The Ed Show | March 18, 2013
>> good evening, americans. welcome to "the ed show." i'm in for ed schultz . a republican senator comes out for gay marriage two years after his son tells him he's gay. sarah palin and karl rove are at each other's throats. the republican autopsy is in but they're still stuck on slavery. what the devil is going on with the history channel . but tonight we start in steubenville, ohio. this is "the ed show," and as ed would say, let's get to work. let's begin with the facts. two members steubenville high school football team were found guilty this weekend of raining a 16-year-old girl last year. the judge handed down the verdicts in juvenile court .
>> regarding the charges of rain, both are committed to the department of youth services for a minimum period of one year, a maximum period till you're 21.
>> the defendants were taken into custody and sent to a juvenile detention center . 16-year-old malik richmond was found delinquent on charges of rain that carry a minimum of one year in detention. 17-year-old trent mays was found delinquent on charges of rain and nudity-oriented material. he was sentenced to a minimum of two years in a juvenile detention center . both teens could remain in juvenile detention until they are 21. those are the basic facts of sunday's verdict. but the immediate reaction to the news was driven almost entirely by emotion.
>> i cannot imagine, having just watched this on the feed coming in, how emotional that must have been sitting in the courtroom.
>> the emotion being discussed was not of the victim or the victim's family. it was a reaction to the defendants breaking down in court. both of them sobbed and offered words of regret minutes before hearing their fates. so in response to the news of a guilty verdict in a rain case, the story was defined by the suffering of the accused?
>> it was incredibly emotional, even difficult for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.
>> many would argue their lives fell apart the moment they engaged in rain. the coverage of the verdict exploited whatever emotion was conveniently available at the moment. in this instance it was the emotion of two young men who were facing the consequences of their actions. their actions were downplayed and their punishment was jujd, and in so doing, the media gave approval to blame the victim. countless messages including sexual taunts toward the teenage girl, saying she should have been aware of they are surroundings, and blaming her for drunken decisions that ruined innocent lives. two 16-year-old girls have been arrested for making death threats to the victim on twitter. ohio attorney general mike duwine struck a different know when addressing the verdict. he seemed to remember the person who was actually the victim of a crime .
>> the prosecutor's most important duty is to seek justice. and i believe what we saw today is in fact justice. my heart goes out to the victim and her family.
>> duwine added another sentiment. he said every rain is a tragedy. in this instance those covering the story would have done well to remember who perpetrated this tragedy and who was a victim. get your cell phones out. i want to know what you think. tonight's question, did the media lose sight of the real victim in the steubenville case? go to your blog at msnbc.com. i'll bring you the results later in the show. i'm joined by professor at the university of pennsylvania and cofounder of "a long walk home." ladies, thank you for joining me. why was there such a fierce emotional reaction?
>> i think first we need to put this into context of the larger dynamic of rain culture. so this is one of the 3% of cases where rapists are actually convicted and punished for their crime. and so this is the minority of cases, but also i think we all operate under this rain culture that i keep talking about in many of my articles, and that is because we put the blame and the responsibility on women to prevent women . and instead, we should be empathizing with victims and not blaming victims and also supporting victims and being a support system and an advocate so that they themselves are not revictimized by the rest of us when the focus is on what they should have done to prevent it, and instead not on the people that perpetrated the crime.
>> right. erin , obviously there was a retraumatization of the victim herself as a result of being tried in the public opinion and then demonized more broadly. does the reaction to the story illustrate a problem with the way people are educated about rain and consent?
>> absolutely. i think given the age of the offenders, given the age of the victims, it is so clear that the perpetrators were operating with impuni impunity, that the education about consent needs to begin much earlier, that they believed they were above the law , and that when they were documenting it, they didn't realize that what they were doing is creating evidence in a criminal case . they believed that because the coach had their backs, which suggests that this is a long-standing cultural issue, that absolutely nothing would happen to them. so instead of focusing on the victims' behavior, what we should be focusing on is how do we intervene in this culture that tells boys that they don't have to respect women as humans, and if they sexually humiliate young girls, absolutely nothing will happen to them. if there's anything we can learn, it is the fact that people need to learn from consent is, what stanley impairment is, intervene in a cultural of masculinity.
