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how many more rapists and racists will we protect before something changes?

how many more rapists and racists will we protect before something changes?

In October 2015, in the small, predominantly white, north-western US state of Idaho, a racially motivated case of sexual assault caught national headlines. In the locker room following football training, John R.K. Howard, Tanner Ward and a third 16-year-old boy lured their mentally disabled, black teammate into what was meant to seem like an embrace, yet instead physically assaulted him and proceeded to rape him with a coat hanger, all the while chanting racial epithets.

During last Friday’s court hearing, ring leader, Howard, was allowed to reach a plea bargain, allowing him to avoid jail time on the account of pleading guilty to injury of a child, instead. It seems likely he will walk away with two to three years of probation and community service hours, instead of the jail time that it seemed certain he would receive.

A law suit has been filed by the victim’s adoptive parents against the school and his attackers: they state that the attack was the culmination of months and months of racial taunting and abuse, and that members of the school who should have protected him, failed.

Who do we turn to when our own judicial systems are very clearly shown to not be on the side of those they are meant to protect; when our courts, judges and attorneys can be allowed to conspire against a vulnerable young person whose life has been turned upside at the hands of three nasty, vindictive, racist, white boys?

The attack was found to be neither a sex crime, or racially motivated.

The terrible reality of the case and its findings is that none of this, in reality, is surprising. The US court system has been found to favour and protect successful, young, white football players more times than it seems possible, despite heavy opposition and criticism from activists. The protection of the abuser over the victim is an all too familiar trade mark of high-profile rape cases, and national media outlets have been heavily criticised for doing the same. After all, a young white boy’s football career is obviously far more important than someone’s physical and mental health.

How can we encourage victims to come forth and seek protection and justice when the cases dominating our headlines all send out the message that if you’re a young, successful white boy, you’ll more or less be let off with a slap on the wrist? The judicial system in America is setting a terrifyingly damaging precedent, one which will have repercussions on countless people’s lives, let alone the victim of this case himself.

We are seeing the coming together of two already incredibly worrying trends in the US court system, one being that sexual assault victims (more often than not, women) are often stripped of their dignity and not handled with the sympathy or care that they deserve, and repeatedly fail to receive the justice one would imagine. The second of these two trends has swamped headlines over the past few years with a proliferation of high-profile cases, and that is the difficulty many African-Americans face in receiving equal and racial prejudice-free treatment by their own country’s law and order enforcement teams, a trend that has, in the worst cases, resulted in African-Americans paying with their lives.

A comment by Bruce Harnett from the University of Pittsburgh on a news page discussing this case struck a chord with me. He highlighted his point by stating how it seems ‘there is very little affluent white people can do to warrant prison sentences’ and pointed out that ‘neither judges, white juries, nor prosecutors, feel prison is an appropriate place for a white person’, a point that, when looking at the figures of incarceration levels, appears to ring true. Our media outlets and TV shows reflect this notion of stereotyping on a near daily basis, of the black man being the thug and the middle class white man being the respectable, good person: to pretend that these stereotypes are not a precondition in many people’s minds when judging cases of law and order violations would be naive.

In the face of oppression and prejudice, we must be loud and vocal in our disgust and opposition. We must make it clear that we will not stand for this, that we can do better. Not only must it be made clear to those that allow and decide on these ridiculous rulings and the perpetrators themselves, but it must be made clear to victims and potential victims too. Whilst there is potentially little we can do in the direct court rulings of individual cases themselves, by sharing our sense of injustice on behalf of victims of both racial abuse and sexual assault, we at least send out a message that we are on their side, even if their law and order systems aren’t.

 Kirstie x



10 thoughts on “how many more rapists and racists will we protect before something changes?”

