Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sometimes Rape is Rape and Pork is Pork: On CA Senate Bill 967

Breitbart reported on this bill in a less than thorough way here.  Another misleading story is here.  Stories such as these are getting people worked up into a lather, for the wrong reasons.  California Senate Bill 967 stinks, but not for the reasons that most people think, after reading these articles.  Spouting off in ignorance of the facts is not a good place for libertarians to be.  These articles are reporting on the bill as it was originally written, not as it exists today.  By so doing they miss the point about the content and purpose of this proposed legislation.

This bill is not worth getting worked up over, although I would oppose it if I were in the legislature. Libertarians should avoid the appearance of opposing a reasonable consent standard for rape, and see the bill for what it actually is.

Although I am glad to see coverage of the CA legislature, the stories as reported lack important details.  Their headlines are misleading as to the marked-up SB 967.  As of this writing, the bill is in the Assembly, pending referral.  The bill's revised consent standard is not inconsistent with the Penal Code's definition of rape anyway. Its standard of affirmative consent is not unlike the existing CA Penal code, which states at 261.6:

In prosecutions under Section 261, 262, 286, 288a, or 289, in which consent is at issue, "consent" shall be defined to mean positive cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will. The person must act freely and voluntarily and have knowledge of the nature of the act or transaction involved.
A current or previous dating or marital relationship shall not be sufficient to constitute consent where consent is at issue in a prosecution under Section 261, 262, 286, 288a, or 289.

The purpose of this bill, at least after its revisions, is not to redefine rape on college campuses, but to force state-funded schools to "implement comprehensive prevention and outreach programs addressing sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking" as detailed in the bill. In other words, it's just a form of good old-fashioned pork to constituents who will provide the required programs, dressed up in the usual clothing of victim protection, with the added benefit of paying for more political-correctness indoctrination of students of state schools: "If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code."  The Commission on State Mandates is thus handed a tool for increasing state funding of political indoctrination by state schools and client organizations, virtually all of whom support the Democratic Party political machine.  Smart politics by De Leon.  That guy is a sharp cookie, keep an eye on him.