It’s pretty incredible how one word can change the context of something. In this case, one word – just two letters, helped fan the flames of an already controversial story, turning it into a massive bonfire. I, for one, have joined the public firestorm surrounding the Stanford rapist.
I was already reeling from the paltry and pathetic excuse for a sentence when the father of convicted rapist and “really great swimmer” Brock Turner unknowingly turned me and the rest of entire society against his son with his attempt for sympathy. Following the victim’s heartfelt and courageous story of the aftermath of being raped, the ensuing medical and forensic exam, and the emotional toll it has had on her and her family, Turner’s dad briefly detailed his son’s post-crime experience. From not being able to enjoy his ribeye steak to be anxious all the time, very few if any had pity for him. It was when he, in an attempt to define his son’s good character, described the rape as “20 minutes of action.”
Now, had Turner’s father left out the word “of,” and explained it as a “20 minute action” in comparison to the other millions of minutes he’s lived without committing a crime, we may have just grumbled and moved on. There is no doubt in my mind that after he wrote the letter, he shared it with other relatives, attorneys, and more. After all, if you’re pleading for leniency for your child, you want to have it be perfect.
Soon his letter inundated every social media site imaginable with people sharing everything that could be accomplished is under 20 minutes; from grocery shopping to bank robbery. This little grammatical “faux pas,” (he has stated he misspoke) belittled the victim, glorified rape, and virtually mocked the seriousness of this story. Why should Brock Turner, superstar swimmer, Stamford student and all-around “good guy” get the sentence he deserves when he only got “20 minutes of action?” Why should his future, including career and family, be so negatively impacted for only “20 minutes of action?” Why should this All-American boy be subjected to an extended period of time in prison, where he will undoubtedly be hardened by the system, when all he did was get a measly “20 minutes of action?”
Well, the answer is simple. Mr. Turner, your son is a rapist. The victim could have been stumbling through town intoxicated and naked, and that still does not give him the right to get his “20 minutes of action.” The good guy that you speak of could have called a taxi for her. He could have given her his coat or called 911 or called a friend to pick her up. He could have tried to wake her up, flagged down help, or sat with her until she woke up. Your son could have made a million different choices in those 20 minutes of action. He could have even kept walking. Don’t tell us he was drunk. If he was coherent enough to pull down his pants, rape her and run away when approached by those two young heroic men, he most certainly could have kept walking or dialed for help.
I believe that Turner’s father loves him and know that no parent wants to see their child suffer or go to prison, but think about the victim’s father. His daughter will suffer for life in her own prison. As a mother of only boys, I will teach my boys to respect women and make the right choice, but if one of them makes a mistake, I will make sure they pay their due. They don’t get a pass to commit a crime because I love them. That’s not how it works.
Like the hundreds of thousands of voices who have spoken up about these so called “20 minutes of action,” I will continue to condemn the acts of this “boy next door” because after all, no one ever walks around thinking “I think my child may grow up to be a rapist.” They all start of as good guys.