Tag Archives: current events

The Letter Brock Turner’s Parents Should Have Written

brock turner

I am disgusted by the Brock Turner case. I’m appalled that he raped an unconscious woman, I’m aghast at his lack of remorse, and I’m furious about the far too lenient 6-month jail sentence (3 months with parole) he received from a judge who seemed more concerned with the perpetrator’s future than the victim’s suffering.

But with the exception of the rape itself, it’s the letters to the court from his mom and dad that have me feeling the biggest amount of white-hot rage.

Loving and supporting your son is expected. After all, they’re parents. You can’t just stop loving your kid, but failing to even acknowledge the victim while simultaneously painting a convicted rapist as the “real” victim?

Sickening. Reprehensible. Soulless.

It also perfectly illustrates the problem, and highlights the sense of entitlement that likely led to a 19-year-old Stanford swim star thinking there’s nothing wrong with taking what you want, simply because she wasn’t awake to say she didn’t want it.

No one can undo what happened to the poor victim or take back the egregiously slimy letters sent from the parents of her rapist. But there is one thing I’d like to do, and that’s write the kind of letter Brock Turner’s parents should have sent in the first place. Maybe there’s an off chance they’ll see it, and in turn, see where they went wrong.


Your Honor,

We’re sorry. So, so sorry.

No parent wants to believe their son is capable of a crime like this. We didn’t believe it at first. Hell, we still can’t believe it most days. How do you reconcile the memories of the sweet child you nurtured and raised, with the person found guilty of penetrating an unconscious woman? It really is unthinkable for us, and completely devastating.

But we realize this isn’t about us. It’s about the victim.

No one should have to endure a sexual assault. No matter how drunk or promiscuous, no one deserves to be dragged outside and violated while they’re not even awake. We’re so sorry for the young lady who has dealt with this pain, and will always deal with it, for the rest of her life.

And we’re sorry our son is the cause of it.

I can tell you countless stories about Brock that would, under different circumstances, make you smile. Maybe even warm your heart. I’ve seen him be genuinely kind, compassionate, and empathetic. I’ve seen him work unbelievably hard to achieve goals in the classroom and the swimming pool. I can tell you with complete certainty our son is not a monster.

However, it seems he’s done a monstrous thing. Witnesses saw him at the scene and a jury has found him guilty. It hurts to even type those words, but that’s the reality of the situation.

Truth be told, earlier versions of this letter looked much different. We regaled you with stories about Brock’s past to show how wonderful of a person he was. And we focused on how depressed he is now. How he can’t eat. Can’t sleep. Never smiles. We think of his future as a registered sex offender and how he won’t even be able to coach his future kids’ sports teams. But in the end, we erased it all. Why?

Because we looked at our daughter, and imagined how we’d feel if she were the victim of a similar crime.

No matter how much Brock suffers, we understand the victim here is the young woman who was raped. That’s not easy to say when realizing it means our son — who we love with all of our hearts — might end up in jail. But even though this is the only illegal act he’s ever committed in the past, we understand the seriousness of what happened. We realize the life-altering nature of it. And we can’t help but wonder if we’re partly responsible for raising someone who could do this.

We can’t say Brock doesn’t deserve jail time for what he’s done. But, as his parents, we also can’t stand by and do nothing as you potentially sentence him behind bars, where the same crime will likely be perpetrated on him. So we’re asking for mercy. Please don’t send our son to jail. We believe through counseling, registering as a sex offender, and listening to stories of rape victims while learning firsthand the horrors of what survivors go through, he can be better. We understand how it looks asking for mercy regarding a crime so heinous, but parents look out for their kids and we’re doing that now. No one is beyond saving, and that includes Brock.

We are eternally sorry for the heartbreak this has caused the victim and her family. We’re even more sorry our son is at the heart of it. We have a daughter too and we can’t pretend to even begin to imagine what it’s like going through all this. 

