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Friday, May 15, 2015

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The amazing news about rape statistics

by Margaret Wente
Earlier this month, a well-known female Mountie alleged that she’d been sexually harassed by a number of her fellow officers for years. Whatever the truth turns out to be, the story was a reminder (as if we needed one) that some men still behave badly.
But how are women faring overall? By some accounts, the news is grim. The American Association of University Women, which is deeply involved in anti-violence campaigns, reports that 62 per cent of women at university say they have been sexually harassed. A quarter of all university women say they’ve been victims of rape or attempted rape. Some reports of the rate of wife abuse are equally shocking.
But Steven Pinker tells a different story. Mr. Pinker, a Harvard psychologist, is the author of a remarkable new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, which documents the steep decline of violence through human history. His is the best account yet of what has really happened to violence against women. Like other crimes of violence, it has hit historic lows. Over the past 35 years, for example, the rate of rape in the U.S. has fallen by an astonishing 80 per cent.
Rape statistics are never perfect, because many rapes aren’t reported. But Mr. Pinker’s data come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice National Crime Victimization Survey, and are the best there are. Even if the numbers aren’t exact, the general trend is clear. The incidence of rape has fallen faster than every other major crime, including homicide. (As Mr. Pinker points out, the rate of rape is now 50 per 100,000 people, which is several magnitudes removed from one in four.) Domestic abuse has plunged as well. Since 1993, the rate of reported violence against women by their intimate partners has fallen by almost two-thirds.
Yet, this good news has been virtually ignored. Progressive people are right to deplore the supreme illogic of the Harper government for cracking down on crime at a time when every type of major crime has hit historic lows. Yet other progressives insist that violence against women remains a serious problem. “Rather than celebrating their success, anti-rape organizations convey an impression that women are in more danger than ever,” Mr. Pinker comments.
It’s easy to forget how dramatically attitudes toward rape and wife abuse have changed. As recently as the 1950s, light-hearted magazine ads depicted husbands spanking their wives for buying the wrong kind of coffee. Police treated rape as a joke, too, and the victim and her reputation were routinely put on trial.
The great rights revolutions that gathered steam in the second half of the 20th century put an end to all that. Today, jokes about smacking your wife are reprehensible, and in many jurisdictions it is mandatory for police to lay charges of spousal assault even if the woman objects. Even symbolic assaults against women are condemned. Last week, the marching band at Queen’s University got into serious trouble for raunchy lyrics in its songbook. And the owner of a baseball team in London, Ont., came under fire for naming his team the Rippers. London’s mayor, Joe Fontana, said he has “serious concerns” about the name “in light of our focus on ending women abuse.”
The evidence is overwhelming. We are more enlightened now, and men – most men, anyway – behave much better. That is bad news for the grievance industry, which must stretch its definitions of assault and abuse to ridiculous extremes to keep its numbers up. It can’t acknowledge the good news, because it has too much at stake.

Mexican Authorities Implicated in Violence, But U.S. Security Aid Still Flows

Mexican Authorities Implicated in Violence, But U.S. Security Aid Still Flows Documents show that the U.S. is well aware that its support is going to Mexican authorities connected to abuses, but only very rarely has anything been done in response.

Obama Administration Blasts Congress Over Crumbling Bridges: ‘We Ought To Be Embarrassed’

Obama Administration Blasts Congress Over Crumbling Bridges: ‘We Ought To Be Embarrassed’If fixing roads and bridges is good for America, then Republicans are 100% against it.

