Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A measure of the rape hysteria in Steubenville: the mother of a 9-year-old boy told her son that if he ever rapes anyone, “I will cut your penis off, shove it down your throat and watch you die slowly.”

The investigation into the purported rape of a teen girl by high school football players has turned Steubenville in Salem, 1692. According to this report, many insist that law enforcement authorities aren't doing enough to bring about justice. It is unclear what, if anything, the authorities have done wrong. The police charge that on the night of Aug. 11, two sophomore Steubenville High School players dragged a drunk 16-year-old girl from house to house while taking liberties with her, using their cell phones to snap photographs and shoot videos with their cell phones along the way. The two boys, who have maintained their innocence, have been charged in juvenile court with rape. The evidence revealed in the news media is damning and the boys' conduct reported by the press was atrocious, but we are loathe to predict an outcome, and the defendants are entitled to their day in court.

What appears to have outraged many is that bystanders apparently did nothing to prevent the girl's abuse. The Steubenville police say that while they find certain of the conduct they investigated to be "detestable behavior," there is no statute that allows a criminal charge for detestable behavior.

And this is where the story gets chilling. According to The Daily Beast, certain anonymous Internet hackers "apparently [do] want to punish what they saw as detestable behavior, demanding that every single member of the football team step forward and apologize for what they did to that girl in August—or else they would publicly post 'dox,' meaning personal information about people found on the internet including Social Security and phone numbers, on all of the team’s players, their coach Reno Saccoccia, parents and others.

“'This is a warning shot to the faculty, the parents of those involved and those involved especially,' a Guy Fawkes-masked person read in a video posted on the hackers’ site. 'You have attracted the attention of the hive… you now have the world looking directly at you.'”

One of the anonymous vigilante hackers "says more of the young men should be charged with crimes, though he’s not exactly sure what those crimes would be. . . . If the two boys who have been charged aren’t convicted, he said that 'we won’t hunt them down in a physical sense—no pitchforks.' But, he added: 'I know we could make their lives very difficult.'”

As one civil-liberties lawyer, who is concerned about the sometimes vigilante attitude toward accused rapists, puts it: "Some people regard rape as so heinous an offense that they would not even regard innocence as a defense."

The Steubenville hackers have also organized, via Twitter and Facebook, two-in person protests, including one on Saturday.  At that gathering, the protest veered into good old fashioned Chicken Little hysterics. According to the news report: "One 11-year-old girl took the microphone and said she was afraid she would be raped someday, and then broke down crying."  Fomenting irrational fear in an 11-year-old girl in order to advance a political agenda is nothing short of child abuse.

But wait, the best is saved for last: the mother of a 9-year-old boy said she told her son earlier that day that if he ever rapes anyone, “I will cut your penis off, shove it down your throat and watch you die slowly.”  My guess is that the line drew cheers.

What more can be said? A woman is so outraged by the very thought of rape that she threatens her little 9-year-old son with mutilation and murder.

It is time to lower the temperature in Steubenville and insist that rationality, not raw emotion, govern the public discourse. Let the judge do his job.