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Old 04 April 2013, 02:47 PM
St. Alia St. Alia is offline
 
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Default University of Rochester students start petition against professor for rape comments

University of Rochester students have started an online petition urging UR President Joel Seligman to censure an economics professor at the school, Steven Landsburg, for comments he made regarding rape in a recent blog post.

In his blog — “Censorship, Environmentalism and Steubenville” — Landsburg raised various questions and referred to a recent case in which two high school students in Steubenville, Ohio, were convicted of raping a female acquaintance who was unconscious, incapacitated by alcohol.

“As long as I am safely (unconscious) and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?” wrote Landsburg.

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/...WS01/304030059

Last edited by St. Alia; 04 April 2013 at 02:48 PM. Reason: Finished quote
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  #2  
Old 04 April 2013, 02:55 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
 
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Other issues aside, I'm trying (and failing) to wrap my head around the "logic" used to formulate that question.

Given his comments about Sandra Fluke, I'm guessing this guy has a major case of misogyny and poor comprehension skills.

ETA: Also, from the blog in question:
Quote:
Every time someone on my street turns on a porch light, trillions of photons penetrate my body. They cause me no physical harm and therefore the law does nothing to restrain them. Even if those trillions of tiny penetrations caused me deep psychic distress, the law would continue to ignore them, and I think there’s a case for that (it’s the same as the case for ignoring Bob McCrankypants’s porn aversion). So for the issues we’re discussing here, bodily penetration does not seem to be in some sort of special protected category.
Someone needs to take some basic physics. Visible, UV, or IR light photons (the vast majority produced by lights) do not penetrate the body. Also, the analogy to photon-rape and real rape fails because the natural enviroment we live in is not constantly raping us! The reason photon-rape is not a crime is because it is constantly happening no matter what your neighbor does or doesn't do.

Last edited by GenYus234; 04 April 2013 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 04 April 2013, 03:08 PM
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Lainie Lainie is offline
 
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I can think of a practical way to demonstrate to Landsburg the difference between bodily penetration and being bombarded by photons, but my ethical code does not permit me condone it.
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Old 04 April 2013, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St. Alia View Post
“As long as I am safely (unconscious) and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?” wrote Landsburg.
But she wasn't shielded from the assault.

Also I don't get where he is going with that. So many other things could occur from the event. She could have died, received an STD, become pregnant, and a list of other things.
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Old 04 April 2013, 03:49 PM
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Auburn Red Auburn Red is offline
 
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Quote:
In a new blog post on Wednesday, Landsburg said: “A few posters have asked if there’s anything I regret saying in this post. Of course there is.” He said that the post “seems to me to be a somewhat subpar effort, primarily because it consists only of questions with no useful answers.”


Well congratulations, I think we found the gold medalist in the Worst Apology Olympics! It has been a long search with so many "I'm sorry you're offended" or "I'm sorry but" messages, but I believe I am safe in saying we have found the absolute lowest most pompous most pitiful excuse ever concocted by someone claiming to be a human being.

Ye gods, how can a person get all that way in an intellectual learned environment and still be that cluelessly sexist? Does he not take into consideration the thoughts of 50% percent of the students in his classes or are his thoughts towards them consist of only their physical attractiveness and anything between the ears is not really that important?
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  #6  
Old 04 April 2013, 04:21 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
...
Someone needs to take some basic physics. Visible, UV, or IR light photons (the vast majority produced by lights) do not penetrate the body. Also, the analogy to photon-rape and real rape fails because the natural enviroment we live in is not constantly raping us! The reason photon-rape is not a crime is because it is constantly happening no matter what your neighbor does or doesn't do.
Even with that aside, he fails because there is such a thing as "light trespass" in many jurisdictions.

Nick
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  #7  
Old 04 April 2013, 04:27 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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People like this scare me for a variety of reasons.

I mean, it's possible he's just doing this to make waves and be all "not PC."

Even if that is the case, things like this just help contribute to rape culture, and we've enough of that as it is.

But I often wonder if folks like this aren't trying to rationalize their own crimes or desire to commit a crime.
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Old 04 April 2013, 04:32 PM
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Lainie Lainie is offline
 
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Even if I agreed that digital penetration of an unconscious person would do them no harm, it would be beside the point to me.

It is wrong to "reap the benefit" of such situations because other human beings are other human beings, not objects for us to use as is convenient to us.
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Old 04 April 2013, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
Even if I agreed that digital penetration of an unconscious person would do them no harm, it would be beside the point to me.
That's the part that bothers me the most. To even think that molesting another person wouldn't cause them harm is mind blowing.
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  #10  
Old 04 April 2013, 05:06 PM
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I wonder if he would feel the same way if someone used his toothbrush in a way described in an urban legend about visitors to a tropical island.

You know the one I'm talking about. It involves a tootbrush and a camera. He's not home, so he's not aware of any assault....
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  #11  
Old 04 April 2013, 05:44 PM
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It's nice that he can be all experiment-thinky and abstractly enquiring about things that, on the whole, he doesn't have to worry about happening to him.
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Old 04 April 2013, 06:06 PM
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Ali Infree Ali Infree is offline
 
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Yes. It is nice to think in the abstract about all kinds of stuff. I would like to feed him some GHB and see if he feels the same way when he awakes up, in some other place.

I agree that freedom of speech and academic freedom are important, but neither is meant to shield someone from criticism. That thick hat of gluteous maximus may be keeping him from feeling any of it.

