It’s been a while since I’ve commented on anything in the news, but I feel like this is worth a few words.
In case you haven’t been following this story (although it’s hard to not find a news outlet covering the story, especially recently) two high-school football players were found guilty of raping a sixteen-year-old girl.
Apparently when the two accused heard the verdicts they cried or something.
What followed, naturally, was coverage of this story by news outlets in Canada and the US (and possibly other countries, though I’m not sure). One common ingredient in so, so many of these stories was sympathizing with the two football players, those who apparently had “promising football careers.”
The problem with this, naturally, is that the accused are painted as the victims here. It’s mind-boggling that big media had little to say about the sixteen-year-old girl, who will have to live with what’s happened to her for the rest of her life.
A very, very poignant take on this whole case went up two days ago by Henry Rollins. You can read the whole thing here. He articulates many good points about what is so wrong with this case, and another thing he brings up is something that has only recently started to bother me.
Once the guilty verdicts were announced, I believe the sentence given was four or five years in jail. Outraged citizens across the continent demanded more jail time than that. While I agree completely that what they did was inexcusable and that they should be punished, what purpose does jail serve in some of these cases? As Rollins points out, at what point in their jail sentence will these two teenagers start to feel like they actually did something wrong? Will they ever?
There will always be a public outcry for convicted criminals to serve more jail time than the sentence they’re given. The thing is, everyone is allowed due process under the law. Every person should have a chance to defend themselves, even if what they did was despicable. And besides, shoving people into already crowded jails is only going to be more of a financial burden for the state.
Anyways, back to the media reactions. There’s been a post floating around Facebook showing some of the media reactions and it’s captioned with “This is what rape culture looks like.” It’s a subject people don’t want to talk about, but it’s an unfortunate reality. More often than not, the message given to women who are raped is “You shouldn’t have drank so much” or “You shouldn’t have worn revealing clothes.” Rarely are men told not to rape. Women are told to avoid it.
CNN apparently had three panelists on-air talking about how unfortunate the sentence was for the two convicted teenagers. There’s been a petition floating around asking for CNN to apologize. It was at about 91,000 when I looked at it last night and it’s about 122.000 now.
In short, take this message from this post: no matter who a person is, if that person rapes someone, there should not be excuses made to justify the action. It’s rape. It’s a criminal act. It’s very simple.