A tweet by Dr. Phil has resulted in a lot of grief for the TV host. It is simple and asks: "If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil."
It was removed from Dr. Phil's Twitter feed quickly, but the controversy is obviously going to continue for awhile. A badly-worded question? Perhaps.
Rehtaeh Parsons' mother Leah is in California and will be appearing on the Dr. Phil Show this week. It is possible, and very likely, the question was asked in that context -- sexual assault and teenage drinking. That would make sense.
I have yet to read anything supportive so I may very well be going out on a limb here. I want to give you the perspective of a father whose daughter was gang-raped while she was intoxicated. Through my eyes, that question isn't really offensive at all. What offends me is the simple fact that in Rehtaeh's case, the answer to the question was, and remains, a sickening "yes."
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, you can have sex with a "drunk" girl, even if she has to be carried around the house and is violently sick. You can tell hundreds of people you did it and share a photograph of it happening and no sexual assault charges will be laid against you. You can even write a long confession and send it to the girl's mother and not only will no charges be laid against you but the police won't bother to ask you a single question. They could investigate it for a year and not once shadow your doorstep.
I'm a little more offended by that than the Dr. Phil question, thank you very much.
The police, of course, will disagree. They will say we need to look at the "totality" of the evidence and take everything into account but given the lack of evidence gathered from the side of Rehtaeh's four alleged rapists that could only mean one thing. They want to focus on Rehtaeh while defending their actions the same way they focused on her while investigating a complaint of sexual assault.
The police investigated a confused, frightened, 15-year-old girl who was just gang-raped and had a photograph of it shared all over her school along with a slut story. Rehtaeh was devastated as anyone could imagine, but in the eyes of the police devastated means confused, and confused rape victims will never get a day in court. So why bother investigating what she said at all? I doubt you'll find a more clear-cut case of victim blaming than this.
So thank you Dr. Phil. That question needed to be asked, and, sadly, in Nova Scotia, it needs a better answer.
I truly hope, for our daughters sake, we get one soon.
Florida 2004 (from Facebook)
From Facebook: Thank You Richard for sending me this photo...I did not have this class picture of me in grade six but as soon as I saw it I recalled the year and the principal in the back Mr Gallagher. I was starting to become more girlish looking and developing into a young lady (far left front) and a group of boys that were friends since 1st grade noticed the changes and suddenly were grabbing me inappropriately when I was walking the hallways. I told Mr Gallagher, he pulled each boy into his office and I never knew what he said but those boys never touched me or said another word about it. Mr Gallagher, where ever you are I thank you and I never forgot how you stood up for me.
Today on Father's Day remembering the love of a father and daughter. (Glen and Rehtaeh)
These are photos of Halifax teenager <a href="http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/1122345-who-failed-rehtaeh-parsons" target="_hplink">Rehtaeh Parsons, who was the victim of an alleged gang rape and an online bullying campaign</a> over the last few months. Her mother, Leah Parsons, posted the images and her daughter's tragic story on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angel-Rehtaeh/352644484835299?fref=ts" target="_blank">a Facebook memorial page</a>.
Follow Glen Canning on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GlenfordCanning