A Sentence-By-Sentence Breakdown Of Why Brock Turner's Letter Is So Enraging

by Kate Ryan
Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department/ REUTERS

Before receiving a shockingly lenient sentence for brutally raping an unconscious woman, convicted sex offender Brock Turner wrote a letter to Judge Aaron Persky. A portion of that letter has since surfaced after The Guardian obtained it, and every word of it is alarmingly ignorant and enraging.

Let's break down why that is.

The letter opens with this evasive, poorly written sentence:

There isn't a second that has gone by where I haven't regretted the course of events I took on January 17th/18th.

In the same way his father idiotically described rape as "20 minutes of action," Turner chooses to rephrase his crime as a "course of events." Interesting how it also sounds like Turner passively did something wrong instead of the reality in which he actively assaulted someone.

It gets worse. He writes,

My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this.

Notice there is no mention of the other person involved, the person whose life has actually been ruined -- the life he ruined.

I am a changed person.

So far, this letter is proving the opposite to be true. A changed person wouldn't focus on themselves and not the person they brutalized. These next two sentences are pure rage fuel:

At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed.

OK, so here is where Turner's mind-boggling belief comes to light. According to him, it wasn't his fault for raping an unconscious woman, it was the alcohol's fault. This is as dangerous as dangerous thinking gets. In avoiding taking any responsibility for his actions, Turner proves that he doesn't see anything wrong with what he did, which is one of the most sickening aspects of his crime.

I never want to experience being in a position where it will have a negative impact on my life or someone else's ever again.

Here's another horrifying role reversal. Turner thinks he's the one who has experienced trauma after being essentially forced by alcohol to violently attack someone. Women don't want to be in a position where they have to be afraid of being violently raped every time they go to a party.

I've lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case. I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn't want to write stories about me.

This has become a full-blown pity party. Not once do we see anything close to an apology in this letter. Not once does he come close to uttering the words "sorry" or "apology." This is a pathetic plea for sympathy, something he will never deserve.

P.S. People aren't writing about you because you're a swimmer; they're writing about you because you RAPED someone.

I want to show that people's lives can be destroyed by drinking and making poor decisions while doing so. One needs to recognize the influence that peer pressure and the attitude of having to fit in can have on someone.

This portion of the letter further proves that we need more education about the prevalence of rape culture in America. You can't blame your "peers" for "pressuring" you to rape someone. If you murder someone, that's on you. Why aren't we treating rapists the same way? Turner wasn't victimized by a culture that doesn't take rape seriously, his victim was. He clearly doesn't understand that simple truth, and that's where the overarching problem lies.

One decision has the potential to change your entire life. I know I can impact and change people's attitudes towards the culture surrounded by binge drinking and sexual promiscuity that protrudes through what people think is at the core of being a college student.

Sexual promiscuity? It'd be nice to know what this has to do with Turner violently assaulting someone. Being a college student doesn't imply you need to force yourself on an unconscious victim. The way Turner shifts the blame off himself and onto his victim is more than wildly insensitive, it's revolting.

I want to demolish the assumption that drinking and partying are what make up a college lifestyle I made a mistake, I drank too much, and my decisions hurt someone. I've been shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at school.

YOU have been shattered? Try imagining what it must be like to be sexually assaulted against your will. Try having an iota of empathy for the person YOU shattered.

The most enraging element of this letter is that it seemed to garner Judge Persky's sympathy. A sentence of six months in county jail for three counts of felony sexual assault is not only outrageously lenient, it's a terrifying reminder that rape victims are not protected by the law.

If that isn't evidence that rape culture persists and our justice system continually re-victimizes sufferers of abuse, then it's hard to know what could prove that fact.

Citations: The Letter Brock Turner Sent to Judge Persky Before the Final Ruling (attn:)