Conclusion—The provost can't be disturbed: Was the sentence given to Brock Turner too lenient? Was it much too lenient?
We can't answer your questions. For starters, we aren't fans of punishment culture. We're not sure we've ever been happy to hear that someone is going to jail.
More specifically, we don't know much about sentencing decisions in cases of this general type. Check that! In fact, we don't know anything about sentencing decisions in cases of this general type. Of course, neither do the million fiery pseudo-progressives who signed Professor Dauber's petition to get the local judge fired.
We don't really know what we're talking about. This rarely stops us modern pseudos when we stage one of our hunts.
Alas! We modern pseudo-progressives are highly skilled with our various species of dogma. In this case, our dogma tells us that we mustn't discuss the culture of campus drinking in connection with a case like this, in which a jury found that Turner was guilty of sexual assault.
The intersection between campus drinking and these endless cases is painfully clear. But our dogma tells us we mustn't go there, and we modern pseudo-progressives are happy childish slaves to our various dogmas.
In the current case, our love of dogma and moral dudgeon led us to stage two of our hunts. First, we chased down the college freshman who was convicted of assault.
People can judge that as they wish. After that, more remarkably, we chased down the local judge.
Our perspective on these matters is somewhat different. If we wanted to get a lynch mob running, we'd chase the provost and president first, then inquire about the availability of Stanford's highly august professors.
In modern pseudo-liberal culture, Homey don't play it that way. We tend to go after the little guy while letting august figures slide.
Our love of dogma intersects with our other known skill, our skill at inventing scripted stories replete with heroes and demons. If we have to disappear or invent facts to make our stories less ambiguous, we're typically willing to do it.
If we have to stress irrelevant facts, we're willing to do that too. See this morning's postscript.
Our mainstream press corps has worked in these ways for several decades now. We pseudo-progressives have come to feel that we like this culture too.
As we've read about the current case, we've been struck by the elements which add a bit of ambiguity to the wonderfully admirable outrage we've derived from the application of our various dogmas. Mainstream journalists have tended to skip past these elements as they push for maximum outrage about the outrageous behavior of the local judge.
For ourselves, we'll speak today on behalf of ambiguity. Understanding that others won't follow us there, we'll at least mention these points:
The case of the prior arrest: According to the Los Angeles Times, Turner "was arrested before the sexual assault in an unrelated incident." The on-line version of the report fails to explain that statement. But Rocha and Mejia do at least say this:
ROCHA AND MEJIA (6/10/16): According to prosecutors, Turner and members of his swim team were stopped by a deputy after they were spotting drinking beer on campus and then tried to run away. He was wearing a bright orange tuxedo and smelled of alcohol. Turner wasn’t 21 years old and had a fake driver’s license, according to prosecutors.This incident occurred in November 2014, two months before the events in which Turner committed the assault. In this prior incident, Turner and others were chased through the Stanford campus because they were drinking beer.
We'll only note that Turner still "wasn't 21 years old" in January 2015, when the fraternity party in question occurred. (In fact, he was still 19.) But so what? At that party, he was served alcohol until his blood alcohol content reached 0.17, more than twice the legal limit for driving a car.
Turner was 19; presumably, serving him that alcohol was illegal. But where a campus policeman once chased him around, now the fraternity proceeded to get him shit-faced drunk, in apparent violation of state law. This is why we'd start by chasing the provost, president and professors around, long before we'd try to launch our death threats at the local judge.
Turner's victim was over 21, but she was served so much alcohol at that party that she was black-out drunk by the time she left (0.25, three times the legal limit). A bar and bar-tender would face legal sanctions for serving her that much booze, then letting her walk out the door. This is why we'd be inclined to chase the provost around in this latest case, along with Stanford's august professors, before we'd to get the tribe sending threats to the judge, who had to sort out the tragic results of this deliberate, enabled mess.
The recommendation of the heroic professor: When we get our lynch mobs running, we quickly create our heroes and demons. This keeps our story on second-grade level, where we prefer to live.
In this case, we invented the heroic professor, Professor Dauber, who was also a long-time family friend of the victim. We'll only note this:
In a letter to the local judge, Professor Dauber seemed to recommend a sentence of 2-3 years. Beyond that, she seemed to anticipate that Turner, who was 20 years old at sentencing, would serve only a portion of that time.
