Thursday, January 03, 2013

It's time for a change in Steubenville

IF the perpetrators in the Steubenville rape case are ultimately found guilty in a court of law.  And IF the allegations of a cover-up are proven to be true beyond any reasonable doubt...

I will concede that this is a tough one because some kids are idiots.  I know this because at one time, I was both a kid AND an idiot.  And although I reeked my fair share of havoc, I never conceived of doing anything like this.  Trust me, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Of course, I didn't grow up in the internet culture either.  I didn't have instant access and exposure to some of the most vile stuff on the planet earth.  Still, when human beings commit unspeakable, intolerable acts of cruelty... when a pervasive mob mentality intimidates those would seek to expose the truth... there must be accountability.  

I believe there could be room for a new historical precedent here.  I'm not talking about suspending the football team, levying fines, retroactive discipline, sanctions and all the routine methods of punishment.  I'm talking about dissolving the name "Big Red."  As far as I'm concerned, the Jefferson County Board of Education with input from the city of Steubenville and its citizens can devise a new name.  With the eyes of the world watching, it would send a powerful message.  It would be a constant reminder that the people of Steubenville decided enough was enough.  It would be a tangible display that every once in a while, a total overhaul of the system needs to take place.

I'm actually viewing it from the perspective of a Steubenville parent at future games.  Who in their right mind would want to stand up and applaud, cheer and celebrate the good fortune of a team that tacitly endorsed a culture supportive of underage gang rape?   How could a rational, empathetic adult not feel utter shame, embarrassment and humiliation?  Just the mere thought of extending a congratulatory handshake...  "Great job.  Way to go! We love you, coach!" 

The city of Steubenville has a historically atrocious record when it comes to corruption, police brutality and suppression of human rights.  Just check them out on wikipedia and you'll see what I'm talking about.  It extends way beyond some rinky-dink police department.  Their culture is poison.  It is exactly the reason Anonymous got involved.  The justice system afforded the victim(s) was a colossal failure.  This city needed a savior.  And while most of its citizens think Jesus Christ is sufficient and punishment will be meted out in heaven or hell... this time, that just ain't gonna cut it. 

Oddly enough, in this day and age, some of these heroes will remain unidentifiable.  They are people that do not seek adoration, compensation or acknowledgment.  They do what they do because they believe in right and wrong.  They have little or zero interest in money or fame.  Their actions run in direct contrast to societal norms.  They act because they believe in principles of human decency and wish to hold humanity to a higher standard. 

With the eyes of the world watching and small-town Steubenville under an intense microscope, I believe the time has come for its residents to rise to the occasion.  It would be a catharsis for the entire community.  Kind of an all-encompassing cleansing and inevitably, a symbolic part of the healing process.  As I said, they should establish a new precedent and dissolve the name "Big Red." 

High school football will continue.  Life will go on.  After all, it's just a name.  And although it might not change everyone's attitude, it will give everyone involved with this tragedy an opportunity for self-reflection.  It would be that one defining moment in a sleepy mid-western town where people came to the realization that maintaining the status quo was unacceptable.  It was time to "change the way of things."

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