Once again, a young, white, privileged (was that redundant?) male has been let off the hook for a vile assault against another human being.
Former high school football player John R. K. Howard forcibly inserted a coat hanger into the rectum of a disabled black teammate, a young man from the only black family in his Idaho town.
It was also decided that being sodomized with a coat hanger did not constitute a sex crime. Certainly not. It wasn’t sexual when Howard kicked the hanger into his victim’s anus.
FUN FACT: Sexual assault is never sexual.
The judge in this case discounted the testimony of racist remarks toward the victim, concluding that the assault was not racially motivated.
Howard entered a so-called “Alford plea,” meaning he maintains his innocence while admitting a judge or jury would likely find him guilty, which is goddamn ridiculous. He was sentenced to probation and community service, and his conviction might be entirely dismissed at a later date.
Here’s the problem…
Judges that excuse pretty, rich, white young men like J.K. Howard, or like Brock Turner, the “Stanford Swimming Star” who raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster, or like Austin Wilkerson (basically a non-swimming Brock) are doing so for the following reason:
They see a younger version of themselves these attackers.
Many of these judges will outright say that is the case, and how they should be given a chance to do great things with their lives…regardless of what they have stolen from another life, which is not quantifiable whatsoever other than it ROBS you of what you thought your life was before the attack.
“Why destroy this young man’s future?” they will say, completely removing the responsibility from the rapist. “Why waste this potential? We would be robbing society of all their gifts. They can learn from this if we just give them a chance.”
What a disgusting, narcissistic message. Myopic and repulsive while simultaneously disregarding how horrifically insulting is this to their victims.
What about their future?
This should disgust you, and it should terrify you, knowing that this kind of apologist bullshit has been happening as long as humanity – and I use that term loosely in this case – has existed.
And we are continuing to allow it to happen.
While non-white offenders, guilty of the same crimes will be imprisoned – rightfully so, if you’re this type of monster – with harsh sentences, and non-white people guilty of event the most minor of infractions continue to be incarcerated with sentences not equal to their offenses, young, white rapists with names like John H.K. Howard, Brock Turner, Austin Wilkerson…they will be slapped on the wrist, coddled, and turned loose to live their lives unfettered.
“We can’t expect this boy to have behaved responsibly. There was alcohol involved, first of all. And, really, what was the victim doing that provoked him in the first place? If you think about it, this rapist is also a victim of these unfortunate circumstances.”
And these boys’ families and friends will come to their defense, telling stories of all the fantastic things the young white rapist has done, how they’ve always been there for them, how it would be a tragic injustice for them to be sent to prison for even a day. They’re just not equipped for it. They can do so much more to show what a model human being they are within the loving arms of their peers. It’s just terrible that this has happened to them.
The ever famous “boys will be boys” attitude that reinforces disrespectful, harmful behavior as acceptable is irresponsible and largely to blame for this all-too-common slap in the face to the injured parties in these cases…and the subsequent cases that occur while these young, white rapists are allowed to ‘get on with their life’, now armed with the knowledge that they can, in fact, get away with sexual assault.
It needs to stop.
We, as parents, need to cut the shit immediately and teach our children that they and they alone are responsible for their poor behavior when they choose to treat others disrespectfully…or harm them. There has GOT to be consequences when your little angel harms another human being.
We, as school faculty, need to be on the look out for this behavior in our ELEMENTARY schools and stop it when we see it. We need to hold the offending child responsible and stop placing blame on an article of clothing, a visible collarbone, a victim’s proximity to his or her attacker. This entitled behavior starts at an early age, and it festers when unchecked.
And as a community, we need to start vetting the people in power a whole lot better. We do not WANT our judges to see themselves in that fresh faced young rapist.
Until people stop showing compassion for the wrong damn person in the crime that has occurred, until we stop seeing rapists as victims in and of themselves, we are going to continue wondering what on earth it’s going to take to keep our family members, our children, and our friends safe from fresh-faced, white rapists with fantastic potential.