Bob Rayner, a columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch has apparently joined the ranks of the “blame the bystander” crowd, whose ideas are poisoning America. In a recent column about the Rolling Stone article about a sexual assault at the University of Virginia, Rayner unleashed an attack on bystanders. He stated that the “accomplices [of the men who committed the rape] — anyone who knew about the assault before or after it took place and did not go to the police, whether they are members of the fraternity or not — also must be charged as felons and, if convicted, should serve many years in prison.” Really? What a load of manure! He thinks people who knew about the rape but did not report it to the police should serve many years in prison?
Obviously, this is just an emotional response not grounded in logic. Reason dictates that people who do not report everything they know to the police are not common criminals deserving of long prison sentences. People have many reasons for not reporting information to the police. Some just don’t want to get involved. Others might be afraid that the perpetrators would retaliate against them. Still others might have skeletons in their closets that they don’t want exposed by having to go to court and testify. And there are probably many other reasons. I have an idea. Why don’t we start holding the perpetrators solely responsible for the crimes they commit. Let’s stop looking all around for other people to blame. We stopped blaming the victim, and that’s a good thing. That was long overdue. Now let’s stop blaming the bystander.