From words to deeds

alec cook by john hart wis state jrnl.jpg

Alec Cook, accused of multiple sexual assaults. Photo by John Hart, Wisconsin State Journal

Men are entitled to sex with women and women are not entitled to say no.

This bone-deep belief is the bedrock of rape. It’s so embedded, in men and women alike, that we have trouble identifying it and bringing it to the surface for examination.

It’s simultaneously masked and enforced by stereotypes about male aggression and female passivity: expectations that being manly means being forceful,  put-downs and taunts about women being “over emotional” if they object or “unladylike” if they so much as raise their voices.

The most insidious aspect is that women have been taught they aren’t entitled to trust themselves. If you are constantly told you are too emotional to think straight and that your reaction is not justified, you’ll doubt yourself and what you saw, felt and know.

Thus the confusion of the young woman who texted to her brother how the accused had held her in a “death grip” and kept yanking her back to him as she tried to leave: “I don’t feel like I was assaulted…I don’t think. But I feel very weird.”


Donald Trump, Republican candidate for president.

The behavior that becomes rape starts with words that express the attitude that women can’t be trusted. “Women have one of the great acts of all time,” today’s self-proclaimed alpha male, Donald Trump, said in The Art of The Comeback. “The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are killers.”

So, no need to believe women’s protests when men take what they feel entitled to. In this view, the lying, manipulative bitches are getting what they deserve.

Too much of a stretch? Not fair?

One of these men publicly boasted about grabbing women’s crotches. The other jammed his fingers inside them. Not a big stretch.











When is it okay to say nigger?

Paula DeenAs we all know now, Paula Deen, the doyenne of deep-fried cooking, has turned her career into toast. Blackened it, one might say, with a series of scorching admissions about her use of the word “nigger” and her proposal to throw a plantation-themed party with African Americans portraying slaves.

Amid the uproar, pundits, newscasters and bloggers routinely used the prettified phrase “N-word” when referring to the racist slur Deen slung around. The cautious resort to a euphemism isn’t the most effective teaching tool for conveying how objectionable the term is. If we’re too delicate to even say the word, how can we possibly educate the unenlightened?

Imagine trying to teach sex education using only “the I-word.”

As distasteful as Ms. Deen’s bigotry is, the rabid reactions of her defenders are downright astounding. To those who insist they “don’t understand” why Deen’s attitudes are so harmful, try this little exercise.

Imagine she was accused of disparaging fat people. She goes on TV to protest her innocence. Instead of saying (as she did) that one of her employees is black and asking him to come on out even though he might be hard to see because he’s as dark as the background of the stage set, let’s say she told him “Come on out here, if you can get through the door, and show people how fat you are.”

Or, let’s take the plantation-party plan a step further. Why didn’t it occur to Ms. Deen to suggest including some light-skinned slaves who look an awful lot like Ol’ Massa, played by her brother Bubba and some relatives with spray-on tans? And an overseer with a big whip? And a pack of baying bloodhounds?

Guess that didn’t fit into the happy slaves theme, and unhappy slaves would be no fun at all, y’all.

Fair employment practices versus jobs is a false choice

Do laws requiring fairness in hiring kill jobs?

That’s the claim being made about Obama’s proposal to outlaw discrimination against the unemployed. It’s a very old argument that surfaces everytime  government has to step in to prevent businesses from ruling out entire classes of people as potential employees. A good example of these arguments against fairness can be found in a Chicago Tribune op-ed column of 9/22/2011, “The wrong help for the unemployed,” with the subtitle, “Employer discrimination is not the real problem.”

Its basic point is that such a law isn’t needed because the practice is not widespread and once the economy improves enough, hiring eventually will include those currently unemployed.

It’s easy for white males (like the column writer) to believe this because many have never experienced discrimination. As everybody who isn’t a white male knows, job discrimination still is widespread, often precisely because the white males making hiring decisions are clueless about their own prejudices. Laws against this aren’t terribly effective, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t needed.

Once again, the old claim is made that market forces on their own will lead to rational hiring policies because companies want to hire the best people available. In reality, when market forces operated without fair-employment laws, businesses demonstrated they wanted to hire only the best white, heterosexual, physically able males available for the highest-paying, most desirable jobs.

In the past several decades, business has enjoyed freedom from hard-won regulations intended to curb their most egregious misbehavior. The results include financial devastation for middle-class investors, homeowners, the unemployed and – as usual – the poor. This will remain true as long as American business remains relentlessly focused on profit as its first, last and only goal, an obsession used to justify all kinds of unjust practices because profit has been enshrined as sacred.

