Richard Littlejohn on rape

I’ve been observing – with some disgust – the arguments about rape this week and I was wondering if the level of debate could get any worse. Then I realised that Richard Littlejohn had decided to make this topic the focus of his column this morning.

Yes, Richard Littlejohn, the man who insisted that the five women murdered in Ipswich be referred to only as ‘prostitutes’ and that we needn’t mourn the death of these ‘disgusting, drug-addled street whores’ who were ‘no great loss’ as they ‘weren’t going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in Darfur’. And anyway, said Richard, ‘death by strangulation [was] an occupational hazard’ for the five women murdered, so what were we all getting upset about?

Yes, Richard women-hating Littlejohn – the man who sees in the twice-weekly collection of wheelie-bins the very end of civilisation – has had to step in because he feels the ‘The confected, hysterical reaction to his remarks was frankly typical of the debasement of political debate in this country’.

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, the man whose greatest satirical tool is to miss-spell words and to imagine what any given modern event would be like if it involved the characters of Dad’s Army is stepping in to rescue the level of debate.

You are probably thinking: ‘This isn’t going to go well, is it?’ And you’re right.

You see the trouble with Ricard is that he is so incapable of understanding any given topic that in order to ‘win’ any sort of argument he has to set-up a completely false starting point. He does this by arguing something that no-one has been talking about – at all – all week:

Last Tuesday night, two British charity workers were attacked and raped repeatedly by a gang of six masked men on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.

The women — aged 24 and 31 — were overpowered and subjected to a horrifying and prolonged sexual assault.

Their nightmare ordeal took place on a remote stretch of beach in the north-east of the island, where they were working on a wildlife conservation project.

No one would dream of suggesting that because they were camping on an isolated beauty spot overnight they were asking to be attacked.

Six men have now been charged with gang rape. If convicted they can expect — and will thoroughly deserve — harsh, exemplary punishment.

But let’s imagine for a moment that one of these unfortunate women had met a man in a Tiki Bar on St Lucia, got off her head on rum punch and invited him back to her hotel room for a drunken tumble.

The following morning, through her hungover haze, she was consumed by self-loathing. Would she be entitled to cry ‘rape’? [Emphasis is mine]

There we have it, somehow Richard Littlejohn has stepped into a semantic debate that focuses on the idea that rape can involve different degrees of violence and therefore attract different degrees of punishment (with the counter-argument that all rape is equal because rape is inherently violent; so, irrespective of whether the rapist hits the victim or not, the crime is the same because the act of rape is a far greater act of violence than hitting someone) by talking about women who ‘cry “rape”‘ after having a consensual one-night stand.

And, it’s worth pointing out, that once more Richard makes it perfectly clear he is just making it up with his classic ‘imagine if…’.

Why is it that whenever rape is discussed certain people – normally barrel-scraping misogynist hacks like Richard – always want to discuss false accusations of rape. We all understand that this is a serious issue, Richard, but it adds nothing to the debate about the conviction and prosecution of rapists – unless of course you just want to imply that unless the rape is completely unequivocal as in your first example, then we should just assume the women regrets a one-night stand and is ‘crying rape’.

Richard – having as usual got his caveats out of the way right at the start of his piece – then gets going:

There’s a world of difference between a violent sexual assault at the hands of a complete stranger, or gang of strangers, and a subsequently regretted, alcohol-induced one-night stand.

That’s not how the self-appointed Boadiceas of feminism see it. To them ‘rape is rape’, regardless of the circumstances, even if the woman was so sloshed she can’t remember whether or not she consented.

These vengeful viragos insist that ‘rape is a life sentence’ in every case. No, it isn’t. In many instances, it isn’t even rape.

There is a world of difference between rape and consensual albeit drunken sex, the trouble is Richard no-one is arguing otherwise. You have, as usual purposefully missed the point entirely. The next two sentences accuse the ‘self-appointed Boadiceas of feminism’ (you see you have to be a proper hardcore feminist to think that rape is a bad thing) of doing something they are not. They’re not defending women who falsely accuse someone of rape, probably because these people do a huge amount of damage to the cases of the real victims of rape (it doesn’t help that they receive a disproportionate media coverage either).

