Bryan Caplan  

Rape Culture or Nationalist Culture?

Brad DeLong poses two question... Government Regulation vs. the ...
[Warning: Mild Fury spoilers]

The idea that the modern U.S. is a "rape culture" has always struck me as ridiculous.  I've never met a person who claimed to have raped anyone.  I don't know anyone who intellectually defends rape.  I don't know anyone who denies that rape should be punished as a heinous crime.  The way men talk definitely changes when there are zero women within earshot.  But men in our culture do not become soft on rape after they retire to the parlor for cigars and brandy.  True, I live in a Bubble.  But I've toured American society for decades, and never detected anything remotely resembling a rape culture.

Until last Wednesday, that is.

I took my elder sons to see World War II drama Fury at the local theater.  Around the middle of the film, American troops occupy a small German town.  Brad Pitt and the fresh-faced newbie soldier find an apartment with two young German women.  Pitt intimidates them at gunpoint, and orders the older of the women to cook him a meal.  Once Pitt relaxes a little, he eyes the younger woman, then gives his new recruit a choice:
She's a good clean girl. If you don't take her into that bedroom, I will.
The recruit then takes the younger woman into the bedroom while the older one stifles a protest.  The camera shows the recruit and the "good clean girl" kiss, then cuts away.  A little later, the she and the recruit return to the kitchen, both visibly happy.

If circumstances can ever vitiate the genuineness of consent, these plainly do.  Two armed enemy soldiers burst into your apartment and start making demands.  Even if the soldiers never say, "I will kill you unless you have sex with me," the women reasonably fear for their lives - and the soldiers know this full well.

Of course, Fury is only a story.  Mere fiction.  How could this possibly show me the rape culture in our midst?  The audience reaction.  During this horrific scene, hundreds of seemingly normal American men and women were laughing.  Repeatedly.  Loudly.  The longer the scene went on, the funnier they found it.

On reflection, however, "rape culture" poorly captures the ugliness I witnessed.  If the audience reaction exposed a general tolerance for rape, we should expect them to have a similarly bemused reaction if the movie showed German soldiers intimidating American women into sex.  And it's obvious that the audience wouldn't have found that even slightly amusing.  Instead, there'd be gasps of dismay, disgust, and anger.  It's only funny when we do it to them.

What I really saw last Wednesday, then, was not a hitherto elusive rape culture.  What I saw, rather, was another symptom of our ubiquitous nationalist culture.  The first George Bush boiled it down to essentials:
I will never apologize for the United States -- I don't care what the facts are... I'm not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.
Unlike the rape culture story, the nationalist culture story predicts that the American audience would also support - or at least not mind - mistreatment of enemy males.  And that describes my fellow theater-goers to a tee.  When Brad Pitt forces his recruit to kill a helpless German prisoner, I inwardly condemned Pitt as a war criminal.  The people around me, however, seemed to have the reaction the screenwriters intended: "Sure, this seems cruel.  But Pitt is teaching his recruit a vital lesson that could easily save American lives."

We do live in a bad culture.  But it's not bad because it condones or trivializes violence against women.  Few things are less acceptable to us.  Our culture is bad because it condones and trivializes violence against foreigners of both genders - especially the violence of modern warfare and the violence of immigration restrictions.

"Ideals are peaceful.  History is violent."  That's Brad Pitt's widely quoted Fury fortune cookie. Totally wrong, of course.  History is violent because many popular ideals are violent.  And nationalism is one of the very worst.

P.S. Tyler Cowen told me his audience at Fury only had a few chuckles during the same scene.  How about yours?

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (37 to date)
Lemmy caution writes:

Russian soldiers raped a lot of German women in ww2. US soldiers did not. That seems to have been a difference in culture. Is rape considered acceptable by your fellow soldiers.

mark e writes:

IDK...isn't basing something as ugly and serious as a "Rape Culture" on a few perhaps nervous chuckles and laughs in a movie theater, no less, kinda a big stretch?

