A response to Greta Christina

Posted: January 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Thanks to a Slymepitter (papillon) doing some good research, I have decided to respond to an article by Greta Christina on rape prevention campaigns directed at the rapist working.

Now, we should all know off the top that Greta Christina appears to have a desire for this to be true (as, to be honest, do I). Her concern is that rape prevention campaigns tend to be directed at safety (which she considers victim-blaming). She wished to obtain some data that proved that. Her triumphant article is here.

Greta says that:

[About safety campaigns being effective] I don’t ever want to hear this again. Not just because it’s part of the exact victim-blaming rape culture we’re talking about. Not just because this business of rapists being just a handful of sociopaths — as opposed to active members of society who you might know — is bullshit. I don’t want to hear it again… because it’s just flatly not true.

The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign is a public service rape prevention campaign launched in Edmonton in 2010, and adopted by other cities in Canada, which took the radical step of aiming its message, not at potential rape victims, but at potential rapists. It took the radical step of educating potential rapists about what rape actually is. It recognized the role that alcohol commonly plays in rape — and it educates potential rapists that having sex with someone who doesn’t consent, or who is too drunk to consent, or who is passed out and therefore unable to consent, is rape.

I’m going to say that again, since it’s the big take-home message from this piece: A rape prevention campaign targeted at potential rapists rather than potential victims was launched… and the number of reported sexual assaults fell by 10 per cent.

This was a one-shot public service campaign: a series of posters distributed in bars, nightclubs, transit stations and campus facilities. And it still had the apparent result of reducing the rate of rape by 10%.

As papillon pointed out in the Pit, her numbers are a bit shaky on this one. I expand a little bit on what papillon said:

  1. The 9.8% drop is in sexual assault (not rapes). Greta equivocates from at one point saying “A rape prevention campaign targeted at potential rapists rather than potential victims was launched… and the number of reported sexual assaults fell by 10 per cent” to “And it still had the apparent result of reducing the rate of rape by 10%.” Rape and sexual assault are very different things. Sexual assault is a much broader term.
  2. Greta also say that the “Edmonton police were so convinced of the campaign’s effectiveness…“. That may well be, but it could be inferred (as she hadn’t said anywhere what the results in Edmonton were) that the Edmonton statistics were just as promising (leaving aside matters of causation versus correlation). The rapes were actually UP in Edmonton. (http://www.theunexpectedtnt.com/2012/01/partial-success-dont-be-that-guy.html)

Sad as it is, I think there’s a bit of confirmation bias in this article. While we want rape-prevention-campaigns to be aimed at rapists and succeed, the jury’s out.

If we were getting the same results from a homeopathic potion, we’d be laughing at them all the way down the comments thread of Greta’s article.

The reason the conversation turns to how to prevent rape (from the victim’s perspective) is that they’re the more surefire way to prevent it. The people who WANT to prevent rape are those who might be victimised by it. The people who don’t want to prevent rape are those who are going to do it. As christophernicholas said on Greta’s article, there’s a clear difference between saying “that parking lot is a dangerous place at night,” vs. “it’s your own fault if you get raped in that parking lot.””.

I’d like to draw an analogy between lions and people going into the jungle. We don’t train the lions to stay away because we know they’re not going to care or listen. Screw it, they’re lions. What we do is educate people about lion safety, take steps on lions known to attack and set up systems to scare away lions (seehttp://www.dogonews.com/2012/10/28/young-boys-brilliant-invention-ensures-harmony-between-man-and-beast/page/18). This is done without any hint of us wandering up to the lion attack victims and saying “You deserved it, you moron. We told you not to get attacked by lions.”

I am all for these advertisements continuing, but saying that it WORKS isn’t quite possible yet.

And we shouldn’t be ready to say so just because we want it to be true.

Update: a question for my (many?) readers: I’ve had someone raise this with me. Is it sexist to think that an ordinary non-sociopathic man would be stupid enough to think rape was okay until they saw these types of ads?

Edit: minor edits for italicisation and changed “you haven’t” to “she hadn’t”.

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Comments
  1. hjhornbeck says:

    Er, in doing your research, did you come across the fact that rape is not in Canada’s criminal code? The proper term up North is “sexual assault”, and has been for thirty years.

    Did it also involve noting that Christina was talking about Vancouver? You must have, as you edited it out when quoting her:

    And the campaign has been so successful, the number of reported sexual assaults in Vancouver fell by 10 per cent.

    I’m going to say that again, since it’s the big take-home message from this piece: A rape prevention campaign targeted at potential rapists rather than potential victims was launched… and the number of reported sexual assaults fell by 10 per cent.

    Now, Christina *did* screw up when she said the Edmonton Police were re-launching the campaign; actually, it’s the work of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, which has no relation to the police. You could have found this by clicking on Christina’s link, as I did.

    Apparently, though, you never thought to do that in your research.

    • rocko2466 says:

      Hi. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      (1) Re: Sexual assault. Yes, exactly. That’s my point. In her article she equivocated between “sexual assault” and “rape”. “Sexual assault” includes the ordinary layperson understanding of the word rape “rape”, but not all sexual assaults are rape.

      Sexual assault in Canadian law is sexual contact with another person without consent. Obviously, groping someone would still be a sexual assault and so would rape. There are degrees – which is why the maximum penalty is so high. You wouldn’t expect so much for a bum-slap, but you would for something more serious. This is also why the same named offence (“sexual assault”) is both a summary and indictable offence.

