Ethics Dunce: Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky

Let’s see if this sentence generates a fraction of the national attention that the so-called “affluenza” sentence did. For this is much, much worse.

Star Stanford swimmer and Olympic swimming team candidate Brock Turner was arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 2015  when two Stanford graduate students  saw him on the ground, thrusting his hips atop an unconscious, partially clothed woman. They called police; Turner ran, and police chased him down Turner. In trial, Turner claimed that the woman had consented, though police found her unconscious.

The jury didn’t believe him, and convicted Turner of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. The usual sentence for sexual assault is six years in state prison. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, however,  sentenced Turner to six months in county jail and three years’ probation. Turner could get out of prison after just three months.

For rape.

I do not find the Judge’s reasoning persuasive. His arguments were..

  • Turner exhibited genuine feelings of remorse.

I bet. He’s sorry he got caught.

  • A judge should take into consideration the whole picture of how imprisonment affects a person’s life.

In other words, defendants with a bright future and rich parents are going to be harmed by fair sentences more than poor defendants. who are probably doomed anyway. So throw the book at the poor, at risk kids, but give the rich, and probably white, youths a Mulligan.

  • Turner didn’t have a criminal record.

That’s a factor, certainly. On the other hand, he seems to have reached the age of 20 without learning that rape is wrong. The prosecutor argued that he’s a menace to the public. I agree.

  • Both he and his victim were intoxicated.

So what? You are fully responsible if driving drunk kills someone, and you should be similarly accountable if being drunk contributes to your raping someone, whether she happens to be drunk or not.

  • Turner claims he plans to  teach and educate college students about the effects of excessive drinking and sexual promiscuity.

Yes, and O.J. swears he’s looking for his wife’s killer.

Ethan Couch, the “affluenza” kid, was sentenced as a minor, given a suspended sentence and a chance at rehabilitation because he was a minor. It didn’t work: he’s in prison for real now. I didn’t like the sentence, but the judge had rational justifications for them (and “affluenza” wasn’t one of them.) Couch was reckless, but his accident that took four lives and crippled a friend was still an accident.

Turner, in contrast, is an adult, a student at an elite college, and a privileged star athlete. Rape is never an accident. What I see in Judge Persky’s sentence is undue deference to a young adult with every advantage, who lied in his trial, and who is just as bad a risk, if not more so, than Ethan Couch. I also see a typical, and unethical, belief that the young woman was at partially at fault for her own rape.

Addendum: Here’s post on the Facebook page, Brock Turner for 2016 Olympics. It speaks for itself in so many ways:

In a tragic miscarriage of justice, Brock has been found guilty by some betas who probably never got any play in college. This sends the message that only men are capable of making decisions after they’ve had a few drinks, which belittles women everywhere. Everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions and it saddens us to see that the “justice” system gives one gender a free pass but holds the other gender totally accountable for both parties’ actions. Hopefully, this patronizing verdict does not encourage more women to “be that girl,” but unfortunately it probably will, just as long as they can get media attention and maybe a payout.

Go with God, Brock! We’ll be voting for Trump in the hopes that he will fix things by giving you a well-deserved pardon.


Pointer: Fred



85 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky

  1. That is horrible and I think you succinctly stated WHY it is horrible and maddeningly unjust.

    “This sends the message that only men are capable of making decisions after they’ve had a few drinks, which belittles women everywhere. Everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions and it saddens us to see that the “justice” system gives one gender a free pass but holds the other gender totally accountable for both parties’ actions.”

    Bullshit. That reasoning may hold a drop of water if they were both merely intoxicated (a few drinks) and their inhibitions are relaxed, but it is completely invalidated by the fact that the male was conscious and physically capable of the act of coitus (or whatever the foreign object was) and the female was UNCONSCIOUS. If they want equal accountability, then he needed to be unconscious as well – in which case the crime never would have occurred.

  2. FYI, I’m pretty sure that facebook page is a satire/troll account. Of course, as always, the fact that it can be so easily mistaken for real is what really says the most about the messed up world we live in.

      • If it was real, you’d expect to see repugnant opinions dressed up to look nice and palatable. Instead, it’s repugnant opinions made as odious and disgusting as it’s possible to make them. This page is giving us the enemy that we all want, the rape apologia that’s loud and blatant and obvious, because the real enemy, the insidious rape culture that is endemic to our society, is so much scarier.

        • Well, I really couldn’t care less. As satire, it fails, because it isn’t clearly much different from what many people say and believe. If it’s genuine, it’s moronic.

          There is no “rape culture,” just as there is no “war on women.” Please keep dumb political sloganeering out of the discussion.

          • -There is no “rape culture,” just as there is no “war on women.” Please keep dumb political sloganeering out of the discussion.-

            Thank you, Jack. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      • I agree with Kevin.. I don’t think it’s hard to see that it’s a troll page. I’m super against this kid but it was also SUPER obvious.

          • Sorry you didn’t realize it? But look at the posts that are on the page and how they’re worded mixed with the Trump crap and responses to others… Not sure how people don’t see it. If a page was in a legit support for this kid to go to the OLYMPICS they wouldn’t post the shit they do. It’s not exactly rocket science… so you can make fun of me and my “powers of perception” all you want and think you’re cute with trying to make fun of it but at the end of day it’s still obvious whether you realized it or not. Sorry.