I take your point that a role-reversal would have almost surely elicited a different response from the American audience, but given all the emotional strings the director of Fury was plucking during and before that particular scene, maybe a bit of simple emotional venting was going on between lovers and dates in the theater.

@Lemmy caution...are you really sure that US soldiers during WWII never raped women? I find that pretty far-fetched, regardless of what the military propaganda-machines of the times told folk.

JKB writes:

Really, you equate an audience manipulated by a story with their overt values. Does the lionization of Michael Corleone mean we are all pro Mafia? And what of audiences that don't walk out on Hannibal Lector?

Do you really believe that the audience would support the rape of a German girl (circa, 1940s) if it was actually happening in the other room? If so, why didn't Americans murder the German POWs held in minimum security (girls were able to sneak into the camps) in middle America?

Try the opposite. Quite a few years ago, I read a book 'The Summer of Katya' by Trevanian. Read that book and see if you understand the need for the epilogue where the narrater relates how he killed a rapist brought to him for treatment for minor injuries. I imagine it was necessary as the story itself leaves you with a strong desire to kill a rapist (any rapist, of any nationality) by the time it comes to an end.

The purpose of the story is to draw the reader/watcher in. To cause them to sympathize with the protagonist, to see the world through their eyes. If the story is done well, you may find yourself not appalled by horrible acts and behaviors. Did the audience laugh when Martin Sheen's character executed the wounded Vietnamese girl in 'Apocalypse Now'? No, because that isn't the emotion the writer and director wanted to evoke.

Caliban Darklock writes:

The real issue with rape culture is that if you apply the idea to, say, a hamburger... the absurdity is obvious.

Imagine you go to a restaurant and order a hamburger, and the waiter brings you a cheeseburger - so you observe that you ordered a hamburger and not a cheeseburger.

Imagine that your waiter then argued with you about how you never explicitly said you wanted a hamburger with NO CHEESE.

Imagine everyone else in the restaurant nodding and discussing how you never at any time explicitly said "no cheese," and in fact showed every indication of being the kind of person who LIKES cheese and would want some.

Besides, you're hungry anyway, and this is wasting a lot of time - why don't you just eat the cheeseburger? Why are you bothering everybody with your silly little problem about how you changed your mind? Honestly, you're such a drama queen.

That's rape culture. The idea that there is somehow something wrong with YOU for not wanting the cheese, and nobody has done anything wrong because it isn't like anyone physically forced cheese down your throat.

It's still a systemic effort to make you take the cheese, whether you want it or not, and to socially pressure you into pretending this is okay.

Daniel Klein writes:

I saw the movie. If, prior to reading your blog post, someone had asked me, "Did you or anyone laugh during the sex scene?" I would say, "Not that I recall, certainly not me," and think it an odd question. I don't remember anything about it that would have prompted laughter.

I've seen the film once, but I think the scene was much more complex than your representation. I think it is seeded with information that make the consent matter unclear -- possibly that the young woman gave off signs of a willingness with either man, in which case Brad Pitt's line, that you quote, would not imply rape. Given the sentiments during and after the sex, as I recall, it didn't neatly fit a rape story.

Regarding that whole sequence in the movie (through the bomb hitting the house and Norman's reaction): To me it felt terribly forced and contrived. But I don't so much knock the film for it; perhaps they needed to make contact to something in life other than all that the tank and the battle scene represented, and making such contact was bound to be cumbersome.

If people did laugh at the sex scene, it might have been laughing at the director, for his herky-jerky sequence.

Daniel Klein writes:

Still another interpretation of that line:

The young woman gave off signs of willingness only with Norman. Brad Pitt said what he said to Norman to impel Norman.

RogC writes:

Check with some older folks Bryan. Variations of that phrase were once a fairly common method of granting permission or encouraging a young couple to 'go have fun'. It was especially used when one member of the young couple was subordinate to the person using it.