      (Here’s the Canadian Criminal Code in its full text – http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/rsc-1985-c-c-46/latest/rsc-1985-c-c-46.html)

      (See also, humorously enough, the link you gave me in one of your Google searches where the Edmonton police explain the law: http://www.edmontonpolice.ca/CommunityPolicing/PersonalPropertyCrimes/SexualAssault/WhatisSexualAssault.aspx)

      Secondary source (just for fun): I’m a lawyer.

      (2) My stated problem is that her article equivocates between the terms “sexual assault” and “rape”. They are not one and the same. So to say that sexual assault went down 10% (which she did) and then to repeat the assertion but to substitute “sexual assault” with “rape” (which she did) is incorrect. (I’ve quoted both of these and you are free to check my quoting)

      Therefore, to say that the Edmonton-devised campaign worked in Vancouver is probably inaccurate on the information we have as we don’t have pure rape statistics. The amount of sexual assaults went down by that figure but we don’t know whether the rape figures decreased by the same figure – because one does not mean the other.

      It’s like if I heard “Attendance at sports games in the United States have fallen 10% in the past year” and concluding “Attendance at football games in the United States have fallen 10% in the past year. I don’t have enough information to justify that conclusion. Football attendance could be the same or could have increased. (Perhaps that year, noone played any hockey or tennis!)

      (3) The next problem is – of course – that she equated correlation with causation, even though she said she didn’t. She pointed out that she should not do it, but still used it to conclude that the campaign worked. There are obvious problems with doing that (that I don’t need to go into); the primary one being that in Edmonton rapes actually went UP when the campaign was in force. If we were to reason in the same way Greta has: we would be saying that in Vancouver it caused rapes to drop but in Edmonton it caused rapes to INCREASE. Now, that is clearly faulty reasoning (from correlation to causation), which is what undermines her whole point.

      She misinterpeted data, then over-applied it, then inferred causation and then came to a triumphant conclusion that was just not justified.

      (4) I was not taking issue with her claim that the Edmonton police thought they should renew the campaign. If you’ll look above – and I didn’t edit this when I fixed my italics –

      “Greta also say that the “Edmonton police were so convinced of the campaign’s effectiveness…“. That may well be, but it could be inferred (as she hadn’t said anywhere what the results in Edmonton were) that the Edmonton statistics were just as promising (leaving aside matters of causation versus correlation). ”

      My clear problem with that her inference was that WHOEVER reauthorised the campaign thought it had been a great success (in Edmonton). This is not a logical inference, particularly when you read further and you find (thanks to one of your Google searches below: http://www.edmontonsun.com/2012/11/30/high-number-of-sex-assaults-in-edmonton-prompt-police-to-make-awareness-campaign

      This is the high number of sex assaults in Edmonton prompting police to RELAUNCH the awareness campaign because rapes had increased.

      (5) I think we’re in a position now where you might be satisfied that I have done the research. I’d have appreciated if you weren’t a little quick off the mark to misinterpret my article but that’s okay, I hope I’ve clarified.

      At the end of the day, what I hope to achieve is people applying logic and reason to problems like sexual assault and how we can prevent them.

      IMHO, this KIND of campaign is a good idea (except for the new posters which awkwardly say that the act depicted is both sex and not-sex!) but we don’t have any reason to blow its horn as a success because the data we have at the moment is mixed.

      (I also reject your allegation of quote-mining on Stephanie Zvan’s blog. Being a qualified lawyer and having obtained a philosophy major, I know the dangers of doing so and I hate it when people do. Remember: just because we may not agree does not mean I’m a piece of work ;))

      • hjhornbeck says:

        Being a qualified lawyer and having obtained a philosophy major

        Most lawyers never stand in front of a jury, they do clerical work behind the scenes; rhetorical skill isn’t a guarantee, consequently. You may know the law quite well, and be good at researching case histories, but we’re not talking legalities here. Any skill you had in research would quickly show itself, you wouldn’t need to inform me of it. As for philosophy, that would only be relevant if once a philosopher obtained their major, the rules of the universe guaranteed they would be flawless logicians in perpetuity. Since I can think of a counter-example (Antony Flew), that argument is refuted.

        Your credentials are irrelevant here. And yet, you thought they were important enough to deserve two mentions in a single reply.

        But, you say you are a lawyer? Then you’ve heard of the phrase “spirit of the law,” and know that injustice can come from focusing too tightly on individual words and too loosely on the context within which they are made. Was Christina making a detailed philosophical argument, doing scientific research, or crafting policy, all of which require careful attention to word meaning? Or was she making a casual blog post, with little impact on society or intellectual discourse? The latter, of course, and so even though she was sloppy with her language, that is not a hangable offense.

        Lawyers that do pass the bar know the value of expert testimony. You can’t know everything, and so they’re content to trust in those who have more relevant knowledge. Thus if I can find an example of an expert also equivocating, in a similar context, then I’ll have demonstrated that little confusion can arise from it. And sure enough:

        Rape is forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. Rape, sometimes also called sexual assault, can happen to girls and women of any age. A stranger can perpetrate a rape but most sexual assault is committed by someone the victim knows.
        Rape is about power, not sex. A rapist uses actual force or violence — or the threat of it — to take control over another human being.

        Not enough? How about the Edmonton Police themselves?

