Tuesday, February 10, 2009

why is this one worse than the other one?

Chris Brown confessed to punching his girlfriend Rihanna several times in the face on Saturday. This happened after they got into an argument in the car, driving home from a pre-Grammy party.

Here they are during happier times:



The most common response to this sorry tale is "that's the end of his career". I hope this is the case. That would be just.

However, I don't understand why there's a double standard between this versus Kobe Bryant being accused of raping a woman in 2003.



Kobe Bryant's career did not end at all. Now he's one of the most revered sports stars in the world. During the Olympics, entire stadiums would chant his name.

Is it because Kobe never admitted guilt, whereas Chris Brown has?

Or because domestic violence is considered worse than rape?

15 comments:

Dan said...

There are at least three differences that seem important:

1. As you note, Kobe was never convicted, and certainly never admitted to rape. His accuser dropped her criminal case, and the civil case was settled. In what is ultimately a case of he-said-she-said, you can decide who you believe, but in the formal record his name is clear. If Chris Brown really went on the record admitting to assault, that's a line Kobe never crossed.

2. Kobe Bryant is an athlete; Chris Brown is a singer and actor. Athletes seem to be permitted a somewhat greater degree of criminal activity than most (non-rap) musicians or actors. I doubt an NBA career would survive a rape conviction, but allegations and rumors seem to be not uncommon.

3. The Chris Brown situation is fresh. The people who are saying his career is over may be wrong. When the Kobe Bryant rape situation first broke, and all of his sponsorships were withdrawn, I think a lot of people thought his career would be over too. (Sponsorships came back once the case was settled.)

I'm not saying any of this is just, mind you. But I don't think anyone considers domestic violence worse than rape.

Anonymous said...

Both DV and rape are both horrible crimes of violence. As for which is considered worse is for the courts to decide on a case by case basis.

There is a world of difference between being accused of something and admitting guilt (though the second was not done in a legal setting).

I hope we left the 80s/90s where being accused of a sex crime defaulted men to the state where outside the courts, you were considered guilty until proven innocent.

I understand the sexual politics where an "outside the courts notion of presumed guilt" was set up by society to give the victim a protecting/helping hand during an era where the risk, shame, and social stigma that came with getting justice from The System was difficult.

But while the system probably gave some sort of justice to women who were not able to receive it from a court of law (in that the accused often lost their job and were shunned by society even if they wer aquitted in court on a technicality or dropped charge or lack of evidence), there were no doubt innocent men whose lives were hurt or even ruined by some who leveraged this outside-the-courts system of societal punishment for less than pure motives.

In the U.S., you are innocent until proven guilty.

"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer" — Blackstone's formulation

ArC said...

Jason Kidd pled guilty to domestic abuse in 2001; that didn't end his career. (His wife reconciled with him at the time, though in 2007 they filed for divorce.)

John K. Lin said...

@Dan - excellent analysis. My $0.02.

Kobe was never convicted of rape, though I think he acknowledged that he did cheat on his wife (and subsequently bought her a $4M diamond ring to make up). Kobe slowly repaired his reputation over time...

Michael Phelps doing pot and A-Rod taking steroids as a Texas Ranger won't end their careers either...

Anonymous said...

Money..

I think there is an unfortunate (?) presumption of innocence for Kobe, because he is rich and the girl wasn't, which lead to suspicions of motive.

With Rihianna, though, I don't think anyone thinks she's looking for money..

Anonymous said...

It's not a "double standard" unless you think being accused is the same as being guilty.

David said...

Sadly enough, the most likely reason for the difference is that Chris Brown beat the hell out of a "star" while Kobe was alleged to have raped an ordinary person (a hotel clerk if I remember correctly).

Anonymous said...

Funny about the presumed guilt on Kobe. While there are a lot of men that have gotten away with rape, there are also a number of them falsely accused (and convicted).

sanjuro said...

I think David got it right and Dan's arguments 1 and 3 are perspicacious too (though I don't believe there's a difference of "crime tolerance" between athletes and artists, it all comes down to fame). Some people are more concerned about this case because they "know" Rihana, she's famous and popular so it touches them.

John K. Lin said...

Well, it looks like Chris Brown and Rihanna both failed to win their NAACP Image Awards that they were nominated for tonight. Would have been quite ironic if they had won...

Niniane said...

Ok, the point about accusation vs. admittance of guilt is a good point. That makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick comment on DV versus rape. I know there is a difference, but very frequently in cases of DV, rape is just another component of on-going, esclating DV.

If you and I are in a relationship, and all it takes is for me to control you is to threaten you with a look or a verbal threat, then that's all I'll do. Until it escalates to a shove, a slap, a punch, etc.

Not that DV always escalates to rape. But on-going DV is demoralising, and dehumanising. And just like rape is usually not about sex, it's about power and control, DV is also about power and control.

There is a difference, of course, in severity of DV-- some is worse than others and a few slaps in the face isn't on par with raping someone. But severe DV, the kind where you are afraid for your life every time you go home or pick up a phone or whatever isn't outweighed by rape.

Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree with a few of the posters that argued on "celebrity" factor of Rihanna. There have actually been many cases of DV within the celebrity world and yet many of them go unnoticed due to the fact that their partners (victims) are not famous. Look at Terence Howard as an example. He admitted to hitting his wife and yet he went on to star in "Crash" and "Iron Man" and no one brings up the DV case that he was found guilty for.

DV is a serious matter as a victim of DV is most likely a victim of other severe abuses. Consider the fact that Chris Brown himself witnessed his mom getting abused, and now the cycle continues.

Louis said...

Kobe was innocent, duh!

hmf said...

Hey Niniane, I also thought you might be interested in this recent (quite disturbuing) NYT article "Teenage Girls Stand By Their Man." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/fashion/19brown.html?em