After taking in some of the outrage among friends over the seemingly sympathetic coverage CNN gave to two Steubenville, Ohio, teens convicted of raping a young girl, I decided to watch the specific report that generated all the fuss.
People are often conflicted over stories like this because the convicted are two kids who did what a lot of kids are capable of doing when they had too much booze. Reporters seemed heartbroken as one of the boys collapsed into the arms of his attorney after the guilty verdicts came down. “My life is over,” Ma’lik Richmond lamented to his lawyer. “No one will want me now.”
I just have a few points to make here:
- While most kids have it in them to rape a classmate when they’re loaded, it’s usually a small minority of kids who go through with it. For that reason, I have trouble feeling sympathy for these boys. Teenagers know rape is evil. These kids knew what they were doing, drunk or not.
- I don’t believe their lives are over. For starters, they’re getting off easy, spending one to two years in juvenile hall. True, they will forever be branded as sex offenders, but society will go easier on them because they were “stupid kids” at the time of their crime. They can absolutely turn their lives around and do something valuable, like standing up as examples of what kids should never do. They can go in schools across the country and help turn kids away from their darker instincts.
- Feel badly for these boys if you must. But if you don’t feel a lot worse for the girl who was raped, there’s something wrong with you. She has been damaged far more than those boys will ever know. She’s the only victim in this case.
- Feeling compassion for the convicted is all well and good. After all, no one should be happy that two teenagers are being locked away. But they did a crime and must be punished.
- Don’t let the booze factor cloud your mind. The boys may have been drunk, but they still knew right from wrong and chose wrong. And, for the love of God, don’t you dare suggest the girl had it coming because she was blasted. I don’t care how a woman dresses or how drunk she is. No one ever deserves to be raped.
In this case the justice system worked. It’s an unhappy thing. But it’s the right thing.