Wall Street Journal Columnist: It's Not Rape If the Rapist Is Drunk, Too | The Fix
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Wall Street Journal Columnist: It's Not Rape If the Rapist Is Drunk, Too

Known for making incendiary remarks about liberals and mass shooting victims, James Taranto stooped to a new low when asking why a drunken "collision" between a drunk male and drunk female is the male's fault.

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By Bryan Le

02/12/14

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Pugnacious Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto is causing a stir with his most recent column, “Drunkeness and Double Standards,” in which he tried to place equal blame on a woman for being raped if both victim and attacker are drunk.

His column started off about wrongful rape accusations and how Dez Wells, a basketball player at Ohio's Xavier University, was expelled by the school and taunted by peers during a basketball game after being accused by a female student of sexual assault. Wells claimed he and the female student had consensual sex as a result of a truth or dare game. A grand jury later declined to prosecute Wells, but the damage was already done.

Taranto went on to compare the Wells incident to another case where a rapist stopped a young woman on her way home from a party, “pinned her against a tree and began kissing and biting her neck,” threw her to the ground, and raped her. Taranto brought the case up because he felt this particular rape was an example of “unambiguous brutality.” He quoted the investigating officer: “For the most part, they're boys who had too much to drink and have done something stupid. When we show up to question them, you can see the terror in their eyes.”

But what about when both parties, male and female, are drunk and their inhibitions are both shattered? Taranto cited another incident where a student intervened between his drunk friend and an extremely intoxicated woman, claiming that the student actually saved both of them because both of their lives would have been ruined - hers by feeling regretful and violated, and his by the rape charges that could destroy his future.

Taranto then made the ridiculous comparison between drunken students having sex to driving while intoxicated. “If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn't determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver's sex,” Taranto wrote. “But when two drunken college students 'collide,' the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.” He claimed they “are both technically guilty of sexually assaulting each other” because neither are in a state of mind to give consent. Holding men up to chivalrous standards while embracing what another writer calls “the Victorian conceit of delicate female vulnerability” is “downright Orweillian,” Taranto wrote.

Perhaps by design, Taranto's column went viral and generated an enormous backlash that unfortunately won't diminish the author's ability to irritate. Taranto has caused controversy in the past, most notably when he callously commented on the Aurora mass shooting in 2012, saying that "I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice."

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