Mike Adams
I have a friend who suffered through a horrific gang rape nearly twenty years ago. There were three perpetrators but one in particular served as the ringleader and principal conspirator. He was in his early thirties when he planned the crime and convinced a twenty-one year old and a nineteen year old to join him. His victim was only sixteen years old.

After raping a girl only half his age, the principal rapist let the others have their turn. Then he raped her again. In between his two assaults upon her he slapped her around viciously and poured alcohol on her face while taunting her verbally. She was literally gasping for air while her thoughts were racing – all the while wondering whether she would live through the experience. Thank God she did. She is a good wife and a mother of two children today.

Because the experience was so brutal and so prolonged, she can still see the face of her tormentor today. That bothers her all the more because he bears a striking resemblance to a very famous musician who is also an actor. As a result, she cannot watch any movie starring Sting. Nor can she hear one of his songs or even a song by his former band the Police without partially reliving the experience. Sting is of course unaware that he reminds my friend of her savage rape experience. He will remain unaware of it unless he happens upon this column, which is unlikely.

Without question, Sting reminds my friend of a brutal rape experience. But no one in his right mind would propose punishing him for a rape he did not commit. No one would argue that he should die because he reminds a rape victim of a brutal rape experience. The association was not caused by him. It was caused by the rapist. If anyone, the rapist should die.

Imagine a slightly different scenario. Imagine that a woman named Jane living in Massachusetts is raped by a man named Matt. After the rape, Matt escapes Massachusetts and finds a safe haven in upstate New York. He is never seen by her again. But Matt has a double named Mitt. Unfortunately, Mitt lives in the same small town as the rape victim. She sees him every week at the grocery store, at the post office, and even at their place of worship. His continued existence is a constant reminder of the rape experience.

Jane considered abortion after she was impregnated by the rapist. But in the wake of the violent attack upon her, she decided to give the baby up for adoption. When she considered abortion she immediately saw that she and the baby had something in common: both were innocent victims of a crime they could not prevent. Therefore, it made no sense to her to murder her child simply because he reminded her of a crime he did not commit.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.