Post # 345   THE UNCERTAIN RED LINE

The earliest Western statement of the basic and absolute need, for a mandatory standard of societal morality and moral behavior is that, no doubt, contained in the directives and proscriptions, of the apocryphal “Ten Commandments.” To simplify its archaic, thematic admonitions in more secular and contemporary language: where, in any group, of at least two persons, the action of one party affects the other, an agreed understanding of acceptable social behavior is mandatory. The laws limiting liberty of behavior are enacted by the relevant legislature, responsive to its perception of the contemporary societal morality (within, of course, the strictures of our Constitution).

In order to protect legitimate liberty and assure ultimate fairness, the Constitution of the United States, importantly, provides, that for any behavior to constitute and be prosecutable as a crime, the relevant penal statute satisfy the legally prescribed standard of clarity; viz., “capable of being fully understood by a person of ordinary intelligence.” A Statute that is adjudged as not meeting this standard, is constitutionally, “void for vagueness,” and unenforceable. It is the American jurisprudence, that a potential criminal offender, be, fairly, put on notice that he will be committing a crime; before he can be prosecuted as a criminal. The Penal Codes of the State or Federal Government are drafted and legislated with this principle of human intention in mind.

Sexual abuse may fairly be described, as the wrongful performance of undesired sexual behavior, by one person respecting the other. At times it is committed by force; most often it is perpetrated by a person in a superior position or one with influence over the victim. The shameful number of such offenses, (many, unreported) led to the organization of the currently well known, “Me Too Movement,” an organization, properly opposing sexual harassment and sexual assault. It was reportedly begun in October, 2017, at the same time when the shameful allegations against Harvey Weinstein were publicized. The movement, contains, in addition to those who, properly, support it merely on moral principle, injured women from the areas of the American media, the Fashion industry, the Church, Education, Finance, Politics and Government, Sports, the Music Industry, and others. The numbers of such reported miscreant acts are virtually astounding. We can offer no estimate of the unreported ones, whom we are told, fear retaliation and exposure to shame. Many of the prominent women leaders of the protest movement, have stated that the problem is so numerous that it will, without doubt, require, in addition, men, to take a hand and also render their support. [We agree and dutifully volunteer our total support.]

Our initial [ but not sole] gesture of support is, to our mind, an important, and potentially effective approach to, at least, limiting the numbers of transgressions. With respect to this constructive suggestion, we completely exclude the entire class of intentional sex abusers, like Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump and the hordes of miscreant adolescent- neurotics who intentionally, get their perverted jollies by acts marginalizing and harassing women. This species of venal miscreant deserves adequate punishment for its misdeeds, and perhaps, optimistically, many years of psychological therapy.

Our suggestion would specifically apply to accused persons like Joe Biden, whom we continue to believe, is a completely honorable man, and a respecter of women. From our appraisal of the former Vice-President, a warm and socially communicative personality, he had no idea that the two complainants were feeling demeaned by his innocently intended, mere touching, which was, throughout all his life, a concomitant of his conversation. He has apologized, and ruefully explained that he had no idea that his communicative style was objectionable to them. He indicated that realizes that it is now, unfortunately, a new (Harvey Weinstein) world, and that he would, therefore amend his conversational style. It seems evident to us, that Joe’s intentions were, as always, warm and communicative, and unrelated to sex. He seemed shocked to apprehend the new sensitivities, which were totally unknown to him, albeit a public figure.

Our promised, contributing suggestion to the problem is as follows: Most men we know are like Joe Biden and not Harvey Weinstein; they do respect the rights of women to their dignity and privacy. From the matter of Joe Biden, we have, also, learned that the latest, expressed sensitivities to touching, are justified and real. Most people we know, however, touch occasionally when communicating. We are friends with people who are not criminals, yet, actually even hug and kiss others, affectionately.

With similar concern for fairness, analogous to the principles stated above regarding criminal responsibility, a potential offender (in this case, most especially, one of purely innocent intention) needs to be informed in advance, concerning the new red lines which recently have been re- drawn, gerrymandering areas previously considered, acceptable and normal social behavior, to those which are now to be described as abusive. We do a lot of hugging around here, and would be totally appreciative of the latest legal guidelines.

-p.

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plinyblogcom

Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Literature Student and enthusiast.

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