The latest news surrounding the accusers in the Vanderbilt rape case appears to be that the defense attorneys are looking to have the venue changed. One can only wonder what would have happened to the accusers if they played in the NFL rather than college ball. Both Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg accused and already found guilty of a horrific crime are free due to the judge declaring a mistrial. So what now?
This case interests me for several reasons. Besides having studied criminal justice and misuse of power for much of my adult life, I have also worked with adult students in Drug Court. It’s not that either of the defendants were enrolled in such a program but the reason I make a correlation here is because of second chances that are very often given to those who commit crimes while under the influence or involved in crimes associated with drugs. What about alcohol? Aren’t we taught that alcohol is a drug when we learn about dangerous substances in our primary years?
Recently Coach James Franklin the former head coach of Vanderbilt University, who now coaches Penn State, talked about second chances when he spoke with the media about the upcoming Penn State match up that will take place against Rutgers. Although not specifically addressing questions about those players who have been suspended by Rutgers due to incidence pertaining to allegations of criminal activity, Franklin did speak in general terms about second chances and men coming of age. Could it be that Coach Franklin was thinking about Vandenburg and Batey and the horrific mistake they made when they were said to be under the influence of alcohol and involved in a terrible crime against a young lady who was also under the influence of alcohol.
What if Vandenburg and Batey were in the National Football League, as opposed to mere college students? Would the victim be missing come time for trial like in the situation that occurred with Greg Hardy who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys? Is it that ‘boys can be boys’ only when they play professional sports but not when they are in college?
The punishment for the crime of rape is severe and it’s not that I’m suggesting it shouldn’t be only I am very concerned about the message we send when we have such inconsistency in our justice system. Young men who are old enough to fight for the country but not permitted to drink without it being a crime can get into some serious trouble when they head off to college. Those who play sports, according to Coach Franklin, can be under the microscope a bit more than those who are otherwise engaged. What if Batey and Vandenburg were Art students? Would anyone care about these allegations of rape?
For some reason, and I’m not exactly sure what that reason it, I want these men to have a second chance. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to make a mistake when I’m in my early twenties or and I know just how I learned. If not for the mistake I would not be the person I am today. I got better not worse after doing some very stupid things. That’s not to say I think the crime should go unpunished but I would not throw the book at these young men. There are other ways for them to learn and throwing them in prison so that they spend a good part of their lives in jail is not the answer.
Rape is wrong. There is no question. Yet, trying to understand what happened to cause these young men to act the way they did and working collectively to try to understand that alcohol can impede one’s rational thought, understanding the male ego and how primal desires can at times override better judgment, and teaching the art of self-restraint early on might be the answer. Show men that conquest by force is not something to brag about but that having enough respect for one’s self to respect a woman is a far greater story. Teach early on that learning to conquer the man in the mirror is the greatest sport of all.