new mandatory minimum bill (opposed by Dauber, herself), I don't see how it is beside the point, even if Persky's is a corrupt judge.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:26 PM on June 3, 2018


Mass incarceration is a term that refers to the large scale imprisonment of African-American men from disadvantaged backgrounds. I'd love it if we could stop using this term to describe the imprisonment of a young affluent white rapist whose skin color and place of privilege in society bought him a drastically reduced sentence and whose skin color and place of privilege in society will continue to insulate him from the lived experiences suffered by actual victims of mass incarceration. Thanks.
posted by palomar at 2:33 PM on June 3, 2018 [40 favorites]


As if he's only a rapist while he's actually raping someone, and at all other times he's just a regular old guy who should be able to live a regular old life.

Exactly - he wasn't even made to realize that what he did was wrong.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:40 PM on June 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


I looked around for what feminist restorative justice advocates and opponents of mass incarceration were saying about the case, and the ones I found like the NLG and this panel of mass incarceration and domestic violence experts also disagree with calling for a harsher sentence in this case. The most active opponents of mass incarceration seem to be, for the most part, avoiding calling for a harsher sentence in this case.

I understand that folks here disagree with that and I understand why, even as I personally can't advocate for ANYONE to have a harsher sentence, because the whole system is shit. If we want to recall judges, we should honestly recall every single one of them, because they almost universally issue harsher sentences for men of color than for white men. That's an injustice on a massive scale.

I guess this specific conversation has diminishing returns, but I hear where folks are coming from. I just think there's a legitimate critique of this recall campaign that isn't about selling out women.
posted by latkes at 2:44 PM on June 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


what name calling? pointing out that leftist arguments that tend to ignore the issues of marginalized folk as "brocialist"?

Yes, it is name-calling when it's not even being applied to socialist (or socialist-lite) arguments, but instead to any political position or ideology that doesn't 100% comport with what you personally agree with.

Anti-mass incarceration isn't a "brocialist" thing, it's primarily an anti-racist thing. It's not as easy or as quick to paint anti-racists as "bros" or whatever though so I guess "brocialist" is the best we're going to do.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:51 PM on June 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Some US prisons may involve forms of inhumane and degrading treatment that do qualify as human rights abuses

This is the rule, not the exception. If you put someone in prison or jail for any amount of time, you should be aware and completely willing to accept the fact that their basic human rights may be violated while they are there.

I still personally think that Brock Turner should have been incarcerated for a longer time and that Persky should be recalled, but let's not strain ourselves to defend the carceral state.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:54 PM on June 3, 2018 [9 favorites]


In terms of deterrence, length of sentence hasn't been shown to have a serious, meaningful effect. Certainty of being punished has a substantial effect. Instead of lengthening sentences, the best thing to do would be to reduce or eliminate the discretion that police and prosecutors have when it comes to investigating (or "investigating") sexual violence.

Underenforcement of the criminal law is the biggest issue here, not lenient sentencing (and they are different issues).

There is an expressive component to sentencing, though, and I think that women are right to feel hurt, mistreated, and humiliated by the way that Judge Persky went about sentencing Brock Turner. Women matter, and crimes against women matter. They should be taken seriously and not excused or treated as trivial. Judge Persky's behavior was a classic expression of rape culture, and people are right to be angry and to want him off the bench.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:02 PM on June 3, 2018 [12 favorites]


The "20 minutes" comment was from the rapist's dad, not from Persky. this error is being repeated in comments that are otherwise entirely correct. The anti-Persky side is right because of facts and being careless with facts doesn't help it. that Persky considered the elder Turner's comment and made his judgment in light of that consideration is more than enough to be disgusted by. multiple people picking up and enthusiastically repeating mistakes as if internet comments are reliable sources is infuriating to see; Ioffe's article itself doesn't misattribute the quote.
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:39 PM on June 3, 2018 [19 favorites]


If you put someone in prison or jail for any amount of time, you should be aware and completely willing to accept the fact that their basic human rights may be violated while they are there.

As far as I can see, there are only two coherent alternatives in response to this argument:

(1) completely suspend the operation of criminal justice in the US until every necessary change is made in the prison system, stop prosecuting any offences attracting custodial sentences (murder, burglary, whatever) and also release everyone now in prison

or (2) bring legal challenges against abuses of the prison system while continuing to accept that criminal prosecutions must still take place and that those convicted now, like those convicted in the past, will only benefit from those legal challenges as and when they are accepted and lead to change in the prison system.

Unless you are willing to fully commit to (1), and call the whole thing off entirely, there is no coherent argument for only sporadically enforcing criminal penalties and leaving it purely to the discretion of judges to decide which defendants seem too sympathetic to deserve what the rest get.
posted by Aravis76 at 3:40 PM on June 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


Feminist art

I'd say that Emily Doe's letter was feminist art. Want to give it another read?
posted by ziggly at 3:42 PM on June 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


As far as I can see, there are only two coherent alternatives in response to this argument:

I'm not saying we should never incarcerate someone. I'm saying that if you want to argue that we should incarcerate someone, you need to accept that incarceration in the modern US is likely to include conditions that are inhumane and violative of basic human rights, instead of painting an overly rosy picture of incarceration in order to support the idea that incarceration is the way to go.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:02 PM on June 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


...instead of painting an overly rosy picture of incarceration ...

This is not happening.
posted by FirstMateKate at 4:15 PM on June 3, 2018 [13 favorites]


I have a really strong suspicion that if he had spent twenty minutes cannibalizing his roommate, people would not be arguing that he was already punished enough and everyone needs to move on. Because there is a very real taboo against cannibalism and right now, there isn’t one against rape. As we are seeing in these sentences and seeing in the thread.

If you are a rapist who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, yes, you deserve to be known as a rapist and take your sentence for the rest of your life. It’s nobody’s fault but your own.
posted by corb at 4:20 PM on June 3, 2018 [38 favorites]


I would like more of us to revist tavella's comment before we go on about what is considered fair punishment in a non-carceral state:

Also, regarding the rather startling opinion up thread that several months in jail and several years of probation should be an adequate sentence for murder, much less rape: in Sweden, that Scandinavian model, the standard sentence for murder is life, with conditional release averaging 17 years (PDF) The average time served for a rape conviction is 27 months, 59 for aggravated.