The Romans Had Them, but There are no Republican Edicts of Toleration

Compare this list of Roman edicts of toleration to a current Republican list - oh wait, there isn't one…
Syrian currency celebrates Roman Emperor Philip the Arab. Think Republicans would ever celebrate Barack Obama?
Syrian currency celebrates Roman Emperor Philip the Arab. 
Think Republicans would ever celebrate Barack Obama?
I find myself wondering more and more what has happened to this country, to America. At the hands of Republican legislatures we’ve seen tyranny unimagined by colonial Americans at the hands of King George and his parliament. Compared to what we’re getting from Republicans, the Founding Fathers and their generation rebelled over trifles.
We are experiencing not just a lack of representation (though we have that too) but an unrelenting war on women, on children, on working Americans, on ethnic and religious minorities, on science, on the environment, on the very air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.
Each day we see headlines that are more terrible than any we have seen previously, like recent Wisconsin legislation that would allow in-laws to make reproductive health choices for you. Imagine your mother-in-law deciding you can’t have an abortion. If that’s the case, maybe you should get to trump her bypass surgery.
And you wonder: where’s the tolerance? Where is the so-called freedom Republicans are always talking about? Where is the small government that stays out of your business? It’s nowhere to be seen. It’s tyranny. Endless, unrelenting, often horrifying – as when a woman goes to prison for having a miscarriage, or is forced to carry a dead fetus to term – tyranny.
Meanwhile, the Romans, so reviled in christian memory, managed to make all sorts of concessions to strange foreign customs. After all, as Thomas Jefferson pointed out in his Notes on the State of Virginia, “Had not the Roman government permitted free enquiry Christianity could never have been introduced.” Be damned if we can get free inquiry from this bunch. Their minds are closed.
I am not going to advance the claim here that the Romans were the most tolerant people who ever lived. They engaged in their fair share of genocide (as have we). But let us take a look here at some of the concessions and privileges granted by the Romans to the Jews by the Roman state (and feel free to compare and contrast, if you will, American treatment of the Native Americans in the 19th century – a supposedly enlightened “Christian” century). Take special note of the third point:
  • No Quartering of Troops on the Native Population (Ant. 14.10.2 § 195). Nor did the Jews have to generally even see Roman troops, except on holidays such as Passover, when they were present in Jerusalem to keep the peace. The Roman garrison appears to have been stationed largely in Caesarea, a Greek-speaking area.[1] One might think back to the situation in the American Colonies in the days leading up to the revolt and the role quartering played on American sensibilities. This was one annoyance spared the Jewish population of Palestine.
  • Tax allowances (Jews allowed to deduct out of their tribute every second year the land is let (in the Sabbatic period), a corus of that tribute (Ant. 14.10.5 §201)
  • The Jews allowed to live “according to their own customs” (Ant. 14.10.8 § 214).
  • Jews excused from military service by Prefect of Asia (Ant. 14.10.11-12 §§ 223-228) “on account of the superstition they are under” (Ant. 14.10.14 § 232) in other words, Sabbath restrictions on travel and fighting, etc. Note that this does not mean that Jews could not, if they wished, serve in the military, and also that it is a far cry from excluding Jews from military ranks by the Christian Roman Empire (C. Th. XVI.8.24).[2]
  • Roman acquiescence of Jewish ban on images customarily observed by procurators (Ant. 18.3.1 §§ 55-56). This included the re-routing of Roman troops (no doubt at great expense) due to the Jews finding the images on the standards offensive when paraded anywhere on “Jewish” soil, as shown by the incident with Vitellius described by Josephus (Ant. 18.121-122). The Romans went so far as to omit from coins struck in Judaea “any sign or symbol that might be offensive to the religious feelings of the Jews…”[3] It is interesting to compare the coins of Herod, which while also observing the ban on images, do bear Pagan religious symbols, for example a coin of 37 BCE which portrays the tripod of Apollo and on the reverse, the Dioscuri cap topped with a star.[4]
  • Augustus confirmed Jewish privileges conferred originally by Julius Caesar (Ant. 16.6.1 §§ 160-165) “that the Jews have liberty to make use of their own customs, according to the law of their forefathers” See also Philo, Leg. ad Gaium 309-319.