        At this point you can also choose whether or not to have a sexual assault kit (or rape kit as it is sometimes called) completed by a doctor and nurse. The sexual assault kit is used to gather medical-legal evidence for court purposes. If you decide not to get the sexual assault kit done, the SART nurse will examine you as discussed above.

        If the experts in sexual assault see no problem in conflating the two terms, Christina must also be clear to do so; otherwise, we are treating her inequitably.

        You also make a big deal about the mixed signals between Vancouver (10% drop) and Edmonton (10% rise). But I ask: are you an expert on the prevention of sexual assault? No? Then perhaps you should defer to the experts here, as those in Edmonton felt the campaign worked well enough to try again, despite what the Sun claims. More exhibits:

        The success of a bold advertising campaign that targets offenders of sexual assault instead of victims has been re-launched.

        Edmonton Police Services and other members of a group fighting sexual assault, called Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton or SAVE, relaunched the campaign with four new posters that are “intentionally provocative.”

        Due to the overwhelming success of campaign, The SAVE Committee in Edmonton is currently working on fine-tuning the artwork, and generating a new slogan to extend the campaign.

        The far-reaching success of this important initiative is due to the tireless efforts of the Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton (SAVE) coalition.

        You’re also a philosopher, eh? Then you would know of the danger of disanalogy. The comparison between different sports and different types of sexual assault is exactly that. There is little correlation between liking one sport and liking another arbitrarily-chosen sport; the wide variety of rules and tempos ensure fans of each have quite different reasons for liking their chosen sport. In contrast, sexual crimes have very similar motivations behind them, and there can be escalation through different types. We have sufficient grounds to expect a correlation, and thus inferring a 10% drop in rape from a 10% drop in sexual assault is reasonable.

        You must also be aware of the Principle of Charity. Every philosopher must first understand what they are arguing against, being careful to interpret it as generously as possible. This goes as far as actually repairing the original argument, if need be. Rather than take the best-possible interpretation, that Christina was speaking informally, you instead took a much harsher interpretation and refused to consider alternatives. This is against the spirit of philosophy, and can lead to vicious infighting instead of honest inquiry if done often enough.

        The Principle of Charity is a good place to end, I think. You ask that those opposed to the Slyme Pit be charitable, and yet you do not offer any charity of your own.

        Quid Pro Quo, as they say.

      • rocko2466 says:

        (1) My qualifications: Okay, being a lawyer does put me in a particularly good position to interpret the law. They don’t teach us for five years to know the law by rote, but to learn how to interpret and apply it. This means it’s relevant to a discussion about the law. In any event, I am a trial lawyer and have had to appear in Court. Regardless, that’s fine, we’ll just look at the rest of it.

        (2) Conflation of Terms: Relevance of the Law We were discussing the law (I recall you may have even brought up the Canadian Criminal Code) and what the reporting had been from people using the legal terminology about events that had occurred. Accordingly, to understand what they meant when “sexual assaults” figures were reported, we need to understand what “sexual assault” meant.

        (3) Conflation of Terms: So What If She’s Wrong?
        I note that your first argument is essentially that: so what if she’s wrong?

        Was Christina making a detailed philosophical argument, doing scientific research, or crafting policy, all of which require careful attention to word meaning? Or was she making a casual blog post, with little impact on society or intellectual discourse? The latter, of course, and so even though she was sloppy with her language, that is not a hangable offense.

        Greta purports to be a thinker who should be listened to by others. She prepared a blog on FreeThoughtBlogs (which supposedly prides itself on critical thinking) in order to convince us that we should now stop saying what she said we’d been saying all this time about the effectiveness of other rape prevention methods.

        And when this happens, and when people speak out against it, it’s almost certain that someone will say, “But that’s not part of rape culture! That’s just practical common sense! We want people to not get raped — and telling likely targets of rape how to keep themselves safe is the only effective way to do that!” (As happened in this comment thread. [UPDATE: Forgot to include the link. Here it is.])
        I don’t ever want to hear this again. Not just because it’s part of the exact victim-blaming rape culture we’re talking about. Not just because this business of rapists being just a handful of sociopaths — as opposed to active members of society who you might know — is bullshit. I don’t want to hear it again… because it’s just flatly not true.

        (4) Conflation of Terms: Other people do it too!

        Your next argument relies on an expert evidence analogy. Let’s ignore the fact that expert evidence would come from someone relevantly qualified in interpretation of the law (the best person being: you guessed it, a lawyer!)

        In any event, the resources you list support what I am saying: “rape” is included in “sexual assault” but not all sexual assaults are rapes. They don’t conflate the terms at all! (Rape can be also called sexual assault, but sexual assault can’t also be called rape. However, “sexual assault kits” which are named from terms derived in the legislation are called “rape kits” because that’s what they’re known as in common parlance even if that isn’t strictly true).

        Accordingly, when we get figures for “sexual assaults” we don’t necessarily know the figures for “rape” (and vice versa).

        In any event, my problem with her conflating the terms is that it mixes up the data. She got it wrong. That’s a problem. I’m not going to hang her for it, but I am going to write a strongly worded blog post about it!

        (5) Am I an expert on sexual assault prevention?

        No, but that’s irrelevant. Whether or not they thought it was successful, it wasn’t based on the “10% drop” that Greta Christina cites in her piece.

        If you take out the “10% drop”, Greta has nothing to rely on – except that it was renewed – to say that it was successful. Accordingly, the whole thesis of her article falls apart.

