This Steubenville Rape Crew business has been weighing heavily on my mind. Partly because the crime was nothing less than horrific, partly because I used to live near Steubenville. Near as in, I may as well call it my hometown. Between the geographics and the fact that I have a daughter, the whole thing hits home.
I was disgusted to hear what happened back in August, how it was being handled, and even more disgusted to hear the commentary from people I thought I knew, but that’s another post.
This past weekend, the topic came up with someone we hadn’t yet discussed it with. The rally was to happen within minutes, and The Mister was setting up the computer to catch the live stream. Naturally, we asked if the Ohio Valley resident who was visiting us was keeping up with what was going on.
“Not really”, she replied. I found the apathy to be unnerving, but I’m always one to hear the other out. She continued, “the media has blown this thing way out of proportion.”
No. No. NO.
The media grabbed the issue by its ear and dragged it, kicking and screaming, into proper proportion. She continued…
“This stuff has been going on forever. It’s an old boys’ network. Nothing is going to change.”
How sad to think that way.
I can’t really blame her for her perceived helplessness. There’s a widespread mentality in that area that things are just the way they are because they are the way they are, The End. The New York Times did an article on neighboring town Weirton, highlighting the lack of self-efficacy of the residents. A cleric described Weirton as “a clinically depressed person, who curls up on the couch and withdraws.”
I’m from the Ohio Valley. That about sums it up.
The mentality is that if you don’t like something, pout. Don’t bother trying to change it, because you’re wasting your time.
I beg to differ, and Steubenville is the perfect example. Here’s why…
Attention on the rape case started with a crime blogger, then was accelerated by hactivist group Anonymous.
Now, the ages of Anonymous hacktivists have been found to be anywhere from 14 to 50. So hypothetically, this could have been some 8th grader starting what amounts to a revolution from his childhood bedroom. Websites shut down, incriminating emails out, deleted Twitter tweets recovered…
It’s hard to say who got the ball rolling. But someone did. Or someones, plural. But it could have been just one.
All it takes is one.
Let’s go through it as if was just one, or even few who got the ball rolling…
A handful of people are appalled by what they hear and how it’s handled. They put the allegations out into the world.
Protests, vigils, in-depth investigation of those involved, unethical practices being investigated, higher-level authority lending assistance to the investigation, higher-level authority examining the corruption in the area, petitions to have the charged tried as adults signed by enough to send it to the White House, I could go on.
I’m seeing success after success after success.
By far, the most important result?
This level of publicity allowed an entire region to give themselves permission to be outraged. Yes, I am suggesting that Ohio Valley residents were waiting around for permission to say, this isn’t right, to even feel that it wasn’t right.
Is there an “old boys'” network? Sure seems that way. But the way things operate has dramatically changed. It’s not 1950 anymore. A closed door guarantees privacy just about as well as you can rip your rotary phone off the wall and try to snap a photo with it.