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“I was too drunk” is never an excuse

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With Jenna Cocullo:

We can agree that if a man had voluntarily consumed marijuana and alcohol, got in a car, and crashed into a woman walking down the street he would go to jail no questions asked. We can agree that if a doctor had performed surgery on a patient while under the influence, and that patient died, that doctor would lose his license to practice medicine and also go to jail.

We can agree that with drinking comes the expectation to be responsible. If you drink and cause harm to another person there are consequences which you must face. “I was drunk” is not an excuse. That was the case until when an Ontario judge ruled in favour of using the defence of intoxication in sexual-assault case, arguing that the Canadian federal law removing it violated the constitutional rights of the accused.

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Cameron McCaw was voluntarily taking the date rape drug along with weed and alcohol when he got so drunk to the point where he blacked out. He claims to have woken up not knowing what he was doing. He had just had sex with a woman who did not consent to the encounter with him. Now he is claiming he was too drunk to know what he was doing.

In Canada in 1994 the Supreme Court ruled that defendants can use the defense that they were so drunk as to be akin to automatism — a state in which one person is so intoxicated they were not aware of their actions. Since then, there has been attempts to remove this ruling but this case has just set things back.

The judge, Justice Spies, said that the prosecution must prove that the accused voluntarily engaged in sexual assault. She believes that without the law the constitutional rights of the defendant would be violated because it would remove their right to be presumed innocent.

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Whether he voluntarily committed assault or whether he did it without understanding his actions should not matter. Whether or not a drunk driver intended to murder someone while drinking and driving does not matter. The fact is they did it and must pay the consequences for harming another individual while drinking irresponsibly.

Why do we hold cases of sexual assault to different standards than we would any other case that involve intoxication?

When a woman says she was raped and claims she was too drunk to be able to consent to sexual intercourse, society blames her for being a victim of her assault, saying she should have not gotten so drunk. Because of this blame the men who have assaulted them rarely go to jail .

Now McCaw is being accused of being so drunk that he raped a woman, yet the judge has ruled that he can potentially be blameless because he was too drunk to know what he was doing. This ruling is a classic example of the hypocritical double standards we put on men and women in cases of rape and sexual assault.

“I was too drunk to know what I was doing” is never an excuse in any other scenario and it is not one either when it comes to violating a woman’s rights.

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