Noted liberal pundit: CA ‘affirmative consent’ law a ‘radical experiment’

Noted liberal pundit: CA ‘affirmative consent’ law a ‘radical experiment’


The problem of sexual violence and abuse on college campuses is a huge one. But California’s new “affirmative consent law,” which requires college students having sex to obtain “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement … throughout a sexual activity,” is certain to be hugely problematic. It sets up a standard of guilt for sex crimes for 3 million college students that is vastly broader than the one for other Californians.

Thoughtful liberals starting with New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait are among those who wonder how this could possibly work out well. He also thinks it could haunt the CA Democrats who passed the law. This is from Chait’s latest column, headlined “California’s Radical College-Sex-Law Experiment”:

The law’s defenders have made some interesting counterarguments. But these, in turn, merely underscore the vast distance between the law’s aspiration and its realistic prospects. “Confirming consent leads to much hotter sex,” writes my colleague Ann Friedman, who suggests various ways that continuous affirmation could be given without killing the mood, “We’re still deprogramming the idea that nice girls don’t admit they like sex, let alone talk about how they like it.” …

It surely is possible to imagine that sex that comports with these new guidelines is sexy, or even more sexy than the kind most people have now. Yet one might find these ideas about reimagining sex attractive, as I do, while still having deep reservations about codifying them into law.

Hollywood sex scenes fit definition of CA college rape

Chait finds a smart way to frame how sweeping this law is.

The fact that we need to change cultural attitudes about sex itself underscores the fact that cultural attitudes about sex lie well outside the contours established by the state of California. What percentage of the last decade worth of Hollywood sex scenes, if acted out between college students in California, would technically constitute rape? A majority? Ninety percent?

Deprogramming and reorienting societal ideas about sex is an evolutionary process. California isn’t merely attempting to set out to nudge the culture in this direction. It is reclassifying all sex that falls outside those still-novel ideas as rape. A law premised on this sort of sweeping, wholesale change is likely to fail.

And what might that mean politically?

[P]eople have certain intuitive beliefs about justice. If most college students today do not think that sex without continuous, affirmative consent is actually rape, and there is a law in place rendering it as such, soon enough, somebody is going to be prosecuted under these terms. And that person will become a victim of a standard of justice that offends the moral sensibilities of a large number of Americans, which is directly attributable to the actions of California’s elected Democratic officials. What will the law’s defenders do then?

‘Your guess is as good as mine’

This day is coming. It’s inevitable, given that authorities are being told to enforce a vague, amazingly broad law.

This passage from Cathy Young’s recent essay in TIME is chilling:

In addition to creating a vaguely and subjectively defined offense of nonconsensual sex, the bill also explicitly places the burden of proof on the accused, who must demonstrate that he (or she) took “reasonable steps … to ascertain whether the complainant affirmatively consented.” When the San Gabriel Valley Tribune asked [bill sponsor Bonnie] Lowenthal how an innocent person could prove consent under such a standard, her reply was, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

Your guess is as as good as mine. Wow.

Chait is right. This is an experiment. I wonder how many people will have their lives destroyed before it is called off.




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  1. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 8 October, 2014, 12:07

    It’s very dangerous to be a normal male these days. Thank God that with age the desires of the flesh begin to wane. Truly a blessing. The things that get most men in trouble are: 1) sex (2) drugs/alcohol (3) cars (4) money, in that order. So during regular foreplay this law would require a man to get verbal approval from the female as the act goes from one stage to the next??? “Is it okay if I touch you here? How ’bout there?” HAH! WTF? And if woman SILENTLY disappoves of his performance she can call the cops and charge him with a felony? lol! Is it any wonder that so many guys are turning gay? Now the man is forced to act defensively throughout the entire act while the male has ALWAYS been expected to be the AGGRESSOR or INITIATOR in the male-female relationship. This law basically puts the woman in charge in the bedroom and disparages the masculinity of the male. What happens if she doesn’t climax? Does he get 15 years to life? The social engineering in California is SO far out of control.