            • I think the point is that there are many REAL rape apologists commenting on the page, so whether the platform is real/legit or not, it has flushed out quite the crowd of d-bags that feel he did nothing wrong. AND, if you read the first few posts from a year ago, it is not so ‘obvious.”

            • Although the posts from a year ago, belie your “obvious.” So I am not sure you are correct. The first few sound simply like legitimate attempts at supporting his Olympic bid. Regardless, the rape defenders that are commenting on the page are plenty real. Some have pages full of misogyny and racism, so if the page was fake bait, the fish are real.

    • Even if it is satire/troll, it’s run by someone and it says pretty disturbing things about that individual or individuals. It has certainly crossed my mind that it reads like something concocted by a half dozen sniggering, incredibly immature freshmen who think they’re being astonishingly clever. And if that’s the case, God help them because they are seriously damaged. By the way, if it’s meant to be satire it’s a dismal failure. Definitely “troll-ish”, though.

  3. I don’t think any act that required another object and an unconscious person is a drunken accident. I don’t care if he’s an Olympic hopeful, he screwed himself out of his chance. I’m half surprised he’s not barred from competing, I wouldn’t ant someone like him on my team and dorm. They shouldn’t be as worried about his getting over his crime as other olympians being as able to concentrate on their events with a rapist who might go for them in the village…

  4. The victim of this evil crime will be serving a life sentence. Perhaps the Dishonorable Judge Aaron Persky should be serving the six years sentence for his laps in judgement. In his consideration for the criminal in this case the Judge has abused the victim yet again, which is too often the case. At very least there should be an inquiry by his superiors into every case he has presided over for ethics violations.

  5. It should be noted that voluntary intoxication is NOT a defense for a crime. And even if she was drunk contributory negligence only applies to CIVIL, not CRIMINAL, cases. This judge is unfit for office.

  6. How’s about having his (judge Aaron)daughter rape or sexual assaulted then let’s see what the verdict would have been, you think he would take in consideration his remorse or even him teaching a class HELL NO!!!! I bet he would say 20 years at least.

  7. I signed a petition on He is not going to appear on the ballot. This judge needs to be off the bench. If you live in Santa Clara County, please do what you can to make sure this judge never hears another rape case.

  8. Jack, I assume that since the jury decided that it was rape, and handed down a guilty sentence, that the judge’s sentance of him should have been more severe.

    I ask this because, try as I might, I could find no webpages pointing to any other possible side to the story. I admit that I have some bias against her.

    I would not immediately assume that every act of this person (the victim) up to the point of going unconscious (as seems to have happened) may not have been ‘consensual’. I realize that, today, even were she willing at all points the second she became ‘unconscious’ all consent flies out the door. But I would take the entire situation into account in order to make a judgment about it.

    Do you think it possible that any extenuating circumstances would change your opinion? (And that is why I suppose you are only cocussed on the sentence the judge gave: guilty by jury of a rape the sentance should have been a number of years. Am I right?)

    I think there would be so much information to review before being able to decide just how she behaved and to what degree she shared responsibility for what happened to her. Maybe it really was as she said (though she herself does not remember much of anything and can’t be relied on as even a witness to her own acts).

    Also, if I am reading correctly between the lines, it does not sound as if it was proved that he had intercourse with her. Wouldn’t the judge take that into account?

    I cannot help but note that all the women who post here seem unanimous in their ‘outraged feelings’, except they are only seeing the surface presented.

    Am I to be condemnded because I notice a peculiar group psychology operating here?

    Katie Roiphe anyone? (‘The Morning After’)

    • The jury decided that the woman was raped and the judge did not disagree. But this judge does not believe that white, educated, young males from Stanford should pay the penalty for their crimes. The rapist will be out on the streets in 3 months. I hope an Appeals Court overturned this sentence.

        • I’d like to hear an ethicists response to this because I have similar thoughts as those of Alizia. I think on an ethical level the convicted is guilty of so much more (requiring it’s own post) but ALL the circumstances really could have swayed the judge. I’ve tried to have a conversation about this with “friends” on facebook and they just point to white male privilege and to the fact that I probably am not reading correctly if at all. I feel sort of dirty being the devils advocate but I also can’t seem to understand how it can be determined through what I’ve read as to what swayed the judge really. It seems to me that guessing is really not ethical. Is stating “I bet. He’s sorry he got caught.” ethical?

          • I don’t doubt that the sentence was sincere, and that all of the circumstances swayed the judge. As I wrote, they shouldn’t have, that’s all. “The impact on his life” circumstance is automatic class bias, for example. Remorse can be faked, and he denied his guilt. He also hasn’t apologized directly to the victim. If the judge thinks the fact that the girl was drunk too, that mitigates rape when she was unconscious, he’s incompetent.

            As for his story about teaching kids not to get drunk—that sounds like a lawyer’s advice, and is meaningless. Again, as I said.

            A collection of valid mitigating circumstances, none individually worthy of lenience, could collectively justify a lighter sentence. The four mentioned above, however, aren’t valid, and rape MUST be punished more severely, regardless. Sentencing is also about sending messages, and this message was horrible.

            • Thanks for your response.
              Legally he wasn’t convicted of rape. Semantics maybe but legally different? It seems so. Just writing that makes me ill.
              I do feel “…….rape (or sexual assault) MUST be punished more severely, regardless.”

              • He WAS convicted of rape. The jury convicted Turner of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. The last two are both “rape.”

