THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: New York Times readers get misled!

MONDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2019

Two numbers disappear:
Chanel Miller's well-received book, Know My Name: A Memoir, was officially published on September 24.

At the New York Times, Jennifer Weiner's review of the book appeared on line that same day. In print editions, publication of Weiner's review was somewhat delayed. Eventually, the piece appeared on Sunday, October 13, in the high-profile Book Review section.

Weiner's highly favorable review was somewhat oddly delayed. That said, one day before Miller's book appeared, the Times published a lengthy profile of the author and her book.

The piece was written by Concepcion de Leon, who had interviewed Miller. De Leon is a youngish writer, seven years out of college (Grinnell, class of 2012.) On September 23, her profile appeared on the front page of the Times' Arts section.

If memory serves, de Leon's profile was the first account we read of Miller's book. When we read the piece, we were struck by the way de Leon summarized the basic events of the deeply unfortunate night when Miller, then 22, was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, a 19-year-old Stanford freshman.

De Leon described the events as shown below. As an act of journalism, this basic account strikes us as highly truncated. It also strikes us as misleading in a highly significant way:
DE LEON (9/23/19): On Jan. 17, 2015, Chanel Miller was seven months out of college and working at an educational technology start-up when she decided to accompany her younger sister to a Stanford fraternity party. She remembers going, having some drinks and, hours later, regaining consciousness in the hospital.

What happened in between she pieced together primarily from news reports. She was found unconscious behind a dumpster with Mr. Turner on top of her, she said, by two graduate students who intervened and held Mr. Turner until the authorities arrived. He was arrested and later charged with three counts of felony sexual assault.
De Leon may not have read Miller's book at that point in time. In that passage, she seemed to be reporting the contents of the interview she'd conducted with Miller, not the contents of Miller's book itself.

What did Miller specifically say to de Leon? We have no way of knowing. But as an act of journalism, the account we've posted above strikes us as significantly misleading, possibly even as "slick."

What's misleading about de Leon's account? Consider what she says in that passage, but also what she omits. As far as we know, everything she says is accurate—but a great deal has been left out.

It's true! By all accounts, Miller did go to a Stanford fraternity party on that deeply unfortunate night. By all accounts, including her own, she did "have some drinks" at that party.

Hours later, Miller did "regain consciousness in the hospital." All those representations are accurate, but a great deal has been left out. Meanwhile, consider the various misimpressions a reader might get from reading that brief account.

Start with this. There are various ways a young woman can end up unconscious, behind a dumpster, after attending a fraternity party where she "had some drinks."

To cite one possibility, so-called "knockout" or "date rape" drugs may have been surreptitiously placed in her drinks. That said, no one has ever claimed that that's what happened here.

As a second ugly possibility, the young woman who was found behind the dumpster could have been physically assaulted—"mugged"—and rendered unconscious in that manner. Once again, no one has claimed that that's what happened here.

De Leon's truncated account of what happened that night lets the reader imagine various possibilities. But what actually did occur in this case? Taking some implied advice which Miller offers near the start of her book, let's turn to a news report about the testimony which occurred on March 21, 2016, during Turner's trial.

Reporter Tracey Kaplan covered the trial for the San Jose Mercury-News. In the passage posted below, she reported some basic facts which de Leon chose to omit.

In this passage, Miller is referred to as "the woman" because her name was being withheld from public reports at this time:
KAPLAN (3/22/16): Prosecutor Aleleh Kiancerci, on the other hand, contends that the woman was clearly extremely drunk—and Turner knew it...She did not wake up for at least three hours. The woman’s blood-alcohol was more than .24, or three times the legal limit. Turner’s blood-alcohol content was .17, or more than twice the legal limit of .08.
In this passage, Kaplan is reporting some basic information which emerged at trial. According to Kiancerci—the prosecutor Miller portrays at her major ally—Miller and her assailant were both very drunk at the time of the assault.

Indeed, in Kaplan's account of the prosecutor's presentation, Miller was "extremely drunk" at the time of the assault. That said, it's perfectly clear that Turner was very drunk too.

Whatever adjectives one may use, two numbers were present in Kaplan's report, as they had emerged at trial, for a reader's perusal. In Kaplan's account, the prosecutor was stressing how drunk Miller had been at the time of the behavior the jury would later judge to have been an assault.

A basic question arises. Why was the woman prosecuting Turner stressing Miller's state of drunkenness? We'll explain that point as the week proceeds. It forms a basic part of the slightly peculiar logic which prevailed at trial—a slightly peculiar logic which has generally been ignored in subsequent public debate.

