Where are all the good people dead: In the Heart, or In the Head?

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Sheila Pott, mother of Audrie Pott, with photo of Audrie 

Here are the facts.

  • Fifteen year old girl attends a party in one of the elite zip codes in this country.
  • She drinks. Maybe she drinks too much. Maybe her drink was doctored.
  • What is certain is that she was raped by boys she thought were her friends.
  • The boys put graphic photos of the rape on the internet.
  • The girl hanged herself.

I have had to deal twice with situations like this in my job as a representative. One was a girl who killed herself after a gang rape by five men who took photos and showed them around, including to the police. When the police told the girl there were photos, she went home, got in the bathtub and killed herself with a shotgun blast to the face.

The other girl tried to kill herself. After four days in critical care, she survived. 

I’m going to post an excerpt of an article about the little girl who hung herself. I want to talk about the attitudes that show through this article. I have no grievance with the person who wrote it. They’ve just fallen into our societal trap of cleaning up what should be faced and excusing that for which there is no excuse.

The article begins by saying that 15-year-old Audrie got drunk at a party and when she woke up, concluded that she had been “sexually abused.” Let’s get our terminology straight. She concluded, probably due to some grisly physical evidence, that she’d been raped. 

Remember that word: Rape. It’s ugly and people don’t like it. But the word isn’t the real ugliness. The ugliness is living in a society where 15-year-old girls can be treated like this and then suffer the further indignity of having reporters try to clean the horror up for the perps with the use of “soft” expressions like “sexual abuse” to describe what happened. 

These upstanding young men posted “graphic” photos of their rape of their friend on Facebook. After Audrie saw the photos on the internet, and endured the mockery of emails and texts circulating about what had been done to her, eight days after she was raped, she hung herself.

According to our reporter, “the case underscored the seeming callousness with which some young people use technology.”

Is that what’s this “case” is about? “Sexual abuse” and “callous” use of technology? 

If we accept this kind of bland obfuscation of the brutal rape and murder by suicide of this young girl as a problem with technology and “cyber-bullying,” we need to burn our Member of the Human Race Card and go sit in the corner with the trolls and monsters of our deepest darkness.

To paraphrase a line from the movie Grosse Point Blank, where are all the good people dead:  In the heart, or in the head? 

Let’s get one thing clear: I don’t talk about misunderstood mass murderers and rapists who are otherwise such good people on this blog. You won’t see sweet-face lists of these young men’s accomplishments and wonderment about “how could such fine boys do this?” You’ll not read a word of sympathy and grief if they get sent to the prison where they belong, no matter how much they cry for themselves when they are sentenced. 

They were without pity for Audrie. I don’t care if they bawl their eyes out for themselves. I hope they spend the rest of their lives in jail. I don’t think they should ever breathe another free breath again. 

If you do something like this, then I put you in the monster column. The only way to get off that column is to manifest extreme remorse and humble grief for what you have done, coupled with a willingness to admit that you have in fact done it and that you are willing to do anything it takes to make up for it and to change. Even then, I want the proof of a changed life, and I mean a really changed life. 

Nice people do not rape their friends. They do not — ever — treat other people like things. They do not take photos of their raping and then post them on the internet, along with sending emails and texts to taunt, degrade and destroy their “friend” socially. What these men did to this girl, the rape, was physical torture. What they did later was emotional torture. What this young girl faced was social death.

People who treat other people like this are monsters. They will remain monsters so long as they continue to excuse, defend and deny the utter depravity and sub-human cruelty of what they have allowed themselves to become.  

From The Washington Post: 

SARATOGA, Calif. — Fifteen-year-old Audrie Pott passed out drunk at a friend’s house, woke up and concluded she had been sexually abused.

In the days that followed, she was shocked to see an explicit photo of herself circulating among her classmates along with emails and text messages about the episode. And she was horrified to discover that her attackers were three of her friends, her family’s lawyer says.

Eight days after the party, she hanged herself.

“She pieced together with emails and texts who had done this to her. They were her friends. Her friends!” said family attorney Robert Allard. “That was the worst”

On Thursday, sheriff’s officials arrested three 16-year-old boys on suspicion of sexual battery against Audrie, who committed suicide in September.

The arrests and the details that came spilling out shocked many in this prosperous Silicon Valley suburb of 30,000. And together with two other episodes recently in the news — a suicide in Canada and a rape in Steubenville, Ohio — the case underscored the seeming callousness with which some young people use technology.

“The problem with digital technologies is they can expand the harm that people suffer greatly,” said Nancy Willard, an Oregon-based cyberbullying expert and creator of a prevention program for schools.

Santa Clara County sheriff’s officials would not give any details on the circumstances around Audrie’s suicide. But Allard said Audrie had been drinking at a sleepover at a friend’s house, passed out and “woke up to the worst nightmare imaginable.” She knew she had been assaulted, he said.

She soon found an abundance of material online about that night, including a picture. (Read the rest here.) 

