Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

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Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Yes- Sally Hemings wasn't free to consent
11
25%
No- I'm ok with sexual slavery
20
45%
Kittens
13
30%
 
Total votes : 44

Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby Symmetry on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:33 pm

john9blue wrote:sym, why do you care whether any of us would do what jefferson did? that's irrelevant to the argument at hand. you're being a fag, and i suggest you look up alternative definitions of that word before you report me again.


Why shouldn't it bother me? And why are you complaining about your use of the word "fag" as if people don't know you're homophobic by this point.

Heads up, you call people a "fag" and think we don't understand what you're doing?
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:38 pm

Symmetry wrote:
john9blue wrote:sym, why do you care whether any of us would do what jefferson did? that's irrelevant to the argument at hand. you're being a fag, and i suggest you look up alternative definitions of that word before you report me again.


Why shouldn't it bother me? And why are you complaining about your use of the word "fag" as if people don't know you're homophobic by this point.

Heads up, you call people a "fag" and think we don't understand what you're doing?


Are you a cigarette?

Can we ever be certain?
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby john9blue on Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:56 am

Symmetry wrote:
john9blue wrote:sym, why do you care whether any of us would do what jefferson did? that's irrelevant to the argument at hand. you're being a fag, and i suggest you look up alternative definitions of that word before you report me again.


Why shouldn't it bother me? And why are you complaining about your use of the word "fag" as if people don't know you're homophobic by this point.

Heads up, you call people a "fag" and think we don't understand what you're doing?


no, i don't, considering you're calling me homophobic despite the fact that i've never posted anything homophobic.

not my fault you misinterpret the meaning of a three-letter word.

sorry for not fitting into your little "conservative homophobe" box. i don't really fit into boxes.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby PLAYER57832 on Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:54 am

Symmetry wrote:
stahrgazer wrote:
Symmetry wrote:Without the ability to freely consent, it's rape.


You don't know that she wasn't allowed to refuse. Just as many wives at that time and at other times in history had no "right" to refuse - doesn't mean they weren't allowed to refuse.

A slave had no "right" to "her time" but Sally was given, "her time," anyway.


She was a child and a slave. Your "other women were being raped so it's not rape" line of thought is contemptible.


Really? I think perhaps this hit a nerve.

Let's look a this from a different angle.. you know, the process of actually considering the whole story being critical to ensuring reasonable judgement as opposed to simple and easy answers that seem to fit superficially

Why do you assume that Sally would not consent? Even if your original facts were fully correct (they were not, but I will set that aside for now), you base your premise on 2 primary assumptions, assumptions you made based on what would be the reality today, not then. (note setting aside Starz evidenc In that day, a 14 year old girl WAS considered old enough to consent to marriage. Not only was she considered "old enough", but all but the wealthiest of women were already on the path they would take, having what we would call essentially adult responsibilities.

The second assumption is that she might possibly have chosen a different fate. I have to ask why you think that is true?

The full reality is that Sally was and did consider herself very fortunate. She lived a far, far better life than most white women of the day and certainly was intelligent enough to know that.

I find your attitude one of supreme arrogance and part of a hypocritical trend of viewing women. See, you assume , first that a 14 year old woman would not be able to think fully and to make her own choices, but the truth is that both boys and girls were considered essentially adults at 14. We don’t think so because its now impossible for a 14 year old to support him/herself AND because our life today is so much more complex that it takes longer to fully understand all the implications of decisions. Back then, it was not so. You also rather assume that

Second, by condemning Jefferson and saying “Sally could not consent”, you pretend that Sally would not have chosen this fate given full knowledge and ability to choose. Yet, the facts disagree with you. The facts are that her life was extremely good. Though history is rather mute on this point, iIt is just as likely that she initiated the action. Look at things from her perspective. What options did she have? Being the favored of her master was not a bad option, all things considered. Beyond that, evidence is quite clear that this particular relationship went well beyond that of normal master and slave, Evidence suggests they truly did care for each other deeply. It was probably closer to a true loving marriage than many legal relationships then OR today. It was certainly well beyond anything any black person would have though generally possible in that day.

