This is the headline we should be seeing about Brock Turner’s recent outrageous sentence to only six months in county jail and three years of probation for his brutal assault on an unconscious woman in 2015.
Instead, we are seeing headlines and articles touting Turner as a promising Stanford Swimmer, an easygoing guy, a smart kid with a bright future who merely made a “mistake” one night.
A mistake. Sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster was merely a mistake. A temporary lapse in judgement. A minor transgression that should be forgiven and forgotten.
Except that it isn’t that simple. Brock Turner’s assault on his victim may be a mistake, but that does not give him or anyone else the right to justify his actions. Brock Turner must still pay for his mistake, just like everyone else.
Brock Turner’s smiling, clean, professional photo has been plastered all over these articles, citing his pre-Olympian swimming statistics and ignoring the fact that Brock Turner’s one “mistake” has altered the life of his victim in a way that cannot be undone. Brock Turner is a criminal, and he does not deserve the respect of these positive photographic representations of himself.
Ask yourself this: when a verdict or sentence is reached in other brutal crimes and is then reported in the media, what photograph is used to represent the perpetrator? The mug shot. The dirty, emotional, raw, honest portrait of the criminal. That is what should have been used to represent Brock Turner in all of the reports on this case. That is what we use to represent criminals.
Brock Turner got off easy. Unlike most others who commit heinous crimes like his, Brock Turner will be released and will have the opportunity to work on himself and improve his life. I can’t say I agree with the disgustingly lenient sentencing, but I hope for the sake of everyone that he can accept responsibility for his actions and use this rare opportunity to improve himself.
The father of the convicted wrote a long letter to the judge to spew on about Brock Turner’s character, his academic and athletic achievements, and how this “twenty minutes of action” has changed his life forever. This does not excuse his terrible actions against the victim. Brock Turner’s past does not entitle him to leniency.
The victim in this case has suffered over a year of trauma, reliving the night of the attack and will have to endure this trauma for the rest of her life. She has years and years of post-traumatic stress, therapy, nightmares, and more to look forward to. She has been given a life sentence to suffer through for Brock Turner’s crime against her.
And we’re hearing about his swimming times? His GPA? His achievements? This is unacceptable.
Brock Turner may be white, he may be smart, he may be athletic, he may be young, he may have attended Stanford — but these things are not relevant. These things do not excuse his crime.
Here’s what is relevant: Brock Turner is a criminal convicted of sexual assault.