Republicans support rape?

Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped [by company employees] in Baghdad in 2005 while working for Halliburton. Officials for the company locked her in a shipping container for 24 hours and warned her that she would be out of a job if she left Iraq to seek medical treatment. She had signed a contract stipulating that employees could not file sexual assault charges with police or governmental authorities.

Sen. Al Franken got an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill passed that would withhold defense contracts from companies if they forced employees to sign contracts forbidding employees from taking sexual assault and battery cases to court.

From Franken’s speech:

The constitution gives everybody the right to due process of law … And today, defense contractors are using fine print in their contracts do deny women like Jamie Leigh Jones their day in court. … The victims of rape and discrimination deserve their day in court [and] Congress plainly has the constitutional power to make that happen.

I am glad that Franken’s amendment passed. What I find amazing is that fully three-fourths of the Republicans in the Senate voted against the measure. One Republican Senator argued that Franken’s bill was purely political and was directed against Halliburton as an attack on Bush, this despite the fact that his amendment is generic and does not mention Halliburton by name.

The Republican position is shear hypocrisy. Republicans supported a bill directed specifically against ACORN (by name) because ACORN was lax in vetting its volunteers, some of whom gave despicable advice to a [fake] pimp. But, at the same time they are against an amendment to a bill directed against any company that receives defense contracts that tries to coerce a women employee from seeking legal redress if raped–all because they think that the amendment is secretly directed towards one particular company–a company that illegally tried to cover up the real gang rape of an employee.

Republicans are missing the point, of course. Franken’s amendment exists because of Halliburton. That much is true. I am sure that Franken, like any decent person, was horrified by what some of Halliburton’s employees did. Franken would probably have liked to stick it to the company. But he didn’t. His actual amendment does not specifically attack Halliburton. His amendment is constitutionally and morally sound precisely because it does not single out Halliburton.

No, Republicans do not support rape any more than any other group. But they obviously can be blinded by their love of big corporations, even those that live off the government teat (provided that they are sufficiently supportive of conservative values).

But despite its inanity, I think Democrats should embrace the Republican argument. Point out that Franken’s amendment is constitutional, but gleefully admit that it was inspired by Halliburton–the corporation that locked a gang-raped women in a trunk for 24 hours and refused to let her seek legal redress. See how conservatives spin the fact that 75% of the Republicans in the Senate voted against the amendment. Let them explain why they really aren’t supporting rape.


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2 Responses

  1. Its a simple (and that’s the problem) argument from the Republican side, they obviously don’t favor rape. Republicans seem to supporting the idea of ADR as a reasonable means for redress. That this type of arbitration is both fair and equitable. Further, they believe it speaks to the idea of “freedom of contract”, that individuals are allowed to make contracts free from government control. However, I think that when you look into ADR , it is deeply flawed bias toward the corporate world at the expense of fairness and justice. Its a different (old) paradigm of approaching the world.

  2. Yes I agree, that is the more rational of their arguments. Franken’s amendment does not prohibit arbitration. It simply limits its use in cases

    related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.

    But I am not sure it is a simple argument. It may be simple to make, but is far from simple to explain. Voters are not going to be sympathetic to an argument in favor of the absolute right to form contracts if it can lead to cases such as this.

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