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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Points of View and being "Deserving" of Misfortune

"I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room." - Blaise Pascal


"My rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist you taught him it wasn’t his fault. I drank too much, flirted and my shorts. Too short. I was asking for it. He left me in a parking garage staircase. My (ex)boyfriend spit in my face. He called me a slut, he called me a whore. I deserved it. My friends gave me dirty looks. They called me trash, not realizing, it could have been them. This culture, your culture, my culture, told them, told me, this was my fault. And I suffered. But, my rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist. I am not ashamed. I will take a stand. Slutwalk DC 2011"

A possible alternate view of the story: "she was wearing short skirt, had some drinks and flirted with some guy at the bar, then had sex in a stairwell, regretted it and told her boyfriend, who called her a slut, broke up, told her friends, called her a slut, now she calls the guy a rapist"

"Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated" - Catharine MacKinnon

Someone identifies the problem here as "accusing a woman who (whether she's lying or not) for being rape because she wore short skirts and flirted with the man". Yet, since drinking and flirting are normal precursors to intercourse in a hookup setting, they give us some reasons to think that it was consensual.

Similarly, in a murder trial, if the defendant had gotten into a loud argument with the victim and if one were Googling "how to kill someone" the night before, they would be taken as reasons to believe that the defendant was guilty.

Of course the usual question came up: "So what if she really was raped? U saying she deserved it?"

Of course, "she deserved it" is a very loaded phrase. Does anyone "deserve" any bad end? Let's take 3 examples:

1) Fantasy Author Inadvertantly Burns Down His Office

"Fantasy writer David Eddings, 75, said he was using water to flush out the gas tank of his broken-down Excalibur sports car, when some fluid leaked. In a lapse of judgment he readily admitted, Eddings lit a piece of paper and threw into the puddle to test if it was still flammable. The answer came in an orange torrent.

The fire raged through the garage and a quarter of the way into the office that occupies the lot next door to his home... "One word comes to mind," the renowned wordsmith said as he stood in a pajama shirt and slippers. "Dumb.""

Did David Eddings deserve to have his house burnt down?

2) Alternatively, let us look at a Darwin Award winner from 2011.

2011 Darwin Award: Motorcycle Helmet Law, ex-Protestor

"Protesting motorcycle helmet laws, an Onondaga, NY man was participating in a bare-noggin protest ride when he was killed via flipping over the handlebars. The motorcycle accident injured the noggin of Mr. Contos, 55, fatally damaging a brain that was unable to determine the physics of the situation"

Did Mr Contos deserve to get fatal brain damage?

3) To take a more personal example, if I forget to lock my house door when I go out and find that my house has been burgled, did I "deserve" to get burgled?

I am very sure that anyone who said that she "deserved" to get raped is going to say that in at least some of these 3 examples, the victim also "deserved" to have the misfortune visited upon him, so this is not indicative of "rape culture" or any such nonsense, but rather a more general worldview about personal responsibility.

In any event, sidestepping the question of whether any of these 4 people (or indeed anyone) "deserves" any bad thing that happens to them, we can say that they could've taken steps to prevent these bad things from happening.


It is time to elect a new world leader, and only your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates.

Candidate A: Associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He's had two Mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whiskey every evening.

Candidate C He is a decorated war hero. He's a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and never cheated on his wife.

Which of these candidates would be your choice? Decide first, no peeking, then scroll down for the answer.


Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Candidate B is Winston Churchill.
Candidate C is Adolph Hitler.

(this is not exactly accurate but the idea is there)
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