Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bullying in Language: Rehtaeh Parsons

Teen in Photo Having Sex with Rehtaeh Parsons: I Didn't 'Bully' Her

Please be aware that this article has some infuriating quotes.  

"Bullying" is a subjective term, and its meaning has changed in the last generation. 
In the last year, I read a book on bullying, with Q & A, not because I was interested in the topic, but because I needed the CEUs (Continuing Educational Units) for my license. 
The book was a pleasant surprise.

One chapter, in particular, focused upon over protective parents, and linked this to bullying, as the child grows up, so overly protected (the hyper reaction to neglect) that he does not learn how to 'negotiate' varying circumstances in life, which may lead to bullying. 
There are many causes behind bullying, and there are many ways in which bullying is handled, but it is clear, however, that bullying of today is not your grandparents' teasing of yesteryear.  The book was an excellent psychological study, and not a politically correct moralizing, walking in circles and carrying signs, "down with hate."  It is practical, and it is based on broad research.  "

In this story, there are things within the language which should provide insight into the case.  I have put the quotes in italics, and have added emphasis for you.  Statement Analysis within the article is in bold type 



One of the two boys convicted of distributing a photo of himself having sex with Rehtaeh Parsons , the 17-year-old Canadian teen who died after she was taken off life support following a suicide attempt, has given his first interview. He insists the sex was consensual and that he didn't 'bully' Rehtaeh, while his parents defend him as a good kid "who's made some mistakes."

Parsons was hanging out a window after having just vomited, being penetrated, when the photo was taken without her knowledge or consent. She was just 15. The two boys who had sex with her, both 16, passed the photo to several friends. It spread like wildfire and she was cruelly mocked. Parsons attempted to hang herself two years later and suffered severe brain damage. She was taken off life support a short while later. 

Please note that hanging oneself is a strong act of violence, an "active" suicide, rather than a more "passive" suicide, such as overdosing on pills.  

The two who were in the photo and took the photo, respectively, are both now 20; one pled guilty to manufacturing child pornography and the other to distributing it. Neither was given any jail time. The teen in the photo was sentenced Thursday to one year of probation and ordered not to drink alcohol.  Their names can't be legally published in Canada. (The Parsons family has pushed for Rehtaeh's name to be published and her story to be told.) 

In an interview with the National Post, the teen and his parents insisted that the sex was consensual. 

Note:  the victim cannot refute this claim.  We, therefore, look to the perpetrators' own words for insight.   

Parsons' parents have called it rape. (The police said they didn't have enough evidence to charge them with sexual assault; they also waited 10 months to investigate.)

Question for consideration:    Does this statement from one of the perpetrators tell you that it was not rape?

"Obviously, if I felt like if she didn't want it, it wouldn't have happened," the teen told the paper. "It was all mutual. We were in the groove."

Please note the following about his statement:

1.  "Obviously" means he wishes you to take, as obvious, his statement, and not question it. 
2.  "if I felt" may be an embedded admission.  He allows for the possibility of feeling that she "didn't want it"
3.  Note that "it" is sexual intercourse.  He does not say "she didn't want me", but depersonalizes.  
4.  "it wouldn't have happened" is passive language.  He does not say "I would not have done it", or "I would not have had sex with her."  Passivity is used in language to conceal responsibility.  
5.  Note that he does not say "it was mutual" but feels the need to emphasize with "all" mutual. 
6.  Note that "we", being in the "groove" (I would need to explore his personal, subjective, internal dictionary on what the "groove" is, since the victim was throwing up) may refer to he and his male friend.  

During his sentencing, as the National Post's Christie Blatchford notes, the teen said that Parsons' eventual death had nothing to do with his actions, telling the court,

  "I will not live with the guilt of someone passing away, but I will live with the guilt of sending the picture.

 "I have pled  guilty to distributing child pornography, not a sexual assault

"I never played a part in the bullying her, nor would I."

Please note that "never" is not a substitute for "did not."  Next note what the National Post's journalist Christie Blanchard said about the teen, found within the article:

Blatchford calls that "a courageous challenge to the public narrative" around the case and calls the teen "brave." The boy's mother, meanwhile, insists that he's a good kid, although she doesn't understand "why kids are having sex at parties," she says. 

Note the absence of parental influence in her wording.  She does not know "why"

"I don't sit here as a parent and say he's perfect," she told Blatchford. "He's not. He's made mistakes. Tell me a teenager who hasn't. If we did something stupid when we were a kid, made out with some boy or something, the worst thing you had to worry about was, was your name going to be written in some stall?"

