Guest Author - Gina Cowley
Allow me to defend Georgia Representative Bobby Franklin of the 43rd and his House Bill 14.
I’ll preface with this: there is nothing more dangerous to the cause of women’s issues than well spoken women who seek every opportunity to incite fear and turmoil in their own sex in furtherance of a politically motivated agenda. Likewise, men who jump every “women’s issues” opportunity as it pertains to a politically motivated agenda perpetuate the conflict which began in the Garden. Bluntly: it’s old.
In the fantasy world I visit at times when it’s all simply too much – everyone reads thoroughly, digests and discusses before spewing an opinion into the public domain where much is taken to heart – and festers – furthering conflict when there exists neither need nor reason to do so.
Given the venomous headlines accompanying most of the articles written about Rep. Franklin and his bill I am left wondering if any of the authors responsible for those articles actually read the document. It consists of only eight pages and is easily found online. Nowhere in House Bill 14 has Rep. Franklin sought to change the definition of rape. Nowhere in the bill has Rep. Franklin sought to diminish the rights of rape victims. Nowhere in the bill has Rep. Franklin sought to change the substance of Titles 16 and 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated relating to Georgia criminal law and criminal procedure he seeks to amend.
It is of note that the Georgia law is gender neutral as is Rep. Franklin’s attempt to amend it. Articles written including statistics as they pertain to the overwhelming number of women subjected to sexual assault as opposed to men in support of a position that the bill is in essence a “women hating” bill are simply irresponsible.
What Rep. Franklin seeks is to change is the word “victim” to “accuser” and in one section alleged “crime” to alleged “perpetrator.” In the legal arena where there are many, many judicial opinions dealing solely with the legislative choice of the word “shall” as opposed to the word “may” – with the word “and” as opposed to the word “or.” Why a colon was chosen as opposed to a period – the weight given a single word, a single choice in punctuation is heavy – and rightly so – as the Constitutional rights guaranteed all citizens is at issue in every criminal prosecution. The cornerstone of our judicial system is that all citizens are presumed innocent. This presumption holds fast until an adjudication of guilt has been made. Any deviation from this presumption – no matter how small it may appear to be – is fraught with peril. In a criminal prosecution – where an individual’s liberty and very life may be at stake – there is no room for peril.
A person may without doubt be the victim of a sexual assault – and absolutely not be the “victim” of the individual who is ultimately accused and held to answer for the crime. Within the course of a criminal prosecution, the identification of an accuser as “victim” is properly withheld until an adjudication of guilt is made. And even then . . . there is room for peril.
If you disagree with me: you are certainly free to ask any one of the many innocent yet convicted “perpetrators” exonerated of the rape for which he was convicted and served time how he feels about the distinction.