        (6) The disanalogy

        I was clearly making my analogy based on the A includes B but A does not equal B semantic point.

        The analogy is valid, as the relevant point – being that “sports” and “sexual assault” are inclusive terms of the terms “football” and “rape” without necessary being equivalent terms.

        (7) The principle of charity

        The thesis of Greta’s article was that the advertising campaign caused (or can be inferred with a strong degree of confidence to have caused) the decrease in Vancouver.

        The increase in Edmonton goes against that point. The unclear statistics fail to support her point. Accordingly, her thesis has failed. If she wants to prove it, she has to do something other than the argument.

        I think I have been wholly charitable. Thanks again for commenting.

  2. hjhornbeck says:

    Okay, being a lawyer does put me in a particularly good position to interpret the law.

    I’d imagine so. Are we in a courtroom, though? You keep throwing out your credentials, and yet none of your argument makes use of your skills in interpeting the law. You do not once cite case law, make no use of legal terms, and only linked to the Canadian Criminal Code after I brought it up. What are the legal rammifications of a casual conflation of terms on an informal blog, by a non-expert? Will this sway a jury, had they been presented it?

    If you really think your credentials are so important, why haven’t you used them?

    She prepared a blog on FreeThoughtBlogs (which supposedly prides itself on critical thinking) in order to convince us that we should now stop saying what she said we’d been saying all this time about the effectiveness of other rape prevention methods.

    I’ve read her piece twice, and cannot find the passage you claim is there. Quote it for me, please.

    Let’s ignore the fact that expert evidence would come from someone relevantly qualified in interpretation of the law

    So if you wanted expert testimony on sexual assault, you’d ask a lawyer for advice?

    If you take out the “10% drop”, Greta has nothing to rely on – except that it was renewed – to say that it was successful.

    Uh, I linked to two articles which declared the Edmonton campaign a success. The people who evaluted the effectiveness of that campaign were experts in sexual assault. They decided to renew it, even though rates of sexual assault are on the increase. Other cities are using the exact same methods, such as Vancouver, and seeing success.

    Even with Vancouver excluded, we have sufficient grounds to consider it a success… unless, you are willing to argue you know more about sexual assault prevention than someone who’s job is to end sexual assault. I note you’ve already disavowed that.

    I was clearly making my analogy based on the A includes B but A does not equal B semantic point.

    And I was clearly arguing that we have sufficent grounds to expect a correlation between overall sexual assault, and just that portion which includes rape. Since you present no argument against that, does that mean you agree with me?

    The increase in Edmonton goes against that point. The unclear statistics fail to support her point.

    The decrease in Vancouver goes with her point. The decision of sexual assault experts to renew the campaign goes with her point. The popularity of the campaign with sexual assault experts, both within Canada and internationally, goes with her point.

    Is that enough to make a philosophical argument with? No. But she wasn’t making a philosophical argument. You keep insisting she was, however, which is not a charitable interpretation.

    Oh, and one more thing:

    I’d like to draw an analogy between lions and people going into the jungle. We don’t train the lions to stay away because we know they’re not going to care or listen. Screw it, they’re lions.

    So you think some men are incapable of stopping themselves from raping, in the same manner than lions are incapable of stopping themselves from killing things to eat. Let’s carry that thought on: we think nothing of fencing off lions, trapping them and moving them to new locations, or even shooting the nuisance ones.

    Does this mean you think we should simply jail or kill all rapists, instead of trying to reason with or reform them? I ask, because roughly 120 out of 1900 men admit to raping someone.

    • rocko2466 says:

      I get the impression you’re deliberately talking past me (instead of responding to anything I’ve said) but okay.

      I’d imagine so. Are we in a courtroom, though? You keep throwing out your credentials, and yet none of your argument makes use of your skills in interpeting the law. You do not once cite case law, make no use of legal terms, and only linked to the Canadian Criminal Code after I brought it up. What are the legal rammifications of a casual conflation of terms on an informal blog, by a non-expert? Will this sway a jury, had they been presented it? If you really think your credentials are so important, why haven’t you used them?

      My complaint is that she was conflating two terms. Rape and sexual assault are not necessarily the same thing and her conclusion was not open to her on the facts she used as premises.

      I do not need to cite case law because it is in the Code. “Sexual assault” is a legal term. That was, in fact, my point. She misused a legal term to say it was equivalent to rape. When it was not.

      I’ve read her piece twice, and cannot find the passage you claim is there. Quote it for me, please.

      It’s there. I quoted it in the comment you were responding to: the key words (in the context quoted) were: “I don’t want to hear it again… because it’s just flatly not true.” She did not want to be told again that: “We want people to not get raped — and telling likely targets of rape how to keep themselves safe is the only effective way to do that!”

      So if you wanted expert testimony on sexual assault, you’d ask a lawyer for advice?

      If I wanted expert testimony (for, say, a negligence case involving a lawyer’s advice about the interpretation of the phrase “sexual assault” in the Canadian statistics offered), I would call a lawyer.

      Obviously, I would not equivocate between expert evidence on:

      1. the interpretation of the phrase “sexual assault”; and
      2. sexual assault as a crime (or the effect of a particular sexual assault on a particular person)

      as you appear to ahve.

