Roger Barnett seeks empathy and understanding with a man who has done the unspeakable.
This piece was originally posted at Equality for Women and Men, in reference to the recent arrest of a suspect in the rape and murder of Jill Meagher.
Recently you raped and then murdered someone. It seems you didn’t know them; it was late, they had been drinking and were walking home alone. You saw your opportunity and you took it. You got us all talking.
What happened? I’m not asking about the night in question; others will take care of that. What happened to you? How did you get to this point, that such an act seemed like a good idea? How did you learn that this is the value of life?
How did we fail, so totally, to give you the self-respect that you might then extend to others?
Perhaps you are the one that has been recently arrested; if so, the matter is before the courts and your fate will be decided. But either way, your life is ruined—it is unlikely you will ever love yourself, knowing what you have done. It is unlikely you will ever be free.
You know that you took her for your own use; you know you made her last hours hell, and you know you killed her. You surely know that the victim would have been loved by many people, and that those people are now experiencing various levels of agony. You are probably aware of the effects of your actions across the nation and the world. You have made many of us scared. You have hurt your brothers by creating a reason for us not to be trusted, and we desperately need that trust. You have hurt your sisters by devaluing them, and replacing freedom with fear.
What could we have done differently? What events shouldn’t have happened or, once done, should have been corrected? What events would you have liked to respond differently to, if you were given the opportunity? I very much doubt you were born to rape and kill—I am guessing that like most of us, you started with nothing but potential and innocence, but that somewhere along the line that changed.
If it is you that has been caught, you are not about to be rehabilitated. You are about to enter into a system that will take everything negative you’ve been taught, and teach it to you again, many times over. There is no real benefit in making you experience the hell that you imposed on her, but it’s the best we’ve got, and it’s going to happen regardless. If you want to move on from this, it’s going to take an astounding level of commitment and strength, and it’s going to have to come from you; if you take that path, you have my support.
There is something I would ask of you: Find within you what happened, and help us to know more about it so that others don’t have to experience what you have experienced. You deserve better, she deserves better, we all deserve better.
Know that it is not okay, what you have done, but also that I wish you luck, dear brother.
Photo—Rondo Hatton, public domain