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What is done unto you?
Author: Raine    Date: 04/17/2013 13:41:15

Victim blaming occurs when the victim(s) of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment are held entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them (regardless of whether the victim actually had any responsibility for the incident). Blaming the victim has traditionally emerged especially in racist, sexist, and classist forms.
You can read more here.

I've been thinking a lot about this idea of victim blaming lately. I think about the young woman who was raped and abused in Stuebenville. I think about Trayvon Martin. I think about the beautiful young woman, Amanda Todd who committed suicide in Canada after pictures of her bullying, both physical and cyber, were circulated... I think about Audrie Pott -- she committed suicide as well, after being raped and having no justice. All of these victims, every one of them -- were subjected to public judgement. Everyone one of them had their motives questioned, and all but one are dead. Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment are held entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them. These children, young adults -- people, humans were terrorized by their assailants and were made victims again by a court of public opinion.

The sad outcome of all of these stories is that we are asked to change behavior. Young women are reminded that they need to take steps on how not to be raped.
Never take a drink from anyone or let your drink out of your sight. Don’t show too much cleavage. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Never go to a boy’s room alone. If it comes to it, go for the eyes, the nose, the balls. Always stay with a group of girls…safety in numbers. You can’t trust him, even if he seems nice.

They are told to be wary of what they wear and how they act.
Young black men are given 'The Talk'
Reading about Trayvon reminded me of the list of the “don’ts” I received after my sheltered existence in Hazlet, N.J., was replaced with the reality of Newark when my mother remarried in the 1980s.

“Don’t run in public.” Lest someone think you’re suspicious.
“Don’t run while carrying anything in your hands.” Lest someone think you stole something.
“Don’t talk back to the police.” Lest you give them a reason to take you to jail or worse

There was also being mindful that you are being watched in stores. Watched turned to followed as I got older. To this day, if a sales person is overly attentive to what I might be looking for I leave the store. Never to return. And then there was keeping a distance of deniability from white women when walking on the street. Lest you be accused of any number of offenses, from trying to snatch her purse to sexual assault.
They are taught to not be responsible for potential victimhood.

Richard Jewel, ultimately the hero of the 1996 Centennial park bombing was made a victim.
For nine years, Richard Jewell labored under suspicion that he'd been the bomber. In fact, Richard Jewell was a jewel of a man, a private security guard who spotted the bomb, informed the police of its existence, and escorted park visitors off the site until the bomb exploded. Jewell was a hero. (snip)

Jewell died 11 years after the bombing, exonerated and a little richer thanks to several settlements against media outlets like CNN, but still a broken man. In its obituary, the New York Times, which had also reported on the allegations against Jewell, eulogized him as the hero of the Atlanta attack. Which did Richard Jewell no good whatsoever.... In the days to come, it would behoove All Of Us to take what the FBI, and CNN, and NBC, and the New York Post, and their ilk, have to say about suspects and motives with a grain of salt.

After September 11 everyone was asked -- told -- how not to be a victim. We remove our shoes before boarding airplanes, we are subjected to pat down in public spaces, we are told to say something if we see something. We -- collectively as a nation, victims of terror -- are being held responsible for the terror. In many respects we are safer; that said -- we are always asked to be in a heightened state of alert. In that respect there is a connection with the victims I mentioned above. We have been told to go about our daily lives, go shopping and just be normal... until the next tragedy. This time, it is Boston. On the floor of the Senate yesterday, Minority leader McConnell said the following in his commemoration of the attack:
On 9/11 we forever disabused of the notion that attacks, like the one that rocked Boston yesterday ,only happen on the field of battle or in distant countries. With the passage of time, however, and the vigilant efforts of our military, intelligence and law enforcement professionals, I think it's safe to say that for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has actually returned. And so we are newly reminded that serious threats to our way of life remain. And today again we recommit ourselves to the fight against terrorism at home and abroad.
3 people are dead, hundreds injured -- the blood has barely been cleaned up and here we have once again: victim blaming. I am going to quote a comment posted at the ThinkProgress entry:

Yeah, Mitch, we've really become complacent. I mean, it's not like we've had things like mass shootings at malls, movie theaters, military bases, *elementary schools*, high schools, colleges.... It's not like we've had school buses attacked and children taken hostage. It's not like teenage girls have to worry about going to parties without getting gang raped and then blamed for it. It's not like gay couples have to worry about visiting each other in hospital rooms without being arrested. No, we're absolutely complacent, and it's our fault that this happened because we haven't closed our borders and slaughtered all of the gays, Muslims, and any other "undesirable" living here against your and your ilk's wishes. It's our fault that we refuse to live in fear of each other, and try to focus on the positive while we attempt to lead normal lives instead of hiding in our homes, barricaded off from the rest of the world in terror.

Instead of blaming the victims for the wrong in our society, how about we start changing society with simple ideas such as:

Don't rape.
Don't kill.
Don't terrorize.
Be curious.

There is something terribly wrong when the result of a tragedy is to add extra layers of protection. When the un-normal becomes normal -- we become desensitized to tragedy. Security shouldn't mean always feeling insecure. How we solve this I do not know, but a good place to start is to stop putting the onus on the victims.

My heart goes out to Boston and the people there that day. You saved a lot of lives Monday. We saw the best of America in your city during a dark event. You showed to me what true patriotism really is, on the day truly meant to celebrate it.

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Can you hear and do you care and
Cant you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
Graham Nash



124 comments (Latest Comment: 04/17/2013 21:10:19 by Raine)
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