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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sex Crimes & Bad Times

I have really begun to wander about the authors of our Criminal Law casebook.

The first day of class Prof. CrimLaw warned us that we will be discussing subjects that may be a bit uncomfortable to some. To alleviate the discomfort, he suggested, we could come talk to him outside of class and, perhaps, miss those class days. I believed he was talking about the bitter disputes we might have over some social issues.

I think I was wrong.

In the first substantive section of our Criminal Law casebook, the authors delve into a discussion of the Common Law tradition and how it has impacted modern criminal law.

In order to illustrate this point, however, they have chosen a series of cases dealing with sodomy.

Yes. Sodomy.

Well . . . almost. Actually, they deal with other sexual acts, "carnal copulations," and "the most detestable and abonimable crimes against nature" (or what have you) that prosecutors throughout the past two centuries have wanted to squeeze into the anti-sodomy statutes.

Sodomy, according to the common law tradition, is limited to those acts which are "the most common forms of crimes against nature," otherwise called by these learned judicial minds as "sodomy per anum". The debate rages over whether these various and sundry criminal defendants can be convicted of sodomy if what they did to their victims was something other than that "most common form" of sodomy.

The whole discussion, I agree, seems quite absurd. At a point, one court even says: "Whoa, wait a bloody minute here! If *that* type of sodomy is the most common and yet is a detestable crime against nature . . . then shouldn't the least common be even more detestable and, therefore, just as criminal????"

Hmmm. Fancy the reasoning, eh?

Well, with Lawrence v. Texas now decided by the Supreme Court . . . it really is a moot argument anymore. They say none of it can be illegal.

But spending hours yesterday reading these arguments . . . it went from just plain silly, to absurd, to downright disturbing.

The most disturbing thought, however, was this:

These opinions seemed totally oblivious to the BIG picture.

Very little was said about the fact that one pervert forced a SIX YEAR OLD BOY to perform, uh, well . . . you get the point.

Another guy forced his way into his neighbor's apartment with a butcher knife and RAPED HER. (He just didn't use his penis.) Rape, people, ITS . . CALLED . . . RAPE!!

These were not consenting adults. Where were the rape laws in 1973???

It seems so bloody absurd that we are having an academic discussion NOT about WHAT these guys did but about HOW they did it. As if that could make it any less a crime.

Ah well, all I am supposed to take from it is how we use the Common Law to define modern criminal statutes.

But I'm still not leaving this chapter without wondering, just a little, about the authors.

This may be a weird semester.


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