Why Is it Different When Americans Rape?
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Now that Steven Green, the former U.S. soldier convicted of raping and killing 14-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza Al-Janabi, has ducked the death penalty, it's worth asking how we've contextualized his actions in terms of our own cultural assumptions. In a TIME article published yesterday, Green's deeds are labeled "outrageous" and among "the most notorious crimes conducted by U.S. servicemen during the Iraq War." The article, titled "When a Soldier Commits Murder: Life in Prison for Steven Green" seems baffled by its own findings: An American guilty of unspeakable acts of brutality - -- how could this be possible?
CNN has parroted this mock innocence. In a May 18 story, they painted a picture of Green's childhood as "troubled and stressful." Green's story, according to his attorneys, is one of a "broken soldier," caught up in a series of circumstances that pushed him over the edge. He is to be understood as a victim of circumstance. An anomaly in an otherwise tidy, structured framework of ideals.
Given such sensitive scrutiny over Green's case, it's a bit surprising to look back to another TIME article -- this one published exactly six years ago -- that treats an identical crime in a very different manner.