First, though, Hannah Knowles, a reporter for the Stanford Daily, included those same numbers in her own news report about the testimony at trial. Knowles' report was slightly more detailed than Kaplan's would be. Also, throughout Knowles' report, Miller was called "Emily Doe:"
KNOWLES (3/21/16): Alice King—a supervising criminalist for Santa Clara County—also testified. Given nominally hypothetical situations corresponding to Doe and Turner on Jan. 18, King estimated that the Doe and Turner’s blood alcohol content (BAC) levels at 1 a.m. would have been .242 to .249 and .171, respectively.
Again, those numbers were presented at trial by the prosecution. They were offered as part of the successful effort to convict Turner of sexual assault.

At present, we all live in The Age of the Novel—perhaps in an age when our own tribe's tribal reasoning tends to borrow from the realm of the fairy tale, or even of the cartoon. For that reason, every liberal knows how to react to those remarkable numbers, which say that Miller was three times the "legal limit" at the time she was assaulted.

At this point, we liberals are all expected to make an accurate statement. We're expected to say—accurately, of course—that a person who is extremely drunk can't legally be assaulted or mistreated in other obvious ways.

Plainly, that statement is accurate. If you come upon a man who is so drunk that he has passed out, you aren't allowed to walk away with his wallet. And if you come upon a man or a woman who is extremely drunk, perhaps even unconscious, you aren't allowed to interact with them in a sexual manner.

If the man or woman is unconscious, you aren't allowed to interact with them sexually at all, but also this:

If the man or woman is "extremely drunk" but is still upright and walking around and talking, you aren't allowed to engage with them sexually, even if they voice consent.

These are basic facts about the state of the law in various jurisdictions. The reasoning behind them is obvious, though the logic may start to falter a bit if both parties are "extremely drunk."

The logic may start to falter at that point. But this brings us back to the truncated way de Leon described the events of that deeply unfortunate night.

De Leon left it to the reader to decide, perhaps to imagine, how Miller ended up unconscious that night.

In a choice her editor should have amended, she reported that Miller had "had some drinks" at the fraternity party, full stop. She didn't report that Miller had actually "had so many drinks" that she would have tested at more than three times the so-called legal limit, and that she had been so-called "blackout drunk" for roughly an hour at the time the assault occurred.

According to Miller's testimony, she had been "blackout drunk" for roughly an hour at the time of the assault. Tomorrow, we'll offer a quick overview of what that term actually means.

That said, Miller had had so many drinks that she was "blackout drunk" by midnight that night, and was fully unconscious at or around 1 A.M., though no one says that she had been drugged and no one says that her state of unconsciousness had been brought on by a "mugging."

De Leon's highly truncated account disappears those basic facts. New York Times readers were left to imagine what happened that night. Miller herself can't remember a great deal of what happened, but New York Times readers weren't told!

In most places and in most circumstances, it isn't against the law to be "extremely drunk." But because we live in The Age of the Novel, we liberals all know that we should pretend that Miller's extreme drunkenness had nothing to do with the profoundly unfortunate events which eventually took place on that unfortunate night.

Miller directly makes a form of that claim at the start of her well-written book. The claim is extremely hard to credit. It comes from the ream of the fairy tale, and it tends to enable an age of more such acts of assault.

Meanwhile, we liberals! We live in highly tribal times and, like tribal groups through the annals of time, we just aren't especially sharp and are devoted to dogmas. For these reasons, we tend to think that we should applaud Miller for this highly unlikely claim. (Explicit example to follow.)

Beyond that, we may be inclined to think that de Leon and her editor did the right thing in withholding the basic facts which emerged at trial.

Miller "had some drinks" that night? On a journalistic basis, is that statement an act of omission, or is it perhaps better seen as an act of outright deception?

In our view, New York Times readers got misled when some editor waved that account into print. We'd also say that this type of novelization enables an age of assault.

Tomorrow: Portrait of a culture

49 comments:

  1. "Beyond that, we may be inclined to think that de Leon and her editor did the right thing in withholding the basic facts which emerged at trial."

    WTF???

    Dear Bob, you sound like a wannabe zombie, who, while still capable of critical thinking, is desperately trying to suppress it, to avoid being kicked out of the zombie cult.

    Novelization by withholding the basic facts -- is it the right thing to do or is it not? Are you a liberal zombie, or are you still a living-breathing human being? Make up your mind, dear.

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    1. Diwali was yesterday.

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  3. Somerby keeps talking about the "legal limit" without stating that the limit applies only to driving. Neither Miller nor Turner was driving a car (both would be over the limit). That limit represents the point at which driving is impaired, not the point at which someone is "drunk" or "blackout drunk".

