Spreading The Shame

My facebook feed has been awash with outrage over the Stanford University swimmer who raped an unconscious woman and how the legal system sorted that out in terms of crime and punishment.

Lots of commentary, like …

the victim’s

the rapist’s dad and a lot of supporters,

another dad

and the race thing.

pitchforkTime for pitchforks and torches?torch

My facebook feed had something else about the shadow over young Mr Turner’s life after he completes his probation. He is now a registered sex offender. Good luck getting a girlfriend and getting going in life beyond college. And thoughts like that. Does the guy have practically a life sentence, only just not in prison? And what makes the thought of prison so special for opponents of Mr Turner–that we will experience rape himself? Isn’t wearing a big red “R” on his CV sleeve enough?

When I was in college, I first met women who had been abused by family members or assaulted. In the years after, I dated or was a good friend to a few others. In my years of ministry, I have come to know a few more. Especially in the two campus parishes I’ve served over the years. As a husband and as a father of a college-age daughter, I have a likely bias against rapists. I never had a son, so I can’t speak to the experience of being on the offender’s side.

But as I think about this situation, I try to discern the potential for good in this. Aside from the venting on social media.

Is this a good shot at the culture of male privilege/white privilege/athlete privilege in society? That so many men, whites, and athletes have come out in the victim’s corner: this could be a helpful thing. And as much as I like to criticize social media for being at least as superficial as network tv, hundreds of thousands of people are aware of the dark stain on a university, on its athletics, on college sports in general, on people rich and white–especially parents, and on a particular young man who had a tragic, callous, and catastrophic lapse in judgment.

I have a difficult time seeing how restorative justice would work here. Our culture, and even our churches, just don’t have the virtue in us to do this, I think.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Spreading The Shame

  1. Lady Bird says:

    I think the catalyst for igniting the responses was the comment the rapist’s father made. I paraphrase because I don’t want to look it up. I’ve read enough. He called the rape something about the assault being “only 20 minutes incident. That’s what escalated the outrage as well as the light sentence. Nobody wants him to put a scarlet letter on him, from my perspective I want a public apology for demeaning all women with that statement and for the rapist to acknowledge the gravity of what he did. He has not only ruined his own life, he has ruined her future. She will be tormented for life and question herself. It’s quite the tragedy. It brought back memories of that young, privileged, wealthy Ted Kennedy who was also drunk at the time, his car went into a pond, and the girl he left behind in the car to die never got to tell her side of the story. His family’s money went on get him elected Senator, the darling of the Left!

  2. Melody says:

    Tragic and disturbing. The young woman’s commentary was heart wrenching. I assume the hospital would have tested her for so-called ” date rape” drugs; because that was the first thought i had when I read she had remembered opening a can of beer. It would have been so easy to drop something into it without her noticing. She said, and so many have commented, that her life is ruined. I really hope that isn’t true, that she doesn’t let it be true. I think of that old song, “One Bad Apple Don’t Spoil the Whole Bunch, Girl”. God’s grace is strong, so is the love of family and friends.

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