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Why children should be muzzled, and other news.

Jun22

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In the news this week! A Long Island couple might be going to jail. Why? Because their kids are too loud, silly.
William and Rachel Poczatek have been charged with violating a noise code “usually reserved for ‘the shouting and crying of peddlers, hawkers, and vendors.'” In fact the noise was coming from their two daughters, ages 5 and 11, who were not hawking or peddling, but instead were cavorting (loudly, one assumes) around the family pool.
On a personal note, not only does this story come from my birthplace of Long Island, it happened in Bayville, the very town in which I was born and raised. I tell you, I haven’t been this proud since Billy Joel crashed into a neighbor’s house. As an erstwhile native of this beachfront community, I can safely say that the locals—much less the peoples of Long Island–are not known for speaking in dulcet tones. So for the neighbors to complain to the family and authorities for over three years, there had to be something truly amazing going on around this pool. How did the parents stand it? Maybe they need their hearing checked. I’m concerned for them. On the other hand, maybe the children shrieking continuously while enjoying the family pool is a safety measure. As long as they’re shrieking, you don’t have to worry.You can be inside, drinking your mint juleps, watching your stories. Not that the parents were doing that, but, you know. I likes to imagine.
Yeah. So! In medical news, breast cancer could come from your dad! Hello, dear friends whose mother and maternal grandmother have no history of the disease—don’t look so smug. You may still have plenty to worry about.
A new study shows that fully half of genetic breast cancers are passed down from the father’s side. Unless your father has female relatives who have had breast cancer, the gene could be carried silently (male breast cancer being significantly less common). In other words, no one in your family might ever develop breast cancer, but you could still have the genetic marker for it.
Why does this matter? I’ll tell you why, sassypants. (?) Currently, breast cancer patients with a family history of the disease are generally tested for the BRCA gene mutation. With the results of this study, doctors and their patients may have more luck convincing insurance companies to cover the expense of genetic testing even if there is no evidence of family history. It’s important to determine if you carry the BRCA gene mutation, because if you do, you have a higher chance of developing cancer in the other breast or in the ovaries, and preventative surgery might well be a next step.
Finally, a mind-boggling story in Slate this week: a judge bans the word “rape” from his courtroom. And that’s not all. Nebraska Judge Jeffre Cheuvront granted a motion from defense attorneys to bar, in addition to the word rape, the words sexual assault, victim, assailant, and sexual assault kit from the trial of Pamir Safi, who was accused of raping Tory Bowen in October 2004. So what’s left?
Sex.
Apparently, in this court, an act of mutual consent and a violent crime are synonymous.
Dalia Lithwick, the article’s author, writes that Bowen had to testify at Safi’s first trial (which ended in a deadlock) without using the words rape or sexual assault. “She claims, not unreasonably, that describing what happened to her as sex is almost an assault in itself.”
Why were these words banned? Because they’re too inflammatory.According to the accused’s lawyer, the word “rape” draws a legal conclusion “that’s for the jury to decide.”
Worse, still, than the ban on these words, is this: the jury will not be informed of the ban. They will be left to wonder why “sex”, or “intercourse,” both words as laden with implication as “rape,” are being used to describe an allegedly horrific crime.
I have enough indignation about this to clog the entire Internet with my vitriol, but all I can manage is a lot of all-caps incoherence. Anyway, outrage has already been expressed by the eloquent-as-always Twisty Faster. I bow to her greatness, and send you there. But then come back to comment here.

About the author

Alice Bradley

http://www.finslippy.com
Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


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3 Responses to “Why children should be muzzled, and other news.”

  1. braine Jun 22 at 11:48 am Reply Reply

    As disgusting and unfortunate as this ruling is, a skilled prosecutor should be able to use it to his/her advantage. By eliminating those words, they will need to concentrate on a straight, factual re-telling of events…so instead of using the word “rape,” which is itself a label for a violent, non-consensual sexual act, they will be required to describe the precise nature of the specific act in this case. So the prosecutor must say “the defendant is charged with forcibly engaging in non-consensual intercourse with the plaintiff against her will while she was unconscious,” every time they would otherwise have used the word “rape.” Surely, and rightfully, more likely to upset a jury than just the word rape on its own, which, if handled properly by the prosecutor, could come away with no more power than “yadda yadda yadda,” due to its lack of innate specificity. Of course, this is a blind, stupid and misogynistic decision, and the prosecutors could have chosen the above tactic without being censored, but it is something.
    I am curious, though — isn’t the charge still “rape,” or at least “sexual assault”? How can the name of the legal charge itself be eliminated from a courtroom?

  2. Belinda Jun 26 at 12:24 am Reply Reply

    Oh, yeah. I would LOVE to have the job of rewriting the account of the crime using “OK” words which would actually cause much more jury squirming than the ones being banned. An exercise like this might very well work a whole lotta bile right outta my system.
    Maybe I should check with local courts and see if my services are in demand…

  3. Melanie Jun 29 at 9:04 pm Reply Reply

    That judge/court/rape thing is disgusting. People with those sort of ridiculous rules shouldn’t allowed to hold public office.

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