Thursday, June 20, 2013


I'd like to take a quick peek at an article which a friend brought to my attention this afternoon. I would preface with the fact that I'm not condoning or denying Mr. Taranto's arguments, only presenting them as I understand them and explicating them in the light of what seem to be the implications of the Media Matters "piece," which is in fact little more than an assumption hidden in a byline meant to cast a wicked spell over a series of quotations. Hard-hitting journalism at its finest.

First, in the most recent article in question, Mr. Taranto doesn't allege or deny that the judgments in question are illegal or immoral, but rather that they "show signs of becoming" an effort to criminalize male sexuality. 

Second, what he does affirm in his most recent article is that the judicial and legislative reactions demonstrate not that any crime is acceptable, but rather that, "The presumption that reckless men are criminals while reckless women are victims makes a mockery of any notion that the sexes are equal." In other words, Taranto's point is that either A) men and women are in fact not equal and thus the law and judgments in question  in the 6/17 article are potentially and partially proper in principle, or B) men and women are equal and thus the laws and judgments should reflect that premise in their executions. Taranto predicated this argument on the fact that with equally ambiguous evidence (in the case mentioned in his 6/17 piece), the man's testimony was deemed less reliable for no apparent reason.

Third and as such, the byline is disingenuous since:
  1. Taranto does not "dismiss" the allegations but asserts their handling demonstrates something
  2. Where did the word "epidemic" come from and how is it substantiated here?
  3. The statement "the epidemic of sexual assault in the military as a 'war on men'" is not even intelligible. It technically means that the actual assaults (presumably by men) constitute the war on men, which is of course incorrect and absurd. What it means to say was that "charging men with assault is evidence of of a war on men," which is what the subsequent quotations from Taranto's pieces are meant to suggest and which Taranto never alleges. 
The byline concludes the cutting commentary by asserting all of the following quotations demonstrate sexism, to which the commentariat replies with winning charges about Goebbels, the conservative oligarchy, 18th century mores, and one which proceeds to make Mr. Taranto's point:
Actually, [men] have the right to choose not to have unprotected sex with a woman. They know or should have known that unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy. If it does lead to pregnancy, they have the legal responsibility and the moral obligation to provide for that child that they knowingly created when they chose to have unprotected sex.
Perhaps, but the point is that in such a case men and women would not be equal, since while both parties were free to have sex, and the woman is free to abort the fetus to undo some of the consequences, the man is not free to forego any consequences by refusing paternal obligations. Again, the question Mr. Taranto concerned himself with was about apparent inconsistencies in allegedly egalitarian administration of law, which he attributed to a:
war on men—a political campaign against sexual assault in the military that shows signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality.
Taranto's argument seems to be that the apparent lack of egalitarian judgments, which he alleges occurred in the cases he cited in the 6/17 article, demonstrate that:

  • The principle of egalitarianism is unworkable and thus ignored in proceedings AND/OR
  • The principle of egalitarianism is ignored for the purpose of somehow harassing men, AND/OR
  • Such anti-egalitarian judgment by Lt. Gen. Susan Helms was still somehow unsatisfactorily punitive for Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Whichever is the case, Mr. Taranto does not claim that any prosecution of sexual assault constitutes a "war on men," but that at the judicial level with Lt. Gen. Helms and/or the legislative level with Sen. McCaskill, a particular, alleged "political" pursuit "shows signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality" beyond, or instead of, trying cases based on an egalitarian justice.

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