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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Former Federal Prosecutor Speaks Out About Palin

Motley Moose Exclusive, Guest Blogger Series

When asked why we were attacked on 9/11, Sarah Palin answered because the terrorists hate our freedoms.  While she has been derided for her lack of foreign policy experience, she may have come up with the most innovative program yet to deter terrorists: taking those freedoms away.  

Just like many Middle Eastern countries, Mayor Palin punished the women of Wasilla for reporting rape.  Her administration charged them substantial fees for the rape kits used to prove the crime. After being attacked, a Wasilla woman could look forward to being billed up to $1200 in return for a grueling forensic pelvic exam.

Sarah Palin has provided the ultimate example of why a female candidate is no substitute for a candidate who cares about women.  Compare Palin and Biden’s records on violence against women, an issue on which both sides normally agree.  The political right may not always prioritize the cause, but it does not disagree that domestic violence is destructive of families and that rape is fundamentally wrong.  Yet Palin sailed right past apathy to downright punishment of women for reporting rapes.  

Her handpicked sheriff (she had fired his predecessor for disloyalty) decided to save Palin’s city budget a few thousand dollars by singling out rape victims to pay for their own criminal investigations. (See the Huffington Post for new evidence that Palin signed off on the policy.) The policy so bothered the Alaska legislature that it passed a state-wide statute to ban the practice, signed into law by Governor Tom Knowles.

Palin did not charge any other crime victims for the privilege of law enforcement.  When the Wasilla police fingerprinted a house that had been burglarized, they did not present the owners with a bill for their services.  But rape, of course, is different. As an on-line reader of Wasilla’s local paper wrote in response to the issue:  

To weed out the false accusations women make with respect to sexual assaults, many towns have and are charging for rape kits. I have worked enough rapes to know when the town ho cries foul just to be vindictive and YES she should be charged.  

Violence against women is an epidemic in America, with rates of rapes, beatings and murders not that different from many of the countries that we condemn as uncivilized because of how they treat women.  Studies show that about 1 in 4 women will be beaten by a partner in their lifetime, and 1 in 6 will be the victim of rape or attempted rape.

Governor Palin either does not believe this or does not care.  Which state has more than double the national rate of rape, and the highest per capita murder rate of women by men?  You guessed it.  Alaska.

Not only is Joe Biden better on this issue, he has been the nation’s most vocal champion for ending violence against women.  Biden drafted a federal statute that banned local communities from charging for rape kits (contained in a crime bill that McCain voted against.) Biden spent years of his Senate career authoring and passing the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), a law that created federal enforcement of interstate domestic violence and stalking, and, more importantly, brought massive funding to local police departments to protect women.  Since VAWA, the domestic violence murder rate has decreased substantially.  Joe Biden has saved countless women from rape and murder.

The women attracted to Sarah Palin’s candidacy and the brash Annie Oakley figure described by Camille Paglia are not discouraged by Palin’s positions on feminist cultural issues.  But these same women are tired of a government that ignores the constant violence against them.  These are the women who watch Lifetime movies and Martina McBride video “Independence Day” celebrating escape from domestic violence as part of American freedom.  They understand the humiliations heaped upon women by cynical cops, and will be horrified at the thought of paying a backbreaking fee for a rape exam of their daughters. This may be the issue that makes clear that Palin’s exuberance at breaking the glass ceiling conceals something darker.  

Tania Tetlow

Associate Professor and Director,

Tulane Law School Domestic Violence Clinic.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney  


  1. When someone of this stature, someone who has had to work with elected officials in enforcing the law, comes out with such a devastating attack, we should all sit up and take notice.

    This isn’t just politics. It’s grievous harm, and as Tania Tetlow points out, a major distinction between the two vice presidential candidates

  2. Kysen

    To weed out the false accusations women make with respect to sexual assaults, many towns have and are charging for rape kits. I have worked enough rapes to know when the town ho cries foul just to be vindictive and YES she should be charged.

    Mind numbing.

    Sarah Palin has provided the ultimate example of why a female candidate is no substitute for a candidate who cares about women.

    One would hope that most are intelligent enough to see this….but, sadly, I hold not so much faith in my fellow American’s intelligence these last 8 years.

    These next 40 odd days are going to be a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us. Buckle up.

    Welcome to Motley Moose!!

  3. It gets worse. Just read this courtesy of AP. Troopergate also connects to the domestic violence issue. Monegan was ultimately fired for seeking federal funds to protect women.

    The last straw, the McCain campaign said, was in July, when Monegan planned to travel to Washington to seek federal money for a plan to assign troopers, judges and prosecutors who could exclusively handle sexual assault cases – one of the state’s most intractable crime problems.

    In a July 7 e-mail, John Katz, the governor’s special counsel, noted two problems with the trip: The governor hadn’t agreed the money should be sought, and the request was “out of sequence with our other appropriations requests and could put a strain on the evolving relationship between the Governor and Sen. (Ted) Stevens.”

  4. to terminate any rape-induced pregnancies.  Since Palin believes rape victims should carry rapists’ children, therefore it is likely that part of her effort to charge rape victims for being raped is to ensure that they will provide human incubators for their assailants.

    Add to this McCain’s completely asnine comment on contraceptives:

    A reporter followed up by inquiring whether McCain supports sex education that candidly discusses contraception and preventing the spread of AIDS and other disease, or whether he backs President Bush’s abstinence-only education program. After a long pause, he said, “I think I support the president’s policy.” Does he believe that contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV? After another long pause, he replied, “You’ve stumped me.

    That was too bizarre for the startled journalist. “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?” Realizing how foolish he sounded, the senator had a ready quip. “Are we on the Straight Talk Express?” Still, he stuck to his muddled answer: “I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it in the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception — I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

    and every woman – every mother, every father, every brother – should fear trusting these people with the safety of women, or for that matter, anyone.

    I would not, with all seriousness, trust these people with the safety of my dog.  

  5. aud

    [posted erroneously at Mudflats, but meant for THIS thread]

    The deck seems to be stacked against the women of Wasilla:

    women outnumbered by men; “abstinence only” taught in school; rapists protected by city policy of charging victims the high cost of collecting evidence of the crime; resistance to offering “morning after” contraception to victims of rape; and abortion a receding and loudly resisted option at the local hospital. I wonder what Palin’s policy (not to mention, McCain’s policy) is on Viagra?

  6. Many of the people who fight against women’s issues do so from a cultural position. People who hold these beliefs also believe a woman’s place is in the home and that she should be subservient to her husband. In these people’s world, the only women who get raped are the ones who put themselves in a position to get raped. Thus, the woman is at least partly responsible for her rape and should therefore have to bear some of the cost. The same kind of thinking can be found in Islamic countries. It is part-and-parcel of the fundamentalist world view.

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