William D writes:

The audience in my theater did not laugh at this scene. On the contrary, the feeling I had as the scene developed was fear that Pitt would rape one of the women. And I am fairly confident that was the feeling the director intended to evoke, particularly given the chronology of this scene closely following the exposure of Pitt's dark side, revealed by his execution of a German prisoner.

I agree with Dan Klein that the ultimate culmination of the young girl's part in the movie was predictable and felt contrived. And I think it supports a much different view than is being proposed here, as does the dialog in the scene referring to two young people who may naturally be drawn to experiencing with one another one of life's great pleasures before their lives surely come to a violent end.

Ultimately, I believe this scene is an example of the opposite of the meme of an alleged rape culture being raised by this blog post, by which I refer to the exclusive focus on whether the female is a nonconsenting victim of sex at the hands of a male oppressor. In fact, both sex partners were under the most extreme duress at facing certain death. Norman's consent was given no more willingly than was the girl's.

Yet this fact seems to have escaped attention, not unlike the ease with which our culture accuses a drunken male sex partner of rape based on the impossibility of obtaining consent from his female sex partner, given her intoxication. The absence of a similar accusation against the female in such a common circumstance reveals much about our views of the genders. What neither scenes support is the rape culture meme being hoisted upon us.

John Smith writes:

Spoils of war. To the victor goes.

John Smith writes:

To Caliban Darklock:

And what if you did in fact give off extremely strong signals that you like cheese? And your finger lingered for an extensive moment on the cheese line in the menu.

And after you ordered the ham burger, the waiter echoed back (incorrectly, within the literal point of view) your order as cheese burger and you did not explicitly said no, but only stood silently.

Is it ok that you get a cheese burger then? Sure seems to me that it is.

AS writes:

Good post. But maybe someone can explain to me how immigration restrictions are "violent"? It seems no more violent than a bank's security guard and vault. It is justified to use force to protect what you own.

Jon Murphy writes:

I have not seen the movie, but I have a question:

Was the scene awkward/uncomfortable? I can only speak for myself but when I am in an uncomfortable situation, I tend to laugh. I laugh at funerals, I laugh at awkward family parties, I laugh when a cop pulls me over. It's my coping mechanism. Perhaps it is the same for the people in your theater; you were in with a bunch of people who laugh when things get awkward.

Like I said, I don't know how applicable this hypothesis may be given that I have not seen the movie.

Pajser writes:

AS: "Good post. But maybe someone can explain to me how immigration restrictions are "violent"? It seems no more violent than a bank's security guard and vault. It is justified to use force to protect what you own."

This is important. Police threats with use of physical force against willing immigrant, and sometimes it uses it. That's WHO definition of violence. Whether it is justified or not, it is another question - but violence it is. Same holds for bank's security guards.

Christophe Biocca writes:


It is justified to use force to protect what you own.

It's always refreshing to see people readily admit that they consider all their fellow citizens to be property of the government.

Border enforcement isn't just anti-trespassing enforcement at the border (which you could reasonably justify), it's also prohibiting airlines from allowing the wrong kind of people to fly in, it's setting up border checkpoints up to 1000 miles inside the country (and subjecting everyone to them), and prohibiting employers from hiring people who aren't supposed to be in the country.
The only way you can justify those restrictions is to consider the US government as some kind of landlord, allowed to impose any usage restrictions on anyone who nominally "owns" land.
Of course, such a position would also justify many other things you probably wouldn't like, like:

- Evicting citizens from the country.
- Arbitrary land use restrictions.
- Seizing of land.

Yancey Ward writes:

I think you are reading too much into this theater incident. When I watched Titanic in a theater, people laughed during the scene when a man plunging to this death from the stern hit the propellar and went spinning off into the water. At the time, I thought this very odd behavior, but over the years I have come to understand that the inappropriate reaction was a release from the tension the movie had built to that point.