 

The Child Isn’t The One That Needs Killing

The Child Isn’t The One That Needs Killing.  Rob Roy produced by MGM

We are at a stalemate on the issue of abortion. For forty long years we’ve yelled at one another across the cultural divide. If vitriol was virtue, a good number of us could warp off to heaven like a convoy of Elijahs right now.

Nothing revs up the combatants in this on-going war faster than combining the words “rape” and “abortion” in one sentence. That’s like sounding the bell for a group of race horses lined up at the starting gate.

The foot-in-mouth comments of a Missouri politician brought all this to the fore Monday. Here is what he said:

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

His comments are so absurd they would be funny if their impact wasn’t tragic. Morally callous biological nonsense coming out of the mouth of a pro-life politician makes pro life people sound like moral ingrates and idiots. His bizarre statement will be bandied about as proof of many of the prejudices that are used to destroy the pro-life movement’s credibility in public debate.

People we might otherwise convert to our cause will be persuaded that we are too heartless for them to listen to us. Every time someone like this exhibits such indifference to women, he makes it harder for the rest of us to convert the culture.

I’ve been fighting the battle to achieve justice for rape victims most of my adult life. I was one of the six founders of the original YWCA Rape Crisis Center here in Oklahoma. I’ve lost count of the number of pieces of legislation I’ve authored to either try to help rape victims or lock up their assailants. Along with the Oklahoma Coalition on Domestic Violence I helped put together the Statewide Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women, the first such event that I know of in the country.

I can not contemplate the sheer indifference to the suffering of other people that rape represents. It wounds me when I try.

Despite all this, I have been hammered repeatedly by legal abortion advocates because I won’t kill a baby that is conceived in rape. They have gone so far as to claim that I want women to be beaten and raped, that I hate women.

I believe that the leaders in these attacks know that they are lying. They are, in the parlance of our pro-life movement, truly “pro-abortion” in that their motivations are to promote abortion rather than to help women.

I have never answered them in kind. Even though some pro-life people have criticized me because I won’t fall in line and call pro-choice people names, I refuse to do it. I do not research their histories to try to find ways to attack them. I never answer their ugliness with more ugliness.

I let them have the low road.

I’ve been on both sides of the abortion wars and I know that there are good and sincere people who feel pushed into a pro-choice position simply because they can’t see any other way to help women who are faced with terrible situations. These are the people we have to convert if we want to change the face of our society.

We can’t change the culture by high-five-ing one-another. We’ve got to change minds and hearts. We must convert those who are genuinely pro-choice rather than pro-abortion. We need to do missionary work among those good people who think abortion should be legal because of their concern for the welfare of women. We can not do this without changing some of our tactics.

We need to try to put another face on our movement than that of social bully. We have far too many people who say they are pro-life but who are more interested in winning arguments and dominating discussions than in saving lives. If we want to build a pro-life culture, we need to stop yammering about what terrible people those on the other side of the debate are, and start speaking about the values we believe in.

We believe in the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. We are working to build a culture that honors the value and dignity of every single person, no matter how young, old, sick or disabled. We are trying to teach the world the Sermon on the Mount.

That is a noble cause. We should advance it with noble means.

Our values are not about overpowering those who disagree with us with verbal nastiness. They are also not about enforcing some rigid pro-life political correctness that says we have to denounce those who disagree with us or be attacked by other pro-life people ourselves.

I will go a step further and say that we should never answer their unkindness with unkindness of our own. We need to stay on our great and glorious message of the sanctity of life for all human beings. That, and not name-calling and denouncing people, is what will win the day.

The question of abortion for rape victims is a case in point. We should never make unkind or dismissive statements about the victims of horrible crimes like rape.

Representative Akin is mistaken. Women do get pregnant from rape. And they suffer horribly. Rape is a monstrous, dehumanizing terror that frightens almost all women and can be a kind of psychological death for those who have to survive it. Rape is another of those mortal sins that, if unrepented, can send those who commit it to hell.

None of this affects the fact that it is wrong to kill a baby. From the moment of our conception, we are all unique and precious individuals, children of the living God. A baby is not a terror. A baby is a person.

I think there are a lot of good and compassionate people who honestly favor abortion in the case of rape because they care about the rape victim. I also believe that there are lot of equally good and compassionate people who oppose abortion in the case of rape because they care about the life of the baby.

If we are going to heal our culture and bring the abortion wars to a life-giving conclusion, we have to bring these two groups of good people together. We need to stop focusing on saving the baby OR the mother. We should focus instead on saving the baby AND the mother.

Rape victims need a lot of help recovering from what has been done to them. Above all things, they need Christians to accept them as whole, unblemished people who are worth as much as they were before the rape. If they become pregnant from a rape, they will need a great deal of support. They need our help. Most of all, they need our love.

I get weary of empty-headed politicians and their callous statements. It tires me dealing with them and their indifference to human suffering.

As for rapists, I won’t go so far as Rob Roy and say that they need killing. But I do believe the unspoken sub-text of the statement that the person who should be punished is the rapist. The woman who was raped is innocent. A baby conceived in rape is innocent. The guilt, shame and the full punishment should fall on the one who did this terrible thing, not them.


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