My Response to Brock Turner’s Father

How a Father Can Learn to Properly Estimate the Appetite of His Son

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I offer this poem as a tribute to my father for holding me accountable for the transgressions that, along with the consequences, shaped the person I am today. I offer this as an imperfect, justice-seeking, frustrated-with-the-world white male. I offer this to the young men who are new to fatherhood.

I offer this to the reality of white privilege, that events like these can serve to level the playing field in our judicial system and how we parent/teach/exist. I offer this not to assert the self-importance of another privileged white male voice in the dialogue but to assert a new vantage point since privileged white males perpetuate these crimes, hear these cases, defend these clients, report on these cases, rear men capable of such terrible deeds, brush aside the power of these personhood contexts.

I offer this as an ally against our pervasive rape culture. I offer this to the high school and college students of America today to understand the severity of your casual thoughtlessness and violences. I offer this to parents who see their children as people who can do no wrong, even when they commit profound wrongs.

I offer this to the victims of sexual abuse and rape whose notions of manhood and power dynamics and personhood have been shattered. I offer this as an apology and acknowledgement of your pain. I offer this to those Americans who think this case has nothing to do with them. It does. All of us teach morality through our example. I offer this as a way forward.


If you need to get caught up on the coverage, here are some links. 

The victim’s intense letter to her rapist. Read aloud in court. I can’t imagine…

Dan A. Turner’s letter to the judge concerning his son’s new reality. This letter intentionally silences the violence, the victim, the chaos his son created choosing instead to focus on his son’s sterling reputation and promising future to this point. The title of this poem refers to Turner’s lament that his son’s appetite is disappearing.

And two artifacts to help us understand the role of language in naming, shaming or hiding our approach to sexual assault and rape. First, a video from Philip DeFranco on Facebook. Second, an annotated analysis of Dan Turner’s letter by Alyssa Peterson from Vox.

And finally, an important piece of media from CNN and an anchor who read aloud much of the victim’s letter to her rapist. Important coverage.

Vice President Joe Biden wrote the victim a letter. It is all over the Internet, but you can find it here.