The normalization of child rape seems well on its way if you happen to read The Washington Post, the must-read journal in the ever blossoming bureaucratic hub that is Washington DC. An August 31 opinion piece written by Betsy Karasik, who the paper identifies as a "writer and former lawyer", should make any truly moral person blush that our culture has sunk so low. Bearing the title "Sex between students and teachers should not be a crime," its argument might be summarized as follows: 'Sex happens, so bring it on!"
Karasik's prose might remind the reader of the oft-repeated joke about the legal profession: 'What's the difference between a dead skunk and a dead lawyer on the road? Answer: There would be skid marks in front of the dead skunk.' She gushes about her fervid adolescence thus: "I’ve been a 14-year-old girl, and so have all of my female friends. When it comes to having sex on the brain, teenage boys got nothin’ on us." Moreover, she laments that criminalizing sex between adults and minors would limit the "advance" on "much-needed dialogue" about sex. Really.
And hear is what she says about the case of a 30-year-old man who had sex with a 14-year-old girl, a case that stunned a whole state. Karasik wrote of the sentence given in Montana to Stacey Dean Rambold, who was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl, Cherice Morales. Rambold will get only thirty days in jail for his crime, even while Morales was so distraught by the rape that she committed suicide at 16. The sentence, and the judge who handed it down, were both widely excoriated. Says Karasik: "I find myself troubled for the opposite reason. I don’t believe that all sexual conduct between underage students and teachers should necessarily be classified as rape, and I believe that absent extenuating circumstances, consensual sexual activity between teachers and students should not be criminalized. While I am not defending Judge G. Todd Baugh’s comments about Morales being “as much in control of the situation” — for which he has appropriately apologized — tarring and feathering him for attempting to articulate the context that informed his sentence will not advance this much-needed dialogue..."
The point is that there is a vast and extremely nuanced continuum of sexual interactions involving teachers and students, ranging from flirtation to mutual lust to harassment to predatory behavior. Painting all of these behaviors with the same brush sends a damaging message to students and sets the stage for hypocrisy and distortion of the truth. Many teenagers are, biologically speaking, sexually mature. Pretending that this kind of thing won’t happen if we simply punish it severely enough is delusional. If anything, to return to Louis C.K., the indiscriminate criminalization of such situations may deter students struggling with sexual issues from seeking advice from a parent or counselor."
If religious leaders and heads of state can’t keep their pants on, with all they have to lose, why does society expect that members of other professions can be coerced into meeting this standard?"
Even while Karasik, with a trained legal mind, says teachers should be suspended for having sex with students, how can she justify this when she has already proclaimed her support for a "vast and extremely nuanced continuum of sexual interactions." Given that approach, and the current cultural climate of enshrining relations between same-sex couples as 'marriage', how long before punishment gives way to tolerance of most of the so-called "continuum"? Organizations like the North American Man Boy Love Association have long called for decriminalization of sexual relations between adults and children, and might still have success in changing laws in the future.
Are there no fathers left at The Washington Post who would be outraged at the suggestion that teachers, pastors, psychologists, or other adults be given free rein to "experiment" sexually with their daughters and sons? The men that would allow this are to be pitied for having hollow chests and waxen arms, but also scorned for not having the willingness to denounce the evil proposed by Ms. Karasik.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.