    Miller doesn't know what happened to her and she doesn't know what caused her unconsciousness. Somerby thinks she should have speculated. I think that when you don't know something, it is better not to pretend you do.

    Then Somerby goes on to claim that the drunkenness of both people contributed to what happened. He doesn't seem to know that many crimes are committed by perpetrators who are drunk at the time. Further, drinking is used to excuse crimes almost routinely and it is not considered an excuse under the law. Some people get drunk in order to get up the nerve to commit a crime. Further, being amnesic doesn't excuse a criminal who has been arrested for a crime. So the factor of alcohol is not as important as Somerby seems to think it is for Turner.

    Yesterday, I suggested that Somerby would bring up the alcohol as (1) an omitted fact, and (2) an excuse for Turner's actions. I also suggested that he would blame the victim for being drunk. Today he moves closer to all of that.

    Some men cannot understand why a woman who is very drunk is not "fair game." He thinks that excuses what some men do to them. The problem is that blaming women for drinking is part of that slippery slope that holds women accountable for men's actions and leads to burkhas and home-bound seclusion and less than full participation in society's many venues. The men in frat houses feel confident in their ability to get black out staggering drunk without their fellow frat bros raping them (or stealing from them), even when similarly drunk. The expectation that men should conform to the law when drunk is part of law and it does not exclude sexual crimes against women.

    Somerby is wrong on many counts. And he is so, so predictable in his misogyny.

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    1. I think that when you don't know something, it is better not to pretend you do.

      Why doesn’t your head just explode?

      Further, drinking is used to excuse crimes almost routinely and it is not considered an excuse under the law.

      It’s not so much the ignorance that amazes me. After all, ignorance is a routine part of human existence. It’s the sheer confidence despite the ignorance that amazes.

      Needless to say, intoxication and criminal liability have a complicated relationship in the numerous jurisdictions of the US. I’ll illustrate this with the following hypothetical:

      Suppose you are awakened by a noise in the middle of the night, and when you go to investigate you find a stranger, apparently drunk, in your living room. You call 911, the cops arrive and arrest the man, and the DA charges him with breaking and entering.

      At trial, the man testifies that he was given a spiked drink at a party and provides evidence both convincing and by weight (i.e., by a preponderance) that this is true. His “friends” even testify that they drugged him as a prank. This is a (very strong) affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication, and the man will very likely be acquitted.

      (This was not a factor in Turner’s trial. He got drunk for fun.)

      Let’s suppose, though, that the man testifies that he was drunk of his own volition and mistakenly thought he was in his own home. If he’s convincing — say he lives one block over from you in a house of similar architecture and with house numbers that are yours except for a transposition of the last two digits — then he has presented a (fairly strong) affirmative defense of mistaken fact. Sure, he was drunk, but given that, he’s made a reasonable error. He stands a good chance of acquittal.

      (Turner tried that: he claimed he thought Miller was willing. I can’t tell from reports whether the jury bought that when they acquitted him of rape, but they didn’t buy it for sexual assault.)

      Suppose again, though, that the man admits at trial that he entered your house, knowing that it wasn’t his, to get out of the rain. But he says he was too drunk to form specific intent to commit the crime he’s charged with. Specific intent is the intent to perform an illegal act (entering your home without your permision) and to effect the follow-on results specified in the law (in this case, committing another crime, e.g, theft.) If the man is convincing, he’ll be acquitted of breaking and entering.

      His drunkenness will likely not prevail in getting him out of a charge of criminal trespass because that’s a crime of general intent, which you almost always demonstrate by performing the act. In other words, the law presumes that legally-competent (i.e., sane) people intend to do what they actually do, even if they’ve been drinking.

      (In California, rape and sexual assault are crimes of general intent, so being drunk couldn’t excuse Turner on intent.)

      Some states classify rapes, e.g., one type of rape is forced sexual intercourse with the purpose of degrading, harming, or terrorizing the victim. That’s a specific intent crime — an unlawful act (forced intercourse) with a follow-on result (degradation, harm, or terror of the victim). Intoxication would be a defense for this type of rape.

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    2. Error notification: a bit more noodling around on the intertubes leads me to believe that the prosecution withdrew the rape charges. The jury never had to consider them. My fault; sorry.

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  4. Somerby thinks that a brief review, as background to talking about the book Miller wrote, should include all of the evidence brought out at trial. Given that newspaper space (in hard copy) is limited, and that the point of the article was not the trial but the book, why are either reviewers expected to give all of those so-called facts (actually arguments by prosecution and defense)? Both reviewers provided what they felt their readers needed to know. Somerby objects because their summaries didn't leave open the door to Miller's bringing her attack on herself. Why would a reviewer need to do that when plenty of men (who would not be likely to even read the review) will already have that idea firmly in their minds? Because however guilty the perpetrator may be (and Turner was convicted), the woman always deserves what she got. A better woman would have sat at home, drunk nothing but tea, and contented herself with needlework, as good girls do.

