What do you do with an untapped penchant for Clipart and rape apologia? Cover Rehtaeh Parsons' neighborhood with Pepto-Bismol pink posters proclaiming: "Speak the truth. There’s two sides to every story. Listen before you judge. The truth will come out. Stay strong and support the boys."
"The boys" in questions allegedly raped Rehtaeh when she was 15 and then silently stood by for the next two years as photos of the drunken night circulated around her school and online. The police, apparently unable to confirm whether x-rated images of an intoxicated minor were problematic, didn't do shit. Earlier this month, Rehtaeh was taken off life support after trying to kill herself. “I think she would have had some satisfaction that it was real [if there were charges], because no one believed her,” said her mother, Leah Parsons.
And now she's dead. But the boy's supporters still hope to convince the public — and Rehtaeh's neighbors — that she was really just overreacting. Jason Barnes, Rehtaeh’s stepfather, told CBC that he first noticed the garish posters (we're shocked by the lack of Comic Sans) in his neighborhood Wednesday morning, stapled to telephone poles on his street. Leah posted the above photo on Facebook; "Not far from a grieving family," she wrote. "How disrespectful!" She elaborated in another post:
I support the boys - I support them in seeking accountability. i support society educating boys and men about rape and consent. I support speaking the truth by creating a system where victims are not intimidated in coming foward. I support boys in not defining their masculinity through sexual conquest. I support speaking truth about the low rates of conviction for rape and recognizing that the rates of false rape reports are lower than that of car insurance fraud yet people persist in believing women lie about rape. I support boys and girls in ending sexual stigma and ostracization of women labelled as "sluts." I support boys in building respectful relationships with their partners. These signs are meant to be theatening and intimidating to Rahteah's family and to all rape victims, which shows that speaking out must be having an effect. I support truth in ending the silence about rape.
The boys' supporters aren't just taking to the streets; Halifax blogger "aSh" recently covered a counter protest where men hid behind posters that read "There Is 2 Sides Listen!!" and "Speak the Truth!"
A Facebook group called Speak The Truth (props for the consistent marketing) was shut down earlier this week after its curator said police were concerned names would be leaked; according to aSh, they already were.
The boys and their supporters are right, of course, that there are two sides to every story. It's too bad Rehtaeh Parsons never got to tell hers while she was alive.
(Image via Facebook)