Blood on their hands2 min read

Stacy Lane

Open the dictionary, and next to the word “guilt” you’ll find, among other things, the word “blameworthiness,” a simple and concise definition.

Put it into play, however, in a case of alleged rape with alleged bystanders cheering, encouraging, and taking pictures of the crime as it occurs, and the words “blame” and “guilt” quickly become hazy.

Where should the lines be drawn? Where should the guilt and responsibility be placed? With those individuals charged with carrying out the crime, surely.

But take a step back, and with the bigger picture comes a bigger question: what about those persons aware of the crime, watching it, and, inconceivably, encouraging it? Is there room and reason enough for blame to be placed on the shoulders of these individuals?

This is the latest question in the ongoing rape case involving De Anza students, including members of the De Anza baseball team.

The alleged victim’s attorneys filed suit last March, seeking damages from those who she claimed raped her, as well as those she says were aware of the crime as it was taking place and who did nothing to stop it – perhaps they even encouraged it, the girl claims.

These witnesses are where the focus of the case now lies. Should these persons be held responsible for others’ crimes?

Although not a laughing matter, it is almost a joke to ask – yes, those with any association at all to the crime should be held legally and personally accountable for their actions, or lack thereof.

To those who argue the opposite, perhaps simple logic will suffice: rape is a crime, and according to United States Criminal Code, if a rape did indeed take place, any person who encouraged or aided it can be held just as responsible as the principle offender.

Though the suit recently filed against these witnesses is a civil one, criminal code almost always lends support to civil proceedings.

Legality notwithstanding, simple morality dictates that witnesses be held accountable. Any person witnessing a crime against another human being, and who does nothing to intervene should without a doubt be made to accept responsibility for the crime having been carried out.

Choosing to take part in the emotional and physical assault of rape rather than intervening and perhaps altering the fate of the victim for the better is a choice which demonstrates a lack of morality.

Indeed there are moments when as human beings, our morality fails us. Legal ramifications were put into place for these precise moments.

For the rest of us? Perhaps a banner of caution: If a perceived wrong is occurring in front of you, do not stand idly by. If the moral ramifications do not call you to action, then perhaps the legal ones will.