Opinion: The Turner family

Several months ago Brock Turner and his family made the news after his parents wrote letters to the court.

I’m not going to argue whether Brock Turner is guilty or innocent. I want to look at how Brock’s parents talk about the “incident” that led to him being in court.

There’s a picture of the Turner family on the internet. They’re standing in a line in front of a structure that looks like a gazebo or something similar. They’re dressed up. They’re smiling.

brock-turner-family
Brock Turner family picture

There are two girls there. One could possibly be Brock’s mother, the other is unidentifiable.

I don’t want to dig into the Turner family, since bystanding members of the family had no say in their involvement when Brock Turner’s infamy took the U.S. media by storm; they might be sisters, cousins, girlfriends, lifelong friends, anyone. But they are important enough to be included in the picture.

And they’ve had to listen to the Turners talk about Brock as though the inconvenience of his emotional pain is penance enough for a sexual assault.

The letter Brock’s father wrote doesn’t argue that his son is innocent – it argues that he’s already been upset enough. That doing time will make his life difficult. That he lost his appetite. That he lost his opportunity to be an accomplished swimmer. That he should, ironically, educate the community on the dangers of alcohol.

The letter argues that Brock’s problems should cancel out the crime committed.

We live in a world where’s a one in five chance that one of the girls in that photo will be raped.

And if they, or anyone else close to the Turner family, ever experiences a sexual assault, they’ll be forced to wonder how the Turner family will react.

And I want everyone to remember that the next time they’re going to make a comment, especially in front of the women in their lives.

What you say about victims will be remembered if someone you know ever becomes a victim.

So when Brock’s father talks about the “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life,: I wonder if he knows that those are the words that those girls will think of if they’re ever in such an unfortunate situation. Or even if they ever come close.

The Victim Impact Statement and more from Buzzfeed is available here.

There’s a whole lot of other things at play in this discussion; rape culture, victim blaming, and more. And I’m all for a discussion about those things. But this particular post is about how those girls have had to listen to the Turner family discuss the case.

This particular post is about how those girls may one day be victims, and whether that’s just another 20 minutes of action to the Turner family, whether it’s a criminal wound that they’ll be forced to endure without the support of the family.

And maybe they’ll endure it silently, because they think the Turner family will react to this hypothetical crime the same way they did to Brock’s.

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