Let me make it absolutely clear for Richard: this week a debate erupted because it seemed as if the justice minister implied that rape could involve various degrees of violence and thus deserved varying degrees of punishment. The people who took offence at this tried to point out that rape is rape, irrespective of whether the attacker is violent in other ways towards his victim. The point being made is that rape is in itself the ultimate expression of physical violence and dominance, it doesn’t need to be accompanied by other forms of violence to attract the label of a violent crime.

I just get the impression that some people really see some kind of distinction between rape and violence. I think the confusion stems from the fact that ordinarily sex is a pleasurable and painless act so when a rape occurs the mind is able to make the fallacious argument that if no other violence occurred during the rape then it can’t have really been a violent act because the body is not normally harmed by sex. I genuinely think that this is the way some people subconsciously see rape. If the attacker doesn’t stamp on your face afterwards it’s seen as little more than inconvenient sex.

The sad thing is that this was never a discussion about consent, it was a discussion that stemmed once more around the idea that even in clear cases of rape (where the attacker confesses for example) there can be varying degrees of rape depending on the other violence associated with the case. Rather than engage in this debate Richard Littlejohn instead accuses women of crying rape simply because they regret casual encounters and then suggests that the only people to take offence are a bunch of hardy feminists who come out screaming to defend such women.

Even when he tries to get involved in a real, current debate he still has to completely invent a different debate to suit his own distorted agenda. In Richard’s world there are two types of rape: the first is the clear, violent gang rape of ‘innocent’ women, the next is just a bunch of drunken women screaming rape. It must be so nice living in a world of such clear distinctions.

This is the two types of ‘rape’ that Littlejohn puts into opposition:

I’ve no doubt that the victims of the most violent attacks, such as the poor woman who upbraided Ken Clarke on the wireless this week, carry their trauma with them for the rest of their days.

But, equally, many women who have had a brief sexual encounter of which they are ashamed simply shrug it off and get on with their lives. They don’t scream ‘rape’, they chalk it up to experience and vow to go easy on the chardonnay in future.

So, unless you are a rape victim who suffered a ‘most violent attack’ you’ll probably get over it just fine. On the other hand, if it wasn’t a really violent act then you’re were probably just drunk and feel a bit ashamed so you’ll just cry rape for the hell of it.

In conclusion:

  • Richard Littlejohn thinks that only women suffer or get upset by rape
  • Even when he tries to engage with a real debate, Richard must instead invent his own version because otherwise things are just too complex for him
  • If you weren’t brutally gang-raped, you’re probably just making it up (and you were almost definitely drunk as well)
  • No matter how hysterical or depressing a debate becomes, Richard can still easily drag it down another few notches
  • Richard Littlejohn is still the most cowardly little man in the whole of tabloid-land.

18 thoughts on “Richard Littlejohn on rape

  1. Madeleine McCann was taken from her parent’s hotel room.

    No one would dream of saying that she asked to be attacked, and if her captor is arrested he’ll deserve harsh punishment.

    But let’s imagine for a moment that Madeleine was a 45-year-old alcoholic called Len, who, instead of being taken, left the hotel room and was gunned down in a drug deal gone wrong. Would the McCanns still be entitled to cry “kidnapping”?

  2. I’m afraid that both you and Littlejohn have done nothing to raise the level of debate because you wilfully refuse to debate the central point that Ken Clarke was making. It is self evident that within the spectrum of any crime whether it be murder, rape, robbery or fraud there are both aggravating and mitigating factors and that is why judges have discretion re the tariff. If all rape were to be treated equally then presumably you would remove this discretion altogether and have mandatory fixed sentences. Ken Clarke though stupidly clumsy in his choice of words was trying to point this out. For example where a 15 year old girl willingly has sex with a 16 year old boy the law considers that to be statutory rape. You can’t seriously argue that statutory rape is in any way like a premeditated violent sexual assault on a non-consenting woman – yet they both come under the umbrella of rape. Similarly one could argue that a rape committed on the spur of the moment and without the use of weapons or violence whilst undoubtedly a grave offence should attract a different tariff from a pre-meditated, violent rape that involves multiple sex attacks and where the victim is held hostage over several days. Why on earth is that a controversial outlook?

    1. Statutory rape is different inasmuch as the younger party might clearly give consent and the rape is a technicality based on the legal understanding that the individual is too young to give such consent and therefore such consent is irrelevant as a defence. I understand this is very different from a rape of an non-consenting adult in some ways, but the onus is always on the perpetrator of the action. If you know that the person you wish to have sex with is underage you are mindfully breaking the law, you understand that in the eyes of the law that person is deemed too young to give you consent.

