Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Steubenville - How to deal with compassion.
Steubenville is a town divided by opinion on this case. Which is hard to get your head around. These two boys, with a group of friends, raped a 16 year old girl. They held her arms and legs down and violated her whilst filming it. Nothing can ever excuse you of that crime. 

Nameless, faceless 'Jane Doe' has become a target for victim blaming. She has no public profile, to supporters of Mays and Richmond she's just a dumb slut who got too drunk at a party and cried to mommy when she realised what had happened. CNN does not care about her promising future or the 'lasting effects' of a young girl being degraded, humiliated and raped 'essentially'. 

If your names are 'Candy' & 'Poppy' you should be automatically disqualified from presenting the news.

This video should be a warning. It should be a bright flashing light saying 'don't do this!'. Instead it has immortalised these two young men as victims themselves. It is a source of tragedy and emotion that has these two news presenters gushing about the 'star football players' an their 'promising futures'. They are more concerned with the effects on these boy's lives than the justice done or the severity of the crime. 

It's hard to watch those two boys being sentenced. It is truly awful to see the visceral display of Richmond's guilt, regret, hurt and pain as he speaks to his victims family. But he deserves to feel like that. There is nothing wrong with feeling compassion for these boys. Moreover, I truly believe compassion is what keeps us fair minded and sane. I don't believe these boys are evil. They made a huge, fucking stupid, mistake. Richmond broke down in court and exclaimed "my life is over, no one is going to want me now". We know they will pay for this long after they serve their time. 

It's easy to be swept up with the emotional nature of the sentencing. They key is to not let that compassion consume you and remember that 'Jane Doe' is a victim who spoke up about a crime that goes largely unreported. I know countless women who have had men force themselves upon them or been in a sexual situation they were not comfortable with and have felt like there was nothing they could do. She should be commended for her bravery. The legal system should be praised for seeing justice done.

I'm going to leave this post slightly mooted because the whole story depresses me. The young girl who has to try and get back to a normal life after this horrendous incedent, the two boys with destroyed futures, the biased reporting and the abhorrent messages of support and victim blaming seen on various social networks.. The only silver lining seems to be the outrage that is appearing on twitter, blog sites and news stories, speaking out against victim blaming and the misplaced sympathy. I hope that this outrage inspires a change in attitude and enlightens those who still think 'she was asking for it'. 

Interesting reading on this story can be found here:

How blogger helped the Steubenville rape case unfold online - Jennifer Preston

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