  • This is so sad to read 😔 Your are a very lovely lady for putting this out there 💜 It is really horrible what goes on and that nobody ever sorts it xx
    Love you kirstie x
    Please follow my twitter @oliviafoxfoxy

  • Amazing post Kirstie definitely agree with everything you’ve pointed out! It’s a shame we live in such a disgusting and horrifying world 😔💞

  • What a vile story. It is truly heartbreaking that those of minority rarely get the justice, closure and basically just the treatment that they deserve. It’s continuously mind-blowing to me that everyone on this planet can’t take a few seconds to just think about other people. I just wish that they would do that and then they can tell me how we aren’t all equal. The difficulty, for me, of getting out of bed every morning knowing that I’m going to hear about more racism, sexism, homophobia etc is almost completely unbearable so my entire heart aches for people who get out of bed every morning knowing that they are going to face it. If you and I are somehow capable of not being racist, surely EVERYONE is capable too?
    I’m just glad that in a word surrounded by ignorant people and their vacuous decisions and opinions, I can rely on you to spread an intelligent and compassionate message, thank you.

    Lots of love,
    Annie
    xXx

    (on a more positive note, I tried Linda McCartney sausages, you were right. They are a complete lifesaver! Thank you!)

  • Some people are so vile😷 Thank you so much for posting this and i honestly hope that your posts eventually encourage change in the world, or even in the country, would be a start. So much love for you, Kirstie, you are amazing❤Xx

  • Dear Kirstie,

    First of all, thank you for putting this post up and sharing it with us. It definitely is an eye opener for us who want to find out more about rape as well as racism and the stance that we must take against it so that we impart the right values to our generation to make sure that we try to prevent such incidents from happening as much as possible. It really does pain me to see that such behaviour is still tolerated even in this century.

    I really don’t understand why people are inflicting harm on other people. I’m honestly truly disgusted by the lengths that people will go to just to cause pain to others for no reason and they’re simply let off so easy. This is not the behaviour that we should tolerate because who knows? Rapists might just rape again whenever they please and especially since they’re white males they’d be let off with another easy warning which I do not think is right. This should not be the case and I really do hope that ALL people no matter their race or religion, if they have committed a serious offence, they should be served what they deserve instead of letting them be above the law. I really hope everyone has the mindset that we should all be treated with the equal respect that we deserve as humans because I think it’s important that we embrace diversity and not let anyone worry about who they are because of their race and religion. Also, I really hope that people will wake up (no pun intended there) and start to realise that rapists should be blamed for their actions because it was simply uncalled for and not pin the blame on the victims just because of the way they dress be it scantily or not.

    I’m genuinely with the people who have been victims of these situations and I hope that when more people read this post they will feel the same way too.

    Thank you once again for bringing up this controversial issue and to end off I will quote George Bernard Shaw: “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Through this, I hope everyone can find it in themselves to try and stop unnecessary and uncalled for behaviour/issues like these.

    I love you and I hope that you have a great day ❤

    Isabella

  • Definitely agree with everything you said…it’s hard to believe that this injustices are being made in a world that is supposed to be safe and fair. How can we walk without any fear if rapists are around us possibily looking for the next victim? How can we be secure with our race if we are going to be judged and hurt because of the color of our skin, the type of our hair, etc…How can I have a smile on my face while walking down the street if I know that if some boy or man rape me he can get out unpunished? I would expect that in the 21st century at least we could have some justice…
    I love the fact that you talk about really important things and that you want to make some kind of difference in this world, you’re definitely a role model …
    Lots of love,
    Gabriela😘

  • Awww its really sad to read this and yeah.. its so difficult to put all this up so systematically love u for this but still all this is very sad …
    All of us are well aware of this but when we read something like we then bcom more aware and alert about these issues whereas thilese should be the topic of the hour 😑😑

  • White privilege is a real thing, but it is starting to come around and bite us in the butt. Not sure if you heard about this, but last week a similar incident happened in Illinois, but instead it was a white victim. A 16 year old white mentally disabled male was picked up at a McDonalds a town over from me by 4 African american legal adults. They took him to the south side of Chicago and recorded themselves abusing him on Facebook live. They hit him, yelled racial slurs at him, cut off part of his scalp, and forced him to drink out of the toilet. All four of them will receive heavy jail time. Now, I’m not condoning what they did at all, but I feel america is almost to blame. We have been treating minorities like second class citizens who don’t matter and we elected trump. Incidents like this are going to keep happening now that trump is almost in office. Please pray for america, I feel we may be on the brink of a civil war soon.

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