The mother's statement leaves little mystery as to the perpetrator's influence. 
1.  "sit" is body posture, indicating tension. 
2.  Note that "perfect" would be interesting to explore its meaning with her.  
3.  Note what she calls, in her personal, internal subjective dictionary as a "mistake" as minimizing language. 
4.  Note that the rape and suicide is compared to kissing with "made out" by the mother. 
5.  Note she compares the pictures of the rape with writing one's name on a wall. 

In a heartbreaking victim impact statement delivered during his Thursday sentencing, Rehtaeh's mother Leah told the teen—now a man—how much she'd lost with her daughter's death, and chided him for not bothering to learn what a beautiful and generous person she was:
I know that Rehtaeh did nothing to deserve that type of treatment. I know she was not cruel or mean to you [name removed]. You probably knew nothing about her whatsoever. Did you know she loved to read, would drop everything to help an animal or friend in need? That she was bright and funny? Did you know she had two little sisters that she adored? Did you know that the day she was born she changed my life for the better? After she was born I spent the next seven years in university and she was my driving force. No, you would not know these things because you never took the time to view her as a person.
That night Rehtaeh was viewed as an object, and instead of helping her you posed for a photo and shared it with others.
Please note that where the name is removed, the mother used it.  This is a strong address and the repeated use of the name makes it sensitive.  It would be interesting (and telling) to learn if she used his full name, or if she continued to repeat his full name. 

Note the inclusion of the word "animal" in her statement as possible leakage.  "Animal" came before "friend" in order. 

She read a list of goals that Rehtaeh had penned in a journal: learn to drive, make new friends, "plan for the rest of my life." She had also written, "I am very much looking forward to the rest of High School."
"She didn't get to see any of those goals listed and she never will," Leah added. "I'm not going to go on about all the struggles I now have to endure just to make it through the day. I will say that I always believed Rehtaeh would make an imprint on this world. I just never imagined it would be at such a young age and it would cost her her life."


GetThem said...

Tragic. It's terrible to see their statements and what lies within them. They have no remorse.

Anonymous said...

"I will not live with the guilt of someone passing away, but I will live with the guilt of sending the picture."

The minimizing of her death in that statement ("someone passing away"), and pure rejection of any responsibility, is sickening. There's no question that a person who thinks like this is going to have some future interaction with law enforcement, when he's too old to hide behind mommy.

John Mc Gowan said...

"I will not live with the guilt of someone passing away, but I will live with the guilt of sending the picture."

Even here he depersonalizes her as "someone". He can't say her name and or say "her" or "she".

Tanya said...

Thank you so much for commenting on this article. I read it the other day and was sickened by the tone. I have to say that I was too emotionally struck by the article to be able to step back and analyze why I felt that way. Reading your analysis now, I can clearly see why it pushed my buttons.

Deejay said...

This was rape. I do not think this young man's statement is likely to be true- As he gets away from the narcissism of youth and becomes an adult, he will feel guilt. He will pay with a thousand unconscious cuts. If he ever has a daughter, he will suffer even more.

Peter, you have talked to more adult perpetrators. And I know there are some with no remorse. But wouldn't the average person have life-long guilt?? Does it leak out in their statements?

MsCabinFever said...

"Obviously, if I felt like if she didn't want it, it wouldn't have happened," the teen told the paper. "It was all mutual. We were in the groove."

I wonder what signals he misread in order to think that "she wanted it"? I'll bet if you spoke to him further, you would find out that he believes that merely by being drunk, or perhaps wearing a short skirt meant that "she wanted it".
How disgusting to word his response as he did, knowing that Rehtaeh was dead. She took her own life directly because of what HE did to her and he dares to say "we were in the groove"?

I can only imagine what his parents are like...

Unknown said...

I was about to post the same thing him she is just 'someone'.

Pathetic. Yes, Rehtaeh is definitely 'someone'.

Someone he raped.

Someone he mocked.

Someone he sent pictures of himself violating.

Someone who is now dead in direct result of his heinous actions.

No, he is not 'brave', or a 'good kid'. (And it's easy to see why, based on his mother's clueless statements.)

Shame on him, and his mother.

Anonymous said...

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Kellie said...

I skimmed. Sorry, it makes me too angry. Those boys are disgusting excuses for human beings and they will get what's coming to them.


Trial date set in Heather Elvis murder case

Anonymous said...

The most damaging quote: If I felt....

The stoopid prick only considers it's feelings and not the feeling of others.

Anonymous said...

Regarding responsibility for suicide, the Megan Meier case set a precedent implying that suicide cannot be blamed on anyone.
If that were the case, it would open up a huge can of worms for every suicide by a jilted/offended lover etc.
Regarding the 'rape' - rape needs to be properly defined. Many males define rape as using force and violence and not listening to 'no'. The boys thought that is was consensual because there was no protest. This kind of stuff goes on a lot at parties. Educators and others need to define rape whilst drunk as a crime, even if there is no sign of it being non-consensual.
Regarding the photo - this was a stupid thing to do and it should have been obvious that it would spread exponentially. All of the kids who passed the photo on are guilty in some way.