  • The Sacred Money was not to be touched (Ant. 16.6.2 § 163) – This was violated on several occasions, including, allegedly, by Pontius Pilate (Ant. 18.3.2 § 60) and on one occasion the proconsul of Asia, L. Flaccus in 62/1 BCE confiscated the temple contributions from his province (Cicero, Flacc. 66-9) but his action was not repeated.[5] See also Ant. 16.6.3 § 166, where Augustus commands the recipient, the proconsul of Sardinia, to let the Jews “send their sacred money to Jerusalem” freely and a similar letter from Herod Agrippa to the Ephesians (Ant. 16.6.4 §§ 167-168). There is also an example from Berenice in Cyrenaica, where the local Jewish community commemorated a Roman official for his part in seeing that the sacred money was not diverted from the Temple to pay the tax levied on resident aliens.[6]
  • Anyone stealing the Jewish holy books will be deemed a “sacrilegious person” and his property confiscated (Ant. 16.6.2 § 164). We should note the punishment meted out to a Roman soldier (by Roman authorities) for profaning the Torah: The procurator, Josephus tells us (Ant. 20.5.4 113-117), “took care that the soldier who had offered the affront to the laws should be beheaded; and thereby put a stop to the sedition which was ready to be kindled a second time.” By way of contrast, the United States is continually being accused of mishandling the Qu’ran but the US Government pretends it never happens and so far, no American soldiers have been punished.
  • Exempted from participation in the imperial cult and allowed to make prayers in their own temple on behalf of the emperor (War 2.10.4 §197; Against Apion 2.7 §77) instead of to the gods in Pagan temples.[7] Philo tells us that the cost of these sacrifices was born by the Roman government and not the Jewish people (Spec. Leg. 157).
  • Gentiles were not allowed into the sacred precincts of the temple (Tacitus, Histories 5.8; Josephus, War 5.193; Ant. 12.145, 15.417; cf. Philo, Leg. 212). This prohibition (of which Paul runs afoul Acts 21.28-29) has been proven by archaeological findings.[8]
  • Far from persecuting the Jews, the Roman government served as their advocate: “The Romans appear at times to have chosen to put their influence behind Jewish communities in dispute with their neighbors…and did not even cease after A.D. 70.”[9] For examples, see Josephus, Ant. 14.10.12-26).
  • Jews exempted from court on the Sabbath.[10]
  • Claudius renewed the edict of tolerance issued by Caesar and renewed by Augustus, making it empire-wide (Ant. 19.5.3 §§286-291). The edict is not specific; Rajak argues “that Claudius is not doing much more than expressing his good will towards the practice of the Jewish cult and establishing a lead for Greek cities to follow.”[11] If, as Rajak argues, this falls short of a Jewish Magna Carta, it still illustrates the extent to which Rome permitted self-rule and represents a general good will not mirrored in Europe for the fifteen centuries following the end of Pagan rule.
All right. Now show me even a fraction of this level of tolerance from any Republican legislative body in the past 15 years. It can’t be done.
I should note here that these sorts of edicts of toleration were not general and empire wide, but seem to have been issued on a city by city basis. Though these senatus consulta were ad hoc in nature, they also served as legal precedents to which future governors and emperors could appeal.
Leonard Rutgers makes an important point when he notes that “Rome did not have a standard policy toward the Jews: Roman magistrates responded to situations.”[12] Which, if nothing else, shows the ability of the Roman administration to think on its feet, rather than along strict ideological lines. There is a nuance and a responsiveness lacking in modern-day Republican thinking – about anything.
Arnaldo Momigliano, not alone among scholars, takes note of the fact that “the members of the ruling class of Rome were ready to transact business with people who worshiped different gods and were used to different political traditions. Roman polytheism could adapt itself to, and indeed merge with, what we may call the provincial traditions.”[13]
That is not possible under today’s Republicanism. The only religious freedom Americans have under Republican ideology is to be Christians, or at least, what they imagine to be Christians, and it is already more than apparent that Republicans, unlike the ancient Romans, are not ready to transact business with people who worship different gods.
The Romans even had an emperor, Philip the Arab, who got far less grief from his people than Obama does from Republicans. Philip was born in Shahba, just south of Damascus. Philip had an easier time pursuing his dream in ancient Rome than he’d have trying to pursue it in modern America.
I would suggest that the Republicans could learn from history, but let’s face it, at this point, I’d look silly making that suggestion to these charlatans. So I’ll just make the point to those of you who have open minds, and you can make the point to them next time you vote.