See, your idea that the alterative for Sally would have been some kind of free and happy life is just not the truth. Your fiction that Jefferson did not consider Sally’s feelings, just basically used her to “satisfy his urges” is similarly wrong. The truth is that HE had as few options as Sally.

You don’t even consider what is often considered to be the real truth by most… that Jefferson actually fell in love with Sally and acted upon that love in the way he could. As several, including myself have pointed out, your idea of setting her free and letting her be happy was not the truth. Freedom would not have given her a better position and actually would have put her at risk of being put back into slavery.. real slavery with a harsh master that time. Similarly, her children could not have had true freedom in that society. They certainly would have had a harder time getting education! Add to this that accounts indicate a couple of her children were pale enough that they could “pass” and thus, once off the plantation, wound up having a real and true free life. NONE of that would have been possible had things not transpired as they did.

Beyond that, people speculate over the impact the relationship had on Jefferson’s attitudes about slavery and blacks in general. However, on one point there is agreement… It was partially because of Jefferson that we have the society we have today, that we have the freedoms we have today, freedoms that are enjoyed by ALL people, not just white males.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby Neoteny on Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:19 pm

I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby thegreekdog on Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:38 pm

Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


Hear hear!
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:23 pm

thegreekdog wrote:
Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


Hear hear!


Bollocks on bollocks!

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=165#p4095803


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=150#p4095305

Main Point:
In other words, I maintain that we don't know if the threat/use of coercion existed between their particular exchange. Perhaps, True Love conquered all in this case. Therefore, we can only arrive at a probabilistic truth, which isn't sound enough.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby thegreekdog on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:31 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:
thegreekdog wrote:
Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


Hear hear!


Bollocks on bollocks!

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=165#p4095803


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=150#p4095305

Main Point:
In other words, I maintain that we don't know if the threat/use of coercion existed between their particular exchange. Perhaps, True Love conquered all in this case. Therefore, we can only arrive at a probabilistic truth, which isn't sound enough.


Utter shite.

So you're saying slavery is not inherently coercive?
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby PLAYER57832 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:42 pm

Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


This is a general condemnation of slavery. I don’t think anyone here would say slavery is a good thing by any stretch of the imagination. But, I look at things from another perspective and maybe that is why I get a different conclusion. See, I compare the life of a fully “free” white woman.

The second truth behind MY words is that the life of women until very, very recently was not all that different from that of a slave. I think this thought is part of what makes this so uncomfortable for so many people. The truth is that most women, in time, have had the same basic options that Sally had. At best, they could find a man they believed would treat them kindly, perhaps one to whom they were attracted or maybe just someone they felt could support them. The alternatives were few. They could be a “spinster” – generally dependent on relatives. They might, if they were fortunate obtain some work either as a waitress/bar maid or seamstress (few other occupations) . If they were educated (and usually of a “certain class”), they might be a governess. As such, they would work very hard and wind up eventually being dependent upon relatives to care for them in their old age.

Women had few options.. and were judged, regardless. ANY white woman who became pregnant outside of marriage would find her life and that of her child essentially “ruined”. Her best hope was to leave for somewhere unknown and pretend she was a widow, but that was difficult in those days.

The life of free black women was even more difficult. They had the added risk of being “taken” by essentially any white man, even being compelled back into slavery.

Today, when most people think of slavery, we tend to think “Simon Legree”… and make no mistake, that did happen. BUT, it actually happened rarely. I happened rarely for quite a few reasons, primary being that owners valued their slaves and cared for them, much like farmers today care for farm animals. In fact, some of the worst treatment of blacks happened in areas where blacks were supposedly “free” or later, when slavery ended. Then it became important to bullies to “keep them in their place”. Under slavery, that was not a question and many a black found education, occupation and safety. Sally was far from the only black person to decide to stay a slave with a decent master. Even when things were not so peachy, leaving was not necessarily the easiest thing.
However, in Sally’s case, she had many opportunities to leave. She had more opportunities than many white servants would have had, in fact.. and faced the exact same choices, except that her options in returning were worse.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:07 pm

thegreekdog wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:
thegreekdog wrote:
Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


Hear hear!


