Home/Rehtaeh Parsons, Sexual Assault/The Dr. Phil Tweet

The Dr. Phil Tweet

A Tweet made by Dr. Phil this morning has resulted in a lot of grief for the TV host. The Tweet is simple and asks: “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil.”

Salon called the Tweet “vile.” The Globe and Mail asks if it was “breaking the ice or just plain offensive?

It was removed from Dr. Phil’s Twitter feed quickly but the controversy is obviously going to continue for awhile. A badly worded question? Perhaps.

Rehtaeh Parsons mother Leah is in California and will be appearing on the Dr. Phil Show this week. It is possible, and very likely, the question was asked in that context – sexual assault and teenage drinking. That would make sense.

I have yet to read anything supportive so I may very well be going out on a limb here. I want to give you the perspective of a father whose daughter was gang raped while she was intoxicated. Through my eyes, that question isn’t really offensive at all. What offends me is the simple fact that in Rehtaeh’s case, the answer to the question was and remains a sickening yes.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, you can have sex with a “drunk” girl, even if she has to be carried around the house and is violently sick. You can tell hundreds of people you did it and share a photograph of it happening and no sexual assault charges will be laid against you. You can even write a long confession and send it to the girls mother and not only will no charges be laid against you but the police won’t bother to ask you a single question. They could investigate it for a year and not once shadow your doorstep.

I’m a little more offended by that than the Dr. Phil question thank you very much.

The police of course will disagree. They will say we need to look at the “totality” of the evidence and take everything into account but given the lack of evidence gathered from the side of Rehtaeh’s four alleged rapists that could only mean one thing. They want to focus on Rehtaeh while defending their actions the same way they focused on her while investigating a complaint of sexual assault.

The police investigated a confused, frightened, 15 year old girl who was just gang raped and had a photograph of it shared all over her school along with a slut story. Rehtaeh was devastated as anyone could imagine, but in the eyes of the police devastated means confused, and confused rape victims will never get a day in court. So why bother investigating what she said at all? I doubt you’ll find a more clear cut case of victim blaming than this.

So thank you Dr. Phil. That question needed to be asked, and, sadly, in Nova Scotia, it needs a better answer.

I truly hope, for our daughters sake, we get one soon.

By | 2013-08-21T12:53:40+00:00 August 21st, 2013|Categories: Rehtaeh Parsons, Sexual Assault|Tags: , , , |24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Anna Winroope August 25, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Dear Glen, I just wanted to let you know my thoughts are with you and your family. You are so brave. I hope one day soon there will be a change in the law and you get the justice you all deserve

  2. Julie August 25, 2013 at 12:45 am

    So sorry for your lost and obviously there is still a long way to go. It seems that the closer we get to consciousness, the more dark forces come forward to try and delay things. However, it will be inevitable, there must be more consciousness about rape and cyberbullying which is unacceptable if we want to call this society …evolved.

  3. Julie August 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    As a female security agent, I was assaulted and sexually harassed by a superior security officer for 2 years after which I left my job in a major depression. When I reported it to the boss, I was occulted, retrograded and they wanted to fire me. I had been promoted to supervise agents and told I could be promoted further, but lost status after reporting it even with the syndicate. The perpetrator remained at his job in a position of authority. I tolerated too long before reporting it to the police (doubting myself) with details (camera numbers) to serve as proofs. I think it was never investigated. I called several times the police detective (a woman) asking: Has he ever at least been questioned? Never had an answer! The police closed the file without telling me. I still wait for IVAC to consider my request. They refused, I asked for a review just at the time Rehtaeh died…so they wrote that they will look into it.