Dacea said...

It scares me to believe that these young "men" have gotten away with rape and will move forward into life to rape other women.

I have made so many mistakes as a parent that it keeps me awake at night so I hate to condemn someone else's parenting, but I think there is an epidemic in society of passing parenting off on others and then whining and victimizing themselves when their children make poor choices. "Oh poor me, what was I supposed to have done?" or "that's what kids do, sigh, I am powerless to stop it."

OT: I thought this might interest you, Peter. Yesterday in church our Pastor was using SA principles. He was speaking about how to recognize false teaching and how a teaching needs to line itself up with the Scripture, etc... Then he said just because someone claims to be a Christian doesn't indicate they are a Christ follower. If you are going to allow someone to mentor or lead you, there are things you should absolutely know. If they say they are a Christian, find out what their personal definition of Christian is. If they claim to each according to the Scriptures, ask what that means to them. They might use it as a loose guide. Do they believe the Scriptures are inspired by God? Remember that you never know exactly what someone means when they use a word or present an idea, so always do some digging and questioning to find out the answers as to their personal definitions. The answers might sometimes surprise you.

Buckley said...


Tom Brady on whether the Patriots used deflated footballs in their win over the Colts:

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responded to the allegations in question during a Monday morning appearance on WEEI Boston sports radio, calling the reports "ridiculous":

Brady said he was not aware of the report, claiming, "I have no idea" what the controversy was about.
"I think I've heard it all at this point," he said with a laugh.

Added Brady: "That's the last of my worries. I don't even respond to stuff like this."

Anonymous said...

Darcea, you cannot follow any biblical teacher or so-called bible scholar right down to the finish line and allow yourself to be led either this way or that way. I'd be offended if you started to hound me with 'Christianity' questions that might or might not suit your fancy according to your own (mis?)understanding which may not be the same as mine.

For instance, I've listened to a bible teacher, minister/pastor, more than once, give a synopsis of his interpretation of scriptures that, in my opinion, couldn't have been more wrong or further from the truth. Be careful. It is too easy to fall into the Jim Jones trap; blind followers of the blind.

You realize, two or more people can sit down with the same identical bible and both come up with a different interpretation of the same scripture(s).

Not saying there is any conflict in the Bible, just saying different people draw different conclusions and meanings. A lot of this is caused by their not having read for themselves other similar scriptures pertaining to the same subject, or had skimmed over the scripture and didn't grasp it's full meaning, or had twisted it's meaning around to make it mean what they wanted it to mean, believing they are right.

Just one word can change the entire meaning of a scripture if the reader is not being attentive and careful in what he/she is reading and do not understand the history of the subject matter in question.

Just be ever mindful of the scripture; "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Dacea said...

Sigh, I know that. I follow Christ, not man. I thought it was interesting to hear in that context though, someone bringing up internal definitions and motives. The admonition from the pastor was to test everything according to the Scripture, not to trust man. You can have sound conversation without putting someone through an inquisition.

Kellie said...

Buckley said

"Brady said he was not aware of the report, claiming, "I have no idea""

Famous first words :)

Scarlett said...

To me it sounds like his mother is doing the opposite of comparing rape to kissing. Or writing on a wall to passing out photos.

Distributing a photo of a girl who they had sex with, does not mean they raped her.

They may have, we dont know. As I understand, she died two years later. Did she accuse them of rape?

If she did, then I will believe she was raped.

A man shall not have sex with a drunk woman, and a woman shall not have sex with a drunk man.

But what if they both are drunk?

JenB said...

"Obviously, if I felt like if she didn't want it, it wouldn't have happened," the teen told the paper. "It was all mutual. We were in the groove."

Notice how degrading his language is regarding sex. "...If she didn't want it" compared with "...if she didn't want *to do* it" or "didn't want to have sex" or even "...if she wasn't into it..."

"Didn't want it" makes her nothing more than the receiver, not an active participant.

GetThem said...


Oddly, Anon ended up saying the exact same thing as you, only he/she used different words. I understood what you meant... and that it was "OT." Wink.

Trigger said...

This was the rape of a girl who could not "consent" as she was intoxicated. The two boys easily overpowered the girl. They "covered up" their crime by posting the pic with their own "spin" of consent.

"I will not live with the guilt of someone passing away, but I will live with the guilt of sending the picture."

Someone "passing away" is minimizing the direct impact that their crime had on their victim, when they know it was suicide.

Those two "bullied" this victim to keep her silent about their crime by posting a picture that would elicit more intimidation by proxy from their peers.