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To the Youth of Steubenville
To the youth of Steubenville,

While some reacted to the events of August in horror, many of you reacted to those events as though it were some colossal joke. The two men who are going to prison are not the only criminals in this case. They are simply the only two foolish enough to incriminate themselves so publicly. Every one of you who was there that night is equally guilty. Those who received the text messages, the pictures, those who reveled vicariously in the events of that evening, and those who mocked the victim afterward are all guilty.

You may feel young and invincible right now, but you are only a few short years away from being adults. Very soon you will be our nation’s problem solvers, our neighbors, and our work force. I am frightened to think that such a jaded generation will produce our future police officers, judges, and teachers. I am terrified of this prospect due to the cold, sociopathic lack of regard you showed your fellow man that night. I am terrified because even now you seem to be more frightened of the consequences of getting caught than of the disgusting act itself. You are so, so blind.

Many of you have expressed surprise. You’re surprised because you didn’t think what you were doing was wrong. I feel sorry for you – I am sorry that your parents and other adults failed you, I am sorry that you lack conscience, and that you lack the basic human ability to empathize with one another. Since you seem to have no moral compass whatsoever, here is a quick way to gauge whether what you are doing is just good fun, or if it’s the wretched criminal behavior of a sociopath. It’s called the Golden Rule, you may have heard of it. “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself,” or “One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.” It seems simple, right?

Maybe some of your antics can be explained away. I’m aware of the culture of football players, frat brothers, and military men. Maybe you wouldn’t mind your friends stripping you half naked when you’re drunk. Maybe you’d somehow think it was funny that they thought about peeing on you when you were passed out (in “bro culture” you do some pretty weird things to each other, I'll admit that even though it is beyond me). But would you really want your friends to leave you lying in a pool of your own vomit in the sidewalk? What about the other events of that night? What about the acts you filmed – the things you did that are so grotesque I can’t bring myself to mention them? Would you want your teammates and guy friends to do that to you when you’re too incapacitated to fight back? Would you want them to take pictures and videotape it and send it to everyone in town? How would you feel if they left you passed out naked somewhere – left you to wake up with no memory of what happened to you the night before? How would you feel if they sent you videos and pictures of the things they did to your body? Think about what you did. Think about what you witnessed. Think about the fact that you did nothing to stop it. Put yourself in her place and then ask yourself again if it was wrong. Repeat this process until it becomes second nature and then you will have the right to call yourself human.

The rest of humanity


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