I know, I know. Sympathy for rapists? How the hell can anyone have sympathy for rapists? Specifically, for Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond, the Steubenville rapists? How can anyone wish anything but a lifetime of suffering upon them? How can you not want their existences to be non-stop misery? How can you not wish pain, death—a painful death—for them both?
I’m not entirely sure.
I think both kids are fucking scum. They scarred a girl forever; scarred her family forever—and got off easy with their relatively light sentences. Were my daughter the victim, I would likely walk to the Mays’ household with a sharp knife and awful intentions. I can’t even imagine … I can’t.
However, I do believe one need not feel guilty for, well, hurting for the two culprits and their families. Until a few months ago, these were kids with lives in front of them; with possibilities; with hopes; with aspirations. They were going to make something of themselves—or at least try. College. Jobs. Families. Vacations. Their parents were, likely, proud. Sons graduating high school; diplomas, caps and gowns.
It’s all over. In ruining a young woman’s life, these two creatures ruined their own lives, too. Though the boys will only spend limited time in detention, they are—forever—rapists. They’re registered sex offenders until death. That’ll be on their resumes; on their police records. When potential employers Google their names, they’ll find RAPIST first, 10th, 100th, 1,000th. As they should. (I’m not even remotely implying this comes close to what the destroyed young woman must live with. It’s not even in the same stratosphere)
Lastly, it’s important that we not overlook a major factor here: The nonsense, bullshit big-man-on-campus football culture that exists across America. I remember when I was in high school and the meathead quarterbacks and halfbacks and defensive linemen strutted the halls like kings. Girls wore their jerseys, guys bought them beer and weed, faculty members looked the other way. I thought it was inane when I was 18, watching jealously from the side, and I think it’s inane, now. It cultivates and breeds something ugly; a group-think, machismo mentality that reduces women to objects.