It’s the stuff of nightmares; it’s the scenario you think you’ll only watch in the fictional world of Law and Order or Criminal Minds. This past month a woman viewed a video on the news of a young woman being raped by four men on a beach in Florida while onlookers did nothing, some even cheering and others taking pictures. The nightmare hits when the woman realizes the person being raped in the video is her.
Public gang rape on a crowded beach of Florida during spring break and no one called the officials to report it. I was shocked and horrified when I read this story, and it left me with a pain in the pit of my stomach for the rest of the day. How could people watch and say nothing? How could people watch and possibly even enjoy watching? In this blog post I claim that my ideas are all based on my own views and speculation and I have no fact based evidence to these claims. I will individually explore the various facets, factors and reasoning behind the incident through thought, question and speculation. This entry is a mulling over of my thoughts as I read the articles about this case.
Spring break-The incident occurred on a crowded beach full of spring breakers who were likely drunk and on a number of substances. Sure maybe the lines of right and wrong blur when you’re drunk, but seeing someone get raped? It’s not acceptable at any level of intoxication to justify the action of rape. So perhaps no one called the authorities because they were under the influence of drugs and alcohol? I still think that it is again unlikely that every single member of the crowd was too incapacitated to understand but even for those who were highly intoxicated wouldn’t people understand the horror that was going on in front of them?
Rape pornography- In the genre called Rape Porn there are a number of sites that depict rape situations sometimes by porn actors and sometimes actual rape situations. Rape pornography is not the most popular form of porn, however, the fact that it exist sometimes legally online does in some show that our society accepts its depiction. Now it is unrealistic to assume that every individual on that beach watching this incident was an avid viewer of rape pornography, however is living in a world where depictions of rape pornography are legal online reason enough to somehow condone it in real life? That seems like a huge jump and unrealistic assumption but what about rape scenes leaking into our movies and TV shows? Slowly but surely desensitizing the mind to its image. Now it is true that even on TV and in movies the perpetrators of rape crimes are often viewed as evil and are often punished so if a message was being conveyed wouldn’t it have an influence regarding the fact that rapist are evil and will get punished?
Diffusion of responsibility- In the phenomenon of the diffusion of responsibility onlookers of a crime assume that because so many people are viewing the incident means that someone else will surely call the authorities. In this incident in Florida however it didn’t seem as if the onlookers viewed the rape as a crime but rather as some horrific form of entertainment. It is as if they are gathered around the coliseum in ancient Rome watching a victim being mauled by a lion. So were people aware that the action occurring was wrong and simply all were partaking in a diffusion of responsibility or was something darker happening?
I’ve spent most of this blog entry asking questions as I admit I don’t have the answers myself. If I place myself in the situation of an onlooker in this case I know I would have called the authorities and every single one of my family and friends who I’ve asked about the matter said they would too, and I know they all are telling the truth. So why is that some people would call when others would not? Why do some people desensitize themselves through viewing rape porn or even watching the act in real life? Is it a sign of the times or a reflection of human nature in its darkest form? How could this happen in a public place without immediate consequence?