                • I read that too. I’m not a lawyer. I do believe that different states have different definitions for rape and or sexual assault. I believe he was not convicted of “rape” but of sexual assault as defined in California. In another state it may be defined as rape. In my mind there isn’t any difference. Formal “rape” charges were dropped. I may be wrong.

                  • I stated the three charges he was convicted of. “Sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object” are both rape—California just has a special “raping an unconscious person” set of laws. But that’s always been rape.

                • He violated her with his fingers. While you and I and the statutes of other jurisdictions may call that rape, the state of California appears to require a different specific body part for their rape charge.

            • Every time I try to offer an opinion on these ethics cases I find that I am not qualified, if only because there are many legal issues that are part of it, and I tend to see things not from a lawyer’s perspective.

              I mean by that the entirety of the situation and also from a cultural level, and one of judging culture. Why, I ask myself, do I feel it necessary to defend the man in this particular situation? It doesn’t stand to reason given my own gender.

              Still, I see Jack as only offering an opinion on this case, and opening it up to be examined as an exercize in ethics, but he has the advantage of being better informed due to his legal background. Some other legal authority might see it differently. (I don’t know).

              Personally though – but this is all hypothetical since I cannot and do not know any of the circumstances, and none are available through Google – I theorize that this woman is not guiltless. Or ‘complicit’. And I mean that she shares the responsibility for this outcome. And if she is going to write 10 page condemnation letters (I read it and it seemed ridiculous to me) she should include a note to herself. But in today’s climate, and among women, the woman is seen as blameless.

              If you get drunk with men, and if you flirt with men, and if you are available to men in these sorts of situations, etc., and if it happens that you wind up in this situation and others similar to it, I think that that represents a circumstance that has to be taken into consideration. One is complicit in a substantial way. But strictly, and according to the law, and according to present mores, none of this matters. All the responsibility, and all the necessity of restraint, falls on the man. She could have given full consent prior to passing out, but she was so bashed that she remembers nothing.

              And his rape consisted not of intercourse but of finger penetration. (If I have read correctly). This does seem to me not to be the same as a full-fledged rape.

              When two people get drunk together I think that the female end of the equation has to be held accountable for her own bad choice. Doesn’t make the offending party blameless but certainly mitigates the circumstances.

              It is a theory that he is being excused because he is white. I don’t know if it is true. And I don’t know if it is wrong given the sort of rape that it was that he should be given some slack.

              I also find it strange that were this woman not told what had happened to her she would have had no memory of it, and thus there would have been no trauma. She was too drunk to remember anything that had happened to her. The situation that ensued (police reports, rape kits, and all else) were more traumatic to her than the actual event.

              • The repercussion for getting intoxicated should not include sexual assault, whether you are a man or a woman. She was unconscious, behind a dumpster, with her underwear removed and he was conscious. It doesn’t matter if they were dancing inside or kissing at the party, like the defendant says. What matters is that she was incapacitated by alcohol and eventually unconscious. Those who are incapacitated and unconscious cannot give consent. As with any other action when you have been drinking excessively (driving, making a spectacle of yourself), you are responsible. She is responsible for passing out. He is responsible for sexual assault. She’s the victim, he’s the perpetrator.
                As for being told what happened the next morning; What do you think would have happened if she hadn’t been found while the crime was occurring, and simply woke up the next morning behind a dumpster, partially naked, bruised, and covered with pine needles and dirt? Still think there wouldn’t have been any trauma?

                • Yes I understand all of that.

                  And what I am trying to do is to take the whole issue, altogether, as an ethics problem to be examined. You are right: according to the law, and social mores of the moment, the man committed a sexual offense against the woman. I understand that also according to mores and the law it is termed ‘rape’. I think it better termed ‘sexual assault’. I understand how the law and mores have evolved in our present to protect women, and based on my researches I tend to see part of this as classic liberal-feminist hysteria. That is why I mentioned Katie Roiphe and her ‘expose’ of ‘Take Back the Night’ politics. I’m not saying the man has no responsibility however. I am saying it is a mutual and a shared responsibility (based on my speculation and intuition).

                  The reprecussions for a woman getting drunk with men, and especially when they are also getting sexual and erotic kicks and acting in these ways, all up and down history, have been and may always be exactly what we see here. I accept this as a basic fact. An essential and rudimentary fact that any and all women should understand.

                  We have been given no information about what sort of person she is, or if perhaps she has gotten herself into similar situations like this in the past. It is likely that she could not be counted on to give an accurate accounting of her own actions. I cannot say. Maybe it was all a fluke? But since I am called to speculate, and since I am trying to deal with a situation not only legally but ethically, I sense there is more here than meets the eye.

                  I doubt that he picked her up and carried her from afar. I suppose that she ambled her way to where they both ended up. I also suppose that she was out for kicks just as he was and was hopped up and desirous of action. She might have allowed all sorts of sensual advances prior to this. She might have been allowing his advances which have been termed penetration with a foreign object PRIOR to becoming unconscious. I assume this is the case though I cannot of course be sure.

                  Therefor, I assume she was a willing participant and not a ‘victim of rape’. The notion of ‘rape’ implies (in my mind) a man who jumps out of the bushes grabs a women and violates her. When a woman is an active participant in a party situation, has been drinking and carrying on, and gets herself compromised, I hold back from giving her the right to cry ‘perpetrator’. What I am saying is that the entire context has to be examined.

