Sexual crimes have been crowding our county’s dockets: one man charged with drugging women to rape them, another with grooming a teen-ager into a sexual relationship, another with involvement in child pornography. And at the end of this month, a case of rape.
All four of these men charged concurrently in our tiny county. These are the cases that have made it to trial, which all statistics on the subject suggest represents a tip of the iceberg.
I am chilled by that fact.
I love living in this town where it is impossible to be anonymous, in this county where we’re all neighbors. We know each other and we care about our community, and while we will often disagree on means, we all want the same thing: a safe and welcoming community.
A community that has no tolerance for these kinds of crimes.
Daily headlines are teaching us that such crimes are normal in our country, in our world. It is hard to accept that they are normal here too.
It is tempting to deny the fact, to refuse to believe that people we know and love are capable of betraying our community in this way. We must not. Such denial is complicity.
It’s tempting to shake our heads in sadness, believing that there’s nothing we can do beyond offering kindness and compassion in our own interactions.
We must not. Silence, too, is complicity. If we are not horrified and incensed that even one such crime might happen here, then we are not doing what we can to protect the vulnerable in our community.
We need to engage one another in conversation about this. There is a rape trial beginning 9 a.m. on Jan. 30. To the extent we can, we should exercise our civic right to attend.
We must show up. We must listen. And we must talk, publicly and privately, about how to interrupt such crimes, how to change a culture that can be dangerous for women and children, how to protect each other, how to make this community a better, safer, kinder place to live.