Police have arrested a third suspect in the rape of a woman who had passed out on the beach during the Spring break in Panama City, Florida.
The incident occurred in broad daylight last month at the peak of spring break in Panama City Beach, where some 300,000 college students have been flocking in March and April for around-the-clock parties.
After a raucous party ended in a shooting that injured seven last month, officials temporarily banned drinking on the beach, a measure previously rejected over concerns about spoiling a lucrative business for many hotels and bars.
But the ban came after a woman in town for spring break was raped after blacking out behind a popular beach bar and club, said the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
The assault was captured on video tape and police were able to use the tape to track down and arrest the suspects.
I have been wanting to make a few comments about this story for a couple days. There are a few things about this story that are just terribly wrong.
First, let’s be clear, the first thing wrong is the violent, sexual violation of the victim by three men. Nothing I say is meant to diminish the seriousness of this crime, or the magnitude of the violation of the victim.
That said, I think there are three subjects, of which we need to to have a national discussion.
First, I believe that we need to talk about this social media phenomenon that has somehow conditioned many of us to first turn on our camera’s. I am struggling to understand how anyone could stand by and tape a woman being raped AND THEN POST IT TO SOCIAL MEDIA! No offer to help, no defense of the defenseless, just standing by filming it all for posterity. This is disturbing and should give us all pause.
Next on the national conversation agenda should be that these predators felt comfortable committing a sexual assault in the middle of a crowd of thousands of people. Not one of them seemed to have given any thought to the fact that anyone might observe them. Or perhaps they counted on the fact that witnesses would remain silent. Is there something lacking in the soul of our society that hundreds if not thousands of people stand by while a woman is raped? I would like to know. What other crimes does a soulless society allow?
Finally, we must – absolutely must – have a conversation about young women who drink until they pass out. I suspect that someone will read this and charge me with blaming the victim. No. I am simply suggesting that irresponsible behavior often has horrible consequences. There was a time that certain behaviors held social stigma. Women were cautioned, for instance, not to go to a mans hotel room unaccompanied. It turns out there was good reason for some of these social mores. Certainly, there may be some value in stigmatizing women drinking until they are slobbering drunk.
Reading this story turned my stomach. If these men are guilty, I hope they are punished to the full extent of the law.
In the meantime, can we talk?