EDITORIAL

'Drunk consent' doesn't exist

Posted

There may not be a lot of positive things to say about Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance — like the free pass he seems to give to anyone named “Epstein” or “Trump” — but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Vance has something to share that’s so important, even the governor can’t ignore it, no matter how much he tries.

See, New York is one of a handful of states where the laws give a free pass to an accused rapist, as long as their victim was voluntarily drunk.

That’s right. If you choose to drink that cocktail (and drink too many of them), whatever happens next to you is on you, even if it would have been a felony crime otherwise.

Vance brought this legal loophole to the attention of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April ... 2018. Cuomo didn’t bother to respond.

In the governor’s defense, he claims he never saw the letter. But then again, Vance isn’t the only one sounding the alarm about this. In fact, according to one published report, Brooklyn Law Review shared details about New York’s law protecting accused rapists whose victims were drunk in a 2016 article.

The idea is that if a woman (although it can be a man, too) gets drunk, then if she ends up having sex with someone, it’s her fault for getting drunk in the first place. The belief is that she may have indeed given consent for the encounter,  but just doesn’t remember it because it was lost in an alcoholic haze.

But if you can’t remember giving consent, were you in a sound enough mind to provide it in the first place? There’s no need to answer that question because it’s an obvious “no.” Drinking — even drinking too much — is never an invitation for someone to take advantage of you that you wouldn’t have allowed otherwise, no matter what your feeling is about alcohol consumption.

Cuomo may not have taken action, but luckily state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi is. She introduced S.6679, which would include voluntary intoxication as part of the definition of being mentally incapacitated when it comes to issues of consent.

The bill was just introduced last week, but it still needs co-sponsors and an Assembly companion bill as of this past weekend.

There are many priorities facing lawmakers right now, but this is one of them. Close this loophole and ensure each and every one of us are protected, whether we choose to take a drink, or not.

 

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