    THANK YOU, GOD, FOR MAKING ME AS OLD AS I AM!!! At least I have memories of the days when a man could be a man and not have to apologize for it!!!

    Reply this comment
  2. Michael
    Michael 8 October, 2014, 12:08

    So here’s my guess as to what will happen over the next couple of years… This new law goes into effect and we find that college men are still getting accused of rape if the woman changes her mind after they have sex. So men begin to video tape the consent to provide more proof of their lack of coercion when having sex.

    So, since these videos are probably being taken via a smart phone, Google, Facebook, as well as the feds now are accessing these records. Soon, these videos go viral and women get pissed. The law is reminded and sex returns to the bedroom and away from government interference.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 8 October, 2014, 16:27

    this is a crap article not worthy of comment…..

    Move on…….we don’t need puff comments from chubby old men!

    Reply this comment
    • Chris Reed
      Chris Reed Author 8 October, 2014, 22:09

      Ulysses, your moral preening is obnoxious. This new law has conservative admirers and critics, and liberal admirers and critics. It has prompted impassioned debate on legal blogs. It is a worthy topic. It’s getting lots and lots of news coverage.

      But you just come along and dismiss it all. Jon Chait? Cathy Young? The obvious concern raised by having one legal standard for one group and another for a minority?

      They’re all “crap.”

      LOL! Thanks for the chuckle.

      Reply this comment
  4. David M. Hodges
    David M. Hodges 8 October, 2014, 20:30

    I had some similar thoughts on the law back when the legislators passed it (29 August 2014):

    Reply this comment
    • David M. Hodges
      David M. Hodges 8 October, 2014, 20:36

      Actually, I should say I expressed my own doubts about the law at that time. I’m not sure they’re at all “similar” to those offered here.

      Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 9 October, 2014, 00:40

    Morality is not in vogue…….no law is needed but The Ten Commandments! Have we loved “The Secular State” too much?

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 9 October, 2014, 08:14

      ‘Secular State’?

      You mean like snuffing infants in the womb? Sure, there are strong arguments on both sides of the equation. I know that. But one thing you can’t deny: Life is life and killing is killing. And each of us has to form a personal opinon. Is it right or is it wrong? The ‘Secular State’ is no friend to life in the womb. And we know which political ideology that represents. Don’t we? 😉

      Reply this comment
  6. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 10 October, 2014, 12:12

    I feel sorry for all the young men in our society and I detest the hoops that they have to jump through today to obey these assinine laws on sexual behavior enacted by these old men who can’t even sustain erections any longer. It’s sort of like old flaccid men who have never heard a damn shot fired in a military conflict starting wars and sending the young studs off to die in many cases for nothing more than campaign contributions from defense contractors. F them all.
    With all these laws how can any normal person have fun in the bedroom without being turned into a damned criminal? They are destroying whatever human pleasures we had left in this society.

    Reply this comment
  7. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 10 October, 2014, 12:14

    LIC thinks that people “turn” Gay–how sad is that!

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 10 October, 2014, 13:35

      Not everybody is born gay, seesaw. How naive of you. Some people choose that lifestyle for one reason or another. And now with the government intruding into our bedrooms with laws on heterosexual behavior, I am beginning to understand why a young man with a common orientation might decide to turn gay.
      Did you know that the State of California will prosecute an aids patient who knows that he or she is infected with aids and has sex with another person without disclosing his or her condition beforehand ONLY if the State can show the aids infected person ACTED WITH THE INTENT TO INFECT THE OTHER PERSON WITH HIV??? LOL!!!! That burden of proof on the State is incredible. The aids patient can simply claim that he or she had sex with the other person for the gratification of the act or that he/she was sexually aroused by the unknowing partner. But that there was NO INTENT to infect him or her!!!
      See the difference in the context of the laws between the heterosexual and homosexual homosexual populations in California, seesaw. Oh, and yes. The LARGE LARGE majority of aids patients in California are gay. It is generally known to be a ‘gay disease’ in the medical community.

      Reply this comment

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