As I sit here working with Sports Center playing as my soothing background music I am struggling with my opinion regarding the 6 game suspension given by the NFL Commissioner to Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
It seems to me that Roethlisberger is being tried and convicted without being found guilty, not unlike the accusations made against politicians and then used by the media and in negative campaign materials.
A few of the facts:
1. Roethlisberger was accused of a very serious crime against a woman. 2. This isn’t the first time an accusation has been made. 3. The DA did not press charges and said, “the Georgia State Crime Lab could not recover enough DNA from the alleged victim to make any profile of an attacker, and could only determine that the DNA belonged to a male human. ” 4. The DA also said, “he did not have nearly enough evidence even to meet the standard of probable cause for an arrest warrant, much less the higher bar of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt required for a conviction. ” 5. One more point by the DA, “there are three points required under Georgia law: that sexual intercourse occurred, that it was forcible, and that it was non-consensual and that he could not, beyond a reasonable doubt, have proved any one of those three points.” 6. While the accuser said they do not recant any of their complaint, they asked the DA not to press charges. 7. The NFL Commissioner issued a 6 game suspension to Roethlisberger due to this issue.
It seems to me that this opens up a very serious barrel of monkeys. Not unlike the slippery slope negative political advertising has taken over the course of time.
A common tactic in politics is to use an “accusation” or a media headline (or story) resulting from an accusation in a candidate’s campaign against their opponent. For an example, a candidate has a restaurant. That restaurant had a lawsuit filed by a fired employee stating a litany of complaints. The lawsuit may have never been heard and they were never found guilty but that lawsuit is a matter of public record and the accusations are used as fact in mail, television, etc. “Candidate Jones was sued for sexual harassment…” Note…not found guilty.
It is done all the time. The same is true of random accusations and now it is the media’s fault. Wanting to believe anything bad about any politician (as if there isn’t enough actual truth) any random Joe Blow can make an accusation and before you know it the media outlets all dying these days to break a story first report it as if it were fact. Creating headlines and stories about something that might have ZERO legitimate facts. In reality, much of what used to be legitimate news organizations today seem like nothing more than the National Enquirer only with good looking anchor people. Before you know it there is a campaign launched against the politician for something they may have never done.
So back to my barrel of monkeys. Barring the NFL Commissioner having been part of some backroom deal with the accuser and the DA to keep Roethlisberger out of court in exchange for a 6 game suspension (let’s assume that isn’t true), Roethlisberger is being “convicted” of a crime he may never have committed. Are we entering an era where an accusation equals truth until proved differently? What keeps the next person from accusing a politician or sports figure (or anyone else in the public) of a crime, knowing they don’t need to prove it for there to be serious repercussions? Seems like this opens the door for lots of blackmail opportunities let alone…what happened to “until proven guilty.”
The severity of the accusations against Roethlisberger may be far more serious than a headline about a politician. Both can seriously affect their career and their reputation whether it be by their fans or their constituents. Much of the time that can have more impact than being one of the best QB’s in the NFL or a Chairman of a Congressional Committee.
**Admissions: 1. I am not a Steelers Fan. 2. Roethlisberger was my backup QB in fantasy football last year but I only played him twice. 3. I am not innocent of utilizing the political tactics mentioned above.