Monday, March 18, 2013

Social Change... Sometimes You Don't Even Realize it's Happening

The judge issued the verdict, guilty. Two teens were convicted of raping a 16 year old girl. Several factors came into play. The girl was extremely intoxicated; she had no recollection of the night until she woke up naked the next day. She later saw a photo from that night and viewed a You Tube video in which a student joked about the rape. 

Certainly social media's glimpses into the events of that night, such as text messages and  photos of the girl being carried by her ankles and wrists, played a large role in determining the verdict.In the past, such cases were often characterized as "he said, she said" as testimony was colored by each party's own perspective. With today's omnipresent texting and digital photos, there was evidence to corroborate testimony. 

The biggest social change however is the guilty verdict. Yes alcohol was involved, yes this was an out-of-control party, yes bad decisions were made by all the youth at the party...but the court ruled that the two boys's actions were criminal behavior. This type of incident is nothing new, but in the past such cases almost seemed as if  the victim, not the assailant,  was on trial. Why was she dressed that way? Why was she intoxicated? Shouldn't she have anticipated this could happen given her state? Yes the news reports of the Steubenville case indicated the victim was intoxicated (and she suspects she may have been drugged), but these reports have focused not on the victim, but on the choices and the behaviors of the assailants...and they were held accountable for their actions. No excuses.

The two high school football players may also have been intoxicated, but they made choices. If they'd gotten into a car, drove drunk and killed someone, they would be held accountable. It seems we're applying the same standards to the crime of rape.  It's about time.

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