If you’ve been paying any attention to the news and/or social media over the past few days, you probably already know the name Brock Turner. If not, here’s a refresher: Turner is a 20-year-old Stanford student recently convicted of raping a 23-year-old woman as she lay unconscious behind a dumpster after a party last January. Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault, but the judge, Aaron Persky, let Turner off with an absurdly light six-month sentence—of which he’ll reportedly only serve a few months in a county jail—out of concern for the “severe impact” a long jail sentence might have on the poor boy’s future. And people are pissed.
The victim released a powerful statement on the “severe impact” she experienced last week, which was followed by a jaw-dropping statement from Turner’s father about how his son just doesn’t have the happy-go-lucky attitude he used to now that he’s a fucking rapist. Then there was a statement from one of Turner’s lifelong friends, Leslie Rasmussen, which basically blames the whole thing on political correctness gone wild. In the letter, Rasmussen defends Turner’s character, asserting he’s “not a monster” and was “always the sweetest to everyone.” She adds:
I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right. But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.
This is completely different from a woman getting kidnapped and raped as she is walking to her car in a parking lot. That is a rapist. These are not rapists. These are idiot boys and girls having too much to drink and not being aware of their surroundings and having clouded judgement.
Well, guess what, everybody—Rasmussen’s the drummer and vocalist in a band. And that band, the Dayton, Ohio-based garage-punk trio Good English, was scheduled to play at the Brooklyn-based Northside Festival this week. Emphasis on the “was,” because according to Paste and a number of other sources, Good English has been dropped from the festival lineup in response to Rasmussen’s statement. The festival acknowledges the change in a terse tweet:
Industry City Distillery, the bar where a Saturday night Good English show not affiliated with Northside Festival was to have taken place, has also canceled that show and condemned Rasmussen’s statement. According to Pitchfork, Good English has taken down its Facebook page as of this afternoon, and all future tour dates on its website have been canceled.
UPDATE, 10:20 AM, June 8: Last night, Good English’s Facebook page went back up, for a few hours anyway. It’s been taken down again, but here’s the statement Rasmussen posted during that brief window:
Two months ago, I was asked to write a character statement for use in the sentencing phase of Brock Turner’s trial. Per the request of the court, I was asked to write this statement in an effort to shed light on Brock’s character as I knew it to be during my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood when I interacted with him as a classmate and friend. I felt confident in my ability to share my straightforward opinion of him and how I knew him. I also felt compelled to share my deep concern over the misuse of alcohol that was a well-established contributor in this case. Beyond sharing my personal experience with Brock, I made an appeal to the judge to consider the effect that alcohol played in this tragedy.
I understand that this appeal has now provided an opportunity for people to misconstrue my ideas into a distortion that suggests I sympathize with sex offenses and those who commit them or that I blame the victim involved. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I apologize for anything my statement has done to suggest that I don’t feel enormous sympathy for the victim and her suffering.
Perhaps I should have included in my statement the following ideas that explain my perspective on the complexities of what may have happened. As a young female musician who has spent years (since I was in fourth grade) performing as a drummer in live music venues, clubs, and bars with my two sisters, I have had the unique opportunity to observe over 10 years of public American drinking culture and the problems that invariably arise through alcohol misuse. I have watched friends, acquaintances and complete strangers transform before my eyes over the course of sometimes very short periods of time, into people I could barely recognize as a result of alcohol overconsumption. I am currently 20 years old. I have made these observations through sober eyes. I have been repeatedly reminded by my family and coached by police to hold my personal sobriety closely and seriously because of the industry I work in and the risks to my own life that I could face as a young woman playing regularly in venues across the country where alcohol is served.
Additionally, I have grown up and currently reside in a university town that is affected every year by the tragic consequences resulting from undergraduate students’ excessive enthusiasm for binge drinking. Student arrests, violence, injuries, and sexual assaults occur with some regularity, and I have often wondered why this culture continues to thrive seemingly unquestioned and unchecked.
There is nothing more sad than the unnecessary, destructive and enormous toll that overuse, misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs play in people’s lives, and I don’t think my effort to point this out in confidence to a judge while commenting on Brock Turner’s character, as the sober person I knew him to be, was an irresponsible or reckless decision. Unfortunately, due to the overzealous nature of social media and the lack of confidence and privacy in which my letter to the judge was held, I am now thrust into the public eye to defend my position on this matter in the court of public opinion. Now, my choices to defer college to write and play music, to finally introduce 10 years of hard work to a national audience while working consistently and intentionally on my own personal and professional integrity, has led to an uproar of judgement and hatred unleashed on me, my band and my family.
I know that Brock Turner was tried and rightfully convicted of sexual assault. I realize that this crime caused enormous pain for the victim. I don’t condone, support, or sympathize with the offense or the offender. I was asked by a court in California to provide a character statement as a standard and necessary part of the sentencing process.
I believe that Brock’s character was seriously affected by the alcohol he consumed, and I felt that the court needed to consider this issue during their sentencing deliberations.