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March 4, 2011 / Anna Louie Sussman

Assclown of the Day: Israel’s president should not have to serve time?

Today marks the beginning of a new series called “Assclown of the Day,” in which I discuss the actions or ideas of someone who proves themselves to be the biggest assclown I come across in a roughly 24-hour cycle.  NB: This contest does not include Muammar Gaddafi, who will get the blue ribbon #1 Top Assclown award automatically every single day, renewed each morning at 12:01 am, until he steps his sorry ass down.

Reading Allison Kaplan Sommer’s insightful post on the Forward exploring sentiment in Israel around the imminent sentencing of Moshe Katsav, its disgraced convicted rapist of a former president, I was shocked to see that someone writing that a lengthy prison sentence is unnecessary because, during the course of the trial:

His coercive and ugly relationship with the women involved in the trial was fully exposed. Rare justice was done here. The former president was tried and the full extent of his wrongdoing was revealed. Even if he is jailed for just a few years, deterrence had been fully achieved.

I’m choking on my disbelief as I reread this.  “Deterrence has been fully achieved”????   Since when has a trial – or anything, really – been sufficient to deter rape from happening?  What about repeat rapists?  I agree that a spell in a miserable, violent environment like a prison may not be healing, but prison reform is another topic for another day.  Forgive me for being dense, but I just don’t see how not punishing him according to the law of the land is more deterrent than, say, punishing him according to the law of the land.

It is always possible that there has been a deterrent effect, because according to RAINN, sexual assault has dropped by over 60% from 1993 to 2007.  But if there’s still one sexual assault every two minutes, can we really say “deterrence has been fully achieved”?  A couple more stats about rape in the US:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey — the country’s largest and most reliable crime study — there were 248,300 sexual assaults in 2007 (the most recent data available).
  • There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,000 divided by 248,300 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 127 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.

I guess that rapists are being deterred from raping every minute, say, or every 30 seconds?  And consider that your average rapist is not even a top-ranking government official, who may bear some kind of prosecutorial immunity – what’s deterring that person? In the Israeli case, as in Malaysia and St. Vincent’s (and not counting the numerous ministers/officials/executives who have been accused of similar conduct -excuse me, I have to sneeze – aaaaahCHOOjulianassange!),  the intoxicating effect of power overrides the obvious obligation to be better behaved, since a public life will be open to heightened scrutiny.

I also wonder how the victims, who  feel about him deciding that “justice was done.”  The question of whether justice was done really is best left decided to the survivors of the crime.  I’m not calling for an exceptionally harsh punishment or the death penalty, merely noting that:

1- The law is the law, and him being an elected official should not translate to automatic leniency.

2- Until rape statistics go way, way the heck down, is no possible way this statement could be true.

3- This columnist surely wins the “Assclown of the Day” award for today.

The saddest part is that this post was not just written by “someone,” actually. The author is renowned peace activist, journalist and columnist Yigal Sarna, who co-founded Peace Now and was awarded an IBM Tolerance Prize.  He has gone a little overboard with the tolerance, in this case.  Rape is not tolerable.

Sidenote – Does anyone else find it sort of convoluted that IBM, whose computers were historically used in the Holocaust, is doling out Tolerance prizes to Israeli peace activists? Or find it weird that a bunch of rabbis support the convicted rapist ex-president?

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