Thursday, August 23, 2012

A source of forced laughter

A bunch of my favorite pundits are laughing at the term "forcible rape," because Paul Ryan once used that term in a piece of legislation. The implication, of course, is that there is some type of rape that isn't by definition forcible — which is the indefensible position Republican leaders have been taking lately.

But the laughing seems disingenuous. Forcible rape is a real term. Redundant? Yes. But it's often used to differentiate it from statutory rape, which involves underage sex. Statutory rape can be forcible, of course, but in many cases the lack of consent derives from the inability of someone under 18 (or whatever age) to legally do so. In other words, sometimes the rape is an attack and sometimes a mutual coupling is just wrong. Does that excuse an illegal relationship? No, and fie on any adult who tries it — any act of sex with a consent deficit is rape. But it also allows the law to treat each offense differently. It's a technical legal thing, one that I first read about when I was 10 years old. 

Again, rape is rape; the GOP is stupid to insist that some rape cases aren't legitimate. But the liberal laughter over the term forcible rape also makes me cringe. The term exists, and did long before Paul Ryan ever uttered it. Perhaps it should be retired ... along with the undeserved partisan glee.

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