Given Turner likely would have gotten at least a year off for good time, the requested 6 years was far closer to a "Scandinavian" sentence than the 3 months he actually served.

posted by schroedinger at 4:30 PM on June 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


Also, just as it is possible for men to be proponents of feminism, it is entirely possible for one to be a proponent of brocialism and not be male.
posted by schroedinger at 4:32 PM on June 3, 2018 [13 favorites]


the ones I found like the NLG and this panel of mass incarceration and domestic violence experts also disagree with calling for a harsher sentence in this case

The NLG is arguing specifically against the mandatory minimum sentencing law California passed in the wake of Brock Turner's woefully inadequate sentence, so not really the same thing as "disagreeing with a harsher sentence in this case".

Likewise, only one member of the four-person Penn Law panel in the second link was there to speak specifically about the Turner case:
Professor Abbe Smith went on to look at the case of Brock Turner. To her, the sentence of six months in county jail was appropriate, given the circumstances. She stated that the judge in the case — a fact, she remarked, that people have often overlooked — “was being respectful of the victim’s wishes in crafting a sentence,” since the victim stated that she did not want Turner to “rot in jail.” Turner, she continued, expressed remorse for his actions, there was no evidence suggesting he would commit an act of sexual assault again, and, therefore, his sentence was fair.
(emphasis mine)

Abbe Smith doesn't seem to be familiar with Emily Doe's impact statement, though it was read and published eight months before the Penn panel. Or, she chose not to mention it because it completely disagrees with her "hey, even his victim is cool with the sentence" premise:
I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct.
I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. (again, emphasis mine)
posted by camyram at 5:47 PM on June 3, 2018 [39 favorites]


Letting rape apologists continue to do their rape apologist thing from positions of authority tasked with dealing with rape is not how you fight mass incarceration.
posted by Dysk at 7:56 AM on June 4, 2018 [20 favorites]


I think what is left out of discussions of rape and sexual abuse and domestic violence and the penalties for these crimes is the fact that rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence are not only destructive to the victim, they are SOCIALLY destructive. A person who has been raped, whatever their gender is left with emotional and physical harm. That person is less able to find a good relationship and will have a harder time raising children. In some cases, especially those of child victims, they may not be able to even have children. The families of victims are never again the same.
Rape is used in war to destroy other societies. In countries which are ‘at peace’ women don’t feel safe going about their daily activities such as work or recreation.
No one feels entirely safe letting their children explore the world. Rape holds us all hostage,
In many very traditional societies rape got the death penalty even when murder didn’t always get the death penalty.
This harshness is because of the harm the crime does to society.
Judges who give light sentences for one race over another also tear the social fabric by making inter-racial relations less trusting.
As for prisons, working to have proper punishments for violence against women and children might include letting people with minor infractions such as drug use and sales serve shorter sentences in order to keep violent offenders in prison.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:12 PM on June 4, 2018 [12 favorites]


In many very traditional societies rape got the death penalty even when murder didn’t always get the death penalty.
This harshness is because of the harm the crime does to society.


What's difficult here is that the harshness resulted from rape as a property crime. Rape was harshly punished to the degree that a) a woman's father or husband had the status to move the wheels of justice, as opposed to the status of the perpetrator, and b) said father or husband wanted it known that his woman had suffered such terrible damage. A wife would be dishonored forever; a daughter would be unmarriageable -- unless, of course, she married the rapist, which squared everything away.

Society has had to undergo a transition between using codified male rage to punish rape -- which only punishes the kind of men who can be punished, and only if they were the kind of women who could be raped -- toward using the justice system to punish rape as a violation of a human being's autonomy. We're not all the way there, but thank God we're closer than we were.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:32 PM on June 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


And while "dude should indeed have severe restrictions on his activities for the next couple of decades" is probably reasonable, "dude should not be able to live close to a school when he turns 60" is probably not.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:08 AM on June 3 [2 favorites +] [!]

In reply to this, a male over 60 in reasonable physical health or with the aid of Viagra or Cialis can still function sexually. So no, ‘dude over 60’ probably should not live near a school or otber place where vulnerable people may be numerous.
Do you know that it is not unheard of or uncommon for elderly sex offenders placed in nursing homes to rape people? This gets covered up a lot. Old men like that cruise churches and either groom children or seduce older women. They get involved with online porn.
Some people like this even get worse with age as they lose inhibitions due to dementia. A person can be in decent shape physically for years as their social inhibitions are destroyed by little strokes or frontal-temporal dementia ( Pick’s Disease).
While such a person can’t form a criminal intent this is someone dangerous to others. Someone like that can’t really be said to be ‘evil’ but it’s doing no one any favors to leave them at liberty.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:41 PM on June 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


Oh fun! So I didn't realize this until I pulled out my actual ballot, but we not only vote to recall, we vote for who we want to replace Persky at the same time. This didn't show up on my sample ballot on Smart Voter when I was filling out my sample ballot earlier. So I'm off to do more research, but if anyone wants to add some personal commentary as to the qualities of Cindy Seeley Hendrickson vs Angela Storey, please do!
posted by tavella at 4:40 PM on June 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


In my work in the disability field, I've had a lot of contact with people who have had involvement with the DOC, including sex offenders. What I'd say here is that a better way to deal with the case would have been to at the very least evaluate Brock Turner for a sex offender program rather than just time in a regular prison.

Of course, that would have required Persky to take the crime seriously and to care about the women Turner has contact with in the future.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:11 AM on June 5, 2018 [13 favorites]


The NLG is arguing specifically against the mandatory minimum sentencing law California passed in the wake of Brock Turner's woefully inadequate sentence, so not really the same thing as "disagreeing with a harsher sentence in this case".

