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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Live in the Media, Happening Now: The Brock Turner Lynching. Bring Popcorn

Brock Turner

For a time last evening, I was brooding over the possibility that the world had gone mad.

Then I realized I was being too optimistic. Of course the world has not gone mad. The world has always been mad. Coping with a mad world is probably an essential part of the human condition. This is still the same world that crucified the son of God.

The immediate occasion for the meditation was the case of Brock Turner, a Stanford freshman recently sentenced to six months for attempted rape. He apparently tried to have sex with a woman lying unconscious near a dumpster (it seems to be important that it was near a dumpster) on the Stanford campus.

Or rather, the cause for my despair was the public reaction to that fact.

Almost everyone on Facebook is protesting that the sentence is too light. There are petitions, no doubt, on There are two separate initiatives to have the judge who passed this heinously lenient sentence removed from the bench. Apparently new jurors are now refusing to sit in his courtroom. Those few friends who spoke in Turner's defense at his trial have faced public bullying and attacks on their income, and some have now publicly recanted. A more recent story is that after an on-line call, over a thousand witches have joined to curse him. According to their hex, “he will become impotent. He will know constant pain of pine needles in his guts. Food will bring him no sustenance. In water, his lungs will fail him. Sleep will only bring him nightmares. Shame will be his mantle. He will meet justice.”

This latter matter was reported neutrally.

Turner is, in a word, being publicly lynched. Jim Crow would be proud. And he is being lynched not for anything he has done, but really for the crime of being only too obviously a white, heterosexual, male. Indeed, to drive that last spike home, a friend of mine posted a link to Facebook demanding a stiffer penalty, using as lead in the suggestion that “your son [and 'all men and boys'] needs to read this victim's letter.”

Imagine if the suggestion was that “all black men” should read the victim impact statement after a black man was convicted of attempting to rape a white woman. That's where we are here.

I know I am taking a risk by speaking out. I have seen nobody else doing it—even conservative commentators, generally concerned with human rights, have joined in the condemnation. Nor is the press neutral. They rather consistently report, for example, that Turner is a “rapist,” although he was never charged, let alone convicted, of rape. The charge, whatever the reason--perhaps because he was actually too drunk to manage the sex act--was attempted rape. When, in response to a friend's post insisting on more severe punishment, I commented that, instead, my heart went out to him, I was answered with demands, some in capital letters, that the original poster “report” me as a “rape apologist.” I was a “disgusting man.” I was a “horrible human being.” I was “vile.” Expletives removed. “I want to throw up because you are so horrible.” “I pray to God that you will get what's coming to you.” I must, it seems, be a rapist myself. “Should I call the police on you then?” Rapists, now including me, should be “killed at the stake.” My life was “a [expletive] waste of time.”

Another woman--now why on earth, other than pure sexism,woulds there ever have been a link in the popular mind between females and hysteria? Might it actually be that girls, usually being spoiled growing up, learn that they can get their way by throwing tantrums?-- said she hoped I would be raped.

Obviously, she was not against rape itself. She just wanted to decide who got raped and who didn't.

It all kind of proves my point.

So I'm obviously setting myself up for trouble here. But this is just the sort of moment when conscience demands that we speak out. There are no innocent bystanders in a lynch mob. If you are present and say nothing, you are part of the mob.

First of all, this kid is not being given a light sentence. The sentence the judge passed down was the sentence recommended by the parole board. It is not just six months in jail, either. It is a life sentence. His name will go on the “sexual offenders” registry, and will stay there for life. All future employment, for example, will be problematic. There will be no opportunity for rehabilitation. That is not allowed. Eventual redemption is never again an option.

To my eye, that looks like a good example of cruel and unusual punishment, to use the term for what is prohibited by the US constitution. A violation of human rights. “Sex offenders” are singled out for this special treatment. Oddly enough, those convicted of sex offenses (as opposed to those who commit them, according to any equitable evaluation) are almost always male.

Just to cap it off, Turner, whose future had seemed so bright, had legitimate ambitions to become an Olympic swimmer. No more. The relevant sports body has banned him from all future competition. Of course, he had to leave Stanford. And where else can he go? His mugshot has now appeared, repeatedly, in the national and international media.

A life ruined. A young life, and a very promising life, ruined. Turner was from Dayton Ohio, A very long way from Stanford. A young man, at Stanford for only four months, probably his first four months way from home. All lost now.

When I pointed this out, I got the response that he had himself ruined a life: the life of that poor young woman. She would surely suffer PTSD now until she too died.

Odd how that would happen. She claimed to be unconscious through the whole thing. She claimed she did not wake up until three hours later, was unaware that she had been raped, and remembered nothing. Very powerful account for claiming lack of consent. But how much trauma can you really expierience from something you were not aware of, and cannot remember? If she is now traumatized, she has mostly done it to herself, either by brooding on the matter, or by choosing to take it to court.

Like almost any rape, too, it is a case of “he said, she said.” He says she consented. She says she did not. This gives the court system an ugly choice. Either they allow rape generally to go unpunished; or they suspend the usual rules of evidence, and convict men of rape in cases when they are not proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

For this reason, society ought to be very careful about allowing situations in which rape might occur; ought to prefer relatively light sentences for rape; and ought to be very careful about what they classify as rape. Otherwise, a lot of innocent men are going to be harmed.

Thanks to feminism, exactly the opposite has been happening. Woman demand stiffer punishments for rape. Women demand complete integration, demand the right to do whatever they want, and then the right to charge with rape whenever there is doubt as to the circumstances of sexual congress.

The Vice President of the United States has sent an open letter to the “victim” in the case, quoting the statistic that one in five women experiences sexual assault on American campuses.

Thats true, too, so long as you define “sexual assault” to include such things as kissing, touching, or saying you are wearing a nice dress. It is also true that, if the same standards were applied, men are sexually assaulted on campus about as often as women are.

It is not a good idea to expand the definition of rape, while vastly broadening the opportunities for full body contact. Feminism, and not men, has done that. It is as if, far from being opposed to rape, they are fishing for it.

And as to expanding the definition of rape, Andrea Dworkin, for one, a noted and generally still respected feminist writer, has maintained in print that all heterosexual sex is rape. The true crime, as she would probably even assent to in so many words, is simply in being a heterosexual male.

Back to Turner's "victim." Her claim, as noted, is that she did not consent. There was no violence--that was the old rape, this is the neww one. She argues that she was unconscious the whole time, from excessive drinking, and so could not possibly consent. And she did indeed have alcohol in her bloodstream: three times the legal driving limit. So he is guilty of attempted rape. Rape now encompasses any case of having sex without clear consent.

He claims that she did consent, or he thought she did. As is almost never reported, he too had been drinking. He had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood—too much, by society's judgement, for him to have been competent to drive.

Hmm—if she was too drunk to consent to sex, then absent the sudden insertion of some profound sexism, so was he. So, did he rape her, or did she rape him? Did they rape each other? Public drunken sex is not something I want to endorse, but let's be fair to both parties. Obviously, if she was truly unconscious, she cannot have really consented verbally to this particular act of sex. But then, if he was drunk, he might just as well not have been fully conscious of the situation. He might have honestly thought, perhaps in a drunken haze, that she consented. In fact, she might have genuinely consented, and now not remember. She claims to remember nothing of the incident. So how can she be sure?

Why is his life destroyed, then, while she is a poor innocent victim?

If both are held responsible for their actions,then there was no rape. If, on the other hand, being drunk automatically implies a lack of consent, then there is no rape. There seems no third possibility.

Given that we want to prevent such unseemly things as drunken public sex, and such misunderstandings, from occurring, the proper and honourable solution would be to prosecute public drunkenness. That, at least, is a choice. You do not have to pick up that bottle and inspect the bottom from inside. Yet, in this regard, she is more guilty than he. She was drunker, by actual blood alcohol test. She was older too, twenty-three versus twenty. The difference is not much, but the two ages fall on either side of legal adulthood for several purposes. If this legal distinction is itself proper, then it means something in terms of relative responsibility. And finally, he was a Stanford student, and she was not. He had some reason to be there by chance. But she was lying down, perhaps passed out, in a public space on the Stanford campus. Why was she there? At random?

Another Facebook friend, probably in reaction to this same case, posted a link boasting that, even if a woman were to “waltz into a room stark raving naked,” her sons were taught not to touch her without prior clear consent. Poor enslaved sons, I think, Sorry, the real event here is a woman waltzing into a room stark raving naked. That is not good conduct, and whatever else happens later, it is the prior offense. Moreover, any man might honestly and honourably understand it as a non-verbal request for something or other. Let me ponder for a moment what it might be.

Women now have only rights, but no responsibilities. Men have only responsibilities, and no rights.

Stay silent in the current storm and fury over Turner, and you are yourself consenting to this general premise. After all, as a general legal principle, silence implies consent. Odd that this does not hold only in the case of men desiring sex with a woman. Realize, then, if you yourself have the misfortune of being white, heterosecual, and male, that the next time they come, they might come for you. And even abstaining from all hetero sex is no protection. Any woman at any time, if she wants something from you, can without penalty inflict the accusation, and then the normal rules of evidence do not apply.

One other issue arises here. The matter of the witches. While Turner probably should never have been prosecuted, they certainly should be, and are not. What they are doing, in trying to torture and kill him, is apparently perfectly okay, perhaps even applauded. Of course, some may well believe that they are not actually capable of doing this--hexes are just hocus pocus. But it is not the right of government to decide the truth of this or that religious doctrine. The witches themeselves claim to believe that this will work, and if they did not, why would they be doing it?

"Will the spell work? Hexen is certain of it. Í'm a really experienced, powerful witch,' she said. Í have no doubt that when I cast a hex, it will be successful.'"

They ought to be prosecuted, all of them, for assault and attempted murder.

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