Brock made an unconscionable and indefensible decision that night that will impact everyone involved forever. It might be asking too much, but we’re hoping you can find a way to muster the compassion our son couldn’t conjure up that night. If you do, he will do better. We’ll do better. We will walk hand in hand with him to do advocacy work and try to prevent this from ever happening again. Because we are genuinely and terribly sorry for the pain that’s been inflicted during this time.

We acknowledge the terrible thing he did, but we will always love our son. We can’t help it — no parent can. But as parents, we are also forever scarred by what the victim has endured and thinking about what she and her parents are going through is bone-chilling. 

Thank you for this opportunity, and please consider a merciful sentence for Brock.

Dan and Carleen Turner

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Yes, Obama Cried. No, He’s Not Less of a Man


“He looked like he was sleeping. But the reality of it was under the cloth he had covering his mouth there was no mouth left. His jaw was blown away. I just want people to know the ugliness of it so we don’t talk about it abstractly, like these little angels just went to heaven. No. They were butchered. They were brutalized. And that is what haunts me at night.”
Veronique Pozner, mother of 6-year-old Noah, who was killed at Sandy Hook

President Barack Obama cried.

He did so while announcing a series of executive actions to make background checks mandatory for all gun sellers, pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the budget for increased mental health care access, and hire hundreds of additional agents to assist with background checks. The President was overcome with emotion while surrounded by parents, relatives, and friends of those lost to gun violence over the years. When forced to recall the 20 dead elementary school children in Newtown, CT, the President of the United States wept in public and on camera.

And for that display, this father of two girls earned a whole bunch of people mocking him. 

They called him a “pussy,” a “woman,” and a “fag.” President Sissypants, who needs to go home and cry to his mommy. They swore at him, derided him, and shouted from every rooftop that he’s weak. Soft. A crybaby ill-equipped to handle a job that clearly requires a “real man” at the helm.

But my concern isn’t with President Obama and his tears. It’s with anyone who thinks of the Sandy Hook shooting and doesn’t end up crying.

“As the pile got higher it appeared that there was a mad scramble to get into the bathroom, with people stepping on one another and climbing on top of each other. The teachers appeared to have been shepherding the children into the room and were then probably going to shut the door. They did not close and lock the door to the classroom for some reason and were interrupted by the shooter as they attempted to fill the bathroom with children. The shooter then opened fire on the mass of children and adults. As Sgt. Carrio got to the last bodies it was clear that no one had survived.” – incident report from the Newtown, CT Police Department

If you look at our tearful President — a father himself — and your first thought is to question his masculinity because he’s so upset, then I fear you’re broken. I worry you’re a shell of a human being, devoid of basic empathy and compassion. If a classroom of dead schoolchildren doesn’t move you to tears, I worry nothing will.

As the father of three boys, I’m also increasingly alarmed by how twisted the concept of masculinity has become in this country. Case in point:

First of all, calling someone a “woman” and using a pejorative term for female genitalia as an insult is ridiculous. And dumb. Women aren’t weak and using a colloquialism for vagina implies a lack of toughness, when nothing could be further from the truth. As a dad who has witnessed natural childbirth three times, I can personally attest to the power, wonder, toughness, and resiliency of said nether regions. It renders that particular misogynistic insult downright silly.

As for the crying, it’s a perfectly normal human response that in no way denotes a lack of strength.

I cried when I found out my wife was pregnant. I cried when my kids were born. I cried in uncertainty and fear when my middle child was in a Boston hospital at only 6 months old. I cried when my wife was in the throes of depression. Hell, I cry every time I watch the movie “Rudy.”

I damn sure cried when 20 children were viciously gunned down in their school. And you know what? I’ve cried every year since then. I tear up every single time I realize not even the most horrific thing imaginable — nearly two dozen innocent kids slaughtered in a classroom — was enough to spur action. I cry when it’s become apparent NRA rhetoric and guns are more important than children.

Forget for a second that no one is coming for anyone’s guns, and Obama’s executive actions are common sense restrictions that close loopholes and expand background checks — something a majority of Americans favor. Thinking this is a government conspiracy to confiscate guns is bad enough, but this crap about how men should truly act is just as damaging.

