DAVID BROWN: No should mean no, regardless
Justice has always been stacked against victims of sexual assault, if only because most cases come down to a “he said-she said” situation that can be difficult to prove in court. But the one thing we have always known, or at the very least should have learned since the #MeToo movement rose up in recent years, is that no means no.
That’s true in 49 states – just not necessarily in North Carolina.
Aaliyah Palmer learned that lesson the hard way. According to The Fayetteville Observer, Palmer was at a party when a sexual encounter turned violent, with her partner ripping out her hair. However, when she tried to bring charges, she ran into a 1979 N.C. Supreme Court decision that incredibly rules women cannot revoke consent once sexual intercourse begins.
“It’s really stupid,” Palmer told the Observer. “If I tell you no and you kept going, that’s rape.”
Of course it is. Yet, for the fourth consecutive year, state Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Southport), chair of the Rules Committee & Operations Committee, refused to even allow a vote on a bill to close that loophole, leaving it dead in the water before it even reached the full Legislature. Just as bad, he refuses to even explain himself.
State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) has been fighting to change the law, without success.
“There are guys who have a problem with closing this loophole, and they will never say so publicly because they would be shamed, but they can kill it privately and that’s the best of both worlds as far as they are concerned because they can keep it from coming up for a vote without their fingerprints on it,” Jackson told WFAE. When asked why, Jackson said, “Because of deep social conservatism among a handful of members.”
Social conservatism is defined online as “the belief that society is built upon a fragile network of relationships, which need to be upheld through duty, traditional values and established institutions. This can include moral issues.” Another website calls social conservatism “a political ideology that involves traditional, historical views on marriage, life, sexuality and religion.”
After reading those definitions, how in the world can anyone calling themselves social conservatives be against stopping rapists from raping? If a man acts sweetly to get a woman into the bedroom, then turns into a monster after the proceedings begin, there is no other way to define it than as sexual assault.
The continued delays in closing this legal loophole means you have to wonder why anyone would want North Carolina to be the only state in the union that protects predators as long as they start out nice. Are some legislators concerned that they or some people they know could get caught up in such an act?
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain says he’s in favor of fixing this injustice. So why hasn’t it happened? Jackson knows why: “Because they are opposed to it.”
And that’s a disgrace to our great state.
David Brown is publisher of the Cherokee Scout. Reach him by phone, 837-5122; email, email@example.com; or on Twitter @daviddBstroh.