The sexual slope gets more slippery

First, a Montana judge had to apologize for blaming a case of statutory rape, by high school teacher Stacey Dean Rambold, on the victim. Now the Washington Post has sparked an outcry with an op-ed on the same case. Former lawyer Betsy Karasik writes:

I don’t believe that all sexual conduct between underage students and teachers should necessarily be classified as rape, and I believe that absent extenuating circumstances, consensual sexual activity between teachers and students should not be criminalized. . . .

I do think that teachers who engage in sex with students, no matter how consensual, should be removed from their jobs and barred from teaching unless they prove that they have completed rehabilitation. But the utter hysteria with which society responds to these situations does less to protect children than to assuage society’s need to feel that we are protecting them.

Karasik goes on to reminisce about the days when her teenage friends had sex with teachers, and it was no big deal, because "these situations were all consensual in every honest meaning of the word, even if society would like to embrace the fantasy that a high school student can’t consent to sex." After all, "many teenagers are, biologically speaking, sexually mature."

The victim in the Rambold case killed herself, but Karasik argues that this just might have been because of the case being prosecuted. Because victims are always more traumatized by court cases than by the actual crimes, right? Or maybe this girl just wasn't "mature" enough to handle it.

I can do no better than to quote Wesley J. Smith's critique of Karasik: "This was published in the Washington Post. How low can we go? I am afraid we are going to find out."


I see. Well then I must accept that I got my facts wrong. That sounds a lot different.
That's a fair question, Jason. Here's a summary of state laws that explains it better than I can. Note particularly this passage:

"A common misperception about statutory rape is that state codes define a single age at which an individual can legally consent to sex. Only 12 states have a single age of consent, below which an individual cannot consent to sexual intercourse under any circumstances, and above which it is legal to engage in sexual intercourse with another person above the age of consent. For example, in Massachusetts, the age of consent is 16.

"In the remaining 39 states, other factors come into play: age differentials, minimum age of the victim, and minimum age of the defendant."
If in fact teenagers are incapable of consenting to sex, why did anyone advocate abstinence education? If they are incapable of consenting to sex then that would be like having chicken pox avoidence education.
The problem is that we are talking about two different things; one is the specific case(which was a dirty old man molesting a fourteen year old with few if any extenuating circumstances) and the general concept(which is easily subject to faulty interpretation).
What the victim did -- and yes, she was the victim of a crime -- is not at issue here. The teacher is a grown man. A. Grown. Man. And as such, he was legally and morally responsible for his own actions. And that means that a teenager could run around naked in front of him and he's STILL not supposed to have sex with her. An adult is supposed to be able to control himself in the face of temptation. That's part of what makes him an adult.

Make no mistake about where Betsy Karasik is going with this. Every time I've seen this kind of argument made, it's been made by someone who ultimately wants to do away with restrictions an adult-child sex altogether. That's where the Karasiks of the world want to lead us.

So if you think the issue makes you riled, you ought to see how riled it makes me.
On Jason Taylor's "several points to be made", I agree wholeheartedly.

Of course teachers shouldn't be having sex with students, regardless of how old they are.

But teenagers are no angels either. They consent to sex with each other all the time and it's not considered rape.

Have you SEEN teenagers today? Miley Cyrus is apparently 20, but she's been acting trashy since her teen years, as has Justin Beiber and Britney Spears and the rest of them.

I understand and agree that there should be some legal age limits put on things. But making teenagers always to be the sweet innocent victims is ridiculous. Can a teenager seduce a teacher who's older and should know better? Of course they can! And yeah, they know what they're doing, even if an artificial age limitation says they do not. Should the real adult put a stop to it? Of course. But again, when it comes to teenagers, especially older ones, my view is "it takes two". Assigning blame to only the actual adult is ridiculous. The teens are to blame too. But in today's insane culture we can't blame the victim for anything, ever. And that's the problem.

In some situations, blame often goes both ways.

Again, I couldn't agree more with JT's comments. He worded things a lot more eloquently than I've done here. This issue gets me riled up.
Because "rape" is the term we use for non-consensual sex, and by law children cannot consent to sexual intercourse. And in the eyes of the law, for this purpose, teenagers ARE children. As Shaw notes elsewhere in his piece, this isn't one of those tricky "the guy was just a day over the proper age and the girl just a day under" kinds of cases, anyway. What happened here was clearly wrong and deserved to be penalized.
Several points to be made.

One is teenagers are not children. That does not make them adults. That does however make them not children.

Another is that the term "statuatory rape" is one of the flawed parts of the law. On the one hand it will ruin the good name of someone who is in fact clearly guilty of no more then fornication(such as the case of a nineteen year old and a seventeen year old). On the other hand it will take the sting out of the term "rape" by applying it to other actions then forcible copulation. Remember the thing about "I don't think it was 'rape, rape'"; she probably had something like that in mind, and as long as the term is used such confusions will be there. Why not call it "sexual offense"? That makes it clearer. And that way we will know who to blackball and why.
I think Jazz Shaw at Hot Air says it best on the subject of consent (I almost quoted his piece in the post as well):

"What should be obvious is that there are two separate but related concepts being placed on trial in Karasik’s column. First, statutory rape laws – flawed as they often are – exist for a reason. It is an accepted part of legal doctrine that children can not give meaningful consent to sex, particularly when it comes to a 'relationship' with an adult predator. We can have a debate over what that age of consent should be – and in fact it varies from state to state – but there should be no question that a 49 year old acting out his desires on a 14 year old is miles over wherever that line may be.

"But the second issue which the author ignores is one which actually exists outside questions of age. People who are placed in positions of authority and control over others must, for what should be obvious reasons, be restrained from using those positions of influence and control to engage in sexual relations. Doctors are not supposed to bed their patients, religious leaders should most certainly not be entering into carnal relationships with the flock and teachers shouldn’t be doing it with students, even if both are over the age of consent. How this escapes Ms. Karasik is a mystery."
In the first place the statement that teenagers can have both the rationality and the physical capability to consent to sex is perfectly true. In the second place the phrase "victim blaming" is overused; sometimes victims do bear part of the blame. For instance bar brawls are assault and battery, as are duels but in both cases the victim bears some of the blame which is why public judgement if not the law makes a distinction.

In this particular case a teacher has to much authority for consent to be acknowledged and the victim was fourteen, which is barely a teenager. But that does not mean her general point is irrelevant.

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