Alaska rape capital of U.S.

America’s Rape State

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R)

A note at the outset: This is Alaska, after all. Not that such a point should provide any comfort. Rather, quite the opposite. Still, though, as appalling as the situation might be, it’s just another day on the Last Frontier.

The Alaska National Guard is facing down some grave allegations: A recruiter trying to give alcohol to high school girls, botched responses to sexual assault complaints, embezzlement, a former porn company owner keeping his job despite military investigators finding that he failed to respond to sexual assault, and whistleblowers terrified to speak out.

The alleged misconduct, detailed in an assessment by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations and in investigations by local news outlets, is threatening the re-election bid of incumbent Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R). The governor, who is commander in chief of the Guard, fired three top officials from the military unit this week. His office has said that he took action each time he was made aware of misconduct, and that he was ultimately misled by his top general.

But Parnell’s critics—including whistleblowers and victims—claim that his office failed to do enough to respond to allegations of abuse over several years. Local news outlets are now suing the governor’s office to get access to internal emails that may show how much Parnell knew about the allegations, and what he did in response.

(Liebelson)

A question for Governor Parnell:

While it is easy enough to imagine that the brass might wish to downplay the number of sex crimes in the Alaska National Guard, what is your threshold insofar as we might understand the minimum number of sexual assaults before you find the behavior problematic?

What’s the number, Governor? Five? Ten? Is it greater than one?

And what are the criteria? Is groping “no problem”, while coerced oral sex is only “kinda problematic”? How about forced vaginal intercourse? Is that not so bad, from a gubernatorial point of view, as forced anal sex? At what point, Governor Parnell, do you decide this is actually a problem you need to do something about?

No, really.

The Last Frontier is also America’s Rape State.

And no, Governor, you should not be proud of your contribution to that title.

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Liebelson, Dana. “Alaska National Guard Sex Abuse Scandal Threatens GOP Governor’s Re-election”. The Huffington Post. 22 October 2014.

An Example of Alaskan Virtue

In the early nineties, a disgruntled group of anti-abortion activists in Oregon decided to shift gears, and the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance rose to influence trying to compel the state to exclude homosexuals from societal participation; the ballot measure was so broadly worded that a “gay panic defense” would succeed in any question of murdering a homosexual or suspected homosexual, because prosecutors would be forbidden from not condemning homosexuality as “abnormal, perverse, and wrong”. While some of us frequently joke that marriage equality owes much to such merry bands of stooges insofar as they moved the question of gay rights to the fore as no gay rights activist possibly could, it was a grave time that even saw homophobes resort to terrorism.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK)Well, we didn’t call it terrorism back then, did we? It was just firebombing faggots, a method viewed at the time as questionable for its potential to create sympathy toward homosexuals.

Which is telling. But the aspect we might consider today is a persistent one: Why is the idea of consent as relates to sexual intercourse so irrelevant to the conservative political outlook?

I’m sorry, is that a harsh question?

Deal with it. We’ve been hearing this sort of talk for decades.

The latest manifestation comes from Rep. Don Young (R-AK):

At a Wasilla High School assembly Tuesday morning, U.S. Rep. Don Young didn’t temper his notoriously abrasive personality for his young audience.

Numerous witnesses say Young, 81, acted in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage.

(Hollander)

Then again, this is Don Young. The octagenarian congressman has a penchant for bigoted gaffes.

Which, in turn, says something about the virtues and values along the Last Frontier.

But here is the functional problem: This is part of a long-running rhetorical bit whereby social conservatives aim for comedic style points. The problem here is that in winning the debate on style points, conservatives are (A) dehumanizing their opponents, and (B) erasing sexual consent.

(more…)

Another Quote: Cold Soul Edition (Rape Frontier Mix)

Detail of the Seal of the State of Alaska

“In its short history as a state, Alaska has earned an unnerving epithet: It is the rape capital of the U.S.”

Sara Bernard

Really, I … I … I just can’t do this one, today. I’m sorry.

In its short history as a state, Alaska has earned an unnerving epithet: It is the rape capital of the U.S. At nearly 80 rapes per 100,000, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Alaska’s rape rate is almost three times the national average; for child sexual assault, it’s nearly six times. And, according to the 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey, the most comprehensive data to date, 59 percent of Alaskan women have been victims of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or both.

But those numbers, say researchers, just skim the surface. Since sex crimes are generally underreported, and may be particularly underreported in Alaska for cultural reasons. “Those numbers are conservative,” says Ann Rausch, a program coordinator at Alaska’s Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “They’re still staggering.”

The causes of the violence are complex and entrenched. Government officials, law enforcement personnel, and victim advocates note the state’s surfeit of risk factors, from an abundance of male-dominated industries, like oil drilling and the military, to the state’s vast geography, with many communities that have no roads and little law enforcement. “There are so many factors that tip the scale for Alaska,” says Linda Chamberlain, executive director of the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project. Not the least among them: the lack strong law enforcement presence, or support services of any kind, in remote towns like Tanana. “It’s easier for perpetrators to isolate their victims and not get caught. And for people not to get help.”

(Bernard)

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Bernard, Sara. “Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness”. The Atlantic. 11 September 2014.