WSJ columnist says drunk rape victims are just as guilty as their rapists

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal “Best of The Web,” columnist James Taranto–who by the way, calls himself “Tarantosaurus Sex”– spewed some verbal bile about how he thinks that intoxicated women who are sexually assaulted are just as guilty as the men who sexually assault them.

He tells the story, recently related by Michael Winerip in the New York Times, of a supposed false accusation against Dez Wells, a star basketball player at Ohio’s Xavier University. According to Taranto and Winerip, a student accused Wells of rape. Wells said it was consensual, and that it had happened after a game of truth or dare. “Investigators” concluded that “no rape had occurred,” and a grand jury declined to indict him.

Date rape is, unfortunately, particularly hard to prosecute–and, in some ways, that’s understandable. Because we have a system that, ideally, renders a “not guilty” verdict when there is any kind of “reasonable doubt,” and a “she said, he said” situation can often raise that reasonable doubt when there is no other evidence available. That does not mean that the sexual assault didn’t happen.

The prosecutor, Joseph Deters, sided with Wells in this case. Although it did not go to trial, Wells was still expelled from the University. Deters then gave him a glowing recommendation– “I told them he was a really good kid, he’d never been in trouble with the law and I didn’t believe he’d done anything wrong”–that allowed him to transfer to the University of Maryland despite there usually being a one-year delay for such actions. It is, of course, the first time in all of history that a rapist has been described as “a really good kid” who would never do anything wrong.

However, Wells is now “taunted” by being called a rapist at away games, and is now suing Xavier University for ruining his reputation.

Taranto describes this incident as a case of “false accusation” ruining a person’s life, ostensibly because the woman he allegedly sexually assaulted just felt guilty about having sex.

I’m not going to say there is never such a thing as a false accusation. I never say never and there are myriad possibilities in this world, however unlikely some of them may be. There have been false accusations and false identifications, and innocent people have gone to jail for crimes they did not commit. Thus, “The Innocence Project.” However, in this case, it is not even possible to state that the accuser was definitely lying. There is a difference between a case not being prosecutable and an accuser being a liar.

Taranto then goes on to explain why he feels that a woman who has a few drinks is “responsible” if she is sexually assaulted. In reference to an incident described by Winerip, in which a man separated his friend from a woman who was too intoxicated to consent to sexual activity, he says this:

The question arises here: Whom exactly did Martel save from danger? The answer is quite possibly both the young woman and his friend. Had she awakened the next day feeling regretful and violated, she could have brought him up on charges and severely disrupted his life. Both of them were taking foolish risks, and it seems likely that he as well as she had impaired judgment owing to excessive drinking.

The implication being that a drunk man can’t tell if he’s sexually assaulting someone?

What is called the problem of “sexual assault” on campus is in large part a problem of reckless alcohol consumption, by men and women alike. 


If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn’t determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver’s sex. But when two drunken college students “collide,” the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.

Taranto’s narrative is this: Woman goes to a party, has a couple drinks, goes home with a man and has consensual sex with him. Then, in the morning, she feels so guilty and regretful for having acted like a wanton whore that she reports the innocent young man for sexual assault. Because, obviously, getting a rape kit done and going to court and being called a liar is far easier than the mental trauma of simply accepting the fact that she had sex with someone consensually.

That is fucked.

First of all, it may surprise James Taranto to know that women really are capable of telling the difference between consensual sex and sexual assault. If we’re merely talking social implications here, there are far worse social repercussions for accusing someone of rape than there are for having casual sex. Far worse! There’s no contest here.

Also, sexual assault is not a collision. Taranto suggests that, because both parties were drunk, then both parties are at fault for raping each other. That a woman who did not consent to sex is also a rapist. Somehow. Like a car accident. Like sticking your dick into a woman without her consent is somehow not something someone does on purpose. As though it’s the same thing as falling down a flight of stairs or leaving the oven on.

Taranto then, naturally, blames feminists– quoting City Journal columnist Heather McDonald as saying that “modern feminists “embrace the Victorian conceit of delicate female vulnerability while leaving out the sexual modesty that once accompanied it.” Which he says is “practically Orwellian.” PRACTICALLY.

Let’s clarify a few things. Should anyone get so intoxicated that they have no idea what is going on around them? No, of course not. That is irresponsible. However! Being super intoxicated does not “imply consent” to sex anymore than it “implies consent” to be robbed. Which, again, is what is wrong with Taranto’s drunk driving analogy. If a drunk person mugged another drunk person, no one would say “Well, they were both drunk, so it’s not really a crime!” That would be absurd.

The thing that Taranto forgets is that sexual assault is still a crime if you’re drunk. Just like any other crime. It is not less of a crime if committed against a “sexually immodest” woman. A woman can be drunk, “sexually immodest,” and still be raped. In fact, a man can be drunk, “sexually immodest” and still be raped. Duh.