Comments on another post have attempted to separate the behaviors of the victim from those of the victimizer as though they aren't or at least shouldn't be related. The frequently repeated trope is "don't blame the victim." I thought the discussion should have its own post, so here are my thoughts.
I'll start with a hypothetical. Let's say I get it in my head that I want to walk around in public with $1000 bills taped to the outside of my clothing. It's my money, and I should be able to display it in any fashion I choose. Rather than a Rolex or a fancy car, I decide upon the money suit (literally). Now, theft is wrong, so no one should consider the money I display fair game for the taking. Any sane person, however, should expect that sooner or later, walking around reeking of money, some bloke is going to get the idea to conk me over the head and relieve me of my $1000 bills.
Don't-blame-the-victim folks protest that the crime is punishable, but the victim's precipitating behavior, akin to walking around waving a "rob me" sign, shouldn't be considered in prosecuting the alleged criminal. Frankly, I agree. The criminal did something wrong and crime should be punished. Maybe I had only $4000 on my suit, maybe $100,000. Shouldn't matter to the prosecution as we have an expectation in civil society that people resist (absolutely?) criminal temptations. Maybe I was killed in the robbery attempt, nearly killed, or merely knocked unconscious, and the robber took only $1000, all $4000, or all $100,000. Those things matter because severity of the crime is one thing we consider in meting out proper punishment.
Where I guess I differ from conventional wisdom is whether the victim's precipitating behavior should be given any attention — in short, blamed. In the context of a criminal trial, probably not; yet one would have to wonder "what on earth were you thinking walking around literally wearing your money? Of course you were going to be victimized. You were asking for it." No, we don't prosecute the victim for stupid behaviors such as this, but it's worthwhile to observe that one would be wise to avoid that sort of behavior if one doesn't wish to be a criminal target. That's where the victim contributes to the crime and shares some blame, by tempting human actors into a logical response.
The same is true of the crime of rape. A person (not just women) has the right to say "no" at any stage of human interaction. However, if one works an acquaintance (or stranger) into a state of sexual excitement and then says "no," in effect pulling the rug out from under the other person, then I think a subsequent rape is more likely to occur than, say, if the two were playing bridge. We prosecute the rapist, sure, but we should also admonish (not prosecute) the victim that it's unwise to get someone all hot and bothered, reeking of the promise of sex, only to expect the other person to act with complete self-control and restraint when told "no."
In a wider context, it's also strange to apply don't-blame-the-victime thinking to terrorist acts. As heinous as terrorism is, precipitating events and behaviors, when present, are worthy of attention, too. In civil society, we want not only to prosecute the terrorists after the fact but to avoid recurrence. The current rhetoric is that nothing justifies terrorism. That thinking is equivalent to wanting to wear our money suits and strut our sexuality and still expecting no one to victimize us. We shift all the responsibility to the terrorist and demonize him; we vow to destroy him in our righteous victimhood. That's just stupid.
If we really wanted to be safe, we need the wisdom to look inward and ask "why does the terrorist hate us so much that he's willing to kill himself just to inflict harm on us? What have we done to precipitate events?" In the U.S., we have a notable tendency to recklessly interfere with the politics of other countries and impose our agenda on them. Worse, our cultural exports and economic terrorism are known to have immediate destructive effects abroad. We pretend not to notice, or we may even fully acknowledge it and blithely wave away criticism with the perspective that it's just tough for them. Might makes right, even if it's merely purchasing power, so get used to it. No wonder we're hated so much.
Disclaimer: these ideas apply to a large extent to fairly extreme situations. I don't know for certain, but I expect that in the bulk of criminal activity, the victim is truly blameless. Rape is a particularly problematical crime where blaming the victim occurs regularly at least in part because rape victims frequently know the attacker. That said, I don't mean to imply that victims always share blame to some degree. I only mean to say that it's not unheard of for victims to knowingly or naively put themselves in harm's way.