Why Is it Different When Americans Rape?

Steven Green and Uday Hussein both committed the same crime, so why is the media's treatment of them so different?

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.


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