Two strangers get drunk at a college party–blitzed out of their minds–and walk off to places unknown. The guy is thinking with the small brain located between his legs, a one-track mind. The girl has checked out, and goes unconscious. It’s only when someone walks up behind the dumpster that he suddenly fears what he’s done.
He knows it’s wrong–really, really wrong–but he’s not thinking. She ceased thinking the minute she started throwing back shots one after the other at what she called “a dumb party.”
I’ve tried to stay away from Stanford’s Brock Turner and his rape victim. Liberals highlight this case as everything that’s wrong with the white, check-your-privilege frat brother rape culture. They take an actual rape and apply it to what LA Times writer Meghan Daum calls the “rape accusation culture.”
If you don’t recognize rape accusation culture, look up what happened at Vassar, where a freshman was expelled after being accused of rape a full year after having sex with a woman who’d given no indication at the time that the encounter was anything but consensual. Look up what happened at Brandeis, where a student accused his former boyfriend of sexual misconduct over their two-year relationship, including good morning kisses that were deemed nonconsensual because the kissed party was half-asleep.
Turner received a very lenient sentence of six months in the county jail, versus the 14 years in a California prison he could have gotten. This sparked a backlash against Judge Aaron Persky, with some calling for him to be removed from the bench.
Obviously, Persky had some sympathy for Turner, even in the face of his victim’s poignant, 7000-word letter published by Buzzfeed. I think I can see why.
The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.
In that one phrase, “it would have happened, just to somebody else,” the victim put on cement overshoes and dashed herself over the cliff into the ocean. Her attacker was a rapist before he even went to the party. He was a rapist when he got up that morning. He was a rapist when he was born because he’s a male.
Not every man who gets slap drunk takes a slap drunk strange woman behind the dumpster to copulate. But in any given situation, if you put fifty teenage and early twenty-something attractive couples in a room and get them blitzed, at least one couple is going to leave the room for some dark place and get busy.
Stanford has one of the most comprehensive sexual assault prevention programs in the country. Freshmen are inculcated in this as part of their orientation. Task forces, handouts, and the “Office of Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse” (SARA) exist to reduce the occurrence of unwanted sexual activity and rape on campus. But none of that can stop two drunk kids from being unbelievably stupid.
What would 14 years in prison do to prevent Turner from becoming a repeat offender? Nothing. It would in fact be simple retribution. Prison rape is common, so sentencing Turner to prison would be nothing but turning the tables on him: How does it feel to be raped, frat boy?
Turner’s statement to the judge highlights his personal torture. Certainly, one might think he’s only sorry because he was caught. Certainly, how could he ever prove his remorse, short of submitting to becoming a victim of prison rape? But that doesn’t mean he’s not genuinely tortured and guilt-ridden. Here’s an excerpt:
I would give anything to change what happened that night. I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [redacted]. It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. The thought of this is in my head every second of every day since this event has occurred. These ideas never leave my mind. During the day, I shake uncontrollably from the amount I torment myself by thinking about what has happened. I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with [redacted]. I can barely hold a conversation with someone without having my mind drift into thinking these thoughts. They torture me.
But let’s have a thought experiment. What if Turner finished his act, and those grad students never walked up on him. Is it possible that he could have experienced the same guilt and remorse if he had not have been caught? Or is he a monster? Yes, he had a previous arrest for underage drinking, and yes he had gotten himself into a drinking, drug, hook-up culture. Do those make him a monster? (If so, look at your own past and ask yourself the same questions.)
One decision has the potential to change your entire life. I know I can impact and change people’s attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student. I want to demolish the assumption that drinking and partying are what make up a college lifestyle I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone. But I never ever meant to intentionally hurt [redacted]. My poor decision making and excessive drinking hurt someone that night and I wish I could just take it all back.
I don’t believe Turner’s statement “I never meant to intentionally hurt [his victim].” At the point where he had enough consciousness to pull down her panties and pull out his own member, he intended to hurt her because she was incapable of anything at that point. But he missed the part that saves him. They both made a mistake that night.
Both he and his victim made decisions that changed their lives. They both drank too much. They both wish they could take it all back.
In less than six months, Turner will be out of jail (if his sentence is not reconsidered for political reasons), and he will be watched closely to see if his commitment to fight the party culture is genuine. While Turner will always be judged by society to be a rapist, his victim can safely claim he would be a rapist even if she wasn’t a victim. That’s not fair.
“Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked,” the victim wrote. “Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal.” So Turner’s amateur mistake should lead to him being raped in prison, because she made the same mistake. That’s vengeance, not justice.
Turner was convicted and sentenced. He will never achieve the dreams he entered college with. If he spends the remainder of his life being an example of where the alcohol-soaked party culture leads, is that not worth more than him receiving the vengeance for a thousand drunk college kids who got away with it?
Judge Persky seems to think so.