Editod and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Satuirday, June 22, 1974
. s Phone 764 0552
Revise rape law
M ICHIGAN'S CURRENT RAPE LAW, which dates back
- to 1857, has grown impotent in its old age - If in-
deed, it was ever a successful deterrent against sexual
Only a very small percentage of the ri pe cases ever
make it to the courts And although rape is one of the
most rapidly increasing violent crimes. the conviction
rate is almost negligible.
In 1973, there were 3,16 rapes and attempted rapes
reported in Michigan, and the actual number was prob-
ably five to 10 tines that. The conviction rate was less
than four per cent and nearly half of those found guilty
were released on probation.
The difficulty of proving rape under the state's cur-
rent law is largely responsible for the low conviction rate.
Under the present statute, a woman is required to
prove that she did not at any time consent to sexual in-
tercourse -she must resist to the utmost to he end.
Consequenly, even in cases where the victim submitted
when threatened with serious injury, she may be unable
to prove that she did not consent. By JOHN KAHLER
The route is a familiar one, for I have traveled
A LSO, THE VICTIM'S prior sexual activities are pres- it many times before. The small towns on the
ently admissable as evidence- and if a woman is way bring back memories of legends, both old
deeedy"promiscuus,"thaseisdoten -inrpred asmean- and new.
deemed "promiscuous," this is often interpreted as mean- Marlette - Back in the late fourties, a local
ing she willingly sobmitted. farmer decided the Federal Income Tax was un-
It is obvious that revision of the state's rape law Is constitutional, and it was his patriotic duty to
long overdue. refuse to pay it. People trying to collect from
If approved, leisltiion now pending in the state him were driven away by shotgun blasts from
House will remove the issue of consent and allow admis- the farmhouse door. It took a siege by Federal
sion of a victim's nrior sexual contacts into the trial marshalls before the farmer surrendered to au-
only tinder restricted circumstances. thorities. His farm is now the site of a mobile
However, two nrovisions which would have made the Elmer - Consisting of a gas station, two hous-
bill much stronger were -axed during senate delibera- es, and a church, Elmer was picked by the La-
tions. Under the orininal Proposal, a victim's prior sexual peer county GOP as the place where they would
activities with a third party are completely irrelevant in welcome President Nixon to the Thumb. Five
a rape trial and forced sexual activity between a legally thousand people showed up at this crossroads,
separated man and his wife qualify as rape. waving machine-printed 'Sparling for Congress"
Although the bill was watered down before it was signs, in one of the most unconvincing spon-
approved by the senate, it still recognizes the varying de- tanens demonstrations ever staged.
And finally, home. Home is Sandusky, Michigan,
grees of rape and proposes varying degrees of maximum population 2,5000 and county seat of Sanilac
penalties. County. Back for a short return to small town
The present statute. however, defines only a single America.
offense ,which requires that there have been sexual pene- Living in an overwhelmingly urban nation, few
tration, however slight. people in America have ever had the privilege of
growing up in a small town. And there will be
T'HE SENATE BILL also protects males as well asfe- even less doing in the future. Smalltown Amer-
mHeseasevILely withpreet maists, a com- ica is dying, and will probably be gone be-
males, deals severely with repeat rapists, and com fore the end of the century.
pletely removes the requirement for corroborating testi- Small towns originated back in the days when
mony ,of others than the victim. settlers were looking for a spot to buy sup-
Despite the fact the bill has been weakened by the plies and sell goods. Somebody would open a
senate, even if passed in its present form, it will nake general store at a convenient crossroads, and
Michigan a leader in progressive rape legislation. peos -h wld flo'k there to buy and sell. Since
'--,sih,w "anthere, a church and a bar would
We strongly urge the legislators not to ignore their he established. If the area was rich, there would
responsibility in supporting a bill which will ensure that soon be other shops, and, if a railroad passed
the alleged offenders rather than the victims are on trial -'v-s. , grain elevator.
by not focusing on such matters as consent and prior s'e ar-nse of the town was to provide a seyv-
sexual contact. ice for the surrounding farming countryside. Since
,n horses, there
-CHERYL PLATE had to be a town within five miles of any
. ' If you look at a road map of Michigan today,
. ' kyou see the results of that period. Places like
Elmer, Cumber, Juhl, and Laurel dot the map
of Sanilac County. But all these towns exist
now in name only.
