The Falcons Know That Everyone Gets a Second Chance

Tonight I compose my one thousandth blog entry.  A friend of mine asked me last week if I was going to do anything special for this post and I joked that I would probably write a review of a sports film.  The following isn’t exactly an exercise in critical thinking and sports film narratives, but it does involve audiovisual texts, athletics, and inspired musings.

I was watching a video about an intersection in Marietta, GA in need of a protected left-turn signal on 11alive’s Commuter Dude page when I noticed a headline on the right side of the page:

Exonerated football player signs with the Falcons.

What could Brian Banks have done and not done to receive such attention from law enforcement agents and the judicial system of the Bear State? Did he unknowingly receive stolen property or aid and abet a fugitive? Indirectly participate in fraud/money-laundering schemes or the transportation of unsavory consumer goods?

None of the above.

Brian Banks had verbally agreed to pursue a life at USC as a student and athlete when he found himself accused of raping a high school friend/classmate.  After five years in prison, a judge’s decision changed his life forever.  Shimmy over to ESPN for details.

 Listen and read a transcript of Banks speaking about recent events in his life.  He is very articulate; he has interests in philosophy, film, and photography.

The (student) athlete who has been falsely accused of inflicting any kind of violent, sexual trauma onto another person has become a cliche, hasn’t it?  It’s on par with plot devices of genre films.  One of two things would happen.  1.  The accuser turns out to be a liar but the press coverage alone ruins the life of the accused (with or without having already been incarcerated for a crime committed by someone or for something that was actually consensual).   2.  The accused is actually guilty but is not prosecuted because of behind-the-scenes alliances.

It’s discouraging for all parties.  Real victims and alleged perpetrators face double the amount of public scrutiny.  Depending on how the plaintiff and the defendant’s legal counsel decide to handle the case, the scrutiny ought not discriminate.  To be “fair,” the victim’s previous sexual history and tendency for the dramatic would have to be researched just as the alleged perpetrator’s sexual history and tendency to disregard other people’s well-being would have to be addressed.

Maybe I’ve watched too many back-to-back episodes of Law & Order: SVU on USA, and thus I’m thinking too much about nuances, but nobody wants to not believe someone who comes forward as being a victim of rape*.  Nobody wants to have to be guilty until proven innocent either.  Will future generations have a pin-hole surveillance camera imbedded into their foreheads in an attempt to decrease the likelihood that people will create this kind of fiction?

* Or sexual harassment for that matter.

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