AS writes:

Christophe Biocca: The government can and does restrict how its land is used, and has the right to prevent unwanted people from using it, e.g. immigrants, criminals, etc.

Whether it is optimal to allow immigration is an empirical question. Economically, it can only make us better off, assuming free trade. The proof is trivial. But there can be non-economic costs that may outweigh the economic benefits.

Then if it's found that it is optimal to allow immigration yet public policy continues to prevent it, then there is a Public Choice question as to why bad policies get implemented.

But no where is there a philosophical or absolute reason to permit open borders. Under some parameters, it makes sense to restrict immigration.

My view is that it is optimal to allow immigration, but because of Public Choice issues and voter bias, we get a government that restricts it. Add it one of the many government failures.

Christophe Biocca writes:


The government can and does restrict how its land is used
Your perspective is at odds with most American jurisprudence, that recognizes that the government isn't allowed to impose arbitrarily ,imiting rules on private actors' land use without it being considered a taking under the 5th amendment.

That is, the general position is that individual actors do own their land, and that the government's restriction of what they do on it isn't akin to a landlord dictating terms to tenants.

But no where is there a philosophical or absolute reason to permit open borders.
I make no such claim, I merely dispute the original analogy you made:
It seems no more violent than a bank's security guard and vault. It is justified to use force to protect what you own.
It's not "protecting what you own" to dictate rules to third parties who are disposing of their own property.

It may be justified, but it's justified in the same way as the War on Drugs is justified, or taxation is justified, or zoning laws are justified: not by applying a property rights analogy, but by invoking arguments supporting arbitrary state action.

Tom West writes:

Given the strong overlap between "bro culture" and "rape culture", I strongly suspect that most of the readers here have had negligible exposure to the most obvious forms of it in any substantive fashion.

I've only been accidentally exposed to it once (no one is going to ever mistake me as a 'bro'), and a simple but angry "What are we? 12?" put an end to it in my presence.

As for the more subtle and perhaps controversial aspects of "rape culture", I'd use an analogy. Is the implicit assumption that a government owns its people as evidenced in comments above an example of "statist culture"?

Many would argue no, but there are some who feel very strongly about freedom would argue yes.

Likewise there are subtle aspects to society that contribute to women having to deal with unwanted sexual attention of varying levels of seriousness. Many would dismiss all but the most serious. But those who are particularly sensitive to the costs would not and see it all as part of a single "rape culture".

Sara writes:

I saw this movie last weekend. I found the whole scene to be very disturbing. The writers clearly meant to convey that the young girl was happy and "into it." But seriously, her entire town was just destroyed by an invading army, and dozens of children were hanged for not fighting said army. A few seconds before the soldiers burst in, she was hiding in the closet for goodness sake. But we're supposed to believe that minutes later she was just so excited at the prospect of having sex with one of the members of the invading army. Seriously! Imagine if your town was overtaken by a foreign army...jihadist pehaps...would you willingly sleep with one of the soldiers a few hours after the bombing of your neighborhood? It's utterly ridiculous. The scene is nothing but a rape, and the only reason the writers could get away with painting the young girl as "willing" is because they could rely on the audience to think "hey, a nice clean American soldier...who wouldn't want that?"

Anyone ever seen Eine Frau in Berlin?

Based on a book published anonymously by a German woman who'd lived through it.

Sara writes:

To clarify, I do not think that American movie-goers understood this as a rape scene but found it morally acceptable because the soldiers were American. As other commenters have noted, the vast majority of Americans would not consciously approve of our soldiers raping enemy women--which is a great and wonderful thing and certainly an improvement over other times and places. However, I do think the audience's nationalism primed them to NOT RECOGNIZE the rape in that scene which they would have immediately understood if the scene had been two Nazi soldiers coming machine guns blazing into, for instance, a French farmhouse.

Njnnja writes:

Very interesting and insightful post. But maybe your first instinct was correct and calling it "nationalism" is a mere rationalization.

