I have no idea who Chris Harris, a left-wing blogger at Media Matters for America, actually is, but I worry that he writes in favor of reducing the federal punishment for statutory rape. Could Chris Harris be a serial statutory rapist? Could Harris simply want to commit statutory rape, and to go unpunished for his crimes? I don't think so. I don't have any evidence that Harris wants, desperately, to have sex with children. But that's up to you, the reader, to decide. And more importantly, it's a matter between Harris, his conscience, and perhaps his God.
That's as fair a reading to Harris as what Harris (who blogs for the infamous serial liar David Brock) has written concerning the Heritage Foundation's site Overcriminalized. Coming from such a conservative bunch, Overcriminalized offers a rather refreshing take on a problem that was once identified with the left, the increasing tendency of state governments to make everything that was once considered merely undesirable a crime, and of the federal government to make every crime that was once left to the states a federal offense.
To that end, Overcriminalized maintains an extensive database on new federal criminal legislation. The database doesn't pass judgment on the bills, nor does it provide commentary on them. It merely indicates their existence, their status, and their placement before various committees or houses of Congress. The site also editorializes on individual bills, but "position papers" are kept outside the database.
To most, providing information about pending legislation is considered a public service. But not to Harris, who has cynically taken entries from the database concerning federal legislation on children, to claim that Heritage favors crime against children. Whether these bills are in fact of concern, or even extremely unwise, is unimportant to Harris, who's just out to take a sleazy, cynical cheap shot at an ideological opponent.
For instance, consider House Resolution 382 by Sheila Jackson-Lee (D – Texas), the SAVE OUR CHILDREN: STOP THE PREDATORS AGAINST CHILDREN DNA ACT OF 2009. This bill requires anyone who commits any federal offense against a person under the age of 18, even a 6'5" 17 year-old man, to be classified as "predator against children," and to receive the maximum punishment regardless of underlying facts, prior criminal record or lack thereof, or any other extenuating circumstances. Therefore, a driver who runs over a 17 year old on a federal property (think a military base) gets the maximum sentence if convicted of vehicular manslaughter.
How does Harris portray Heritage's concern about an utterly foolish law?
The bill doesn't limit itself to violent sex offenders. Is a driver who runs over a 17 year old on a military base violent, or a sex offender? Should such a driver receive the maximum term for vehicular manslaughter if she was, say, trying to quiet her own kids and looking away from traffic as she approached the intersection? That's what Jackson-Lee's bill would require. Is Heritage's concern about this law, if any, well-founded?
Not to Harris, whose dishonesty in attacking Heritage is breathtaking. If I were as dishonest as Harris, David Brock, et. al., I'd note that H.R. 382 contains a provision exempting statutory rape against a consenting minor over 16, if the defendant is less than 4 years older than the "victim" (the "boyfriend problem" that has resulted in barbaric sentences against high school seniors who date high school juniors). I'd infer that, because Harris supports this bill, he supports reduced punishment for statutory rape, indeed, that:
CHRIS HARRIS STICKS UP FOR STATUTORY RAPISTS!
See what I did there? As Radley Balko points out, this is the left deploying the same methods, twisting principled concerns and arguments to score a cheap shot, that it deplores on the right. It's the same despicable tactic famously parodied at the site: GlennBeckRapedAndMurderedAYoungGirlin1990.com. It's just as despicable when the left does it as it is when it's used by the right.
Of course it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that a blogger working for David Brock would adopt the cheapshot tactics of a Glenn Beck. Both Harris and Beck are acolytes, following in the footsteps of the same master.
Thanks to Walter Olson for the pointer.