I admit it: I thought the cacophony following the rape charges against NFL star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was going to be louder. You could say I "Steeler-ed" myself for it, actually. Last summer's charges that Big Ben raped a woman at a Lake Tahoe casino-hotel cued a throwdown that's typical when a high-profile athlete is accused of such a crime--victim-blaming and chest-puffing defenses of Roethlisberger were the least of it.
Feminists and others with common sense spoke up loudly when ESPN issued an absurd "do not report" memo to its staff, and when the Lake Tahoe hotel was charged with covering up the rape. Whatever the results of the charges, no one was going to get away with propping up the architecture of rape culture.
At least for awhile.
What's up with the quietude ever since? I'm not saying that I want to see a garish public shouting match about this case, but I'm absolutely bewildered at how there's nary a public whisper anymore. Especially now, in the heat of the NFL season, when Big Ben is quarterbacking before crowds of thousands every Sunday. Almost like normal.
Oh yes, there was news in the Big Ben rape case just yesterday ... did you hear it? A Nevada judge denied Roethlisberger's motion to dismiss the charges. According to the itty-bitty AP report, "Washoe District Judge Brent Adams also refused a request by a lawyer for the two-time Super Bowl champ to sanction the woman's attorney for pursuing the case without sufficient evidence."
So this story is going to continue--whether are not there are narrators in the media or, god forbid, in the sports world that I love and hate at all the same time. Maybe this relative lack of attention to the rape charges is best; the most likely landscape for justice to be served with minimal collateral damage done to the persons involved. The court of public opinion, after all, is notorious for distortion and cruelty.
Maybe, however, this inattention is dangerous; an implicit message that if you are athletically heroic enough (and Ben Roethlisberger is certainly that, if nothing else), then we as a culture will look the other way when you are accused of terrible, brutal acts. Maybe we will tune in every Sunday to the game, we'll tailgate with our friends and families, and we won't even have to pretend that the star quarterback on the field was accused of rape ... because we will have actually forgotten it ever happened.
Image Credit: Sports Illustrated