The Norman Transcript

Opinion

June 24, 2013

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NORMAN —

This tweet was fairly typical: “(I)f ‘I’m not blaming the girl, but…’ exits your mouth, stop there. There is no ‘but.’”

Oh, yes there is.

This is not (or should not) be a debate over whether what the boys did was wrong. They committed a crime. They are the ones to blame — not the victim — and are justifiably being punished for it.

But it is not blaming the victim to ask, “What were you thinking?” Nor is it placing blame to tell her in the strongest possible terms not to put herself in those circumstances again. Nor is it blaming her to ground her for a few months, to help a painful lesson sink in.

Yes, the first duty to any victim is to help him or her recover from the damage caused by an attack, but it is neither loving nor sensitive to ignore bad judgment that may have played a role in it.

It is not the least bit loving or sensitive to send a family member out to walk through a high-crime neighborhood late at night because, you know, this is America and we have the right to walk wherever we want to walk. The loving, sensitive thing to do is block the door.

Yes, of course we have that right. But it is foolish to ignore reality to exercise that right. If we are attacked by criminals, they are to blame for committing illegal acts. But that doesn’t mean we, or anybody, should take a walk through the same neighborhood the next night. We would, I hope, call somebody crazy who did that time and again.

You have a right to enter a pedestrian crosswalk on a dead run, if you want, without looking to see if there is any oncoming traffic. Any motorist who hit you would automatically be at fault. But you would be just as hurt or dead no matter who is blamed. And it would not be blaming the victim to say you were stupid — that you could have avoided a lot of pain and suffering by using some common sense.

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