Eddie Shah has caused outrage by daring to call into question the politically correct and widely accepted mantra that “Rape is Rape”. The same outrage that we heard when Ken Clarke said virtually the same thing back in May 2011.
A key benefit of free speech and internet anonymity is that you can objectively analyse such contentious issues, and even dare to reach an unpopular conclusion, without running the risk of being run out of town by the outraged/offended mob.
So is it true that “Rape is Rape”?
(Including its inferred conclusion, that all rapists should be treated equally severely)
Because this is an issue that arouses such mind-fogging passions, let’s start by examining what we mean generally by the statement “Something is Something”.
We might mean that the two things are identical i.e.
2 is 2 or, as Ayn Rand might prefer A is A.
In this tautological sense the statement “rape is rape” is true, but it tells us nothing about how we should deal with it. Not only is it true by this logic that “rape=rape”, it is also true that “crime=crime” and that “human action=human action”.
Nobody would seriously suggest that all criminals should be dealt with the same because “crime = crime” (with the possible exception of Draco).
The person who parks on a double yellow line and the serial killer are clearly morally different and deserving of different punishments in any rational legal system. Taking it even further if we must treat all human actions the same because “human action = human action” then the murderer and the life-saver are morally no different!
Clearly this cannot be what advocates of the doctrine “Rape = Rape” mean.
The other sense that we use “Something is Something” statements is slightly more subtle and means;
An entity is a member of a group (and therefore we can infer it has all the properties that define the group.)
This is the meaning that I believe the “Rape is Rape” advocates have in mind. What they are trying to articulate is the following argument:
Premise 1: This specific rape is a member of the group of actions called rape
Premise 2: It is a defining characteristic of the group of actions called rape that they are all terrible crimes
Premise 3: All terrible crimes should be punished equally severely
Conclusion: This rape should be punished equally severely with all other rapes
However in this argument, premise 2 is demonstrably false.
The definition of rape does not explicitly require the attribute “terrible crime”, the definition is simply: Sexual penetration without legal consent. This covers a wide range of different circumstances, some of which are clearly terrible crimes, other acts caught by the definition are not particularly terrible at all.
At the most terrible end of the spectrum you have the stranger who snatches and aggressively penetrates a woman, overpowering her physical resistance with violence.
(What most people are thinking of when they use the term “rape” in everyday language. What Ken Clarke referred to as “serious rape” and what Eddy Shah termed “Rape” Rape)
At the least terrible end of the spectrum you have the emotionally mature 15 year (and 364 days) old girl, engaged in enthusiastic and willing first time sex her with her 16 year old, long term boyfriend.
The horny husband who lovingly wakes his highly sexually demanding wife with gentle penetration, without waking her up to gain explicit consent first.
(What Eddy Shah calls “Technical Rapes”)
If you really think these acts are equally terrible crimes then your moral compass must have been hijacked by the Feminazi movement.
I have deliberately dealt with the two extreme ends of the spectrum to demonstrate the logical error as clearly as possible, but many real cases fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Certainly more terrible than a teenagers assignation, but also less terrible than brutal abduction and violent forced sex by a stranger:
Examples quoted by Clark and Shah were date rape, the circumstances of which are not always clear cut, or a 15 year old girl (40% of who are already sexually active) who may look like she is in her 20′s, lies about her age, and willingly engages in sex with an older celebrity.
With such a wide range of different circumstances caught by the legal definition of rape, it makes no more sense to treat all rapes exactly the same as it does to treat all crimes exactly the same.
To be crystal clear to those in the outraged/offended mob, who cannot follow a reasoned argument, but are never-the-less rushing to put on their white hooded cloaks and tweet death threats to me:
I am not for one moment suggesting that legal rape is not usually a terrible crime and deserving of the severest punishment, nor am I saying that cases that fall in the middle of the severity spectrum are not serious or that those convicted should not be be punished.
I am simply saying that there is no logical case for treating all actions legally defined as rape the same, without reference to the specific circumstances of the case. The worst offenders should get the worst punishments, the less worse offenders a less worse punishment.
People who blindly support the “Rape is Rape” position are probably committing the fallacy of equivocation and conflating their mental image of rape (violent forced sex by a stranger) with the legal definition of rape (any sexual penetration without prior legal consent).
In reality, the argument (and its unspoken implication that all rapists should be treated the same) has no rational foundation or logical underpinning.