Henry Rollins: The Steubenville Rape Case Is a Failure
For the last couple of hours, I have been thinking of the verdict that was reached in what is now known as the Steubenville rape case. Since all involved are minors, I won't use anyone's name. Two juvenile males were found delinquent of the charges and will be, as far as I understand, incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility until they are twenty-one years of age.
There is, I guess, cell phone generated video content of parts of the crime. It went "viral" on the internet and brought attention to the events. I got through a few minutes of it but was too disgusted to watch the rest. The case, the verdict and the surrounding circumstances open up a huge conversation.
These are a few of the things that I have been thinking about:
After reading several posts online, I was not surprised at the vast range of sentiments expressed. Many of the postings were of outrage that the two found delinquent were not tried as adults so they would face much longer sentences. You might not know, but in some states, this sentence would be decades long. Many of the posts spoke of the damage done to the victim and the life she will have now. One person suggested caning the two young men. Many others were angered at the deification of high school football players and how they often receive special treatment. You can read this stuff all day if you want.
After reading posts for quite awhile, I thought first about the two young men. I wondered if the years in the facility will "help" them. What, exactly does one "learn" in one of these places? That is to say, after five years locked away, does the idea of assaulting a woman seem like the wrong thing to do, more than if you were incarcerated for one year? Would you be "more sorry" about what you did? Is that possible? Or, would you just be more sorry for yourself about where your actions landed you? At what point do you get "better", how many years in one of these places does that take?
What made these young people think that that what they did was ok? What was in their upbringing, the information and morals instilled in them that allowed them to do what they did, minute after minute, laughing, joking, documenting it and then calling it a night and going home? Out of all the people who were witness to what happened, why wasn't there someone putting a stop to it?
What I am attempting to get at, and I apologize if I am not being clear enough, is that this is a failure on many levels. Parents, teachers, coaches, peers all come into play here. I am not trying to diffuse blame or lessen the awfulness of what happened, but I want to address the complexity of the cause in an effort to assess the effect so it can be prevented.
Some might say that the two teenagers going to the youth facility are as much victims as the young women who was assaulted. I do not agree. The two are offenders. What they did was obviously wrong. That being said, we cannot end the discussion at that point and expect things to change.