18 March 2013

Seeking Virtue

The BBC today reported what I would consider to be a rather local story of a circumstance in Ohio where two young American football players were convicted of raping an supposedly unconscious girl at a party. I suppose what makes this, on any level at all, international news is the fact that this incident was played out on Facebook, complete with pictures of the act and is creating quite a stir.

Let me say that I have not studied this Ohio incident at all and that I will make some assumptions in the case. I think this is a honest thing to do, as I seriously doubt that any media reports I could find to expand my knowledge of the matter would be rather tainted by one side or the other in the legal battle, therefore run through with misdirection and half-truths. I really don't want to study it and I don't want to particularly hear the rationalizations on either side on the matter. In the short report that I heard, it was obvious that significant camps on both sides were making excuses, accusations, and bald-face threats, also through Facebook, and I weep for the effort toward justice on the court's part. Given modern tactics, I would be surprised if this situation ultimately even made it to a courtroom past the plea-bargain stage of American jurisprudence. Frankly, I don't want to waste precious life digging into the slanted particulars of this story, but only to use aspects of it to highlight larger cultural and societal ills.

I want to write most here about the idea of virtue. I hear that this is a very quaint thing in the modern world, but I do see it as the only way to a better world that I, who may very well stand alone, hope to create. If there were more virtue in the world, the situation in Ohio would have never happened and, at the very least, would not have made international headlines.

At numerous points in a process that began the night of the alleged alcohol-saturated party, an injection of virtue could have made the outcome better and kinder for all involved. I suppose that it is beyond anyone's reckoning that the girl and the two football players could have skipped the party as everyone was likely aware that there was going to alcohol present. My local police often complain that they spend their weekend-night shifts breaking up "keg parties", typically with a nice mix of adults, youths, and young children present. My town is not unique in this way and I would imagine that each weekend features over a million such alcohol-laced gatherings across the United States. Basically, this looks like a typical case of a bad party.

Lest you think I side with the poor, little, "victimized" girl, I think she was just as culpable as anyone else on the scene. The girl could have chosen to avoid the alcohol, which I am sure will set off much moaning in my readers, or chosen to imbibe lightly to avoid a blackout. I am sure everyone will complain that I am being unrealistic toward teen behavior, but that is actually at the very root of the problem: society expects teens to go to parties and expects them to get "pass-out" drunk. Can I sneak ahead in the possibilities and say that the societal view must be that girls have no restraint when invited to parties and are offered alcohol and that this is an untouchable "women's issue"? Basically, this looks like a typical case of a bad girl.

Lest you think I am protecting the football players here, the behavior of the boys is totally inexcusable. Again, our society is quick to forgive them, as they are likely lionized local "sport figures" in embryo and intelligence tells us that such people are little more than animals and should be avoided by decent folk. Their behavior is acceptable as long as they score points in games and bring victory for their school, as far as sport sensibilities are concerned. Those boys could have chosen to help the girl avoid drinking so much, left the passed-out girl alone, avoided snapping photos and uploading them, or a number of other opportunities to exercise even a particle of self-restraint. Nothing of the sort happened, as far as my BBC report concluded. Basically, this looks like a typical case of some bad boys.

Lest you think I defend the justice system in the handling of this case, the outcome seems a classic case of political-correctness in siding with the girl. In my mind, no matter the specifics, she is likely just as culpable as the boys, though she will likely get fawned over, wined-and-dined by the media, and perhaps even get a book deal or become a well-paid spokesperson for underage drinking. One night's "indiscretion", properly manipulated by prosecutors and image consultants, could net her a fine career! Surely, this "victory" is a notch in the prosecutor's belt and justice, which should have seen the girl punished as well for her own lack of self-restraint, pats itself on the back in protecting "snookered and easy" girls everywhere. Basically, this looks like a typical case of bad justice.

I suppose I could go on with the "blame game", as it is called. Everyone wants to blame objects, circumstances, attitudes, and everything else for what happened here. In my estimation, everyone involved should get some punishment. Frankly, I think there should be some good, old-fashioned "hickory switch" action for everyone, from the owners of home that tolerated an alcohol party to go on, to the judge that tolerated the term "victim" being applied to the girl. Better yet, let's just line them all up for a stiff Southeast Asian caning. It seems the perfect punishment for a system gone horribly wrong. Perhaps everyone should take a few stripes for allowing our society make any step of this farce acceptable in any way.

I may have a better solution.

The parents of that girl should have whipped her for going to such a party. Whatever fallout (Facebook or otherwise) she "suffered" should be chalked up as natural consequences for getting herself into such a situation. After the whipping is done, give her a hug and help her face the damage.

The boys should be completely banned from sports along with their jail time. They should expect to be shunned by society and have no respectability except as much as they can piece together from very kindly people. I hope the parents of those boys hug them a lot as they face such punishment, which is very deserved. Hopefully, they will learn that actions have consequences and those must be faced rather than covered over or dismissed through the excuse of small fame.

I don't know what to do about society, which both excuses the sins of "celebrities" and deifies every act of perceived "minorities". We need to stop rationalizing bad behavior, no matter who does it or what the circumstances. We need to applaud those who do the right thing, even when that right thing includes admitting fault and accepting punishment. I know that I have far more respect for a person who admits their wrongdoings rather than the one that twists words and "gets off" punishment based on legal technicalities or adoring masses. Above all, we must consistently encourage people toward being and acting better and better.

Again, at any point in the situation in Ohio, any one of the people involved could have made just one better choice and this whole maelstrom could have been completely avoided. We should give virtue a try occasionally. One right step...