A businessman entered the plane and found his seat next to a woman. After chatting about trivial matters for a brief time, the man propositioned her. “I’ll give you one million dollars if you sleep with me.” Offended by the offer, she adamantly refused, and their conversation abruptly ended.
Part way through the flight, the woman turned to him and said, “Would you really give me a million dollars to spend one night with you?”
“Of course,” the man replied.
The woman took a deep breath and said, “Ok, I’ll do it.”
They talked for a little while longer, getting to know each other. Towards the end of the flight, the man said, “I’d like to renegotiate our terms. I’d still like you to spend one night with me, but instead of a million dollars, I will offer you ten dollars.”
The woman became incensed. “Are you kidding me?” she said. “What kind of woman do you think I am?”
“We’ve already established what kind of woman you are,” he said. “We’re just re-negotiating the terms.”
It seems like just a short time ago, Brock Turner’s face lined the walls of social media. For a few weeks, the world was outraged at how this Stanford student brutally sexually assaulted a fellow student who laid unconscious on the ground. When we learned that the newspaper that reported the story touted his swimming records in the same article it depicted this monstrous crime, we, as a collective society, were pissed. And when Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to a mere six months prison sentence because he was a good swimmer, we were going to remind everyone of the failings of our legal system. Together we cried, “How unjust to overlook a moral atrocity because the assailant was good at something. Hell no! Rape is rape.”
Just a few weeks ago, Brock’s mug surfaced again all over social media when we found out he got paroled a mere three months into his prison sentence. And once again, whatever fame Brock achieved in the swimming pool paled in comparison to his infamy on social media. He truly was the most despised man in America. It didn’t matter that he could swim really fast.
Let’s turn to Presidential candidate Donald Trump and a video that surfaced just a week ago. By now, everyone has seen it (or at least heard about it). It’s bad. In it, the Donald proudly touts his sexual escapades to Access Hollywood’s host Billy Bush, even admitting what would be considered sexual assault. There’s no shame. He seems quite proud to put his Trump-stamp all over women like he does with his buildings, planes, and red meat. Since then, more allegations of sexual aggravation have started to surface.
You’d expect Trump to meet an angry society like the one that lynched Brock Turner social-media style. You’d expect that once again America would resound, “How unjust to overlook a moral atrocity because the assailant was good at something. Hell no! Rape is rape.” But somehow many in our society have deviated. While a majority continues the chorus of justice, a loud faction has broken off into dissonant, illogical lyrics that makes the Bohemian Rhapsody seem sane. While Evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr. say, “Everyone’s a sinner,” others that support Trump’s presidency echo, “It’s just locker room talk.” Another section follows with, “It’s unfair that this video was leaked.” While wanna-be-politicians like Ben Carson dismiss the allegations because it seems like “convenient timing.” Then together they exclaim, “Whatever it takes to keep Hillary out of office! Hallelujah! Amen.”
When the stakes are high, we tend to suspend logic and resort to all sorts of justifications. Some students would never cheat on a quiz. But a high stakes test? A million dollars and we might be a little more understanding of why you became a prostitute for a night. Some may even call you an entrepreneur or doing what it takes to provide for the family. But Ten dollars? That just makes you a cheap, trashy hooker. However, logically speaking, the amount at stake doesn’t redefine the action or justify it, no matter how convinced you are that it does.
And so it should be with rape. If you assault a woman, it doesn’t matter if you’re a good swimmer, you should meet the wrath of America, especially when our justice system fails. But if you’re running for president on a major party ticket, especially against someone as despised as Hillary Clinton, certain factions of society might be willing to overlook your sexual deviance or at least come to your defense. If only Brock Turner were as good at politics as swimming and wore a red Speedo with an elephant on it. Maybe then society would be a little more understanding.
If I suggested that you let Brock Turner be the swim coach for your children, I’m pretty sure you’d say, “What kind of parent do you think I am?” Maybe you should deeply consider that before you elect Donald Trump to lead the Department of Education and the rest of the country. Do not let something high stakes blind your sense of morality, logic, and justice.