Documenting The Steubenville Rape Case

1302_lets-teachWarning: The links in this post about the Steubenville rape case are not for the faint of heart. But this post by Alexandra Goddard should be required reading for everyone. Not just parents, teenagers, and athletes. It should be read by absolutely everyone who considers himself human, by anyone remotely interested in being a good citizen and living in a safe, just, and kind society. All of us.

Three things jump out at me in this post: 

1) Anyone who thinks Goddard “complicated” matters by digging for tweets and documenting them as evidence needs to seriously rethink things. Complicated for who? Law enforcement, so they could prosecute? People who knew and not only didn’t stop what was happening but chose instead to record it? Coaches who couldn’t ignore their talent’s downside? The survivor, who was unconscious at the time of the assault and didn’t find out until video showed up after the fact? Or the rapists, who seemed to lacked all conscience but not enough that they didn’t get they’d done something wrong and tried to cover up by taking down their incriminating tweets? What part of Goddard’s documentation is complicated for you? The fact that there was indisputable evidence?

2) This is being called the case that social media won, and for good reason. There is no delete on the Internet. Nothing ever goes away. I believe in privacy, and I think you have a right to it. But you shouldn’t expect it on the web. You especially shouldn’t expect it – on or offline – if it was something you shouldn’t have done in the first place – like, say, show a total lack of humanity or compassion.

3) The web is forever. Yes, we know this. But the assailants are 16 and 17. Redemption, if it ever comes to them (legally or of their own effort), will always be a click away from being obliterated. A wise friend once told me that we are all more than one bad mistake. But we were discussing our lack of patience with children during witching hour, not sickening actions taken in a seeming absence of any sense of right or wrong. The assailants didn’t just act criminally, they bragged about it publicly, for all to see, and for the web and the blogger to document. This never goes away. It’s an inbuilt level of unforgiving punishment that makes us all Javerts in cyberspace, and matches the assailants’ lack of compassion – into perpetuity. Even as I can summon no sympathy whatsoever for the convicted juveniles, I find that deeply saddening.