“Alcohol cannot cause rape?” Huh?

From a sexual violence handout on campus:

75% of the time, the offender, the victim, or both have been consuming alcohol (Remember that alcohol cannot cause rape).

I find this deeply confusing, and somewhat worrying. Is that parenthetical either true or a good thing to tell college students?

1. Is it true? Well, it depends on what you mean by “cause.” In the David Lewis counterfactual sense of causation, sure, alcohol causes rape all the time: if someone hadn’t been drinking, the rape wouldn’t have happened. If you’re talking about a tort law proximate cause sense of causation — that is, blame dressed up as causation — then of course alcohol doesn’t cause rape, rapists cause rape. But that’s a serious misuse of the word “cause.” And a confusing one, too, which leads to:

2. Should this be something to give out to clueless undergrads? There’s one good implication to that parenthetical (“if you commit rape, or are a victim of rape, the alcohol’s not to blame, the rapist is), but that could be said directly. Saying “alcohol cannot cause rape” instead of saying “blame the rapist, not the booze” also has a bunch of bad, dangerous, implications, like “it’s safe to get shitfaced,” or “it’s ok to have sex so drunk that god only knows whether anyone actually wanted it.”

I think I’ll drop an e-mail to the person responsible for the flyer — that sentence is seriously alarming.


One Response to ““Alcohol cannot cause rape?” Huh?”

  1. mairana Says:

    Lately advertising strategies completely lack common sense, like this flayer that is trying to make you who knows what.

    Nobody understands anything any more, what incites to what, what is attractive, interesting, alluring.
    For example having violent scenes in a movie seems to attract larger audiences to it.

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