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View from Venus: What is wrong with us?

Sunday - 3/24/2013, 1:15pm  ET

AP: adf411be-0e4b-4f05-b839-273b18b29cf5
Trent Mays, 17, left, and 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond sit at the defense table before the start of their trial on rape charges in juvenile court on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Steubenville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool)

Randi Martin,

WASHINGTON - A young girl is raped, and no one says stop. What happened at that party in Steubenville, Ohio has horrified and disgusted many of us.

For the kids there, the rape became a social media event. They pulled out their phones and took pictures and video, instead of helping the 16-year-old girl who was so drunk, she didn't remember anything.

Images of her violation were posted to social media sites along with evil hurtful comments. Instead of receiving compassion, calling 911 or stopping the crime, they simply took their drinks and headed home.

Allegations have been made that school officials and parents found out about it, yet failed to step forward to talk to the police or reach out to the young girl.

What is wrong with us?

Arthur Dobrin, an ethics professor at Hofstra University, says there is no simple answer.

"If you say to somebody, ‘Is rape wrong?' They'll say of course it is. ‘Is lying wrong?' Of course it is. And yet those very same people may go about engaged in that very behavior," he says.

Dobrin points out that football players can be worshiped as heroes, and when they do something wrong, coaches, parents and teachers try to keep the reputation of the school and football program intact.

But at what cost?

Two young men ages 16 and 17 are going to spend at least a year in a juvenile correctional facility -- with the possibility they could be held there until they are 21. When they are finally released, no matter where they move, they must register as a sex offender.

The Ohio Attorney General is exploring the option of charging those who failed to report the crime with obstruction of justice, among other charges.

And the 16-year-old girl and her family are just trying to get through it one day at a time.

For many people, Dobrin says, the lines are blurred between the entertainment media on one side and reality on the other.

And as we are learning from the events in Steubenville, for many people, there is no way to distinguish the difference.

Editor's Note: View from Venus is a regular blog by Randi Martin, who shares her thoughts on lifestyles and relationships.

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