Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The Politics of Victim Blaming

Republicans have an uncanny knack for fostering and enabling one of the nastiest tendencies in all of human nature: Victim blaming. This they facilitate, while simultaneously denying all culpability for their own mistakes and transgressions. The level of hypocrisy they so frequently exhibit flies in the face of decency, and is on occasion nothing short of mind-boggling. Flagrant and galling though it may be, I sometimes wonder whether their outrageous displays of unctuousness are entirely conscious. It ofttimes seems that their misplaced holier-than-thou attitudes are born out of habit more than anything else. Perhaps if one goes so long believing in the absolute virtue of one’s actions, one eventually succumbs to near pathological delusions of infallibility. These sorts of egotism and egocentrism are indisputably hazardous, and they give rise to authoritative stances and ideologies that become unduly convinced of their own faultlessness.

It is in the GOP’s interests to eschew all guilt of misconduct, while also throwing blame onto every vulnerable target in sight. From blaming Katrina victims for their misfortune to lobbing accusations at the victims of predatory loans for the subprime mortage crisis to claiming that the Democratic leadership in Congress should take responsibility for the death threats hurled against them — and not to mention the numerous historical examples of Republican callousness and hypocrisy of which I am too young to have clear memories — the GOP has a lengthy pattern of placing the blame for tragic occurrences on those who have been wronged. Still, even my awareness of that convention does nothing to lessen my shock at some of their more appalling finger-pointing.

And this case is really beyond the pale.  

Sadly, blaming the victims of rape is a frightfully common occurrence, which contributes in no small degree to the social stigma associated with rape and the shame that the victims often feel for the hateful violations that were beyond their control. However, despite the unfortunate frequency with which we see victims being blamed for this particular crime, which is in some ways in my view more heinous than near any other that we bear witness to in what we would prefer to name a “civilized” society, it seems that I more often see Republicans in the public sphere condemning rape victims for their suffering.

This most recent instance has gotten me particularly bent out of shape, and a huge hat tip to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee for bringing this disgrace to wider public attention.

In a case regarding the 2008 rape of a 16-year-old girl, Nevada Republican state senator Dennis Nolan has claimed that he has reason to believe that the undisputed act of intercourse between the victim and her attacker was consensual, due to the young woman’s history of sexual activity. The DLCC had the foresight to capture screen shots (1, 2)  posted by Nolan on his website, expressing his belief that the sexual act was not in fact rape.

An excerpt from Nolan’s letter as posted by the DLCC:

   As a side note in Nevada, approximately 42% of all teens ages 12-16, admit to having had intercourse, about 25% of them admit to having multiple partners.(Council of Chief of State Schools Officers), Is it right? NO! Is it right for adults to engage in sex with minors? NO! But sadly, it is happening, and that’s the fact.

Knowing this young lady, reading the case and observing her behavior before and after the incident, I am compelled to believe the sex was consensual. She was very sexually active and, according to court records, had an abortion just two weeks prior to the alleged sexual assault (this is now public record). Was it right? NO!


In other words, due to the victim’s prior sexual experience, she was a girl of loose morals, who had been sexually familiar with too many men to have been raped. This disgusting accusation follows Nolan’s attempts to bribe the victim’s sister:

He wanted the sister, Jamie Lawes, who’s also the ex-wife of Gordon Lawes, to “tell the truth” about what happened — that is, to say that there was no rape. He left her three voicemails, which she turned over to Halseth’s campaign.

In one message, now posted prominently on Halseth’s campaign site, Nolan says it would be “financially beneficial” for the sister to “tell the truth.”

Nolan has admitted that he called the woman, but maintains that he wasn’t trying to bribe her.

At first, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he wasn’t planning to pay her. He was, he said, just trying to entice her to meet him. His plan was to wear a “wire” and record her saying that the sex between her ex-husband and sister was consensual.

Talking Points Memo

{Audio of the message containing the attempted bribery available HERE on the DLCC website)

Nolan’s desperation to incriminate the victim and bribe her sister comes on the heels of attack ads being launched by his (notably Republican) opponent in the NV state senate’s ninth district primary.

The back story: The incumbent, state Sen. Dennis Nolan, in 2008 testified as a character witness in defense of his friend, Gordon Lawes. Lawes was on trial for raping his 16-year-old sister-in-law. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Now, Nolan’s primary challenger, Elizabeth Halseth, is using that testimony against him. She ran radio ads all last week in which the victim’s father accuses Nolan of “defending child rapists.”

“What kind of person defends a child rapist who sexually assaults our kids?” he says in the ad. “Tell him that defending child rapists is not OK.”

Halseth campaign manager David McGowan told TPM that the campaign, once they heard about Nolan’s involvement in the trial, contacted the victim’s father about doing an ad. ,

Talking Points Memo

Now the DLCC is pushing a petition to get Nolan to resign. I would encourage anyone who believes in justice and finds Nolan’s actions as horrifying as I do to sign it.

Really, I’m just disgusted more than anything right now. Republicans always seem to manage to take things to a new low. Anyone as nauseated by this as I am?



  1. DeniseVelez

    got busted, and hope he gets booted out by voters.

    Thanks for posting this.  I feel for the young woman – who was not only violated by the rape, but doubly violated by this attack on her in public.



    Looks to me like that is Nolan’s argument.

    Rape is nothing like sex, it’s assault and battery of the worst kind.  

  3. jsfox

    of something pithy or even intelligent to say about this incident and Nolan’s attitude. Sadly I can’t. The best I can come with  . . . Nolan is a complete and utter asshole.  

  4. HappyinVT

    Somehow you are responsible for what happens to you.  If you live on the Gulf of course hurricanes happen so, “sucks to be you.”  If you took on loans you didn’t understand because you aren’t a lawyer or CPA (and most of those folks wouldn’t understand those contracts, either) and were probably “convinced” you could afford it, too bad, “sucks to be you.”  If your brother-in-law thought you were sexually active and probably wanted it, it was a misunderstanding not rape and “sucks to be you.”

    Of course, that doesn’t apply to the politicians themselves.  Then it’s God’s fault or Washington’s fault (that guy who did the abstinence video with his mistress), or whatever.

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