With the coming of the automobile, the farm'
er was no longer isolated on his patch of ground.
IBe was not forced to buy from the general store;
the Tin Lizzie could take him to the county
seat, where there were more stores and cheaper
prices. And the general store town died.
With the introduction of asohalt roads and
affluence, farmers were liberated even further.
0 -&-' Now one could take the Chevie and drive to a
shonnng center in Port Huron or Saginaw. And
- the bigger towns began to face hard tiaes.
The osly thing that keeps towns like Carsonvile
and Peck going is the existence in them of a
Clas D High schoil, preserving civic indentity.
When I was at home, Sandusky was facing a
threat to its civic health. In one of the cots-
inuing series of government plans to reorganize
the rail industry, the government proposed to
-'sht down the feeder line of the Chesapeake and
'Ohio railroad that runs through town. Shutting
the rail down would make uneconomical the small
) industrie that located in town to take advant-
age of cheap local labor, and would probably be
a fatal blow.
Even. as it is, there are no jobs available in
Sindsky, or in virtually any other small town.
A young person who wishes to make a living
must either commute to a distant urban job, or
leave town. Large numbers of young people
choose the later alternative.
And there is another reason for leaving the
small town. For a young person, they are dead-
ly places to be. The towns are too small to
either provide civic recreational.facilities, and to
attract private investors in the youth market.
So a person is forced to ether go to a movie,
get drunk, or cruise around town. A kid leaves
for college, has a good time in Ann Arbor or
Mt. Pleasant, and decides never to go back to
As a consequence, the population of the aoer-
age small town is heavily weighted with elderly
people. These people are a tragic lot, for they
see a way of life they have known for so long
crumbling around them, and there is nothing
they can do.
But more will die with the small towns than just
a residence for a certain percentage of t h e
American population. A set of moral values that
has influenced this county greatly will go with
There is an object lesson in the crowd that
turned out in Sandusky to greet President Nix-
on. They were not there because he was a Re-
publican, or a press-persecuted patriot (most
felt him to be guilty as sin) but because he was
the president and he was honoring Sandsky with,
There is a lot of patriotism hidden in out of
the way places, of the old unquestioning sort that
was supposed to have been killed in Vietnam.
The country that won at Tarawa, Iwo Jima, and
Bastogne is still the greatest place on earth.
The old time religion still exists in large quan-
tities. The town of Snover, population 150, is
home to six different churches. Church attend-
ance and church social activities are stilt im-
portant in the lives of these people.
Law and order is still practiced, and no- in-
forced. In fact, there is very little for the local
police to do, which makes posts like Sandsky
highly desired among Michigan State Troopers.
The Sheriff's department exists to run the jail
and administer driver's license tests, but not to
All in all, it adds up to a way of life so saraight
that outsiders have difficulty believing that people
like that actually exist. But they do, and have
provided the source of so-called American values
for over a century.
Their reward has been economic death. People
in Sandusky seem to feel that songehow President
Nixon will save their railmoad, but even if the
rail survives, the cronic unemployment and the
.nmercial drainage will remain.
Agrictitre is changing from the family farm
to .agribusiness. All these new combines will need
a'v scattered supply dumps. Towns, with
laos, drug stores, and churches,
will not be necessary.
'This may be the wave of the future, but
somehow I feel that America will be the worse
off without places like Marlette, Bad Axe, and
John Kahler, a/a "'The SandTshy Bomber," is
a Daily Sports staff writer.