Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The father of the Stanford University rapist has let his son down badly

When you become a parent you vow to do your best by your child. Most of the time this involves 'affirmative action' such as praising them and using encouraging words. At other times parenting involves what I term as 'non-affirmative parenting'. When your child does something wrong you chide them.

You do this because your role as a parent involves the heavy responsibility of preparing your child to become a citizen of the world. The two parenting styles - affirmative action and non-affirmative parenting - comprise a circle of holistic parenting.

Unless you live in a cave with your child, where the only other beings that he/she will come across are wild animals which demands corresponding behaviour from your children for self-preservation purposes there is really NO REASON to conflate good parenting with negative action. You would only do this if you genuinely don't give two hoots about your child turning out to be a rival to Damian from the Omen trilogy.

The father of the Stanford rapist has spectacularly done his son wrong by conflating the two parenting styles. He has sought to wholly excuse his son's criminal actions in a letter that he wrote to the presiding Judge. This letter is believed to have been one of the factors leading to a much shorter sentence being given to the rapist.

The son, Brock Turner aged 20, was convicted of raping a young woman behind a dumpster in the grounds of Stanford University in January 2015. (I won't bother referring to him by his name from here on, 'rapist' will suffice.) The woman whose identity is unknown to preserve her privacy was unconscious throughout the ordeal. Thankfully the ordeal was cut short by two students of the university who happened to come by and immediately suspected that something was not right. They held the rapist down till the police arrived.

The rapist appeared in Santa Clara County Court and was given a 6-month jail sentence. His father, Dan Turner, referred to the rape, a criminal act, as "20 minutes of action". The contents of the letter are so pathetic that I am just going to do an abbreviated cut and paste job below from a fuller transcript which can be found here.

"As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th.  He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile.  His ever waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression.  You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite.  Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself.  I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite snack for him. I had to make sure to hide some of my favorite pretzels or chips because I knew they wouldn’t be around long after Brock walked in from a long swim practice.  Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist.  These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways."

A father who condones criminal activity should be made to attend some sort of parenting or moral instruction class to get his own sense of right and wrong righted. There is something seriously lacking in this father's judgement and this is evident from the way he seems to view his rapist son as a young child who is not able to take responsibility for his actions. For goodness sake, his son is a criminal and this father's concerns centre around food! Notice how the last line blames the verdict and not his son's actions.

"His life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.  That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. "

This fantasy of a supposed great life ahead has been ruined by his son's own actions. This is the sort of letter (in tone, NOT substance) that I write when pleading with my daughter's school to let her off the hook for not doing a piece of homework. Contrast the seriousness between forgetting homework and a criminal act. The father's words are devoid of any understanding of morality or culpability.

"Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.  By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results.  Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way."

In British parlance, this father is having a laugh isn't he? What on earth could the rapist offer in the way of positivism if he cannot even recognise the seriousness of his own actions? Reading deeper into this paragraph, the father seems to be suggesting that alcohol consumption by women is the reason that rapes take place. Sexual promiscuity is really not the same as rape.

Sadly, this stupid letter is believed to have had an effect on the judge's sentencing. The prosecutor had asked for a 6 year prison term. The judge, Aaron Persky, took the rapist's side by stating that the rapist had “less moral culpability” for his actions because he was intoxicated, and he had “no significant record of prior criminal offences.”

Judge Persky also suggested that the jail sentence might be an “antidote” to the anxiety the former student may have suffered from the intense media attention and that “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.”  To add insult to injury the judge indicated that he had accepted the rapist's version of the rape which deemed consent by the victim and said, "I take him at his word that subjectively that’s his version of his events. … I’m not convinced that his lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him.”

Is this some sort of male privilege club where the rapist, father and male judge seek to absolve each other based on, well, maleness?

The terms of the perpetual debate about 'good parent' and 'bad parent' is normally tiresome for the simple fact that it lampoons parents, mainly mothers, for harmless deeds such as turning up at the school gates in pyjamas. This case, as far I am concerned as a feminist mother, has seen a parent/father emerge who is amply qualified for the title of 'bad parent'.

Only a BAD parent would seek to absolve his son of rape.

The only shred of humanity in this case has been demonstrated in the letter which the victim wrote.  It is heart breaking to read.


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