I have to put myself on Injured Reserve for the evening; I worked for about 12 hours on Sunday (woo! Spring Breaaaaaaaak!) and my eyes cannot handle the additional hour it would take to make a proper post. You will have to do most of the heavy lifting today.

A friend of mine went to Steubenville this weekend to see the verdict (I don't think terms like "verdict" and "guilty" apply to juvenile court, but for simplicity's sake we should feel free to use them). I suspect that she went prepared to flip out over the two accused boys being let off with a slap on the wrist. Shockingly, they appear to have received an actual punishment. Foremost, even more serious than the time they will spend incarcerated, is that they are registered sex offenders for life. Good. For reference, people who do not wish to be registered sex offenders can follow the easy step of not committing sex crimes.

How screwed up is it that the verdict still surprised a lot of us, given that there was an absolute mountain of evidence against them?

In case you missed it, CNN was pretty broken up about those poor boys and the verdict against them. While I doubt any of us want to have the rest of our lives defined by the worst decision we made at age 16, the media might bother to remember that the "real victim" is the victim and the brazenness of everyone involved in committing this crime is shocking enough to preclude sympathy.

29 thoughts on “ONE EASY STEP”

  • The last time I was this surprised by a legal outcome, it was when the Freeh Report came out and actually went after Penn State and Paterno with both fists swinging. Usually Freeh is the guy you call when you need something whitewashed. Neither legal surprise was a patch on the biggest of 2012 – John Roberts voting to uphold the ACA.

    The next time someone ask me "so what is rape culture, anyway?", I'll just point them to that CNN segment. Those poor boys!

    Speaking of the rapists, check out the quotes they offered after the verdict. “I would truly like to apologize to [girl's name], her family, and the community. No pictures should have been sent around, let alone taken,” Mays told the courtroom.

    He thinks the mistake he made was tweeting camphone pics and not, y’know, the whole rape thing. Nice. Lesson learned – the next time his buddies decide to gang-rape a roofied teenager with a bunch of household objects, they’ll make sure everyone puts their cameras away first.

    And this would have quietly slipped under the waves without even a ripple if a couple of semi-local bloggers hadn't gotten ahold of the story and worked it until the NYT got ahold of it. Women's rights still have a looooooooooooong way to go.

  • Did the boys ever cry BEFORE the verdict was read?
    I'm 1000% sure they learned nothing from this. They got upset when they realized their own lives were fucked up for life, they have probably never realized that their actions did that to someone else. They have fucked their own lives up and probably the lives of their families and that's all they think about. They are sad about their own fate, but probably not for the person they may have irrevocably harmed.

  • I consider their crime as worse than a random attack, what they did was pre-meditated, planned, and executed according to said plan. All they needed was a victim. Oh, not to mention, does anyone actually believe this was their FIRST such attack? I HIGHLY doubt it. Friggin' jocks…

  • I'm not going to defend CNN here, but I will say that the anger over the verdict has been pretty over-the-top.

    There's a reason we don't treat juveniles like adults (99% of the time) in the legal system. There are many very good reasons, actually.

    My sympathies lie with the girl who was raped and her family, but seriously guys — drawing and quartering these two teenagers seems to be the only thing that would satisfy a lot of people out there.

    Go after the coach and the school administrators and the townies who allowed this rape culture to thrive.

  • Oh but don't you see? They played FOOTBALL, which is very important in America and in their town as well, if I remember correctly. This means they should be held to different standards than the rest of us!

    I'm not sure anyone else is going to remember this, but there was this fellow named Jake Plummer who played for ASU in the late 90's or 2000(I can't remember the exact time). He was the darling of the local media but one night he assaulted several women at some night club. He goosed several of them in the club and he kicked one in the leg when she confronted him about it. In my naive youth, I came to believe that this would be the end of his career. WRONG! He went on to play for the Cardinals and was praised as "Jake the Snake" Plummer by the local media. Anyone who wasn't a professional athlete would have been convicted of multiple counts for assault and registered as a sex offender.

  • "Anyone who wasn't a professional athlete"

    If you change "professional athlete" to "rich white male" I'd agree.

    Michael Vick certainly didn't get off lightly.

    Kobe Bryant almost went to jail for a very long time for something he didn't do.

    And not to throw gasoline on a fire, but Mike Tyson did not receive a fair trial when he was accused of rape.

    "Scary black guys" don't get a pass in America, even if they're professional athletes.

  • I agree but I remember the Kobe case and I think he got a much better treatment in the media than that which an ordinary black male would have received.

    But in the end there is white privilege, which means that when all things are equal, the white guy is usually going to get better treatment.

  • I suppose it's a bit sad when people willfully throw away their futures, of course when one considers precisely how these idiots went about that process, I'm not sure I can muster any sympathy for them. The girl they raped seems like someone CNN should probably be a little more concerned about, but CNN hasn't been worth much for some years.

