Breitbart, Olbermann, and the Claims of Rape at Occupy Protests

Abstract:

Rape likely occurs-based on Breitbart’s own statistics-at a far higher rate in the society as a whole than it ever did in occupy. Rape occurs on country roads and urban corridors. It happens in the suburbs and at schools. It occurs in our neighbors houses and even in the beds of married couples. Consent is coerced using drugs and alcohol, force and power, and this is the part of rape that is neglected in this discussion.

Do we need to explore the sexual politics and material reality of rape in occupy-yes! However, if Olbermann and Breitbart are suddenly so concerned about issues of rape I would invite them to take a shot the much larger issue of rape in our culture. That is a problem that can not be blamed on liberals as animals and demands more than a partisan ideology.

In what would seem like a superfluous contest of irrelevancy if it did not entail the serious issue of rape, Andrew Breitbart and Keith Olbermann got into a heated battle over the role of the Occupy movement in the rape of what Breitbart claims is at least a “dozen” people across the movement. In retweeting and replying to Olbermann (and being retweeted from there) I received a number of nasty replies from acolytes of Breitbart. Nonetheless, the issue of rape in occupy is important because it poses a number of issues of agency, response, and responsibility for a leaderless movement.

The incident that sparked the flareup was Breitbart confronting a group of Occupy protestors outside this year’s CPAC conference:

Breitbart can be heard clearly yelling

Stop raping people, stop raping the people…you freaks, you filthy freaks, you filthy filthy filthy raping murdering freaks.

His animus towards occupy makes it impossible to deal with him seriously as an advocate for those who were victims of assault in occupy encampments (especially those who were or are still members of the occupy movement). I wonder if he would blame them for being members of the movement.

Breitbart claims, “I said stop raping people, I am saying to the occupy movement, writ large…” He also claims that his bellicose yelling at Occupy protestors outside of CPAC was a stunt. The problem with his claim is that he makes Occupy into a a single unified agent that that is committing the rapes. Occupy is not an institution, as I have written on this blog before they are best understood using the Deleuzian concept of haecceity. They are a multiplicity and that lack of clear hierarchy likely is what drives Breitbart crazy and makes it impossible to substantiate the claim that occupy was raping people. Moreover, he has no evidence that the protestors he was yelling at in the video are rapists.

As for Olbermann, he often deflects attention away from the issue by hedging that members of occupy were victims and that it may have been outsiders that committed the assaults. This could be true, or not. However, occupy’s initial response to sexual assault undermines the sympathetic case Olbermann builds. As Jezebel (of all places) reports, the sexual politics of Occupy are incredibly complex. The initial response was to attempt to handle issues of crime and sexual assault internally, directing victims “to immediately report the incident to the Security Committee” as opposed to authorities. However, after widespread criticism many encampments became more open to letting authorities in and to providing areas with services specifically for sexual assault or rape. Showing their interest in stopping rape, as opposed to scoring ideological points, critics of occupy dubbed the areas providing these services rape free zones.

The core issue here is that rape is a serious crime and should be reported to authorities immediately. What is worse is that only about 25% of rapes are reported. Meaning that Occupy’s impulse to deter reporting says as much about the politics of occupy as it does about American society-we rather not talk about rape or deal with it. Breitbart’s core message “stop raping people” is a great message but is less efficacious and is wasted when his political motivations are revealed. The central message to every American, given that we live in a culture permissive of rape, ought to be stop raping people. Consider that The New York Time reported that government officials were shocked to find that 1 in five women in the U.S. had been raped. The occupy encampments are the perfect phantasmagoria of conservative fears of liberal occupation as rape scene-unwashed masses defying social order in a soup of social disobedience. This, like the mysterious dark alley, seems the proper place for rape. Of course there is never a proper place for rape. Moreover, rape likely occurs-based on Breitbart’s own statistics-at a far higher rate in the society as a whole than it ever did in occupy. Rape occurs on country roads and urban corridors. It happens in the suburbs and at schools. It occurs in our neighbors houses and even in the beds of married couples. Consent is coerced using drugs and alcohol, force and power, and this is the part of rape that is neglected in this discussion.

Do we need to explore the sexual politics and material reality of rape in occupy-yes! However, if Olbermann and Breitbart are suddenly so concerned about issues of rape I would invite them to take a shot the much larger issue of rape in our culture that persists long after the violent and peaceful evictions of a number of the occupy encampments. It is at a cultural permissibility of rape that sees 1 in 5 women experience rape and only 1 in 4 report it that Breitbart’s ire should be directed. That is a problem that can not be blamed on liberals as animals and demands more than a partisan ideology.

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Filed under Feminisms, Grad School, Uncategorized

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