On Sept 28, Gov. Jerry Brown passed a bill requiring colleges and universities to apply an "affirmative consent" standard in the investigations and tribunals of campus-related sexual assaults.
Also known as the "Yes Means Yes" rule, Senate Bill 967 requires "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity" and also states that "Lack of protest or resistance... nor silence means consent."
This means that under SB 967, your date could remove her clothes, help you remove your clothes, point to your penis, point to her vagina, and then make the universal coitus symbol with her fingers while smiling profusely and nodding affirmatively—and that would not be considered consent.
According to the Associated Press, "Advocates for victims of sexual assault [said SB 967] will provide consistency across campuses" with regard to what's considered rape.
However, consistency is not the problem. Current definitions of rape and sexual-assault are every bit as consistent, comprehensive and enforceable on campus as those in SB 967. The problem is not that assault laws aren't consistent; the problem is that there are always going to be scum-sucking dick-snorters who get off on raping people. Affirmative consent doesn't mean a good goddamn to any of these phlegm-slurping rapist types because, for them, "No" means "Yes," just as "Buzz off, perv" means "Yes," just as a can of pepper spray to the face means, "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!"
That is why this bill won't reduce campus sexual assaults. All it will do is ensnare innocent people, because, I mean, c'mon—how often does a legitimately consensual encounter begin with someone asking someone else if they may have sex with them?
"The State of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug," said the bill's author, Sen. Kevin de Leon, and you know what? The senator's actually onto something. We do have an issue with cover-ups at the administrative level. Only problem? Adopting a Yes Means Yes policy doesn't do a damn thing to change it. It doesn't address that problem at all.
Look, I'm wholeheartedly in favor of incarcerating every snot-maggot, puss-farting raper-slug for at least the amount of years their victims are traumatized—which is usually a lifetime. However, I also detest false accusers. This is a crime not far removed from rape itself—a sort of reputational and emotional rape that also destroys lives. And SB 967 just made that crime a whole helluva lot easier to pull off, because it puts the burden of proof on the accused and removes his presumption of innocence.
Think of that for a moment. Burden of proof and presumption of innocence are the hallmarks of our system. These two simple, yet potent, legal concepts are what keeps the secret police from marching us into kangaroo courts where mobs rule and biased witnesses merely have to point fingers and say, "He did it," before they drag you off to whatever gulag horror-show that would exist in a presumption-of-innocence-less society.
Yes, rape is heinous. But the heinousness of any act should never be reason to abandon our constitutional protections. If that were the case, then let's reverse the burden-of-proof and presumption-of-innocence requirements on other kinds of assault. Why not place the burden of proof on a person accused of, say, beating someone with a crow bar? Is that crime less heinous than rape? What about murder? Enslavement? Torture? Even the accused Nazis enjoyed a presumption of innocence at Nuremberg.
Admittedly, SB 967 doesn't make affirmative consent the standard for criminal trials; it's only meant to be the standard in campus proceedings. However, it is conceived and enforced by the state of California, meaning that our government has yet another of its steely, cold spider-bots burrowing into our consensual relationships. Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle said it best when she wrote, "I find it offensive that lawmakers would consider adult women so hapless that they cannot be expected to say no."
That said, something definitely needs to be done about the campus cover-up issue. This is why I am proposing Decker Bill 968, also known as the "Duh means Duh" bill, which would require the governing boards of California universities—lest they wish to have their buttocks publicly flogged by every woman who was ever assaulted on their campus—to stop enabling predators and to report allegations to the authorities, immediately, as in right now! Duh.
DB 968 also clarifies the consent standard, once and for all, in section 2(a), stating, "Hey, Mr. Puke-Licking Sewage Monger, 'No' means 'No' already! 'Stop' also means 'No,' and 'Not if you were the last puke-licker on the planet,' means 'No.' If she's sleeping, it means 'No.' Too intoxicated to know what's going on means 'No.' 'Taxi!' means 'No.' 'I know weíre married, but I can't stand the sight of you right now' means 'No.' If you slide a hand between her thighs and she closes her legs so tight that your hand turns black and falls off your arm, you should probably consider that a 'No.' And, lastly, if your date says 'Yes,' followed by another 'Yes,' with an 'Oh yes, baby' thrown in, then another 'Yes' and another 'Yes' and a 100 more yeses, followed by a sudden an inexplicable 'No' (excruciating though it may be), it means—duh—no."
From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, I'll be bartending at 710 Beach Club (710 Garnet Ave. in Pacific Beach). The first three people to call me a "puke-licking sewage monger" get a free shot.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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