Rape has been on the minds of Americans for the past year, with congressmen running their mouths about “legitimate” rape during the past election cycle, overwhelming protests in India regarding the brutal gang-rape and beating of a 23-year-old university student — which resulted in her death — and, locally, with current prosecution of former University of Idaho student Jesse Vierstra for one count of felony rape.
Unfortunately, the national conversation on rape is quickly disintegrating into the absurd, where blame is placed on rape victims, rapists are selectively convicted and sympathy is given to the convicted.
Now the Steubenville rape cases have come before the American public. In mid-December, the New York Times reported a case in which two high school football players were convicted of kidnapping a 16-year-old girl, raping her, then posting a picture of her unconscious body to Twitter. Sounds truly horrific right? Most people might think the media would condemn these rapists throughout national coverage.
Yet, after the conviction was handed down on March 17, securing prison sentences, CNN’s coverage of the trial did anything but. It highlighted the rapists’ accomplishments as “star football players” and “very good students” with “promising futures.” Not to mention, a video of one of the rapist’s tearful apologies to truly cap off the backward coverage. Sympathy — really CNN? These rapists should be punished for what they did, and not praised for what they might have become.
This is only one example of the misguided view of rape that must be changed, not only for the well being of the current nation, but for the younger generations as well.
America needs to have an educated conversation on rape — one that creates a culture which views rape of any kind as completely unacceptable and educates people on the heinous crime.
Did those two teens deserve to have their revolting decision broadcast across the nation? Possibly not.
But young football stars across the nation did learn an important lesson that day — your celebrity status doesn’t always insulate you from persecution for your crimes. You’ll have to wait to become a professional to get away with rape — I’m looking at you, Ben Roethlisberger.
Ryan Tarinelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org