Skip this header if you would prefer to avoid one more discussion of a murder of a gender-nonconforming person.
A book Uvular will never read written by an author he knows nothing about features the following narrative verse: “This / storm / this / savaging / disaster / the rain / the gold / the fire / it’s all / one story / you see.”
Shake a collective fist at Google for enlightening your abashed WPT host to James Ellroy constructing This Storm around the idea that a lamentable thread of humanity stitches together every tale involving humans. At least Uvular thought to think and check whether someone else had thought to think this. Citing one’s sources separates a hack from a plagiarist.
The interweaving, overlaying, interspersing and confluence of narratives revealed itself to Uvular through the reporting of a crime in the town that houses his college alma mater. In the spring of 2021, a then-18-year-old scholarship football player beat a then-40-year-old man to death. No one, least of all the teen, disputes this. The day before this WPT posted, a jury acquitted the killer.
Read all about it. Or suffice to digest this precis of the case:
The second-degree murder case drew widespread attention last year because of the unusual circumstances: a college athlete who admitted fatally beating an openly gay man who had posed as a woman on Tinder to initiate a sexual encounter. [The defendant’s] attorneys argued the beating was self-defense in a confrontation between the two in which the man’s true identity was revealed.
The defense stipulated the teen consented to the sexual activity during the initial encounter. They agreed the defendant went to the decedent’s apartment months later accompanied by two football teammates. They did not deny the defendant first put hands on the man who, as a medical examiner testified, choked to death on his own blood after suffering a brutal beating with fists and kicks.
The defense did, however, claim that the teen—at half the victim’s age, nearly twice the victim’s weight, and strong/fast/coordinated enough to compete for a starting position on a nationally ranked Power 5 football team—feared for his life because a middle-aged man slight enough to credibly pass as a 21-year-old woman took a swing at him and missed.
Look past the classic and, moving forward, disallowed in Virginia gay panic defense to consider how only the survivor of a fatal assault has recourse to arguing they (over)reacted in mortal terror. Remember how a certain other teen in Wisconsin skated on this literally existential technicality.
Overlook how the defendant took every step, waited months and went far out of his way to initiate the confrontation. Focus instead on how the verdict turned on the assertion that the victim might have reached for a gun. Investigators eventually found a hidden knife at the crime scene, but physical evidence showed the deceased man could never have retrieved that weapon in time to threaten his assaulter. Picture now every police officer ever mistaking a phone for a pistol or an involuntary muscle twitch as a lunge.
Reflect on how the defense attorney won over the jurors by asking them to ponder this: “Who is the real victim here?” Deeming the killer or the killed the most-aggrieved seems child’s play until one puts themselves in the flipflops of a young man who received a blowjob from another man. “Who would be more likely to resort to violence?” the lawyer interposed during closing arguments. “Who was more likely to be the aggressor? The man who hid the knife or this goofy, gullible kid.”
Is an LGBTQ assaultee ever not demonized and dismissed as depraved and deserving of their depredations or demise?
Here, an interesting legal and moral issue does arise. As they should, state and federal laws define tricking someone into having sex as a form of rape. The defense did have a case to make that the victim obtained sex by false pretenses, specifically by presenting himself as a woman to prospective Tinder matches.
Fair. But the victim of sex by deception does not then have the right to beat on or kill their rapist.
Of course, going to the police likely never occurred to the defendant, All the reasons only a fraction of women report sexual assault loomed large as deterrents, as did other damnable realities. Police rarely take reports of sexual assault from anyone seriously. Law enforcement officials also regularly go so far as to mock or, worse, envy male victims. Call to mind every “sexy teacher/middle school boy” case.
Even when investigations take place, so little evidence exists after the fact that pursuing a case through prosecution and conviction runs the same odds as hitting the Mega Millions jackpot.
Third, men sexually assaulted by men face great stigma, even from themselves. Lashing out seems much easier and logical than seeking justice through the legal system. And, as the just-concluded trial proves, society may well approve of his taking revenge.
Deference to athletes, accomplished men and institutions also factored significantly into the outcome of this case. Jurors repeatedly heard how sentencing the defendant would rob him of a great future. Paging Brock Turner.
Defense attorneys implored jurors to grant their client a well-deserved to return to the playing field instead of “unjustly” paying heavily for a youthful “crime of passion.” Paging Brett Kavanaugh.
Who could deny how the defendant’s enrollment in a Class I research institution attested to his pristine character and moral rectitude? Paging every frat bro through all time.
With the appeals to the preservation of the image of the university, this case even echoes the decades of covering up child predation by Catholic clergy, scout leaders, Southern Baptist Convention officials etc. and so on until Uvular tries Politicados’ patience with an overlong rumination on the simple truth that nothing improves until people tell each story as one story. The same story. In need of extensive revisions.
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