      Uh, I linked to two articles which declared the Edmonton campaign a success. The people who evaluted the effectiveness of that campaign were experts in sexual assault. They decided to renew it, even though rates of sexual assault are on the increase. Other cities are using the exact same methods, such as Vancouver, and seeing success.

      Even with Vancouver excluded, we have sufficient grounds to consider it a success… unless, you are willing to argue you know more about sexual assault prevention than someone who’s job is to end sexual assault. I note you’ve already disavowed that.

      The premise of Greta’s article was that the rape decrease was the success of the campaign.

      Also, the fact that a number of people say “success” doesn’t mean we should accept it.

      What reason do we have to think of it as a success? None, really.

      Just because they’re experts doesn’t mean their right. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority)

      We don’t know:

      1. the parameters of how they define success would be interesting (obviously, it cannot be decreased rapes, because in Edmonton – who renewed the campaign – reported rapes did not decrease. Perhaps it is that it got sufficient attention and that they hope it could have an impact on rape occurrences later on. But then that means that the campaign hasn’t worked to decrease rapes – which was Greta’s assertion); and

      2. we don’t know the facts upon which they base success.

      My point is that (again – sigh!) Greta was forming a conclusion (rape prevention campaigns targeted at rapists) from the premise (decreased rapes) when the premise was not true and the conclusion did not follow from the premise.

      And I was clearly arguing that we have sufficent grounds to expect a correlation between overall sexual assault, and just that portion which includes rape. Since you present no argument against that, does that mean you agree with me?

      Well, you hadn’t said that yet. We’ve got no information to suggest that a decrease in sexual assault necessitates a decrease in rapes to the same degree or at all. It may well be the case, but it’s certainly not been established.

      That’s a positive assertion. That which is claimed without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. We have no reason to believe the two would correlate (as with my football versus sports generally analogy. Football viewership could be up, notwithstanding that sports viewership overall was down).

      The decrease in Vancouver goes with her point. The decision of sexual assault experts to renew the campaign goes with her point. The popularity of the campaign with sexual assault experts, both within Canada and internationally, goes with her point.

      So you can accept she ignored the Edmonton figures?

      Is that enough to make a philosophical argument with? No. But she wasn’t making a philosophical argument. You keep insisting she was, however, which is not a charitable interpretation.

      This argument appears to be – “so what if she is wrong? It doesn’t matter.”

      Well, again, she claims to be a critical thinker and has made a blog article which she expects other people to read as though it is true. That’s sufficient for me to expect a reasonable level of care to be taken.

      In any event, she was making an argument. She very clearly made an argument. Which was not justified on the facts available. Therefore, I can criticise her.

      So you think some men are incapable of stopping themselves from raping, in the same manner than lions are incapable of stopping themselves from killing things to eat. Let’s carry that thought on: we think nothing of fencing off lions, trapping them and moving them to new locations, or even shooting the nuisance ones.

      Does this mean you think we should simply jail or kill all rapists, instead of trying to reason with or reform them? I ask, because roughly 120 out of 1900 men admit to raping someone.

      1. A rape prevention campaign is vastly different from a process of rehabilitation of a known offender and that process of rehabilitation should, in my view, coincide with incarceration in most cases;

      2. as you will have seen from my article (above!) I said that rapists have no incentive to not rape, so a rape prevention campaign is probably better directed at the potential victims. That way, the person who does not wish for the rape to occur can take preventive measures; and

      3. There are some men who cannot stop themselves from raping but these are the ones with mental illnesses. Those who can stop themselves but do it anyway aren’t doing it because they don’t know it’s wrong. That would be a preposterous claim. Accordingly, it stands to reason that a rape prevention campaign directed at the potential rapist is less likely to succeed (unless it is coupled with information about penalties, which may work, depending on the deterrence value of the particular penalty).

      • hjhornbeck says:

        I get the impression you’re deliberately talking past me (instead of responding to anything I’ve said) but okay.

        I’m impressed, we’re six comments in and you still don’t understand a thing I’ve said. Your entire argument depends on Christina’s article being a formal philosophic, scientific, or policy document. I pointed out that there’s another interpretation, that perhaps her informal blog post was an informal blog post, and thus held to a different standard.

        Your response has been to point out I’m wrong, because if we assume Christina was making a formal argument, then it’s clear she’s equivocating and failing to provide causality. You’re still doing it, in fact:

        Rape and sexual assault are not necessarily the same thing and her conclusion was not open to her on the facts she used as premises. [...] Greta was forming a conclusion (rape prevention campaigns targeted at rapists) from the premise (decreased rapes) when the premise was not true and the conclusion did not follow from the premise. [...] In any event, she was making an argument. She very clearly made an argument.

        No wonder you’re confused. I’m not making the same assumptions you are, and you simply cannot accept that. You’re really not good at logical argument, are you? It doesn’t help that you badly mangle your logical fallacies.

        Just because they’re experts doesn’t mean their right. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority)

        Correct. But who’s more likely to be correct about preventing sexual assault in a society, someone who’s studied sexual assault, or someone who hasn’t? That’s not an argument from authority, that’s a tautology; to learn more about a subject, seek out knowledge on a subject. A true example of argument from authority would be if you, say, boasted about being a lawyer, then made no use of your expertise in the law to make your case.

        As for Dunning-Kruger, that’s when someone lacks knowledge to such a degree that they think they’re knowledgeable about a subject. Where have I claimed to know what’s best for the prevention of sexual assault? At worst, I’m just agreeing with people who’ve studied it more than I. A better example of Dunning-Kruger would be someone claiming to know more than the experts. Fortunately, that isn’t you:

        Am I an expert on sexual assault prevention? No

        Or is it?