Bollocks on bollocks!

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=165#p4095803


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=150#p4095305

Main Point:
In other words, I maintain that we don't know if the threat/use of coercion existed between their particular exchange. Perhaps, True Love conquered all in this case. Therefore, we can only arrive at a probabilistic truth, which isn't sound enough.


Utter shite.

So you're saying slavery is not inherently coercive?


No.
You're assuming that the institution of slavery (i.e. those rules of the game) are 100% active, all the time, ever-imposing the threat of coercion---but in some circumstances, that might not be the case. Sometimes, people can ignore the rules, ignore their incentives, etc.

Therefore, the soundness of "TJ = rapist" conclusion is unknown.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby Ray Rider on Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:15 pm

I find it funny that Stahr completely destroyed the argument for Thomas Jefferson being a rapist pages ago, yet certain persons (Sym!) refuse to admit it. So much for innocent until proven guilty...or admitting when you're wrong!
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby Neoteny on Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:25 pm

BigBallinStalin wrote:
thegreekdog wrote:
Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


Hear hear!


Bollocks on bollocks!

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=165#p4095803


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=150#p4095305

Main Point:
In other words, I maintain that we don't know if the threat/use of coercion existed between their particular exchange. Perhaps, True Love conquered all in this case. Therefore, we can only arrive at a probabilistic truth, which isn't sound enough.


A poxed bollocks on your bollocksed bollocks!

No, but seriously. Even if "love conquered all," human psychology is affected by societal norms. Even if they were both unaware of the inherent coercion, which I doubt, it is still there. Even if TJ were actively mitigating it. Even if he truly considered her not a slave, the fact that he and she knew he legally owned her makes the act an abuse of the power of slavery. If she didn't own her, that abuse would not be there. But it is. So it is coercive.

PLAYER57832 wrote:
Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


This is a general condemnation of slavery. I don’t think anyone here would say slavery is a good thing by any stretch of the imagination. But, I look at things from another perspective and maybe that is why I get a different conclusion. See, I compare the life of a fully “free” white woman.

The second truth behind MY words is that the life of women until very, very recently was not all that different from that of a slave. I think this thought is part of what makes this so uncomfortable for so many people. The truth is that most women, in time, have had the same basic options that Sally had. At best, they could find a man they believed would treat them kindly, perhaps one to whom they were attracted or maybe just someone they felt could support them. The alternatives were few. They could be a “spinster” – generally dependent on relatives. They might, if they were fortunate obtain some work either as a waitress/bar maid or seamstress (few other occupations) . If they were educated (and usually of a “certain class”), they might be a governess. As such, they would work very hard and wind up eventually being dependent upon relatives to care for them in their old age.

Women had few options.. and were judged, regardless. ANY white woman who became pregnant outside of marriage would find her life and that of her child essentially “ruined”. Her best hope was to leave for somewhere unknown and pretend she was a widow, but that was difficult in those days.

The life of free black women was even more difficult. They had the added risk of being “taken” by essentially any white man, even being compelled back into slavery.

Today, when most people think of slavery, we tend to think “Simon Legree”… and make no mistake, that did happen. BUT, it actually happened rarely. I happened rarely for quite a few reasons, primary being that owners valued their slaves and cared for them, much like farmers today care for farm animals. In fact, some of the worst treatment of blacks happened in areas where blacks were supposedly “free” or later, when slavery ended. Then it became important to bullies to “keep them in their place”. Under slavery, that was not a question and many a black found education, occupation and safety. Sally was far from the only black person to decide to stay a slave with a decent master. Even when things were not so peachy, leaving was not necessarily the easiest thing.
However, in Sally’s case, she had many opportunities to leave. She had more opportunities than many white servants would have had, in fact.. and faced the exact same choices, except that her options in returning were worse.