      This might be an outdated view of what children can and cannot be held responsible enough to give consent to, but child protection is a difficult area and any changes to such a law would be plagued with difficulties.

      To answer your second point, I think I argued consistantly that all rape is equal because the act itself is so serious, whether the act was meditated or not, extremely violent in other ways (beating, strangling, cutting etc) or not should not neccesarily be seen as somehow making it worse – for what can really be worse than rape? It is the ultimate invasion and goes far beyond the physical injuries one could inflict on a person. That is the point.

      However, judges do take these other factors into account and perhaps we do need to have a real debate about the merits of trying to have different levels of seriousness when it comes to rape.

      For example, would a burglar get a reduced sentence for not stealing anything deemed to be irreplaceable? i.e. if they only stole TVs / DVDs etc that the homeowner could easily replace would his crime of burglary be less serious than if he had stolen everything without thought of whether the victims could replace it?

      In terms of rape, should the accused be defended in terms of how much abuse they inflicted upon their victim? If a person rapes someone, but decides not to give them a kicking as well, should we treat them more leniently than someone who does give the victim a kicking as well? If they rape the person twice should they get twice the sentence?

      It seems to me that rape is a very unique crime that deserves to be considered seperately to other crimes. If a person is raped and beaten then the accused should be tried for both rape and physical assault – the level of physical assault (of absence of physical assault) should not act as a mitigating factor in sentencing the rapist. Rape is beyond a physical assault and British law needs to recognise this and change accordingly.

      And one final point I need to pick you up on:

      imilarly one could argue that a rape committed on the spur of the moment and without the use of weapons or violence whilst undoubtedly a grave offence should attract a different tariff from a pre-meditated, violent rape

      How can you rape someone without the use of violence? Rape is the ultimate form of violence.

      You’ve unwittingly dragged us right back to the real nub of the matter: people should never make the mistake of thinking or accidentally implying that there are two distincts type of rape; violent rape and non-violent rape. That is absolute nonsense, rape is violence irrespective of the exact mechanism that allows it to take place.

  3. Richard Littlejohn makes me so unfeasibly angry. I struggle to understand how such an ignorant, woman hatting tosser like that can exist and let alone be given a column in a newspaper that is sadly read by far too many people.

  4. dan, where did uponnothing make that argument? the problem with what ken clarke said wasn’t his remarks about statutory rape (indeed, it’s actually rather a shame that he sullied his own point about that by following it up with something face-palmingly stupid) but his comments about “date rape”. which seemed to view rape committed by a stranger and that commited by someone known to the victim as crimes of different severity. it’s this rediculous viewpoint that littlejohn is defending, and upponnothing is calling bullcrap on.

  5. My apologies for implying that there is such a thing as non-violent vs violent rape – clearly I believe rape is by definition a violent act. My point was the use of additional violence and I take your point that perhaps all rape should carry a minimum tariff with years added for additional acts of cruelty. But lets take the act of unlawful killing which is possibly the ultimate form of violence since it involves the loss of life. Now the law clearly differentiates between pre-meditated murder and manslaughter and yet the outcome – loss of life with a horrendous ordeal for those bereft – is precisely the same. In that case do you argue that all instances of unlawful killing should receive a minimum mandatory sentence? I’d also ask you why you feel that the act of rape is such a unique crime – that’s not to be provocative btw its a genuine query.

  6. The ‘statutory rape’ argument is a bit of a distraction here. When we think about rape we normally think about ‘violent rape’ or ‘proper rape’ or ‘date rape’ and all those other misleading terms, many (if not all) of which were disappointingly used by Ken Clarke. All rape which doesn’t fall into the statutory rape category is violent and proper, regardless of whether the victim was drunk, drugged, hit over the head or threatened with a weapon.

    I mean, if someone has skin cancer, you don’t suggest to them that hey, that’s a shame, but it’s not a ‘proper cancer’ like, say, cancer of the pancreas, firstly because it would be deeply insensitive, and secondly because all cancer is serious and life threatening. It takes many forms and affects everyone indivudually, but it’s still awful.

    Ultimately, the policy Clarke was trying so clumsily to defend is, like much of this government’s work, another bad one. Perhaps it will increase conviction rates, but it will do so at the expense of the lengthy sentences rapists deserve. That doesn’t seem like ‘justice’ to me. And I’m sure rape trials wouldn’t be such an ordeal for the victims if they knew they stood a fair chance of seeing justice being done at the end of it. At the moment, they don’t. It’s a travesty.