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  5. "Miller "had some drinks" that night? On a journalistic basis, is that statement an act of omission, or is it perhaps better seen as an act of outright deception?"

    It doesn't matter how many drinks she had, you don't get to rape her.

    What is Miller's motive for deceiving anyone, given that (1) she didn't write either review, (2) her state doesn't have any impact on the crime except to make it clear that she couldn't possibly have given legal consent, (3) she wasn't lying about not remembering given her blood alcohol level, (4) remembering something later has no bearing on whether or not she could have consented in the moment.

    But, but, but she was drunk and yet she was walking around and later she wasn't as unconscious as she was earlier. Such a mystery -- and none of it allows Turner to assault her while she was passed out.

    Does Somerby want the reviewers to mention that she was unconscious due to alcohol so that no one will believe her book, so that she will be considered a bad person, so that Turner will be excused? Deadrat will claim that Somerby is engaging in a dispassionate search for truth in media. Phooey. He wants readers to understand that men are preyed upon by drunken women, who lure them into assaulting them and then put them in jail afterwards, out of what? Vindictiveness? Seems to me that is Somerby's motive, not Miller's and portraying these two reviewers as man-hating liberals who are out-of-control in their passion to put all men in jail, just doesn't fit the facts of this case.

    But Al Franken and Louis C.K. are making come-backs and Trump is going to have to weather another round of complaints by the women he has assaulted, so the public needs to understand that these women all deserve whatever happens to them, because they are women, and bitches always lie, especially by omission.

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    1. Deadrat will claim that Somerby is engaging in a dispassionate search for truth in media.

      Please quit telling me what I’ll claim. It’s my job to tell you what I’m actually claiming.

      But, but, but she was drunk and yet she was walking around and later she wasn't as unconscious as she was earlier. Such a mystery -- and none of it allows Turner to assault her while she was passed out.

      Here what TDH said on 10/25:

      That act of assault should not have occurred. No one should be assaulted.

      So he agrees with you. The book is apparently about Miller’s experience as a victim and survivor (apparently both her words). It’s not about Turner, whose guilt is a given.

      Is it misleading for Miller to omit an admission of just how drunk she was? I can’t tell without reading Miller’s book, which I’m not moved to do.

      Is it misleading for reviewers to omit the admission? Again, I can’t tell.

      Are liberals falling over themselves to exonerate Miller from personal responsibility as they rightly insist on Turner’s legal responsibility? “Explicit example to follow,” writes TDH.

      Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

      But Al Franken and Louis C.K. are making come-backs

      Louis CK apparently had the bizarre notion that it was OK to masturbate in front of women if he asked their permission first. Seems almost quaint now.

      No credible evidence, let alone dispositive evidence, exists to condemn Franken for sexual impropriety, Kristen Gillibrand to the contrary. Perhaps KG’s pet witch hunt resulted in her Presidential campaign folding after 165 days.

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    2. “But, but, but she was drunk and yet she was walking around and later she wasn't as unconscious as she was earlier. Such a mystery -- and none of it allows Turner to assault her while she was passed out.”

      Right. She regained conciosness in the hospital. And Bob made clear the fact that assult is unallowable – as did the jury. Get a fuckin’ clue.

      Leroy

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    3. "It doesn't matter how many drinks she had, you don't get to rape her. "

      He never raped her.

      The fact that she drank more than he did, and was three years older, does call into question the scenario. He -- a male -- preyed upon HER?

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  6. In what way exactly are readers misled by the omission of this "fact"?

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    1. Because she might have also initiated sexual contact being so drunk?

      One thing I can't understand -- and I think Bob may get at soon -- is if alcohol removes the possibility of consent, why doesn't it also remove the blame and responsibility?

      If the woman's volition is in question, why isn't the other party's as well? It seems a bit slanted. Plus, the woman was three years older.

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  7. Everyone forgets that OJ Simpson was VERY MAD the night he killed — or, sorry Bob, may have killed — his ex-wife and her friend. In some places, being mad is a mitigating fact! What's more, even liberals have been mad, so they can understand the relevance of this simple idea that is obvious to everyone not blinded by tribal stories.

    Miller was drunk! OJ was mad! Regular voters understand that when men commit crimes, they have good reasons!! Only liberals myopically obsess over "actual illegal acts" without searching for alternative stories that absolve the perpetrators and blame the victims.

    With oracular clarity, Somerby asks: Did it ever occur to you liberals that it may have been the woman's fault? How original!

