Before former Stanford student Brock Turner was sentenced to six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, his father pleaded for a short sentence to the judge in a letter that humanized Turner — telling the judge about his son’s favorite snacks as a boy and swimming career as a teenager.
A pastor from North Carolina, John Pavlovitz, has penned the perfect response to why Turner’s father’s letter is so off. Here’s part of Pavlovitz’s response, from his blog:
I understand you trying to humanize your son in your letter; talking to the judge about his favorite snacks and swim practice and about the memories that are sweet for you as his father — but to be honest I don’t give a damn and if his victim was your daughter I’m quite sure you wouldn’t either.
I imagine this young woman had favorite snacks and sports too, and parents who had wonderful plans for her that didn’t include this nightmare.
There is no scenario where your son should be the sympathetic figure here. He is the assailant. He is the rapist. I can’t imagine as a father how gut wrenching such a reality is for you, but it is still true.
It is of course easy to imagine why a father would see his son as the innocent boy that he knew for years and years. But the fact is this boy grew up to become a man who did an absolutely horrible thing.
By failing to acknowledge that, Turner’s father wrote an incredibly tone-deaf letter — one that perpetuated many of the tropes that define rape culture today, particularly the erasure of actual victims. Turner’s father, for example, referred to the day of the assault as “the events of January 17th and 18th 2015,” leaving out what those events were exactly.
The pastor’s letter puts all of those tropes to shame by bringing up a simple point: If Turner’s father had been in the opposite position of this sexual assault case, his letter’s tone would undoubtedly be different.