  • I haven't seen a lot of anger, wetcasements, so much as joyous disbelief that a guilty verdict was passed down.

    Being tried as juveniles was probably advantageous to the outcome, in that I'm not so sure that a jury would have taken the same view of the facts of the case. Juries take an intensely punitive view of women complainants who were drunk (or even tipsy) when they were raped.

    I agree with you that rape culture should be challenged, although everywhere, rather than just in Steubenville. We could start by locating the problem, which isn't, as per the Judge's comments, either drinking or social media, but women's inequality. Proactively teaching children and young people that women and girls are not a subordinate class of human beings, and that sex should always include enthusiastic consent, would be a nifty place to start.

  • I didn't have a very high opinion of high school football players back when I was in high school – and it certainly hasn't improved since then.

  • FMGuru: you are exactly right. If you read the local Steubenville paper and follow the situation on Twitter, a lot of folks are angry that the 12-minute video of a bunch of boys violating an unconscious woman was used as evidence. How DARE the boys' own words and actions be held against them? Why, they're FOOTBALL HEROES! Them bragging about it on social media is just boys being boys! How tacky of people to present evidence, when obviously FOOTBALL HEROES should be exempt from any nay-sayers. (Next time this goes down, the perpetrators will be careful to hide the evidence.)

  • c u n d gulag says:

    I, too, was glad when I heard the verdict.

    Having taught in a Maximum Security Prison, normally I feel terrible for anyone except the most hardened of sociopaths who ends up in a prison.

    Having said that, these two didn't exactly show a ton of remorse at what they'd done – and maybe that's almost as much the fault of the community, as it is theirs – but some genuine remorse would have been appreciated.

    Hopefully, they will learn some lessons, and be rehabilitated when they come out, at the age of 21, and will lead productive lives.

    And if they're not rehabilitated, I'm pretty sure Wingnut Welfare will be happy to help them out.
    After all, they're "victims" – and if there's one thing we've learned with Modern Conservatism, it's that they LOOOOOVES them some "victims," since they all feel like "victims."
    And besides, the Conservatives need some young misogynistic sociopaths, to replace the old misogynistic sociopath's, who are dying off.

    As for CNN, it has sucked for over 20 years – and getting worse every day.
    And I think it's no coincidence, that that's about the same time they added Wolf Blitzer.
    FSM, he's FOX caliber cringe-worthy.

  • @ wetcasements: Alternatively, one could argue that A. Bryant did, in fact, avoid both trial and punishment (and may in fact be less than legally guilty), B. Tyson's accuser was a black woman, a section of the population even more subjugated/ignored than black men, and C. Michael Vick was openly, admittedly guilty of being a piece of shit, so fuck him.

    But that being said, you're probably right–the media pays attention to what its viewers want (the easy narrative of the Scary Black Man), and the justice system pays attention to what the media chooses to make important, so, yeah, it happens, and it shouldn't. Seriously, though: Fuck Michael Vick, and don't hand me that whole "it's a cultural thing"; so is Southern racism–that excuse doesn't fly on all matters.

    As for the two young men convicted in this case–others have made the point that their attitude of non-remorse is hardly unique in this case. Our culture doesn't 'get' rape, it seems to me–the prevailing attitude amongst those who would prefer to overlook what these young men did is "What's the big deal? Nobody's *dead* or anything! She's fine! Bad stuff happened, but come on–she's *fine*, look at her!"

    It's important to remember that we have a proud tradition of Puritanism and Puritan misogyny in our culture–"hurt feelings" are to be ignored, and "she probably wanted it, the wicked temptress" excuses way too much. Since horrific trauma is not immediately apparent to the insensitive eye, it's all too easy to dismiss rape victims with "just get over it–it was a bad thing that's over now, so just move on–you're *fine*."

    And that, by the way, is why Republican legislators really had no problem yammering on about rape–it's really just a matter of "hurt feelings," and thus no big deal. Unless the woman gets pregnant, in which case it's actually a blessing!

    Now I have to go throw up for the rest of the day.

  • @Cundgulag–isn't it funny how the wingnuts are always blathering about "taking RESPONSIBILITY"…until it comes to themselves, and then they're all the victims of a terrible, huge conspiracy out to get them? Palin wasn't scorned because she was a craven, proud ignoramus with a mean streak–oh, no, people hated her " 'cuz she's HAWWWT!"

  • Okay, I've been up all night, so I might not be thinking clearly, but high school football players who couldn't find consensual sex? Should they be allowed to reproduce?

  • @Tim; they could find consentual sex; that wasn't the issue at all. They felt completely entitled to abuse the girl because their entire lives they'd been taught they were entitled to do anything they wanted to do. According to what Anonymouse unearthed, the one football player became enraged when the girl broke up with him, so he cooked up a plan to drug her and humiliate her publicly, got his friends involved, and got one of the girl's "friends" to help get her in a position to drink the drugged drink, at which point she passed out and became fodder for their sick revenge.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Don't get me started on Sister Sarah, the Simpleton Saint of Siska, please.

