Friday, July 25, 2003

The Most Annoying Current Topic

"Hey, you think Kobe did it?" "Ryan, you're a lawyer. What do you think? Guilty?"

You know what my answer is? "How the fuck should I know?" This case depends on primarily (1) physical evidence of rape, meaning bruises, tears, etc.; (2) and absent strong physical evidence, the other key factor is credibility of the parties, which is simply about playing into the biases of whomever is judging. Thus far, we know nothing about what the actual physical evidence is (all we have is that the prosecutor's office is confident in their assessment of that evidence). As for (2), I have no idea how anyone figures they can presume to *know* what a person is capable of simply because s/he watches the guy play basketball on TV 30 or 40 times a year, but everything being spewed on this front has been unpasteurized bullshit. Who can really know what anybody else is capable of?

One thing I would bet on is that race will be an issue. Kobe's accuser is white, in case you haven't heard. The race angle can cut many different ways. Black Conspiracy specialists will no doubt see this as another attempt to bring down a successful, clean-cut black man. On the other extreme, the Kobe conviction may well perpetuate the myth of the Untamable Black Penis popular amongst racists ("if even Kobe, all-around good guy can't control himself, what hope does a lesser black man have," this line of thinking would go). But Kobe is, like Jordan, Tiger, Will Smith, and, yes, OJ, one of those "cross-over" non-racially-coded black celebs, so he'll be less likely to be hampered by the kind of racial baggage that someone like Allen Iverson carries. Still, somehow, some way, race will become an issue -- perhaps not in the legal setting, but sociologically. Stayed tuned.