                  I think you see where I am going. I think that my argument is sound. It does not excuse the man or this man for what he did. Do you think my line of reasoning is mean-spirited or unethical?

                  You imply that she would have lain there all night and been discovered in the morning. Neither you nor I know the circumstances that led to her finding herself behind the dumpster. Maybe she invited him? She might have been groping him. In Sacramento

                  I would assume that the judge in this case, most likely a fair-minded person, was able to discern many different aspects of this case, just as you or I would had we been present for the whole thing. One can look at his sentence in bad faith and one can look at it in good faith. Much depends on ‘mood’ and ’emotion’ and other irrational factors. Now, the judge has the Twitter crowd after him and maybe they will succeed in destroying his life? Doing him great harm? How ethical is that?

                  I absolutely disagree that women should be let off the hook solely because they are women. That is how many of these types of women-protecting laws seem to me to function.

                  • Putting aside the law, ethically this woman did nothing wrong at all. She was not wise to get drunk, so you can fault her for that, but there is nothing ethically forbidden about a woman going to a party and (gasp) even flirting with men.

                    As a former party girl, I did some stupid things in my time. There were times that I drank too much and then went swimming (quite stupid), flirted with strange men, went to clubs in sketchy areas of town. There were a couple of times that I needed to get out of an attempted date rape situation. One thing that I never did? I never flirted with a man and suggested a rendezvous behind a dumpster. That’s disgusting and dangerous on a number of levels. This man took advantage of an intoxicated girl. The jury found him guilty of rape, end of story.

                    And please stop with the “but it’s not *rape* rape” because he was using his fingers. If a woman is penetrated by anything, fingers, stick, crowbar, etc., it is rape. End of story. Your long essays on this are just another flavor of victim blaming. We have evolved as a society on this issue.

                    • I would say that your own misadventures bring credibility to the argument I am attempting. Am I to assume that, in your own case, were you to have gotten date-raped (your term) that you’d see yourself as blameless? It is true that in the eyes of the law, strictly interpreted, you WOULD be seen as blameless. I see this as an ethically sketchy area as I have been explaining.

                      (It must be acknowledged that Brock is being punished, and the punishment is real and harsh. The lamentation here is that it was not harsh enough, and if I am reading right what people would have wanted in a 2-5 year State prison sentence.)

                      As to the ‘behind the dumpster’ aspect, I was going to mention situations I have observed first hand in Sacramento parks of very willing girls doing very strange things essentially in public. It is possible that the standards of conduct or getting lower and lower. For example, what if you were to magnify your own behaviors by 2 or 3? At what point would you recognize complicity?

                      My posts have been rational and thoughtful and I am resisting the inclination toward emotional reasoning. There is a difference between a man groping a woman and more superficial sensual and sexual activity – and as I say she may well have been actively participating and she may have been perfprming services on him as well (we have no idea) – and overt rape. To discern and to note the difference is an exercise in rational discrimination. I do recognize that some legal definitons conflate the two.

                      I am very surprised, and yet not surprised, that you do not recognize a difference between introduction of a crowbar or a stick into a woman, and the use of a finger, and especially when, as I have been suggesting, she may have welcomed all manner of advances prior to blacking out.

                      Just in this you reveal, I think, profound irrationality. If you cannot distinguish well in this area, how can you be trusted in many other areas? (Answer: You cannot. And that is what irrationality and emotionalism does: clouds and distorts).

                      I do not know if I agree with you when you say ‘this woman did nothing wrong at all’. It seems she did nothing legally wrong. But then Brock argued that everything that happened was consensual. Which means that neither of them did anything legally wrong. And yet he went on trial.

                      Thus, it is possible that the legal questions are moot if indeed they had consensual encounters. But if my grasp of this situation is right, what I see happening is a woman blaming a man for a situation that arose through her complicity. Complicity indicates two or more involved in a misdeed or a crime. To have been complicit is to have been a co-creator of a given outcome.

                • Debbie writes: “As for being told what happened the next morning; What do you think would have happened if she hadn’t been found while the crime was occurring, and simply woke up the next morning behind a dumpster, partially naked, bruised, and covered with pine needles and dirt? Still think there wouldn’t have been any trauma?”

                  You are speculating and making a case through your speculations. You assume she did not get there of her own volition. I could just as readily assume that she went behind the dumpster voluntarily, and if left there might have woken up an hour or two later, gotten up and found her way home.

                  The way this story is presented puts the man in the worst possible light and there are no alternative stories to refer to. People’s reading of the story is based on the information and the picture shown.

                  If you wish, I am playing Devil’s Advocate here. It can’t hurt to be pushed to make good arguments.

                  Had he left her there, and had she woken up on her own, and gotten herself home, she would perhaps have had no specific memory of her misadventure and only perhaps the knowledge that she’d gotten terribly drunk and put herself in some danger as a result. This stands to reason.

