On the Brock Turner case
On 02 June 2016, Brock Turner was convicted of three felonies — assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. He was convicted and was sentenced to six months in jail as well as three years’ probation.
This caused an uproar mainly because of two things: first, that a man had sexually assaulted a woman, and second, he was given a light sentence for such an act.
What is striking here is the kind of rage the sexual assaulter Brock Turner is getting. First, mainstream media has been pushing the notion that Brock Turner is a rapist. Technically, he is not a rapist. Rape, in California state law, requires sexual intercourse with the non-consenting victim. He was convicted of penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object (However, Philippine law still considers this as rape). Second, being branded as a rapist demanded a “more proper” justice to the victim and a harsher punishment for Brock.
Men who are convicted (or even just charged) of rape invites a whole lot of fury among people on the internet than any other crime. No kidnapping, no murder, and no robbery has ever generated this much hate.
Rape and its Savagery
The answer is simple: rape is the most savage, the most sinister crime any prudent human can commit to an individual.
Consider this: When a prudent man is forced to murder, he will do so with much hesitation, and maybe have tears in his eyes as he pushes a knife in the victim’s chest. He may pull a trigger or push him off a cliff. In order to keep his humanity, he will make the killing quick but will not enjoy any second of it.
However, when a prudent man is forced to rape, he will have to enjoy it. In order to be able to commit the act, he must forgo and ignore the pleading of the victim and find pleasure in it. He will have to shed every ounce of his unwillingness and be actually willing to do it.
There can be regret in the act of killing, in robbery, or in kidnapping. These criminal acts are well within the range of a means towards a certain end — killing can be for self-defense, while robbery and kidnapping can be linked to wanting a quicker source of money. But I would argue that rape is its own end. The deed is done to pleasure the self and does not beget a “better” outcome. There is no ransom in rape. There are no mouths fed in raping a person. This is where the savagery of rape lies: what we have after every act of rape is a victim scarred for life and a cruel perpetrator who took delight in the victim’s suffering.
Give Rehabilitation a Chance?
Granted that rape is the most savage crime, what should be its sentence?
The prosecutors demanded that Brock serve six years in prison for sexual assault. The judge gave him six months. California state law puts the punishment for rape between three to eight years. Philippine law punishes the convicted rapist with reclusion perpetua. Some citizens even want the death penalty.
Whatever harsh sentence one can think for rapists, what is noticeable is there is none (or few) who are calling for rehabilitation instead of the traditional dumping of the convicted rapist in a prison. Not one progressive I know suggested that Brock enter rehabilitation programs to educate him on how women should be treated. In fact, it is not uncommon that the same people who call for rehabilitation programs for other crimes — robbery, drug-related crimes, etc. — only wish for wrath for Brock.
It is quite the irony that the person who wished for a more rehabilitative way of addressing sex offenders is the most important person in the case — Judge Aaron Persky. The rationale for the short sentence was that “[The] sentence would have a severe impact on him.” He also thinks that Brock Turner will not be a danger to others. A lot of people disagreed with his statements in favor of a harsher sentence.
It seems that for rape, the principle of having a rehabilitative inclination towards criminals instead of a correctional one is shifted to its vice-versa. Rapists are wanted to be punished, not to be rehabilitated.
This propensity on calling for harsher sentences on rapists than any other crime exhibits the savagery of rape. It simply has its own category on top of crimes committed against an individual. To rape is an evil act that necessitates the perpetrator to reduce and craft the victim to an object that exists with the sole objective to pleasure the rapist. It is utterly unjustifiable by any means, even if it only took 20 minutes.
Taming the Savages
One of the biggest questions in Christianity is why do we pray for ordinary sinners such as ourselves but never for one that need it the most — Satan? We can ask the same question in the context of crime: why do we call for harsh measures on rapists when they may be the people who need proper rehabilitation the most?
This “savage” problem brings us to another question: are the worst people capable of change? How we answer this inquiry affects our perspective on the measures imposed not only on rapists but also on other criminals.
In other countries, sex offenders are required to register as a sex offender for the public to know of your past. Posts circulating around Facebook forever call Brock Turner as a rapist and would like to brand him that way for the rest of his life. Are humans truly trapped by their own past, or does only the savagery of rape allow this?
In a couple of weeks, the Brock Turner case will have died out in lieu of other fresher issues, one of them being the mass shooting in Orlando. By then, our emotions would have settled and maybe we’ll have a clearer mind in discussing how to tame the savages, or whether they can be tamed at all.