Last week, a judge sentenced Brock Turner, a former Stanford student, to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The case went viral after the victim spoke out in a forceful letter read in court.
Now another letter has surfaced. But this one, from a friend of Turner's to the judge, isn't speaking out against his light sentence. Instead, it's arguing that it wasn't Turner's decision to rape a human being that sent him to prison — but political correctness.
Leslie Rasmussen, Turner's childhood friend, writes in the letter, published in full by the Cut:
I don't think it's fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn't remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn't right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn't always because people are rapists.
There is a lot to unpack here. For one, even though Rasmussen claims she's not blaming the victim, she is. It doesn't get more explicit than saying that Turner's fate is being decided not by his decision to rape someone but by "the decision of a girl who doesn't remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him."
But perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this letter is the suggestion that political correctness is to blame.
While this is a pretty extreme use of the political correctness defense, it's a logical extension of how it's often used — to protect white men who do terrible things. For example, when someone like Donald Trump makes a racist or sexist comment, he says he's not the one who is at fault when people get offended; political correctness is at fault because it trains people to get offended by things that weren't offensive "back in his day."
By extension, that more people now care about campus rape and view sexually assaulting a woman who's not conscious enough to give consent as rape is political correctness. One can imagine an old man complaining that "back in his day" they got drunk and had sex in college and everyone was okay with it. (Never mind that women who were raped were, of course, not okay with it.)
This is how the political correctness defense works. As society evolves to be more inclusive and less horrible, some people are bound to resist, seeing their new inability to do horrible things that they could do before as the fault of political correctness. So some people shout about political correctness when they're criticized for saying things that are clearly racist or sexist because they think it's outrageous they can no longer say things they could get away with before.
And apparently, some find it ridiculous that we now consider the rape of an unconscious woman to be rape and the perpetrator to be a rapist — and blame political correctness for it.
Here is Leslie Rasmussen's full letter, from the Cut: