Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh Noes!

I agree with pretty much all of Nick Cohen on rape: up to the end, when he seems to blame the modern world.

On the one hand, juries are doing the job they have been doing for centuries. Drink, drugs and flirtations produce enough mixed signals to cause reasonable doubt in a defendant's favour when he says that he thought she consented and she says he raped her. On the other, they are sending an unforgiving message. You shouldn't generalise about generations. There are as many shy, sensible or cautious young women now as there have always been. But today's dominant style is for women to be bawdy and empowered: to try to drink as much as the men around them, talk as dirty and boast about their control of their lives. They are not enjoying the liberation that the feminists of the 1970s imagined, but a kind of social equality. If men can behave badly, women can too.

Then they provide a convincing account of rape backed up in my friend's case with DNA evidence and bruises, and too often they find that, far from being empowered, they are publicly dishonoured. The jury, a representative sample of the people who pass them in the street, takes their account of themselves literally and says that, if the defendant is really so brassy and sassy and in control of her life, then rape isn't the responsibility of the rapist and the victim must pay.

Now if this were true, rape convictions should have gone down, because juries are less sympathetic to women than they used to be. But this doesn't seem to be the case. Anyone got figures either way?

Julie Bindel, who can often seem the last principled feminist in England...

That seems a familiar phrase.

The last principled feminist in the British media...

Joan Smith, Political Blonde (by Nick Cohen). Organic cheeseboard spotted that one (even if he misquoted it slightly).


Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

1. Julie Bindel is a thoroughly nasty piece of work. She's rather notorious for her attacks on transexuals. Her appearance her was based on Nick's attribution to her of the amazing ability to gaze into the eyes of jurors and intuit what they're thinking.

2. Cohen refers to "A lord chief justice who announces that he wants to impose sharia on British women with brown skins ..."

and you say you agree with most of the column? Go and lie down in a darkened room CC.

12/20/2009 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Nick's point about juries being reluctant to convict in rape cases is absolutely spot on, in my experience. More specifically and worryingly, prosecutors pray for male dominated juries, since they will usually judge the defendant far more harshly than women.

Certainly up here, there have been major changes in criminal procedure to try to cut down on the number of provable cases that fall on technicalities. The difficulty is that some juries are very reluctant to convict in rape cases, much more so than cases of other serious offences, and the public's reactions can't be legislated for.

OTOH, can't Nick even make this simple and important point without dragging up his tiresome and another thing! litany? And as for Julie Bindel, she's insufferable. I've never been as angry about anything as she is about everything.

12/20/2009 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

OK Capt. What I _meant_ was something like I agree with Nick's point (as Flying Rodent is good enough to articulate better than I). As for the "lord chief justice ... sharia" bit, I've come to regard it as an unfortunate tic of NC's that he has to mention one or the other. Here, he got both, and in a single sentence. He always says something like that now; it's better ignored.

As for Bindel, well, I agree. I'm in the anti-Bindel group on FaceBook. I think she's a nut, but she may be right here in that it's not just men who are lenient toward defendants in rape cases; some women may be too. But I don't think I want to know why she attends so many rape cases.

12/20/2009 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the last principled feminist in England" said:

"Now they say it is racist to intervene. They're so frightened of being called an Islamophobe, they will defend the right of men to force women to be shackled. They smugly declare that ‘we haven't got the right to impose our values on another culture' and think themselves liberal when they do it."

12/20/2009 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12/20/2009 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Bindel also writes for Standpoint. See e.g.

where she continues her attack on the transgendered.

12/20/2009 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

More legal analysis from Nick, the man in the pub (or wine bar or whatever).

1. OK, he manages to grasp the difference between attrition rate (convictions/initial allegations) and conviction rate (convictions/tried accusations), but the observation of a lower-than average conviction rate for rape as compared to all crime doesn't show it's all the fault of juries, rather than, say, ineliminable evidential issues (many so-called 'technicalities' being a reflection of those, btw.)

