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March 25, 2017

Archives:

14 Year Old Child Bride Facing Death Penalty for Murdering Husband -

Saturday, November 29, 2014

BREAKING: New Coal Disaster In West Virginia -

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

U.S. Hostage Freed by Colombia’s FARC Rebels (Video) -

Monday, October 28, 2013

Here’s Why The Zimmerman Verdict Matters -

Sunday, July 14, 2013

BREAKING! UK Government Spied On Allies At TWO G20 Summits (Video) -

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Swiss Support Tougher Asylum Legislation as Refugee Numbers Spike -

Monday, June 10, 2013

American Woman Killed in Syria Fighting for Terrorists, Syrian TV Claims (Video) -

Friday, May 31, 2013

CO2 in the Air Reached its Highest Level in Human History -

Friday, May 10, 2013

Terms of the New Abortion Bill Agreed by Irish Cabinet -

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Boston In Lockdown As Manhunt Intensifies -

Friday, April 19, 2013

2 Dead, Dozens Injured After Boston Marathon Bombing -

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fast Food Workers in New York Stage Surprise Strike -

Saturday, April 6, 2013

N. Korean Rhetoric Provokes Missile Shield Deployment -

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eyewitness Accounts from Meiktila Massacre -

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sudan to Free All Political Prisoners -

Monday, April 1, 2013

A New Free Press In Burma Juxtaposed With Genocide: The World Will Be Watching -

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pressure Builds to End Ethnic Violence in Myanmar -

Friday, March 29, 2013

Activists Demand Action As Further Genocide Looms -

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cyprus Reaches Last-Minute Bailout Deal With EU -

Monday, March 25, 2013

Myanmar Muslims Brace for Possible Genocide -

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why Do We Blame the Victim?

When we hear that someone was mugged on a remote street corner in the middle of the night, we think they should not have been walking alone in the dark. When a woman dressed in a short skirt is raped, we think her attire must have had something to do with it. When parents cannot afford to feed their children, we attribute this to poor financial decisions or prioritization.

Victim blaming is a phenomenon that makes itself apparent in many types of crime or unfortunate situations. The person or persons suffering are given some degree or most of the guilt for what has happened to them.

Most recently, parents who lost children in the Newtown, Connecticut shooting are receiving hate mail from conspiracy theorists. They are called liars and actors who are playing a part in a set-up to tighten gun control laws. In a society that values law and order, why is it that so many of us are apt to blame and discredit the victim instead of blaming the perpetrator?

The idea of a just world is deeply embedded in the American psyche. Our pledge of allegiance ends with a promise of justice for all. We believe that good things ultimately happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. There is a notion of a natural order that pervades our lives; that what happens to us is a logical consequence of our everyday decisions.

We have trouble conceiving the idea that bad things can happen to good people without rhyme or reason. So when an event as horrible and evil as the Newtown tragedy happens, we scramble to find logical reasons for it. When this search for rationalization fails, some turn to another coping mechanism: denial. They deny that the event occurred; they call the victims liars and frauds.

The reality is that gun violence, robbery, rape, poverty, and hunger are all societal problems. As citizens of a democracy, we are all accountable for at least a portion of each of the problems that plague us. It is our failing as a nation when Newtown or Aurora happens. These problems, and the idea that we could each somehow be responsible for them, are overwhelming and uncomfortable to confront. In order to assuage our discomfort, we shift blame to the victims.

Victim blaming comforts us because it removes our sense of efficacy to affect change. We assure ourselves that there is nothing we could have done, or could do in the future to stop similar events from happening.

Breaking down the victim blaming complex requires a sense of empathy that is sorely lacking in American society today. It may seem overly simplistic to invoke the cliché of “walking a mile in another’s shoes,” but it does simply come down to the ability to do exactly that. The problem is that this sort of inner psychological change cannot be legislated. It is a cultural factor that unfortunately creeps its way into our law enforcement and courtrooms, and even into our legislative forces.

Justice is denied when assumptions are made about what the victim could have done to avoid the situation that occurred. A fair trial has been denied when a victim is not questioned, but rather, dismissed as a liar or a fool who is at fault for their misfortune. As Americans, we need to reevaluate our idea of justice, and how we can apply it truly and indiscriminately, as the Founding Fathers intended.

Edited by: Hugo Esteban Rodriguez

E.A. King (3 Posts)

E.A. is a junior at Juniata College who will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in political science and French language. In the past, she has interned for organizations such as AARP New Jersey and Global Youth Connect, based in New York City. At AARP, she participated in projects to advocate for access to personal home care for seniors. Her goals for the future are to be part of advocacy organizations for women’s rights, health care access, and the rights of the disabled.