Friday, July 13, 2012

Victim Blaming pairs well with Celebrity Pardoning (UPDATED)

by Gregory Allen

Several blatant and public statements have been made in the fashion of victim-blaming in regards to victims of sexual assault. One case, regarding recent Stanley Cup winning defenseman Drew Doughty, has drawn attention, as well as Comedy Central's Daniel Tosh's remarks on rape. Both cases also bring attention to the deliberate attempt to pardon members of popular culture who have considerable celebrity.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is under investigation for an accused sexual assault. The woman accusing Doughty or rape filed her claim on March 1, 2012 (the same day of supposed incident). Supporters and fans of Doughty have spoken publicly on MSNBC's website and through other sources claiming the accusation was made to garner attention as Doughty recently won the league's championship. The Kings, however did not win the Stanley Cup until June 11, 2012.

The response is a definitive style of victim-blaming, and makes little sense logically or sympathetically. The opponents of Doughty's accuser have made comments on discussion posts and through online sources, many times accompanied by similar supporters. Their identity remains anonymous, and presents the "pack-mentality" that often enables victim-blaming. Face-to-face with a victim, and without peer support, the claims likely remain unspoken.


The case Doughty is now involved in also highlights victim-blaming and adverse pressure unfairly placed on the accuser. The woman accusing Doughty of rape was urged by police to contact Doughty via telephone after making the claim; and this may be perceived as intimidation to deter the witness from pressing charges. Also, according to the L.A. Times, police reported the woman was "less than cooperative," or in reality - acting exactly in the manner someone suffering from a severe trauma would behave.

Regarding Daniel Tosh of Comedy Central, the comedian presented a joke in a comedy club claiming rape jokes are never lacking in humor or appeal. A woman in the audience refuted the bit aloud, and was allegedly greet by Tosh with this reply, "'Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…'" Tosh was quick to offer an evasive apology, but has made little effort to take responsibility for behavior performed in front of the crowd at the Laugh Factory. 

Tosh apparently pandered to the comedy club crowd and received supporting laughter, further exacerbating the situation, and encouraging the remarks made by the comedian. Tosh is now also moving quickly to remove further rape jokes from reaching the public, and perhaps supporting the behavior he has been accused of. The owner of the Laugh Factory has also attempted to deny the event took place (not that the Laugh Factory's reputation as the graveyard of comedic careers is capable of reversal).

Tosh's example more clearly highlights the anonymous-crowd mentality behind victim-blaming, as supporters were able to heckle an individual speaking out against a very poor display of judgement and childish behavior. In fact, another woman, Karen Elson, openly criticizing Daniel Tosh has recieved similar online treatment, with one anonymous person claiming via Twitter, "@KarenElson_ Needs to be raped, she might lighten up after getting some for once."

Similar to the first woman criticizing Tosh, Elson has stated, ""Daniel Tosh didn't get the memo that [rape] never was and never will be funny."

Both instances contain unmistakable instances of victim-blaming, first in the manner of anonymously slandering a possible victim with police appealing to a victims aversion to suggest culpability; and second in the style of supporting a public figure undermining the serious nature of rape and sexual assault.

Both imply that victims deserve the trauma and assault they face, whilst denying the responsibility for making these claims by remaining anonymous and disguised in the shadow of a crowd. This aversion to sympathizing with the victim also emerges easily as those doubting and blaming the victim are motivated to protect the celebrity's whose behavior they adopt.

UPDATE:

According to the Huffington Post, "Prosecutors have declined to file a date-rape charge against Los Angeles Kings star Drew Doughty, citing insufficient evidence."

Linda Deutsch who wrote the article, explains "The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office issued a report Wednesday concluding there was not enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

American judicial ideologies insist persons are innocent until proven guilty, but our notion of "beyond a reasonable doubt" seems to have changed into "direct eye-witness experience" or a standard completely favoring personal impression over logical guidance.

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