If you ever need someone to overreact to a problem that may or may not exist, your best bet is to call your Senator and ask if he or she is available. A group of Senators is overreacting to a recent Pentagon study that suggests sexual assaults increased in the military last year. They have introduced two separate bills, in the words of Senator Claire McCaskill, so that “never again will a victim have to salute an assaulter.” To fix this problem, both bills would require that anyone found guilty of rape or sexual assault would receive a dismissal or dishonorable discharge.
What isn’t addressed, however, is if there is a problem in the military right now of victims of sexual assault being forced to salute superior officers who have been found guilty of rape or sexual assault. Shouldn’t we figure out how big that problem is, if it even exists, before making new legislation?
The military already has severe penalties for these crimes, including the possibility of dismissal or dishonorable discharge. All these bills do is force a tribunal’s hand instead of allowing for wisdom and judgment to determine an appropriate punishment. That might not be so bad if the military did not have a long history of convicting service members on sexual assault charges on the flimsiest of evidence. It’s already too easy for a woman to claim sexual assault in cases where she is remorseful for making the decisions to have consensual sex. We do not need to encourage more false reports. Instead of overreacting to a problem that might not even exist, the Senate should try to do something about the problem of poor investigations. That’s a real problem.
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