The Journal Gazette
Sunday, September 19, 2021 1:00 am

A Texas-inspired modest proposal

What if a law targeted men's decisions similarly to women's?

Monica Wehrle and Harriet Miller

The late Molly Ivins, an American journalist specializing in Texas politics and culture, once wrote, “Cheer up, it could always be worse. You could be living in Texas!”

We now have an example of how much worse it can get with the new Texas law, Senate Bill 8, which effectively bans abortions by criminalizing any procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

In lieu of government enforcement, private individuals can sue abortion providers or people who assist in obtaining an abortion.

Per Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the bill was written with the legal authority of a ransom note. Lawmakers in several states, including Indiana, are looking at this bill as a model.

The Texas law is all about governing women's bodies. It is a pathway for citizens to make money by spying on people who assist women in getting an abortion.

How many laws exist governing men's bodies? None!

What about a law that allows citizens to make money spying on people who assist men who commit rape?

Since no laws exist governing male bodies, we offer this modest proposal: SB 81/2 which will govern illegal male behavior. SB 81/2 is a simple law to prevent rape, sexual assault and domestic violence and allows almost any private/anonymous citizen to sue those who enable rape in any way.

SB 81/2 will allow anonymous civil suits to be filed against anyone who participates in, supports or enables a man to commit rape, sexual assault or domestic violence.

For instance, if a bartender serves alcohol to a male customer who goes out and beats a woman, rapes her or sexually harasses her, then any private citizen can report that bartender and claim a $10,000 bounty. The poor bartender will have to come up with $10,000. But certainly, he would never serve a drink again to a man who might be going to rape a woman.

What about the Uber/Lyft driver who drives the rapist to the scene of the crime? Drivers will begin asking what plans the man has at the destination.

Simple, right?

Men could not boast of rape or assault or speak disparagingly of women. The $10,000 bounty would be imposed against anyone who listened, abetted, aided or observed someone whose behavior led to male violence against a woman or child.

This could apply to friends, fraternity brothers, drinking buddies, motel clerks, pharmacies selling Viagra, etc. who were with the abuser, heard the abuser boast about his behavior, or provided services to a rapist. Producers of pornographic materials, magazines, YouTube , videos, etc. would also be considered supporters of the illegal activity of violence against women and children.

In the example described above, the bartender, the Uber/cab driver, friends, pharmacist, producers of pornography: all of them must be punished with a minimum $10,000 civil lawsuit, just like with Texas SB 8.

A side effect of this modest legislation could be newfound wealth for so many formerly poor individuals as they hit the vigilante jackpot. One rape could lead to more than $100,000 for the crime reporters.

Thus, the legislation could actually be an economic incentive to be included in the anti-choice legislation for each of the misguided states that are considering laws similar to SB 8. We suggest that economic development committees of state Senates and Houses rush to begin formulation of this novel, but long overdue, equity move, which also has promise for great economic growth in their states.

Texas reported 14,824 rapes in 2020. Thus, there is a huge potential for private citizens to spy on the enablers, file lawsuits and increase their personal wealth. Only 2% of rapists nationally are convicted and imprisoned. This approach could potentially result in more arrests. Rather than being sued as an enabler, more people might choose to assist law enforcement with arrests of sex offenders.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott identified the elimination of rape as his No. 1 goal. Our modest proposed SB 81/2 could be the prime method to achieving that goal.

It is high time to pass legislation that allows men to feel equally mistreated and targeted for bad legislation. Texas SB 81/2 will do that. And produce wealth for the masses!

Our modest proposal: absurd? Yes, and so is Texas SB 8.

Monica Wehrle, left, and Harriet Miller are co-founders of the Fort Wayne Women's Bureau Inc., which included the Rape Awareness Program.

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