I’ve been avoiding the Brock Allen Turner story as much as possible for a couple of reasons. For one I’m under medical orders to reduce my stress and that shit ain’t helping but also, and I sometimes feel this is the larger reason, this is just another one of these stories. There’s nothing new here, it seems privileged white boys getting away with rape is a growth industry, especially if they are good at a sport.
But I saw something that I haven’t been able to shake. I was reading the limp dick response from Brock’s father Dan A. Turner, which was pathetic at best but in reality offensively irresponsible. What struck me was someone commenting in his defence “How would you feel if that was your son?” Truthfully I can’t really know how I would feel, but that is something I had already considered. I have taken the time to do the thought experiment of imagining my son in Brock’s position, guilty of raping a person.
As some of you know, many years ago I spent two weeks as a member of a jury responsible for passing judgement in a rape trial. It was an experience that changed me in a few ways. During the trial I had the uncomfortable duty of listening to a woman describe in detail, to a room full of strangers, the worst moment of her life. I had a “what if that was my daughter” moment, which is bullshit, she doesn’t need to be anyone’s daughter for this to matter. I just couldn’t stop my fear from taking over and worrying about the people I love. It’s a natural instinct, especially for me, but I’m aware of that and when I think these types of things I direct my thoughts in more rational directions. It reduces the fear and helps me focus on what is actually important. That’s when I looked at the defendant and thought “what if he was my son?”
I thought about that throughout the trial. At first I was doing it because I felt it necessary in order to give that man a fair trial, which is something I take very seriously, but as his guilt became apparent it made me realize my duty as a parent in a new way.
It’s very common to hear people say “I will always be proud of my kids.” Sorry but that’s bullshit. I will always love my kids, and while I’m generally very proud of them, there are plenty of times when I’m not. When they throw a tantrum, don’t do the dishes, get bad grades, the day before mother’s day when they haven’t remembered to get a card, these are all valid reasons to not be proud of your kids. Love should be unconditional but pride should not. Unconditional pride is meaningless, but worse than that it’s dangerous. If we are never disappointed in our kids how are they supposed to learn that there are limits to their behaviour?
Reading Dan A Turner’s comment on his son’s situation I was painfully aware of the reason Brock thought he could rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, his parents wouldn’t hold him accountable. Their concern for their own child obliterated any concern for other people.
This should be a story about respecting another human being but it’s turned into yet another tale of no one holding people accountable for their actions. I don’t want to see a young man go to prison, I don’t think prison will make Brock a better person, what I want to see is some fucking remorse. That’s what is missing from all of these stories whether is the Rehteah Parsons story, the Steubenville High school story or even the Trayvon Martin story. It doesn’t matter why people do things if they can’t look at their actions after the fact and say “I fucked up.” When Dan wrote that he’s worried Brock can’t enjoy a steak anymore I understood where Brock gets his priorities and life perspectives, and more importantly, I understand that those probably haven’t changed very much.
When I finished my duty on that jury, after I sent a man to prison and had time to process the experience, I talked to my son about it. I told him that I will always love him no matter what, and because of that I would hold him accountable if he ever did anything like that. I told him how difficult it was for me to be on that jury and how that was nothing compared to the difficulty that woman was going to carry for the rest of her life. It wasn’t an easy talk but being a parent isn’t easy, and it was far easier than living with the idea that my son could do something like that.
That’s what everyone should do right now. Before you scream your anger and frustration onto the internet, you must tell your kids that you will hold them accountable for their actions. Because people like Brock are everywhere, pretty much everyone reading this knows someone like him, even if you don’t realize it yet. The courts can’t protect us, and even if they could it would be after the fact, we need to stop this shit before it happens.
Dan A. Turner never thought he was raising a rapist, in that way he is no different than any of us. But he did raise one, not through action but through inaction. So be a parent and talk to your kids. Don’t make the same mistake Dan did.