What I Wonder about the Stanford Rape Case

It’s hard to describe how I feel about the Stanford rape case. Enraged? Baffled? Discouraged? Afraid? Incredulous?

(Short version: A young man, Brock Turner, raped an unconscious young woman. His defense attorney, Michael Armstrong, made the usual outrageous suggestions that she had it coming. The rapist’s father, Dan Turner, begged for leniency, citing, among other things, the young man’s future as an athlete and his embarrassment regarding the situation, claiming that the actions weren’t violent, suggesting that a jail sentence was too harsh a punishment for “20 minutes of action,” and even lamenting the fact that Brock is too distraught by his conviction to enjoy steak and his favorite snacks. When Brock received only six-month sentence from judge Aaron Persky, the courageous young woman delivered a powerful response.)

This, and so many other stories like it, both told and untold, make me wonder. Although the following scenario in no way compares to the atrocity of the Stanford case, I still wonder.

What if a young man were lying unconscious on the ground after a party?

Would it be acceptable to rob him of his wallet, his phone, and his keys? And then of his car, since you have his keys?

After all, it’s not as though he—being unconscious and all—ever said, “No, please don’t steal my belongings.” And when you eased the phone out of his pocket, his hand flopped in the direction of his vehicle. Wasn’t that tantamount to offering the car to you? In any case, since he never said no when you were robbing him, he must not have objected.

Maybe his T-shirt bore the name and logo of a charitable or religious organization. This was suggestive clothing. He chose to dress in a way that reflected a generous nature; the only logical conclusion would be that he was the kind of person who would willingly give his things away. And if he’s religious, he should forgive you on the spot. Otherwise, he should never have donned that shirt and sent the wrong message. Wearing shirts like that is just asking for it, placing a large burden of temptation on others that they cannot be expected to resist.

And then there’s his history of lending his car to people. He routinely lends it to his girlfriend, as it turns out, and he’s even lent it to people he doesn’t know very well. There’s that charitable nature again! If others have used his car, you are entitled to use it as well.

Your attorney learned that in his college days, this young man was irresponsible with money and was, for a time, in deep dept. If he, back in the past, didn’t have any regard for his money, why should you have regard for his money now? He should have been more careful, back in the past.

Maybe earlier that day you saw him flaunting his high-end phone. If he didn’t want someone to take it, he should have kept it hidden. What did he expect?

Of course, all of this could have been avoided had he not unconscious. When one is unconscious, one forfeits one’s rights to wallet, phone, keys, and car.

But enough about the actual victim. Let’s talk about your future as an Olympian, or as a musician, or as an accountant, or as someone who prefers to get on with life without a pesky jail sentence. Shouldn’t a family member write a letter to discourage the judge from inconveniencing you? After all, you’ve never done anything like this before. Don’t you get a freebie?

Besides, it was so embarrassing to be convicted. You can hardly eat the lasagna at your favorite restaurant anymore; you just pick at the salad croutons. Of course, the victim can’t even go to restaurants, since you took his money and he no longer has a car, but you? You’ve the one suffering.

Would the victim’s reputation be damaged? Would people avoid him and whisper: “That’s the guy whose stuff was stolen”?

Should he feel ashamed that you robbed him?

Should he feel ruined?

Should the onus be on him to prove that he didn’t deserve to be robbed?

Should one of your parents beg the judge for leniency, asking why you should pay for 15 seconds “of action” with years in jail?

And would the judge grant the leniency?

Does the very idea of this even seem ludicrous?

I’d like to think so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I’ve Learned the Hard Way, Parenting Edition

Recently Ace offered up a useful piece of advice: “If you ever pick up a toad and it seems extra squishy, be careful, because that means it’s about to pee on you. I had to learn this the hard way.”

When Sonny nodded sympathetically, Ace asked him if he’d ever had to learn anything the hard way. He had. Specifically: “When you are really tired and your eye is bleeding, don’t ride your bike, because you will crash it.”

(It’s good to learn from others’ mistakes, so everyone take heed.)

My sons wanted to know what sorts of things I’d learned the hard way. I paused, wanting to select the most useful example among so many. It’s best to tell the truth the first time? People who gossip to you will also gossip about you? Do what is right despite what other people think? You can’t pull words back in once you’ve unleashed them?

While I considered, Sonny and Ace wandered away. Perhaps they’d already learned the hard way that my particular expression was a portent of a boring tale.

But now I was thinking about things I’d learned the hard way during my eight-plus years of parenting, and of the many more that will come. Some plant deep regrets. Others may not be as harsh, but they’re still worth tucking away so as not to have to learn them a second time. Here are but a few of those:

  1. Parenting books never include enough disclaimers and may tempt the reader to take false hope in particular formulas.
  2. Never let your vehicle to be without something that can serve as an emergency barf bucket.
  3. The child who is seemingly talking to himself in the living room for 15 minutes may in fact be talking to a toad. (May it not be an extra-squishy one.)
  4. Telling your kids that your name is not But Mom will send them to the floor in homophone-induced hilarity. Also, they will still call you But Mom but now will probably laugh while doing so.
  5. To mention that the entire household has remained exceptionally healthy this winter is to invite trouble.
  6. The kid crafting the paper airplane from the church bulletin may suddenly launch it over the heads of fellow congregants, even if he has always previously kept these airplanes grounded.
  7. Not all root beer is caffeine free.
  8. The longer you wait to respond to the Sign-Up Genius for the school event, the more likely it is that you will end up providing chocolate spoons or cheesecake on a stick instead of ketchup or paper plates.
  9. It’s unwise to take one child to urgent care with strep-throat symptoms early on a Sunday without confirming that his brother, who is still abed, does not have similar symptoms. Making two back-to-back trips to urgent care feels very inefficient.
  10. If you get pulled over for going a wee bit over the speed limit with a three-year-old in the back seat, that three-year-old will proudly and with great relish rat you out to everyone he sees for the next two weeks.
  11. Failure to warn your kids from the get-go that the Tooth Fairy keeps an erratic schedule may require you to scrape up early-morning excuses for her unpunctuality.
  12. Despite best efforts, sometimes the hard way is the only way to learn.

What have you learned the hard way?