Ironically, had the harsher sentence been passed, the NLG's arguments would have been unnecessary. As Derek Lowe once pointed out in the case of Big Pharma's (shitty) response to the Epi-Pen price hike, there are times when you need to score an own goal in order to be able to make any case that you are the good guys. Had the NLG or other such groups spearheaded the recall campaign and had they worked against judicial discretion in the case of rape -- i.e., had they explicitly come up with a legal alternative to prevent these sorts of atrocious decisions in the future -- they might have been successful at preventing a mandatory minimum law. As it stands, a mandatory minimum law was seen as the only alternative to permitting judges to impose sentences as short as Turner's.

I am not sympathetic to the argument, "any woman who decides she could love such a rapist creep deserves to live with the stigma and restrictions that he's earned,"

I'm not sympathetic to that argument, either. I am, however, sympathetic to the argument that Brook Turner is the man who must weigh his future happiness against harming his loved ones, and that the penalties he faces should affect the choices he makes in the future. Love is a two-way street, and Turner is capable of realizing the consequences any children would face.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:19 PM on June 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


And they're calling the recall vote for Yes. So long, Aaron - hopefully this will be a lesson to the legal community.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:40 PM on June 5, 2018 [9 favorites]


I am, however, sympathetic to the argument that Brook Turner is the man who must weigh his future happiness against harming his loved ones, and that the penalties he faces should affect the choices he makes in the future. Love is a two-way street, and Turner is capable of realizing the consequences any children would face.

Ahahahaha. I don't believe for a second that Brock Turner, who doesn't think raping an unconscious woman is wrong, will hesitate to do whatever else he likes with whoever else is unfortunate enough to be close by. He's not going to think about the stigma he will bring as a father, he'll just be that guy who is on about how he was wronged and doesn't deserve the bad things that happen to him. Any stigma impacting any future children he has will be something he expects his wife to take care of.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:03 AM on June 6, 2018 [7 favorites]


In reply to this, a male over 60 in reasonable physical health or with the aid of Viagra or Cialis can still function sexually. So no, ‘dude over 60’ probably should not live near a school or otber place where vulnerable people may be numerous.

Very much seconding this. I still remember (as a very young teen) the first time I had to reclassify "grandfatherly type" into "strange man I need to get away from, now." People don't need functioning sexual organs to sexually assault their victims; they can do a lot with roving hands and disgusting language. I understand why people have problems with the sex offender registry, but I also understand why we have a sex offender registry.
posted by grandiloquiet at 10:32 AM on June 6, 2018 [6 favorites]


Captain Awkward tweeted this yesterday:
> A dude can be a decrepit 90 years old and wearing a full adult diaper and still harass strange women on the street. Amazing.
> I was at a bus stop on Diversey when this walking corpse ambled up, touched my leg with his cane and tried to run it up my skirt.
> I kicked the cane out of his hands and down the block and watched him inch away to retrieve it, calling me a bitch with every step.
> He’s lucky I’m in a good mood. I could have kicked it into traffic.
posted by Lexica at 12:12 PM on June 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Breaking news from Wednesday 06 June 2018 at 11:00 PDT--

Judge Aaron Perksy has been removed from office by voters.
posted by seasparrow at 1:12 PM on June 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


One thing that's disgusting me is how the anti-recall side pointed to the commission on judicial conduct clearing Persky as grounds for not recalling him. I hope that commission realizes that The People - the very source of their authority and legitimacy - just told them "Hey, dipshits - we just did your job for you. Perhaps next time you will take this misconduct seriously."
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:45 PM on June 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don't believe for a second that Brock Turner, who doesn't think raping an unconscious woman is wrong, will hesitate to do whatever else he likes with whoever else is unfortunate enough to be close by.

He probably will. Which is all the more reason for women to avoid him.

Basically, if he is a good person, this problem will never arise. If he is not, there is every reason to keep him on the list.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 2:44 PM on June 6, 2018


One thing that's disgusting me is how the anti-recall side pointed to the commission on judicial conduct clearing Persky as grounds for not recalling him. I hope that commission realizes that The People - the very source of their authority and legitimacy - just told them "Hey, dipshits - we just did your job for you. Perhaps next time you will take this misconduct seriously."

People in power or near it get very precious about recalls, and it drives me crazy. There's always this sense that a recall shouldn't be used for this or that, only for more serious issues. Ugh. No. If there is a way to remove someone from elected office and a majority of people feel strongly enough about how the officeholder has behaved to want to remove him immediately, I think that's great. It isn't easy to do. Congrats to Michele Dauber and the people of Palo Alto. I hope they can all go back to arguing about real estate now.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:50 PM on June 6, 2018 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I don't understand the reticence toward recall in a profession that puts people in jail for years without being convicted of anything.
posted by rhizome at 2:55 PM on June 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've been grinding my teeth at the comments from his supporters about how "this just shows that if you go against popular opinion you're in danger". No, it's more like "if you display a pattern of biased, inappropriate judgments, your position as a judge empowered to hand down judgments is in danger." Argh.
posted by Lexica at 3:17 PM on June 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I don't understand the reticence toward recall in a profession that puts people in jail for years without being convicted of anything.

The theory goes like this: when judges are subjected to recall over unpopular decisions, it has an adverse impact on the judiciary as a whole because other judges become concerned with keeping their jobs rather than doing them properly.

It's a lot of why many places don't elect judges, though of course appointments carry different sets of problems - the lifetime appointments for the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary are set that way so that the judges won't have this uncertainty hanging over them and throw their decisions accordingly.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:59 AM on June 7, 2018


That theory doesn't hold when the recall happens over a decision that was unpopular because it was an example of somebody not doing their job properly. In this case, that's exactly what the judiciary should be worrying about - doing their jobs properly. That they could lose their jobs for failing to do so is a-okay with me.

Like, I understand why it theoretically could be a concern. But in this context, it's just so much concern trolling.
posted by Dysk at 6:07 AM on June 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


And Charles Pierce misses the point like so many other commentators, wringing his hands over the recall.

The recall of Persky happened for one reason - the legal and judicial community made it abundantly clear that they weren't going to sanction him for a history of soft pedaling domestic violence and sexual assault cases. If they're so concerned about the threat of recall, maybe in the future they can actually take Persky's behavior seriously, so the public isn't forced to do their jobs for them.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:34 AM on June 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's been a while since I've contributed here. A good thing, I think; aspects of my participation have been problematic in the past.

