I saw on a friend’s Twitter feed and another friend’s Facebook page that a teenage girl was the victim of a 2 hour long gang rape that had people watching on and some of those in the audience decided to become a part of the show. I was and continue to be stunned by this piece of news. The rape happened on the girl’s high school campus, which was hosting a homecoming dance. She left the dance, somehow got caught up with a few guys drinking in a back corner of campus and they proceeded to beat the mess out of her and rape her…and somehow garnered a PARTICIPATING AUDIENCE.
Why do I call them participants? Because of their glaring omission of their moral responsibility to prevent the unnecessary and preventable pain of others. It is, I repeat, our moral responsibility as humans, equal under the sun, to prevent whatever preventable pain can be prevented and to alleviate and prevent any unnecessary pain of ourselves and others whenever possible.
Why do I call them participants? Because of their wanton disrespect for human life to take videos and photos of the attack. This implicit participation is just another slap in the face of their moral responsibility and also a refusal, as the photos and videos of this poor girl’s attack will always be around as unnecessary pain, remnants of something no person should ever have to endure.
Why do I call them participants? Because some of these men decided to join in on the rape. That this distinction needs to be made is a damn shame, but if you’re not sure, read the bold print:
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GANGBANG AND A GANG RAPE!
A gangbang (which to me ain’t much better but there is, as far as I’m concerned, a key difference between the two) involves a bunch of men and a WILLING participant(s). The woman involved in the gangbang actually wanted the gangbang (also known as a train) to occur.
A gang rape involves a bunch of men and an UNWILLING participant(s). She had no desire to have sex with a bunch of men – she was forced to through physical violence and physical restraint or psychological torture (threats on her life).
Hopefully we all understand the “minutia” between the two.
Back to the matter at hand, and some of you might wonder why I’m holding so much responsibility on the onlookers, the bystanders, those who may not have penetrated the young woman but aided in the penetration by standing and watching. It’s because of that moral imperative I stressed above – we have a responsibility to one another to, at the very least, help protect each other’s lives. Rousseau spoke about how men have one moral impulse – pity. Pity should have made an onlooker take notice and step in. Sure, I understand – they might turn around and kick your ass for ruining their fun. But was it worth it to witness someone being violated? You saved yourself at the unnecessary expense of another, and what’s worse is you didn’t save yourself because you didn’t risk yourself. You were just there. And that’s just not good enough.
I’m not going to go with the emotional route (what if that was your daughter/sister/mother/etc.), because for the onlooker, it wasn’t so it didn’t matter to him. There’s no emotional tie there – they have no need to emotionally care. They should, however, have a need for a moral care. I don’t have to care about someone to pity them, if I were to use Rousseau’s moral impulse, but I do need to recognize that the person is at a disadvantage somehow and that they need a helping hand.
I wonder what went through their mind, what their rationale was for watching someone’s violation. Certainly people have always enjoyed a good fight, usually because of the equality of the pugilists and because you don’t know who’s going to win. We enjoy seeing some violence because of our bloodthirst. We enjoy sex for a myriad of reasons. Combine all three, and in someone’s sick mind you have the makings for why they enjoyed watching a gang rape. In that sick mind, it’s like a new fight everytime a new “challenger” stepped into the ring. A few punches and a forced entry later, that sick mind has had all 3 of its thirsts quenched. But it remains the truth – that mind is sick.
These men have shirked their responsibilities to the other. We have a responsibility to one another to preserve life. It doesn’t matter what ethical theory you ascribe to – none will openly say that it’s fine to mess people up for no good reason unless it’s some sort of subjectivist ethics or nihilist ethics, both of which have enough holes without even mixing in gangrape. My own moral impulses and imperatives scream that when you see wrong (and, again, in case you weren’t sure, rape is wrong), you need to stop that wrong. If only because it’s one’s duty to prevent and/or stop unnecessary pain and pain that could lead to the end of one’s life. And that the woman had to be airlifted to a hospital should tell you the extent of her injuries.
Now, that sick mind may well say, “Hey, this pain was necessary. The rapists were getting their pleasure, and their pleasure is paramount to the girl’s pain.” Well, you sick observer who doesn’t have the gall to stop a damn rape, someone gaining pleasure is a great thing. But pleasure at the expense of someone, especially pleasure that comes as a byproduct of causing physical pain to another, cannot be considered true pleasure or a worthwhile pleasure. To borrow from utilitarianism, happiness is the maximizing of pleasure and the minimizing of pain. Now, the sick mind might say, “Well, 20 guys got pleasure and 1 girl got pain. Seems like it adds up.” And again, you cowardly freak, you’ve had some sort of moral misjudgment and misguiding. It was 20 (I don’t know how many guys were involved, I just threw out a number) guys gaining pleasure, each one time, at the girl’s expense, also one time each. 20 pleasure events and 20 pain events cancel out at worst, at best we err to the caution of the minimizing of pain as opposed to the maximizing of pleasure.
And there is no pleasure that even totals up to attacking someone, as, again, we should always err to the side of minimizing pain as opposed to maximizing pleasure.
With that said, if somebody killed those guys, I think the case could be made that we haven’t gotten any pleasure, but we’ve definitely minimized the current pain they’ve caused and the potential pain they could cause.
And in case you didn’t know, there is a social responsibility for all of us, if only because our humanity makes us equal, to prevent suffering whenever possible. Because there’s nothing good that comes from suffering. There’s no nut busted that makes up for the hell this woman had to endure. There’s no enjoyment of what sadly became a spectacle that makes up for the psychological and physical recovery down the road for this woman. Simply put, there’s no good reason to have allowed this to go on, bystander.
If karma exists and is a bitch, the bystander will receive just as much revenge as the rapists themselves.
You may ask, “Why did I equate the rapists and the bystanders?” Because if you see someone is enduring unnecessary physical pain and do not intervene to stop the situation, you are aiding and abetting and implicitly condoning the act, which puts you a hop, skip, and a jump from being a physical participant. But as a non-physical participant, you’re still a part of the audience, and the audience is also to be held culpable. I know the law doesn’t really have much they can do here, but moral accountability still resides with those who witnessed brutality and didn’t help to prevent the unnecessary suffering this woman had to endure.
You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned the rapists. Because there’s no need – they’re unquestionably evil people. The bystanders are questionably evil, and all those who saw a girl getting raped and took pictures and videos and cheered and jeered, in my book, are also unquestionably evil. And they are evil because of their outright denial of what most would consider to be a basic ethical principle – protect life.
Moments like this, I really do think that if the parents of this girl came out and took a shotgun to each rapist and to those bystanders who were filming and all, they would be acting in a fair utilitiarian way – minimize the pain these men could continue to cause, and the minimizing of pain necessarily gives more pleasure than the maximizing or steadying of the level of pain could cause. If I was a lawyer, I’d fly to California myself and represent the parents if they killed those rapists. And I’d bring every lawyer I could with me.
Why? Because I’d like to protect their lives, which is exactly what those bystanders didn’t do.
A final note – earlier I made sure to call the minds that could rationalize the behaviors of the rapists and the bystanders sick. It’s sick because, comparatively speaking, there are plenty more people who won’t try to rationalize the behavior because they see it as a futile effort. There are plenty more people who adhere to the basic ethical principle that I’ve laid out here. People needn’t get into “this is human nature at play here” because the good and evil in the world tends to balance out in a weird way. Human nature doesn’t lend itself to this conversation, but moral responsibility certainly does.
I hope those guys get what they deserve.