See, that's the problem with the Stanford Rapist, you've already forgotten about him
His name is Brock Turner.
He raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and got caught. He received an unquestionably light sentence of a few months in direct relation to his privileged upbringing. Because of everything, he dominated impassioned headlines for over a week.
One day, he’ll live a normal life again.
Kony, Ferguson, Walter Palmer, Haiti, Michael Brown, Harambe, The Bataclan, Flint: They aren’t infiltrating life as they once did; they’ve wriggled out of the spotlight. Their stories now serve as an online bookmark of what once was, not what currently is.
Right now, no one is really talking about the Stanford Rapist with the same passion they were a few weeks ago, either. Instead, it’s about an alligator at Disney World, or the senseless killing of 49 people at a dance club. Or LeBron. Right now, it’s all about the new news. Next week, the new news will be the old news.
And it will continue like that every week until whenever. Outrage is cyclical.
Only the victims of trending news stories suffer. Silently. Alone. Unpopular.
It’s no secret that the way the world works now is altering the way our brains work. We have entirely too much information coming at us to process everything, which causes stories to conflate and disorganize themselves as to what we think is most important in our lives vs. what is actually not.
An ape dying because a kid fell into its home is shocking, but is it really that important to any of us? Does it navigate our day-to-day?
You wouldn’t have thought so given the vitriol and frenzy that erupted in comment threads about it. An outsider looking in would have believed this story carried with it the weight of the world. That one ape actually mattered to everyone.
But now, people are silent. Nobody cares. Nobody really did.
It was devastating, what happened in Haiti, too. But what’s worse is what transpired afterwards, something that never went viral. Billions of donated funds went nowhere, and Haiti isn’t any better for it.
But it felt good to easily text away $10 to the Red Cross and post about it online, didn’t it?
Kudos to the victim in all of this Stanford bullshit for somehow remaining anonymous. The only way she's going to be able to have a bare semblance of normalcy after her tragic situation is to not allow the mob to infiltrate her lifestyle the way Turner did.
It’ll take her years to possibly move forward. It took the rest of the world seven days — which is about when Orlando happened.
To move on is to disconnect entirely.
For Turner and Aaron Persky — the pathetic judge who gave him the equally pathetic sentence — they’re both probably not as fucked as most everyone wants them to be, either. No matter how many memes claim otherwise.
It’s not that there isn’t any fallout from it: Over 1.2 million signatures were collected in an online petition to recall Persky, who is up for reelection in November. Potential jurors are walking out of duty in his courtroom and local district attorneys have successfully filed motions to stop Persky from presiding over another sexual-assault case, too.
But so what if he does get recalled? He’s a 54-year-old white man that’s spent the past 30 years of his life garnering substantial paychecks. He could get booted, theoretically living out the rest of his time in a comfortable tax bracket most of us could only hope to see. He’s going to be fine.
As for Turner? He’ll only spend 3 months with good behavior behind bars in a secluded room away from the general population. He’ll come out, register as a sex offender, likely change his name or go by a pseudonym, and then be lost in the chaotic dynamics of the real world.
This is all speculation, of course, but since when has the world held criminals socially accountable for things decades later? Even if his name is brought up in the future, it won’t be met with the same outrage as it once did. In the future, it’ll only be met with a: “Brock who?”
The proof is found in quick Google searches. Nobody from the past trends anymore. Turner isn’t even worth it for news outlets to post about. No return on investment. There may be an op-ed here, an update there, but he won’t go viral ever again — not unless someone involved in the case does something incredibly stupid.
Because that’s what we live for: The stupidity. The shocking. The heartbreaking. It’s what gets us to click, to respond.
It’s why we argue with strangers on comment threads with no real goal of conclusion.
We need the new. We need the now.
But we don’t want to always live in melancholy. We have to move on. It’s what we do. And most of us aren’t the victims inside the cycle of stories. Each one of us is statistically alright. So it’s easier for us to go forward. We don’t have to live with it, the victims do.
What of it all? Is it necessary to remember who Brock Turner is 20 years from now, when who knows what will be happening on new and innovative social platforms? Will anyone really care if he gets a normal life again? Will anyone be outraged then?
Let’s be honest, the same kind of mania won’t happen. His nameless victim is the only one hurt in this, and will be the only one not moving on with the rest of the world. She’s stuck with it. Everyone else gets to click away.
It’s something we all have to realize, that unless we keep Brock Turner’s story alive each and every day, it too will move on. It will go away, and with it, will do little to stop the next catastrophe. Until it’s a constant outrage, it won’t matter for much of anything.
Be mad. Get upset. Voice anger. Every single day until something happens.
If not, Brock Turner gets a new beginning; and so does every Brock Turner after that.