        Just because they’re experts doesn’t mean their right.

        Yep, you’re so bad at arguing, so oblivious to what you’re talking about, that you can contradict yourself within two comments. No wonder you’re having such a tough time here.

        We’ve got no information to suggest that a decrease in sexual assault necessitates a decrease in rapes to the same degree or at all.

        Except I just gave some. Are you going to refute it, or agree with it?

        If I wanted expert testimony (for, say, a negligence case involving a lawyer’s advice about the interpretation of the phrase “sexual assault” in the Canadian statistics offered), I would call a lawyer.

        That didn’t answer my question:

        So if you wanted expert testimony on sexual assault, you’d ask a lawyer for advice?

        But I have to give my hat to you; I haven’t met many people who can contradict themselves from one sentence to the next.

        1. A rape prevention campaign is vastly different from a process of rehabilitation of a known offender and that process of rehabilitation should, in my view, coincide with incarceration in most cases.

        2. as you will have seen from my article (above!) I said that rapists have no incentive to not rape.

        So incarceration is not a disincentive? How, exactly, can you be a lawyer and say that with a straight face?

        There are some men who cannot stop themselves from raping but these are the ones with mental illnesses. Those who can stop themselves but do it anyway aren’t doing it because they don’t know it’s wrong. That would be a preposterous claim. Accordingly, it stands to reason that a rape prevention campaign directed at the potential rapist is less likely to succeed (unless it is coupled with information about penalties, which may work, depending on the deterrence value of the particular penalty).

        And you criticize Christina for making unsupported assertions. I count no less that four in that paragraph, all of which cover an area you claim to know nothing about! That link to the Dunning-Kruger effect was very appropriate…

      • rocko2466 says:

        Your entire argument depends on Christina’s article being a formal philosophic, scientific, or policy document.

        No it doesn’t. I’ve said it doesn’t. Numerous times.

        Christina’s article asserts something about the world. That assertion is wrong. It should be called out.

        I also note that neither my comments, nor blog, is a formal philosophic, scientific or policy document. Still, if you think I’m wrong, you call me out.

        Because truth matters. (Hmm… maybe one of your vaunted bloggers has written about this…)

        Correct. But who’s more likely to be correct about preventing sexual assault in a society, someone who’s studied sexual assault, or someone who hasn’t? That’s not an argument from authority, that’s a tautology; to learn more about a subject, seek out knowledge on a subject. A true example of argument from authority would be if you, say, boasted about being a lawyer, then made no use of your expertise in the law to make your case.

        Again. You’re trying to say I’m wrong about Greta’s article by saying other people agree with her. Her argument was bad and furthermore we’re not clear why they said it was a success.

        It could have been that it raised a lot of awareness as it was an awareness campaign, so even if it was unsuccessful from a rape prevention perspective, it got enough attention they thought it was worth doing again.

        So, your appeal to authority (even if it were not a pure fallacious appeal to authority) would not be helpful as:

        1. the reason they called it a success is unclear; and
        2. if they said it was successful for preventing rapes, they appear to be incorrect as reported rapes in Edmonton increased in that period.

        As for Dunning-Kruger, that’s when someone lacks knowledge to such a degree that they think they’re knowledgeable about a subject.

        I raised that in jest in response to your comment that I, as a lawyer, have not used my legal skills because I have not acted in precisely the way you would’ve expected someone having those skills to have acted.

        Just because they’re experts doesn’t mean their right.

        I can’t believe I missed that typo! Argh.

        We’ve got no information to suggest that a decrease in sexual assault necessitates a decrease in rapes to the same degree or at all.

        Except I just gave some. Are you going to refute it, or agree with it?

        No, you didn’t (unless you’re referring to your appeal to authority, which I have refuted).

        So if you wanted expert testimony on sexual assault, you’d ask a lawyer for advice?

        On the interpretation of the word sexual assault which is what we were talking about and why you challenged me on the reference to legal skills, yes, I would call a lawyer as the expert.

        But I have to give my hat to you; I haven’t met many people who can contradict themselves from one sentence to the next.

        Why, thank you!

        So incarceration is not a disincentive? How, exactly, can you be a lawyer and say that with a straight face?

        I’m not going to get into it here, but – I’ve studied some criminology – and some of the data suggests that penalty is often not a disincentive for crimes like these, particularly as they often are ‘heat of the moment’ decisions to commit the crime when the penalty is not usually taken into the cost-benefit analysis.

        My point about ‘incentives’ can be more eloquently expressed as: rapists don’t want to stop rape, potential victims (and society) generally does.

        Then point that I then made that:

        it stands to reason that a rape prevention campaign directed at the potential rapist is less likely to succeed

        follows logically from that.

        Conclusion

        I think what is important here is that you seem to have conceded Greta’s reasoning was poor. Her conclusion was not justified by the premises she relied on. The purpose of my article was to point this out.

        I actually think it does damage if people think they should exclude safety campaigns from our arsenal of rape prevention techniques.

        I do not think we should exclude ‘rapist-targeted’ advertisements (even though I would not do it in the way Edmonton had, as it does suggest male stupidity.

