Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rapacious Capitalists in Defense of Rape: Why defense contractors want to protect their employees' right to rape one another

Whenever I have had the opportunity, I have always tried hard to draw attention to the inherent abuses inseparable from the current relationship between American business and American government. Well, the opportunity has presented itself once again. They've presented us a with a classic 'good news/bad news' scenario.

First, the good news:

Senator Al Franken (D - MN) added an amendment to a comprehensive defense appropriations bill that would prohibit defense contractors who proactively prevented employees raped by other employees from suing the corporation from receiving defense contracts. This is another bit of proof (the first being Franken's excellent bill to provide disabled veterans with service dogs, co-sponsored with Sen. Johnny Isakson ) that Franken is shaping up to be a very good senator who offers his constituents and the nation more than just another Democrat in the majority. With all due respect to Stuart Smalley, Franken is a much better political thinker, satirist and policy wonk than he is a mainstream comic. Since a gift for acid barbed satire can only lead to a better attitude from which to approach Washington D.C, the Senate is where he almost certainly belongs.

The bad news:

Apparently, major defense contractors do not believe that strong-arming their employees into not bringing suit against them for on-the-job rape by co-workers or superiors is an inappropriate corporate policy. So they are attempting to strong-arm Congress into dropping or weaking the amendment. Does it say more about them or about me that I am not terribly surprised? While I admit to a certain level of misanthropic cynicism about life in general, specifically when it regards corporate activity, I admit it could be the latter... but in this case I really think it says more about them.

Thirty Republicans in the Senate voted against including this amendment in the bill at all and it is very important for everyone suggesting that the GOP is somehow stronger on feminism than liberals to keep that in mind.

However, the Republicans who voted against the amendment (and lost) are less important than corporate pressure and one Democratic senator.

As noted in the link above, the primary target of corporate pressure to weaken or remove the amendment from the bill is Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. He has received a fair amount of money from defense contractors and may be amenable to said pressure. If he is, and if he folds under said pressure and weakens or eliminates the amendment, he will be far more culpable an accessory to violent crime than any of the Republicans who voted against the amendment when it was offered. He will not only be joining them in becoming an accessory after the fact, but he will be betraying one of the most liberal constituencies in the nation for campaign donations.

The real point of this, however, is not how the Republicans are so in thrall to corporate power that they vote against denying business to companies that force rape victims to forfeit their legal rights. Nor is it that a Democratic senator from a 'liberal' state may be no better when the rubber hits the road. The real point is the question of what kind of corporation would pressure lawmakers to prevent an amendment being passed to deny business to corporations that effectively condone rape and make themselves accessories after the fact. What kind of corporation is so obsessed with protecting itself from 'liability' that it would feel the need to 'protect' itself by the means this amendment would deny companies defense contracts for using?

The fact that we have to ask these questions is the answer to them. American corporate culture is so obsessed with liability, so determined to defend the bottom line, that questions of decency and morality are meaningless in the face of money. More importantly, this is precisely what the corporate apologists on the right are telling us is moral and proper. The economic priveleges and powers of corporations are inherently of more value than the rights and basic dignity of their employees. This is volia at its most glaringly honest.

I have somewhat more faith that the amendment will not be either excised or emasculated despite the pressures of defense contractors and the rumors out of Washington. I prefer to think better of Senator Inouye until he proves me wrong. If and when that happens, he will have proven himself to be every bit as bad as the rapists who created the issue themselves.

I don't think that is a radical statement at all.

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