Investigative Journalism that is as
Radical as Reality Itself.

State Rape

by WILLIAM SHEPPARD

When the basic premise of the drug war is that we do not own our own bodies, the recurring theme of police sexual assault in the media over the last several months seem less like freak occurrence and more like an expected, perhaps its inevitable outcome. Last year there was the police rape of a New Mexico man and another very similar incident in El Paso, In both cases, the victims were held under suspicion of carrying drugs inside their bodies, and subjected to numerous intense and invasive violations as successive tests turned up negative. These cases are gruesome, graphic and brutal examples of the kind of power the state has granted itself over us.

It does not end with just these incidents; strip searches are routine at airports. If we wish to travel via air, then we must grant the state permission to invade our privacy and our bodies. Probably the most explicit form of state rape – that is some kind of sexual assault or violation undertaken by a representative, or someone with authority granted by the state – is prison rape. What gives a government official this power? If we consider the specific case of the man in New Mexico, it is unlikely that two men on the street would have been able to apprehend him and conduct these acts without him protesting, resisting, trying to get away or, at the very least, gaining support from bystanders.

Given the position of authority granted to these men, however, means that physical resistance isn’t even a reasonable response. The presence of law enforcement in this man’s ordeal provided the implicit threat of an infinitely scalable escalation of violence. Had he attempted to stop one of the doctors from violating him, at least one officer would have gotten involved to subdue him; were he successful in subduing one cop, it is likely that a second cop would have used lethal force against him; in the unlikely event that he could have stopped this, the state has near unlimited resources to stop him. He could be chased to other states, even extradited from another nation. As soon as the state is involved in a situation like this, the individual citizen has already lost. While some instances are eventually dealt with in an appropriate manner, the aforementioned prison rape by prison authorities shows that even after sexual assault takes place, the opportunity for recourse is minimal to non-existent — to the point where authorities were able to deny that such a thing was even a problem.

Recently a report by the Department of Justice, surveying nearly 2 million prisoners from federal, state, local and private prisons, found that almost half of sexual assaults in prison are perpetrated by prison staff. In cases where allegations were substantiated, less than half the offenders were prosecuted or faced jail time. This issue stems from the conflict of interest that arises when state officials are expected to be held accountable to and prosecuted by other state officials. It’s the same reason we don’t see police engaged in acts of brutality being handcuffed by their peers. Inmates attempting to report such offenses must deal with possible retaliation by the accused or their peers, who have been granted power over them by the state. As demonstrated before, their actions carry with them the implicit threat of infinitely scalable violence.

If these cases do reach court, again we have the problem of representatives of the state sympathizing with fellow agents of the justice system. This is exemplified by the recent sentencing of a police officer charged with violently anally assaulting twelve victims. The officer in question, who is by any account a serial rapist, faces only two years in prison. Four other officers were involved, reportedly assisting by holding down and even pointing guns at the victims. The accomplices face no charges at all.

Writing here about the horrors of state rape and the power dynamics involved is in no way meant to minimize the horrors of rape by private individuals against others. The difference in this situation is that the power given to the attackers is artificial. With the elimination of the organization that grants the power to strip rights from other human beings, backed by the implicit threat of infinitely scalable violence, we can at least remove this scourge from our society.

William Sheppard is a left anarchist and activist with a particular interest in online rights, privacy and encryption.

July 07, 2015
Shamus Cooke
Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow
Dave Lindorff
The Greek People Have Voted ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail
Mateo Pimentel
The Pope’s Letter: Neoliberalism and Fukushima
Raouf Halaby
Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues
Ron Jacobs
The Grateful Dead: The Ship of the Sun Bids Farewell
Mel Gurtov
Keep It in the Ground, Obama
Colin Todhunter
The Warped World of the GMO Lobbyist
July 06, 2015
Steve Hendricks
Will FIFA’s World Cup Sexism Ever Die?
Binoy Kampmark
Oxi in Greece
Gareth Porter
How US Spin on Access to Iranian Sites has Distorted the Issue
Peter Bach
ISIL and Ramadan in the Rag
MICHAEL HUDSON
Greece Rejects the Troika
Paul Craig Roberts
A Rebuke to EU-Imposed Austerity
Robert Hunziker
Looking Inside Fukushima Prefecture
Quincy Saul
The View from Mount Olympus
ADRIENNE PINE, RICHARD JOHNSTON, FIONA WILMOT, et al.
Seven Reasons to Scrap the USA’s $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America
Norman Pollack
Capitalism’s Self-Revealing Practices
David Macaray
Could Justice Scalia Be the One to Rescue Labor?
Linn Washington Jr.
Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy
Benjamin Willis
US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?
Robert David Steele
he National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes
Joan Roelofs
Whatever Happened to Eastern European Communism?
Weekend Edition
July 3-5, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World
Jason Hirthler
Going Off-Script in St. Petersburg
Rob Urie
Greece and Global Class War
DIMITRIS KONSTANTAKOPOULOS
The Future of Greece Without Illusions
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites
David Rosen
White Skin Crisis
Jerry Lembcke
Nobody Spat on American GIs!
Stavros Mavroudeas
The Greek Referendum and the Tasks of the Left
Andrew Levine
Dumping on Dixie Again
Richard Pithouse
Charleston (It’s Not Over)
Arun Gupta
What Does It Mean to Call Dylann Roof a “Terrorist”?
Michael Welton
The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada
Brendan McQuade
The Right Wing Resurgence and the Problem of Terrorism
Victor Rodriguez
Puerto Rico’s Economic and Fiscal Crisis: Made in the U.S.A.
Chris Floyd
Heritage and Hokum in Rebel Banner Row
John Halle
Four Thoughts on the Sanders Insurgency
John Feffer
ISIS and the Terrible Twos
Steve Breyman
Being David Brooks
Lawrence Davidson
Why Does Dylann Roof’s Kind Still Exist? 
Robert Fantina
Political Posturing in the United States
Binoy Kampmark
Austerity: Killing Greece (and the Idea of Europe)
Paul Craig Roberts
Greece Again Can Save The West
Gilbert Achcar
Communist Christianity and Fundamentalist Islam