While taking historical context is important, and there is no doubt women have been treated like shit through the ages, it does not justify the act of coercive sex. There are some things I'm willing to let go due to differing social norms. Rape is not one of them. Just because they didn't consider it rape, doesn't make it not rape. Just because it was traditional to treat women like crap, doesn't mean I'll let TJ off the hook for rape. Just like we think slavery is wrong now (and, arguably, Jefferson may have agreed), we think coercive sex is wrong now. I'm not the ultimate arbiter, of course. But it was sex in a coercive environment, and that feels, and seems objectively, wrong to me. I'm not a moral absolutist by any means, but I feel we can and should judge the ethics of our ancestors. You've made the argument that he was justified in his time. But you feel that because of that it doesn't have to be justified in ours. I call bullshit.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby BigBallinStalin on Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:13 am

Neoteny wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:
thegreekdog wrote:
Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


Hear hear!


Bollocks on bollocks!

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=165#p4095803


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=187020&start=150#p4095305

Main Point:
In other words, I maintain that we don't know if the threat/use of coercion existed between their particular exchange. Perhaps, True Love conquered all in this case. Therefore, we can only arrive at a probabilistic truth, which isn't sound enough.


A poxed bollocks on your bollocksed bollocks!

No, but seriously. Even if "love conquered all," human psychology is affected by societal norms. Even if they were both unaware of the inherent coercion, which I doubt, it is still there. Even if TJ were actively mitigating it. Even if he truly considered her not a slave, the fact that he and she knew he legally owned her makes the act an abuse of the power of slavery. If she didn't own her, that abuse would not be there. But it is. So it is coercive.


So, let's have some mutual understanding. I completely agree that a master-slave relationship can have that inherently or implicit coercion, which taints any exchange between the two parties. Nevertheless, I maintain that the institution of slavery (i.e. the rules of the game) can be rejected by individuals. In other words, they may be cognizant of this particular institution of slavery; however, they may have created new rules within the game (i.e. a new institution).

It's difficult for an outside observer to understand and/or appreciate. All of us do not know with certainty what occurred between that exchange. Saying "societal norms" dominated or was prevalent fails to address the fundamental question:

Was TJ and that lady's exchange voluntary? Did their particular "societal norms" override the influence of other institutions (i.e. the alleged all-imposing and forever always institution of slavery which threatens coercion in all master-slave interactions)

Another "in other words," simply because one is a slave, it does not follow that one has Zero autonomy---even with interactions between oneself and the master. There is that chance that none of that matters; therefore, what may only really matter is True Love.

(Besides, it's not like the "anti-slavery" zones of the North were conducive to accepting blacks, or allowing them to becoming citizens (voters).)



To cut to the chase, my contention hinges upon certainty. Currently, the opposition relies upon this overriding assumption of the all-coercive slavery of institution--while neglecting other rules/institutions at play, and also overlooking the capability of individuals to simply not play by the rules of that institution, slavery. They simply assume that TJ must have raped her, because (1) those individuals are always under the institution of slavery and cannot adopt a different kind of institutions, which changes the rules of the game--for possibly their mutual benefit, not TJ's benefit at the expense of his... lady/woman.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby PLAYER57832 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:48 am

Neoteny wrote:While taking historical context is important, and there is no doubt women have been treated like shit through the ages, it does not justify the act of coercive sex. There are some things I'm willing to let go due to differing social norms. Rape is not one of them. Just because they didn't consider it rape, doesn't make it not rape. Just because it was traditional to treat women like crap, doesn't mean I'll let TJ off the hook for rape. Just like we think slavery is wrong now (and, arguably, Jefferson may have agreed), we think coercive sex is wrong now. I'm not the ultimate arbiter, of course. But it was sex in a coercive environment, and that feels, and seems objectively, wrong to me. I'm not a moral absolutist by any means, but I feel we can and should judge the ethics of our ancestors. You've made the argument that he was justified in his time. But you feel that because of that it doesn't have to be justified in ours. I call bullshit.

Except, the thing is I am not, as you claim "justifying rape".

The fact is that most women, white and black were "coerced". My point is that. See, while I say that many, probably most women were "coerced", I also recognize that this is not the full story. Your point is that slavery nullifies any idea of choice. My response is that having a ring does not equate lack of coercion. I am saying that this is not the full story any more than saying that white women were free is the full story.