What if instead of raping the woman he had punched her? Just as nationalistic - a "good ol' American beating a dirty Nazi". Yet I doubt the response of the audience would have been the same. A senseless beating would have been played straight but rape was done for laughs.

Nathan W writes:

Check the treatment of the slave girl in ... Lincoln was it? But I think that's not really what you're getting at.

My understanding is that Americans were, at least traditionally, better than most in disciplining soldiers who pillage and rape while in service, for example in Phillippines preferring to employ free prostitutes rather than the less-free comfort women of the Japanese. I'm not sure there's a lot of difference in the end result of prostitution for soldiers, but the ability to take a day or hour off at your time of choosing is no small potatoes for a prostituting women who easily has one or more children.

But the general concept/reference is, I think, talking about something very different from what you're talking about here, and I think that quite a great number of people are struggling to find credible ways to put this on paper in a way that correctly communicates what's going on socially without legitimizing it and in a manner which may help to reduce some psychologically abusive practices which are becoming increasingly mainstream, where a mental rape is subtly massaging various things into someone's mind, and this can cross straight through into conditioning and outright brainwashing (and many people probably aren't even aware of this), and these last two points are hard to communicate to people without giving them the notion that they are irretrievably lost, and instead that humans are basically improvable and that many of our knowledge systems are precisely designed for us to acknowledge natural faults as humans while ingraining practices which enable us to "cultivate our good side".

For example, compare a certain sort of Christian perspective which is basically, "You're scum, you know it, God knows it, everyone knows it, but lucky you, there is the grace of God so he didn't completely ruin everything, which is what you deserve, so be grateful and do whatever you're told" and compared to an alternative Christian perspective which is "bask in the love of God, share the love of God, God is love, and love is God, and as improvable humans who are capable of all manner of evil when fortune pushes us to do so, glory in his/our compassion, love, inventiveness, etc. so we never need to explore/develop the awful capacities lurking within us all.

John writes:

Tom West, that's a fantastic analogy--thank you for it. Bryan is attacking a strawman: "US culture explicitly endorses rape." But that's not what "rape culture" means. It means that, for example, we believe that rape is so terrible that there's no way that our nice male friend could have raped that girl who claims he did. It means that when confronted with a claim of rape, we immediately wonder whether it was really rape, or just regret. It means that our culture teaches men that it's ok, and maybe necessary, to persevere in their sexual advances if a woman at first refuses.

For the record, I'm not sure whether "rape culture" is real, or whether it makes rape more common. If it does exist, it clearly makes it less likely for rapists to be prosecuted, although since our legal system requires the presumption of innocence, it's difficult to reconcile that with the activists' desire that we presume that alleged victims are telling the truth, and thus presume the guilt of the alleged rapist. But I think I'm closer to passing the ideological Turing test than Bryan here.

Alex Koerner writes:

This post is explaining the writer’s change in views of American culture based on an experience in a local movie theatre. The poster’s view changed drastically from anti-rape-culture to a view of unsure reasoning in depicting American culture.

It seems to me to be a little far-fetched to have a drastic change in your view of an entire country’s culture based on a single audiences reaction to a clip in a movie. Initially, the poster claimed to deny an American rape culture. After the one incident in the movie theatre, the view seems to instantly change to wondering if, maybe it is a rape culture? He starts with the question; “Rape Culture of Nationalist Culture?”.

From my experiences, I have no reason to believe that America has a “rape culture”. If anything, I agreed with the anti-rape-culture view. However, the poster concludes his article proposing that America actually has a Nationalist culture. As this may be true and is rather hard to disprove, I think by presenting the limiting view of just two different kinds of culture in America is highly restrictive and unfair.

I agree that “we do live in a bad culture”, though not for the simple and narrow reasoning that is stated by the poster. I do also agree partly with his reasoning, but I cannot allow these extremely selective views to completely determine my perspective of American culture. There is an extremely large and broad spectrum of factors that play into an all-inclusive conclusion of a country’s culture, and it is clear that a large majority of these factors were not involved in the decisive process in labeling a culture.

