Brock Turner was convicted of violently raping an incapacitated woman, but his father, Dan, thinks his loss of appetite is enough punishment.
I’m a parent. I know what it’s like to worry, sometimes irrationally, about the horrors that could befall my kid. I have imagined everything from kidnapping to cancer, miscarriage to….. well, let’s just say that in my mind I have already nursed her through every injury, illness and personal tragedy that my very-creative mind can come up with.
I haven’t prepared for the possibility that she could be the perpetrator of horror on someone else’s child. But, thanks to Dan Turner, the clueless fuck of a father who raised Brock Turner, the aspiring young athlete who raped a drunk woman behind a dumpster when she was passed out, I have now thought that through too.
And I think I have a grasp on what I would say if I found out my kid was a rapist.
Backing up, let’s make clear that this rape was especially depraved, in my opinion. Young Brock is convicted of having stumbled upon a passed-out drunk woman (who obviously could not consent) and penetrating her in a few ways with a few objects, only stopping when passersby saw him and chased him off of her. There is, truly, not a whole lot of grey area here. (Not that I’m inclined to find grey area in rape. This one is just really REALLY high on the “are you fucking kidding me?” scale.)
I mean, who the fuck stumbles across an incapacitated person and thinks, “oh goody, I’m gonna stick shit in there.” And by shit, I mean himself. (And a few other objects he could get his shitty little hands on.)
A depraved little shit, that’s who.
He tried the “but I was drunk” defense, and it didn’t fly. Sad times, for young Brock, indeed. Kid almost went to prison for 16 years.
Instead, because he’s not only rich and white, but also a star athlete, he got six months in a local jail. NOT EVEN FUCKING PRISON!
(Needless to say, much of the world, the people with conscience and brains, is horrified.)
But his father, who is not claiming inebriation as the source of his assholery, doubled down on the nation-wide horror of this story by publishing a letter in which he waxes morose about how sad it is to watch his young son not be able to choke down a Ribeye with joy anymore. 6 months, he says, seems unreasonable for what amounts to “20 minutes of action” in this kid’s otherwise exemplary life. (Rape = Action. Okay.)
(Rational people have assumed that if this kid did this, his life is probably not as exemplary as Dear Old Dad would like to think. I mean, this is not a starter offense.)
So, in his letter, Dan Turner drones on about how his son’s life is ruined now. How he can’t enjoy snacks. How he had such a bright future. How the world is being so mean to this young man.
Basically, he said everything except “my god, what have I done.”
And in so doing, we all know exactly how Brock became the man he became. He became the man he was raised to be.
So, dearest Dan Turner, here’s what you probably should have said. And here’s what I’m pretty sure I would say if I found out my kid did this. (With fake names of course, because….. )
I guess I should start by saying that I am John Snythe’s father. Which is to say that I am the father of a young man who has been found guilty of a particularly heinous rape. As if there’s such thing as a rape that isn’t heinous.
I have been trying to get my head around this since we first became aware of it, and I am still having a hard time making sense of it.
I keep thinking about how I would feel if I was the parent of the victim, rather than the rapist. It’s possible that I would rethink my stance against the death-penalty; though I hope I would eventually come around to some sense of compassion and hope. If only because I’d think about the parents of the kid who did this horrible thing.
But I am the parent of the kid who did the horrible thing.
And I am sick about it. I keep wondering what I did. What I could have done differently.
Right now, everything looks wrong. I see so many opportunities that maybe I missed.
Maybe we focused on his success at sports to the detriment of teaching him that how he treats other people is more important.
Maybe I didn’t teach him about consent, at all.
Maybe I didn’t work hard enough to emphasize that, despite what society tells us, women don’t owe him sex and need to be treated with full respect as any human. (My god, all the times when I lost my temper with his mother, was that why he did this? The times I didn’t get my own temper under control?)
Maybe I didn’t offer up swift repercussions when he broke the rules.
Maybe I didn’t emphasize the right rules.
Maybe I wasn’t around enough.
Maybe because of my own cluelessness about all of these issues, for whatever reason, I raised a kid who became a rapist.
Maybe this is my wake-up call.
Although it is too late to prevent what happened to this young woman, I promise that I have heard the call.
I know that although I am mortified, and John is devastated, it pales in comparison to what his victim is feeling. There is nothing we can do to change the past, but here’s what I’m working on in our home now, and will work on elsewhere in the future:
– The responsibility for this act falls on my son, and my son alone. We need to make sure that, as parents, we are raising children who understand, and take responsibility for, the impact of their actions.
– We are talking about consent and coercion and things that seem so basic, but are clearly so absent in our society, and apparently in our parenting.
– The only victim of his acts is the woman that he raped, and to an only-barely-lesser extent her family. He is not a victim, he is experiencing the repercussions for his own actions. As parents, we need to help our children understand that.
– We do live in a society in which rape is encouraged. I had ignored the reality of Rape Culture for too long, because I had that privilege. I no longer do. I will work with my children to understand how society pervasively encourages rape. I wish I could go back to early childhood, but I can’t. I will start now, and it starts by educating myself.
I hear my own voice in my head, all the times I heard people say “I didn’t raise my kid to be like that,” when parents were on the news talking about some crime their kid had committed. And in all my sanctimony, I said “yes you did.” And now I have to say that to myself. I want to say that I didn’t raise a rapist. But I did. And now I have to figure out how, and what to do about it.
I raised a rapist.
I know that I can’t say anything to make this better. I desperately wish I could.
I don’t even know how to end this, except to say that I am mortified. I am sure I am involved in the problem, and as such have to be part of the solution. I am looking for ways to create a safer future for all of our children, and although I don’t know what that is, it’s the only thing I can think about.
For what it’s worth, yes, John is suffering greatly as a result of his actions. And that’s okay for now. As his father, I am doing everything I can to help him find some comfort so that we can all get through this. As any parent would.
I am working with him to figure out how this happened, so that he never does anything like this again. And maybe so that no one else does either.
For what it’s worth, I am really sorry.
I will find a way to live in service of the change that we need.
In sincere remorse – Bob Snythe
Basically, Dan, take some responsibility here. If you want to take any credit for raising a star athlete, and would have taken any credit for raising a successful businessman, and a good student, then you need to take some responsibility here.
Because for every entitled, violent little shit that perpetrates their harmful narcissism on the world, there are parents who raised them.
Is it all your fault? Nope, of course not. But given the tone-deaf cluelessness of your letter to the world, I’m thinking you had a lot to do with it. And maybe the best thing you can do now is admit that – kinda like your son should admit that he did do that thing that two witnesses saw him doing.
Oh, and yes, we heard you suggest that your son should speak on campuses about the perils of drinking. There is a kernel of an idea in there, to be sure. But he should probably speak about the perils of raping. Because drinking didn’t do this, your son did.
Lots of people manage to do the drinking thing without raping. Correlation is not, as they say, causation.
Look deeper. And in the mirror.