Yet, here is the thing. There are really 2 questions. The first is was all that coercion really rape In that day very few women “knew” what the carnal aspect of marriage was. Even if they did, it was often something that they understood as “necessary”. The idea of enjoying it was almost considered “not proper”. To say it was a fully willing choice is not entirely correct. BUT.. I would also argue that saying it was rape is not entirely correct in most cases, either. (sometimes, absolutely).

OK, so go back to Sally. How is her situation different? In this case, it is best to judge by results and actions, rather than our understanding today. I would put forward that Sally was a very intelligent woman who was fully aware of the few options she had. I would put forward that her choice to stay with Jefferson was no different than the choice of any woman to stay with a man who treated her well, who she likely cared about deeply. I think that you are taking only the worst aspects of slavery and considering that they happen all the time (aka BBS argument). I am saying that is incorrect.

I used the example of women in general because I think at some level most of you ”get” that for women, that there was a wide range of behavior and factors (maybe not, maybe that is the real problem here?), but not in the case of slavery. In the case of slavery you want to leap to “but..Simon Legree” (more or less).
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby stahrgazer on Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:29 am

Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.

For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.

And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.

So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.


You're wrong, I did consider it, but since you won't read what I wrote about it, I'll state it again.

Your premise that "any" coercion = rape is just wrong.

The coercion "of her slavery" may not have been any worse than the coercion from any powerful source, such as a richer man "coercing" a poor female, not just then, but today.

Monica Lewinsky was "coerced" by the power of the Presidency. Coerced, yes; but not "raped."

Further, at the time Sally made her choice, she was in France, and in France, she was free, not slave.
Any child she bore in France would be free, not slave. She knew people there, was educated, had good skills as a ladies' companion, and had a little money, wages she was paid while there.

If she was coerced, it was in several ways:
Coercion of being free
Coercion of her family being slave
Coercion of the maternal: ensuring her child (unborn, but evident) remained safe
Coercion of a powerful brother-in-law (she was his prior wife's half sister, that made them related by marriage)
Presumed Coercion of feelings (love) toward a reasonably decent man

It was within Jefferson's legal right to mistreat Sally's family that were still at Monticello, yes. If Sally believed that of him, she would not have willingly brought her yet-unborn child back from France - where she, and the child, would be free - to face possible mistreatment. She made a bargain with him: I'll return as long as you free my children when they come of age. If Sally had thought Jefferson would change his mind in a heartbeat because he could, she would not have made that choice. Her maternal instincts would have prohibited that. It wouldn't be a choice of, "protect my mother or protect my child," because if mother was in danger, then she would be bringing her child back to danger, and UNLESS she was the unthinking animal that some ignorant slavetraders claimed, she would never have risked her child if she could avoid it.

Sally was FREE when Jefferson and she had their relationship. Free when she realized she was with child. Her child would be FREE if she remained in France. She agreed to return to Monticello as long as their children would be freed when it was old enough to matter.

There was no trade of her life for the life of a relative. There was simply the assurance she wished that her love-choice would not be detrimental to her child. It's what any caring, intelligent mother would do.

And, again, if she feared Jefferson would change his mind because he could, she'd never have made that bargain because she'd know she couldn't trust him to keep his word and free her children.

For those who're asking if slavery is inherently coercive. Yes, of course it is. That still doesn't make slavery the most powerful coercive force. Love is more coercive than slavery or its equally-powerful antithesis: fear of being enslaved.

For you who seem to think that, once "enslaved" a slave is motivated ONLY by the power of the fear-of-master, you are contemptible. In believing that the coercion of slavery MUST be the most powerful force in their lives, you are guilty of dehumanizing everyone in the world who ever found themselves enslaved. You are making them the animals that slavetraders claimed they were.

