The Steubenville rape case has provided a huge amount of conflict and controversy throughout the country and in my own mind. In researching this event, I’ve been forced to ask myself questions I’ve never encountered before. As I learn more and more about this case, I am surprised by how many angles there are to it. When the story first came out on the news, it was portrayed as a simple rape case with two assailants and one victim. However, the more I look at the facts, the more I can’t help but feel sorry for the assailants as well as the victim. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous to say. After all, how can anyone have anyone have sympathy for rapists? It is undeniable that rape is a gruesome tragedy and that all those who commit the horrible act should be punished. However, it is important to define exactly what constitutes rape before calling someone a rapist.
In the case of Steubenville, the two assailants actually digitally (finger) penetrated the victim. It is also important to note that this was not the first time digital penetration occurred that night. The victim had no problem with it in the back of a car a few hours before the incident, and she was conscious during that time. In reading some of the eyewitness reports, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Hays don’t outwardly appear to be violent, evil, perverts to me. They look more like frightened teens who made some horrible decisions. In the courtroom videos, Trent Mays can be seen sobbing and showing remorse for what happened. One of the boys was even said to have held the victim’s hair back for her as she puked in the street from excessive drinking earlier that night. Although I’m not saying what they did was acceptable by any means, I do think that there are some murky details in this case that should be observed. What was the intent of the boys’ actions? After all, the girl had supposedly been fine with digital penetration earlier. Did they think she was accepting it again? Was the girl actually unconscious, or just extremely drunk to the point of immobility? I’m not the one to give rape a definition, but I think it is important that news providers clearly define what happened in the case so that the public can come to their own conclusions. It is my belief that Ma’lik and Trent should be punished for their actions. No one should take advantage of another person when that person isn’t in their right mind. However, I personally see a difference between two immature high school students who made a big mistake and a sexual predator who violently rapes women for his own enjoyment. Although what they did is wrong, I’m not sure they should simply be tossed into the category of rapist. What happened in Steubenville is unfortunate on all sides of the case. The victim, assailants, and entire town have had to suffer from the stupidity of two young men.
In regards to research, I’m still sifting through yahoo news articles. Almost all of the sources I’ve found are similar. Many of the newer articles written about Steubenville don’t seem to have any frame within them. I think this is because a lot of the passion has died down since the incident occurred. Also, after seeing how major news stations came under fire for being too obvious in their framing, maybe others are afraid to share their opinions on the subject so openly. It will be interesting to see how our class will be able to code the information we’ve gathered so far.
Here are some examples of what i’ve been finding