In her March 29 opinion column titled “Outrage,” Jacquelyn Thorbjornson demands that we be in an uproar over the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl by two of her classmates because liberal media organizations are protecting the defendants, due to their status as undocumented immigrants. The article is calling for outrage on the Maryland rape case, but more specifically the alleged failings of liberal media, itself perpetuating the unconsented exploitation of private tragedy for public, partisan attacks. A 14-year-old may have just been raped in a high school bathroom. Should the conversation on that focus on attacks on undocumented immigrants and attacks on liberal media outlets? Should we be having a national conversation on that at all?
The article disproportionately focuses on the actions and assumed motives of liberal media outlets, when the political motive of Fox News is much easier to see than the alleged liberal bias. It is sensationalizing and exploiting an alleged rape and abandoning “innocent before proven guilty” to attack 11 million undocumented immigrants. The crime at hand is rape, not illegal entry. Yet the nationwide rhetoric surrounding the case now implies that individual crimes are something that we can hold other undocumented immigrants accountable for.
It is unfortunate for a case like this to reach this level of extensive national coverage before the court makes a decision. In his response to “Outrage,” Ryan Chavez succinctly explained why national coverage of the Brock Turner case cannot be applied to the alleged Maryland rape, for publicization happened after the case was decided and because the victim shared her testimony on Buzzfeed. Until the victim willingly steps into the public spotlight, reports on the alleged Maryland rape are not providing “information” for public debate or creating a more informed polity. Instead, we are devaluing and exploiting a 14-year-old rape victim to reinforce a stance in the undocumented immigration debate. It is understandable to feel outrage when we hear “14-year-old student allegedly raped by two people.” But that outrage should not go public without the consent of the victim, and it certainly should not be wielded against 11 million innocent people with a coincidental relation, like citizenship status, to the alleged wrongdoers.
Alis Yoo is a sophomore from Palisades Park, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.