I, on the other hand, looked at the situation of a woman back then and identified what a woman in love would do. I also looked at what a good mother would do. A woman in love would go with her chosen man, while a good mother would first-and-foremost protect her child(ren). By choosing a life with Jefferson, Sally trusted she was doing both. She wouldn't have trusted that if he'd raped her, and she wouldn't have trusted that if she feared he'd pull "I'm the massah" on her or her kids. The coercion of slavery, that fear-factor you guys insist on ascribing to her, wasn't there between Jefferson and Sally.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby john9blue on Sat Mar 16, 2013 11:05 am

i think player's point is that, if jefferson can be considered a rapist, then most other men of the time period can be considered rapists too. which doesn't bother me all that much, to be honest, and it shouldn't bother you guys either.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby PLAYER57832 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:27 pm

john9blue wrote:i think player's point is that, if jefferson can be considered a rapist, then most other men of the time period can be considered rapists too. which doesn't bother me all that much, to be honest, and it shouldn't bother you guys either.

No, that was not my point, but that you think it was... and that that is OK is, well, disturbing.

Starz comments are close to what I was suggesting.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby stahrgazer on Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:13 pm

john9blue wrote:i think player's point is that, if jefferson can be considered a rapist, then most other men of the time period can be considered rapists too. which doesn't bother me all that much, to be honest, and it shouldn't bother you guys either.


If, with the tale as history tells it points to Jefferson and "most other men of the time period" being rapists, then it rather makes all men - even of this time period, 2013 - "rapists," because if coercion = rape then pretty much all men who ever had intercourse with a woman, are guilty of rape.

The fact is, NOT all coercion = rape. Nor is the "coercion of power" - which in essence, is what the "coercion of slavery" is - it's not always equal to rape either.

But what Player was, in her way, and I, in my way, were trying to get at is, just because this coercion of power exists, does NOT mean that "coercion of power" was then or is now, the most motivating force for any woman, especially not for a healthy, intelligent, and loving woman as it seems Sally was.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby john9blue on Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:57 pm

PLAYER57832 wrote:
john9blue wrote:i think player's point is that, if jefferson can be considered a rapist, then most other men of the time period can be considered rapists too. which doesn't bother me all that much, to be honest, and it shouldn't bother you guys either.

No, that was not my point, but that you think it was... and that that is OK is, well, disturbing.

Starz comments are close to what I was suggesting.


well then, if many women of the era were not free, why are the men who had sex with them not rapists?
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby stahrgazer on Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:28 pm

john9blue wrote:well then, if many women of the era were not free, why are the men who had sex with them not rapists?


Women of this era are not free of coercion; are all men of this era who have intercourse with a woman, rapists?

Erm. No. It depends on the amount/degree of coercion used, doesn't it? And, to consider it rape, the coercion has to be forceful enough to be "threatening" rather than just there, doesn't it?
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby john9blue on Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:40 pm

stahrgazer wrote:
john9blue wrote:well then, if many women of the era were not free, why are the men who had sex with them not rapists?


Women of this era are not free of coercion; are all men of this era who have intercourse with a woman, rapists?

Erm. No. It depends on the amount/degree of coercion used, doesn't it? And, to consider it rape, the coercion has to be forceful enough to be "threatening" rather than just there, doesn't it?


i agree. which is why it's ridiculous to say that jefferson raped this girl just because her legal status was "jefferson's slave". there are tons of other factors which people like symmetry like to blissfully ignore.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby stahrgazer on Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:52 pm

john9blue wrote:
stahrgazer wrote:
john9blue wrote:well then, if many women of the era were not free, why are the men who had sex with them not rapists?


Women of this era are not free of coercion; are all men of this era who have intercourse with a woman, rapists?

Erm. No. It depends on the amount/degree of coercion used, doesn't it? And, to consider it rape, the coercion has to be forceful enough to be "threatening" rather than just there, doesn't it?


i agree. which is why it's ridiculous to say that jefferson raped this girl just because her legal status was "jefferson's slave". there are tons of other factors which people like symmetry like to blissfully ignore.


Not the least being, she wasn't his slave at the time of the proven intercourse :lol:

But even if she was, he didn't treat her abusively so "I'm a slave" may not have been the most powerful motivator, as Player and I had tried to point out.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby PLAYER57832 on Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:34 am

stahrgazer wrote: But what Player was, in her way, and I, in my way, were trying to get at is, just because this coercion of power exists, does NOT mean that "coercion of power" was then or is now, the most motivating force for any woman, especially not for a healthy, intelligent, and loving woman as it seems Sally was.