The figures tell us that the CPS are bringing more cases-that-will-fail to court. Whether that is because they are being frustrated by unreasonable or unpredictable verdicts, or because they are actually making an effort to address the attrition rate by increasing the trial rate (trials/allegations), or what, we are supposed to judge based only on the findings of Mystic Julie.

I have no problem believing that sound rape cases might be rejected unreasonably by the jury (or unspecified perverse technicalities), but I haven't heard anything to make me think that it's actually happening, nor how nor why.

The unspoken suggestion is perhaps that jury trial should be done away with. Perhaps juror surveys and similar research need to be permitted and carried out before conclusions like that are drawn with such (or any) confidence.

Some relevant stats at, and this odd diagram shows the subcategories involved - it's not clear to me exactly which of these is compared to convictions(guilty pleas/cautions?) to get a conviction rate.

The big increase has been in the reported incidence: the number of complaints to police. The other figures arise from trials and convictions not keeping up with the massive rise in rape alegations. What exactly underlies this trend is not clear, at least not to me.

2. Of course this is connected in some obscure way with Sharia Law (which as we all know is set to replace the current criminal jurisdictions of the UK at any moment). Yrs trly told the Eye off about that stuff, during the recent phase when Ratbiter was in his crusading pomp and the whole organ had become overwheeningly anti-muslim.

12/20/2009 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

the observation of a lower-than average conviction rate for rape as compared to all crime doesn't show it's all the fault of juries

I can say, having seen plenty of such cases, that this is definitely the case, i.e. juries are unusually reluctant to convict on strong evidence in rape cases. Anecdotal, I know. On the other hand...

The unspoken suggestion is perhaps that jury trial should be done away with.

Tim's entirely right that this is what's at the root of a lot of commentary on this issue, and it's definitely not a step forward. I have no idea how to tackle this problem - and I say this having spent five years working for the Scottish equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service, back in the day - but I'm fairly sure that chucking juries isn't a good idea.

Perhaps an effort to change public perceptions would make more sense. I know this isn't a revolutionary suggestion, but I'm struggling to come up with a better idea.

It's also worth patting Nick on the back here, by the way. I can't stand the man, for reasons I've laid out elsewhere, but this is an issue that deserves high-profile public discussion, and his treatment of it is largely reasonable and only mildly tainted by his usual ideological bugbears.

Good work, for once.

12/20/2009 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Careful with those stats, Eugene. There appears to be a certain amount of policy-based evidence here. (Idiot problem in the comments, but I can't see anything obviously wrong with the data.)

Not that it isn't a problem. But it's certainly very odd that the Met alone among UK police force areas or indeed any police force anywhere manages to report *exponentially increasing* numbers of rapes...but not to get any more convictions.

Also, Julie Bindel is a decent? Again, it's the people who would be just as awful if they were in the Party of Kittens...

12/20/2009 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julie Bindel, who can often seem the last principled feminist in England...

In the name of God, NoOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Nick really should read Bindel's celebration of her 'principled' feminism, and the deserved trashing it received in the comments, before he comes up with such tosh.

Or is it that both of them now write for Standpoint (and both have fallen out with substantial parts of movements they claim to be part of)?

PS: @Tim Wilkinson - Bindel once made such a suggestion to abolish juries in the comments debating an article she wrote (so much for Magna Carta?). She's also on board with a DNA database (presumably comprising every male above the age of criminal responsibility). There's a big trap for feminist campaigners on such an issue if they start thinking that lowering/reversing the burden of proof is going to do women any favours regarding rape convictions. As for Bindel, I'm still unsure whether the Guardian keep giving her enough rope to hang herself with, that she's used for stat/comments-porn on the CiF site, or whether she has sympathetic staffers on the paper.


12/20/2009 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous magistra said...