  7. RL is a disgusting, horrid little man, we know this, and his article is pathetic and makes no sense.

    HOWEVER as with most crimes there are many factors which affect sentencing. This is inevitable if we are not to automatically to impose the maximum sentence for every crime. As Clarke pointed out last night on Question Time, this would have serious impacts on victims as sentences could not be reduced for a guilty plea, therefore ensuring LESS rapists would be convicted. It is a complicated area, and trying to make out that every single ‘rape’ is alike and must be treated exactly the same (unlike every other crime on the book) is not realistic or helpful.

    Clarke did himself no favours with his inept handling of the questions on 5 Live when under pressure, but ultimately he is right.

    Finally, see this post at Heresy Corner for an explanation of why almost everyone is wrong about ‘statutory rape’ of an under-16 year old (including myself until I read it).

    http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2011/05/ken-clarke-ignorance-of-law.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HeresyCorner+%28Heresy+Corner%29&utm_content=Google+UK

  8. “I’m afraid that both you and Littlejohn have done nothing to raise the level of debate because you wilfully refuse to debate the central point that Ken Clarke was making. It is self evident that within the spectrum of any crime whether it be murder, rape, robbery or fraud there are both aggravating and mitigating factors and that is why judges have discretion re the tariff. If all rape were to be treated equally then presumably you would remove this discretion altogether and have mandatory fixed sentences. Ken Clarke though stupidly clumsy in his choice of words was trying to point this out. For example where a 15 year old girl willingly has sex with a 16 year old boy the law considers that to be statutory rape. You can’t seriously argue that statutory rape is in any way like a premeditated violent sexual assault on a non-consenting woman – yet they both come under the umbrella of rape.”

    No, they don’t. In the UK, the offense you describe is Unlawful Sexual Intercourse. It has no overlap with the crime of rape.

  9. Hi everyone…
    First of all, I have to say that I have always though Richard Littlejohn to be something of a cretin, with at best out-dated, and certainly out-of-touch points of view.
    However, I have to agree (to an extent – I’ll try to clarify) with Dan’s point that not all crimes of rape are equal.
    The act of rape in itself is severe, and in many respects as violent as any act could be. But the circumstances that surround it are always different from case to case.
    I understand that a victim of rape must be terrified at the point it is happening, and I wouldn’t wish such as experience of anyone.
    One of the mitigating factors in law currently considered in England and Wales would be where the victim had consented to some kind of sexual activity (foreplay, for example) immediately before the offence.
    Everything I have heard this week after Ken Clark’s comments has used quite emotional rhetoric to argue that either all rape is very serious (I’m not disputing that) or that not all rapes are equal (I’m not disputing that either). The point is that neither point of view is necessarily exclusive of the other.
    There have been some points of view (Littlejohn’s, for example) that frankly seem only to be made to stir up a bit of a storm. That’s one of the reasons I dislike him so much on matters wider than this one.
    However, the point Ken Clarke was making – that if an accused person pleads guilty from the start, they might get their sentence halved – sets a dangerous precedent.
    For a start, the whole point of a person going to trial is to determine their guilt. There are a few occasions where the crime and guilt are black and white, but equally, there are too many cases where the shades of grey and doubt mean that an accused person might be accepting guilt unfairly to plead guilty to one crime when they might actually be guilty of a lesser crime, if their incentive is to get a reduced sentence just in case they are found guilty of the more serious one.
    The same principle applies across other types of violent crime, such as murder and assault.
    I’m speaking of real cases, not imaginary ones like Littlejohn. A person I know well, and who I had always trusted to tell me the truth, was recently sent to prison having plead guilty (at the last minute) to attempted murder, 3 counts of rape, and assault, all of a woman who sustained an 8 hour ordeal at his hands. The problem is that he remembers none of it. He plead guilty as a plea-bargain to get another (pretty minor in comparison) charge removed from the charge list. The victim, clearly underwent a terrifying ordeal at his hands, and I have every sympathy with her. However, she has been inside prison a number of times herself, has a heroin dependency problem, and was motivated to tell “her story” by the Sun newspaper. It’s not that I doubt her ordeal, it’s that I doubt the detail. He has admitted carrying out three rapes that he can’t remember doing, although it is likely he did commit at least one.
    There’s no nice place to be in this story, but my point is that everyone should be entitled to a fair trial, but arbitrarily accepting guilt simply to reduce a sentence is a dangerous route to take the justice system.
    I do have sympathy with victims of rape that sometimes needlessly have to give evidence to secure a conviction for somebody that was clearly guilty and should have admitted it. However, not every case is so clear cut, and the judicial system should be the judge of guilt, not the media, or public or political opinion.
    All of that said, I know of two victims of rape, who have confided that in me over the years, both of whom knew their attacker, but neither that wanted to report it to the police. In neither case was the rape “violent” in the sense that any other kind of threat or malice was involved – the offence was purely a sexual assault, violent by definition, but leaving mental injury more than physical. It would seem my friends’ motives for not reporting the rapes were that they felt in some way responsible for what happened, even though that is clearly not the case. Both these incidents were several years ago, although I suspect the normal reaction of a victim is not much different today.
    What solutions are there to this? Do rape counselling services do enough to help victims or to identify themselves to victims? Are there ways that we can make the process easier on victims and help bring court cases without prejudicing the process of justice itself? These are the things I think the government should really be looking at.

