Clear and Concise

by Joe

I recently encountered a rather unfortunate article that showed up in the editorial section of Friday’s Calgary Herald. It is discussing the recent changes being made to the sex offender registry that should make the system more effective. If not for the poorly written, incoherent, and offensive middle portion of the article, one would be inclined to agree and respect the writer’s opinion. The writer voices a concern for the scope of the “sexual assault” charge and feels that it is too wide of a term; under different circumstances this is a valid concern.

Instead of stating some logical premises that would support this concern we are presented with:

“The college student who finds himself up on charges the night after a drunken party because a female partygoer sobered up and decided what happened between them wasn’t consensual after all, is not a sex offender whose name should appear in the registry. “

Essentially this is telling us that the writer doesn’t feel that sexual assault that occurs at parties, even when facilitated by drugs or alcohol, qualifies as sexual assault. Then we are provided with:

“The creep who drags a woman passerby into a dark alley and rapes her, however, most definitely is. “

The unfortunate reality that this author does not seem to be aware of is that the majority of sexual assaults are not committed by the stranger; a quick glance at the statistics tells you that the majority of sexual assault survivors knew their assailant. If one does not know the facts, it’s best not to publicly admit it.

The author continues his article by calling for clearer wording:

“Clear, concise wording should be used, including a return to the use of the word “rape.” Rape should not be able to hide behind the facade of sexual assault.”

First of all, clear and concise wording already exists for the crime of sexual assault; it began with the redefinition of the crime back in 1983. The use of the word “rape” was removed because it only involved one kind of sexual assault. It did not include instances of same-sex sexual assault, sexual assault within a marriage, and sexual assault with objects. The definition before 1983 was not clear and concise as the criteria for sexual assault was limited and only applied to certain rare cases. The redefinition outlined and recognized many more instances of what is considered to be sexual assault. Secondly, I am unsure as to how rape hides behind the facade of sexual assault. Rape is sexual assault and is included in the legal definition of “sexual assault” along with other instances of sexual assault.

The article continues along:

“There are many kinds of sex assaults and not all of them equate to the most heinous.”

There are many kinds of sexual assault and they are clearly defined, as I said. But what is being suggested by the author here is that some instances of sexual assault are not so bad when compared to the “more heinous.”

Then to top off the idiocy, we are left with:

“The rapist belongs in the registry, the teen who gropes a girl on a dare or the aforementioned intoxicated partygoer does not.”

Essentially the author implies that groping girls is no biggie if it’s on a dare (and one wonders if that’s supposed to be because boys are uncontrollable hormone bombs), and that sexual assault facilitated by drugs is not sexual assault. To sum up, we’ll break the author’s statements into some nice logical premises:

1) Clear and concise wording needed
2) “Sexual Assault” too broad, many kinds, some worse than others
3) “Rape” is a more appropriate term
4) “Rape” does not happen at parties when there are intoxicated “participants”
5) “Rape” only happens to women (re: “the creep who…”)

One final thought: It is easy to understand that a person who does not know the definition of “sexual assault” or the definition of “rape” would be confused and call for clear and concise wording. However, a little research would provide the author with a few of the sought after answers, which would likely lead to a more professional and intelligent article. But who wants that…

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