Did you get raped at Occupy Baltimore? Well, call the police if you must, but do you really want to be the one putting a damper on our good ol' fashioned protest?
So seems to be the sentiment behind Occupy Baltimore's "Security Statement." The document touts the protest's plan for how to deal with sexual assault, and it's getting attention for lines like this:
Though we do not encourage the involvement of the police in our community, the survivor has every right, and the support of Occupy Baltimore, to report the abuse to the appropriate law enforcement.
Granted, while the document doesn't prohibit the involvement of police per se, it does present contacting the police as a negative or discouraged activity. Sure, we can understand why you'd want to get the cops involved, but we'd rather take care of this ourselves.
And indeed, that's just what they wish to do. In the interest of creating a self-contained, self-governing community, the pamphlet urges vicitims of sexual assault to contact the "Security Committee":
Any member of the Occupy Baltimore community who believes he/she/they have been a victim of, are aware of, or suspect a commission of sexual abuse, are encouraged to immediately report the incident to the Security Committee. T (sic)
The point person for dealing with these situations will be Koala! (sic) Largess, (443) 642-XXXX.
Survivors of Sexual Abuse will be given the support, resources, and assistance needed for their emotional and physical health.
Nevermind the fact that it treats a grave, life-changing, psychologically damaging crime as a simple incident that can be resolved with the undoubtedly limited resources these Occupiers have on hand. Nevermind the colossal, long-term damage done to a rape victim, which may require medical attention and frequently requires psychological help. Sexual assault is also a crime, punishable by law, with a recidivism rate of about 52%. And how, exactly do these Occupiers propose to deal with the offenders?
Occupy Baltimore’s Security Committee will make every reasonable effort to keep the matters involved in the allegation as confidential as possible while still allowing for a prompt and thorough inquiry. All allegations of abuse will be treated seriously and thoroughly investigated.
If the survivor wishes to involve law enforcement, in order to obtain physical evidence of the assault, you must report the incident within 72 hours [note: this is not true, a victim has a 120 hour window in which forensic evidence may still be collected] or the assault as collection and preservation of evidence is critical. Occupy Baltimore will also work to supply the abuser with counseling resources to deal with their issues.
That's the skewed worldview of the millenial generation: everyone gets to be a victim, even the rapist. Rape is just a result of a person's "issues" that requires counseling. It's not your fault. You didn't do something morally wrong; it's your messed up childhood, or your perceived social oppression, or your rage at the state that drove you to sexually violate another human being. Prison won't help rehabillitate you and make you a functioning member of society. Therapy will.
The author of the memo--a survivor of such abuse herself--says as much:
The author of the memo, 26-year-old Melissa "Koala" Largess, said she only wanted to let victims know that there are alternative ways of dealing with an attacker, though she said she had once been involved in an abusive relationship and needed the police's help.
Largess said she wanted "the person who harmed me to work on issues and get the help needed to be a functioning member of society."
"There are a lot of ways people can deal with assault and conflict," she said. "The way we all know is to make someone wrong and punish them instead of work with them to correct their behavior."
Largess said that as a victim, she found support groups "confining" but, she stressed, "I'm not against people taking the steps they feel they need to stay safe. … From my own perspective and experience, I understand the necessity of calling police."
True, there have been recent efforts to focus on reducing recidivism rates in sexual assault cases through counseling during imprisonment, an admirable cause that I do not oppose. But Largess also suggests that we should not emphasize that rape is wrong--a sentiment antithetical to her desire to "fix" such behavior. If we don't start with the basic premise that rape is wrong, then why, exactly, shouldn't rape be acceptable?
This begs a larger question, one of the protest as a whole: if sexual assault isn't wrong, then why is corporate greed? Let's arrest those evil, greedy bankers, but leave the police out of sexual assault. It's not wrong. It's a result of a psychological disorder.
The select moral standards these protesters express reveal how completely they lack an understanding of right and wrong. To them, something is "right" if it involves me getting what I want, not because it is good and true. Unfortunately, victims of sexual assault at Occupy Baltimore would also be victims of faulty moral premises, too.
Solely because they wish to be autonomous from the state--or is it because they wish to keep such incidents under wraps for PR purposes?--the Occupy Baltimore movement has discouraged victims from pursuing necessary recourse for recovery and justice, and allows sexual offenders--criminals--to remain free and address their "issues."
All for the cause. The morally-confused cause.