                  • I am replying to the ridiculous assertion that had she not been told what happened the following morning that there wouldn’t have been an issue. Because you didn’t remember your rape, you weren’t raped? That’s nonsense.
                    I don’t see you as playing the devil’s advocate. I see you mitigating illegal, immoral, and unethical behavior by placing blame on an intoxicated woman.
                    I noted previously that the woman was intoxicated. Just because she might have been able to stumble outside, doesn’t change the fact that intoxicated individuals can’t give consent (also mentioned in my previous post). Am I to understand that as long as she was only intoxicated, as opposed to unconscious, while he was assaulting her, than she is also responsible for his reprehensible behavior? Do you think most honorable men would think an intoxicated woman was fair game?
                    As for your final comment, I don’t think had she woken up behind a dumpster, half naked, with dirt in her vagina and pine needles and bruises on her body, she would have just chalked it up to a “misadventure” and walked herself home, no worse for wear. Instead, I’d image it would be an incredibly traumatizing experience that would have a profound effect on her for the remainder of her life. I imaging confusion, shame, depression, self-hate, and plenty of other issues would present themselves. You seem to think that because she can’t remember the specific act, that some how mitigates her trauma. I completely disagree.
                    Do I understand what you’re arguing? Sure. You’re trying to share the blame with the victim. It’s the “you made your bed, not lay in it,” sentiment. I wholeheartedly disagree. I’m curious to know, however, if you feel the same way, were the roles reversed or the crime was different. What if an intoxicated man was raped by another man? Or an intoxicated female was raped by another female? What if a drunk woman was stabbed to death behind a dumpster instead of raped? Or an intoxicated man was beaten and robbed? Would all of these intoxicated victims share in the responsibility? Should the perpetrator get a lighter sentence because the victim was intoxicated?

                    • Yes but you are still working an essentially emotional angle. Or this aspect is strong. I have suggested it as possible that were she to have been left there, and woken up, she might have made her way home and had no recollection of a violation, and no obvious evidence that a violation had occurred. I did not say, and do not say, that she would not have dealt with deep feelings of regret or remorse. I have noticed that when people get into bad situations it is often – not always but often – a result of a long chain of events (and thus bad choices). To understand this entire situation, ethically, would require knowing a great deal more than it is possible to know.

                      I also suggested that she may well have invited – while merely tipsy and not yet legally intoxicated, and then also when legally intoxicated – the specific acts he is said to have performed, and which I suppose were demonstrated with irrefutable evidence in court.

                      If so, I suggest that this points to complicity-in-outcome. I did not say that it excuses him. But I will confess that I deeply suspect, for various reasons, her assertions, and our culture’s tendency transference of blame and responsibility to agency outside of ourselves, and so this is part of my overall argument. I also note, or believe that I note (I do not have 100% certainty) that women show a tendency to thrust blame onto men.

                      I have numerous reasons for believing this. One aspect is that I have read – quite closely – some of Andrea Dworkin’s works. Notably ‘Intercourse’, and I have noted a profound rage that operates less against men specifically and more toward Nature. I admit that many different factors aggregate together to form my assessments.

                      Debbie writes: “Am I to understand that as long as she was only intoxicated, as opposed to unconscious, while he was assaulting her, than she is also responsible for his reprehensible behavior? Do you think most honorable men would think an intoxicated woman was fair game?”

                      It seems possible to me that she was a willing participant in everything that happened. She may have welcomed and invited all sorts of contact while beginning to get intoxicated and after she was intoxicated. That seems an unfortunate, yet predictable, consequence of drunkenness. I argue her complicity in a situation that overwhelmed her. And thus that the sentence given by the judge sat on this case was commensurate.

                      What you desire is more punishment because, as the story has been presented to you, and based on a superficial reading of the presented narrative (I have noticed that upon closer examination these sorts of issues are often more complex. And with various hot tiigger-elements added such as ‘Stanford’ and ‘White privileged male’, and that in the context of the hyper-liberalism and the hysteria of the day, I suggest that this is a substantial motivator, and that it can be ethically examined in this light.


                      Debbie writes: “As for your final comment, I don’t think had she woken up behind a dumpster, half naked, with dirt in her vagina and pine needles and bruises on her body, she would have just chalked it up to a “misadventure” and walked herself home, no worse for wear. Instead, I’d image it would be an incredibly traumatizing experience that would have a profound effect on her for the remainder of her life. I imaging confusion, shame, depression, self-hate, and plenty of other issues would present themselves. You seem to think that because she can’t remember the specific act, that some how mitigates her trauma. I completely disagree.”

                      You are speculating I think. And you are adding details. (And I think all the evidence and details of this case would have to be KNOWN for you or me or anyone to make a judgment, and I assume the Judge in this case HAD this perspective).

                      You are also projecting yourself into her situation. As I said, I myself have witnessed activities wilfully undertaken by girls in parks in Sacramento, California which simply blew my mind. I do not think that you are taking into consideration the possibility of degeneracy, and the continued degeneracy of young people in today’s cultural climate.


                      Debbie writes: “What if an intoxicated man was raped by another man? Or an intoxicated female was raped by another female?”

                      Odd in a sense that you didn’t write ‘What if an intoxicated women sexually assaulted an intoxicated man’.

                      As I said, it seems POSSIBLE to me that she not only invited sexual advances when tipsy and then also when (legally) intoxicated (thus complexifying the situation overall), but may also have been performing services on him. What if that were the case?

                      Women, it seems to me, have an incontestable case of seeing themselves and being seen as ipso facto blameless, no matter how reckless they are.

                • My general endeavor, which I state from time to time, is to notice how hysterical-progressive thinking and perceiving enters into thinking, especially of the masses, and distorts perception to bring it in accord with aprioristic ideas. My theory is that liberal-progressivism, with its entire host of assumptions and impositions, has penetrated so far that it clouds even the perspectives of the conservative factions. The main area that I note in progressive thinking is how it functions as an ‘imposition’. It takes an ideal and establishes it as a necessary norm and then ‘imposes’ this norm on reality. If I don’t explain myself well or if my ideas about this are vague and embryonic, that is because I don’t have them all worked out – yet.

