Monday, April 20, 2015

Cui Bono?

What's really interesting here is the number of people in comments saying this is a situation of rape, pure and simple, because the wife, suffering from Alzheimer's, couldn't possibly consent to sexual intercourse.

And they all know that because.....?  Well, from what Mr. Pierce quotes, from this:

Michelle Dornbier, a social worker at the center, and Dr. John Boedeker, Mrs. Rayhons's family doctor, testified on Friday about her scores on a test to assess memory and orientation. In May 2014, she scored zero, unable to recall the words "sock," "bed" and "blue." But Ms. Dornbier acknowledged that Mrs. Rayhons "was always pleased to see Henry." And Dr. Boedeker acknowledged that "intimacy is beneficial for dementia patients." Ms. Dornbier testified that the Concord Care Center allows consensual sex between residents. But she said that on May 15, 2014, family members including Mr. Rayhons were given a "care plan" establishing simple routines for Mrs. Rayhons, including limiting outings with Mr. Rayhons mostly to church on Sunday.

Which comes, in Mr. Pierce's telling, after this:

It is rare, possibly unprecedented, for such circumstances to prompt criminal charges. Mr. Rayhons, a nine-term Republican state legislator, decided not to seek another term after his arrest. There is no allegation that Mrs. Rayhons resisted or showed signs of abuse. And it is widely agreed that the Rayhonses had a loving, affectionate relationship, having married in 2007 after each had been widowed. They met while singing in a church choir.
Emphasis added.

So this entire case is going to court because Mrs. Rayhon has advanced Alzheimer's, and because (according, again, to comments) the daughters are mad at their step-father, and perhaps a prosecuting attorney took his duties a bit too zealously (which happens in the area of family law and relationships far more often than it should, apparently).

There are considerations in the justice system other than punishment and the rigid adherence to the law no matter what (in this case, no matter the facts, for example; which we don't know, yet).  Justice is not just punishment meted out by the law to all and sundry and not every case of sexual intercourse where consent is a clouded question is a case of rape.  Does it matter if the Rayhons were married, or just if they were in a "loving, affectionate relationship"?  Because the people determined to prosecute (if not convict) Mr. Rayhon for rape seem to have decided sex is always desire and impulse and mindless animal behavior and has very little to do with love and the expressions of love.

Which is the first sad point here.  The second is the legal point I started to address:  is this the best use of the legal resources of the state of Iowa?  Is it the best use of the prosecutor's energies, the court's time, the jury's time, and the legal system in general?  Or is a prosecutor, like some kind of legal machine, required to try any case which might be criminal, to the fullest extent of the law?

Who benefits?  What, in short, is the point?

Steve Allen wrote a story about people gathering in a football stadium to direct their hatred at a prisoner on the stage on the field, much as a microwave oven would direct microwaves into a piece of meat.  The point of the story was the parable of how willingly people would hate the stranger, would punish whom they were told to despise, would bring to bear on the unknown person all the animosity they could muster, and use his suffering and agony (he's described as dancing around the stage like a bug on a hot griddle, until he finally falls over, barely twitching) to fuel their hatred directed at him.

More and more on the internet do I see examples in real life of the parable Allen was trying to tell.

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