Brock Turner, Rape and the Left’s Giant Blind Spot

The left's anger at situations like the Brock Turner sexual assault case doesn’t go far enough.

Brock Turner

By Alex Chediak Published on June 20, 2016

Last week I called for a stronger reaction from conservatives to the Brock Turner sexual assault incident. Not just the event per se, but its aftermath: the fact that Turner stonewalled his victim — changing his story from the police report he gave on the night of his arrest to the testimony he gave at the hearing in 2016, the letter from Turner’s father which downplayed the severity of sexual assault, and the minimal remorse shown by Turner after the conviction.

I’ll admit that my motivation was somewhat partisan: I don’t want the Left to own this issue. Let’s be honest, most of what Joe Biden said about Brock Turner could have been said by Paul Ryan. Eloquent condemnation of sexual assault from a conservative leader like Ryan could cut into the “gender gap” in the polling, which consistently shows young and/or single women tilting to the Left.

Conservative Women/Conservative Men

My article was unanimously well received among conservative women. But I did receive some critique from right-leaning men. The first was that I was an “ambulance chaser,” blowing hot air on a hot issue in a sophisticated attempt at click bait. “We all know Turner is a dirt bag, no need to pile on.” Others pointed to the fact that “talk is cheap” and that conservatives have been more inclined to pass tough anti-sex assault legislation. If I had to choose, I’d agree that deeds are more important than words. But words also matter.

What leaders say sets the tone of their movement. Does anyone on the Right complain that conservative politicians speak out against abortion on every anniversary of Roe v. Wade? Or that many of us shared the videos that David Daleiden’s team produced, painstakingly documenting Planned Parenthood profiting from the sale of body parts? On the contrary, it’s often the case that talk — tough talk, from lots of people — is a necessary precursor and catalyst for action/legislation.

The other critique I heard was that Turner’s lifetime sex offender status is itself an enormous punishment and that a longer jail sentence would only have adverse effects (e.g., increase the likelihood of recidivism). I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m more sympathetic to this concern, since I would not put Turner on the same level as a serial pedophile, though both have lifetime sex offender designations. I truly want to see Turner rehabilitated. Yet I also see this in Emily Doe’s lengthy testimony:

Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public.

In other words, if the sex offender designation is life-destroying — and it’s long-lasting ramifications are probably why prosecutors often use it as a plea bargaining chip — Turner’s lawyer should have advised his client to, in the words of Jesus, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge…” (Matthew 5:25 ESV). That’s certainly how I would have advised him. Instead, at great legal expense, Turner peddled a concocted story that his victim was a happily consenting participant.

The Left’s Blind Spots

But let’s move on and address those on the Left. I don’t doubt for a moment the sincerity of outrage from progressives. But their anger is myopic — it doesn’t go far enough; it doesn’t get at the true source. Here’s the problem: As Mona Charon argued, campus sexual assault grows in the petri dish of the alcohol-fueled hookup culture. Remove the hook-up culture and you’d greatly mitigate sexual assault. Why? Because men are more likely than women to want sex with strangers, drunk men are particularly lacking in restraint (though that doesn’t excuse their behavior), and drunk women are less likely to say no or be sufficiently conscious to remember what was said.

The alcohol-fueled hookup culture is about empty seduction and conquest. It’s the perfect recipe for sexual assault, or, at the very least, after-the-fact allegations of sexual assault along with abundant misunderstanding of what precisely was “consented.”

Of course men shouldn’t take advantage of women. But if liberals really want to be angry about campus sexual assault, they wouldn’t merely crusade for men to “establish consent” at every stage of a crass, alcohol-enabled, casual sexual encounter. They’d go two steps further:

  1. They’d encourage sobriety or, at most, the moderate consumption of alcohol. Emily Doe’s extreme drunkenness didn’t justify Brock Turner’s assault, but it certainly enabled it. That’s not victim-blaming. It’s just being honest.
  2. They’d encourage college students, both men and women, to regard sex less as an itch to be scratched and more as a serious act to be reserved for committed partners. They’d acknowledge that casual sex often results in hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and remorse, particularly when fueled by alcohol, as it usually is.

When the Left calls on men to behave themselves and protect women they should be reminded that such virtues are part of what they jettisoned when they ushered in the anything-goes, women-are-just-like-men, sexual revolution, which gave us the hook-up culture, which led to the increase in campus sexual assault (both real and alleged).

A sure way to kill a tree is to take the axe to the root. If you really want to protect women, condemn the selfish, soul-depleting hook-up culture and all that goes with it.


Alex Chediak’s book Thriving at College, now in its 9th print run, is a roadmap for how students can best navigate the social, academic and professional challenges of their college years. His other books include Beating the College Debt Trap and Preparing Your Teens for College.

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  • Dean Bruckner


    I agree that the hookup for s3x culture is evil. But it is only the symptom of the problem. The problem is the Big Lie of the s3xual revolution, namely that humans can declare s3x to be whatever they want, a meaningless act of a meaningless body in a meaningless universe, the result of a Nietzschean “will to power” that can enable themselves to declare themselves to be anything they want.

    In this upside-down moral world, if a man thinks he is a woman, he is a woman, and vice versa. If a person thinks the body is a prison for the true inner self, then it is. If a man thinks a woman is a piece of meat, then she is.

    I do support consent rules and policies, because they are better than the alternative of rape. But they are like a 100 gallon per minute pump trying to dewater a foundering ship with a 500 gallon per minute hole in its side.

    The ethic of consent will not bear the moral weight being placed on it by the Progressive Left, which following the script of the cultural Marxists to redefine reality to destroy both morality and the family. The hookup-for-s3x culture is vice, and vice cannot be done virtuously. A man and woman who see each other as pieces of meat for their selfish s3xual gratification will not suddenly behave virtuously and treat each other with respect, honor and self-sacrificing unselfishness. That is not how humans think or behave, and it is not what humans are.

    The Left lies about what humans are, and then tries to borrow respect, consent, and self-restraint from the very culture they trashed, vilified and crushed.

    The only line that will ensure virtue, unselfishness, self-control and safety are honored in s3xual relationships is the only line that ever did: heterosexual marriage as defined by the Bible, explicitly endorsed by Jesus, and honored by both participants and culture. Naked consent to s3xual acts, absent the moral framework of this marriage, is only a speed bump that is already being pounded to rubble. I mean no offense to those who disagree with me, but the failure of the consent regime is why we are having this conversation in the first place. Reality is most inconvenient to those who do not honor the truth.

    This disagreement is not just one of polite words. It has major stakes, and ominously threatens the freedom of those who hold to traditional morality.

    In order to shore up the Big Lie as it is continually exposed by reality, the cultural Marxist Left enforces its own version of reality. In Soviet days, there was already a criminal penalty against “falsifying Soviet reality.” I kid you not. And so there are now penalties for falsifying Progressive reality.

    The Progressive Left is already implementing the same measures the Soviets used to support their Big Lie of Communism: an informant culture (currently required reporting of s3xual assaults), draconian penalties with no due process (currently expulsion of suspected males with no real due process, and show trials like the Duke Lacrosse case), and suppression of truth-telling about the Big Lie (currently campus speech codes, shouting down conservatives, etc.). But these aren’t up to the job. Soon the cultural Marxist Left will sweep up Christians into ghettos and camps to further hide the decay of its Big Lie.

    What do Christians do? They wait for God’s deliverance, and then stand in the temple courts at daybreak to declare the message of the new life that God has given us. The authorities will do what they will, but God will save all those hearers who are appointed to eternal life.

If the Foundations are Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do?
David Kyle Foster
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