Monday, March 18, 2013

My thoughts about the Steubenville verdict

All day today I've watched the bloggerverse, both professional and amateur, blowing up over the Steubenville verdict.  Since I'm not really someone who's able to keep silent when there's controversy around, I'm going to throw my 2 cents in.

For starters, I'm outraged at CNN and Fox News for broadcasting the name of the victim.  Depending on whether or not you believe that this was an accident, it's either a gross incompetence or an egregious breach of journalistic ethics.  For my part, I've made a conscious choice not to watch those particular pieces of video, even though I've had several opportunities.  I respect the victim's right to privacy, and the fact that the media has chosen to breach that privacy does not compel me to participate in that breach.

As for the perpetrators, Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays, they've made their bed and now they have to sleep in it.  This wasn't something that happened to them; it was a direct result of their choices and actions.  Amy Davidson at The New Yorker has written an excellent essay about this in which she asks "Does it destroy a teen-ager’s life to take him off the path of being an adult rapist?"  I don't think it does, but I also don't think this is the time to worry about the rapists' future, especially given how lenient their sentences are.

Yes, lenient.  Instead of complaining that their lives are over, Richmond and Mays should be down on their knees thanking the judge for the generosity they've been shown.  A minimum of year or two in a juvenile facility, with the possibility of additional time to be determined at future hearings, is much better than the sentences in adult prison they could have been given.  Yes, they do have to register as sex offenders - because they are sex offenders.  And even with this, future hearings will decide whether they're to remain on the register for the remainder of their lives or can be taken off after a time provided they've demonstrated their ability not to rape people.

And finally, about the victim.  Regardless of what she was wearing that night, how late she stayed out that night, or how much she had to drink that night, she did not ask for this and none of her actions constituted permission to rape her.  I hope that she's getting the help she needs to carry on with her life.  She's got a long and difficult road ahead of her, and while the courageous actions of women who've been down this road before her have made the patch easier than it once might have been, it's still a difficult road, and one that no one should be sent down.

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