HELP PUT A RAPIST BEHIND BARS BY GOING TO A STRIP CLUB [TW]
On the first day of summer this year, June 20th, the city of Houston passed a new $5-per-visitor “pole tax” on local strip clubs. The money generated by the new tax will be used to help process the city’s backlog of rape kits.
Every year in the U.S., more than 200,000 individuals report their rape to the police. That’s a lot of rapes, especially in light of the fact that rape is the most underrreported violent crime in our nation. Almost all victims are asked to submit to the collection of DNA evidence from their bodies, which is then stored in a small package called a rape kit. It is an invasive and traumatic process that takes several hours to complete. But the benefits can be enormous: testing of the DNA evidence in a rape kit can identify an unknown perpetrator, confirm the presence of a known one, corroborate the victim’s account of the rape, and exonerate innocent suspects. Today there’s an estimated half a million untested rape kits sitting in storage facilities and crime labs across the country. Houston itself estimates it has around 6,000 that have yet to be scrutinized. The cost of processing a rape kit is $1,100, which is a lot of money.
An attempt to use federal money to help local authorities process the rape kit backlog was introduced in 2009. Called the Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act, the bill was killed in Congress because it was altruistic in nature and did not benefit even one corporation. It was reintroduced last year, but as far as I can tell it’s just sitting there, like an unprocessed rape kit.
Although the pole tax is $5 per visitor, I couldn’t find any information on exactly how this would be collected. Perhaps it will be some sort of rape kit cover charge you pay at the door. Perhaps the bouncer will even stamp your hand with a stencil of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. That would be somewhat amusing—in a horrifying kind of way.
The tax was put forward by Houston city council member Ellen Cohen, who said, “There are negative secondary effects associated with adult entertainment establishments,” meaning, of course, rape. The statement reveals a startling level ignorance about such an important issue, especially for a woman in power.
I’m not opposed to this tax per se, it just strikes me as extremely weird, especially when taking into account the reasoning behind it. It’s just hard to imagine the archaic thinking it takes to connect strip clubs to rape. What is this, the 1980s? Saudi Arabia? Rape is not the result of uncontrollable horniness brought on by the delights of the local jiggle joint. It is not a sexual act anymore than beating the hell out your dog is an act of discipline. It is something evil people do to inform their vacuous and feckless existences, just like any crime of violence done to another living being. If we followed this incorrect thinking any further, we might end up telling women how to avoid getting raped instead telling men to stop raping women.
Anyway, I am not opposed to taxation at all. I believe everyone should pay their fair share for living in this great land of ours. Well, everyone except the very wealthy and giant corporations, of course. We are not Communists after all.
Like all American government entities, the city of Houston uses its power to tax unfairly, unevenly, and insufficiently, enabling it to throw it’s hands up the air and pretend like it’s broke whenever it doesn’t want to pay for something. Some of these rape kits have been sitting on the shelf for years.
I myself have never been to a strip club, but from what I can tell on late night Cinemax, they look like wonderful and totally realistic places. I doubt the new tax will put a dent in the income of the clubs or the girls who work there. I hope not anyway.
The great mythology of today is that we, as a nation, are broke. When you spend 53 cents of every dollar you collect in taxes on the military, you are not “broke”, you are simply misallocating your resources. The insulting backlog of rape kits in the U.S. is not the result of a lack of money, it’s the result of not giving a damn enough about rape victims.
Kudos, I guess, to Houston, for taking a very bizarre and very loaded step in the right direction.
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