- A rapist is released from prison for “good behavior”.
- An NFL player refuses to stand for the National Anthem in an act of protest.
So, I take it we’ve all heard about these things. I know I have about 30 Facebook friends who do nothing but post graphics about these issues and it really makes me want to unplug from social media. It’s not that I don’t want to hear about these things, I do. What I’m sick of are people going online and acting as if posting a bunch of memes accomplishes anything. Today, if you are outraged by something that you see in the media, you click ‘share’ and write a few sentences about how horrible it is. “Point and click” has replaced “action”. You’re not raising awareness of a famous athlete’s actions. You’re not making someone aware of a rapist beating the system. We all know this is happening.
So, what’s next? Well, if all you’re doing is keeping yourself angry for the next injustice to show itself, which these days will happen in relatively short order, good for you. You’ve raised your blood pressure and given the people around you the illusion that you’re some sort of online quasi-activist. For those of us who actually want to see a change, then read on.
What could possibly change things for the better? Well, you essentially have two choices;
- You can take some kind of action to try and make these situations better.
- You can keep complaining on Facebook, take your digital placebo and wait for the next outrage.
What actions can you take? Well, in the issue of the NFL player, you can either boycott the NFL on principle, you can write to the player and express your views to him directly (provided you are angry at HIM) or if you agree with him, you can videotape the police when they exercise their powers in front of you, you could livestream it to Facebook for example. You could write letters to your police station’s Internal Affairs department (most major cities have them). Will you get thrown in jail? It’s a possibility. But, enough of these things happening will change things. They’ll change the way society at large looks at the issue of police brutality and law enforcement overreach. It might even get them to the point where they might do something about it.
As far as the act of protest itself, namely him not standing during the national anthem and everyone getting all bent out of shape about it, I don’t understand how someone could be bothered about an act of protest while living in a country whose existence began as an act of protest. It doesn’t disrespect the troops or anyone who fought for this country, because THIS is what they fought for. They fought for the right for every American to express themselves however thy see fit. Saying that what he did is wrong is disrespecting those who fought for this country.
In the case of the rapist, well, what’s done is done. He will live his life unbothered by the fact that he raped an unconscious woman. Fair enough. He’ll do 3 years probation and have to register as a sex offender. Doesn’t seem very fair to me, but it is what it is.
However, some positive results have occurred because of this. As a result, the California Legislature sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown that will mandate tougher sentences in cases where the victim is unconscious or severely intoxicated and thus unable to resist. Turner would have faced three years behind bars under the law. Do I think this is far enough? No. In my opinion, you rape someone, you do at least ten years. Period.
What can you do about this? Well, start with being an ear to lean on when someone you know has had this happen to them. Volunteer with crisis centers, suicide hotlines (a lot of calls made to suicide hotlines are made due to rape trauma), write letters to legislative bodies to increase the penalties for rapists and their acts. There’s a million things you can do, both directly or indirectly.
As far as Brock Turner, in my personal opinion, I’m not worried about it. Karma is a bitch and he’s living on borrowed time.
Whether it’s Brock Turner, Judge Persky, Colin Kaepernick or whoever else, we have a larger problem here. We have a cultural problem of violence and entitlement. We have an issue with police officers using violence to keep people in line. Granted, some of these people are legitimately resisting arrest, most aren’t. Just this morning, I learned of another episode of the police arresting and detaining without cause and instead of being outraged, I smiled. The two men who were arrested were an ACLU organizer and a Wisconsin State Representative.
They were released without being charged with anything. Want to know why? Because they had the means to fight back.
So do you.
So do we all.
Our means to fight back is accountability. Holding the abusive police officers accountable, getting them out of public service and distinguishing their actions from the actions of the officers doing their best to serve the public is the way to solve this. Holding rapists accountable for their acts, removing them from our culture and distinguishing their actions from the normal acceptable behavior is the way to solve that.
Those who cannot conform to the societal norms we’ve established as human beings do not deserve the right to live within that society.
Having a gun and a badge does not automatically make you a super hero. It makes you someone who should have to exercise higher standards than those without the means to easily detain and (in certain cases, legally) kill another human being. Thankfully, those people are a minority and most police officers are the men and women I was brought up to respect.
The basic problem we have is that we talk too much and listen too little. We resort to violence when we have civil discourse available. We make each other bleed when we should make each other understand. Failing that, we don’t agree to disagree. We’re brought up in a competitive atmosphere that says, “Our views are irreconcilable and mine is right” and meanwhile we discard the things that make us useful and special. Our views and ways of life can exist side by side without the need to resort to violence.
If someone thinks that violence is a solution, then they are the problem.
- Brock Turner, an entitled white kid accepting of violence, is the problem.
- Colin Kaepernick, a football player who committed an act of protest is not the problem.
- The police officer who guns down an unarmed black child, is the problem.
- The police officer who speaks up to administration in an effort to make a change, and gets fired, is not the problem.
It’s time to be specific about what the problem truly is. If you share things on Facebook and honestly feel like you’ve done your part, then congratulations…
…you’re part of the problem, too.
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Photo: Getty Images