X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

Wed Sep 12 14:21:57 UTC 2007

        In Clinton's definition (given to him by the plaintiff's lawyers
in the Paula Jones lawsuit), "sexual relations" was a defined term:
"For the purposes of this deposition, a person engages in 'sexual
relations' when the person knowingly engages in or causes ... contact
with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any
person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any
person.... 'Contact' means intentional touching, either directly or
through clothing."  Because Clinton did not engage in or cause sexual
contact with the genitalia, anus, etc. of Monica Lewinsky, he asserted
that he had answered correctly in his deposition testimony when he said
he did not have sexual relations with her.

        Federal Judge Susan Wright rejected his position, saying, "It
appears the President is asserting that Ms. Lewinsky could be having sex
with him while, at the same time, he was not having sex with her."  I
think she was wrong to fault Clinton for applying a defined term and for
her apparent assumption that "sexual relations" must be reciprocal,
although her opinion does show that some of Clinton's other testimony
was false or misleading.  Jones v. Clinton, 36 F.Supp.2d 1118 (E.D. Ark.
1999).  Clinton by then was in no mood to fight further, and Wright's
opinion was not appealed.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Benjamin Zimmer
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 11:28 AM
Subject: Re: X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

On 9/11/07, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> At 2:44 PM +0000 9/11/07, ronbutters at AOL.COM wrote:
> >One would think this would have applied to sodomy laws as well, but I

> >know of at least 2 cases of consentual sex in which the man was found

> >guilty and the woman was not.
> But as President Clinton taught us, "have sex with"--in at least one
> sodomy-relevant context--is not a symmetric predicate even if "marry"
> is.  After all, he explained, Monica Lewinsky had sex with him, but
> not vice versa.

Was that really how it all went down (so to speak)? My recollection was
that both parties tried to claim that the relevant acts didn't
constitute "having sex", so there was no asymmetry. Let's go to the


LEWINSKY: We didn't have sex, Linda.

TRIPP: Well, what do you call it?

LEWINSKY: We fooled around.


LEWINSKY: Not sex.

TRIPP: Oh, I don't know. I think if you go to if you go to orgasm,
that's having sex.

LEWINSKY: No, it's not.

TRIPP: Yes it is.

LEWINSKY: No it's not. It's

TRIPP: It's not having

LEWINSKY: Having sex is having intercourse.

TRIPP: Oh, you've been around him too long. That's his


TRIPP: rationale.

LEWINSKY: That's well, that's my then I've had sex with a lot more

TRIPP: Oh? (Laughing).

LEWINSKY: Having sex is having intercourse. That's how most people would

TRIPP: Oh, so (REDACTED) jobs and all of that don't count?

LEWINSKY: They don't count.

TRIPP: Oh? Well, see? You have to inform me

LEWINSKY: Those are guys that you just fool around with.

... TRIPP: You mean it's less personal to give a (REDACTED) job than to
have intercourse?

LEWINSKY: No, not necessarily. Sometimes. It depends.

TRIPP: I guess it depends.

LEWINSKY: It really depends.

TRIPP: Yeah, I'm getting an education late in life.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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