Try broadening your view to an all-inclusive conclusion of culture; though you may be able to accurately label our culture as Nationalist, there are far more broad ways to depict our culture as a whole, and that is through all-inclusive, educated reasoning that can more accurately represent our country’s culture as a whole.

Doug writes:

"Given the strong overlap between "bro culture" and "rape culture", I strongly suspect that most of the readers here have had negligible exposure to the most obvious forms of it in any substantive fashion."

I'm pretty familiar with "bro culture", and I'm sure I've been labeled one on many occasions. I've observed no more "rape culture" in this context than Bryan has in mainstream American culture. At most maybe some off-color jokes, almost all confined to male only audiences. I'm almost positive, that among virtually any fraternity in America, if a member attempted a serious intellectual defense of rape, he'd be considered a creepy weirdo. (The closest I've seen to a true rape culture are probably the more extreme members of the Roissy-sphere. I would guess in real life these people are much closer to misogynistic nerds than typical bros).

I would concede that rapists probably disproportionately draw from extraverted hard-partying jocks. But I don't think that has anything to do with "bro culture" condoning rape. Rather its pretty much a function of higher biological proclivity from having high testosterone levels, and more opportunity from frequently being around inebriated girls. I'm pretty sure extraverted hard-partying jocks would still disproportionately make up rapists, even if the most extreme feminist ideologies completely subsumed mainstream culture.

Tom West writes:

I think Sara's point is a reasonable illustration of what might be considered "rape culture" and why there's disagreement about it.

The woman appears to agree to have sex, but given that the *knows* that if she says no there is a non-zero chance it will cost her and her mother their lives, is non-coercive sex even possible? That the majority are not appalled by this scene of coercive sex could easily be seen as an example of a culture where rape, or at least unspoken coercion leading to sex is acceptable.

Others will see that scene as she didn't say no, therefor it *must* be consensual.

Personally, I don't see coercive sex as binary, but as a continuum, and I fully accept that a culture that accepts everything up to, *but not including*, physical assault as fair game is very likely to have a lot more physical assaults than a society that finds any form of coercion, psychological or otherwise, repellant.

Whether one wants to call that "rape culture" or not will depend on the individual, but let's be clear - we don't need any acceptance of penetrative sexual assault to be part of "rape culture", just a culture where the coercive precursors that tend to lead to rape are considered acceptable and natural behavior.

I will say that I suspect that "bro culture" tend to be much more accepting of the "all's fair" outlook. Sure, physical assault is absolutely off the table, but if you can psychologically maneuver the girl into saying yes, then you're ethically fine. And that's the "rape culture" that many refer to.

Bedarz Iliaci writes:

@Christophe Biocca
the general position is that individual actors do own their land, and that the government's restriction of what they do on it isn't akin to a landlord dictating terms to tenants.

Individuals do own their lands, but these ownerships exist within the sovereign territory of USA and within the nexus of the laws of USA.
Ultimately, these ownerships (i.e. the property relations) are defined, guaranteed and secured by the legal, political and military systems of the USA.

An individual does not secure his property himself. The property disputes are resolved in the law-courts of USA and not by guns of the disputants.

Thus, the relationship between Govt of USA and individual property owners is not of landlord and tenant but of State and an individual within the State. It is not an economic relation primarily but a political relation. And the politics says
Sovereign assertion is an unanswerable argument
But it does not mean at all that the sovereign assertions can be arbitrary. On the contrary. The proper acts of sovereign are directed to the common good and are always rational.

Michael writes:

Iliaci: Land owners in the US actually do own land using forms of property derived from the landlord-tenant relationships that underlie English common law. In most states, landowners hold their property in a very evolved form of tenancy called fee simple. Landowners are literally tenants of their state (in the same way landowners are tenants of the crown in the UK). A few states offer what they CALL allodial land title but it's not really that.