I'm not convinced Persky's record supports a charge of contempt for women, or deference to privilege. Even if it did, it's clear Michele Dauber's chief motivator for initiating the recall campaign was the Brock Turner case. It's also clear this was the chief motivator for those who voted to recall him.

And I'm fine with that. The entire legal system of California might have aligned themselves against this vote, but in their so-called concern for judicial independence I see only a self-interested worship of judicial inviolability, a presumption that judges receive no censure for any action short of criminal, and certainly not from anyone who is not a judge -- or at least a lawyer -- themselves.

Hence the "wall of silence" from most legal professionals, LaDoris Cordell's abrupt transition from critic to booster, and even Jeff Rosen's refusal to go beyond empty posturing in his initial opposition to the sentence. One of the ironies of this story is that the recall may have been avoided if California's legal establishment possessed the moral courage to permit even a token appeal of the six-month sentence.

I'm reminded of two quotes:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!
-- Upton Sinclair
We might have seen more moral courage from the public sector legal establishment of California if so many of them weren't hoping to one day ride a judge's bench into certain retirement.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent inevitable.
-- John F. Kennedy
The recall of Aaron Persky may have seemed mean and gratuitous to some, but it was a foreseeable result of justice having been denied, and those responsible refusing to accept responsibility.
posted by The Confessor at 1:08 PM on June 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also, just as it is possible for men to be proponents of feminism, it is entirely possible for one to be a proponent of brocialism and not be male.


Right, but at some point, if someone is not saying anything particularly socialist and is not actually a bro, what is the point of using that term?

It's really disappointing to see people bashing principled anti-incarceration activists by using a totally irrelevant insult. There are people on the other side of this (really, on the other side of this from me --- I'm pro-recall) who have spent their entire lives fighting for reduced criminal penalties and reduced incarceration. They're not doing it because they're secretly brocialists, but because they have a deep and fundamental commitment to fighting one of the worst human rights abuses of our time. Many of these people are the modern-day equivalent of those who maintained the Underground Railroad; many of them are contemporary Freedom Riders. And they're brocialists?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:11 PM on June 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't find defending a judge soft pedaling domestic violence and sexual assault cases on the grounds that he's reducing sentences to be a terribly principled position.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:56 PM on June 7, 2018 [10 favorites]


one of the worst human rights abuses of our time.

This begs any number of questions, but at least it makes your priorities clear.

I'll settle for saying this: If your version of intersectional politics is one that doesn't believe in punishing privileged white rapists, your version of intersectional politics has nothing to do with feminism. Mass incarceration may hurt women, but so does rape.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 6:27 PM on June 7, 2018 [11 favorites]


Saying women just have to continue to live with injustice so that [other lefty issue] can be addressed is pretty much the definition of brocialism.
posted by Dysk at 7:00 PM on June 7, 2018 [15 favorites]


Many of these people are the modern-day equivalent of those who maintained the Underground Railroad; many of them are contemporary Freedom Riders.

Among Pensky's defenders are the modern-day equivalent of people who literally risked their lives (and gave their lives) to fight racism? Who faced literal lynching? Of people who rode on buses that were firebombed and were dragged through bus terminals and beaten by mobs? Really?! If a citation was ever needed, it's now.
posted by schroedinger at 10:35 PM on June 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


I mean, Jesus, were you even thinking when you wrote that little metaphor? Because way to denigrate actual civil rights heroes in the name of defending light sentencing for rich boy rapists.
posted by schroedinger at 10:40 PM on June 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


"And Charles Pierce misses the point like so many other commentators, wringing his hands over the recall."

I don't think he misses the point at all -- in the part of the country where I live, recall elections have been weaponized by conservatives for use against judges and politicians who defend abortion rights, support gay marriage, and sometimes in simple cases of racism. (I've watched conservative groups mobilize to recall school board members who fired a white teacher for calling his own students the N-word.) There's a Koch-funded troll law firm that's been going around the rural midwest trying to bait school boards on trans rights, finding a kid who will demand trans students be kept out of their proper bathrooms, and if any member of the school board defends the trans student, they mobilize a recall election in states that allow that. (If the board as a whole does, they mobilize a recall election AND sue the district.)

Also relatively popular are fake grass-roots campaigns to recall local officials and state representatives who vote for necessary tax hikes. The message is clear: arch-conservatives who vote to provide substandard schools and fire response and so on, and who budgets irresponsibly to make the government insolvent, will be safe and receive outside money to stay in their positions; anyone who votes for adequately-funded (not even GENEROUSLY-funded, just adequately) services and responsible budgeting to pay for them will be attacked not just during the next election cycle but will be subject to nasty, well-funded recalls from outside parties.

I have mixed feelings about the California recall, although I am generally in favor of it; after the judicial commission made it clear that they couldn't be arsed to exercise their oversight function (not only did they not censure this dude, but their report was an absolute joke), this was probably a necessary step.

But recalls in general are yet another piece of our democracy that have been weaponized by wealthy conservative donors and bigoted evangelicals who want to take apart our polity piece by piece and remove rights from everyone who isn't a white man.

It would be great if this recall spurs the California legal community to actually exercise its oversight functions -- but between my general cynicism about lawyers' total refusal to self-police and my experience with recall elections in other states, I share Pierce's concern that it will, instead, embolden conservative trolls and astroturf groups to stage recall votes against every judge in California who's even slightly to the left of Scalia.

I'm glad Persky was recalled and I don't think voters had any other choice after the judicial commission shrugged and said they weren't going to even pretend to look at his record. But if this recall vote has any larger effect, I sincerely doubt it will be judges being fairer or the judicial commission doing their job; I'm morbidly convinced it'll be well-funded out-of-state conservatives staging astroturfed recalls of every California judge they can find a way to attack. (Which will be all of them. Judges make unpopular decisions daily.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 AM on June 8, 2018 [6 favorites]


Conservatives have had the option of bad faith recall campaigns all along though? "Somebody might use it for evil" might be a reason not to have a mechanism, but it's not a good reason for not using a mechanism that already is available.
posted by Dysk at 6:31 AM on June 8, 2018 [7 favorites]


Sure, and that was a big part of Pierce's point. (And his larger point was that judicial elections are a terrible idea, full stop.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:34 AM on June 8, 2018


The problem with Pierce's point is that he talks a lot about judicial recalls and mandatory minimums being bad ideas, but not so much about why they happened here. And frankly, if you are really wanting to prevent these things from happening in the future, then you need to understand why they did in the past.

Persky's recall and the push for mandatory minimums didn't happen because of a shadowy cabal wanting to pervert the justice system. No, they happened because the legal and judicial community failed utterly. Faced with a judge who showed more concern for the future wellbeing of a convicted rapist than his victim, they not only said that his behavior was acceptable, but parts of the community pushed back and tried to condemn those looking to sanction Persky as just wanting to lock people up. And so, faced with indifference if not outright contempt from the legal community, they pushed back with the only tools they had left, to tell that community "No, you fucked up. If you won't take domestic violence, sexual assault, and rape seriously of your own accord, then we will make you."

If you don't want people to be pushed into that corner, then don't let them get pushed there. That's the point that Pierce misses with his handwringing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:37 AM on June 8, 2018 [10 favorites]


That theory doesn't hold when the recall happens over a decision that was unpopular because it was an example of somebody not doing their job properly. In this case, that's exactly what the judiciary should be worrying about - doing their jobs properly. That they could lose their jobs for failing to do so is a-okay with me.

Like, I understand why it theoretically could be a concern. But in this context, it's just so much concern trolling.


Dysk, I agree with you entirely. I'm not saying I agree with the people who are pushing that view in the slightest, because I don't. I'm saying that's a big part of how the issue is perceived inside the legal community - it's important to have safeguards so that judges can act in the interests of the law, rather than out of fear for losing their jobs. This, however - Persky and his ilk need to be taken off the bench. And we need to be more aware and aggressive about these kinds of issues in the judiciary, because unfortunately he's not isolated.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:53 AM on June 9, 2018


John Pfaff, Professor of law at Fordham, in the WaPo:

California ousts an elected judge. Everybody loses.
posted by holborne at 10:24 AM on June 13, 2018


Let me translate: we the legal community are unwilling to acknowledge the way we utterly fucked up with this case, and so we're going to blame the people forced into a corner to hold us accountable with the only tool that they had left.

The anti-carceral movement is cutting their own throat here. Pit the safety of women against judicial reform, and You. Will. Lose.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'm paywalled, does Prof. Pfaff mention Rose Bird?
posted by rhizome at 3:20 PM on June 13, 2018


As a feminist I feel rage at the excuses power made for Brock Turner and I understand the motivation behind the recall. As a feminist I also think the impact of our actions matter more than our intent. The available evidence leads me to think this recall will lead to longer sentencing, primarily for African Americans (who are always hit the hardest by long sentences - I know of no exceptions in the US). We can have a variety of reasons for our actions but we also are responsible for the results of our actions. Seriously, what does anyone think this recall will result in? Greater judicial review? Longer sentences only for rich white men? What evidence does anyone have for believing this recall will improve women's lives?

I'm not pitting the safety of women against anything here. And I don't care about the judge. What I care about is ending rape and ending mass incarceration.

Will recalling this judge reduce rapes? How? Lengthy prison sentences for rape do not make women safer. There is no evidence that indicates they do.

But lengthy sentences do destroy communities, they do cause intergenerational harms, especially on women who are particularly hurt by the economic costs of mass incarceration on women of color.

I just don't understand how this recall helps us as women. And I do see how it hurts us. I know there are differing views here, but this is not just a question of good for women or bad for women.
posted by latkes at 8:41 PM on June 13, 2018 [3 favorites]


The problem isn't just Turner or Persky. It was the way that the entire legal community basically said "nope, there isn't a problem with a judge giving a rapist a sweetheart deal." Had the legal community acknowledged the issue, had they at the very least censured Persky - I doubt the recall would have passed. But the sentiment that I saw repeatedly was "hey, we know better than all of you," which is what ultimately led to the recall, as there seemed to be no other way to send a message.

That's the part of this that doesn't get talked about, and it needs to - how the legal community's behavior drives these pushes.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:15 PM on June 13, 2018 [4 favorites]


Ok, let's say this is all the fault of the legal community. But now what? How will this recall help any one? What outcome do recall advocates want? And how does the recall help?

Moot point I guess as it's done and Persky was replaced by a career prosecutor who bragged of fighting for longer sentences.
posted by latkes at 10:22 PM on June 13, 2018


I just don't understand how this recall helps us as women.

We no longer have a literal rape apologist sitting as judge and deciding that rape isn't a serious issue and male perpetrators deserve more consideration than their female victims. If you can't see how this helps women, I just don't know what to say.
posted by Dysk at 2:34 AM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Like, this is about what these actions mean and their wider cultural/social impact as much as it is the actual practical concerns here - this is about a message, an idea, that rape is to be taken seriously as a crime. This is about the extent to which we, as a society, are willing to allow men to let each other off for harming women. This has broader implications than the purely immediate practical ones.
posted by Dysk at 2:36 AM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Terrific: women win a symbolic victory - and a whole lot of people, including women, spend more time in a vicious penal system that does nothing to prevent rape but actually enables it.
posted by jb at 5:30 AM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you can't see how this helps women, I just don't know what to say.

latkes is a woman; I am a woman. We don't agree that this helps us. Maybe just accept that not all women agree? It's like we're people or something.

I really don't think that penal sentences help reduce sexual assaults. Maybe, in the case of serial rapists/killers, locking them up keeps them away from other people. But for most sexual assaults, the threat of (maybe, vague, not real) prison time isn't a deterrent.

I would rather see people who commit sexual assault go through education programs, be required to learn what consent means, to understand what they've done, be able to demonstrate that they understand why their behaviour was wrong, and why they wouldn't act this way again - even when drunk, which means you need to really get at someone's base feelings. This doesn't mean "getting off lightly" - frankly, I would have sentenced Brock to something like having to go to college campuses for the next 10 years, and talk about his own actions. But that means - of course - he'd have to take responsibility for his own actions. He hasn't, and some blame the light sentence. But I haven't seen any evidence that longer penal sentences have any effect to support acceptance of responsibility for sexual assault.