One of the problems with discussing the attrition rate for different crimes is that there is a lot of difference in ease of detection. If you are robbed by a stranger on a street, it may be hard to track down the suspect. If you are raped by someone you know and/or have DNA evidence, it's much easier to get at least the basis of a case.

As for why reporting of rape has gone up so substantially, that's hardly surprising if the offence has been socially redefined so that women are now more likely to report incidents that don't count as 'real rape' (violence by a stranger), given that's the majority of the cases. It would have been interesting to see comparison with any growth in allegations about offences such as child cruelty, where parameters of acceptable behaviour have also changed substantially.

12/21/2009 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Der Bruno Stroszek said...

Bindel is very principled in the way that Tony Blair is very principled; she has unbelievably stupid ideas that don't work and she refuses to move on from them and admit her mistakes, despite the fact that they are completely embarrassing. I can see why Nick would find that impressive.

Here is my favourite Julie Bindel column ever. Beamed in directly from 1986!

12/21/2009 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

I'll post this here, rather than derail that Rage thread...

I notice the Times is reporting that the Israelis have admitted harvesting organs from dead Palestinians back in the '90s, although they've said the person responsible was dismissed and they don't do it any more.

Now, I suspect most AW readers' take on the internet campaign against the Swedish paper that published that allegation back in the summer is similar to mine. I thought it was a highly inflammatory, bordering on insane, thing to report if you weren't 100% certain you could back it up. For once, this was an issue where I was inclined to agree with the Saucers that this was proper, old-school antisemitic stuff.

Now, not so much. Hands up who thinks all those Swedes are about to get an apology?

12/21/2009 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slightly OT, but one more thing, in response to this:

But today's dominant style is for women to be bawdy and empowered: to try to drink as much as the men around them, talk as dirty and boast about their control of their lives. They are not enjoying the liberation that the feminists of the 1970s imagined, but a kind of social equality. If men can behave badly, women can too.

Nick catches up with the 'ladette' about 10 years after everyone else. Of course what feminists were 'really' fighting for was the right to sobriety (if not chastity, judging by Nick's reference to 'dirty' talking?) in order to show up all the drunken men for the losers they are. This is as nonsensical an position as claiming the equal right to get heroically drunk, which hacks off old-school chauvinists who believe (as Tony Parsons once argued) women shouldn't drink. One aspect of equality is likely to be men and women making the same dumb mistakes as each other, including getting hammered on cheap booze.


12/21/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I thought it was smoking Parsons didn't like in women.

It's appearing in print that I don't like in Parsons.

12/21/2009 04:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ejh - it was a very old article in the now-defunct Arena magazine


12/21/2009 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger the management said...

Jesus christ FR, that's a truly frightening story. AFAICS, it's just basically about Israeli hospitals taking a cavalier attitude to harvesting corneas from cadavers generally rather than specifically picking on Palestinians (and it doesn't really justify the Aftonbladet article which IIRC had the IDF killing to order), but even so ... what in the holy name of Fuck could they have been thinking?

12/21/2009 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

what in the holy name of Fuck could they have been thinking?

Charitably, it was probably "the needs of the living outweigh those of the dead". That's still a grotesque abuse of their positions, but at least it's better than, say, removing body parts to sell them on the black market.

Wasn't there a similar case in England a few years back? I think it was Liverpool, but can't say for sure.

it doesn't really justify the Aftonbladet article which IIRC had the IDF killing to order.

Right enough, it was much more specific than that just general allegations. It did strike me as loony stuff to be printing at the time, and I wasn't surprised that the Israelis were so pissed about it.

12/21/2009 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

FR - link? Google's not helping.

12/21/2009 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

I'm coming round to Captain Cabernet's views re that column. FR does a good job supporting NC, but it increasingly seems to me that NC is against juries (and without suggesting an alternative; star chambers of Bindel-like man haters perhaps?), and the matter of whether real rapes (that is all kinds of rape) are increasing in number, decreasing or staying much the same seems really important. I suspect that date rape may be declining (because it's so socially unacceptable), having increased in the post-WWII years when men and women mixed a little more informally than before.

