Earlier this week, a group of privileged New Zealand teen boys called the Roast Busters made international news for basically being a social media-active gang rape club that the cops (and much of the community) ignored for years. Now — finally — it seems that the people who enabled and made excuses for the boys are in the sights of some good old fashioned popular outrage. But it's not enough. Here's what has happened with the case since Monday, and what frustratingly hasn't.
First, the good news: things are happening. The police, who have shat the bed or lied at every stage of this investigation, initially denied that one of the Roast Busters was the son of a police officer (incorrect/a lie), claimed that no victims of the Roast Busters were "brave enough" to file a formal complaint about the group (incorrect/a lie, as now it turns out that four girls had complained to police, an epic fuck up the local police commander now calls a "miscommunication"), and said that, while they were aware of a Roast Busters facebook page where members of the group actively bragged about their exploits, that they needed to leave the page up for "tactical purposes." Despite the fact that the boys in the club name and shame too-young-to-consent victims on the site — which has existed, off and on, for two years — cops continue to claim they don't have enough evidence to file any formal charges.
Police Minister Anne Tolley, disappointed that she's learned more about the case from the media than from actual police officers, has called for an independent investigation into the conduct/pathetic bumbling of the Auckland police. The Prime Minister has called the efforts of police insufficient.
And onto the people making excuses for the Roast Busters. Earlier this week, two jackass radio hosts in Auckland fielded a call from a girl named Amy who claimed she ran in similar social circles to the Roast Busters, that she had attended parties with them, and that she saw them providing alcohol to girls as young as 13. In response, hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere launched into an elaborate defense of the rapists, referring to kids these days as "free and easy," surmising that if just some of the girls consented to sex then the Roast Busters weren't actually rapists, and saying "Girls shouldn't be drinking anyway, should they?" (god, where have I heard that one before?). After people got mad, Jackson and Tamihere offered a truly tepid non-apology today,
We have no problems apologising to Amy for causing offence. Not a problem at all. We thought we were sensitive yesterday, maybe we could have done a better job.
"We've got the utmost respect for Amy for speaking out about her experience, it was an incredibly brave interview.
That's the apology equivalent of a guy apologizing for shitting on your lawn while he is actually shitting on your lawn.
What about the rapists themselves? Ringleaders Joseph Parker (son of the actor who played Dozer on The Matrix) and Beraiah Hales still haven't had charges filed against them, but police say that two of the Roast Busters have been questioned this week (grain of salt: the Auckland police have a demonstrated track record of ineptitude).
And people in the immediate circles of the Teen Rape Club still don't "get" what rape is. The parents of Beraiah Hales spoke with media yesterday, calling their son "arrogant," "incredibly silly," "an idiot," "acting... like being on a reality TV show," and "not nice." But, like, totally not a rapist.
Gang rape of women too drunk and young to consent! Is there anything *SiLLiEr*?!
But does it matter if the police are protecting them when it seems like public backlash is so strong that it would be hard for the boys to live normal, post-Roast lives? Their faces are everywhere, and not in a "look at these cool dudes we all wanna hang out with" kind of way. New Zealand's daily papers have featured stories about the Roast Busters on their front pages for the last two days.
3 News, which has been instrumental in breaking and pushing this story, continues to report new, frustrating but horrifying details about the case. And now, the international media is talking about it, too. Ironically, thanks to the same social media through which the admitted gang rapists pathetically sought the attention they craved at the expense of the health, safety, and humanity of young girls, there aren't many places left the Roast Busters can go without fearing retaliation.
A relaunch of the Roast Busters Facebook page is populated not by messages of support, but by anger and death threats.
And then there's this: yesterday, Anonymous tweeted about the boys yesterday along with the hashtag #RoastRapists. Ominous. Deserved.
So even if the police continue to lie and shrug helplessly with their thumbs up their butts and the teen rapists keep talking about the "haters" like rape is a made up thing that happens when uncool people get mad about sex, the Roast Busters' lives are going to change, and I'd be willing to bet the change will not be welcome or fun for any of them. Stay tuned.