UMich student arrested for rape story

L. McCarthy lmccarth at
Sun Feb 12 15:45:24 PST 1995

Rich Dutcher writes:
> However, given the information available to date, I see no reason to 
> believe that he's been busted for writing "erotic fiction"  rather than 
> threatening a woman.  

The July `94 issue of Harper's described the case of a Menlo Park city 
employee who claimed in 1993 to be harassed by some paintings of female nudes
hanging in a hallway. The city removed the paintings the following day. It
used to be that when the majority of people in some state/county/town 
disapproved of some instance of expression, they could suppress it. This was
bad. Nowadays, it takes just one zealot to suppress it. This is much worse.
As far as I can see, anyone can claim to be harassed/threatened/offended by
just about anything, and get away with it.  Just the other day, I heard that
in Vermont (or was it New Hampshire ?), they're still talking seriously about
an amendment to the state constitution against burning the U.S. flag. Between
the censors on the left and the censors on the right, there's precious little
room remaining for those of us in the middle who believe in tolerating
divergent views.

It appears to me that people on the left are choosing (wrongly, IMHO) to 
interpret a work of fiction as a threat, and proceed from there. I imagine
that people on the right don't see the work of fiction as a threat to her, but 
simply want to ban fictional works they dislike anyway.

> Violence against women is too real, 

Strongly agreed, but a newsgroup article is not an act of violence.

> and in other contexts courts have held to a standard of what a "reasonable 
> woman" might fear.

Well, we'll have to see how it goes. It's tough for me to see why a 
"reasonable woman" would fear an article of which she was totally unaware.

I get the impression that neither did he imply a threat, nor did she infer a

> BTW, does presume fiction, or is it pretend truth 
> like the readers' sex stories in Penthouse?

I don't know for sure, though I expect would be more likely
to fall in the latter category :] .

-L. Futplex McCarthy

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