By Tallon Kennedy
September 12, 2016
Brock Turner, rapist convicted of penetrating a drunk unconscious woman was released from jail this Friday after serving only three months of his pathetic six month jail sentence handed to him by Judge Aaron Persky.
Turner’s original six-month sentence was infuriating enough, as Persky’s lenient ruling was made on the account that he believed that jail would have a “severe impact” on Turner, and that he thought that Turner would “not be a danger to others.”
Now being released after serving half of the time on account of “good behavior,” the case has become a shining example of how white, straight, and male privileges operate within the legal system. But it’s a tired example— we’ve seen over and over again white males get off easy in the justice system while people of other races are dealt harsher penalties.
Back in July, the Los Angeles Times uncovered a case with stark similarities to the Brock Turner case, but with a vastly different outcome. In the report, the Times revealed the case of Kyle Vo, an Asian-American, who was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of raping an unconscious woman.
Even Vo’s attorney, Martin Mullaney, was shocked at the contrast between Brock and Vo’s sentences given the nature of their crimes, saying that “The Brock Turner case is much more severe than what happened in this case.”
But in spite of this, Vo’s sentence was not six months, it was six years. It was never brought up during the sentencing how jail would affect Vo’s future, and it wasn’t baselessly believed that Vo wouldn’t be a danger to others. Vo didn’t get released after serving only three months in jail on account of “good behavior.” If Vo was white and wealthy, would his story have ended with a different outcome?
This is not a call for a lighter sentencing on rape, rather, this is a call for fairness in justice, and a call for white rapists to be held to the same accountability that others are held to. The fact is that Brock Turner was punished so leniently because of the assumptions made of his character based on his white skin tone, and his outward expression of straight maleness.
When people ask why feminists are so outspoken about gender inequality, and why feminists are so outspoken on the fear they feel around straight men, remind them of Brock Turner. When someone asks if Kesha was really raped by Dr. Luke, remind them of Brock Turner. When someone asks if white male police officers are actually racist in their actions, remind them of Brock Turner. And then ask that person: who is the justice system is really serving to protect?
Tallon Kennedy is an intern with the NewPeople Newspaper
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