Can anyone explain to me how a lengthy penal sentences could achieve this? As far as I know, penal sentences increase exposure to violence; the perpetrator may (and likely will) become a victim themselves. But what does that mean for how they really think and behave?

And does it really change the conversation about consent? Long penal sentences may send a message, "Rape is bad, only bad people rape," but does it teach what consent means? Does it teach boys - and girls - what active, enthusiastic consent looks like?

Or does it just turn the rapist into a "monster", something other. And the rest of us go on thinking: "I would never rape, I'm not a rapist-monster. That girl really wants me, just let me have another beer..."
posted by jb at 5:47 AM on June 14, 2018


the threat of (maybe, vague, not real) prison time isn't a deterrent.

And if we start taking sexual assault seriously, by doing things like not writing it off as judge Persky did, we can maybe start to eliminate those parenthetical qualifiers. As it is, we're sending the message that rape is less serious than fucking shoplifting.
posted by Dysk at 6:50 AM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


But I haven't seen any evidence that longer penal sentences have any effect to support acceptance of responsibility for sexual assault.


It's not just about the sentence. It is also about Persky's comments in sentencing, and the broader message that that sends about how the establishment views rape. He did nothing to encourage taking responsibility, rather he did the exact opposite.
posted by Dysk at 6:51 AM on June 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


latkes is a woman; I am a woman. We don't agree that this helps us. Maybe just accept that not all women agree? It's like we're people or something.

Yeah, I'm a woman and person myself, too. But thanks for the implication there.
posted by Dysk at 6:58 AM on June 14, 2018


And like, if you're against more punishment and prison in general, great! Maybe consider finding a figurehead for that who isn't a literal rape apologist. This doesn't have to be, shouldn't be, a conflict between lenient sentencing and rape apologism. I am in favour of rethinking the justice system fundamentally; letting a rape apologist judge continue to sit because he lets some people off much easier than another judge would is not how that is tackled, and does not send the message or signify the change that you want it to in the context of the penal system that does actually exist.
posted by Dysk at 7:03 AM on June 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's worth pointing out how embedded rape apologia is in the legal community. You can see it in the excuses given for Persky's behavior:
The Persky recall campaign highlighted only five decisions out of thousands that the judge handed down. Persky was cleared of any wrongdoing by California’s Commission on Judicial Performance, and public defenders in Santa Clara were quick to argue that he was a fair judge. Even the prosecutor in Santa Clara opposed the recall. Dauber, however, is a politically well-connected professor at a nationally acclaimed law school with strong media ties. The success of her campaign tells judges, and the politically powerful who are unhappy with their decisions, that these campaigns can work even with little evidence, as long as there are one or two bad cases to point to.
Their whole argument was "see, it's okay - we said so! Oh, and by the way, she's only going after the judge because she disagrees with the ruling (and no, we're not going to talk about why she disagreed.)" Is it any wonder why people felt the judicial community was out of touch?
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:30 AM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


latkes is a woman; I am a woman. We don't agree that this helps us. Maybe just accept that not all women agree? It's like we're people or something.

Yeah, I'm a woman and person myself, too. But thanks for the implication there.


yes, we're three women - and with three different opinions. I was pointing out that women could disagree with each other.
posted by jb at 7:41 AM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Sorry, the phrasing kind of got to me, not least because I've been dealing with a shedload of invalidation and transphobia recently, including from the local Pride organisation, so I'm a little on edge with that kind of thing right now. My bad.
posted by Dysk at 7:43 AM on June 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


My apologies - I should have been more clear in my phrasing.
posted by jb at 8:00 AM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


be able to demonstrate that they understand why their behaviour was wrong, and why they wouldn't act this way again

I would love to see that too! If we had re-education programs that worked, which really demonstrably worked, we could use that for everyone! We wouldn’t need to lock up rapists - or robbers or murderers or shady bankers.

But we don’t have that. We don’t have an effective way to prevent addicts in supportive families from relapsing, and that ought to be easier by several orders of magnitude. And unless you can demonstrate that rapists aren’t going to reoffend, I’ll settle for preventing them from raping for a few years (*) and also demonstrating to others that rape has consequences.

Maybe that makes me a bad feminist. But I think that choosing to free rapists in order to pursue some vague idea of judicial reform (rather than starting with drug dealers or other criminals) sends the message that rape doesn’t matter.

(*) Prison rape is a thing. But that’s something you, as an anticarceral activist, should care about. Because if your argument is that we shouldn’t lock people up because of prison rape, you need to start treating rape like a crime with consequences.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 10:18 AM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Like, this is about what these actions mean and their wider cultural/social impact as much as it is the actual practical concerns here - this is about a message, an idea, that rape is to be taken seriously as a crime. This is about the extent to which we, as a society, are willing to allow men to let each other off for harming women. This has broader implications than the purely immediate practical ones.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think the major issue here is that many think that this recall also has the expressive function of making judges generally afraid to be lenient. I think that's a stupid lesson for judges to take away from this. It's legitimately stupid that they are not able to tell the difference between not taking a violent crime seriously and generally being lenient, when that lenience is reasonable and deserved.

That said, I don't think the concern is unfounded. The criminal justice system is historically dedicated to abusing people of color, regardless of whether they're guilty, and that means that if this actually does have the (stupid, infuriating) effect of leading judges to increase sentences, that effect will inevitably harm innocent people.

Weighing these two concerns tends to be where people disagree. I am not sure why people feel the need to frame everyone who has an issue with this as an enemy of justice/women. There are valid and serious concerns on both sides, and to the extent that it's a zero sum game, it's not the fault of anti-incarceration activists.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:57 AM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


But we don’t have that. We don’t have an effective way to prevent addicts in supportive families from relapsing, and that ought to be easier by several orders of magnitude.