    The security officer is free to maybe assault other women. It is wrong that one who represents the law behaves like this. He harassed me during my lunch time ordering (like a tyran) to go outside see the gay parade. He was mad and aggressive (in front of a security colleague who did not intervene) as I refused to go see the parade on my own time. After lunch, I returned to my work station. He used the surveillance camera to point at the almost bare butt of a gay man outside in the parade. HE IMPOSED THE VIEW OF THE GAY MAN’S BEHIND ON CAMERA TO MY WORK STATION, TO ME! He then proceeded to call me at my station to say «Did you see this?» He left this camera on this man’s behind 40 minutes or more. This camera was supposed to be kept on the front of the building at all time for surveillance of the building not on someone`s part far away. This and many others incidents with this superior officer caused me to have a panic attack at work. He came to me and instead of calling for help, he was very aggressive and tried to get me in trouble but it failed. He then wrote a false report on me.
    He was not there so much to do security work but to harass a female security agent. When people representing the law behave like this, what is to be expected? This officer is a father of 2 daughters. He would come at my station to tell me how the breast of his older daughter had grown and other details. I had never paid too much attention to him, tolerated it all until it escalated. Women have to react as quickly as possible, it wont go away! When I reported him formally, many security agents were hostile to me (female and male agents). This is the world we live in, this is reality and how… even security personnel can behave. Also male security officers used cameras to do voyeurism on the breast or butt of employees in the work place. This work place is a big MEDIA SITE. But these facts remain…in the dark. Security equipment was used for other purposed than for security. I think it is no more security work but criminal activity.

  4. Carmen August 23, 2013 at 1:15 am

    Having just read the latest news on CBC (August 23 – early morning here in Finland) that you yourself have received threats… I am sorry you are going through this. Stay strong…

  5. Cin August 23, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I too have been following this case and when I read how it was handled by the authorities it makes my blood curdle! I wonder if it had been a police officer’s daughter that this happened to if they would have been so ready to blame the victim and been so lax in their investigation? I am so very tired of watching the very people who are being paid to supposedly protect us cause more harm than good. I would very much like to see some form of Ombudsman or governing authority that officers such as these have to answer to for obvious errors such at this. They should be held accountable for not doing their jobs! Kudos to Rehtaeh’s parents for having the strength to keep fighting!

  6. A Girl August 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Glen: I can’t overstate how much respect and admiration I have for you and for Rehtaeh. I know something about how much courage it takes to speak up. It takes the kind of courage that I never had. Bur Rehtaeh had that courage and I can’t even wrap my head around how a 15-year-old girl, in the face of so much cruelty and torture, could still manage to have the courage to speak out and to seek justice.

    People who have not lived rape can never ever understand what it takes from you. They can never understand that no matter who you thought you were and what you thought you were made of, it assails your defenses leaves you feeling like a hollow shell of the person you once where. It’s a miracle when any women speak out at all. After that, who has the strength to be put on trial, judged, criticized and dissected while the world opines on how you deserved to have everything taken from you?

    You are amazingly brave and enlightened, you seem like the best father in the world. When I mustered up the courage, years later, to tell my own father, he told me that I couldn’t place myself in bad situations and not expect bad things to happen to me. So thank you, thank you for being so brave and for fighting day after day so that hopefully people can see how much evil there has been.

    I wish all fathers took a page out of your book and learned from you and I wish that the police, the schools and the prosecution had just done their damn jobs to protect a sweet beautiful 15-year-old child who I understand, from your writing, was full of compassion, empathy, intelligence and love.

    I’m terribly terribly sorry for your loss and outraged by what was done to Rehtaeh. You both will always be in my heart, even if I don’t know you.

  7. George August 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Sad as Hell to say this,
    It seems to depend where you are.
    In Nova Scotia the RCMP would say ” yes & no & yes & “.

  8. Words Fail Me August 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I had to go back and read the tweet again, to make sure I got it right…

    Seriously, it is the sort of question which I can recal being asked, in class by teachers, maybe forty years ago. And, by teachers in many subjects. It did not only get asked by health teachers. It did not get asked only regards girls, but also boys. It did not get asked only regards sex/rape. I can recal a similar sort of queston, back in junior high, “if a person a person is inebriated is it legal to get them to agree to a contract?” (NO)….and much more.

    If the question is not put (as it was) as simple – open ended (yes or no), one does not give the reader the opportunity to consider what their response personally will be.