                  Now, the Twitter crowd is really getting behind this: When an article appears in the NYTs it means the NY Intellectual crowd of acute and hyper-liberals has scented blood. The recall of the Judge who did not condemn this kid to 3-5 years in state prison has been set in motion. Soon the BLM crowd will appear and take swipes at white privelage. It is simply too ripe of a situation: First, that there are Stanfords and there exists a ‘privelaged class’. That’s wrong on the face and must be changed.

                  This opens the door to a violent anger and resentment which is irrational overall, and will take and does take situations like this that likely have special nuance that requires careful discrimination, and transforms them into social catharsis rehearsals. Every and any ‘injustice’ in the universe, the entire historical injustice that women perceive and accentuate, becomes a motivator for shrill emotionalism. Some people don’t like the word ‘hysteria’ because the root of it is ‘the womb’, but in my view it is exactly this internal, emotional, and this angry core that needs to be focussed on – resisted.

                  The question is: Am I unethical and immoral for seeing things in this way? Am I factually wrong and substantially wrong? Or is there truth in what I perceive? (That is what I struggle over).

                  • 1. I’m not adding facts to the case or speculating. Those facts were included in newspaper accounts of the trial. She was behind a dumpster, she was naked from the waste down, she had abrasions on her body, foreign matter in her vagina, etc. You don’t wake up from that and not think something horrible happened. It’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

                    2. You critique my failure to use and example of woman on male violence, but completely ignored my questions.

                    3. You continue to accuse me of speculating, but that’s exactly what you have done. You imagine she might have performed acts on him, you imagine she propositioned him…but you have no proof to back this up, other than the word of a defendant, who was having sexual contact with an unconscious woman, who says the victim consented earlier in the night. In addition, you base your suppositions on what you’ve seen young people do in a park near you. I’ve seen young people do some awful things, but what does that have to do with a man who sexually assaulted a woman?

                    4. I believe the judge was woefully misguided when he sentenced a man, who was CONVICTED of three violent felonies, to six months (three likely to serve) in county jail.

                    5. I don’t think my opinion on this matter would qualify me as a liberal, progressive, emotional, BLM follower. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I’m providing “emotional” answers. I’m looking at evidence, including witness testimony, and the law in forming my opinion. I’ve sat through several trials (including rape and murder) and I’ve never seen a judge sentence a violent offender (first time or not) to six months in county jail.

                    • I read the police report (

                      I also looked around on the web and I can find no instance, not even one, of someone mounting a defense for him. Only a female friend and his father. There is unanimous, and I think reflexive, condemnation of him. I must say that I find this suspect.

                      If I read correctly, it is Turner himself who made statements that became the basis of the charges against him. Thus it is specifically his own words which were used against him. He seems to have described in honest terms what happened between them, and the sexual encounter that he and this woman shared. It was his own confession of having penetrated her with his finger that became the basis of the ‘rape’ charges. No other sexual penetration occurred. He told the truth to the police officer and, I guess, did not see what he had done with her as criminal insofar as when it happened she was awake. He thought honestly was all that was required. I think this has a certain amount of weight.

                      She remembers absolutely nothing. And though she was found in a compromised position on the ground she suffered no injury and, again if I read correctly, no bruising, no abraisons, no cuts. She was actually completely unhurt. She suffered a bruise when blood was taken.

                      So, in my view, and based on the statements she made about her drinking, it is plausible and lieky that she invited the encounter. Why not? It did happen that she passed out, but in the police report she speaks of passing our (blacking out) at other times too. She said that even in instances where she blacked out she always managed to get home, even though she had no memory of it. I think this indicates something that should be taken into consideration. I think it indicates a pattern of such actions. I think it works to some degree against her, and against her credibility.

                      Again, she had no memory whatever or these events, yet she was coached (my term) by a YMCA woman volunteer who was assigned to her by the police department. I wonder about this. Knowing what I know of women’s organizations of this sort, and the animus that I have noticed from time to time in these people, it seems possible that she coached her in such a way to organize a story that would work in concert with the police report and the (Swedish) graduate students. But if I read correctly, there was no physical damage of any sort. So, a woman with no physical damage to her person, and no memory of assault, who was blacked out, condems a man on the basis of his own confession and description of what he did with her. But he said she was conscious and willing. But this part is removed and not considered. That seems suspect to me.

                      I do not think this should be termed ‘rape’ and though it is felonious, it does not seem to me like a violent, felonious act. What I see happening here looks suspect. My overall opinion has not changed.

                      I am deeply suspicious of a whole ‘mood’ that gets activated. It is like a feminist lynch-mob. They go on the attack and will not stop till they get blood.

                    • Unfortunately you are looking at the same biased information as everyone else that was not at the trial or has not been privy to the trail documents. In my opinion making judgments based on that alone is not ethical as Alizias stated. Having an opinion is something else. Sarah Hepola’s memoir Blackout: Remembering The Things I Drank To Forget (I have not read her book but I did hear her NPR interview with Terry Gross. A transcript can be found on NPR.) may shed a lot of light on blackout drinking and awareness and your “but you have no proof to back this up, other than the word of a defendant, who was having sexual contact with an unconscious woman, who says the victim consented earlier in the night.” You have only one side to the story not because the victim was found unconscious but because at some point she blacked out. Blackout is still conscious but with your long term and short term memory not working correctly due to substance/drug intake. She has no recollection of the events after a certain point. It it possible that she, at some point consented,went outside and participated, sure, anything is possible. Sarah’s book will show that it is possible and does happen. What seems to me as not ethical is conjecture which is what I feel these judgments are. Some people are presenting opinions and speculation which to me is ethical. According to one report, even the jurors had a difficult time and they were at the trial, yet so many people are pronouncing the correct outcome based on, in some cases, not so many varied sources and in some cases, varied sources but still not the facts. I have yet to see anywhere an outline of the facts. All of them.

                      “You don’t wake up from that and not think something horrible happened. It’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise” You make this seem like its a fact when it is not. You should, at least, read Sarah’s interview.

                      “I’ve seen young people do some awful things, but what does that have to do with a man who sexually assaulted a woman?” This takes us back to the original issue. The person was convicted of “Sexual Assault” for which has was given 6 month in county and probation. A heinous miscarriage of justice based on what? We don’t know. We can only speculate. We can only speculate as to why the judge only gave him this minuscule amount of time because as Jack pointed out, the Judges explanation doesn’t work. As Jack also pointed out, “A collection of valid mitigating circumstances, none individually worthy of lenience, could collectively justify a lighter sentence.” We don’t know that is the case but we can speculate till the cows come home.

                      We don’t have the facts yet we are ready to convict. I don’t get it but the loop starts once again, “but he was convicted”. Oh wait, the judge is an alum. Oh wait, the judge and defendant are white. Oh wait we still don’t have the facts………………….. I still don’t know what the California law says about “Rape” Some here say rape is rape. That’s OK but not the same in the eyes of the law maybe, ethically or unethically. California dropped the rape charges and says this as part of their definition of rape “Intoxication by alcohol or drugs impaired the victim’s ability to consent. The defendant knew or reasonably should have known about the victim’s impairment.” This was dropped. I could speculate on this. Can we extrapolate as to what this may mean? The point being some are ready to carry out the execution based on speculation.

                      “I’ve never seen a judge sentence a violent offender (first time or not) to six months in county jail.” How does this relate to anything? It’s kind of like saying in this situation “I have never seen the Leonid Meteor Showers. No bearing whatsoever except your statement relates to judges and sentencing. It’s like if you haven’t seen it, it hasn’t happened. I bet I have seen the Leonid Meteor Showers and I bet the bear shits in the woods.

                      Those are some reasons that I feel your arguments seem like emotional responses.

          • Obviously, once a criminal has benne sentenced, he shouldn’t have to face the peril of sentencing a second time without changed circumstances. I am certain there’s a SCOTUS opinion on this…haven’t had time to track it down.

            • Once a criminal is convicted, he becones the state’s bitch.

              I do not want to give a jackass judge in a trial court the power to effectively commute the sentence of a convicted criminal without the possibility of reversal by appellate courts. This id a wholly different matter frpm a verdict.

  9. Not that it matters.. but after reading that Facebook page, I don’t actually think anyone on his side actually runs it and everyone is being trolled. I’m not about this kid and have been posting against him…. but not hard to see that his page isn’t really “his” page. Just want to point that out so people stop wasting time on it.

    • I linked to it as an aside. As I will say for the last time, it is not out of line with serious opinions I get here every day. If it’s fake, shame on the owner: fake posts are unethical. If it’s real, shame on the owner: he or she is an idiot. This is the last comment about that stupid Facebook page that I’m allowing. Enough.

      • If you’re the writer here than what do you care if people call attention to the page? The facts are the facts about the story which are correct. That’s what people are focusing on and not the false facebook page. Stop defending it because it takes away from the situation and article.

        • 1. Yes, I’m the writer: it says so right on the home page. My bio is there too.
          2. This is an ethics blog. I expect the comments to advance the inquiry into ethics, not obsess about irrelevancies.
          3. When hoax sites either fool people because they are bad satire or because they are intending to fool people, someone always says “I knew it was a hoax. It was obvious.” That it was subjectively obvious doesn’t mean it was objectively obvious. I always find that reaction obnoxious, and I always say so.

  10. Addendum: And remember why “it was obvious” is obnoxious. Poe’s Law is a valid observation. Poe’s Law states that it difficult to distinguish extremism from satire on the Internet unless the author clearly indicates his/her intent. Poe’s law comes into play most frequently highly polarized topics.

    The Facebook page is a perfect embodiment of Poe’s Law.

  11. Author, you need a correction. The perp is NOT going to prison. He was sentenced to 6 months in jail… nowhere NEAR as difficult as State Prison.

  12. Alert: CJ428 is banned, as will anyone who accuses me of “mansplaining,” or who writes a comment like this one:

    An old white male saying “there is no rape culture’ is as about as invalid as that same man saying racism is dead. Since you are not the target of either, you have to be a flaming idget to think you are the best judge of these experiences. Tell us, what is it like to be gay in the navy, or a WOMAN IN SAUDI ARABIA? Please, Mr. MANSPLAINER, since your experience of life is the only legitimate and true perspective on what “IS”? But we are all so happy that an old white man “couldn’t care less.” I hope your nurses and doctors don’t say the same when you show up at the hospital for your next heart attack. Because after all, if you have one, its your fault.