No, that would be almost the opposite of what I was saying.

The truth is that its easy to greatly exaggerate what freedom means in rhetoric. The real truth is that few people truly have real freedom, not even the very wealthy (though they come close), because they are constrained by social "mores". In fact wealthy people are often more socially constrained (that is constrained to follow the "rules", though the "rules " might be very oppressive to some others).

Never is this more true than the case of women in that time. The idea that ANY woman in that day was truly free is an exaggeration.

Yet, here is the thing. People DID make choices, even with the constraints. Women, just like men would proclaim that they were "free". It is in that context that you have to judge whether Sally was able to make her won decisions or not. The facts show that she had more choice than many white women and certainly more than other black women of the day, even "free" women.
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby stahrgazer on Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:53 pm

PLAYER57832 wrote:
stahrgazer wrote: But what Player was, in her way, and I, in my way, were trying to get at is, just because this coercion of power exists, does NOT mean that "coercion of power" was then or is now, the most motivating force for any woman, especially not for a healthy, intelligent, and loving woman as it seems Sally was.

No, that would be almost the opposite of what I was saying.

The truth is that its easy to greatly exaggerate what freedom means in rhetoric. The real truth is that few people truly have real freedom, not even the very wealthy (though they come close), because they are constrained by social "mores". In fact wealthy people are often more socially constrained (that is constrained to follow the "rules", though the "rules " might be very oppressive to some others).

Never is this more true than the case of women in that time. The idea that ANY woman in that day was truly free is an exaggeration.

Yet, here is the thing. People DID make choices, even with the constraints. Women, just like men would proclaim that they were "free". It is in that context that you have to judge whether Sally was able to make her won decisions or not. The facts show that she had more choice than many white women and certainly more than other black women of the day, even "free" women.


You are saying what I was saying. You're simply calling those other forces, "constraints" while I called them coercions and motivating forces other than the "coercion of power."
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Re: Was Thomas Jefferson a rapist?

Postby PLAYER57832 on Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:42 am

john9blue wrote:
PLAYER57832 wrote:
john9blue wrote:i think player's point is that, if jefferson can be considered a rapist, then most other men of the time period can be considered rapists too. which doesn't bother me all that much, to be honest, and it shouldn't bother you guys either.

No, that was not my point, but that you think it was... and that that is OK is, well, disturbing.

Starz comments are close to what I was suggesting.


well then, if many women of the era were not free, why are the men who had sex with them not rapists?


The part I objected to was your "doesn't bother me much" bit. It really should.

Saying that times were different back then and we cannot judge people based on the rules of the day is very different than saying "it seems fine to me". I can dislike, abhore, the institution of slavery without demanding that every single person, every single interaction was negative.

The rules for consent differed back then. The views about women, the value women had in society, in life differed. The "mores" men were taught differed. I reject Summetries' assumptions, partly becuase in this particular case the evidence just doesn't show things happened the way she likes to insist and partially because while women were more constrained, so were men.

It is a constant irony in philosophy, ethics that often the oppressors are almost as constrained as those oppressed. That is one constant and fundamental argument against oppression.


It is a constant irony in philosophy, ethics that often the oppressors are almost as constrained as those oppressed. That is one constant and fundamental argument against oppression.

Many men in the US, particularly in conservative Christian groups want to pretend that there is some kind of “ideal” past, when, well.. “men were men”. It certainly was easier in some ways to be a man in the 1950’s. No worry about what to cook, you might get yelled at if you were late, but dinner would generally be there… etc. Except, well…Men wound up having to leave their families, kids if needed to make a living and were not supposed to be terribly upset about it, men and women each had to “dress” a certain way, follow very specific rules and patterns… etc.

Today, we have choices. Choices often mean more work, but the end result is, most would say, far better. Not always, but I don’t know many people who would seriously and truly trade today for then (who actually understand that time, anyway).
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