I also thought this was stupid before I wrote the post, but I couldn't be bothered to analyse it.

Today, lawyers complain that police treat women too gently for their own good and do not prepare then for the tough cross examination defence barristers will inflict on them when they reach the witness box.

I can see what he means, but he does give the impression that he wants to police to treat women (or, more accurately, 'victims' as men and children can be raped too, plus it's not the sex that's important here but the being on the wrong end of a crime) less gently, as if a bit of roughing up and a push downstairs helps prepare one to testify.

Shorter me: I feel sorry for Nick's friend and agree with him re Polanski. The rest, not so much.

Re Parsons: Independent: You Ask The Questions:

Q: ...The suggestion that women should not be allowed to drink alcohol springs to mind.

TP:It's a wet liberal myth that I said that women shouldn't be allowed to drink alcohol.

Now TP, contrarian that he is probably used a piece titled "Why Women shouldn't Drink" (see here), but it's clearly not simply a 'myth.'

12/21/2009 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

Erk! TP used a piece ... to argue against his own motion, so to speak. Forgot to finish my own sentence.

12/21/2009 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Doesn't look like the more detailed Times report is available online, but here's the AP report.

lawyers complain that police treat women too gently for their own good and do not prepare then for the tough cross examination defence barristers will inflict on them when they reach the witness box.

I don't know how this works in England, but in Scotland the police usually only gather evidence - it's up to civilian precognition officers to analyse that evidence and push witnesses on inconsistencies in their stories. POs do this in rape cases too - they're supposed to anticipate the defence's line of attack and put that to the victim. Of course, they try to do it without terrifying the witness into withdrawing her complaint. That may be what Nick means.

Plus, in my experience, prosecution lawyers are forever bitching about the coppers, and vice versa. I wouldn't put too much weight on Nick's little anecdote here, since it's a bit like saying that cats often regard dogs with suspicion.

12/21/2009 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

Quite, FR. There's a LOT that's wrong in that one sentence. The police don't compile cases; that's the job of the CPS - aka lawyers. And why would lawyers complain that the police aren't doing their job for them? If the police did prepare a witness, the case should be thrown out of court. I think Nick's got the whole thing wrong here. AFAIK, the CPS does actually warn prosecution witnesses that they are likely to be cross-examined and asked personal, unpleasant questions.

I'll also note that NC wrote "Lawyers [no names - DW] complain..." rather than taking us back to his friend who was raped who presumably went through this process. If he'd stuck to recounting one case, he'd have been less confused.

12/21/2009 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linky goodness about Israeli transplant misconduct.

Shorter: the forensic medicine clinic (!) was stripping every stiff they could lay hands on for spare parts, without telling anyone. Certainly there were Palestinians, but there were people of every description. It just seems the Doc in question was behaving like a dodgy scrapy dealer - need a cornea? got one here that fell off the back of a lorry, well, fell under it more like, nudge nudge...

12/21/2009 08:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Readers, it's Xmas party season, so bear with me, but,

1) [Sharia] "He always says something like that now; it's better ignored." - well, no. It's like Der Sturmer in many important respects. We must always challenge for the bigoted shite that it is.

2) re the movements in rape charges and convictions, I'm not an expert, but I tend to agree with FR and TW (dodgy though the latter may be sometimes) on this. Cops used to screen out "his word against hers". Now they don't. But the burden of proof means that juries do.

Chris Willliams

12/21/2009 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I don't really have teh internets atm but wanted to comment briefly on this:

Nick catches up with the 'ladette' about 10 years after everyone else. Of course what feminists were 'really' fighting for was the right to sobriety (if not chastity, judging by Nick's reference to 'dirty' talking?) in order to show up all the drunken men for the losers they are.

