Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Rape" is a bad word

Well, for the courts at least. Last June, I wrote about a woman who refused to abide by the rules the judge set forth in her trial. The rule she broke? She used the word "rape" in her rape trial.

Sure, it's a powerful word. The judge thought it was too powerful, and that it would sway the jury. So a woman who had been raped was supposed to call this pivotal moment in her life "intercourse" or "sex."

The trial ended in a hung jury (maybe they were confused by all the euphemisms) and Terry Bowen, the woman who is fighting for her right to say "rape," sued. This is what the appeals court had to say (via Feministing):

The lawsuit argued that Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront violated Tory Bowen's constitutional rights in barring her from using certain words during her testimony in the trial, in which she said Pamir Safi sexually assaulted her.

While Cheuvront barred Bowen from using phrases and words like "rape kit" and "victim" in her testimony, he allowed Safi's attorneys to use words such as "sex" and "intercourse" when describing the encounter between Safi and Bowen.

Oh good. So now he'll ban the words "murder" and "robbery" from the courts, right? We wouldn't want to confuse the jury. What about "knife" is that safe to say? How about "he forced me to have sex"? Is that more appropriate?

Language is powerful (as we've seen demonstrated by the Bush years) and this Nebraska judge is abusing this power. This appeals court decision makes me want to scream.

Rape needs to be shoved into people's faces. It's a fact of life that we conveniently ignore. It's a symptom of a much larger problem: men (and sometimes women) in society who feel the need to demonstrate their power. Maybe that's why Jennifer Baumgardner is selling this t-shirt:The only way to start fixing the problem is by talking about it. If we can't even do that in a courtroom, where the hell are we?


Andy Swan said...

I've always found it incredibly hard to believe that it was physically possible to get an erection from beating up on a woman and so forth. Disgusting.

Again, I'd like to propose my "castration by shotgun" sentencing guidelines....

Oh, and not sure where I stand on the whole "rape" in court...simply because I'm not sure if someone is typically allowed to repeatedly say the term of the crime or if they are always told to stick to descriptive words. Example "and that's when he committed assault and battery on me in the street, and then committed assault and battery on my friend." Judge might stop that too...but I hear ya

jeff said...

Unfortunately your story is not correct! The judge didn't allow her to use the word Rape because it wasn't in the statutes only sexual assault was. She claimed the suspect had sex with her without her consent but she was so drunk and she left the party with him. Then after sobering up it was oh he raped me and he must of drugged me. Now has far has the crime of rape it is in my opinion an vicious and hateful act towards a woman and the person should be in prison for life. However I also consider falsely accusing someone of a crime equally vicious and Miss Bowen was the only one making the decision of how much she drank that night, and by the way no drugs were found in her system. But has a guy I have to worry whether one day some lady yells rape because I made her mad or she thinks I jilted her or something. There have been many many cases of a guy being falsely accused of rape and even spending prison time because of it. There was a case where a guy had a family and a handy man business who was called to a house to do bid on some work! Later the woman accused him of raping her and he went to jail but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence but needless to say his business went bankrupt. Now heres the kicker that ladys best friend went to her house to visit her and that lady admitted to her best friend that she lied hoping it would keep her husband from traveling so much. Her best friend did the right thing and went to the police and the lady went to jail for 6 months. But because of a false accusation this man almost lost his family went to prison and lost his business, a hefty price for being innocent of a crime.

jeff said...

But heres my point is it possible that has a guy we are all just an accusation away from going to prison. Yes in this case the judge made sure the accused was protected and rightfully so since all they had was her saying he raped me. When she was the one that got so drunk she couldn't walk hardly and she went home with him even tell the suspect take me to your house according to witnesses. And oh by the way Miss Bowen wanted those statements supressed from the jury! Theres more to this story than your hearing! said...

I believe everyone must look at this.