Incident a call to action

To the editor:

I grew up in a town that sounds a lot like Steubenville. Everybody really loved football, enjoyed a good party and generally grew up in a traditional, American lifestyle. So it is very unfortunate to hear of the bizarre and horrifying account of a young girl’s rape in a town that sounds so very much like the one I grew up in, especially when considering the irresponsible way the incident is being handled.

With the national media attention that is being given to Steubenville I am quite certain that there are many in the city who are ready for the uproar regarding the incident to die down and for the regular way of things to resume. That is a very understandable desire.

However, there is no way short of a very callous one for the general public to forget the rape of a 16-year-old girl until her defilers are brought to justice, including the ones who have yet to be named. The matter of even delivering punishment to this girl’s attackers seems to be a point of contention, something puzzling to me since I was always raised to believe that any male of any age that has harmed a girl deserves only the most severe repercussions. Why is this not the case for the juveniles and men who have sexually violated someone?

What is most bizarre is the speculation that the sport of football and its connection to the girl’s attackers are what is keeping them from being more thoroughly investigated and publicly reprimanded. Why did it take an amorphous, secretive group of hackers known by their formless title of “Anonymous” to disclose so much information? Certainly the age of the attackers is to be legally accounted for, but there is a difference between teenage mischief and morbid sexual violence, the latter of which demands a punishment fit for a grown man. Rape cannot be tolerated in any society.

Many appear to be involved in what seems to be the deliberately opaque and hesitant approach to prosecuting the young and not-so- young criminals in this incident. I do not understand why. It is very disturbing to consider the possibility that a town’s love of football could possibly trump its desire to protect all teenagers and young adults equally. And this possibility seems to be growing more likely with every news report from legitimate outlets.

It is truly sad and disturbing that some of the school’s football coaches are so indifferent to the destructive behavior of certain players, an indifference reminiscent of Joe Paterno. I can only hope that Steubenville and its media are willing to deliver the necessary continued attention to this incident that it deserves. It must then punish and make an example of anyone involved in or complicit with efforts to conceal the heinous behavior of the rapists.

This is not a witch hunt. This is a call to action demanding that despicable people get what they deserve. All of them.

Robert Heltzel