CNN disappoints in coverage of Steubenville rape trial

In flipping through the channels this weekend, I came across the CNN coverage of the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case in which two high school football players were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party. They were found guilty Sunday, and one of the CNN anchors covering the story, Candy Crowley, made several comments about how the boys’ “promising” lives would be tarnished forever due to the sex offender charges on their records.

Crowley seemed unable to see past the 16- and 17-year-old boys’ societal status as upstanding young athletes, blinded to the atrocious act they committed against another human being. The adage “boys will be boys” has been thrown around, acting as though physical violation is the male gender’s rule rather than the very violent, cruel exception. And, just as we’ve seen on our own campus in recent months, it doesn’t hurt that the boys are athletes, which for some reason exempts them to the point of moral immunity.

Cries that the boys’ lives will be ruined forever litter comment sections and Facebook posts – no one is focusing on how that girl will most likely be afraid to walk anywhere alone for the rest of her life. No one is pointing out the inherent misogyny in the media’s coverage of this trial.

No, all we’re worried about is the fact that two convicted rapists won’t ever be able to move past their crimes. I am all for forgiveness, really, but they knew what they were doing. They may have thought they were going to get away with it (after all, America doesn’t exactly have a great track record with serving rapists the appropriate amount of justice), but they knew full well the implications of their actions. I cannot feel pity for rapists, and I do not feel pity for them.

It’s very simple, really: If you don’t want to be marked down for the rest of your life as a sex offender, don’t rape.

Plenty of rape apologists are going so far as to defend the boys, saying the girl was asking for it by drinking to excess. They say that she was probably wearing provocative clothing, and that no self-respecting man could have dared resist such an opportunity. I’ll let these people in on a little secret: There is not one feasible excuse to rape someone. Drugs, alcohol, what they’re wearing – none of these should be factors in you raping. A twisted desire to prove yourself, a false sense of masculinity and engendering the patriarchy, maybe, but nothing the victim does or wears.

Rape is rape is rape. There is no splitting hairs or semantics involved ­– forced “sex” is rape, and it is never okay. The fact that the victim of the Steubenville rape case was drunk means nothing. She could have been completely unconscious and (pardon me) naked on a bed, and that still would not have been an excuse to rape her. Anything but explicitly saying “yes” to sex is saying “no,” and it’s high time society realizes this. The University is getting there with its focus on consent, but obviously much, much more needs to be done for America to reach a state of awareness that strives away from victim-blaming and aims itself at adequately punishing offenders. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating and will bear repeating until rapists get longer jail sentences than drug dealers and politicians stop calling rape victims sluts.

CNN, I expected better of you and your employees. If these boys’ lives are ruined, it was their own doing. Stop punishing your daughters for getting raped, and start teaching your sons not to rape.

Beth Lindly is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column runs biweekly on Tuesday.

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