True to form, in 2011 the Onion delivered some of the most honest news that you will find in media today. In grim humor an Athlete Overcomes Rape.
Fast forward to last week and watch Poppy Harlow’s CNN Coverage on the Steubenville Rape. Poppy caused a great deal of outrage with her comment, “These two young men who had such promising futures — star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart”. I have to say, part of me feels very sad for these boys. They did something irreversible and criminal, and now they have to pay for it. I really hope they learn their lessons. I hope that they have sincere remorse for their actions. I hope they learn right from wrong. But I have to stop and ask, what the f*ck was Poppy thinking as those words spewed out of her mouth? Does she not realize that a young girl was VIOLATED? This is completely irresponsible reporting. It’s the kind of comment that places blame on the victim for ruining the lives of these two boys… That is IT! That is why her comment was gnawing at my core. It’s not that she felt bad for the boys – who certainly committed a terrible crime. It’s that she seemed to be placing the blame on the victim.
Regardless of how much empathy I may have for the those two boys, what breaks my heart more is that a young girl was violated and people think it is OK… that she deserved it for being intoxicated. Personally, I don’t care if she drank herself to oblivion or not. They should not have had sex with her, taken pictures, plastered them all over social media and then chastised her. Furthermore, why didn’t anyone do anything to stop this? How many kids stood by and watched as these boys sexually assaulted an unconscious girl, also taking pictures and posting all over social media? I’ve read numerous posts and tweets calling the victim a slut and a whore. My question is, how can you be a slut or a whore if you did not consciously decide to have sex? Think about it… if you were kidnapped, knocked unconscious and your assailant forced drugs into your system, would you then be a drug addict? Of course not. When blaming is more important than morality, empathy and respect, we have taken the “human” out of human beings.
When someone is incapacitated, where is our consciousness? Where is our empathy? Where is our humanity? I don’t know about you, but when I see people hurting other people, I am compelled to do something… and I have.
Many people think that if a person is intoxicated, then they were “asking” to be raped. Let’s make one thing very clear. It’s is NEVER OK to take advantage of another person. It is NEVER OK to violate another human being… especially when they are incapacitated. It is NOT OK. NOT EVER. PERIOD. Now if you want to dig deep, we all have taken advantage of another person at some point in our lives. As we are growing up, learning right from wrong, we may have been mean to someone who really likes us because we knew we could get away with it, for example. When we see people doing wrong, we need to lead by example and teach our children not only to be able to identify it, but also to do something about it. This is where parenting and community come to play. We are supposed to teach our children basic morals, values and ethics, and we should lead by example.
More and more often, parents are afraid to parent. More and more often, we are more and more detached from our communities. Human beings were made for community. I want to know what have these boys’ parents… and society forgotten to teach them? There is no manual for being a parent, and I know that you can’t be responsible for every single decision that your child makes, but there are basic principals that you ingrain in your child from birth. I have made countless mistakes as a mother, and yet I have always taught my kids to be compassionate, empathetic and kind. As a disfunctioning society, every year we become more and more isolated from each other. We are failing as a society if we are incapable of identifying wrongdoing or helping someone in need. When teenagers cannot identify that a serious violent crime is happening before their eyes… that is horrifying.
So what are our lessons from this case?
- We need to teach our children right from wrong
- We need to stand up in the face of adversity to do what is right
- It is NEVER ok to violate someone because they are intoxicated
- If we want to survive as human beings, we need to start being more humane
- We need to teach from example basic values, such as courage, empathy, respect, integrity and care
They say that empathy can’t be taught. I don’t know that I agree with that. I think that if we grow up in an environment where people show kindness, love and empathy, our children will in fact learn those very things.