    If one wants to find out how the public attitude is, one needs to leave the “end” “answer” open.

  9. Words Fail Me August 22, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I know this is a completely different situation, but have you seen the response of the RCMP to the family in Ontario? The Family with an autistic child who received a letter telling them they should euthanize their child, because of autism?

    The family reported it to the RCMP, and the RCMP have informed the family, this is not a hate crime.

    Maybe the RCMP could “educate” us/the public on exactly what is a hate crime?

    Again, the answer to this question (in Ontario), seems obscene to me.

    If this family had been Black or LBGT, would it then have been a “Hate Crime”?

    Is the law applied equally by the RCMP?

    and, am really wondering, does the RCMP have the “authority” to tell us/society what is and is not a crime?
    I thought this was defined by our legislation/our laws?

  10. Words Fail Me August 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Dad,
    I feel you said it perfectly.

    From my feelings, you are very much correct.

    I, myself, in my life, in my home, with my family, DO ask many questions/We DO discuss many questions…..of many sorts.

    What is obscene is when the “answer” “response” is what happened in your daughter’s case.

  11. Joleva August 22, 2013 at 10:00 am

    How sad that this is the society we live in, where an honest question gets blasted so hard it has to be taken down. What’s offensive is not the question in case. What’s offensive is what the Canadian justice system does repeatedly, protect the criminals. What’s offensive is what these rapists learned… They learned they can rape and get away with it. They learned that they are protected by their parents and the police. They learned they are untouchable and can be repeat offenders! I agree with everyone who said their names should be published. Lets see how quickly they feel protected then? I am embarrassed that we live in a Country where justice is not served! Sincere condolences to your family.

  12. Jen Johnson August 22, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I think the police laid minimal charges because that’s all the Crown Prosecution felt they could prosecute successfully, after so much time has passed.
    It’s disgusting, really.
    And to hear those boys lamenting about their lives being ruined … too bad for them. I have no sympathy and nor do thousands of others. They need to pay for this, and if they don’t with jail time, then they will pay for it through the court of public opinion.

    • Lorne August 26, 2013 at 10:07 am

      The proper justice for these guys is for somebody or some internet group to ensure their names, and their parents who tried to cover it up, get published. These guys should have their pictures plastered all over the internet on sites everywhere. Then when they go you college or university they won’t be able to make new friends unless they too are pervert. Also, when the time comes for job interviews, the employers should be aware of their history. Maybe it needs to be resurrected every year or so, just as they think everybody has forgotten about it.

  13. anonymous August 22, 2013 at 5:38 am

    I’m so disgusted by what has happened to your daughter and if I were me I would take revenge on those boys by publishing their names… at this point that is the only justice possible. The police obviously covered up this whole case by never even questioning them. A travesty of justice. One day, in one way or another they will pay for what they did, in this life or the next.

  14. emily woods August 22, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Why would anyone think that question is sick or offensive. Its a question that needs an answer because although the rational members of society would all shout “No, its not ok” there is, unfortunately, others who would answer perhaps not quite a clear cut “yes”, but perhaps “it depends” and that ambiguity needs to talked about. My niece was attacked on the way home from a night out with friends, she only had to walk 5 minutes from the bar to her apartment and told her friends she’d be fine, its a short walk down busy streets in a city centre/university area. She was grabbed and pulled down an alley and a man attempted to rape her, fortunately she got away before the attacker got that far. No one saw it happen, no one came to her assistance and even worse one off all the first questions she was asked was “why were you walking alone”. So unbelievably frustrating.

    • Mark August 22, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Thanks, Emily Woods, i totally agree. It sounds like a lot of people need to take a pill.

  15. Gordon Rumbolt August 22, 2013 at 12:33 am

    After what the R.C.M.P. did , or should I say didn’t do is not only an embarrassment to all Nova Scotians but to the other R.C.M.P. detachments as well. Can you imagine how officers in other detachments felt after this fiasco. The Cole Harbour detachment should have all been fired. It was so good to see the people stand up and say enough is enough. Its too bad that these rapists will walk away without any jail time. Personally, I hope they get theirs. Time to take the streets back folks. They are damn lucky it wasn’t one of my family members.

