Petula Dvorak’s man-slicing June 9 column “The face of the campus predator” typified the unhelpfully superficial conversation about Stanford student Brock Turner’s six-month sentence for sexual assault.
Turner’s crime certainly sounds disgusting and morally reprehensible. But nothing is to be gained by fomenting “string ’em up” outrage based on unsupported generalization.
Dvorak told us that this blond swimming star is “what campus sexual predators look like” and implied that Judge Aaron Persky gave Turner a Stanford alumnus discount on his sentence. Really? How does Dvorak know?
Figures and faces of campus sex-actors are hardly gold standard, particularly since many schools keep investigations “in-house,” while sentences in court for offenses in the Turner ballpark vary widely, across jurisdictions.
Moreover, Turner’s punishment is hardly “light.” Now branded forever as a sex offender, his prospects are bleak. Murderers, bank robbers and fraudsters, once released from prison, are not permanently watched and listed. Turner will be.
It may be time to reassess the hierarchy of our most-demonized crimes and most lusted-after punishments. At the very least, it’s time to change the way we talk about them.