Yes, this is where the piece totally loses its way. As I've said in the past, Nick's definition of 'principled feminist' seems to be 'a woman who I've read recently and happen to agre with', and his idea of what feminism is seems equally shaky. I'm also not convinced by this 'dominant style' thing. That's a really dodgy generalisation and surely reflects just as badly on men as women, but Cohen's tone doesn't seem to imply that; and as someone who regularly appears at public engagements stinking drunk, how exactly is he meant to take any kind of moral high ground here? And are truly 'principled feminists' not allowed to drink or swear?

cheers or the hat tip, by the way... this recent Joan Smith piece sits oddly with cohen's redefined feminism, too...

12/22/2009 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Anti-semite (n). Someone who accuses Israel of a crime in advance of an official admission by the Israeli government.

Organ harvesting: a vile practice but one committed in lots of countries including the UK. ("Move on folks, nothing to see here ...")

(From which it follows, of course, that anyone who makes anything of it after the official admission is also an anti-semite, since they're engaged in the age-old anti-semitic practice of "singling out".)

Cf Gene at HP Sauce.

12/23/2009 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

CC, glad you mentioned Gene. I looked at Harry's Place yesterday and saw a couple of things worth commenting on, but held back. I've not changed my position, so here goes. Gene yesterday:

Michelle Malkin is a somewhat more mainstream figure on the American Right. She is a frequent talking head on cable TV and contributes to the popular rightwing blog Hot Air as well as writing her own blog. She is a supporter of Israel, although I suspect much of that support is based on hatred for Israel’s enemies rather than any special love for the country itself.

Columns by both Roberts and Malkin appear on, a racist rightwing website dedicated largely to opposing large-scale nonwhite immigration to the US– based, among other things, on supposed differences in intelligence among the races

My emphasis. There are times when I want to hug Gene: when he seems to display some self-awareness. (BTW, does anyone have a theory as to why certain H'sP posts attract a lot of comments, and others - like that one - attract very few?)

I'll admit to skimming the post before that by habibi:

We as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom. We see under the Khilafa (caliphate), when people used to engage in a positive way, this idea of freedom was redundant, it was unnecessary, because the society understood under the education system of the Khilafa state, and under the political framework of Islam, that people must engage with each other in a positive and productive way to produce results, as the Qur’an says, to get to know one another. Whereas in this society, what they call debate and positive discourse is printing cartoons. What they call debate and positive discourse is creating a rhetorically-driven, and gender-motivated, politically-motivated film. Is this facilitating debate and discourse in a positive way in a postmodern society? Of course not.

This reminds me a little of:

Just as Levin’s admiration for Kiri Te Kanawa would count for more if he interrupted his praise of her undoubtedly gorgeous voice to point out that in Lieder concerts she has occasionally been known to sing a stanza with its lines in reverse order, so his admiration for Solzhenitsyn would count for more if he could entertain the possibility that Solzhenitsyn’s challenging call for a unifying sense of purpose on the part of the free world might be a contradiction in terms. If the free world had a unifying sense of purpose it would not be free.

Clive James on Bernard Levin. Criticising freedom is not new; nor is misunderstanding freedom. I am quite pleased the avowedly freedom hating Muslims have no better idea of postmodernism than, say, Nick Cohen has.

12/24/2009 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Hard not to notice that a piece about Levin's strengths and weaknesses should reveal quite a few of James' own, on both sides of the ledger. Including some he identified in Levin*.

[* Notably a degree of pomposity. Still, he had - if past tense is appropriate - a degree of levity which Levinb didn't, even if he never did work out quite how to match it with his seriousmindedeness.]

12/27/2009 01:08:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Chris W. A bit surprised - and annoyed - to hear myself described as 'sometimes dodgy'. Do you have any examples? I want to be better, and failing that, to compose lengthy screeds by way of counterattack.

12/29/2009 12:35:00 PM  

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