More than Just Saying “No”

In this challenging op-ed, James Moore explains why we should be taking a harsher look at sexual assault on college campuses.

Brock Turner was given only a few months’ jail sentence for his most heinous crime. It was a horrific, and rightfully infamous crime, and its effects on the victim (named Emily Doe out of respect for her privacy) will more than likely linger in her mind many years from now. Brock Turner was only given a figurative slap on the wrist by the courts. Six months for the crime of rape. Now you tell me: is there no longer a sense of right and wrong?

Now here am I, a white southern male born and bred largely ignorant of the dark face of the beast from an early age on. It wasn’t until middle school that I learned two things: one, that those around me held deep and malformed secrets eating away at their hope in the world; and two, that even those in my family were not above hiding the darkness in their lives. I knew quickly that men and women could harbor true mean-spiritedness towards one another. I just didn’t know it would be as bad as this, that sometimes the bad guys would be treated like royalty, punished lightly out of pretense but ultimately absolved for their sins.

Now, my life has been devoted to writing about truth as I see it. Originally I wanted my first article for the school paper to discuss something nice, to resemble something much more kindly so as to celebrate Christian joy. Yet I cannot be joyous, not when there is such an atrocity as this. Not when there is a dark underbelly to most kids’ honest-to-goodness college experience. Not while this is happening in my backyard.

Brock Turner got only a few months for the crime of rape. His victim must suffer for the crime of her attacker for the rest of her life, and he was granted a pardon of sorts. As a student at a Christian university I was taught this idea: that we are to grant dignity and compassion to one another — but where was the compassion here? When does the victim receive the burden of the actions of the culprit? At what point do we all wake-up and do something for once?

The unjust illogic of the short sentence in relation to the barbaric nature of the crime confounds and exasperates me. I was asleep for too long it seems; the good dreams turned promptly into a nightmare before I could get a handle on what was happening around me. There has been a harsh culture brewing for such a long time now, permeating throughout college campuses. Along these lines, the culture can be described like this: those who reap the most destruction receive the least punishment.

Consider the rock-god status that some of our most notorious serial killers receive at the hands of TV bulletins and tabloid journalists. Oliver Stone’s convoluted film Natural Born Killers may have been a disturbing movie but it did get one thing right — both the media and the world love a dark, juicy story that involves a wild bunch of depraved antiheroes. Now it’s one thing to try and find the Robin Hoods of the world and dissect their strange but quantifiable morality out of hope for something meaningful. Yet, when killers, rapists, and other evildoers get movie deals and bona fide fan clubs (look at Charles Manson), then you have to know that there’s something rotten in Denmark.

Brock Turner got just six months for rape. Six months. There are entire seasons of reality shows that run longer than that. And I, a white southern male who lives a degree or two outside of the melodrama of pain, rage, and chaos, cannot understand the eerie recklessness, the fierce dichotomy between the severity of the crime and the light sentence incurred. I start to wonder: if it were anybody other than a white guy of somewhat higher financial means who had done this, would he have so easily gotten off? The white guy in me shivers at the implications; the decent human being in me starts praying for the soul of America while the nation gently weeps.

According to a recent Huffington Post article, there was a study published in the journal Violence and Gender in which approximately one-third of male college students surveyed admitted they would engage in “forced intercourse with a woman” if they could get away with it — and yet the numbers significantly dropped when the word “rape” was entered into the equation. Are we so caught up in semantics that we forget the people that we’re hurting?

Kids in college should be free to pursue the greatest and most ambitious times of their lives. They are preparing to enter the real world and studying diligently just to leave their marks on the walkway of life. While we may not feel as threatened by this issue here at Regent, just outside our door there are people who are suffering from this. Basic human empathy should dictate that we reach out to those who have been victimized, help them the best that we can, and seek justice for all.

The American college scene is changing, and I don’t know how to go about changing the trajectory of the impact. But something has to be done before we all reach a tipping point beyond which we can never return.

College campuses are not meant to be havens of violence. We are better than this.

Those of you reading this, please consider the issue we are now up against. This is not the America we should be living in. If you value life, truth, and justice, then please don’t let this situation go unnoticed. While such horrific actions as these haven’t quite reached our shores here at Regent, still we cannot remain nonobservant spectators out on the sidelines. Nobody should be made to feel in danger — not inside the sacred learning halls of our colleges, not anywhere. For many this is a matter of life-and-death, an irrevocable memory once implanted and once it’s there it cannot be taken back.

Six months. Virtual leniency. This is an atrocity, and a mistake we cannot dare repeat.

Time to wake up America. The day is close at hand and we have classes to attend.

James Moore is a contriubtor to the Daily Runner.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by the Daily Runner or Regent University.

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