Kobe Bryant and Free Speech
Now is not the time. (Or is it?)
Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all-time....
Cousin XXXX is in a military household and was worried about friends in Iraq the day that Kobe died. Her comments were short and to my knowledge caused no blowback. I was too lazy to call her to expound.
Why do I bring up her short post here in a Kobe article? Because 1 day later a General made national news for a similar sentiment: Instead of mourning some basketball player, I'll remember a fallen soldier.
Now General Evans, on the other hand, he did receive some blowback. But did what he say really deserve derision? He simply stated that "no life is any more important than another — regardless the celebrity."
The statement continued to stir debate today, but to my knowledge, he wasn't reprimanded for his quote. He just generated a lot of internet hate.
(You know what else generates internet hate?)
The majority of sports fans and basketball peers loved Kobe. They have the right to express their opinions of his greatness. Some people don't care about sports or the athletes that play them. That's their opinion and they deserve the right to express their neutrality. We all have Freedom of Speech.
Apparently except for.....
Kobe Bryant had an incident in 2003. A woman claimed Bryant raped her.
Bryant said he didn't touch the woman.
The police came back with DNA evidence.
Bryant said maybe he touched her a little bit.
The police came back with a medical report that contained "bruising" and "tearing."
Bryant said "let me explain....."
During the sexual assault pre-trial, Kobe flew between court appearances and basketball games. Being vague, Kobe was opportunistic and wanted to have an extramarital affair. He asked a young woman up to his room and she accepted. Neither one of those facts were in question. What happened is, using actions as a menu analogy, Kobe wanted sexual actions A,B,C,D,E, & F. The young lady allowed A, B, & C, but said that actions D,E, and F were not on the menu. Now this is where things get dicey. Did Kobe force D,E, and F against her will, or did she regret doing D, E, & F?
Why would she regret D, E, & F? Again, trying to be delicate, Kobe may have been, uh...
too aggressive and, let's use the phrasing too much man to handle. That would cause some of the young lady's injuries. At that point, the case became a he said/she said situation.
People ask why Kobe originally lied? That's easy, he didn't want to get in trouble, he was a married man. Even though he didn't say it, the assumption is that Bryant was looking for D,E, and F because those items may not have been on the menu at home.
The point is, Kobe's charges were dropped, in a court of law, at the beginning of the CRIMINAL CASE. The young lady refused to testify. Again, she probably didn't want to talk about her traumatic experience and she didn't want to delineate, in front of the whole world, where her red line was. Now after that case was cleared, Kobe was sued in a CIVIL CASE, and he quickly settled out of court for a seven digit sum. (And had to apologize.)
Now the sexual assault preliminary hearings were on the news as they happened, it wasn't a secret. I remember listening to sports-talk radio and many callers said that Kobe should be suspended until after the trial. Others argued that Kobe was innocent until proven guilty and should only be punished if he was found guilty. Either way, the proceedings were in the public domain.
After Kobe's untimely death earlier this week, there was nearly universal praise for Kobe, except for over at the Washington Post.
Post reporter Felicia Sonmez tweeted out a story from 2016 in which the Daily Beast was very thorough and very clear that they believed that Kobe got away with rape. The Washington Post reporter didn't even write the story in question, she simply made a reference to the story.
And the Washington Post suspended her. That statement should send shivers up a free-thinkers' spines. A Post Reporter was suspended for referencing a factual story, but she referenced the story at an unpopular time.
After the Post suspended Sonmez, Jill Filipovic added We Have To Tell The Whole Truth About Kobe Bryant at BuzzFeed News. She spoke of the impact of the Kobe Case on victims of Sexual Assault. As the Kobe story evolved in a number of directions, the Washington Post re-instated Sonmez after the intervention of her Newpaper's Union.
Just a reminder that the owner of the Washington Post is Jeff Bezos.
Now using the hindsight of time, to the knowledge of the public, the Colorado Sexual Assault Case is the only time Bryant ran afoul of the law. You could equally argue that Bryant made a mistake or he got away with assault. His case wasn't like the Cosby Case where women came out of the woodwork after the first accusations of wrongdoing.
Again, I wasn't in that motel room. You may say Rape is Rape. Others may say Regret isn't Rape. Also forgotten in the conversion is money. The rumor was that teammate Shaquille O'Neill paid off women he was less than discreet with:
Bryant said, “I should have done what Shaq does,” adding, “Shaq gives them money or buys them cars, he has already spent one million dollars.” The report added, “Kobe stated that Shaq does this to keep the girls quiet." -The Daily Beast
In a free society, you can view events from a number of different angles. My end point is short and simple. Unpopular, factual speech is still protected speech.