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June 8, 2016

The Weight and Worth of Twenty Minutes

by Alison DeLuca

After Brock Turner was given a six-month jail sentence for rape, the internet exploded with rage. It escalated when the letter from Turner’s father was made public. We all know the quote by now: Dan Turner defended the rape by saying it was only “20 minutes of action” in a life of twenty years.

Let’s analyze this statement. Twenty minutes out of twenty years is a tiny percentage: less than .000002%. Math, therefore, seems to support Dan Turner’s statement.

I’d like to look at the issue another way. If twenty minutes truly do not count, what can we get away with in that time? What can we do in our ‘free’ twenty minutes, the time apparently allotted to us all by Dan Turner and Aaron Persky, the judge in the rape case?

Here are some ideas:

You can carry out a robbery. It won’t be a perfect crime since you only have twenty minutes to plan and execute the theft, but what does that matter? You have twenty minutes of freedom. Go ahead and rob that bank. Maybe a guard will be injured, but who cares? It’s only .000002% of your life, after all.

You can perpetrate a murder. It will be sloppy, but Judge Persky doesn’t want to let jail have a ‘severe impact’ (a direct quote from his sentencing of Brock Turner.) As long as you can afford good lawyers, you’ll get off with a few months in jail.

image courtesy of pexels
You can chug a bottle of booze, get behind the wheel, and cause a huge road accident. It will ruin a lot of lives, but hey – it’s your twenty minutes of freedom.

You can cheat on your husband, wife, or lover.

You can abuse your kid.

You can smuggle a sharp object into a plane and force the pilot to give you the controls. It takes far less than twenty minutes to fly a plane into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
Let’s look at some other things you could accomplish in twenty minutes:

You can plot out a story or sketch an idea for a painting.

You can serve meals at a homeless shelter.

Twenty minutes is a nice stretch of time for a passionate prayer or peaceful meditation.

It’s a short hike or quick bike ride.
image courtesy of pexels

You can walk across campus and, if you see a person who looks inebriated, call 911 and get help for her or him. If you wait with her until authorities arrive, it should take no more than twenty minutes - .000002% of your life if you are twenty years old like Brock Turner.

With your free twenty minutes you’ve been gifted by Dan Turner’s letter, you can read an essay on the nature of time. Although I'm a hopeless math and science student, I enjoyed this one from Wake ForestUniversity. You could expand your exploration with A Brief History of Time by Dr. Stephen Hawking.

Twenty years is a long time, twenty minutes is very short.  However, what we do with that small amount of time is important. This is where humanity comes to play. Will you shoot up, rip off a 7-11, bully a co-worker? Will you read a book, hug your son, walk your dog?

Will you force yourself into the body of an unsuspecting female?

Walking a dog is a rather commonplace action. It accomplishes nothing, really, other than making the dog happy.

Rape is an act of force that echoes far beyond twenty minutes. The crime will not be forgotten. The victim will deal with the fallout throughout her life. She’ll remember the long list of questions the court asked her, looking for her 'implied guilt.

image courtesy of pixabay
Some people, amazingly, will actually believe she 'brought it on herself' because of what she wore or how drunk she was. Trust will return slowly, if at all. Her new normal, if you can call it that, will be filled with horror and the knowledge a piece of her has been stolen, never to be returned.

She will be scarred forever, and all because a swimmer at Stanford spent twenty minutes in assault instead of aid.

On this little blue marble in the vast darkness of space, we have the precious gift of time. Twenty minutes seems like nothing, and yet it can be everything.

Brock Turner chose to use twenty minutes of his life, that .000002%, in abusing another person's body. His Facebook page (now taken down) seems to suggest that if a woman drinks alcohol, she is saying yes. 

The truth is the exact opposite: 

If your date or pick-up is impaired by alcohol, don’t have sex with them. They do not have the mental acuity to say yes or no. 

I’ve seen this concept from kids in high school, from athletes, from actors, from writers and artists and those who just choose to do the right thing.

You’ve just finished reading this article in twenty minutes or less. The clock is now ticking for the next twenty, and the next, and the next. You have the choice to do harm or good with those minutes.

We all know Brock Turner’s decision.

Which will you choose?

Alison DeLuca, features writer. Alison is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. Connect with Alison on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and her blog.

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  1. In one study, 98% of males who raped boys reported that they were heterosexual. (Sexual Abuse of Boys, Journal of the American Medical Association, December 2, 1998)This just proves that wearing short skirts and drinking alcohol causes rape, as obviously that is the case for most boys. (Not.)So, if it's not that what could it be? A predatory lust to have a person in their power for just 20 minutes?

    1. A very sad point, and one we need to remember. Victims are all sexes and ages. This problem belongs to no one person - we all need to confront the terrible issue of "Rape Culture.'

  2. Alison, wonderful post today. All of us need to read it to our children and have a meaningful discussion about this subject. Thank you

    1. Thanks so much, Susan. This post was really important to me. One thing I forgot to mention was this: two wonderful young men came to the victim's aid, thank heavens. They may have saved her life.

  3. Well said, Alison. I'm sharing this thoughtful piece on FB and Twitter.