My three boys will damn sure know guns don’t make someone more of a man, and showing your feelings definitely doesn’t make you less of one. In fact, manhood has nothing to do with it. Expressing your feelings and showing empathy are signs of emotional intelligence and strength that know no gender. Being able to walk in someone else’s shoes is crucial, and when you’re the leader of the free world using your power to reduce the number of dead kids in classrooms even in the face of unadulterated hate? Well, that’s about the strongest thing I can think of.

Tears or no tears.

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How Are Parents Voting for Donald Trump?


“I don’t like him. He’s STUPID!”

My oldest son, 7, was having some problems getting along with another kid at camp. Frustrated by the inability and unwillingness of the other boy to agree on the rules for a new game they had created, Will waited until camp was over and we were in the car to lash out and vent his anger which had been building all week.

My son is a good kid. A very good kid, actually. But he has very specific and strong opinions as to how things should work, and when someone opposes those beliefs he gets instantly frazzled. As soon as he called the other boy stupid in front of me, he knew he was a goner. And so was the beloved iPad, taken away for two days. Because in our house, frustration with someone does not give you the right to call them names and belittle them. There are better and more productive ways to deal with a problem than throwing a tantrum and calling everyone who disagrees with you stupid. Because manners are important, as is treating other people with respect.

This lesson, which most people begin learning as toddlers, has apparently escaped the current Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

Trump has surged ahead in polls recently despite a string of incendiary comments and verbal gaffes that would sink most candidates in a heartbeat. “They’re rapists,” is what he said about illegal immigrants from Mexico. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” were the words he had for Sen. John McCain, who was held prisoner and tortured for five years during Vietnam. He also wants to do away with the 14th amendment of the US Constitution, which grants birthright citizenship to those born on US soil.

And when asked about his history of making misogynistic comments during a recent presidential debate, Trump joked that he only referred to actress Rosie O’Donnell in that manner. I repeat, the leading Republican candidate for this country’s highest elected office called a woman (who wasn’t at the debate or part of it in any way) a fat, disgusting, slob on national television. But that wasn’t even the most horrifying part of the night. Do you know what was?

The applause following his comment.

Trump called Rosie O’Donnell a fat, disgusting animal and hundreds of people in attendance began cheering for him. Cheering, hooting, and hollering for a man publicly making misogynistic comments and fat-shaming a woman who wasn’t even there to defend herself.

Surely some of those people celebrating Trump’s misogyny are parents themselves. Hell, I know Trump supporters in real life who are parents. I know for a fact they would NEVER let their kids get away with calling someone a “fat pig” in public, and there would be swift consequences if it were to happen.

And yet they’re voting for someone who does this kind of thing routinely. It’s fundamentally baffling.

My son made a disparaging comment about someone in the privacy of our car where no one else could hear, and he still got in trouble. Yet Donald Trump engages in despicable personal attacks on the grandest of stages, and gets a bump in the polls following each disgusting display? Something isn’t right.

I hear so many people talk about kids today and how they have no respect. No manners. No discipline. And sure, some don’t. But some of these same people are voting for Trump, who sees respect for others and decency in general as a weakness. They like him because he’s “un-PC” and “says what’s on his mind.” Except they’re forgetting a few things.

Saying everything that’s on your mind at any given time is not a sign of strength, it’s a sign you lack self-discipline, social awareness, diplomacy, and manners. And calling Rosie O’Donnell a fat pig or all illegal Mexican immigrants rapists isn’t a case of being courageously politically incorrect — it’s just being mean-spirited, cruel, and wrong.

If Donald Trump can’t be better than this, then we as Americans have to be better.  I understand people are fed up and scared and frustrated, but that’s no reason to condone a candidate who uses that fear and frustration to incite hate and bigotry. Who preys on the voters’ existing anger and seeks to make it OK to voice insults and engage in name-calling without forethought or remorse. Who inspires two brothers to beat a homeless man while he sleeps simply because “he looks like an illegal.” Who is supported by people like this:

“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,’” Jim Sherrota said. “That’d be one nice thing.”

