"What do you mean, it's not illegal? "
A scene from a VERY special episode of Law & Order.
copyright 2005 by Pat Powers
I've been watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. It's the one about cops who track down criminals who commit sex crimes. It's pretty intense stuff, and there's not much of a chance for things to lighten up. You can't really go from an episode where a child-molesting fiend gets tracked down to a lighthearted ep where a shoe fetishist gets his comeuppance.
Still, I think the SVU crew needs break out of the box. They need an ep where they travel back in time and investigate sex crimes of a bygone age.
They could deal with older sex crimes. Like masturbating.
Stabler: So what have we here? LIttle Johnny Wilson. What is this Johnny, your fifteenth offense? And you only 13 years old!
Johnny: Please, mister, I didn't do it!
Benson: That's what you said the OTHER fifteen times. But your mom saved your sheets this time, and they tell a DIFFERENT story! We've got you on Wank One, Johnny, and you're not walking this time, you're going down BIG TIME!
And disseminating info about birth control.
Munch: All right, Mrs. Nesbitt, what's the story here?
Mrs. Nesbitt: There is no story here! I am a God-fearing woman who tells the truth for the protection of the health of womankind.
Fin: Well, MRS. Nesbitt, the story is that you've been printing pamphlets telling girls that putting an aspirin in a Coke and then shaking it up and putting it between their legs is not an effective form of birth control.
Nesbitt: Well, it's NOT an effective form of birth control.
Fin: Mrs. Nesbitt, I'm going to have to place you under arrest.
Nesbitt: But WHY for God's sake?
Munch: Because it doesn't matter whether it's the truth or not. What matters is that it's against the law to say it. And you said it.
Fin: And that's the truth.
And showing a shapely calf in public.
March: The problem we have now is that she's the daughter of a Boston blueblood, and the women who saw her calf and were scandalized were Irish washerwomen. So our eyewitnesses will carry no weight with the court, as they're testifying against one of their betters.
Fin: Maybe we should make some discreet inquiries among her neighbors about her mode of dress and conduct.
Florek: I don't know -- that could easily ruffle some feathers. These are the very best people, we can't be offending their senisibilities with our rude inquiries.
Munch: Yes, but delicately placed inquiries could also lead to some catty remarks which could incriminate her. Coming from her social equals, we could probably get a conviction.
Florek: Get on it.
Or maybe they could go back to the 50s, those halcyon days of yesteryear so beloved of social conservatives.
March: We're going to have to let him go.
Benson: But WHY? I saw him beating his wife with my own eyes. He was slapping her and kicking her and knocking her around!
March: Still, we gotta let him go. Your bust was technically sound in the way it was conducted, but there's a huge legal problem -- it's not exactly illegal to beat your wife.
Stabler: Not EXACTLY illegal?
March: Well, technically it's illegal, but nobody every gets charged unless they break some bones or something. And all he did was raise a few welts and bruises. Nothing to get excited about. Tell her to lean into the punches more next time, from the extent of the bruising I think he was pretty close to actually breaking something. We could charge him for that.
Or go back to Roman times:
Bensonius: "But he had her chained and gagged like an animal and he was RAPING her!"
Marchii: "She was his slave. He could have killed her and it would still be legal."
Stablerides: "So, is there ANYTHING we could get him on?"
Marchii: Didn't you say that at one point he took off her gag and made her call him "My Enormous Emperor"?
Stablerides: Yes, and several other things.
Marchii: Well, since the Emperor is a god I think we can get him for blasphemy. Carries a penalty of public beheading followed by forced labor on the aqueducts.
Because in the old days, it was the women who committed the sex crimes. But they were different crimes.