        I would focus more on penalty – so that penalties are more likely to be in the potential offender’s mind immediately prior to the potential offence). But on the information we have been discussing, we don’t have any reason to think those rapist-targeted advertisements (at least the Edmonton iteration) are successful as the data has come back mixed. To rally behind it as a ‘success’ is therefore unwarranted.

        At the end of the day, I do think you are arguing from an ideology rather than the facts. As soon as you start saying ‘so what if she’s wrong or imprecise’, you have to know your argument is not succeeding. This is not a trial, I’m not proposing putting her in jail, but we can definitely put her article in the “wrong basket” on this one.

        And I think someone who has the ideology that you appear to have – at the very least some form of feminism – that you would want rapes to not occur. As such, we should be ensuring that the information that is spread around about the successfulness of various measures is properly reviewed so that when we put measures in place we have some confidence in their likely success (at rape prevention!).

        We don’t have that confidence here.

      • hjhornbeck says:

        No it doesn’t. I’ve said it doesn’t. Numerous times.

        I went back through the thread, and couldn’t find a single example. It’s an irrelevant point, because later on in your comment you go on to say:

        Her argument was bad [...] Her conclusion was not justified by the premises she relied on.

        So even after I point out at least two times that you’re assuming Christina is making a formal argument, even after you disavow assuming she’s making a formal argument… you’re still assuming she’s making a formal argument.

        So, your appeal to authority (even if it were not a pure fallacious appeal to authority) would not be helpful as:

        1. the reason they called it a success is unclear

        I explained why it wasn’t fallacious. Are you going to find a false premise or logical mis-step in my defense, or be forced to agree with me? As for why they called it a success, that seems pretty clear:

        “The goal is to continue to educate the public on sexual assault,” she said.

        Gotell said SAVE initially came together because the group wanted to address sexual assault in a different way.

        “Most sexual assault prevention campaigns have focused on changing the behaviour of potential victims,” said Gotell. “Our campaign places responsibility where it belongs — on the perpetrators.”

        Did they manage to educate the public? Given that we’re talking about it two years later, and it has since spread to other cities nationally and across the globe, I think the answer is yes. That makes it a success, by their definition of “success.”

        No, you didn’t [give evidence that rape and sexual assault are correlated]

        Are you even reading my replies? Here, I’ll quote what you ignored:

        You’re also a philosopher, eh? Then you would know of the danger of disanalogy. The comparison between different sports and different types of sexual assault is exactly that. There is little correlation between liking one sport and liking another arbitrarily-chosen sport; the wide variety of rules and tempos ensure fans of each have quite different reasons for liking their chosen sport. In contrast, sexual crimes have very similar motivations behind them, and there can be escalation through different types. We have sufficient grounds to expect a correlation, and thus inferring a 10% drop in rape from a 10% drop in sexual assault is reasonable.

        And I’ll up the ante with some actual evidence.

        Lisak & Miller also answered their other question: are rapists responsible for more violence generally? Yes. The surveys covered other violent acts, such as slapping or choking an intimate partner, physically or sexually abusing a child, and sexual assaults other than attempted or completed rapes.

        My point about ‘incentives’ can be more eloquently expressed as: rapists don’t want to stop rape, potential victims (and society) generally does.

        You know nothing about rapists, don’t you? If you survey men and ask them if they’ve raped, 0% will say yes. If you instead ask if they’ve taken advantage of someone who was unable to consent, you see numbers between 6% and 15%. The fact is, most rapists don’t view themselves as rapists; they think what they do is within the bounds of normal. The Edmonton campaign was aimed directly at that, pointing out that they are not normal.

        Compare that to your proposal. Arming potential victims will do nothing, because the majority of rapes are done to acquaintances. They’ve established some trust, and so the victims will likely have dropped their guard. Penalties will do nothing, if the rapist thinks they’ve done nothing wrong. Your method has been the typical approach until recently, and quite obviously has failed.

        You’d understand this if you actually listened to the experts, instead of dismissing them as useless authorities. You’ve also dismissed or ignored many of my arguments, presumably because you have no answer to them:

        If the experts in sexual assault see no problem in conflating the two terms, Christina must also be clear to do so; otherwise, we are treating her inequitably. [...]

        You must also be aware of the Principle of Charity. Every philosopher must first understand what they are arguing against, being careful to interpret it as generously as possible. This goes as far as actually repairing the original argument, if need be. [...]

        If you really think your credentials are so important, why haven’t you used them? [...]

        So if you wanted expert testimony on sexual assault, you’d ask a lawyer for advice? [...]

        And you criticize Christina for making unsupported assertions. I count no less that four in that paragraph, all of which cover an area you claim to know nothing about!

        Are you going to start reading my replies, or just continue to assert I’m wrong and hope that’ll convince me?

      • rocko2466 says:

        Greta is accountable for her words; she said she relied on a 10% drop in rape (which didn’t happen) to prove that the campaign was a success. Whether it was formal or not, she made her opinion public so she is liable to be criticised (as is my article, being my publicly stated opinion, which is why I don’t begrudge you for publishing your disagreement here or elsewhere).

        We still don’t have any evidence to jump from reduced sexual assaults to reduce rapes. They could have dropped more, dropped less, stayed the same or increased. It’s not a matter of deductive reasoning from drop in sexual assault to drop in rape. The reasons behind sexual assault are similarly varied.

