Wealth and justice in Orange County

It has been pointed out that we feminists who frequent feminist forums/blogs can get a skewed sense of the amount of sexism in society generally because such spaces generally act as magnets for misogynists and their mantra of “what about the men? men suffer too”.

I am grateful for the men I know who Get It, and they give me hope that a society that truly values women as autonomous actors is around not too many more corners. But sometimes there’s a story which just makes me think that our society is broken, and the sooner global warming and bird flu wipe out civilisation entirely the better.

The Haidl gang rape in Orange County, California is one such story. The only reason these young men ever came to trial is that they not only videotaped their gang-rape and foreign object assault of their unconscious 16-year-old schoolmate Jane Doe, but they showed the tape to friends at parties to brag of what they’d done. The tape was so distressing and their contempt and disregard for the girl so pervasive that when police first saw it they came after the rapists to ask what they’d done with the dead body they’d been abusing, and the foreman of the jury said (after the verdict) that if the public could see the way they treated the girl like a piece of meat that there would be riots. Reading about this case has made me heartsick.

Finally the three rapists have been sentenced for what they did in 2002, although they only got six years each. There’s still several acts of the drama to play out with Jane Doe’s civil suit against the rapists and also their parents regarding the harassment and character defamation the extremely wealthy families have subjected her to since the arrests of their sons, which led to her changing schools and considering suicide. The actions of the parents are a sickening illustration of the sense of entitlement, corruption of public office and lack of shame for their sons’ atrocities that adds to the general horror of this case.

There’s a huge archive of articles on the trial at OC Weekly andblog-threads at OCW’s The Blotter. Warning: much of the coverage from the trial is extremely graphic and may trigger PTSD.

And here’s some kudos for Lindsay Picou, who is named as the reason this case had enough evidence to bring the sons of three wealthy families to trial in the first place:

The case began when an 18-year-old woman, Lindsay Picou, found the videotape of the incident at a rented beach house. She was so disturbed that she hid the tape in a towel, put it in her car, and later gave it to a police officer.

Ms Picou was regarded locally as a pariah as a result, eventually having to move away from the area. After watching the videotape, she had feared that the unconscious woman was dead. Her mother told The Los Angeles Times: “My daughter was raised in a Christian home and did what she’s supposed to do, and for that, no deed goes unpunished.

“It’s been four years of hell.”

Lindsay Picou discovered an atrocity, and didn’t just walk away and be grateful it happened to someone else. She didn’t just decide not to be around those people but not say anything to them or anyone else about why. She blew the whistle, called the foul, and her actions resulted in them paying the penalty.

Goodonyer Lindsay. People like you give me hope for civilisation after all. I’m glad I read about you today on the anniversary of Hugh Thompson’s refusal to condone the massacre at My Lai.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, law & order, violence

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