Twitter Calls Out Newspaper Headline for Referring to Convicted Rapist Brock Turner as Only ‘a Swimmer’

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Brock Turner mugshot. Photo: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office/AP
Brock Turner mugshot. Photo: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office/AP

Yet another media company has found a way to downplay white criminality — and Twitter is having none of it.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post posted a story on the early prison release of convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner. Turner is expected to be discharged this Friday after serving just three months of his six-month sentence.

While the early release of a convicted rapist is enough to make some people angry, it was the story’s headline that really had people outraged.

“Ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner leaves jail Friday, but controversy still rages,” the headline read.

Many were upset that the newspaper failed to call Turner what he is: a rapist, not just an “ex-Stanford” swimmer. Critics also took to Twitter to slam the news publication for downplaying Turner’s crime.

And naturally, there was outrage over Turner’s early release from prison.

Earlier this year, Turner was sentenced to six months in the county jail for the rape of an unconscious woman after a frat party in January. The 20-year-old was found guilty on three felony counts of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person; penetration of an intoxicated person; and penetration of an unconscious person, Atlanta Black Star reports.

Judge Aaron Persky handed down the most lenient sentence for fear that prison time would have a “severe impact” on the young man.

“I think he will not be a danger to others,” Persky said.

The Washington Post debacle is just another example of the media’s tendency to downplay white criminality and perpetuate white privilege. Earlier this month, news outlets refused to call Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte a liar after he fabricated a story about he and his teammates being robbed at gunpoint while competing in Rio.

For instance, “Today Show” anchor Billy Bush argued that Lochte only “exaggerated” a few details of his harrowing robbery tale. Co-anchor Al Roker quickly rebutted.

“He [Lochte] lied,” Roker said. “He lied to you. He lied to Matt Lauer. He lied to his mom. He left his teammates hanging while he skedaddled.”

White privilege is also apparent in the media’s use of happy-go-lucky photos of white criminals instead of a mug shot. Incriminating photos of Black people are often used while the media goes on and on about how the white perpetrator was “such a good kid.” For example, Turner was still described as a “deeply caring, vulnerable” person even after he raped that unconscious young woman.

Turner is expected to be released this Friday and will be required to register as a sex offender. There is also a push to have Judge Persky removed from the bench.

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