So why is the story of Brock Turner, Stanford rapist such a viral tour de force? Well there’s definitely a role being played by identity politics here, as there is in most things these days. Brock is a white guy, well off with blond hair and blue eyes, a successful athlete and student at an elite university. The type of smug prick that literally oozes privilege out of his pores as he glides through life on a metaphorical Segway, every accomplishment, every hop from plateau to ever higher plateau as effortless and predestined as the sun rising in the east. Or so the narrative goes and it is certainly a good narrative, if rage fuel is your prerogative.
Because you see, if you’re in the business of convincing people that we live in a rape culture and that college campuses in particular are hotbeds of female oppression, you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate position facing multiple ideological ass-kickings over the last decade. From the Duke Lacrosse case, to Rolling Stone’s infamous Jackie, from Brian Banks to Jian Ghomeshi, the high profile cases we’ve seen in the media have had an almost uncanny propensity for encouraging skepticism in the face of rape allegations, rather than a dogmatic principle of listen and believe.
This is why the story of Brock Turner is the kind story that would make even the most asexual of Social Justice Warrior’s dicks tumefy in response to the overwhelming sense of delayed validation. What a time to be alive and righteously indignant. What a clear cut black and white case of the system miserably failing a victim. What an indisputable piece of anecdotal evidence for pointing at should anyone have the audacity to question the pervasive existence of systemic white male privilege.
The progressives are so deafeningly loud because for once, they are actually standing on fairly firm ground, and they know it. Brock got off easy, probably too easy. Yes I have the audacity to say ‘probably’ because unlike 99.9% of the other people that have commented on this story, I’m willing to acknowledge that, unlike Judge Aaron Persky I don’t have all the details readily available. I’ve read the victim’s impact statement, like many of you, but what I haven’t read is the 39 character reference letters written in the man’s defense, much less the complete transcripts of the trial. I can tell you that if I ever found myself in that position, which is to say, accused of a heinously reprehensible crime, I would likely be hard pressed to come up with five such letters, if I’m being honest with myself.
And for me, that’s one of the main takeaways of this entire debacle, is the internet’s willingness to lash out in blind and righteous rage, without knowing or caring about the finer details. To assume that they know better than someone with years of on the job experience, like Persky has, or like the zoo keepers that put down Harambe the gorilla had, or to suddenly be experts on the Quran and tell us that Islam doesn’t actually have an issue with homosexuals. The internet is, frankly, just chalk full of dangerous people spewing ignorance in order to feel better about themselves.
So now we have this coordinated effort to recall the judge for handing out a sentence which is viewed as inadequate. So there is a petition to recall the judge on change.org which at the time of this writing is over 1.2 million signatures. There is also a website which sprang up overnight asking for donations to fuel the recall effort, although literally nowhere on the site does it tell you what your money will be used for, although it does state that the donations are not tax deductible, the site so far has raised $87,729.00 and around the point where it hit 75k raised it’s target goal from 100k to 500k. That is some pretty serious coin to rake in for a website that could be built in a couple hours by an organization of dubious oversight.
The internet justice mob hasn’t just targeted the judge who handed out the sentence, mind you. Some of the people who wrote character references for Brock Turner have been forced to issue public apologies, like Leslie Rasmussen who was driven to issue a public apology for defending her childhood friend after internet crusaders got venues to cancel upcoming performances of her band, Good English.
I could go on and on with more details about the case itself, but in the interest of getting to my point I’ll just leave it there and say that while I fully understand the anger and frustration people are feeling at the fact that Brock got handed a light sentence, I don’t agree with the tactic of angrily lashing out at people that aren’t rapists, people that aren’t criminals, people like Aaron Persky, Leslie Rasmussen & Kelly Owens, his high school guidance counselor. This is really the mentality that spawned the term Social Justice Warrior to begin with, this flagrant unleashing of cyber rage with the implicit intent of destroying lives, lives which those who would do the destroying know very, very little about.
Is Leslie Rasmussen a single mother who was depending on the money from those gigs to feed and clothe her child? Is Judge Persky a well respected man who served as an executive committee member of the Support Network for Battered Women, and received a state award for civil rights leadership? Do any of these self appointed seekers of vengeance care about these types of details? Surely some would say no, and be quick to remind us that a punishment is suppose to have an impact.
This is the argument many have put forward, since part of Persky’s reasoning included that a prolonged prison sentence would likely have a severe impact on Brock’s life. But is that really the reason that people are upset, as so many are claiming, or is it more to do with the simple fact that Brock Turner is a fucking white male?
Consider the case of Chevelle Nesbeth, who was arrested last year at Kennedy International Airport after a search of her luggage turned up 600 grams of cocaine, around 45 thousand dollars worth. Whom was sentenced to probation and spared any jail time just a couple weeks before the sentencing of Brock Turner. The Judge’s reasoning for the unusually light sentence for a crime which carries a minimum sentence of almost three years? That all the other penalties associated with a felony conviction would be punishment enough.
Did this case spark outrage and petitions for the judge’s recall with millions of signatures? Of course not, because Chevelle Nesbeth is not a fucking white male, surrounded by his privilege. Never mind the fact that Brock’s transgression was an alcohol fueled crime of passion while Chevelle’s required cold, calculating forethought, the decision received almost universal praise apart from a few conservative outlets, showcasing once again the blatant hypocrisy rife in progressive circles.
Now consider the case of 28-year-old, 240 lbs Seattle woman Chantae Marie Gilman, who broke into a man’s house and raped while he slept. Chantae was sentenced to 9 months in prison. Did this story spark righteous outrage at the light sentence handed out to a convicted rapist. Have you even heard of either of the cases mentioned so far? Doubtful.
What about the case of Erica Suskie, a 44 year old Catholic High School teacher charged with sexual assault in the first degree for a relationship she was having with one of her students, but was able to plea her way down to probation. That’s right, no jail time for this statutory rapist, and no cries to recall the judge either, no outrage at all. Around these parts we save our outrage for fucking white males.
Let us not forget the sordid tale of Misti Fitzwater, who pleaded guilty to five different felonies including statutory sodomy, statutory rape and endangering a child. Misti was placed on probation, served no jail time and allowed to keep custody of her children. As one astute commenter points out, is this a double standard or are there simply no standards at all? Where is the outrage? The fundraising websites to pull the judge? As usual, nowhere to be found.
I could go on and on and on, each case even a more grievous miscarriage of justice than the last. But let me leave you hear with one final story. The story of the Amherst college student who passed out after a party, was raped by a fellow female student who then went and had sex with another male after she finished molesting the passed out student, and then later was accused of assault by the same woman who raped him and was expelled in what has been described as a Kafkaesque farce. Yes even when you take a story that is similar in almost all the important details to that of the Turner case, when you flip the genders it is still the man who gets punished.
Brock Turner got off easy, and people have a right to be angry about that. But his story is not so much the status quo as it is the anomaly. The real status quo that we need to start asking ourselves about is the prevelence of women rapists receiving these ridiculously light sentences on an almost daily basis, and no attention being given other than the disposable articles that we read only for the salacious details and to check out the hot and naughty teacher.
What would become of these women if we cared even half as much about male victims as we do about females? Those who claim to stand for true equality have a duty to speak out against this double standard, otherwise you should know that I see you all for the hypocrites that you are.