Donald Trump is a walking, talking temper tantrum who screams first and thinks — well, seemingly never. If my kids acted like this they’d be living their lives in time out, which is precisely where we should put the Trump presidential candidacy. Presidential candidates don’t have to be perfect, but they should at least be civil and able to conduct themselves with basic human decency, especially if they’re going to be participating in tense, diplomatic negotiations.

Strength and unchecked aggression are two very different things, and strong leaders don’t have to resort to bullying tactics and name-calling to make their points and exert influence. Unfortunately, too many people are confusing the former with the latter.

That’s why I don’t understand parents voting for Trump. If we won’t put up with this behavior from our children, let’s not make it acceptable for presidential candidates either.

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It’s No Longer Gay Marriage, Just Marriage


Will is 7 and Sam is almost 2. Some day, down the road a bit, they’ll read something in the paper or see something on TV about “gay marriage,” and they’ll be confused.

“Dad, what do they mean by ‘gay’ marriage? It’s just marriage, right?”

And I’ll have to remind them gay people weren’t always allowed the same rights as the rest of us. I’ll have to remind them it wasn’t until the year 2015 and by securing the narrowest margin of victory by the Supreme Court of the United States, that gay people in America were treated equally when it came to being able to marry who you love.

They’ll stare at me with raised eyebrows and incredulous expressions, because they won’t be able to fathom how stupid that sounds. It will be utterly incomprehensible to them that so many people in this country treated gay people as second class citizens for so long.

It’ll be just how I looked at my parents when they told me interracial marriage used to be outlawed, or black people and women couldn’t always vote.

I don’t go full ‘MURICA!!! too often, but I’m proud of my country today. It took longer than it should have, but ultimately we did the right thing. We haven’t solved homophobia and we can’t stop fighting for LGBTQIA (for any other letters I may be missing, my apologies) rights, but this is cause to celebrate.

Everyone can marry whoever they want in all 50 states. Victory.

Of course, not everyone sees it that way. Check out these erudite ladies and gentlemen:

Yes, these ridiculous clowns are an affront to decency, common sense, and proper grammar/spelling. And honestly, they do upset me and get under my skin at times. However, I’ve come to realize something very important. Something worth noting and remembering in these modern times.

The world is a better place than ever before. And that’s largely because people of the world are more tolerant than ever before.

The old, white, conservative, religious guard isn’t what it used to be, and for the first time they find themselves losing power, influence, and the numbers game. Seeking to deny gay people equality while rejecting proven science regarding climate change and defending the Confederate flag just isn’t going to fly anymore. They’ve lost the middle ground and they don’t seem to know how to adapt.

But when a caged animal is cornered, it gets desperate.

That’s why you’re seeing tweets like these and outrageous public statements regarding current events. It’s fear. People who have held the power for a long time never want to give it up willingly, so the final holdouts will be louder than ever to compensate for fewer people in their ranks. Basically, we’re seeing the death throes of idiocy. And not a moment too soon.

So congratulations to all the gay people out there who can now enjoy marriage equality. Congratulations to the five US Supreme Court justices who had the wisdom and fortitude to make history today. And congratulations to America, a country that has proven today it still holds dear the idea of freedom on which it was founded.

We have put another shameful period of our history in the rear view mirror. Let us keep it in sight to remember how far we’ve come, while always looking to improve our future.

And let’s make sure love always wins in the end.

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Why I’m an Unapologetic Manners Nazi


“Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society.”
– Alexander McCall Smith

My kids are exceedingly polite and well-mannered. I don’t say that to boast or exaggerate, I say it as simple fact. It’s not luck of the draw or accidental, either. They got that way because my wife and I relentlessly hammer home manners and follow through on punishments should they forget their manners or act rudely in public.