I think landowners are only tenants of the government of the USA in Washington DC and that I'm not too sure about, having never looked into it.

konshtok writes:

if a lot of people laugh at something you think is terrible what is the most likely explanation?

Bedarz Iliaci writes:

Michael: if the property-holders are only tenants then the libertarian argument (of a property owner being free to do what he likes on his property) is further weakened.

My point was rather that the ownership, however absolute, exists within some sovereign territory and indeed requires a state of law that a sovereign defines and sustains.

There is no owning parcels of land in a state of nature.

my poi

Fausto writes:

-Bedarz Iliaci

Some animals have territory that is respected by other members of the same species (and sometimes other species). Property ownership predates the state, indeed, even our species.

-Tom West and Sara

Your discussions of rape culture have been some of the most enlightening things I've read in the past month. I had Bryan's mistaken impression of rape culture prior to reading your comments.

Christophe Biocca writes:
But it does not mean at all that the sovereign assertions can be arbitrary. On the contrary. The proper acts of sovereign are directed to the common good and are always rational.
In other words, the sovereign has full and complete discretion. Sure, it has to act in furtherance of the common good, but only its own internal processes define what that is or isn't. If the processes decide that it is, you, the citizen, have no basis for objecting.

And that's kind of the point: it's really hard to justify the government's right to impose immigration restrictions in a way that can't be used to justify its power to do nearly arbitrary things.

You can be a minarchist, and want a night watchman state, in which case the government doesn't have the power to restrict migration.

You can have the US constitution with a strict literalist perspective, in which the federal government has no power over immigration (only naturalization).

Or you can have the expanded, permissive approach to government power, under which the government can restrict migration, but can also forbid you from growing wheat to feed your own chickens, on your own land.

It's really hard to have a set of principles that allows the former but protects you from the later.

Bedarz Iliaci writes:

Christophe Biocca:

only its own internal processes define what that is

And what are these internal processes?
Do citizens have no participation in them? no influence?

The word citizen implies an idea of political freedom, that citizens can and do influence government.

Political authority is the claim the organized community makes upon individual while private property is the claim an individual makes upon the community.

Bedarz Iliaci writes:

The well-known territorial behavior of animals does not and can not give anything like a property right.

A right is a conclusion to a series of arguments, ultimately to a moral premise. In the case of property right, this premise is that man should eat of the sweat of his brow.

The territorial behavior of animals is, however, analogous to the territorial behavior of humans.
That is, to humans organized into political communities. These communities show animal-like territorial behavior and this has been traditionally summarized in the phrase "the princes exist in the state of nature".
They do, because they secure their possessions with force.
But individuals within a political community secure their properties with law of their particular community and are said to exist in a state of law.

AS writes:

Christophe Biocca:

There is an alternative view: that government should only involve when the benefits outweigh the costs. Then the question arises why do governments so often intervene when costs exceed benefits? The answer is simple Public Choice: misinformed voters and self-interested politicians together yield bad policy. Under public choice realities, a strict constitutionalist approach has merit as a second-best allocation since first-best is not feasible. But in theory I see
no reason to oppose discretionary intelligent government intervention... the problem is it rarely exists.

Michael Crone writes:

Rape is a horrible, evil act. I've never heard anyone deny that.

And definitions matter.

As for the more subtle and perhaps controversial aspects of "rape culture", I'd use an analogy. Is the implicit assumption that a government owns its people as evidenced in comments above an example of "statist culture"?

Yes, I'd say so. "Statist" usually means too much state, so this debatable and others will disagree.

But what if I were to claim that immigration restrictions are part of a "torture culture"? Even if I'm very careful to define torture culture to be "any policy that deminishes individual integrity," since that can lead to torture? I've still made a really bad definition that obfuscates and inflames rather than clarifies.

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