    Because Bill Kristol got a rare boner without torture video's being displayed, she came too close to being one heartbeat, a bad piece of fish, a pretzel nugget as choking-hazard, or a cancerous mole, away from being the POTUS.

  • What you all are tiptoeing around is that as far as I can see, what the boys did doesn't constitute "rape" for a whole lot of people, and not just in Steubenville. I guess it's only statutory if (a) the guys involved are old (and preferably politically offensive to the Morality Players), and (b) the girl involved isn't "asking for it". Otherwise, it's just "hey; kids, you know?". It's odd how that works, and it's not just a "white, privileged" thing, either. Remember the Kennedy brouhaha? ("Which one?" you may well ask). I recall an unsavory incident a few years back at a local private school where a 15-yr-old was filmed having a lot of hard-core fun (consensually, fwiw) and the video started making the rounds. The school involved has always seemed unusual to me in that although a number of parents feel the only rule is 'wealth makes right', the school administration has made extra efforts to disabuse the kids of this attitude, largely successfully; the boy involved was summarily dismissed despite a lot of disbelieving growling from the outraged parents. The headmaster involved was a bit later also summarily dismissed, but apparently for unrelated reasons. The boy presumably ended up at one of the other private schools in the area which understand that money=morality. Where I grew up, that would have been just kids at play, other than the filming, and it looks like this attitude has absorbed the idea that becoming incapacitated removes all questions of consent. I'd be interested to see the public reaction if the same videos turned up, but with the girl's part being played by some hapless boy from a well-connected family.
    The point is, the kids were just being kids – stupid, group-thinking and thoughtless. They should have been trained growing up to understand that this is Not Done. The parents and the community get their full share of the responsibility too. Hell, look at the news and the public media; this crap has become pretty openly acceptable in our modern neo-Puritan, neo-Pharaseeic society. Girls and women who act normal become sluts and whores who can (and should) be treated brutally. We're still a very sick society, and I blame these "Inverted Christianists" who play such a large role in things. "Satan" could ask for no better minions. Anyway, I'm assuming that each other outraged commenter here has also written a short, pithy letter to their local infotainment rag. There's always the chance it will be published, and that's one of the best ways to connect to a whole lot of us. Otherwise, it's mostly GOP-speak without a countervoice.

  • @Anonymouse:

    Wow! They drugged her drink and planned this whole thing! I thought they were just predator/ low life scumbags. This is sociopath behavior, it makes my old picture of these guys look like they choirboys.

  • @JohnR, no, they were not just "kids being kids". They weren't hanging around the local convenience store begging people to buy them beer, or staying out past curfew smoking cigarettes….they planned, drugged, and assaulted a young girl repeatedly over the course of a night, dragging her near-lifeless body from house to house while the enabling adults supplied them with alcohol and looked the other way.

    They should have gotten more than juvie; they should have gone to adult prison. Had they not been football players, that's exactly what would have happened to them.

  • This is both a good and bad situation: good in that the young "football heroes" were held accountable for their actions and.bad that some folks think they should be held accountable at all.

    What is not surprising is that we have a two (or multi) tiered system of justice. We have always had one, except that the groups that end up with preferential treatment occasionally change.

    This verdict, while unsatisfying to some, is progress in the right direction.

  • After all my rage and disgust and disbelief, I want to add how thankful I am for handheld recording devices. Sexual assault is so often a hidden crime that people's assumptions and imagined scenarios filled in the gaps according to audience predisposition — rarely well.

    When people started recording their own and others' exploits, it became a lot harder to pretend it didn't happen, it wasn't rape, it was consensual, she didn't fight…all that BS. Prejudices are (slowly) being addressed, the ignorant are (slowly) being educated.

    Random question: are the young fools who post their ignorant judgments in public arenas less likely to reverse themselves (i.e., get informed and behave accordingly) because they feel they must stand by prior (stupid) public statements? People seem really comfortable making idiotic rants, but I don't see the tidal wave of opinions changed by on information, education, and evolving values.

  • ladiesbane said:

    Random question: are the young fools who post their ignorant judgments in public arenas less likely to reverse themselves (i.e., get informed and behave accordingly) because they feel they must stand by prior (stupid) public statements? People seem really comfortable making idiotic rants, but I don't see the tidal wave of opinions changed by on information, education, and evolving values.

    "Trolls will be trolls"

  • drawing and quartering these two teenagers seems to be the only thing that would satisfy a lot of people out there

    "Hello? Anheiser-Busch? Um, I was wondering if I could rent 4 of your Clydesdales. Yes, one day should be sufficient…."

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    In some states, public urination where no one (or maybe no one but a cop) even sees your willy can be a lifetime registration sex offense, as can jacking off in a porno theater where no one (not even a cop) sees any actual penis. How do you feel about that?

Comments are closed.