The Cult of the Victim makes no distinctions

December 03, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

JUDGE JAMES Dudley, welcome to the '90s.

Dudley, a Howard County Circuit Court judge, apparently doesn't understand the rules yet. The 1990s are the Age of the Victim. When talking about victims, you don't dare blame them. You don't dare utter a sentence that might imply a thing such as personal responsibility still exists.

Yesterday, Sun reporter Caitlin Francke had a story about the most recent controversy surrounding Dudley. The judge sentenced Chester Walker to a five-year prison term for raping his then live-in girlfriend. Dudley then chided the woman for not dumping Walker one year earlier when she was two months pregnant with his child.

Dudley obviously feels he has the right to speak his mind on such matters. Where does the guy think he is? America?

"Foul!" cried victims rights advocates over the judge's comments. He was blaming the victim. He made the victim "feel horrible." He "[didn't] understand the complexities of domestic situations and how easily women can become trapped in difficult situations."

I have to plead guilty to that one myself. I confess to lacking the proper chromosomes to understand why a woman stays with a heel who whacks her around as he pleases. The truth is -- and truth is a dangerous area, as Dudley has found out -- that the overwhelming majority of men don't beat women. Some of us can even be loving, caring and devoted. With such men available in droves, we have to ask why some women not only end up with the women-beaters, but do so consistently.

But we'd have to ask ourselves silently. To do so out loud, in public, as Dudley did, is to invite the wrath of those devotees of the Cult of the Victim. To suggest that there exist women who simply will not tolerate abusive relationships -- that a man can hit such a woman one time, but he sure as hell won't hit her a second -- is to invite charges that you're a misanthropic Neanderthal.

Never mind that you're capable of making distinctions between the crime victims who are victimized through no fault of their own and those victims who, by making simple choices, can avoid their victimization. The Cult of the Victim will allow no such distinctions. Let a James Quarles refuse to drop a knife near Lexington Market, forcing an Officer Charles Smothers to shoot him, and Quarles is the victim. Not a guy who made not only a bad choice, but a fatal one, but a victim.

So caught up in the Cult of the Victim are we that we seek victims where none exists. We dredge them up. We conjure them out of thin air. After my Nov. 23 column on Smothers, a Crofton man wrote to me, distressed and absolutely certain that had Smothers been white I would have found fault with the shooting. Why even bring up the subject of what would have happened had the officer who shot Quarles been white? To evoke sympathy for a white victim even though none could be found in the Quarles case.

Everybody wants in on the victim sweepstakes. Some groups make better victims than others. Dudley's mistake was to impugn the victim status of a female rape victim. Women make better victims than men. Had Dudley been presiding in the murder trial of the man who killed my youngest brother, the judge might well have pointed out that my youngest sibling bore much of the responsibility for the events that got him killed. Would he have offended members of my family? Possibly, but I doubt it. He would have merely been repeating an ugly and nasty truth we accepted long ago.

But that was just two guys. Men commit violence against each other all the time. A judge suggesting that a male victim was responsible for the violence against him would have scarcely made the news. Who cares?

Black victims of racism and racist violence make "better" victims than white ones. In fact, if you depend on us news media folks, you wouldn't know anti-white racist violence exists. But there are white victims of racist violence who could tell tales to chill you to the bone. Asians, too, especially after the killing of Joel Lee, know of the preference for black victims.

Adherents of the Cult of the Victim are leading us down the path that will soon make us all whimpering simpletons. Judge James Dudley saw where this was leading us and spoke out against it. We should wish him well. He may not be long for the bench.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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