  10. “Rape is the ultimate form of violence.” I really think this can’t just be stated as fact without any reasoning behind it. I’m not saying rape isn’t awful, and I’m certainly not agreeing with Littlejohn, but I really don’t agree that rape is the ULTIMATE form of violence.

  11. Well said upon nothing, great post.

    One of the saddest thing about this story is how many ppl have agreed with littlejohn and Clarke, trying to defend the idea of different levels of seriousness, confusing date rape (which is rape) with unlawful underage sex (which isn’t rape) or going back to the old chestnut that rape by a stranger is the most violent type of rape.

    Being penetrated without ypur consent is inherently violent and is a violation of your bodily autonomy. I don’t know if we would have the same debate about male rape, do we tell victims of male rape it wasn’t that bad if they knew the victim? Whoever the victim, whoever the perpetrator, rape is violent.

    And of course there is a world of difference between rape and regretting a drunken shag. False accusation stories receive a lot of press attention, with some cases where the accused isn’t found guilty being presented as false accusations even if the woman has not been accused or found guilty of that crime. Home office and crime stats tell us that 100,000 women are raped each year. Conviction rate is 6.5% from reporting to police, and false accusation rate is between 3-5%.

  12. I bet my situation would make RL’s head explode – if he could actually consider it without reaching for one of his cliches. I was trying to have consensual sex with a bloke I picked up in a pub when he decided he was going to lose the condom and try to transfer from back to front, one of the few acts that grosses me out beyond bearing. I was able to push him away, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it was attempted rape, and very little doubt that he has raped others. (I just blogged about it – http://ksej.livejournal.com/273960.html) Of course, I didn’t report this, knowing that the fact of my consent to other acts would basically exonerate him in any court. To be honest, I can’t imagine the circumstances where I would want to report a rape, the amount of shit the system puts victims through.

  13. This thread has gone a little astray – whatever you think the merits of ken Clarke’s arguments about rape, this blog-post column is about Richard Littlejohn going off on a horrible and squalid tangent that nullifies any attempt to have a sensible conversation about the issue.

    In any case, can we stop talking about the 15 year old and sixteen year old sex as rape – as has already been pointed out here, that is unlawful sexual intercourse NOT rape. Statutory rape is an American term that is not part of British law.

  14. If LittleJohn was to be bum-raped by some bloke, would he cry rape or would he say he got off his head on Bicardi Breezers and was feeling a bit bi-curious?

  15. You won’t like this, but am entitled to my opinion to.
    While I do believe that inorder to force someone into having sex when they don’t want to (asuming they r concious, sober etc) a considerable amount of force, restraining & fair amount of violence would be required to manage it, and yes the sex against ur will would be extremly unpleasant and can also be classed as violence in its self, but I do feel that the less other violence agaist a person the less traumatic it will be.
    Perhaps I miss understood when I thought I read ‘rape is the ultimate violence’, because to be honest i’d find being forced to have sex with someone once against my will, with minimal other violence along with it alot less traumatic (and terrifying) than being punched, kicked, having my head or face stamped on reapetedly, having my nose broken my teeth kicked out, suffering concusion etc . . . that is traumatic and an attack like that could kill u . . . .

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