A plea for sanity

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

“I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away…”

— from “American Pie” by Don McLean

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I know it’s only Monday, but it’s been a hell of a week.

By now you know that a Florida gunman killed 50 people and injured 53 at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. The massacre is “the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history,” according to published reports.

In other news, late last week and again over the weekend, several media outlets published stories about the pleas for leniency in sentencing made by convicted sex offender Brock Turner’s parents. In and of itself that is not a big deal. What makes it newsworthy — and frankly unbelievable — is that not once do Dan or Carleen Turner express concern or remorse about what their little golden boy did. In fact, they were both too busy crying about how “the verdict” ruined their lives to acknowledge he did anything wrong.

What is even more disgusting is that these self-centered, narcissistic swines (for lack of a better description) got their wish. Their son, Brock, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford University campus in January 2015, got only six months in jail and three years probation.

Elsewhere over the weekend, English and Russian soccer “fans” gathered in France, where teams representing their countries faced off in Euro 2016, the European Championship tournament. Unfortunately, troublemakers from both countries reportedly incited violence prior to and during the game.

Collectively, this is more than enough to make any sane person wonder just what the hell is going on.

Stop The World, I Want To Get Off

What is almost as disturbing as the violence itself is the reaction to it. In this case, I am referring specifically to the reaction that occurred in the wake of the Sunday morning massacre.

Media reports issued before all of the facts were known fueled speculation about the shooter and his motive. Politicians started mouthing off before all of the facts were known. People commenting on Internet stories about the incident resorted to trading insults, name calling, and generally carrying on in a completely disgusting and reprehensible manner.

Not that it surprised me. That’s what always happens after an incident of this magnitude. But that doesn’t make it right. Not by a long shot.

The time in the immediate aftermath of any tragedy is not the time to politicize the issue, nor is it the time to engage in the stupidity commonly seen on the Internet. Honestly, does screaming louder than the other guy or calling him names or insulting his mother really make anyone feel better? Does it do any good? Does it change anything?

I think not.

Enough Is Enough

The hours and days following a tragedy of this magnitude is the time to find compassion in our hearts and rally to help everyone affected. It is the time to offer what little solace we can for families and friends of those who were lost and those who were injured. It is the time to grieve for and with those now facing inexplicable heartache. It is time to respect their privacy, but it also time to give them a forum to share their feelings if they wish to do so.

We must give those who were injured space and time as they begin to heal. We must give those who lost friends and loved ones time to mourn.

Then — and only then — will there come a time when we must put our differences aside and have a meaningful discussion about the important issues at hand. We must find it within ourselves to put our egos aside and enter an open dialogue about terrorism, radical Islam, gun control, gun owners rights, homophobia and the hate that generally plagues this country.

It is crucial that we find some way to come together — and we can do it. We did it after 9/11 — and we can do it again. We must.

If we don’t, we are doomed. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t you dare feel sorry for Brock Turner

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

 

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

To hear his daddy tell it, Brock Turner — the convicted sex offender and former Stanford University student — is actually a golden boy who doesn’t deserve much more than a slap on the wrist for the crime he committed.

Apparently the judge agrees with him.

In March, Brock Turner was convicted of three felony charges: assault with intent to rape an intoxicated/unconscious person; penetration of an intoxicated person; and penetration of an unconscious person. The charges stemmed from a January 2015 incident in which Brock Turner, 20, took advantage of a helpless young woman on campus.

The California Penal Code is very specific about the punishment upon conviction for these crimes.

First there’s Section 289 subdivision (d) which states: “Any person who commits an act of sexual penetration, and the victim is at the time unconscious of the nature of the act and this is known to the person committing the act or causing the act to be committed, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.”

Under the law, a victim who is “unconscious of the nature of the act” is one who can’t fight back because he or she was “unconscious or asleep” or because he or she is not “aware, knowing, perceiving or cognizant that the act occurred.”

Then there’s Section 220. subdivision (a) (1), which states: “Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who assaults another with intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, oral copulation, or any violation of Section 264.1, 288, or 289 shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.”

At any rate, you can do the math.  And then ask yourself why Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky couldn’t seem to do the same. Or why he didn’t want to.

Last week he sentenced the former Stanford University swimmer to just six months incarceration and three years probation.

Boo Hoo

Even so, Brock Turner appears to be feeling pretty sorry for himself, according to a recent article in The New York Times that included a copy of his letter to Perksy and a link to his father’s controversial statement.

“The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever,” Brock Turner says in his statement. “I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life.”

Although he acknowledges and says he regrets that he also caused the victim “emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair,” most of the emphasis in Brock Turner’s statement is on himself and how he has been affected.

“I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case,” he says. “I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers would want to write stories about me.”

He goes on to beg the judge to give him only probation, saying that wants to be a positive influence on young people and that he’s already paid a steep price for his actions.

“I’ve been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school. I’ve lost my chance to swim in the Olympics. I’ve lost my ability to obtain a Stanford degree. I’ve lost employment opportunities, my reputation and most of all, my life,” he says.

The Apple Hasn’t Fallen Far…

That Brock Turner is so selfish, self-absorbed and self-centered can be partially attributed to youth and immaturity. That he seems completely incapable of taking responsibility for his actions is also easily explained — especially when viewed in context of his own father’s statement.

In the written request that his son be placed on probation Dan Turner also indicates that his son has already paid — and will continue to pay dearly — for what he did. Specifically, he bemoans the fact that Brock Turner would have to register as a sex offender and says  incarceration would be too a harsh penalty for something that took place in a relatively short period of time when viewed in the context of his entire life.

Well with all due respect, Mr. Turner, the length of time it took your son to assault that young lady has nothing to do with the punishment he deserves. It takes someone a split second to decide to drive after they’ve had too much to drink. And guess what? If they hit and kill or maim someone, they are punished accordingly — even if it’s their first offense and they’ve never been in trouble. It can take years to plan and carry out a homicide. And guess what? If you’re caught and convicted, you’re punished accordingly — even if it’s your first offense and you’ve never been in trouble.

It’s the price we pay for living in a society governed by rule of law. There are always consequences for our actions. We all need to be held fully accountable for our choices.

By the way, my mother taught me that when I was little. Too bad you didn’t teach your son the same thing.