Some Thoughts on Brock Turner

TW: Rape, White Privilege, Rape Culture

By Greg

I am beyond outrage about the lenient sentence that Brock Turner received


Brock Turner

for the rape of an unconscious woman. (Also outraged that he wasn’t actually found guilty of rape. No, those charges were dropped before trial.)

I want the victim to receive justice. It is egregious that Brock Turner has yet to admit that he violated the victim even after being found guilty “of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

In her statement at sentencing, the victim said: “You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.” (Please read her whole statement if you haven’t)

As a father-to-be with no idea of the sex of the baby, I am terrified of the current rape culture that I would be bringing up my daughter or son. Despite my best efforts to educate her/him otherwise, this culture will teach her she is to be blamed if she is ever assaulted or will teach my son that consent doesn’t really matter and will excuse him if he does ever rape someone.

I want revenge for the victim. Part of me wants to lock him up forever, especially as Shaun King pointed out yesterday in the NY Daily News, there are people of color in jail for ten years for nonviolent crimes, like selling weed. White privilege as rape culture has influenced this case in many ways.  This revenge side of me wants Brock to be locked up for a very long time to make a point that our justice system will finally start holding young privileged white males accountable for their crimes.

At the same time, this revenge side of me disturbs me. Because I know better. The current prison system is corrupt for many reasons and is focused on retribution, rather than restorative justice that will rehabilitate the offender and help with the healing process of the victim. Also if one young white privileged rapist gets a very long sentence, this does not change a very corrupt and unjust system that overwhelmingly discriminate against people of color.

I don’t know how to reconcile these positions of wanting justice and revenge to be served on one hand, while knowing that prison will probably not rehabilitate Brock Turner or probably facilitate further healing for the victim. Either way I know he needs more than six months in jail. But what is the “more”?

Lastly as a Quaker in ministry, I want to see the Light of God within Brock and find ways to grieve that he doesn’t understand the evil he did to his victim. I will hold him in the Light that he may one day realize the evil he has done. I do find it much easier to find the Light of God within the victim, but my theology asks that I sees the Light of God within everyone, no matter what evil they done, because they are still God’s creation. But I am having trouble with this as well.


4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Brock Turner

  1. A sermon I heard several years ago that translated justice from the biblical Greek as ‘to make right’. Throwing someone in jail doesn’t make anything right. It doesn’t help the victim heal, or change the perpetrator for the better. But God’s justice looks very different than our desire for revenge and our views of justice. He wants to make us right. All of us. Every person that has been victimized by an unspeakable violence, He wants to heal those broken places in our hearts, bring us to the point we can forgive those that hurt us (and ourselves), and take our pain, grief and trauma away. He wants to heal every person that is acting out recreating the traumas of their past, either to change their position from being a victim to one of having power, to try to understand how someone could have hurt them so badly, or maybe to have a new ending to the story they have been telling themselves since they were hurt. One thing people fail to realize is that hurt people hurt other people in the same ways they were hurt themselves. The pain from this situation can only be healed by the Great Healer. It is easy to have compassion for the young woman in this story, and my heart goes out to her and everyone around her that has been and will be there to help her heal from this offense. But my heart also goes out to this young man, and his need for compassion is even greater. At some point the full weight of what he has done will hit him. The fact that he robbed a young woman of so much will threaten to destroy him. Whatever happened to him in his past is now going to be harder for him to uncover and heal from, because every time he makes a step towards healing he will also have to live up to the fact he caused this same pain to someone else. When I think about the people that have hurt me the most, my heart fills with sadness and compassion, because I know for them to heal from their past means they will have to accept the fact they hurt me greatly. And that is a huge hurdle to get over. I long for the day they are able to tell me they are sorry for what they did to me, not because I want or need that validation of the pain they caused, but because I want to know that they are ok, that they have been healed, and that I have forgiven them. And while all of this might sound good, it is incredibly hard to do. As I was reading the letter from this courageous, beautiful, and intelligent young woman, I also noticed a desire in myself to leap up to protect her, to beat this boy senseless in the courtroom as I read her description of what he said in the trial because no one should have to suffer such attacks in order to get to the truth. The thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if he felt what it was like to be assaulted and not remember the details also crossed my mind. So clearly there is some more room in my life to be changed by the Spirit.

    I’m not sure why today I felt the need to respond to this, but I did. Perhaps it’s because I am coming out of my own healing journey from something horrible that happened to me and I long to hear from and reconcile with the person who made a mistake she cannot undo. Perhaps its because I connect your feelings and your struggle on how to approach this situation as a Quaker. Perhaps its because as a future father (I hope), I will also have to prepare my children to live in such a world. Or perhaps its because we need to encourage each other, and I believe that you, my Friend, will be a wonderful parent who prepares your child well to navigate this broken world we live in with love and compassion.

    • Thank you for your honest and personal response! I wanted to beat him too or wish that awful things are done to him in jail, but then I remember that is not love.

  2. I wonder about sociopaths, though, who have no conscience. who won’t feel the weight of what they have done, ever.

    • Yeah how should we deal with sociopaths in the criminal justice systems is a great question to ponder. I don’t think our current justice system helps sociopaths just by locking them away for the rest of their lives. But I don’t know the answer either.

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