The dark opening was inspired by my immediate guttural response to a news story an associate forwarded. The short summary is that a high school student celebrated, drank to heavily, and after she was incapacitated, she was molested and raped by peers. While that is damnable in of itself, this wasn't an act committed secretly in a dimly lit bedroom. She was violated in full view, witnesses abound, with videos and pictures beaming her defilement straight to social media. No one stepped to her defense, no one rescued her from a bad situation, and no one called the Cops.
Addressing the problem from the inside out, lets first critique the actions of the victim. Call me callous, a heartless ass, but I hold her at fault. Disregarding the underage drinking, she drank past the point of being conscious of her surroundings. Her choice to lose control of the situation lead to her downfall. Then there are her aggressors, the un-evolved neanderthals that gave not a wit for the girl they violated. While it may have crossed their minds that their actions were wrong, that thought didn't stop them. Their attacks on her person continued, and grew ever bold over the course of the night. Finally, there are the witnesses; those who watched and did nothing. Those who recorded the attack, allowing it to escalate through out the night. These dregs of humanity that lacked the moral fortitude to do any thing proactive. It was this point in the tale when I thought my anger reached it's zenith.
Then I learned about the response from the authorities, and I was proved wrong. My emotions shifted from righteous anger to city burning Old Testament Biblical Fury. Her claims were first dismissed, excused with attacks on her character. Her attackers were local sports heroes, destined for high school greatness and life long mediocrity. Can't allow the truth to tarnish such an image. When calls for justice continued, and the details of the attack spread to the internet, those raising the rallying cry were charged with defamation of the attackers. It took continued actions of the family, a crime blogger, and others to motivate the authorities into action.
After I got past the initial feelings of rage, and images of wrathful vengeance they inspired, I defaulted to thinking about the core problems and methods of prevention. Obviously since twenty five percent of American Women have experienced rape or sexual assault (conservative value), and half of those have involved alcohol, we should re-institute prohibition. Wait, no. Instead, how about some life lessons in understanding your lines of defense.
First line: Be responsible for your own Safety. Don't drink, or use other substances, to the point that you surrender the awareness of your your surroundings. Being observant of the activities around you will enable you to escape a bad situation for it develops and fully encompasses you. Further, if you are a 105 lb female, unless you are built like River Tamm, the 240 lb guy will be able to snap you like a twig. Even if you are, that may not be enough for the four guys that see you as a quick grab. Arm yourself, within the letter of the law. If that means pepper spray, buy some and join the fight for stronger self defense options.
Second line: Don't hang out with opportunistic rapist douche bags. Watch for the signs. In the event you at some point let the first line fall, minimize your risk of it happening around the type that would take advantage of your mistakes. The office tool that makes your skin crawl, the odd guy on the bar that hits on every lady. As an extension, don't trust any drink you didn't watch get made yourself.
Third line: Don't go into battle alone. The victim of this tragedy had no one that would raise a voice in her defense, no shelter from the onslaught of predators. If you have ignored the first two, then don't neglect this one. Even if you haven't, there is the potential for the wolf in sheep's clothing to sneak past. Two person integrity, at the least, will greatly raise your chances of staying safe. If one person had called the cops, or even the victims parents, at the start of her molestation, the destructive impact of the night would have been limited.
When I started reading the story of this girl's suffering, my initial response was an urge for violent action. I wanted nothing more than to find the predators that so impacted her life, and end theirs. Upon learning that people stood by and did nothing, my ever diminishing faith in American society grew even dimmer. I grew up with lessons of chivalry and integrity. From Arthurian legends to the modern tales of Drizzt Do'Urden and Malcolm Reynolds, the gentleman must be ready to come to the defense of the lady (not to discount female empowerment, it is just in my nature to protect). While I understand there are villains in the world, such folk that verge on sociopathic, the existence of people that are so ambivalent turns my stomach.
Past the rage and critique, I felt concern. I will blame it on a mix of animalistic and learned instincts, but my thoughts turned to friends and family. To the women that have positively affected my life falling prey to such crimes. Specifics turned general, and I started looking into rapes and sexual assault statistics. As I looked, I kept finding anecdotes where either action by the victim, or interference from a bystander, would have prevented tragedy. I realized long ago that I was among a dying breed of people raised by responsible figures and blessed with a sense of morals and decency. Yet every where I look, I find more examples of societal decay, peers unaware of the social contract they are beholden to as supposed citizens of the Untied States of America. This is not a declaration of surrender, or an intention to sequester myself in a cloister of the like minded. Quite the opposite; I intend to fight for the country of values that was bequeathed to me by my fore fathers. As Thomas Jefferson said:
God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.As a citizen of the USA, I have an inherited responsibility to maintain and strengthen the values that made this country great. It is lapses that has allowed the societal decay that creates predators and miscreants such as those that perpetrated the crimes against the victim of this tale. If I fall, it will be violent, bloody, with me fighting to my last breath, surrounded by the bodies of my enemies (speaking metaphorically of course, unless circumstances dictate otherwise). I urge you to do the same. Be aware of threats to yourself and your loved ones, and stand prepared to respond with sufficient force to not only defeat the threat, but to deter future attack.
(Links to the story that soured my mind: NY Times Sports Page and Crime Blog)