>> speaking about the toxic culture of masculinity, you of course spent a great deal of time away from the clamor trying to educate young women and young men about these issues. the mother of the victim actually delivered a statement in court to the defendants. she said in part, your decisions that night affected countless lives, including those most dear to you. you were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. this does not between who my daughter is. she will persevere, grow and move on. i hope you fear the lord, repent for your actions, and pray hard for his forgiveness. is there responsibility for those words to be heard and heard widely?
>> yes, i think the other responsibility is for the media to understand what recovering from sexual assault is like. so i think that was the big problem here. not only was there oversympathy for the defendants in this case but there was seeming lack of concern for what rain does to victims of sexual assault . the stats are overwhelming. it's 20% of women who experience sexual assault are going to try to commit suicide . it's the number one reason women drop out of college and high school , and about 60% of papal narcotic incart rated sexual assault .
>> and not only were they overly samp sympathizing for the defendant, if they were in the schoolroom we would talk about there's a narrative and there's the narrative on the narrative. so the reaction of the media was striking. here's more of the media reaction following the verdict.
>> what's the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rain, essentially?
>> is it unusual for there to be such profound sympathy for the guilty parties, or do you think there's something different about this specific case that kind of captured the imagination of the nation?
>> well, certainly we have two football players, and so i think in the united states we lionize athletes to a degree that really is unnecessary. but in reality, the reaction is not any different from rain cases all over the country. many times women internalize this greater narrative of rain culture and they blame themselves while they think that they don't want to press charges because they're going to ruin the perpetrator's life. and that is wrong. that's what we need to change. we need to change the conversation entirely and focus on the choices and the actions of the person who committed the crime. because the only reason rain happens is rapists choose to commit rain. that is what we need to be talking about. and instead we always about what the victims could have and should have done to avoid rain, and that's completely wrong.
>> erin , how do we push past this identification with the two young men, the boys in this case and focus squarely again on this female victim, because it seems some people are blaming the victim because it seems they either knew details of the case or didn't care or didn't know, like the damning messages sent.
>> i'm inspired by the bravery of this young woman who testified in front of her accusers and went against the tide in a town that wore chipped football and football players. in terms of the town now it looks like there's going to be a grand jury convened. i think there are a lot of unanswered questions when it comes to the actions of the coach and his failure to report a sex crime and according to the text messages he laughed off. i think there's a lot of questions about the behavior of the boys who were there, some of who have struck deals or community. th . we need those kinds of interventions when it comes to sexual assault . if you see somebody vulnerable to a predator. if you see someone who is about to reach someone's boundaries of consent, in the same way you grab their keys, you have to put a stop to it, and there were so many opportunities in this tragic case that moving on recognizes how it could have been stopped.
>> that's a difficult transition, but we've got to focus on how do we develop empathy for those who are at risk in terms of sexual assault into the same degree as we do for somebody driving drunk like miss carmone just said. professor, do you think it makes it more difficult for victims of sexual assault to come forward? there's a huge stigma and great deal of empathy for those who commit the crime and not the victim.
>> i do think that's the case. but i do think this situation and the guilty verdict here may lead girls and young women to come forward, may lead for more women and girls to come forward. i would hope so. i think the mother's language here about inherit daughter's strength and her perseverance really helps survivors understand that this isn't just one woman's story or one girl's story. it's many of our stories. so yes, i would hope it would make a difference. but each time these cases become publicly spectacles as we know, as in cleveland, texas, or whether it's a high-profile case, it always leaves to survivors sort of sufficieocating their experiences and not coming forward and getting the justice they rightly deserve.
>> let's hope we can help these people all across america. zerlina, erin , professor, thank you so much for your time tonight. remember to answer tonight's question at the bottom of the screen and share your thoughts on twitter. i want to know what you think. a republican senator now supports gay marriage because of his