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  8. “We live in highly tribal times and, like tribal groups through the annals of time, we just aren't especially sharp and are devoted to dogmas.”

    “an age when our own tribe's tribal reasoning tends to borrow from the realm of the fairy tale, or even of the cartoon. “

    Tribal dogmas and liberal fairy tales.

    Somerby wants to spend two weeks, when all he appears to be saying is that people shouldn’t get blackout drunk, and that people who do and who end up sexually assaulted should not be treated as heroes. Somerby would no doubt say that this is what sensible people would say. He is a spokesmen, in a very convoluted, drawn-out way, of what might be called conventional morality.

    This assumes that Miller is being made into a hero, and the corollaries are that 1) flawed people can’t be heroes, and/or 2) no one should be made into a hero.

    There are no unflawed heroes, including the figures that Somerby comes closest to treating as heroes, Lincoln and MLK. In addition, he has never said an unkind word about his friend and former roommate Al Gore, and we all know that Gore, unlike Bush, wouldn’t have killed all those people in Iraq. (For the literal minded, the previous sentence was meant as sarcasm. No one knows what Gore would have done after a 9/11, but Somerby seems to think it would have been a different outcome.)

    His series on Chanel Miller connects with his writing about Stormy Daniels. An op-Ed writer declared Daniels was a “feminist hero”, and Somerby strenuously objected, citing his opinion that she was a grifter, an extortionist, and a willing sexual participant with Trump, which implies that she can’t or shouldn’t be seen as any kind of hero. That is debatable, but he sees these two cases as part of what he calls the liberal fairy tale, in which liberals create heroes and villains, partly by whitewashing unpleasant facts away.

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    1. "and that people who do and who end up sexually assaulted should not be treated as heroes"

      Meh. I don't think she's being made into a hero, but rather into a saint, righteous victim. The extremely shy little girl, who played grass.

      Their narrative is about villains and innocents. As for the 'heroes', according to my observations, heroes in their soaps are usually (slimy) lawyers, who construct and push this narrative.

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  9. I don't think that having "some drinks" is incompatible with having alcohol level of 0.241; three times the "legal limit" -- wherever that quote comes from -- doesn't apply here, as she was not driving. Depending on the amount of food that she had, strength of the drinks, which sometimes is hard to gauge depending on the sugar content, having 4 drinks could, perhaps, lead to this alcohol level.
    From the standpoint of prosecution, it's important to emphasize the clinical aspect of her drunkenness, in order to emphasize that she couldn't have consented to having sex with Turner. I don't know if anything here pivots on the description of "some drinks" vs. "too many". Turner's level of inebriation was used to provide some exculpatory evidence of his behavior. However, he was not in a blackout state; therefore, still responsible for his behavior. I imagine that out of a 100 people in that situation maybe one would have acted as Turner did, given his level of intoxication. Such people need to be punished. Given his father's statement that was reported in the news, one can almost intuit how he got to be that way.

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    1. Was Miller sloppy drunk when she encountered Turner or in an alcoholic blackout? That’s different from being unconscious.

      I wasn’t aware that Turner had been twice the legal limit. He’d be disinhibited with that.

      Be nice to read anything from witnesses who could describe ther behavior.

      Someone said that Turner lied to the police when they talked to him afterwards, so that would show that he was cognitively functional enough to pull that off.

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    2. The police officers said she was unresponsive, hence unconscious, when they arrived. We don’t know what her state was when Turner encountered her.

      Unless Somerby wants to argue that Miller is lying about her memory, is he perhaps trying to suggest that Miller really did consent, as Turner testified, but that Turner himself was too drunk to realize that Miller was drunk, and took it as legitimate consent? What else could he be suggesting? (I’m asking, because it isn’t clear to me what he is suggesting).

      Of course, Turner never claimed to have blacked out. He was very clear about the details, even if the details varied from account to account. Not sure if the defense tried to claim his judgment was impaired by alcohol.

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    3. It's not clear to me either. Seems like Bob is claiming that somehow Miller's story is being sanitized by not specifying her exact alcohol level; but everything is self-evident from the fact that she was passed out.

      I am sure that Turner was uninhibited given his inebriation, which is maybe why he got off so lightly.

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    4. He got off lightly because the judge ignored the victim's statement and the prosecution recommendation and accepted the probation officer's recommendation of six months. Mitigating factors were his expectations as a swimmer aiming for the olympics and his status as a student at Stanford. They didn't want to ruin his life and they didn't care about the damage done to Miller. This is where false beliefs about whether sexual assault is damaging to women matter. It is where the boys will be boys attitudes and the identification of the judge with the defendant (imagine Kavanaugh doing the sentencing, for example) but not the victim, has consequences.