Michelle Obama Gives The Blistering Speech On Racism That White America Needs To Hear

Michelle Obama Gives The Blistering Speech On Racism That White America Needs To Hear (VIDEO)
Racists everywhere beware, Michelle Obama is a First Lady with zero fucks left to give, and she is coming for you.

‘American SHE DEVIL'

Michelle Obama (Everett Collection / Shutterstock)
Michelle Obama spoke over the weekend to a group of black college graduates about her experience as the first black First Lady – and Twitter wingnuts predictably howled in rage.

California Lawmakers Denounce Ballot Initiative That Calls For Murdering Gays

California Gay Rights

A Lynching In Georgia

'Oak tree' [Shutterstock]
A witness called authorities after finding Roosevelt Champion III’s hanged body around 11 a.m. local time.

This Video Shows Rand Paul Staffer Licking A Democrat’s Camera Lens

This Video Shows Rand Paul Staffer Licking A Democrat’s Camera Lens (VIDEO) While it’s doubtful that Rand Paul is the creepiest candidate to ever have run for office (in 2012, we had  sexual harasser Herman Cain),...

Republican Crowd Cheers Calling Immigrants Rats And Roaches

Mean Season Has Started: GOP Crowd Cheers Calling Immigrants Rats And RoachesIf you care to remember the 2012 presidential election (I try to block it out but there isn’t enough wine in the world), you remember that the Republican...

Texas Senate OKs bill allowing clergy to refuse gay marriage

The Texas Senate voted overwhelmingly on Monday to allow clergy members to refuse performing marriages that violate their religious beliefs, as top Republicans move to further shield the nation's largest wingnut state from a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed. The bill, approved 21-10, requires a final, largely procedural Senate vote before heading to the state House.
Democrats were quick to point out that existing constitutional guarantees separating cult and state already allow houses of worship to set their own religious policies regarding marriage ceremonies and all other aspects of faith.
The measure raises some of the same issues as so-called "religious objections" proposals that sparked strong criticism nationally after being approved in Indiana and Arkansas this spring. Supporters say such measures protect religious freedoms from government intrusion, but advocacy groups argue they allow businesses to refuse service to or otherwise discriminate against gay people.
The proposal in Texas is less divisive than ones elsewhere, applying only to religious wedding ceremonies and largely restating existing law. Gay marriage has been banned in the state since voters approved a 2005 amendment to the Texas Constitution.
Still, the bill comes after the nation's high court heard arguments about the constitutionality of gay marriage for couples nationwide, and a ruling allowing same-sex weddings by its justices would supersede the state constitutional prohibition.
"It is not my intention to discriminate against anyone with this bill," Craig Estes, a Wichita Falls Republican and the bill's sponsor, said during Monday's short Senate floor debate. "My intention is to protect pastors, ministers and clergy First Amendment rights."
Supporters of what Estes is proposing haven't been shy about openly decrying gay marriage, with some pastors even traveling to the state Capitol last week to declare that it violates natural law and offends dog.
A series of religious objections bills have been filed in the Texas Legislature, but those had stalled. That was until teabagger-backed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate, allowed Estes to file his proposal weeks after the deadline and fast-tracked it through committee, setting up Monday's preliminary approval vote in record time.
"Is it a problem today? Same-sex marriages are not allowed," said Sen. John Whitmire, a veteran Houston Democrat. "Who forces a clergy to marry someone they don't want to? It's unheard of."
Estes countered that pastors have received threatening phone calls for not agreeing to marry gay couples. He said he wants to ensure pastors can't be sued for refusing to perform weddings they don't believe in.
All of the Senate's Republicans and one blue dog, Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, sided with Estes. The vote came a day before the House is scheduled to consider its own hot-button proposal that would prohibit state, county and local officials from issuing or enforcing same-sex marriage licenses, and prevent recognition of gay marriages performed in other states.

Ann Corcoran: Refugee Resettlement Is A Form Of Jihad

Ann Corcoran: Refugee Resettlement Is A Form Of Jihad (AUDIO)Helping refugees is the same as allowing jihad in the United States, according to these lunatics.

The Truth Hurts


Debt Collectors Fight Privacy Advocates Over Limits for Automated License Plate Readers

Debt Collectors Fight Privacy Advocates Over Limits for Automated License Plate Readers Privacy advocates trying to rein in the use of automated license plate readers have a powerful new opponent: lenders and debt collectors.

Feds Tell Insurance Companies That Transgender People Need Mammograms Too

Transgender people need mammograms, Pap smears, prostate exams, and other sex-specific procedures just like other people.

Arresting Homeless People For Being Homeless Is Unbelievably Wasteful

If the money were spent on housing the homeless instead, the state could see $11 million in savings over five years.

How Health Insurers Rip Off You And Your Employer

Court Case Shows How Health Insurers Rip Off You And Your Employer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan added hidden fees to hospital claims
Court Case Shows How Health Insurers Rip Off You And Your Employer

Walmart makes over $600 for every $1 they spend on drought-stricken California water

Walmart sign and parched land - Shutterstock
Walmart makes over $600 for every $1 they spend on drought-stricken California water — and it’s legal