It’s very easy these days to connect with people on social media.
The Founding Fathers could never have anticipated the global expanse of technology, catapulting the ideal and exercise of freedom of speech into the hands and minds of millions upon millions of people across the globe every day. And yet, they would also appreciate how one word, one sentence can spark love or outrage over any given situation.
Look at the death Muhammad Ali. He was a global figure, larger than any boxing ring he ever competed in, and the love for him followed him until his death. His religious views and penchant for metaphors both alienated and drew people to him. Newspaper accounts, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages were ablaze with his image and famous quotes when he passed. Articles were written and shared. And past interviews were also viewable online. It’s an amazing time we live in, where we can live and relive history all at the same time, in a moment’s notice.
Look at Bill Cosby. Revered by millions, now his whole life’s work has been cut to shreds because of allegations of rape over 30 women. My whole perception of him has changed from a smart, funny and progressive thinker to a manipulative predator. I enjoyed his comedy and grew up watching the Cosby Show. But now, after watching interviews and investigative reporting shows, and reading news articles from former colleagues of his, I see a different side of him that he didn’t project to the masses or even to those closest to him. He showed this private side only to his victims behind closed doors, where he felt protected and in control in the most evil of ways. I feel for his victims, living with the harshest of sentences before he was ever even brought to justice.
And the latest in the news: Brock Turner, his father’s letter to the judge and the victim’s response. Social media has allowed people the freedom of expression, but it also has opened the door to being held accountable for that freedom of speech. In the Turner case, his father wanted to protect his son from a “20 minutes of action”. Guess what, Dad? What your son did to that woman was called rape, not “20 minutes of action”, as you so ignorantly stated. Put yourself in her parents’ place. What if it was YOUR DAUGHTER that was violated? What would you expect the law to do to protect her rights? Her life? Her future? Better yet, what if your SON was raped? Rape happens to men and women, but you probably didn’t know that.
The victim’s eloquent, tragic, and intelligent response to his letter and his son’s own testimony will go down in rape advocacy circles as a brilliant document worthy of court case precedent. Brock Turner’s victim has more grace, sensibility and intelligence than his father or the judge in this case. And we as media voyeurs can see clearly how each person in this case has been effected by the actions of Brock, the judge, the father and the victim. We have front row seats to the judicial system and how the warped thinking of male versus female social stereotypes interplays with court decisions for felony crimes against women.
Brock’s victim gave us a crystal clear picture of what she went through during her whole experience from the time of the assault to how her life was dramatically changed a year afterwards. Her words were poignant, revealing, heart wrenching and honest. Her letter was so disturbing to me both as a mother, a teacher, and a woman. She was the victim, and yet she still had to advocate for her own safety and well being, even after the assault and trial had taken place. She will continue to have to advocate for herself for the rest of her life. And that is the most tragic part of this whole awful “20 minutes of action”.
I hope Brock lives with the shame and guilt of his actions. And I hope Brock’s father reconsiders supporting his son’s inexcusable “20 minutes of action” against an incapacitated woman.
To post or not to post? If you goal is to educate and inform, post. If your goal is to protect your child from facing consequences, I’d highly reconsider.
image from Google images