You absolutely don't know that this is the case. Please don't drag addiction or your limited understanding of addiction into this argument.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:58 AM on June 14, 2018


And like, if you're against more punishment and prison in general, great! Maybe consider finding a figurehead for that who isn't a literal rape apologist.

The problem is that this is highly salient, and is getting a lot of attention and will have a huge impact on the way people think, regardless of what anti-incarceration activists do (or don't do). I don't think it's fair to say that they are actively choosing Persky as a figurehead.

To the extent that some of them are claiming or arguing that he's great/a role model, they are being wrong and dumb. He's obviously a shitty judge who just happens to also be lenient sometimes. It's one thing to worry about the message that this sends to good judges who also happen to be lenient; it's another thing to make him out to be some kind of awesome judge. I personally haven't seen much of the latter, it's been more about punishing him sending the wrong message to other judges, but of course I could be missing something.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:03 AM on June 14, 2018


I don't think it's fair to say that they are actively choosing Persky as a figurehead.

I do. Again, people didn't push for his removal because they "disagreed" (and let me point out how much of a fucking weasel word that is - if you are going to complain about someone "disagreeing" and not discuss the disagreement, then you are arguing in bad faith, period), they pushed for his removal because he was the sort of judge who enabled a slut-shaming defense in a trial over a gang rape, allowing the defense to use unrelated pictures of the victim at another party several months afterwards. And the legal community didn't just defend him out of the principle of "recall is bad, even if the target is a shit head", they went out of their way to portray Persky as a good judge being targeted out of a vendetta.

So no, it's perfectly fair to hang Persky on them like an albatross, because they didn't have to defend his rape apologia, and they did.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:34 AM on June 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


There is an extent to which arguing that Persky should stay because he was lenient concedes the argument that the lesson here is that lenience will get you recalled, rather than putting the focus on the actual motivations behind the recall, and the actual lessons that should be learned. It cedes the possibility that a decent interpretation of the recall action is possible prematurely.
posted by Dysk at 12:02 PM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


In light of the fact that the recall has now happened, we can all find some common ground in loudly making the case that this was about rape being taken seriously, not about leniency?
posted by Dysk at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Maybe that makes me a bad feminist. But I think that choosing to free rapists in order to pursue some vague idea of judicial reform (rather than starting with drug dealers or other criminals) sends the message that rape doesn’t matter.

I had gathered from the original article that Persky gave more lenient and less-carceral oriented sentences to everyone, not just people (or even white men) who committed sexual assault. That was why so many public defenders were against the recall. I don't know about these other cases.

I'm not personally defending Turner's sentence - it clearly achieved nothing, he has never dealt with his culpability. But I also know that I am not an expert in the sentencing habits of Californian judges, which is why I would trust the judgement of local public defenders - who have worked with Persky, who know his sentencing habits. And someone can easily be in favour of a tougher sentence for Turner and similar offenders while still being against the recall.

I agree with Rock 'em, Sock 'em - I don't think that the message will go out to either the judicial community or to the community at large that rape is a serious crime, but rather than lenient judges will be/should be recalled. And for every Brock Turner, there are hundreds of people facing stiff sentences regardless of whether their crime is serious or not. And even for serious crimes: how does destroying someone's live with decades in prison help their victims? Can we not look for better punishments that actually change people? Because prison doesn't seem to - nor is it a deterrent to future-offenders.

As for what actually changes attitudes about consent and sexual assault: powerful people like Weinstein and Kevin Spacey being publicly shamed by other powerful people. Weinstein now faces criminal charges, but that's like an afterthought in the public discourse, next to all of the other powerful people who are refusing to work with them.
posted by jb at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning. Emily Doe's full statement, which I know we all read the first time around. For me this is the context for this recall and this is why the arguments I have read against the recall are unacceptable. I think, as a woman (just one woman, admittedly, as this thread shows), the past two years have felt like a reckoning, a wave, from the incredible attention this story got to the Women's March to the wave of women running for office to the 86 percent of calls to elected officials that are made by women to #MeToo. We are coming for Aaron Persky and those like him, and to pretend like you don't know why, like who can know what those voters were really thinking and perhaps what they want is for us to be tougher on crime, is to be willfully blind. Now, I don't doubt that the legal community IS willfully blind in this case - I've read the linked arguments and I see that their conception of all this is completely bloodless, that it's all about legal this-and-that and there's no hint of having read or remembered Emily Doe's powerful statement. But I am full of rage and I'm far from the only one.
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:31 PM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


I agree with Rock 'em, Sock 'em - I don't think that the message will go out to either the judicial community or to the community at large that rape is a serious crime, but rather than lenient judges will be/should be recalled.

The thing is that a large part of why this is the case is that the legal community is actively pushing the argument that the reason that Persky got recalled was because he was too leinent. And the reason that they are doing that is because they would rather that be the case, instead of that Persky was recalled because he didn't treat violence against women seriously - and that the legal community supported him.

Which is why when they do that, we need to push back. When they claim that Dauber pushed the recall because she "disagreed" with Persky's ruling, we need to say "And what was the disagreement about, exactly?" When they claim that Persky was targeted for his leniency, we need to point out the exact details of the cases that illustrated his rape apologia. When they cite all the ways the legal community supported him, we need to again point to those details and ask "Why did you all think that this behavior is okay?"
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:08 PM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


In light of the fact that the recall has now happened, we can all find some common ground in loudly making the case that this was about rape being taken seriously, not about leniency?

Yes, I certainly agree with this. It's frustrating to see how it has been framed by a lot of people as a more general issue (often as kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, like "people will see it as X so we should worry about them seeing it as X")
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:16 PM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Among Pensky's defenders are the modern-day equivalent of people who literally risked their lives (and gave their lives) to fight racism? Who faced literal lynching? Of people who rode on buses that were firebombed and were dragged through bus terminals and beaten by mobs? Really?! If a citation was ever needed, it's now.
posted by schroedinger at 10:35 PM on June 7 [7 favorites +] [!]


I mean, Jesus, were you even thinking when you wrote that little metaphor? Because way to denigrate actual civil rights heroes in the name of defending light sentencing for rich boy rapists.
posted by schroedinger at 10:40 PM on June 7 [6 favorites +] [!]