      Voters agreed with Miller that the sentence was too light. That is why Persky was recalled. All the pressure by women's groups would do nothing if the voters hadn't agreed with their arguments, since women's groups have no leverage over voters, just a voice.

      Miller didn't pass out in a bad neighborhood, in a violent city, under an underpass or on a secluded beach or anywhere a transient or criminal might come across her. She was at a frat party at Stanford University, in upscale Palo Alto, with friends and students. That is why it is horrifying that she could not be safe, even if asleep or passed out, or just resting, or meditating, or otherwise minding her own business in a public spot.

      This is the same blame the victim shit that parents get when their child is abducted. If you had him on a leash tied around your wrist and never looked away for a second, he wouldn't have been kidnapped by a stalker. How many fewer drinks should Miller have taken? How many do men get to drink before they are allowed to do whatever they want to anyone they meet who is smaller than them?

      Delete
    5. He got off lightly because the judge ignored the victim's statement and the prosecution recommendation and accepted the probation officer's recommendation of six months.

      The victim’s statement generally has no effect on the length of the sentence, which is either the result of a plea bargain (which didn’t happen here) or statutory limits (which did).

      Sexual battery is punishable in California by imprisonment for 1-2-3 years (bad behavior in commission of the crime, worse behavior, worst, respectively). The prosecution wanted 6 years, probably calculating the middle penalty (two years) multiplied by the number of guilty verdicts (3), to be served consecutively.

      But under California Rules of Court consecutive sentences aren’t imposed when the convictions arise from the same closely-related acts and when violence or threats aren’t involved. And generally not on first-time offenders.

      There are first-time rapists in California who don’t get six years.

      Mitigating factors were his expectations as a swimmer aiming for the olympics and his status as a student at Stanford.

      You didn’t read the sentencing report, did you? You know how I know this? Because I did.

      No aggravating factors were found in the crime. That’s because the victim’s incapacitation was a formal element of the crime.

      There was only one mitigating factor found in the crime, the fact that it was first offense.

      Delete
    6. What happened to that judge was an atrocity -- and he had been a sex crimes prosecutor. He knew good cases from bad. This was clearly a wobbler.

      What gets me is how a woman so inebriated -- and her friends say it was habitual on her part -- can take the moral high ground on ANYTHING. The utter gaul of her. What the guy did was wrong, but who is she to pass judgement on personal behavior?

      Delete
    7. "That is why it is horrifying that she could not be safe, even if asleep or passed out, or just resting, or meditating, or otherwise minding her own business in a public spot. "

      She was drinking and partying! That's how it happened.

      Why was she drinking so much? Miss Moral she is indeed. She needs to get off her high horse.

      I was almost killed by a drunk driver on PCH. I hate drunks! Who are they to sound so moral?

      Delete
    8. What gets me is how a woman so inebriated -- and her friends say it was habitual on her part -- can take the moral high ground on ANYTHING. The utter gaul of her.

      Divided into three parts, no doubt.

      What the guy did was wrong, but who is she to pass judgement on personal behavior?

      Seem a tad harsh, dontchathink? Why does Miller’s inebriation, even if habitual, have an ethical dimension if her behavior is nothing more than self-destructive? If she’s not hurting anyone else, why do you think she’s unable to pass judgment on somebody who does?

      Delete
    9. Why was she drinking so much? Miss Moral she is indeed. She needs to get off her high horse.

      Getting blackout drunk isn’t admirable, but if she’s not hurting anyone else, why the condemnation?

      I was almost killed by a drunk driver on PCH. I hate drunks! Who are they to sound so moral?

      You can’t make a moral distinction between someone who gets drunk and passes out behind a dumpster and someone who gets drunk and get behind the wheel of a car?

      Delete
  10. It seems as though Somerby is saying that Miller should have controlled herself and not gotten blackout drunk, because that can lead to her being sexually assaulted.

    So, shame on you, Chanel!?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Kudos to Bob for playing Right-wingers into claiming raging alcoholic, Brett Kavanaugh, shouldn't be allowed near the Supreme Court, nevermind on it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What is the liberal myth?

    Women are good, men are bad.

    Blacks are good, whites are bad.

    Gays are good, straights are bad.

    Etc.

    Of course, these are *conservative* myths about what liberals believe, and do not represent the true views of liberals.

    Somerby thinks they are true, however, and he believes incidents like Chanel Miller or Trayvon Martin are examples of this truth.

