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On Outing, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

January 7, 2013

I talked a bit yesterday about how my decision making process works when it comes to issues large and small. Usually that process happens fairly quickly but there are issues on which I waver because I can honestly see the merits of both sides. Also, as someone who is at least marginally anonymous here in Internetlandia, I’s like to avoid being a big old hypocrite. But this issue keeps coming up and I can’t just keep waffling about it. OK, yes, I probably could, but I shouldn’t. There have been a huge number of outings in the past few months as well as a few instances on sites I spend time on, which forced me to come to a decision.

This isn’t so much an anonymity issue as it is an issue of speech. People use the perception of anonymity of the internet to hide from the responsibility of what they say. This, coming from someone whose Twitter account is currently suspended/has possibly been banned (how does one tell?) for reasons that remain murky but probably have something to do with me being a bitch. Whose fault is that? Mine. Why? I typed that shit. I’m responsible. Actions have consequences.

The last sentence seems to be a revelation to other people. The primary objection to all of this outing hinges on the negative consequences of these people being forced to take personal responsibility. It doesn’t matter if it’s Reddit and its pet pedophile or Penn State and its rapist football coach, the outraged defense is always predicated on what the no good, awful, very bad accusers are  doing to the poor, poor, pitiful accused.

The most egregious example of this is the response to the Steubenville Rape Case. The town’s official response is all about, damage control for themselves and their goddamn football team, not the girl or the dangers to other young people in their town.

If you compare the article with the timeline from the town, you’ll see some glaring differences. For instance the town’s “comprehensive timeline,” isn’t. There are a lot of things that seem to be undisputed that the timeline and the police department are totally ignoring. You know, like the fact that all this drinking started at party hosted by a volunteer football coach. OK, that’s actually a crime. Yet I haven’t been able to find any information on the host of the party or their parents being held accountable for that. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

There are a huge number of unanswered questions about this incident, most of which were brought up by an online group that I, personally can’t stand. That said, they’re doing good work on this one and the information they’re providing makes it clear that things are much murkier than the town is presenting. Here are some of mine:

  • Is Mr. James “Jim” Parks the host of the original party or one of the subsequent parties? This question is important because of the close relationship he is said to have with the team as well as the multiple images found on his computer. Now, I’m not going to condemn anyone for having their porn. However, multiple sources appear to identify at least some of the pictures on his hard drive as having been taken at the school, which would imply that the pictures of what appear to be underage girls in the bathroom are actually underage girls in the school bathroom. That’s maybe something the police should look into.
  • Prosecuting Attorney Jane Hanlin is the mother of a football player who has been accused online, though not formally, as one of the group who participated in the attack. Does that seem as if it could be somewhat problematic to anyone else? Further, Jane Hanlin represented Edward “Eddie” Lulla in a civil legal matter this summer (spending a great deal of time with him). Mr. Lulla is an agent for the BCI who was sent by the State of Ohio to lend oversight to the rape investigation in Steubenville. Not surprisingly, the State of Ohio found everything to be going smoothly. In addition, “Eddie” Lulla’s son was recently chosen to join Steubenville Police Department out of a pool of three candidates. When ranked, his son was not the first candidate. It is crystal clear why Mr. Lulla was unable to find anything wrong with the current investigation (which is being conducted by SPD) into this crime.

The lawyers for the two, only two, football players who have been formally charged are doing that same tired “she asked for it. She’s been sexually active in the past,” thing. Expected. But they’re also asking for a change of venue, which I think is actually an outstanding idea. If the town is part of the problem, move the trial. Take the decision on the guilt or innocence of the accused away from those people who are predisposed to protect them.

Here’s the problem; I don’t know of any town in American wherein protecting athletic programs and athletes is less important than the lives and safety of women and girls.

Does anyone?

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