When businesses make job growth their top goal instead of profit, unemployment will ease and the economy will improve. But we’ll always need laws restraining market forces and their use to protect employees, consumers, communities and even businesses from their own worst instincts. 



Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist in China serving 11 years for subversion, won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize while imprisoned.

Activists of the world, unite – put your heads together, talk to each other and imagine what it would take for the Chinese to successfully revolt against the dictatorship of their one-party government.

Here is what China’s democracy advocates have to work with and struggle against:

1.  More than 1 billion citizens, many of them impoverished, all of them oppressed (except for officials and the newly rich) and very few able to imagine how much better things could be;

2.  A pervasive security apparatus of enforcers, spies and flunkies organized right down to the level of apartment buildings, and surveillance of every form of communication;

3.  A population infuriated by corruption, unfairness and injustice, and frustrated by a lack of any legal rights or means to fix problems;

4.  A culture whose greatest strength may be endurance of hardship without complaint, and whose greatest disadvantage may be the same;

5.  Fear of speaking up, standing out or taking action;

6.  Punishments for speaking up, standing out or taking action that include job loss, blacklisting, beatings, house arrest, imprisonment and execution.

7.  Widespread use of mobile phones and computers but extremely limited access to websites outside of China;

8.  Very few people who have a good grasp of spoken or written English.

 As Chinese leaders celebrate the 90th anniversary of their Communist Party’s founding, let’s reflect on the fact that their subjects – roughly one-fifth of the Earth’s people – have no political or legal rights. What can be done about this? Post your answers in the comments section.

Hoosier hullabaloo part two: Citizens take action

 “We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” 

Jeff Houk, who works as a financial planner in Indianapolis, couldn’t understand how the state Supreme Court could issue such a blatant contradiction to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affrmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

But on May 12, that’s just what the court did in the case of a man who had denied permission for police to enter his apartment and then resisted when one of the officers tried to enter anyway. (See Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana at, and described in the previous post, “Hoosier hullabaloo – Indiana Supreme Court okays police home invasions.”)

Houk found others who objected to the ruling on Facebook and discovered they were organizing a protest. That effort attracted roughly 250 people. Houk, however, doesn’t plan to stop there. He plans to start a political action committee whose goal is to convince Indiana citizens to vote “no” on retaining Justice Steven H. David, who wrote the majority 3-2 ruling in the case.

“What motivated me was the knowledge of the possible,” Houk said during a phone interview. “We just didn’t have to put up with a Supreme Court justice who would decide a case like this. Protest is fine, but I’m more into action. I saw the possibility of real action, something significant that could be done.”

He’s studied election returns and determined that only about 10 percent of those who actually vote will need to be convinced. By targeting the largest precincts in the state, Houk thinks it can be done.

For more info, check the Facebook page, “Recall Justice David.”

Hoosier hullabaloo: Indiana Supreme Court okays police home invasions

This month, the Indiana Supreme Court handed down two decisions that gut Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure by police.

The first, from May 10, asserts that police don’t need to knock or otherwise announce their presence before battering down the door to someone’s home so they can execute a search warrant. Fort Wayne police had a warrant to search a house for drugs and firearms. Arriving at 7:30 a.m., they used a ram to knock down the door while simultaneously shouting, “Police!” An appeals court ruled that the evidence gained should have been thrown out, but the state Supreme Court overturned that decision.

Two days later, the court issued a far more sweeping decision: “We hold that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” 

Two officers responding to a report about possible domestic violence asked to enter an apartment where a 911 call had originated. The husband, who had been arguing with his wife and had allegedly been throwing things against a wall, said no. When one officer persisted, the husband shoved him. The officers then used a choke hold and a taser against the husband. He was taken to a hospital and later charged with battery on a police officer, resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct and interference with reporting of a crime.

A court of appeals agreed with the husband that the trial court should have instructed the jury about a citizen’s right to reasonably resist unlawful entry into his home. It also found insufficient evidence for one charge and ordered a new trial on the others.

The state Supreme Court upheld his convictions in the trial court and overturned the appeals court’s ruling on the jury instruction about resistance to unlawful entry. The decision, wrote one of the dissenting justices, is “essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally – that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent, or exigent circumstances.”

This decision sparked a protest that has turned into a drive to defeat the re-election of  the justice who wrote it.  Stay tuned for information about that.

The May 10 ruling, in Damion J. Wilkins v. State of Indiana, can be viewed at The May 12 ruling, Richard L. Barnes v. State of Indiana, is at  Here’s a video clip from Fox News about the Barnes ruling:, and an article about the rulings from the Northwest Indiana Times can be found at