A look at Brock Turner’s context
Memes that have colonized a community become incorporated in the “self” (the meme-set that defines our identity beyond the physical body) of those living there. Memes include things like the right way to eat, the right foods to eat, how to interact with others, what the rules are and which ones it’s okay to break for various reasons accepted by the culture (love, drunkenness, anger, jealousy, lust, etc.). A meme acquired in one community/microculture may not work in a different community/microculture. You see that in all sorts of contexts. For example, in some microcultures smoking a little non-medical marijuana is seen as breaking a rule (Federal law) but in that microculture it is acceptable to break that rule. In another microculture (say, DEA employees) it is not acceptable to break that rule. And so with Brock Kate Geiselman discusses this, though using other terminology, in her Washington Post article:
In my version, he recognizes that what happened on Stanford’s campus behind that dumpster was rape. He comes to understand that intoxication is not consent. He takes responsibility for his violent “action” that irreparably harmed another human being, instead of blaming them on alcohol. Rather than spending a year and a half honing his story, making excuses and lawyering up, he pleads guilty. He looks his victim squarely in the eyes and says, “I’m sorry. I had no business putting my hands on or in you after you were no longer able to give consent. I should have helped you to safety instead of running and lying about why I did. I will do everything I can to spare you any further pain. I will spend the rest of my life educating young people about consent and sexual violence.”
Then he serves his punishment — perhaps even a sentence mitigated by his understanding of the crime, his taking responsibility, even his character references — because he gets it. He bears the weight of his guilt, and in doing so eases the burden of his victim.
But that’s not what happened. And because I live in the community that spawned Brock Turner, I have known on some level for many months that my version would never be reality.
Oakwood, Ohio, is about as idyllic a Midwestern community as one could imagine. The streets are tree-lined, the houses charming. The kids walk to school and go home for lunch. The schools are nationally recognized. In fact, the nickname for Oakwood is “The Dome,” so sheltered are its residents from violence, poverty and inconvenient truths. I have lived here for over 20 years.
Communities like this one have a dark side, though: the conflation of achievement with being “a good kid;” the pressure to succeed; the parents who shrug when the party in their basement gets out of control (or worse yet, when they host it) because “kids are gonna drink;” the tacit understanding that rules don’t necessarily apply. The cops won’t come. The axe won’t fall.
Yet now it has.
Invariably, when I tell someone who knows Dayton that I live in Oakwood, they will assume that … (she lists the assumptions, which are various memes.)