Claire McCaskill responds to WSJ's "spirited defense of a convicted sex offender"

The Missouri senator takes down James Taranto over his "disregard for the severity of sexual assault"

By Katie McDonough

Published June 27, 2013 3:48PM (EDT)

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., responded Thursday to James Taranto's recent Wall Street Journal ode to convicted sex offender Air Force Capt. Matthew Herrera, taking the conservative columnist to task for disregarding "the severity of sexual assault" in the military and acting as cheerleader for a status quo that allows violence against women and men to run rampant in the armed services.

More from McCaskill's response in the Daily Beast:

It’s notable that Mr. Taranto spends little time discussing the actions of Lt. General Susan Helms—the commander in question, whose lifetime of service to the U.S. Air Force is worthy of our gratitude and appreciation. Instead, he re-litigates the facts of a case he didn’t witness, comparing the recklessness of sending a text message or having a drink, to the “recklessness” involved in sexually assaulting another person.

Ultimately, in the sexual assault case he references against Capt. Matthew Herrera, the task of examining the evidence and hearing the witnesses’ testimony doesn’t belong to columnists or elected officials—it belonged to a judge and a jury—two words that you won’t find in Mr. Taranto’s piece...

Mr. Taranto says that I’m involved in a crusade to “criminalize male sexuality.” For decades, from my time as a courtroom prosecutor and throughout my career in public service, I have indeed done my best to criminalize violence. And I have never subscribed to Mr. Taranto’s bizarre and deeply out of touch understanding of sexual assault as somehow being a two-way street between a victim and an assailant.

Mr. Taranto’s arguments contribute to an environment that purposely places blame in all the wrong places, and has made the current culture and status quo an obstruction to sorely needed change.

You can read the full piece here.


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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