Our judicial system is broken. But violence isn’t the answer.
There’s no debating the way our judicial system has handled the Brock Turner case is beyond tragic.
I’ve quite literally owned my mascara longer than that man spent in jail for raping a woman, a fact that isn’t even contested. There are witnesses. The crime isn’t in doubt. But apparently raping a girl only warrants a six month sentence – three months of which were suspended for “good behavior”. Guess it’s lucky for us prisons aren’t co-op and he wasn’t able to find another girl to rape. Would’ve put a real crimp in his good behavior plan.
Brock was released on August 30, and the only grain of hope I have for humanity is how outraged the general public has been about his preferential treatment. There were rallies at the prison he was released from, and his parents’ neighbors in Ohio have been made well aware of the fact a registered sex offender is living on their block by way of armed protestors posting themselves at his house, sporting signs that read ‘Shoot your local rapist’.
This protest brings together an odd and interesting intersection of people. On the one hand, Turner’s crime has clearly enraged the population who believes that rapists – and this rapist in particular – deserve actual punishment for their crimes. This is often seen as a liberal viewpoint for reasons that astonish me; it seems to me that in 2016 we should all agree on the fact that rapists deserve to be punished for said rape, however the continued idiocy of Turner’s own father in his belief that his son has been unjustly punished for “20 minutes of action” shoots that theory down pretty cleanly. And on the other hand, exploiting their right to bear arms scoffs in the face of the anti-gun movement.
It’s easy to see the appeal behind wanting to murder someone who’s escaped justice. Movies and books are made of the stuff of revenge. A man’s daughter was attacked so he takes to the streets to get the justice the courts denied him. Heck, that’s how the first Godfather movie starts. He asks the Don to have his men murder those who hurt his daughter.
We’re a revenge based society. When someone commits a crime, we typically frame their sentence based on giving back as good as they got. Advocates of the death penalty often cite “an eye for an eye”. But this is a highly flawed attitude. By this notion then, would not the parents of the executed have the right to murder the jury members who passed the sentence, or the judge who signed the order? Would their loved ones then have the right to murder these murderers? There’s a reason why the full version of that particular phrase is “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
Seeking a ‘people’s justice’ for those who wrong us isn’t the answer. The Hungarian camerawoman who tripped and kicked fleeing refugees earlier this year is a reprehensible human being, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to have the $20,000 hit some groups have banded together on Facebook to put on her head in exchange for her murder.
What criminals deserve is legal justice. Brock deserved to have serious jail time in addition to the sex offender status he’ll carry with him for the rest of his life. He deserved to not be coddled by judges more worried about the impact a long sentence would have on his sporting achievements.
What he doesn’t deserve, is murder or execution. Much like setting up laws based on religious beliefs, it sets a dangerous precedent. What if the next person in charge of upholding these regulations decides you deserve to be murdered? Did gaming vlogger Anita Sarkeesian deserve to have death threats that literally forced her to flee her own home for daring to express a strong opinion in a male-dominated online space? Who gets to decide who lives and dies now? And more importantly, how does any of this fix the fundamental problem: the way our justice system deals with sex offenders?
We need to ask ourselves if we want a judicial system based on revenge, or one based on justice. Revenge may briefly satisfy our bloodlust; but justice does something far different, and more meaningful.
I understand the complete lack of faith in the judicial system; believe me, I do. As a survivor of sexual assault I know how much the system is determined to keep victims quiet, and as the Turner case proves, even in scenarios where your rape isn’t constantly called into question, odds are excellent that unlike someone arrested for drug possession, your rapist will be allowed the opportunity to rape and victimize others in the very near future, if they’re even arrested to begin with.
So protest against the injustice. Join the many online petitions circling to have legal loopholes allowing sex offenders to receive light sentences eradicated, hell, start your own. And speak out against the insidious sexual microagressions that feed rape culture whenever you can. We should never let criminals like Brock Turner escape from who they are and what they’ve done, especially not while they’re making “pity me” statements about how hard their life is now.
But don’t try to match violence with more violence.
There’s a good reason why The Godfather‘s Don Corleone refuses to murder the men who injured Bonasera’s daughter, insisting, “That is not justice.” Because it isn’t.
Image via twitter.com.
Comment: How would you like to see the justice system deal with sex offenders?