        I would say my argument hasn’t excluded rapist-targeted awareness campaigns (but I would say that this campaign is definitely targeted at rape and not sexual assault more broadly), but we don’t have sufficient data (particularly not on Greta’s argument) to exclude victim-based awareness campaigns. This would include awareness about precautions to take even in situations with acquaintances.

        (Also, I think in figured out I can edit your comments before allowing them to be posted! So tempting!)

        (I hope at least from this discussion you’ll realise that – even if you don’t agree with me – Slymepitters aren’t necessarily terrible people!).

      • hjhornbeck says:

        … That’s all you’ve got? Mr. Lawyer and Philosopher is reduced to ignoring my evidence and arguments as furiously as he can, while blindly repeating his original arguments as if he were brandishing a cross.

        You and I aren’t the only people reading this thread, you know. Other people can read what you cannot see. And they’re not going to think favourably of you. Not after things like this:

        she said she relied on a 10% drop in rape (which didn’t happen)

        You’ve forgotten about Vancouver already? Christina pointed there, specifically, when she said there was a drop. You conveniently forgot to mention that in your blog post, and perhaps even edited it out to make your point look stronger. I pointed this out way back when, and it resulted in this:

        Therefore, to say that the Edmonton-devised campaign worked in Vancouver is probably inaccurate on the information we have as we don’t have pure rape statistics. The amount of sexual assaults went down by that figure but we don’t know whether the rape figures decreased by the same figure – because one does not mean the other.

        Things haven’t changed, I see.

        We still don’t have any evidence to jump from reduced sexual assaults to reduce rapes.

        I presented some, which you’ve ignored. I gave a plausible mechanism to explain a correlation between the two, which you’ve repeatedly ignored. That sort of behaviour will never win an argument, and looks childish to anyone reading this thread.

        but we don’t have sufficient data (particularly not on Greta’s argument) to exclude victim-based awareness campaigns.

        Christina never said she wanted to ditch every victim-based campaign.

        Even when the topic at hand is ways that rape victims routinely get blamed for their rapes, the conversation will still eventually get turned to “what should rape victims to to keep from being raped.” And when this happens, and when people speak out against it, it’s almost certain that someone will say, “But that’s not part of rape culture! That’s just practical common sense! We want people to not get raped — and telling likely targets of rape how to keep themselves safe is the only effective way to do that!” (As happened in this comment thread.[...])

        I don’t ever want to hear this again.

        She isn’t talking about victim-based rape awareness campaigns, she’s talking about commenters who cry “arm the victims.” It takes a massive amount of creative reinterpretation to twist one into the other.

        I hope at least from this discussion you’ll realise that – even if you don’t agree with me – Slymepitters aren’t necessarily terrible people!

        … That was bizarrely off-topic. And pointing out that a few people on the Slyme Pit aren’t terrible implies that most of them *are* terrible. Your ability to shoot yourself in the foot is mind-blowing, and this next one really takes the cake:

        Also, I think in figured out I can edit your comments before allowing them to be posted! So tempting!

        If you’re going to edit something, I suggest you start with that comment. Not only does it make you look like a coward, saying things like that will get you tarred and feathered on the Slyme Pit. And all you have right now is allies, not arguments.

      • rocko2466 says:

        Thanks for your comment.

        I don’t think I can elaborate further, except I think you’re wilfully ignoring what I’m actually saying. Anyway, the readers can decide…

  3. The problem I have with it is that it’s fucking sexist. “Don’t be that guy” as if women don’t go around pushing themselves on others or trying to have sex with half dead drunken men just as much.

    I don’t have a problem with a campaign if it’s not fucking sexist, but I don’t feel I have to choose which one to use – why not both?

    As for the campaign, it’s not victim blaming, just like ANY safety campaign telling you what you can do to keep safe isn’t “victim blaming.” What a fucking moron. It’s not victim blaming – it’s giving tips to help reduce the chance that something happens to you. Is suggesting people get alarms and lock the door blaming victims of burglaries and murder? Is telling people that learning karate is a great self defense tool blaming victims of offensive violence? Is telling people not to go home with people they don’t know whatsoever with no protection victim blaming?

    Then why is telling someone not to drink anything they didn’t mix themselves, etc, victim blaming? Seriously, who the fuck opposes safety tips that just might save a few people because they consider it “victim blaming” to suggest that someone could do something to help save themselves?

    God, I hate senseless shit like that. How is it blaming the victim? It’s not. Most who give people safety and protection tips recognize that the person doing it to the victim is to *blame* for their actions – but they also recognize that one can do things to help keep themselves safe. Isn’t that what’s fucking important about it? Someone who tells someone “No! I refuse to take these tips because it’s like you’re blaming me if it happens to me!” is more concerned with twisting what people say and think rather than not having awful experiences.

    • rocko2466 says:

      “Someone who tells someone “No! I refuse to take these tips because it’s like you’re blaming me if it happens to me!” is more concerned with twisting what people say and think rather than not having awful experiences.”

      I agree.

  4. a question for my (many?) readers: I’ve had someone raise this with me. Is it sexist to think that an ordinary non-sociopathic man would be stupid enough to think rape was okay until they saw these types of ads?

    I see a very strong analogy in this query as applies to those for whom the Old Teste-meant is an inviolable holy book:
    Do you really believe that before Moses took the tablets specifying “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, ordinary folk thought it was perfectly OK to randomly slaughter their families?

    The parallel between unthinking biblical dogma & unthinking feminist dogma could not be closer.

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