Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto is not a rape apologist. He's not a woman hater. He only attacks sexual assault victims to help other women. In a Tuesday column, Taranto says that the effort to change how sexual assault is prosecuted in the military is tantamount to "a war on men" and "shows signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality." Taranto looks at one of two cases highlighted by Sen. Claire McCaskill in which a military commander overturned a jury's conviction in a sexual assault case because the commander found the accused to be more believable than the accuser. He agrees with the commander. "The presumption that reckless men are criminals while reckless women are victims makes a mockery of any notion that the sexes are equal," he writes. He calls McCaskill "histrionic" for describing the accuser as a "survivor." This is why rapes are underreported — because men will call them liars. Often in creepy ways.
In the case in question, a female second lieutenant in the Air Force said that in October 2009, she was sitting in the back seat of a car with Capt. Matthew Herrera. All but the driver had been drinking, and the woman said she fell asleep, and then awoke to find Herrera had opened her pants and was touching her genitals. Herrera said she undid her own pants and showed she consented to his touching by putting her head on his shoulder. Taranto points out that Herrera and the accused exchanged 116 text messages, 51 sent by the accuser, though we don't know what they said. Herrera was convicted by a jury of five higher-ranking Air Force officers of aggravated sexual assault, and sentenced to 60 days in prison, loss of pay, and discharge. Herrera asked Lt. Gen. Susan Helms for clemency. Helms did not watch the trial or speak to the accuser, and "Documents show that Helms’s legal adviser urged her to reject Herrera’s request," The Washington Post reports. But Helms lessened Herrera's conviction to an "indecent act," and he was discharged from the Air Force.
Helms wrote a five-page memo justifying her decision, though it was not made public until McCaskill put a hold on her nomination to be vice commander of the Air Force Space Command. But the memo reveals that Helms did not think the woman was making it all up. "It is undoubtedly true that [the accuser’s] feelings of victimization are real and justifiable... However, Capt. Herrera’s conviction should not rest on [the accuser’s] view of her victimization, but on the law and convincing evidence."
Taranto says McCaskill's hold on Helms' nomination is a pity, because Helms is a feminist pioneer — an astronaut in a male-dominated field. In a Journal video, he says Helms, a woman, is perversely a victim of the war on men, of the feminist crusade for sexual equality, whatever that is. This is a common theme for him. Feminism is causing the hookup culture and women to leave college unhappy and unmarried, he argued in April, when they should "take advantage of the simultaneity of their own peak nubility and their presence among an abundance of suitable mates such as they are all but certain never to encounter again." In February 2012, Taranto wrote of birth control, "it is not implausible to think, as [Rick] Santorum does, that it has been harmful to women on balance." In April 2012, Taranto speculated that more and more men are afraid of sex, because women have total control over whether to have a kid, but if they do have it, men have the responsibility to provide for it financially. Thus, women are having trouble finding husbands, and "No amount of feminist happy talk about 'choice' or [Bill] Bennett-like bluster about 'manning up' is going to solve it."
As you can see common theme in Taranto's work is that women's lib hurts women. Here, for example, is a video starring Taranto titled "Opinion: How Women's Lib Hurts Women." The takeaway is: A good thing could have happened to women, but because feminists lost their grip on reality, a bad thing happened to women. Basically, they were asking for it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.