Many anti-incarceration activists, including public defenders, actively and persistently oppose police and prosecutors. They are often women, people of color (and of course women of color), who are especially vulnerable to police violence and selective prosecution. There is a substantial overlap between many racial justice movements and anti-incarceration activists.

In fact, the contemporary anti-incarceration movement is so intimately tied to anti-racism efforts in the US that it is borderline racist to dismiss the broader movement in the way it has been dismissed by some in this thread.

That doesn't mean that individuals who associate with the movement can't be assholes and/or sexist and/or bad. But it does mean that it's worth taking a minute to be careful to avoid tarring the entire movement with that brush.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:16 AM on June 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


In fact, the contemporary anti-incarceration movement is so intimately tied to anti-racism efforts in the US that it is borderline racist to dismiss the broader movement in the way it has been dismissed by some in this thread.

Nobody is doing that, and it is rather insulting to say that they are.

What people are pointing out is that by blindly supporting Persky on the basis of his being lenient, the anti-carceral movement was cutting their own throat by driving wedges between them and potential allies who saw his rape apologia as the massive problem that it is.

No movement is above scrutiny. The anti-carceral movement does not get to rewrite the motives of others that they have clearly stated, and they do not get to avoid criticism of their positions.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:11 PM on June 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I guess what's weird to me is, I never dismissed anyone's motivation. I relate to/understand the motivation behind the recall. I absolutely understand and believe the motivation is a justified disgust at the way rape was excused in this case,a disgust that I share. I care about rape and rape culture. But I know from the evidence that prison doesn't end rape, and I have concerns about the impact of this recall. There's a difference between intent/motivation and impact/effect. And in the mind of this feminist, the impact of my actions takes precedence over my motivations. And I guess why I keep engaging in this thread is how upsetting it is to be told I don't care about rape or don't care about women because I disagree with this specific effort to address injustice. I mean, surely there is room in feminist thought for different methods.

(There's a ton of writing on the direct and unbroken connection between slavery and mass incarceration. The New Jim Crow being one of the more well known recent works of scholarship on that connection, written by a woman civil rights lawyer who in part specializes in anti gender discrimination law. I don't know that she in specific has said anything about this case, but I'm suggesting there is a huge amount of feminist scholarship and activism that opposes longer sentences - or some, like Angela Davis' work, that advocates prison abolition - specifically in the context of racial injustice, which merits a deep dive before being written off)
posted by latkes at 4:01 PM on June 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


And I guess why I keep engaging in this thread is how upsetting it is to be told I don't care about rape or don't care about women because I disagree with this specific effort to address injustice. I mean, surely there is room in feminist thought for different methods.

The problem was that all those other methods got foreclosed on by the legal community's refusal to not address Persky's conduct behind the bench. The recall was fundamentally a final recourse, driven by repeated refusals to not even broach the most minor of censure against Persky. And even now, the legal community continues to try to push away any assertion of fault on their part, with their pushing the false pretense that the recall was motivated by Persky being leinent, instead of his repeated support of rape apologia.

In short, the option was never between recall and other means of censure - it was ultimately between recall and doing nothing. If we want other options to be available, then we need to hold the legal community accountable for their role in this mess.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:25 PM on June 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


latkes, I really want to thank you for your comments here. I was very pro-recall (not that I could vote for it), and your comments in particular have caused me to re-examine my assumptions about what the "right" response in these situations is. Helped by having read a really interesting piece (which doesn't seem to be online) about how the choice to criminalize domestic violence and push for harsher legal penalties was one made without a lot of input from, and often in direct opposition to, communities of color. I think it's useful to to think about the ways that the criminal justice system has been weaponized against people of color specifically in defense of white women, and to pay attention to how those larger structural dynamics work. Anyway, thanks.
posted by lazuli at 5:36 PM on June 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


[We need to be able to have these conversations without telling other people what they really believe and accusing them of positions they have not espoused. It is possible to disagree about priorities while holding the same principles. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:39 PM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think we also need to be able to have these conversations without people saying (and here I paraphrase but slightly) “If you don’t agree with me on this your work is worthless.” FFS.
posted by holborne at 10:31 PM on June 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mean, surely there is room in feminist thought for different methods.

Okay. How are you proposing we should have dealt with Persky's naked rape apologia and misogyny?
posted by Dysk at 2:46 AM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Maybe we could begin by not starting the discussion with an archetypal example of question begging.
posted by holborne at 6:47 AM on June 18, 2018


Which question is being begged, if you don't mind elucidating?
posted by Dysk at 6:48 AM on June 18, 2018


“Persky is a rape apologist.”
posted by holborne at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2018


Or, rather, more specifically: “The sentence was an apologia for rape.”
posted by holborne at 7:18 AM on June 18, 2018


I never said the sentence was. I said Persky's comments were. Like the ones where he explicitly states that the fact that Brock Turner was inebriated reduces his moral culpability in Perksy's view, and with respect to Perksy's sentence.
posted by Dysk at 7:21 AM on June 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


So yes, I see Perksy as having made comments that effectively minimise the responsibility of the rapist for his actions. That is literal rape apologia.
posted by Dysk at 7:22 AM on June 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


I think Persky is clearly engaging in rape apologia.
I also believe in immediate recall being available for just about any public agent position, while sharing latkes etc's concerns about knock-on effects against leniency more widely.
I'm not sure how recall works in this situation, but is there room for someone to go through a bunch more judge's sentencing histories and recall what I'm sure is a large number of racist, misogynist etc judges? Maybe a good course of action for us anti-incarceration people here is to look into also recalling judges who sentence PoC more heavily, etc.
I'm not confident in that idea, but I'm interested in if others think it has merit.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:35 AM on June 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


I think Persky is clearly engaging in rape apologia.

Yeah, I just went and re-read the full text of his decision, to make sure I wasn't misremembering anything he said or taking it out of context, and I have to agree on this. Maybe he DOES believe in light sentencing across the board? But that isn't really among the reasons he gives; his focus is on this particular crime, or, as he puts it, "the incidents that happened." Like it was an act of God, or slipping on a banana skin.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:00 AM on June 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


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