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Protesters Armed With Rifles Surround Brock Turner’s Home And Spectacularly Miss The Point


Brock Turner via Stanford Department of Public SafetyAnd just like that, people bearing a legitimate gripe with a tried-and-true sex criminal have lost me.

Armed protesters showed up at Brock Turner’s house yesterday, carrying signs calling for the castration and killing of rapists. And we had just been starting to get somewhere.

Turner’s crime was the story of the summer. The former Stanford swimmer stood trial for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, and was convicted of sexual assault after the victim’s gripping statement was publicized.   Turner was sentenced to a very lenient six months in county jail, and was released after only having served just half the stretch. This case created enough blame for everyone to get a double serving; critics lined up to blame Stanford, the judge, Turner’s parents, and (of course) the victim herself. And while much of the blaming amounted to little more than social media babbling, some of it has gone absolutely haywire.

According to The Guardian, Daniel Hardin carried an M4 assault rifle to the Turners’ home. His message? “If you try this again, we will shoot you.” Other anti-Brockers were quick to point out that carrying rifles “wasn’t a death threat to Brock Turner,” but was rather “very much a political statement.”

I’m all for political statements – especially if your message is “stop raping unconscious girls” – but let’s be serious. Surrounding a person’s house with assault rifles isn’t “political speech” – it’s violent riot. This gaggle of irresponsible would-be vigilantes has taken a teachable moment in our national consciousness and squandered it in a way that is indefensibly stupid.

The trifecta of firearms, angry protesters, and rape will invariably create a powder keg certain to end badly. Violence is a predictable result, likely punishable under both civil and criminal laws. While it’s well and good that some of these protesters weren’t planning to shoot anyone, they’d have a tough time arguing that any violence that were to occur was unforeseeable. Bottom line: bring assault rifles to a protest, and any blood that’s spilled there is likely to end up on your hands. That’s how the law works, whether or not the general public believes Brock Turner to be a villain who escaped justice.

The country is outraged with parents who raised Brock Turner in an environment that would allow him to cultivate the belief that unconscious girls exist for his taking – not to mention their public plea for funding to help Brock through his “ordeal.” Many were confused about how such a violent act could result in so little punishment; as a result, media attention has focused on judges’ roles in sentencing as well as the disparate results handed down to white student athletes as compared with their poor counterparts of color.

This summer’s media coverage of Turner’s attack has forced us to grow; we have become more aware of the risks that exist on our college campuses, and we have viewed sexual assault through the lens of a compelling victim. We have questioned the criminal justice system’s general handling of sexual assault cases and specific handling of the case of a privileged defendant. Lauding a misguided quest for vengeance because we feel unsatisfied will leave us atrophied and ignorant.

I believe Brock Turner deserves every bit of the public enmity that he’s been handed. His so-called “twenty minutes of action” spoke volumes about who he is and how he lived. But when disdain turns to violence, or even the threat, suggestion, or perception of violence – the platform of righteousness dissolves. A rifle-armed mob sends one and only one message: we are judge, jury, and executioner. We are the rule of law. We recognize no authority but our own.We are the rule of law. We recognize no authority but our own. And as the mob takes up its weapons, it becomes Brock Turner – an entitled and violent body that will disregard risk and rules for its own selfish needs.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos