(When I’m about to go to a scary mental place, I visit the imaginary house in my head. Here’s a visual approximation, in case you need to pop in for tea while reading.)
(Trigger warning: this post describes two different sexual assaults a degree of non-graphic detail.)
I’m not really good at coming up with hot takes on current issues. As a writer, the amount of time I need to sit with my thoughts and offer conclusions generally exceeds a story’s lifetime in the 24 hour news cycle. But the recent commentary about the Brock Turner rape case in California made me realize that there is a discussion I have wanted to initiate about justice in rape cases, and how we deal with rapists as individuals, for a long while now. I just wasn’t sure how to do it without talking about things that have happened to me; and while normally I don’t hesitate to mine the insanity of my life for reflective essay material, this is one subject where my thoughts are permanently scattered.
I’m going to try to un-scatter them here, though.
I feel sorry for Brock Turner. I feel sorry for him even though, based on the evidence available to me, he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing rape. I don’t give him a pass for being drunk, because I have been drunk often enough to know that you don’t do anything while impaired that you didn’t want to do while you were sober. I don’t give him a pass for being young, or talented, or having his whole life ahead of him, or any of that. I want him to face justice.
Even so, I feel a stirring of pity for him, and here’s why.