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Monday, November 24, 2014

Men As Scum? And Hookup Today, Lockup Tomorrow?

The overcriminalization craze has hit a new high...or low.

In New Jersey, state assemblyman Troy Singleton has introduced a bill which will criminalize the use of deception or fraud to procure sex. (Author's note: The text of the bill is not yet posted on the New Jersey Legislature's website, but the bill number is A.3908 and eventually it will come out.)

So lying about being rich can get you thrown in jail. I guess lying about your ultimate intentions (e.g., promising to marry someone) isn't legally safe either.

This is a misguided bill with huge potential for abuse. Think about the danger for wrongful or reckless accusations, destroyed reputations and even wrongful prosecutions. You see, the problem is that this bill calls for deception to be defined by its purported victim.

Call this the regret-is-rape law. Or, the vengeance-is-mine law.

The law's practical implications are staggering. Should one partner later feel regret or shame, she (or he) could use the argument that she would never have "consented" to sex "had she known about" something or other. Theoretically, this requires the other partner to engage in absolute "full disclosure" about, well, just about anything, and that other partner would never -- let's be real, it's never -- have the security of knowing he is in the clear legally, that any sexual contact could not theoretically come back and result in a criminal charge.

This setup works fine, if you enjoy the meme of men as inherent predators and belong to the Blame Men First club. Or if you simply believe you're entitled to dish out as much venom as you wish and that men (caution: it could be anyone, but mostly it's going to be men) deserve whatever they get.

The problem is that in the real world, people respond to changing conditions and generally pattern their behavior to avoid risk.

When sex carries with it the uncertainty of future criminal prosecution if and when one's partner becomes disappointed...sexually, emotionally or financially, anything you can imagine...can you envision a new generation of men becoming very cautious and abstinent

Come to think of it, these might be the very class of men most likely to be good family men and the bedrock of their generation.

On the surface, the bill is intended to stop predators who procure sex through "deceptive" means.

You would have to be the village idiot to not understand that men are the primary targets of this bill. But what about women using makeup, hair dye, spackle, Bondo, butt implants, breast implants, Botox, rubber cement, plastic surgery, anti-anxiety drugs, etc.?  There are creative lawyers out there.

And what about women taking responsibility for checking into the pasts of their potential sexual partners, benefactors or fathers of their spawn? And, isn't a lot of courtship based on varying levels of openness and trust? Aren't the parties responsible for determining the basic character of the other party?

While people lying to get what they want is certainly unsavory and warrants strong disapproval, the trend towards making every crushed hope, every dashed dream, every broken heart, every unfulfilled fantasy...or even, every unfulfilled vice...the predicate for a crime and a domino in the progression of some hapless chap through the criminal justice system should raise concerns among mature observers.

By the way, don't think that abstaining is a foolproof way for men to safeguard themselves. Who's to say the man didn't have sex with his alleged victim? You see, this is a bill premised on the accused having to prove a negative, that is, that he (or she) didn't do it.

This isn't funny. This opens the door to all sorts of abuses, from the merely unconstitutional to the blatantly vicious, mendacious and ruinous.

Spurned lovers can now use this law (if it passes and is signed by New Jersey governor Chris Christie) to exact revenge or commit extortion. Men who disappoint women can become easy targets - even if they didn't have sex. You see, this bill is dangerously based on the notion that women are, well, telling the truth.

The bill turns the he-said-she-said allegations into a Russian roulette where a man's freedom (never mind his reputation) can easily be jeopardized by a woman's lust for vengeance, hypersensitivity or psychological dysfunction.

The crazy thing about this bill is that it will likely deter romantic overtures from the nicer guys, the more marriage-material type. The cads, the pigs, if you will, are unlikely to be deterred. (This is the lesson of overcriminalization; making more things a crime doesn't change behavior, but it sure fills up the jails.)

And who suffers the most?

Eventually, it will be single women who will get hit the hardest.

On the other hand, the bill may encourage more Puritan, more traditional courtship and perhaps a lot of delayed sex. That isn't necessarily bad. Men need to be more careful for many reasons. However, risk averse behavior by men is likely to mean that women, at much younger ages, will find it increasingly harder to get the attention they want.

This is the dystopian result when you start criminalizing the Y chromosome.

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