No one can win in Bryant case
It’s 5:15 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6, and as of now Kobe Bryant is to appear in the Eagle County courtroom for his preliminary hearing. Whether that’s still the case as of the time you’re reading, this is unknown. But since I’ve yet to write about this case, I thought today might be an appropriate time to comment.
Rape is a revolting crime. The horror experienced by rape victims must be indescribable. In addition to the physical trauma of rape, the crime also devastates the human spirit. Shame, depression and a shattering loss of self-esteem often accompany the victims long after the crime was perpetrated.
At the same time, the accused, especially a big-name superstar like Kobe Bryant, is also a loser even if he’s innocent. His star will never shine as brightly and his gold Lakers uniform will now have a patina. Sponsors, teammates and fans will never look at him in quite the same light again. His squeaky clean image is gone forever, and if nothing else, he’s an admitted adulterer and may have done irreparable harm to his marriage.
What was said and what really happened in that hotel room remain unknown, and the truth may never come to light. But 12 men and women will make a legal determination of what transpired that night by weighing the evidence and determining if any law was broken.
The media attention this alleged crime has received has been mind-boggling. But the crime of rape, especially when a celebrity is involved, attracts attention and this alleged crime has been sensationalized all out of proportion.
It’s also extremely polarizing. How else does one explain that intelligent people waited outside the courthouse wearing Laker jerseys chanting Kobe’s name? Surely these people didn’t think the event was a pep rally.
As for the young woman who accused Kobe of raping her, regardless of what actually happened that night, and whether rape as defined by Colorado state statute occurred, she is a tremendous loser because some in the media have shredded any sense of dignity the woman may have had. At best she’s an admitted fornicator with a history of personal incidents that the media has spotlighted. At worst, she’s also the victim of a heinous crime with its attendant physical and emotional trauma.
It’s an abomination that so many have tried to discredit the accuser by raising questions about her past and plastering her identity on the Internet. I heard one observer comment that “everyone in Eagle County knows her name anyway, so what’s the difference?” Balderdash! I don’t know the young woman’s name nor do I want to. I will not look it up on Google because if I happen to encounter her at the Safeway or
the Village Market, I don’t want to recognize her.
Rape is more than just a violent crime because it is a crime of a very personal nature. Likewise with some of the more virulent rumors that have circulated about the specific acts that allegedly took place that night.
Whether this young woman was raped or not, whether she was engaged (forcefully or consensually) in specific acts, may be a topic of conjecture. But in reality, it’s nobody’s business except the legal system’s and those directly involved including their families.
That this incident piques our interest and attracts national attention is understandable. But at the same time, it’s irresponsible to exploit this very unfortunate event before any trial testimony has even been heard.
The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, and there are no laws against expressing one’s opinion or dredging up the past and broadcasting it to the world. But there are times that decorum, civility and propriety should take precedent over sensationalism, and this is one of them.
Quote of the day: “Life is like a ladder. Every step we take is either up or down.”
Butch Mazzuca is a local real estate broker and a ski instructor for the Vail Ski School. He writes a weekly column for the Vail Daily and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org