Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Blaming the Victim

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, a generally excellent legal blog, a post which is... controversial to say the least.
In Greeley, Colorado, a trial will begin this week for Allen Andrade, who is accused of murdering Angie Zapata. Zapata (former first name "Justin") was a female transgender person. It appears that Zapata tricked Andrade into a sexual relationship. Andrade was led to believe that Zapata was a female in the conventional sense of the term; when he found out otherwise, he flew into a rage and beat Zapata to death.

Colorado law for sexual assault states that there is no "consent" if the consent "is induced by force, duress, or deception." Accordingly, Zapata may have perpetrated the crime of "unlawful sexual contact", which is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is subject to enhanced sentencing as an "extraordinary risk crime."
In contrast, Zapata was (on what appears to be an uncontested version of the facts, although the trial might reveal otherwise) criminal whose death resulted from unjustifiable retilation by the victim. Of course Zapata did not deserve to die, but people who perpetrate sex crimes by deception are not particularly sympathetic characters.
Neither are some legal bloggers.

Of course Zapata did not deserve to die, but .... well, it's understandable, isn't it?

My reply to the Author (though I said considerably more in other comments, relating to the case rather than the author's views) :
One question for Mr Kopel - if the accused had found pictures showing that the victim may have only been "passing for white", and sexually assaulted her to find out her pubic hair colour... would the victim have been a "criminal", and a person "who perpetrated a sex crime by deception"?

Or would a violent racist reaction be not a mitigating factor, but an exacerbating one?

What about if she "didn't look Jewish"?

How are those cases distinguished? Is it that homophobia/transphobia is acceptable, while racism is not? And if so, why?

Members of the KKK or Stormfront could justifiably feel aggrieved at their unfair treatment in comparison. They would feel just as strongly, and perhaps more so, at "racial defilement". Would not they have good reason to complain that the deception by the victim in not making their status obvious (with a yellow star say) amounted to a "sex crime" too, an even worse one?

Some "perfectly natural and acceptable" feelings deserve to be discouraged. That's why we have things like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

If "Oh but that's different..." then please make a case as to why, one based on reason rather than your own personal feelings, or even those of a majority of people you know.


daddy dave said...

I'm disappointed in Volokh.com. I expect better from them.

xlbrl said...

Didn't the victims mother raise him to understand that a girl must be circumspect when showing her pecker?

Zoe Brain said...

xlbrl - since according to the killer, he sexually assaulted her to ascertain her anatomy, the question doesn't arise.

Or do you consider it acceptable for men to grab your crotch? Just part of male privilege?

Your comment was designed to be cruel. It was, and so are you.

Before working on being a good feminist, try being decent human being first. It's a pre-requisite.