today, i read an article that severely interrupted my stream of consciousness. it pulled me out of my creatively productive world and forced me to think about something that is actually commonplace…a heedless commonplace. the article highlighted a rape and one journalist’s response to the outcome.
the quick details:
a young girl was raped by a stanford college student one night during a party. she was unconscious and he was a swimmer on scholarship. (he was also white…it matters, but it doesn’t.) he was convicted…for a six-month sentence because “he’ll suffer enough from the permanent blip on his record.” i read every word of her account and couldn’t help take into account HER suffering. (if you have the time read it.)
the gist of his article stated that he doesn’t deserve prison but 6 months in county jail instead.
here’s my letter to him.
I seriously can’t believe what I just read and it saddens me that your article was even published. If the victim was your daughter, would you still feel the same way? But let’s leave that alone for a sec. Let’s talk black and white and I don’t mean race…although that’s a whole other kettle of fish that we’ll leave alone right now. He committed a crime. Unless he came from a universe/planet/society where doing what he did is 100% okay, he knew exactly what he was doing and he knew it was wrong. That’s inexcusable. All day. Who gives two beans in a can that it’s a blip on his record. He did it. You don’t get to just yell, “I have a future!” and get a do over. This ain’t Monopoly or CandyLand. Nobody IS confused about the severity of this case.
Let’s just say for the sake of a [ridiculous] argument that, sure, okay. He’s not a threat. First offense. Bright future. (I wanna vomit typing that.) He took it to trial. He decided to treat this like a big boy thing. He hired a big shot attorney. He dragged this out for a year. So, his sentence should reflect that. When it was all said and done, he lied about the whole thing anyway. Created a patchwork story that changed a few times, and I can’t help but think it’s because he’s an adult and knows that what he did wasn’t the most proper.
The fact is, we’re not talking about giving him the death sentence. We’re talking about putting him in an environment where he would have to sit down and consider what he’s done. (Despite the fact that — in my humble opinion — that should have happened before he stuck his fingers and penis inside of a girl whose name he did not know without her consent. I took the time to read every part of her letter to him, and as an adult male with a host of beautiful, strong females in my life, I was sick to my stomach.) The “genuine remorse” of which you speak seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle between his denial and his turning a whole slew of lives upside down. So, no. He doesn’t get the right to still play with his toys.
Y’ wanna know what I think, Scott? I think that you don’t believe anything about what you wrote. I think that YOU think that this “kid” deserves a lot more than what he’s getting. Perhaps you’re trying to start a dialogue. Get people’s attention. Force people to think. Grow an awareness. Good on you…if that’s truly your intention. There’s something in me that believes that you’re just experimenting with such an asinine supposition of handlings in regards to this case. Maybe that’s what you’re up to. If it is, what an ass backwards way of doing it.
This isn’t about a culture of drinking. I won’t go into the hundreds of campus parties that involve drinking — and actual drunken individuals — that don’t result in rape. (To that end, there are more that do and those victims don’t come forward because there are actual human beings with brains who write articles like the above.) This is about an individual’s actions and the proper consequence that should follow. This isn’t a Have-a-Drink-and-Get-Your-First-Rape-Free society. No. In the same way that you wouldn’t give a person who willfully commits murder trash duty on an Adopt-A-Highway Program, you don’t give a person who willfully commits rape (irony at its best) a lesser sentence. You know what that does, Scott? It lets every other person know that this is okay….as long as you have scholarship. It communicates an acceptance of a nasty and grossly inadmissible set of actions. By your standard, if this girl’s boyfriend decided to snap and ruin Turner’s face, he should be given 6 months in county as well…or am I missing the point? Sure, we’re trying to send a message: that this won’t be tolerated. These circumstances aren’t unusual as you put ’em. They’re sick.
“But there is a temptation to see the Turner case as a chance to send a message, rather than to weigh all the messy human elements involved.” That’s what you wrote, Scott. Fact is, that’s exactly what’s happening. What about the victim? What about her messy human elements? What about her life being shaken like a snowglobe and left for dead? There is no six-month expiration date for her messy human elements.
What’s more than sad about this situation is that, Scott, you had the chance to promote and encourage serious deliberation about an issue that affects so many of us directly and indirectly. Yet, you chose to take this route. I’m not only disappointed in you as a journalist, but as a fellow man and furthermore…a fellow human being. Maybe if I looked into your eyes I’d understand, but something tells me that I won’t.
And that hurts my heart. To the victim, we stand with you. But unfortunately, Scott, we do not stand with you.