Ali
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Old 04 April 2013, 06:50 PM
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erwins erwins is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
It is wrong to "reap the benefit" of such situations because other human beings are other human beings, not objects for us to use as is convenient to us.
Exactly. The man sounds like he could be a psychopath to think that essentially an unconscious person = a potential sex doll. There's something fundamentally wrong there to not believe that a person's humanity persists even when they are not conscious.
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Old 04 April 2013, 07:09 PM
pinqy pinqy is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Ali Infree View Post
Yes. It is nice to think in the abstract about all kinds of stuff. I would like to feed him some GHB and see if he feels the same way when he awakes up, in some other place.
But that's his point: if he wakes up and no physical harm to him has been done and he is unaware of any harm being done, then what harm has been done?

All three questions were along the same vein: no physical harm has been done in any of the 3 scenarios, only psychological harm. So on what grounds should or should not causes of pyshological harm be regulated/banned?

That is a dilemna of public policy. Now, for those of you who have not taken an Economics course on Public Policy, the course covers what in other classes would be ethical issues as practical economic issues. Two essay questions I had stand out:
  • Why is theft wrong? (could not argue morals or ethics)
  • Should bribes to government officials be legal (again could not argue morals or ethics)

The point is to formulate answers purely on Economic theory (My answers were that theft is an inefficient transfer of wealth and adds costs that serve only to protect wealth, and that bribes while more efficient than the current method of allowable gifts and considerations, have other ineffiencies in that the decision making is not based on efficient outcomes but size of the bribe, while the inherent inefficiencies of current policy helps mitigate that.)

Now he had extemely poor taste in tying in the Steubenville case, and it's questionable, though understandable, to have an unconcious rape example, but the points are valid.

The problem is that people are adding moral/ethical/emotional content to the question. From a strictly Economic viewpoint, a bodily violation is a bodily violation...a question of property rights.

The worse problem is that he failed to anticipate that people would attach morals/ethics/emotion. "It's just wrong" is NOT a valid answer in Economics Public Policy.
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Old 04 April 2013, 07:15 PM
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JoeBentley JoeBentley is offline
 
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//Mostly devil's advocate, with a tiny sliver of honest inquiry//

I do wonder though if we aren't running the risk of making rape such a taboo topic that we can't talk about it in the abstract at all.

I mean on a purely intellectual, thought experiment sorta of level I do think there shouldn't be such a thing as a taboo.

I'm not speaking about this particular or any other specific case of rape apologetics, which let me stress very strongly and make very clear I have no patience for, but I can see in theory a discussion of ethics simply talking about in the abstracts the nature of harm of pretty much all morally negative acts to have its place at times.
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Old 04 April 2013, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinqy View Post
The problem is that people are adding moral/ethical/emotional content to the question. From a strictly Economic viewpoint, a bodily violation is a bodily violation...a question of property rights.

The worse problem is that he failed to anticipate that people would attach morals/ethics/emotion. "It's just wrong" is NOT a valid answer in Economics Public Policy.
There are many many people who think that you cannot remove the moral and ethical components of such a scenario. That viewing something in purely economic terms is wrong--not just in the moral sense, but also in the sense that it's inaccurate. I'm quite familiar with the legal version, law and economics theory, and it's a perfectly valid opinion to reject the theory outright. It doesn't mean you don't understand it, or are improperly injecting moral, ethical, or emotional content.

Further, the underlying premise that you could rape someone and have it not have a physical impact on them just because they were not conscious is at the very least an odd one. Just off the top of my head, there are the obvious risks of STDs and pregnancy. If a condom is used, there are risks of condom breakage, latex, spermicide, and lube allergies. There are physical effects of having sex--stretching, lubrication, heart rate and blood pressure changes, etc., some or all of which would still happen to an unconscious person. The very idea that using an unconscious person as a sex doll could conceivably have no physical effect on them is ludicrous. And of course it would be bad to create an incentive to render a person unconscious so that you can violate them, if having sex with an unconscious person were considered to not be harming them.
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  #17  
Old 04 April 2013, 07:26 PM
St. Alia St. Alia is offline
 
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I haven't seen evidence that rape is a taboo topic to discuss in the abstract.

However, this man brought in very specific examples and that is no longer an abstraction. Keep it hypothetical if you want to talk in the abstract, but don't use instances like Steubenville to try to create an intellectual exercise on how rape could possibly not be harmful.

(in response to Joe Bentley)
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Old 04 April 2013, 07:32 PM
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Lainie Lainie is offline
 
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Originally Posted by erwins View Post
There are many many people who think that you cannot remove the moral and ethical components of such a scenario. That viewing something in purely economic terms is wrong--not just in the moral sense, but also in the sense that it's inaccurate. I'm quite familiar with the legal version, law and economics theory, and it's a perfectly valid opinion to reject the theory outright. It doesn't mean you don't understand it, or are improperly injecting moral, ethical, or emotional content.
Exactly. I understand the concept, but appropriateness aside, I don't see the value of discussing crimes against persons that way, particularly when it is done with reference to an actual crime.
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Old 04 April 2013, 07:53 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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Originally Posted by erwins View Post
if having sex with an unconscious person were considered to not be harming them.
I actually wonder, too, if there are certain states in which a person is unconscious that their "psyche" (for lack of a better term) still records, on some level, that SOMETHING is happening, and, potentially, something traumatizing.

For example, during sleep, something can happen that doesn't awake a person but, nevertheless, feeds into their dreams. And, as an overwhelmingly active dreamer of disturbing dreams, I can attest that dreams can cause some level of psychological harm/distress.

So I'm not sure I buy at all his premise that raping an unconscious person has no psychological cost whatsoever.
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  #20  
Old 04 April 2013, 08:03 PM
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I misread "states" as meaning the political subdivision of a country and was trying to figure out which of the US states would have that ruling.
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