December 02, 2010
the wages of sin?
I'm a 56 year old man who sometimes enjoys contemplating the beauty of ruins. I don't want to say that I "celebrate the beauty of decay" because that might sound decadent and distract from my purpose here, which is to stick to an activity considered normal and wholesome. Contemplating the beauty of ruins is certainly normal enough that entire industries have grown up around it. It's so mundane that most of the people who contemplate ruins are called "tourists."
However, in my case, I don't have get into all-out tourist mode and travel all the way to Rome or Athens to contemplate beautiful ruins. In Philadelphia I used to enjoy visiting the crumbling ruins of the ancient Eastern State Penitentiary (just as I used to enjoy Alcatraz in San Francisco). And I have gotten quite a kick out of visiting the beautiful ruins of once-lovely Detroit. How "normal" an activity that is, I don't know. But let's suppose that during a hypothetical visit to an awful neighborhood in Detroit, I was set upon by a pack of thugs and robbed and beaten. That such a thing might happen would certainly be a possibility, but here's my question.
Would it be my fault?
Would I be said to have asked for it? Would people condemn my interest in photographing ruins as an immoral activity which invited the assault? And would an attack on me be considered occasion for sermons against the evils of taking pictures of old buildings? I doubt it.
So why is it that if a twenty-something woman wearing a short skirt were to go into the very same neighborhoods surrounding the crumbling buildings, many people would consider an attack on her to be her fault?
M. Simon's earlier post about blaming rape victims for being slutty reminded me of the many things that can be seen as triggers for criminal behavior. People who run around wearing Ipods, driving nice cars, or just wearing business suits in the "wrong" neighborhoods might be just as likely to be targeted by criminals as a young woman deemed slutty looking. So why is there more of a tendency to blame "sluttiness" (or hedonism) for criminal conduct than, say "conspicuous consumption"?
And the more I think about it, a guy wearing a nice suit might be more likely to become a crime victim than a slutty-looking girl. So why is the latter more blameworthy?
There was a local Detroit case I blogged about not long ago involving a 12 year old who was charged with shooting a 24 year old woman to death. My post drew commenters who went out of their way to blame the victim by making an unsubstantiated claim that she was a "stripper" -- something which in their mind made her blameworthy.
As I pointed out in response to the comments, a victim's occupation is irrelevant to a murder charge.
...I don't see the relevance of the victim's career choices to this discussion -- any more than the make and model of her car. Whether she was a stripper or not (and I have not seen that in the news accounts), murder is still murder.The latter reminds me of this video:
In the minds of these thugs and their culture, anything that might happen to that gay man would be his fault, and not theirs.
Most Americans aren't like that. But not all. Consider some of shocking stuff that has been said about the murdered Detroit woman elsewhere which I will not quote. (That last link is so appalling that I should probably warn readers not to visit the site if you are upset by vicious racist profanity. I should probably consider myself lucky to have such civilized commenters.)
This is not to say that it isn't advisable to use common sense in avoiding potential dangers, but I think that once we start blaming victims for the actions of their attackers, it is a short step to letting the criminals completely off the hook. Or worse yet, allowing them to become a perverse sort of free ranging morality police.
I do not want to live in a society where women have to cover themselves in order to feel safe. I'll take the Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy! culture any day.
However, freedom is not without its risks, as I often acknowledge.
It isn't free.
posted by Eric on 12.02.10 at 12:40 PM
Search the Site
Classics To Go
See more archives here
Old (Blogspot) archives
A knee sock jihad might be premature at this time
People Are Not Rational
No Biorobots For Japan
The Thorium Solution
Radiation Detector From A Digital Camera
This war of attrition is driving me bananas!
Attacking Christianity is one thing, but must they butcher geometry?
Are there trashy distinctions in freedom of expression?
Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood