Like most anyone else that spends to much time on social media (or even a LITTLE time on social media, considering how this story has blown up), I heard about the Brock Turner debacle. It’s hard not to really, being as I scrolled on past no less than dozens of articles with his name and photo plastered up for all to see (and react!) to. Despite having kept a bit of an eye on the whole story by watching the headlines of the past few days, I never intended on delving into the details of it (let alone commenting). For a few reasons.
A.) I don’t really care (or more accurately, it’s not my business). In almost any other context, the only people involved would be those close to the situation. Not an angry mob of mostly single sided morons.
B.) I’ve seen these viral horror stories end up being exposed as a crock enough times to know not to jump on every bandwagon that floats in on the river of information. Indeed, not the case now. But it never hurts to be careful.
Though I like to be up to date, breaking stories I have learned to avoid (but for the most general details). I wait a day or so, however long it takes for things to settle and a clearer picture to emerge.
Same goes for stories of injustices. Give it a few days. You will either get confirmation and more details, or exposure. Either way, you’re better off.
C.) This whole situation is a horrible click bait money grab. Though the obvious bias of many of the pieces posted (particularly in the alternative \ progressive media) are written from various perspectives of activism, there is money being made.
Maybe this is an unfair criticism. But I don’t like to see anyone profit off the backs of people in crisis. Be it slimmy tabloids viciously following celebrities, TV shows like intervention showcasing an individuals personal hell, YouTubers monetizing videos about recent tragic events, or the news media milking a horrible situation for every emotionally driven penny that they can get.
With that out of the way, I should outline my purpose for this piece. It is not really to showcase my position on the crime. I have already explained my position. And, it’s been done from every angle already anyway, thus unnecessary. My purpose for this piece is more to explore a problem with these situations that lasts long after the media hype is over.
That said, I will briefly cover the basics. So this does not come across as a defense of the indefensible.
I know what happened. The taking of the barely consciousness female companion out behind a dumpster, where the poor girl was attacked. Good for the bystanders that stepped in on her behalf.
I also know of his excuses and refusal to own up to his own actions. Hardly a surprising reaction (given how common passing the buck of responsibility is in society today), but still indefensible.
And then there is the letter from the father, in all its terrible detail’s. Product of a man in shock. Though the letter is still somewhat insensitive, it’s easier to digest from this perspective. It’s hard to be objective when the story hits so close to home. Let alone when every glorified Dr Phil of the progressive community is blaming your parenting skills for your son’s crime (in between “THIS IS WHAT RAPE CULTURE LOOKS LIKE!” articles).
Long story short, Brock Turner is an idiot, and at this point a terrible person. Displaying little remorse but for getting caught, one can not be blamed for such an assessment.
But he is also fairly young. Something that is not an excuse (one should have learned right and wrong LONG before setting foot in Stanford). But something to consider in the context of the future.
A lot of the chatter around this story is anger at the leniency of the sentence handed down for his crime. 6 months. Many argue that he should have gotten the full 3 years.
On one hand, I suppose that yes, you do the crime, you do the time. But on the other hand (to borrow from the Amazing Atheist ), the American legal system is hardly a rehabilitation process. Throw Brock in for any length of time, and best result, he keeps scapegoating. At worst. . . Who knows. Prison is a great place to make many connections with the criminal underworld. Which could become a tantalizing option (or an option of last resort) for a person that the world has forever labeled a piece of human trash.
Which brings me to the concerns that I felt compelled to explore with this piece.
Brock is fairly young. Though 18 is universally accepted as adulthood, most of us know that it takes a while longer for a truly mature state of mind to emerge. Considering this, it’s not really surprising to see Brock acting like a teenager caught with a joint. Because he essentially is one. Though one with a hell of a bigger crime in his name than smoking an unfairly illicit herb.
Lets look to the future.
Assuming that this is the reaction of a an immature person that has not yet abandoned teenaged habits, one can assume that at some point down the road, there will be regrets. Be it 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now, this will likely be viewed in a very dark and shamed manor in his life. This is assuming empathy on Brock’s part, but it seems a fairly safe assessment. He doesn’t seem to give off any psychopathic (or otherwise odd) vibes.
Assuming he eventually comes to his senses (hopefully PROPERLY apologizing to Emily, the name of the victim as reported), he will likely want to put it all behind him. Which is not unreasonable. People make mistakes, and assuming they do not repeat them, should have a 2ed chance.
But that may be difficult.
Due to both the typical treatment of such offender’s in our cultural context, and the longevity of information online.
As for the first point, there is a very counter productive (and somewhat dangerous) culture surrounding first time abusers of which should be explored. It is the notion that is “Once a wife beater, always a wife beater!”. I consider this to be both counterproductive to the goal of stemming domestic abuse, and possibly dangerous to future partners.
In almost any other context (short of unwarranted cold blooded murder), you are given a 2ed chance by not just the legal system, but the court of public opinion. Assuming you pay your monetary dues and serve your time to the satisfaction of the many, you get a relatively clean slate. Pull that shit again and people become less hospitable. But generally, you get one. Which is fair.
However, when it comes to domestic abuse, this rule of thumb tends to fly out the window. If you are a male and many things get to you, resulting in you hitting a female out of irrational anger (even if provoked!), your immediately blackmarked. Labeled as skum, along with habitual wife beaters. Genuine pieces of human garbage.
While I get the activistic anger that forwards this notion, it needs evaluation. If we’re talking about a person that is constantly praying on the weak, then by all means, trash talk away. But when it comes to a momentary lapse in judgement, lay off the scathing and everlasting labels of negativity.
For one thing, even if a person is repentant, it will be hard NOT to internalize such a status after awhile. Everybody thinks I’m no better than a worthless wife beater, so I must be!
Hence where the danger comes in to future partners. This is not to say that every male that hits a female out of irrational anger will end up internalizing misogyny, and turn into the worthless piece of trash everyone assumes him to be. But if such could be a possibility, is it not wise to take a 2ed look at such tactics?
Note: Yes, raping a barely conscious women behind a trash bin is VERY different from an irrational angry outburst. But the point is not to compare and contrast actions. It’s to hit home the need for 2ed chances.
As granted in most any other context
Next I will move on to the information portion. Which also ties in with the last part.
Though Brock Turner and his family never intended to do so, their family has now been dragged into the current day limelight, and afterwards into the depths of permanent internet history.
Like all bandwagons of social media (legitimate causes or false claims), this case will eventually fade back into oblivion and be replaced by something else. It’s just how things go in a world dominated by reactionary social media users that have tiny attention spans and a habit of NOT thinking before they post. I give it a week or so, a month max.
But even long after this has left the mainstream consciousness of the online masses, there will remain hundreds (thousands maybe!) of references to the past acts of Brock Turner. Even when interest goes away, the hundreds of articles, YouTube videos, social media posts and other assorted chatter will remain.
So, even if Brock comes to his senses down the road, much of this information will remain for decades (if not indefinitely). Which means that barring unforseen changes to how personal archived data is handled in the future, this crime will follow him for life. Anytime anyone (like an employer!) types that name into a search engine (an increasingly common practice!), up will come this stuff.
Which means that even if he is a changed person, it really does not matter. If most people look at the crimes in such an unforgiving manor as is typical, no amount of personal growth will change their view.
Which could lead to a potentially dangerous self fulfilling prophecy. One hopes not. But when backed into a corner, sometimes some reactions are inevitable.
After reading this, some of the more emotionally driven and vindictive readers may be thinking “WHO GIVES A FUCK ABOUT HIS STRUGGLE! LOOK WHAT Emily IS GOING TO HAVE TO ENDURE!”.
Duly noted, believe me.
One can not under estimate the recovery process that awaits her at this point. All things considered, we may be talking a decade, maybe longer. But even so, I do not doubt that a day will come when she will have mostly returned to normal. She will reach a state in which this is just a horrible memory. Though scarred, like many survivors before her, life can be relatively normal.
Say what you want about Brock, but its hard to believe that he will EVER have this totally behind him. When one considers this aspect, I have to wonder if this is at least part of the reason for the supposedly lenient 6 month sentence. Brock not only had his short term life as he knows it destroyed, but likely also will have seen many or all of his long term aspirations destroyed. Not just athletically, but PERIOD. Full stop.
Just some food for thought.