Editorial: Surprise! Rape and Robbery Are Not the Same

Recently, a 3-year-old video from rapper Cardi B resurfaced describing things she did in her past to become successful. In the rant, she explained that she “had to strip,” take men to hotels, “drug them up” and rob them. Fueled by the controversial content, the video is being spread like wildfire and debated among sympathizers and critics of the rapper’s actions.

Calls to end Cardi’s career and send her to jail have been circulating through social media, citing the hypocrisy of her actions in regards to recent events in which powerful men have been outed and punished for their past offenses.

Most of these critiques, however, are coming from comparisons of completely different crimes: rape and sexual abuse. Posts, tweets and memes are comparing Cardi to newly convicted rapist Bill Cosby and even alleged rapist R. Kelly, with the hashtag #SurvivingCardiB in reference to the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.”

When the issue is broken down, it’s easy to see the debate is comparing apples to oranges. Both are considered crimes and both are wrong, but the intent in the action and outcome of the victims are completely different. Cardi’s intent in tricking and drugging men was to rob them in order to acquire money. Bill Cosby’s intent in luring and drugging women was to subdue them in order to rape them. R. Kelly’s alleged intent in preying on young women was to brainwash and isolate them in order to abuse them. Cardi’s victims lost money and possessions. Bill Cosby and R. Kelly’s victims lost their body autonomy and peace of mind.

As the saying goes, “sin is sin,” but this is a faulty concept. Heinous offenses should never be equated to lesser offenses simply because they are not the same. The actions are not the same. The emotional and physical toll on the victims are not the same. The things gained and lost in the incidents are not the same.  

Whether robbery is a worse offense than rape and abuse, or vice versa, according to people’s personal values is one thing. But in all reality, our justice system would concur that the physical safety of a person is more important than the loss of fiscal or worldly possessions. So, before calling for action for a wrongdoing that isn’t as harmful as the other, remember to do what Gilbert and Sullivan famously said: “Let the punishment fit the crime.”