    Here is my answer to that…

    Oh, so you endorse the “informed and objective observer has no right to observe,” form of censorship, eh? What intellectually lazy crap. Also unethical: this is another form of ad hominem attack, and bigotry too. In other words, if you can’t tie your adversaries’ hands behind their backs, you got nothin’. I get it.

    “Mansplaining,” yet. Bigot. I know a woman can explain anything as well as a man, and vice-versa. You don’t.

    You lose.

    You also like to put words in people’s mouths, all the better to play straw man with them. I never said, did I, that I was the best judge of these issues, but I’m a very, very good one, because I have watched my younger sister, who equals my abilities or surpasses them in every way, struggle to get her fair recognition and success, and I have mentored many, many young professional women, and I have worked in the sexist industry of theater, and the sexist profession of law, and opposed sexism, harassment and bias against my own female employees, and taught sexual harassment to many companies, and helped bring down the man who hired me and mentored ME in a major association when he abused his power to gain sexual favor with employees. So yes, I think I know what goes on, what is genuine misogyny and what’s just ignorance, bad habits and stupidity, a lot better than most activists, most men, and many women. Damn right I do. Bigot. Sexist.

    And since I wasn’t discussing being gay in the Navy or the plight of a woman in Saudi Arabia, congratulations on winning the Straw Man Championship of the World, you ass.

    You don’t get to speak to your host in that fashion here. Don’t call ME an old man: I am younger than springtime, and you, as I think I noted earlier, are a bigot. So you are hereby banned for rude jerkism and talking through your hat. Bye. You can try to make some pathetic rants in leaving, and they may sneak through the spam block and be up for a few minutes, but I’ll get them off and to Ethics Alarms hell pretty soon, along with the racists from Chimpmania and the 6th grade dropouts.


    Well, I learned something from all this. Here is a piece which deliberately exaggerates and aspect of what I see:

    Moral insanity and emotionalism is a disease of the mind. I have no idea what the cure is, nor where this will all tend. Someone notes some ‘injustice’, describes it in certain charged terms, and presents it laden with suggestion to the suggestable: people who desire to get themselves riled with indignation. The whole narraive is pre-organized, framed for specific consumption, and tailored to a specific group. But what group is it? In this case women, women aggrieved with a profound sense of having been wronged. By who? The whole world, maybe even the whole universe. But the evil they confront is ontological, it seeps out of the ground, it envelops its victims, it crawls into them and plants its seed of evil.. (My take on Dworkin’s paranoid feminism).

    Once organized, the meme is sent out into the world like a mischevious rabid bat and it bites those who are suggestible, infects them with righteous contempt that has no bottom. From my angle it looks like classic hysteria, yet this hysteria can infect men as well as women. Are the people infected lying? That is the most curious thing: no they are not. They are totally sincere. They have identified a Clear Evil, it is there plain as day. One two three, it’s all sewn up, and if you don’t see it that way you are part of the problem and even ‘the problem’ itself. Opposition is suspect. By engaging in the rage-fest you exteriorize the demon, place him outside of you, and then you proceed to beat it till it bleeds.

    Once you’ve entered into this utterly bizarre thicket of hysterical female emotionalism you will have a very hard time finding your way out. It has all manner of ideological traps, some sticky, some like trap doors opening into further chambers, but each one is an emotional pool, a celebration of ire. I am not making this up. I spent 30 minutes reading women’s comments to Katie Roiphe’s ‘The Morning After’. If you try to unweave the web of distortion it gets restructured in another way but always through emotionalism. If you turn against the will of the Sisterhood, the Sisterhood will turn against you, and strangely more so if, as in my case, you are a disobedient women not toeing the emotional line. But much of this functions at levels below the mind. It is dark and deeply emotional.

    If something – an injustice, a situation, a perception, an event – is felt to be wrong it is true and wrong because it is felt. It is the feeling that matters, not the specific event. The feeling self-justifies and self-perpetuates. Turner is guilty through a series of associations. The associations determine his guilt. It is the mere presence of a drunk female that places men in a certain danger. Therefor, the message is: Do not be in the presence, ever, of a drunk female. Your life is on the line. I don’t want to empahise this aspect too much because certainly rape does happen, and it is real. But this situation has numerous elements that seem highly suspect, and the fact that it is picked up by a Hysteria Faction and deliberately broadcast, prepped and ready for consumption, is terribly suspect. It is this ‘felt’ aspect that requires analysis. If something is FELT to be true it IS true and watch out if you oppose emotional reasoning. This shows itself as a group-phenomenon and subject to all the rules of mass hysteria.

    The ‘triggers’ have to be activated in a group setting. These tiggers are encased in the narrative, foregrounded in fact. You encounter it, you are convinced, and then you act. No thought required. To respond to the trigger is to act in concert with the group and to channel frustration, ressentiment, hatred, and desire for revenge in a hard sharp stream at the ontological enemy. To do HARM. Once these things escape into the media-system there is no stopping them. The NYTs, all the major periodicals, and then it spreads out into the world. I read it on France/24. The Bengalis read it this AM.

    I have no idea where this began, but what I notice is the mature version of the antics of an hysterial culture unmoored from a capacity for sound and cold reasoning; stimulated by partial imagery and trigger-phrases, in the face of which one automatically froths at the mouth or goes into convulsions. Who and what does this serve, I ask? It smacks of hyper-populism.

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