The Consequences of the Blame Game

There’s been an immense amount of coverage regarding the Brock Turner case. The fact that the case ran on so long is quite honestly, baffling. Then  I realize, it’s not baffling. Society loves to analyze a crime like this from every angle. It’s happened before and it will happen again. They will dissect every aspect until there is nothing left there to pick at.

It’s curiosity, it’s a zeal for justice. But this dragging out of the process is also the worst thing possible for both parties. Brock Turner is quoted as saying that alcohol can destroy a life. His victim, and yes, I will call her a victim, responded that two lives were destroyed. That is true. And alcohol isn’t the cause of that. Everyone knows it. There’s a difference between being drunk and being a monster.

People want to think that everyone has motivations, everyone has shades of grey to their personality. This isn’t Game of Thrones, there are people who do cruel things because it brings them happiness. That’s messed up, but it occurs. If we want to analyze their childhood, say that they are attackers because they were victims in their childhood. Why are we justifying this crime, rationalizing it? The fact that Brock drank alcohol, or didn’t drink alcohol, does not change the fact that he did what he did. I want to write what he did, elaborate every chilling detail, but I can’t.

We read about the details, the newspapers give us the vivid picture of what happened behind that dumpster, before the two cyclists got there. But we don’t discuss it. It’s not polite tea-table conversation. We can talk about J. K. Rowling’s new book or the weather frequently, but the things affecting our everyday lives and the people around us do not matter.

I’m not speaking about online. Everyone’s a poet online, myself included. We say all the things we want to say, whether they are accepting good wishes or homophobic swears. Whether we want to stand by her side, or judge that she was asking for it by getting drunk.

Whatever our process, something that happened in January of 2015 is still being discussed now, with vivid detail. The girl behind the dumpster had to relive that night for longer than an entire year, had to hear how she was lying there. Had to be told that the sight of her made her rescuer sob. All this she endured, without at least the memory of it to console her. All she knew was what people told her. Then they painted her as things she was not, as wanton and alcoholic.

People blamed her alcohol consumption, his alcohol consumption. They asked her what she was wearing, as if that was relevant. She was wearing a cardigan. He was caught in the act and it took them over a year to come up with a conviction. The victim, during a letter she read to Brock, questioned what would have happened if the two cyclists had not intervened.

I wonder that, too. If she had been left there. Some person would have found her hours later, and she would have been hospitalized. She would’ve never known who had attacked her, and perhaps Brock Turner would have gotten away. On the other hand, she wouldn’t have had to relive her assault in a courtroom, over and over again. She wouldn’t have to experience the feeling of helplessness at having to defend herself when the court had all the proof they needed to convict him from the very beginning.

She would’ve, with difficulty, moved on with her life. Instead she devoted a year of her life to courthouses, spent hours answering the question of an attorney that insulted her, her lifestyle, her sister, and tried to find holes in everything she said.

Yes, Brock deserves punishment. But why not a swifter form of justice? Why is it so difficult to judge that the man is guilty, guilty, guilty? Because he’s a good swimmer? Because he’s got a great lawyer? Because he’s already been expelled, and let’s cut him some slack?

The truth is that this has gone on for too long, in too many cases. Whether it’s a woman who is the victim or a man, a swift ruling is the best way to ease their pain. Let them move with their lives, and let the newspapers write about something else.

For my part, I won’t search out stories on Brock Turner ever again. He has been punished, insufficiently, but punished nonetheless.




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