  16. Susan Publicover August 22, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I 100% Agree with Serah Brandenn …So Freaking Unbelievable how the Police System, a Public Service to Protect the people, could so Obviously let that Beautiful young lady down, in EVERY way. I mean Really…WTF….that Beautiful young girl did NOT want to die…she just could not handle the Shame, the Humility and the EXTREME Injustice of it all. She tried EVERYTHING to fix it, but nothing worked. At her tender age….an age which is Hard enough if everything was going ok….but I cannot imagine how she dealt with it for sooo long ….she was a strong young lady, and did everything right…..who could blame her for using drugs…after what happened to her, then to deal with the horrific Bullying she endured …..she just could not take it anymore, we all know that EVERYTHING is 100x magnified at that age…emotions and insecurity ran rampant through most of us at that age. My heart breaks when I think of what she went though. She met her breaking point…The Justice System let her down, and did NOT do what they are sworn to do when they became officers to Protect the People… Especially our children!!! I can only imagine her poor families Grief 🙁 ….I pray for you often.
    You know…The police are Probably shaking in their boots….I would say that the family have a Very strong case in court….I truly believe that had she received the Justice she deserved…she would be alive today. Not that Money would EVER be any compensation for their beautiful daughters life…..but they could start a foundation in her memory to help young people like her, get the help that she was Denied!!!

  17. Deb Hauck August 21, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    It is sickening that the rapists are hiding safely behind a system that doesn’t give a crap about actual justice. Lawmakers could learn a lot from reading John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill.” If nothing else, imagine that the victim is their precious child, then pass judgement. “Protect and Serve” my ***!

  18. Carol August 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    When a young girl or even a woman is intoxicated, I think it is morally wrong for a male to take advantage..It is disgusting that not only would they do that but then proceed to take pictures and post them.. Our legal system is totally wrong these days anyway..young people literally get away with murder..A few years maybe..Our government really needs to get a backbone and stand up for this criminal activity…Personally if I were the parents of that young girl, I would advertise the names of those boys everywhere…It must be common knowledge for some out there if they were watching that video, and if they took the video to share, they must of wanted people to see them so I would make sure they got their wish…I also could care less what the police say at this time…I think if they took pics of her hanging out the window being sick…it was not consentual and they are GUILTY! Shame on the boys parents for covering their horrid behaviior.

  19. Shannon August 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    This case raises my blood pressure more and more as time elapses. Hopefully Leah’s appearance on Dr. Phil will bring more national attention to the issues surrounding the legalities of how our justice system failed Rehtaeh. My sincere condolences..I cannot even imagine.

  20. Michelle Hammond August 21, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Until women start standing together and support one another and until women end up in politics and chiefs of police … rape victims will never be recognized… these jobs… police, politicians and any other male dominated career does attract egos and egos dont see women as victims but rather as instigators of sex .. unfortunately when a strong woman enters these fields professions and support anything to do with making the playing fields equal for women she is labelled a feminist or an iron bitch … and on the flip side, the more society is exposed to Victoria Secret advertisements on billboards, the more Pitt Bulls musician types make videos of scantily clad women all over them, the more magazines that depict half dressed air brushed women sold… the less women are taken seriously as any contender for equality. Bottom line.. the average male thinks its a woman’s job to close her legs and protect herself no matter what and if she doesnt.. shes a slut because women are just not respected like they think they are.

  21. Serah Brandenn August 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I found it amazing how in the press release two weeks or so ago, how the police kept on sidestepping the question: did you interview the “suspects” (ahem, rapists) at the beginning? They police man in that particular press release wouldn’t answer it directly, kept on trying to change the subject, come up with more BS. When there is a rape, particularly a gang rape, you go to the suspects RIGHT AWAY (not months/years afterwards) interview them separately. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. Things need to change at all levels.

  22. Leanne Myles August 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Well said Glen! That question definitely needed to be asked…change has to happen for the future…

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