Simply put, MJ and I are “Manner Nazis” when it comes to our kids. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m not sure how or why stressing good manners is controversial, but it is. Television star Mayim Bialik says she doesn’t force manners on her kids or correct them when they forget. Bloggers like this one feel forcing your kids to say “I’m sorry” is bad, because it’s not authentic. Even some of my fellow friends and dad bloggers have disagreed with me on this, saying it’s pointless to force kids to say “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” at a young age because they’re too immature to know the meaning of those terms.

That last part is true, they are too young to completely understand the concept. But guess what? That doesn’t matter.

Getting kids into good habits, even when they don’t fully understand them yet, is a positive thing. Both Will and Sam learned how to sign please and thank you around their first birthdays. Did they know exactly what the term meant? Of course not. But they knew they had to say it first to get what they wanted, and they learned they had to sign “thank you” afterward to show appreciation. Now, at 22 months, Sam says please routinely when he needs something, and thank you (really it’s more like “Chinch Choo”) after he receives it.

Will, who is 7, also has impeccable manners because we’ve made it a priority.

When he enters a conversation, it’s always with an “excuse me.” If he’s done something wrong, he apologizes. When he was younger, it started with a simple “I’m sorry.” But as he got older and could comprehend more, we’d always have a conversation about what went wrong and we’d explore the reason he’s sorry. Now when he’s done something to offend, he not only apologizes but he tells you why he’s sorry and what he could have done differently.

Unfortunately, parents making it a priority to raise well-mannered kids are in the minority these days.

I know I’m going to sound like the old guy complaining about the damn kids on his lawn, but take a trip out to a store or restaurant and you’ll see what I mean. Kids standing on the seats and even the tables. Older kids throwing food and not picking it up. Children shouting their orders at the waiter instead of asking nicely, with no correction from mom or dad. And then, not surprisingly, I watch mom and dad treat the waitstaff with the same dismissive contempt. Go figure.

Meanwhile, if our kids do make a mess while out to eat, we make them pick it up. If it’s Sam, who is still very young, then either MJ or I gets down on the floor and collects all the food he dropped. One time, a nearby restaurant patron said “Why are you doing that? They’re paid to do it.” I responded with a very simple “Because I’m not a jerk.”

Instilling good manners and politeness in your kids has very little to do with being seen as a good parent, or having your kids reflect well upon you. It’s about much more than that.

Unfortunately, good manners are so rare they are now the exception. That means Will is routinely praised by everyone from his bus driver to random strangers in restaurants who are impressed with how he handles himself. If he keeps this up, that ability to impress will extend to his future teachers, bosses, clients, and even his romantic partners.

It’s learning how to behave and thrive in mixed company, and how to make everyone feel welcome. It’s learning to treat people with respect. It’s knowing if you’re seen as someone who respects others, everything you say will carry that much more weight and value. If he’s up against an equally qualified candidate during a job interview or going for a promotion, perhaps it’ll be his “soft skills” and how he conducts himself that gives him the extra edge.

My main job as a parent is to love and raise quality human beings who contribute something positive to society. As far as I’m concerned, that starts with teaching them good manners.

It starts by parents modeling good manners at home and out in public, and stressing them at every turn. Are my kids perfect? No. Do they occasionally forget their manners? Absolutely. Mistakes happen, and if they’re contrite then no harm no foul. But if they keep being punks after they’ve been warned, then there are consequences.

It sucks to punish your kids, but we do it because otherwise they don’t learn anything. So an “I want ice cream!” one time earns a warning, but a second offense immediately after that means he’s going home with no dessert. Otherwise, if we give in to demands instead of making polite requests the norm, I truly believe we’re contributing to an entitlement problem that already plagues too high a percentage of this generation of kids.

Some will dismiss this entire piece as just another crotchety, holier-than-thou parent humble-bragging about how his kids are flippin’ wonderful. And others will continue to tell MJ and me we’re too strict with the boys when it comes to manners, and we need to relax. At least that’s what I think they said. Truthfully, it was hard to hear them over their kids running around being brats.

But the bottom line is manners matter. It’s not only good for society as a whole, but it’ll benefit your children as they grow up as well. Raising polite human beings is important, and the world desperately needs more of them.

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