Posted on | November 10, 2011 | 7 Comments
I am not going to talk about Penn State.
What I am going to talk about is the problem we seem to have in this country with victims. Rape victims, domestic abuse victims, child abuse victims…. we have issues with victims. And while I’m not sure exactly why that is, I think it’s because victims make us uncomfortable. If something bad happened to them, good Lord, something bad might happen to us. It’s a lot easier to shuffle the hurt under a rug and sweep their tears to the side and focus on, you know, rallying the troops around the accused. Maybe we can make it so this never even happened and then we don’t have to think about little boys being raped or little girls being molested. Maybe we can build up the perpetrator and talk about how he or she is so smart and so nice and they could just never, ever do something like this.
Maybe we can convince ourselves that things like this just don’t happen. Maybe we can convince ourselves that our friends, our co-workers, are not capable of atrocities.
We have a problem with victims. We make it hard for the wounded to find relief. We put the rape victim’s character on trial, we joke that “she was asking for it,” we pretend that things like this don’t happen to nice girls or nice boys. We pretend that it’s okay make jokes about it and laugh about it and sweep it all under this thick carpet of shame that is knit by the hands of the perpetrators; the men and women who make it their life’s work to abuse and belittle.
I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know how we change our mindset into being about protecting the accuser instead of the accused. I don’t know how we stop immediately letting our minds go to “poor guy, what if he’s innocent” and focus on “poor girl or boy, what a horrible thing to go through.” Maybe it’s the way our legal system works, maybe it’s the way we celebrate attorneys on television and on the news who take on an impossible case and make it “go away.” Maybe it’s because we would rather believe that someone didn’t do something than that they did. It’s why people celebrated when OJ Simpson was found not guilty. It’s why people celebrated when Amanda Knox’s verdict was reversed. It’s why Joe Paterno went to his Athletic Director instead of the police. It is nicer to think that the people we love or the people we feel akin to do not do terrible things.
Here’s the thing, though… terrible things happen.
And sometimes? Sometimes the terrible things are done by the people we trust most, the people we’ve had in our homes for dinner, the people we’ve introduced to our children.
Terrible things happen every day.
But I’m not going to talk about Penn State.