    He also thinks that these so-called liberal myths alienate white working class voters. The correct phrasing of this, though, is: the Conservative myth about liberals alienates white working class voters, and you better believe the conservative elite hammer on these myths non-stop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Of course, these are *conservative* myths about what liberals believe, and do not represent the true views of liberals.

      Somerby thinks they are true, however,'

      Naturally, because Somerby is a Trumptard

      Delete
    2. I'm a liberal, and I think those myths are quite commonly held as real among the Left.

      I still don't get how alcohol = no responsibility and possibility of consent on the part of the woman, but great responsibility on the part of the male. It seems a big double standard.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous @10:28P comments,

      One thing I can't understand -- and I think Bob may get at soon -- is if alcohol removes the possibility of consent, why doesn't it also remove the blame and responsibility?

      semichorus @11:38P comments,

      I still don't get how alcohol = no responsibility and possibility of consent on the part of the woman, but great responsibility on the part of the male. It seems a big double standard.

      Sometimes alcohol does remove responsibility, but not in this case. See my comment @7:52P. The short answer to your questions is that’s the way the law is written. And the law is written that way because in this country we are (theoretically, anyway) loathe to remove someone’s rights. You may give up some (but not every) right voluntarily, and you must give up some (but not every) right by a judicial intervention in which you have due process. (Conviction of a crime and appointment of a guardian are examples of the latter.) But getting drunk doesn’t mean that you give up your right to privacy and bodily integrity. Likewise getting drunk doesn’t mean that you may violate the rights of others at will.

      The law is sex neutral. It’s just that men commit the lion’s share of sexual assault. There was a case in California in which a woman was convicted of rape. She came home to find her husband in bed with another woman and forced the two to have sex at gunpoint. If she’d been drunk, it wouldn’t have helped her defense either.

      Delete
  13. 'Meanwhile, we liberals! We live in highly tribal times and, like tribal groups through the annals of time, we just aren't especially sharp and are devoted to dogmas'

    You mean we DJT, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson defending Trumptards, surely ?

    ReplyDelete
  14. In most places and in most circumstances, it isn't against the law to be "extremely drunk.”

    Not in California, which criminalizes intoxication in pubic places and in the circumstances that you’ve inconvenienced others or you’re deemed too incapacitated to take care of yourself.

    [W]e liberals all know that we should pretend that Miller's extreme drunkenness had nothing to do with the profoundly unfortunate events….

    We do? I assume the “events” wouldn’t have transpired if one of the parties had been sober and very probably wouldn’t if both had been sober.

    Miller directly makes a form of that claim at the start of her well-written book. The claim is extremely hard to credit.

    It would be easier to assign a credit rating to this claim if TDH had quoted Miller.

    I’m afraid I’m not going to seek out Miller’s “well written” account. The lessons seem clear to me. For Miller, it’s don’t get blackout drunk. Ever. I can generalize that a bit: don’t get so drunk that you lose legal capacity. For Turner, the lesson is don’t get so drunk that you either can’t tell or don’t care whether your intended sex partner is able to give consent. I can generalize that too: don’t get so drunk that having sex behind a dumpster seems like a good idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “For Turner, the lesson is don’t get so drunk that you either can’t tell or don’t care whether your intended sex partner is able to give consent.”

      I would imagine Turner has learned that lesson by now.

      However, to my knowledge, Turner didn’t claim in court that his judgment was impaired by alcohol. He testified that Miller gave her consent. If he wanted to argue that he was too drunk to realize she was drunk, and so he took her consent as legitimate, he could have done that. Of course, that isn’t exculpatory.

      This whole discussion of Somerby’s seems to be in the direction of “women, if you don’t want to be raped, don’t get drunk. That doesn’t help.” But that is just conventional carping from the sidelines. Of course it would be better if people didn’t get stinking drunk. But the bigger issue that other commenters have voiced is that this is standard-issue excusing of predatory male behavior, the type of behavior that won’t stop unless pressure is brought to bear against it.

      Turner kept changing his story, and he wanted it to be all Miller’s fault.

      Delete
    2. She was unconscious when the grad students came on the scene. On what planet is consensual sex defined as a man doing whatever he wants to the body of an unconscious woman? How does that seem like any kind of mutual sexual experience? She was unconscious!

      Is Turner seriously claiming that she said "If I happen to pass out along the way, just continue doing what you want."? This discussion makes no sense to me at all. It is her unconsciousness that makes this predatory behavior, not simply her drunken state. And we don't even know whether she encountered him at all during the prior party, or whether he came upon her passed out body and decided to do things to it.

      This idea that men can get blind drunk but women can never do that for fear of being attacked, can be extended to sober women, because men are always capable of attacking a woman who is minding her own business and not drunk. That implies that the only way a woman can be safe is if she has bodyguards or stays inside her home, and even that isn't 100% safe, and who will protect her from her guardians?

