Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy 200th post, FTC

I do advocacy work for the homeless, that's my job. It puts me in contact with several dozen sex offenders every day, because, due to restrictive housing and employment laws, sex offenders often end up homeless upon release from prison. These are men with zero rights because of what they did and what they've been branded. Whether that's right, whether that's the best way for our justice system to handle this issue-- very debatable. What ISN'T debatable is that Ben Roethlisberger has a track record of perpetrating sexual offenses. What keeps him from being another homeless guy who has to report to a PO every month, is exactly what makes him even more despicable than the average rapist or pedophile: his high priced defense team. The violation isn't simply physical in these cases, but it continues on in the suppression and intimidation of his victims. When his lawyer talks about him being "exonerated" or Ben shows anything less than humility and remorse, it's as much further injury to the victim as it is insult to all of us.

I've heard the idea floated around that the Steelers or league should suspend him for 2 games, or 4 games, or 8 games. I don't like it. It feels too much like the Donte Stallworth thing where a human life was measured out to equal 16 hours of football lost. I'd rather see action far more relevant to Ben's situation. Right now his team of lawyers is playing the "out of sight, out of mind" game with the Lake Tahoe case, stalling and appealing and dragging things out. I'd like to see the league tell Ben that he needs to take care of all pending legal matters before he can step on a football field again. If there's a settlement involved, the terms should be disclosed to the league when reviewing Ben's reinstatement. And if future cases crop up, Ben needs to be in court for those as well, before he can touch a football. Then when all that's settled, and the truth comes to light about what a shitty dude he is, THEN the NFL should decide on a punishment, because this suspension wasn't the punishment: it was just a nice legal sabbatical.

The way the NBA handled Kobe Bryant's case was interesting. Kobe had sex with a woman who wasn't his wife and happened to be crazy. At the time he didn't know she was crazy. He soon learned, and got very accused of rape. Sometimes that happens when you have sex with people you don't know. The NBA let him keep playing during the trial, and when it was over, when Kobe's dream-team lawyers got him off, he groveled and admitted what a mistake it was. After that he's laid real low, and he's enjoyed a resurgence in league and fan support.

For a while, I thought Ben's Lake Tahoe case was going to be similar to Kobe's. But with the Georgia case and now a possible second Nevada case, it's become clear that there's a pattern. Do I know for sure that Ben is a rapist? No, absolutely not. But the Georgia DA summed up the facts in pretty damning fashion, enough so that we're made to think Ben took advantage of at least one young, drunk girl. Whether there's a pattern of crimes: I don't know. But there's smoke. There's a lot of smoke. And I say the league better make him clear it before he's allowed to move on.

Everything Matt wrote is correct. I don't want him taking the field as a Steeler. I don't know if he needs counseling or compassion in all this (probably; he's still a human being), but I know he doesn't need adoration. He doesn't deserve to be rooted for, and if he's under center this fall, I'm going to tune out.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Tim et al:

This is a sentiment most Steeler fans would never express in public, no matter how they felt in their conscience. Thank you for giving it a voice.