"If the court adheres to the statutory minimums, Turner will be out of prison by the time he is 22," the heroic professor wrote. "He will have plenty of opportunity to finish his education, put this behind him, and have a second chance at his life."
This heroic professor specializes in the very important matter of sexual assault. She may have done lots of good work in this general area.
We only note that her recommendation was rarely cited by journalists when they helped us gather our rope to chase the local judge. At the Los Angeles Times, Rocha and Mejia framed his unfeeling behavior in this more typical way:
ROCHA AND MEJIA: Turner was convicted in March of three felony counts: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.Good work! Readers weren't told that the probation officer had recommended a sentence of 4-6 months. Nor were they told that the heroic professor only seemed to recommend 2-3 years, with less time actually served.
He was facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, while prosecutors asked Persky to sentence him to six years in prison.
Instead, Persky sentenced Turner to six months in county jail and three years of probation. Turner is likely to serve only half of that sentence due to California’s felony sentencing realignment.
Readers were given a more exciting framework, helping them stoke their glorious anger. The judge could have given him 14 years! Prosecutors asked for six!
This selective presentation helped stoke our fury at the local judge. The death threats began rolling in.
Concerning those letters: The local judge had to assess a selection of letters and statements about the case. Readers were told about the foolishness and the apparent dissembling in two or three of the pro-Turner letters. We weren't told about the possible shortcomings in statements supporting the victim.
If we might borrow from Mr. T, we pity the judge when we see the statements he had to consider. In our view, parts of the letter from the heroic professor were completely foolish, given the circumstance which surrounded the case. In her own statement to the court, the victim discussed her history of drinking in a way which may have been as disingenuous as Turner's discussion of his own prior drinking.
The victim wasn't charged with a crime, of course. Still, we felt sorry for the judge when we saw some of the nonsense he was forced to sift. Because of the dogmas which keep us from discussing the intersection between alcohol abuse and sexual assault, the public never had to hear about any of this.
The protest by the heroic juror: After the local judge announced the disgraceful sentence, a juror stepped forward to protest. He was quickly cast in the role of the heroic juror.
There was no sign that this heroic juror knew his aspic from his elbow when it came to sentencing practices in such cases, but when we get our lynch mobs running, nobody cares about that. Beyond that, might we ask a question?
How did the jury find Turner guilty of "assault with intent to rape?" Even the heroic professor only said this in her letter to the unfeeling judge:
"Had Good Samaritans not intervened, [the victim] likely would have been raped in public."
We're not sure how the professor can feel she knows even that. But "likely" isn't "proven beyond a reasonable doubt." Somehow, though, the jury felt it knew enough to convict Turner on that charge. Is it possible that the jury may gotten a bit out over its skis? You will never see such a question discussed in the wake of such a case.
A few ancillary questions: What did you think about the 19-year sentence the teenager got in this recent case? What did you think about last week's long-delayed resolution of this police homicide case?
Oh, that's right! Those cases don't fit the standard templates through which we're fed our childish tribal gruel. You'll never see those cases discussed. Simple put, we pseudos don't care about the people involved in those cases.
"Hell is other Britons," a brave fellow has now declared. Needless to say, the New York Times thought his statement was great.
Tomorrow, we'll build a new line of inquiry out of that stirring declaration. For ourselves, we'll only say his: increasingly, hell is the childish conduct of other pseudo-liberals.
Ambiguity isn't our friend. We prefer our heroes and demons straight.
We like the chase the local judges around. Within the realm of our childish minds, the provost can't be disturbed.
A bar tender faces legal trouble if he behaves as that Stanford fraternity did. That said, the frats just keep on pouring, with the same results again and again and again.
Young people are hurt again and again as this crackpot culture proceeds. In the realm of our simple and childish minds, the provost, president and professors know nothing about this problem.
Cast in the role of the Skittles: We enjoy inventing fake facts. We enjoy disappearing facts which introduce complexity into our games.
We also like to stress irrelevant facts which set the tone for our morality tales. In this case, the dumpster was the irrelevant player. It was widely cited for its bathetic effect. It was cast in the role of the Skittles.
This is the way our childish minds actually work. As the great existentialist declared in Huis Clos, "Hell is other people!"