      Women are only safe when men know that they are going to be held responsible for their own behavior. That is what the law is for, and it is why it is so important to enforce the law.

      The definition of binge drinking for men is 5 drinks in two hours, and for women it is 4 drinks in two hours. College social culture revolves around alcohol. Going to a party and drinking only three drinks is rare. One cannot go to a party and not drink at all or drink soft drinks. Further, these parties are only fun if you are as drunk as everyone else, since college kids do stupid things and loud music and stunts are no fun if you are sober. So expecting this girl or anyone else at that party to stay sober is not only unfair but unrealistic. Kids outgrow that stuff, but most kids don't engage in the kind of behavior that Turner and Kavanaugh and similar drunken frat boys do. Chanel probably used alcohol to cope with social anxiety among kids she didn't know and to enable her to have fun. That's the same as what other kids there were doing. Singling her out as exceptionally foolish because of Turner's crime strikes me as ridiculous.

      Men are not jungle animals. They can be expected to control themselves and to conform to the law. That is why Turner was convicted. This attitude, prevalent among Republican men and women both, that men have uncontrollable urges so women need to watch themselves at all times, is inconsistent with human behavior. Only psychopaths prey on other people and drinking has nothing to do with that. Turner deserves to register as a sex offender because he was doing something that no other drunken frat boy would do. And it doesn't matter how nice the people he didn't attack think he is.

      Delete
    3. However, to my knowledge, Turner didn’t claim in court that his judgment was impaired by alcohol.

      This might have been more effective in defending against rape charges, where knowledge of consent is critical. But those counts were dropped, leaving sexual assault (actually, sexual battery) of an unconscious and intoxicated victim. As I noted above, these are general intent charges, and as a matter of law, drunkenness is rarely an acceptable defense. Once the prosecution established BARD that Miller was incapacitated and that Turner had fingered her, Turner’s BAC wouldn’t help him.

      But the bigger issue that other commenters have voiced is that this is standard-issue excusing of predatory male behavior, the type of behavior that won’t stop unless pressure is brought to bear against it.

      This is the position of “Don’t tell me how much to drink; teach men not to rape.” I think teaching men not to rape is an excellent idea, but while we’re waiting for them to take the lesson to heart, it’s still probably a wise idea for women not to drink themselves into vulnerable states. Recognizing this doesn’t excuse predatory behavior.

      Delete
    4. On what planet is consensual sex defined as a man doing whatever he wants to the body of an unconscious woman?

      I don’t know, but not this one. Are you expecting disagreement?

      It is her unconsciousness that makes this predatory behavior, not simply her drunken state.

      Both her unconsciousness and her intoxication made this illegal behavior, one count each. Are you paying attention?

      Women are only safe when men know that they are going to be held responsible for their own behavior.

      Not likely. Alcohol and testosterone together form a potent poison that leads to the affected doing unfortunate things, not caring that they’ll likely be held responsible. Don’t you know any guys who drink?

      One cannot go to a party and not drink at all or drink soft drinks.

      I’m too old to party now, but back in the day (before electric lights) I went to parties. I drank at some and stayed sober at others, and had fun at both. You need to get a better social life. Yours sounds dismal.

      And no one is saying don’t drink at all. Just don’t drink until you’ve lost legal capacity.

      Only psychopaths prey on other people and drinking has nothing to do with that.

      Drinking likely has nothing to do with psychopathy, but all that’s necessary to take advantage of other people is the reduction of inhibitory control. Alcohol is good at that.

      Turner deserves to register as a sex offender because he was doing something that no other drunken frat boy would do.

      Turner is a registered sex offender because the court found that he was moderately likely to re-offend based on the sentencing report.

      How many frat boys do you know?

      Delete
  15. In a different time, Chanel Miller's male relatives would take Turner behind the barn and beat the crap out of him. Then he would be shunned by everyone else in town until he moved away in shame. No family would ever let a daughter date him and no one would hire him. He would have no future among the people he wronged, from his victim to everyone else in the place -- and word travels fast about such things. That is justice before people got too numerous to know each other by sight and laws and police forces were created.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, the lost days of extra-judicial punishment! And word did travel fast, or at least as fast as horseback. Unless of course, the news riders ran into a cholera or yellow fever epidemic.

      The good old days, eh?

      Delete
    2. I don’t have a son, I do have have a daughter.

      I agree with you in theory, but gut reaction- there’s no telling what her father and I might do.

      Delete
    3. Or if Turner was from a rich and powerful family (like say the Trump crime family), he would get away with it completely, and the girl would be shunned.

      Delete
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