I came across one of the most upsetting things today. It was when I was driving home from a lesson; I got a text message telling me about someone I went to high school with, someone who was arrested for sexual assault. I read the police report. This twenty-one year old, only a few months older than me, was arrested for having sexual relations (to what degree I’m not sure) with a fourteen-year-old.
My reflex reaction, of course, was shock. I couldn’t believe that this happened, and with this person, this guy I knew from school. It was creepy to say the least. I hadn’t been friends with this person, but I knew him. He was friendly towards me. He was always smiling.
When I read the police report, I was grossed out. Yes, it was extremely disgusting that there was a seven year age difference between the two people. Yet, hours later, when over fifteen people reposted his mug shot and police report on their own Facebook pages, to their 1000+ friends, I became more angry with them than I was with him. As I saw the comments people posted, the ‘totally saw this coming,’ ‘this guy was a total creep’ and ‘it figures’ I was so disheartened. Actually, more than disheartened, I was pissed.
What’s amazing to me is the judgment that people pass against one another. For a second, I’d like you to imagine that this guy was your ex-boyfriend, your father, your brother—what would you do if someone tagged him in a Facebook post, saying ‘Oh, I knew that was going to happen. Fucking idiot.’ How hurtful would that be?
I’m not saying that what this person did was right, actually, I’m not even taking a stance on what’s right or wrong in this situation at all—I’m simply pointing to the fact that people are so quick to point fingers when they have no idea of the back-story at all. And frankly, it’s none of their business anyways.
What if this boy and girl, despite the age difference, were in love? What makes teenagers glorify a student for sleeping with their high school English teacher, but shun someone like this guy I knew from high school, because he had sex with someone younger? Yes, I know that the age difference matters. Yes, I know this is illegal. And I’m not excusing what happened. Or what didn’t happen. What I’m saying, is that who are we to judge—you, her, me, anyone? What makes certain people so much better than others? What makes us look down on this situation, when we aren’t even sure what happened in the first place, or where this individual’s mental state was?
As I scrolled down my Facebook page and saw the fifteen plus reposts of this individual’s mug shot and police story, I was disgusted with my peers. The comments I read were so disrespectful. It almost brought me to tears, imagining what this individual’s mother or father would think, reading that so many fellow students ‘totally saw this coming’. How hurtful. And how high and mighty of these people who have no idea what it’s like to be in this boy’s shoes in the first place.
I don’t know much about this boy. I saw him around school. He told me I looked pretty on several occasions, and he smiled a half-smile. He has this same smile in his mug shot. I didn’t think anything of it. Sure, it might have looked sinister. But it also looked like the guy I knew. The nice guy who complimented me in the high school hallways.
Maybe what happened was an accident. Maybe whatever happened was an expression of love between two people that went wrong—maybe it went wrong simply because it was against the law. Or maybe something terrible did happen. I won’t know. And neither will anyone else, except for the people involved. Either way, it’s not my place or anyone else’s to comment and repost something for their entire Facebook and 1000+ friends, family members, and random people to see.
It saddened me to read comments from people who didn’t even know the kid, saying how messed up the situation was, how ‘fucked up’ this kid was for what he did. But wait, does anyone even know what actually happened? The answer is no.
In the end, what’s important is stepping back and realizing that everyone makes mistakes. If someone died from a drug addiction, from suicide, or if someone’s parents got divorced, would you repost the story and say, ‘Well, this was bound to happen someday.” Think about that. What kind of person would do that? Yet so many people did.
No one’s perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Even if what happened was an active choice, something that is truly this person’s fault, it’s for the people involved to judge. It’s for the law to judge. It’s for God to judge. Instead of reposting something to hundreds and thousands of random Facebook friends, saying ‘Oh my God, look at what this fucked up kid from my high school did!’ just shake your head and wish him well. After all, it could have just as easily been your friend, your father, your ex-boyfriend, your brother. Who are we to judge those who sin differently than us?