OK, usually I reserve “Stupid White People” for movies about upper-middle to upper-class Caucasians whose lives are so privileged and boring they have to make up problems to worry about. But “Suspended Sentences” is not a new film by Josh Radnor (THANK FUCKING GOD); this one’s a real-life SWP about what happens when some idiot white dude cuts a bro deal for another idiot white dude for the worst possible reason.
Here’s the story: white dude and teacher Stacey Rambold was found guilty of raping 14-year-old student Charice Moralez. Good, justice served then? Well… his sentence, while on paper being fifteen years, was almost completely suspended, leaving only 31 days.
Let’s read that again: a 49-year-old man raped a teenager, was found guilty of raping said teenager, but effectively only got a month in the klink.
Now, the reasoning behind judge G Todd Baugh’s (pictured above, the “G” stands for “Great judging,” I assume) decision is that, though the victim was only 14, she was “older than her chronological age.” Which is awesome, because I guess that means she could legally drive a car, drink alcohol, buy property, rent a car, vote, sign off on things without a parent…. Oh, wait; she still couldn’t do any of those things and is still a minor in the eyes of the law despite some dumbshit judge’s wackadoo declaration otherwise? Yeah, see, this is because SHE WAS FUCKING FOURTEEN.
The Right Honorable GTB also said that Ms Moralez also offered up that she had “as much control of the situation” as Rambold. Again, a fair assessment, seeing as Rambold is merely a teacher at the same school, and is over thirty years older, and possibly physically bigger, and probably has the social capital of being a teacher for a long time. In counterpoint to all that, SHE WAS FUCKING FOURTEEN.
This is one of the biggest bro deals I’ve ever seen. One white guy sees another white guy in trouble and thinks, “I know, you’re in a pickle, but I feel you. You’re just there minding your own business, and some fourteen-year-old has the audacity to be 14 and female in your school, and what are you supposed to do? What can you do? I got this, dude,” and then he drops the sentence to almost nothing.
SHE WAS FUCKING FOURTEEN.
There’s no way a fourteen-year-old can be in control of damn anything short of a game of Call of Duty. Let’s say, let’s just go hog-fucking-wild and say, Moralez was totally the attempted aggressor in this situation and was being very hypersexual. Here’s what Rambold could have done:
- Tell her that this behavior is highly unacceptable.
- Tell her that if it continues at all, her parents will be hearing about it.
Here’s what he didn’t have to do, and was under no coercion or duress to do:
- Rape her, or anything remotely close.
People have to stop making victims out of assailants, too. Rambold’s lawyers argued that the full sentence would be terrible for their client, because he had lost his job and his marriage, and that he bore the “scarlet letter of the Internet” now, and weren’t things already bad enough for this man (who, by the way, was officially warned by the district as early as 2004 about touching teen girls, and was only being convicted now because he plead out under the condition that he complete sex-offender rehab and he was kicked out of sex-offender rehab because he visited minor relatives unsupervised)? Hasn’t he had enough? When does he get a break? Why should all the bad things happen to him?
Look, I know I might be coming off as glib here, but I get snarky when I get pissed off, and I’m very pissed off about this case. I hate what this case says about the state of opinions about rape, and what responsibility the assailant has (or doesn’t have, in this case). I hate this attitude about men’s dicks being autonomous machines that can only inevitably inflict harm upon women. Think about it this way: if you had a Dr Strangelove or Ash Williams “ghost hand” that would inevitably grab a gun and kill someone and there was ABSOLUTELY no other way to stop it, you’d cut it off. So, if that’s how you’re going to think of your dick, and the only inevitability was to inflict harm with it, then cut it off. Oh, you won’t do that because that’s ridiculous? Well, so is shrugging off the assailant’s responsibility.
Judge Baugh has since apologized for his remarks, saying he made some poor word choices. And word came today that he’s ordering a new sentencing hearing for Rambold; not out of some regret about the suspended sentence, but simply because he looked back at it and found out you can’t suspend a sentence that much, I guess? I would think a judge would kinda know these things, but who am I? I don’t practice law. And thank god. Because if I heard this sentence in a courtroom, professional or not, I’d be throwing a chair.
And the worst part of this is that the victim can’t defend herself. She took her own life in February 2010 when the case was pending. So, in her absence, we got a bunch of victim-blaming and assailant-coddling. Wonderful.