dignity Hockey

Crime, Dignity, and Fame

6:00:00 AMJosh Merlo

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The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup again this summer, defeating the youthful Tampa Bay Lightning to win what many have called a dynasty-defining championship. As they have been in the past, the Hawks were carried by their dynamic duo of Toews and Kane. Yes, Duncan Keith playing over half of every game he appeared in helped; yes, Corey Crawford remembering his bygone Cup-winning form helped; yes, contributions from veterans Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Marian Hossa helped; but, ultimately, the Hawks live and die with their two stars. The frontliners of the Chicago hockey renaissance, the Midwest’s answer to Crosby and Malkin and Getzlaf and Perry, even the poster boys of EA Sports’s NHL 16, Kane and Toews formed the beating heart of resurgent Blackhawk hockey. They were, in a word, golden. And then Patrick Kane got accused of raping a woman in his hometown of Buffalo.
        Kane is no stranger to the narrowed eye of public scrutiny. He infamously beat a cabdriver for not dispensing proper change. As a younger player, Kane was seen as a hard-partying frat boy; as he matured, he purportedly moved beyond such frivolity, steadying his image and strengthening his reputation. But, this offseason, the accusation comes out that Kane allegedly raped a woman he had met at a bar. The case has become far more complicated and muddied in recent weeks. DNA tests were run on the accusing party; no markers were found in her panties or her genitals. Following this, the mother of the accuser came forward and claimed the rape kit had been tampered with, calling into question the DNA tests’ results. Most recently, the lawyer of the accuser resigned, claiming fabrication of the case against Kane. At this point, it is impossible to render an accurate account of what really happened, making any conclusion regarding Kane’s guilt or innocence injudicious. What, then, can be said?
        Allow the following hypothetical: suppose Kane did rape his accuser. Suppose enough evidence is found to convict him in a court of law. What should happen? He should be penalized, stardom aside, talent aside, public following aside. But what if Kane didn’t rape his accuser, what if the claim was fabricated? Kane should then suffer no injurious effects, stardom aside, talent aside, public following aside, and the accuser should be punished. But neither of these will happen. If Kane is convicted, he will be defended by many in the following ways: “Kane has enough money and sex appeal, girls are just throwing themselves at him – he wouldn’t have to rape anyone; Patty Kane’s a good kid – that girl just wants some of his money and so is lying to get it; Kaner scored and then the girl regretted it next morning, so now he’s a rapist?” If Kane is not convicted, the ruling will be critiqued in the following ways: “Well, we see what the justice system cares about – sports, fame, and money, not real justice; Kane bought the girl and her lawyer off; like always, if you’re rich and talented enough, you can get away with anything.” The problem here is evident. The common reaction to either of our hypothetical scenarios is one that discounts entirely the non-guilty party.

Lisa Gansky I.jpg         The underlying problem here is one of celebrity. If Patrick Kane was the average American man, no one would care if he was convicted of rape and jailed for it. If his accuser was accusing an average American man, the legions of defenders of Patrick Kane would be greatly lessened. It is the public’s awareness of Kane that is wrongly thrusting this intensely painful and personal issue into the limelight. Assuming again the accuser’s truthfulness: she braved revealing a scarring event in her life to force a criminal to account for his wrongdoing. Assuming again Kane’s innocence: he has been wrongly vilified for something he didn’t do. Either way, some party is going to be injured, and that injury is not going to heal as easily as teeth knocked by a hockey puck or a cut dealt by a skate.
       
Fame is fleeting, an old adage goes. To coin a new phrase (and mix a metaphor), infamy is forever. Guilty or innocent, Patrick Kane will be remembered as someone accused of rape. Even if he is pronounced innocent by a jury of his peers, muttered remarks will be made about shady deals, enriching handshakes, and double-standards for athletes. As for his accuser, truthful or not, she will be remembered as someone who accused Patrick Kane of rape. Even if she is supported by enough evidence to convict Kane, muttered remarks will be made about irresponsible teenagers, morning-after regrets, and ruined careers. Whatever the outcome of this case, everyone involved stands to lose. And while some might remark that this is simply the price of celebrity, I would beg to differ. In certain issues – especially serious, damaging issues like rape – some privacy should be allowed, some dignity maintained, no matter who is involved. All that is being asked for, after all, is a measure of respect for two persons, neither of whom asked for the scrutiny they are currently undergoing.
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4 comments

  1. thank you for a thoughtful piece. Im a lifelong Hawks fan and perhaps even more passionate about my disdain for the aggregate decline of news in any and all mediums. Im as news averse as they come, add to that my Hawks sentiments and I forced myself to ignore the circus as best I could or at least till the pregame posturing and calisthenics finished. I had some slips tho and during those relapses I didn't hold back on the binge. I read all I could find on the story. And why I continue to be saddened, angered or surprised by the new depths "journalists" continue to find particularly, but certainly not exclusively, in these high profile celeb rape accusation cases is something I cannot explain. People say I tend to lean towards a cynical skeptical view of the world which I don't argue is how Id characterize myself. And let me make clear, I love my Hawks, Kane is a big part of the present mix of what the Hawks are, he is NOT THE Hawks, and w/ all the respect he deserves, neither is Toews. And Im not suggesting the fact that Chicago or the league has an actual real world Capt America (yeah I know but his locker is in America, close nuff) all time great and a lock for the Hall when he's done player mitigates the same team, league or world having violent criminals, and it sure doesn't even anything out nor do I hold a belief as of now Kane is guilty of any criminal conduct whatsoever.

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  2. But if he's found guilty after a fair adherence to our judicial system then hand him, mullet rings and talent hang it all, maybe by an appendage South of his neck. So by those standards were already in the hypothetical realm cuz what part of the process hasn't already been kidnapped, violated, tortures, corroded or sold into forced servitude for the worst possible reasons? Maybe as much as I try to exclude my Hawk love from my thoughts it has affected them, or perhaps they simply caused me to have more interest and examine this case at a level way past the detail of the AP, Rice or take your pick of similar cases. But however much someone may wish to invalidate my opinions for those or any reasons, the slimy treatment the VAST majority of all media coverage displayed in the early stages genuinely sunk to new lows. The entire "justice" system and its players weren't any better, but whether I wasn't paying attn. to media or am more demanding of it than I am our jurisprudence or Im too cynical, Ive long ago come to expect the worst imaginable from the justice system. And I have already gone way too long and more than Id intended to but I am powerless not to address one aspect in this case which is SOP in every high profile celeb case and regular Joe trials as well. Why isn't there ever any investigation into these "alleged departmental leaks" in the DA's office? Gimme a small break please, its probably never a leak, if so its a very rare exception not the rule. Its illegal or at minimum violates the bar code, its the height of prejudicial and its rests solely in the DAs hands and obviously is used selectively based on its support or damage to their case. Yet its totally standard, and maybe it gets an occasional frown or some lip service but its practically never investigated, nothing ever comes in the rare instances that it is, and not that it can be undone but it appears to me the courts don't even consider IF they have the ability to lessen its damage or attach a price for prosecutors usage of the tactic. In the kid's vernacular "wutup wid dat crap?"

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  3. If these DAs cant control leaks from their own office maybe theyre not the best equipped people to determine the fate of our lives eh? And the pendulum seems to have swung but it sure seemed like nearly every news outlet was unprofessionally anti Kane, including whatever the main fishwrap in Buffalo is. Just shocking disregard for the stuff they teach day 1 in journalism school. Today is the first reading or listening since before the evidence bag hoax, and one thing instantly evident was most everyone now refers to her as the accuser, which is really as close to a fair term as exists, today alleged victim resonates w/ an implied wink and a nudge "we gotta say alleged to avoid liability but you know what were saying". And everyone wanting to stone me as a misogynist, chromosome deficient caveman or whatever have at it. But whatever anyones feelings on those semantics, which I say is much more than just semantics, am I a rape apologist (and I actually read an article that created a new phrase, which is fine right? I mean its not like words have actual meanings attached right? pro-rape, no lie someone used that, I cant decide is that a tad dumber or a tad less idiotic than pro abortion? And yes Ive actually seen that used in an article too) for being livid that a whole buncha major big city daiilys, including the Buffalo babbler or erie enquirer or whatever went as far as using "the victim" multiple times in the same article? Im not leaving out any context that affected anything or excused it, and unless the Buffalo Baloney cant afford editors or copy readers they must have just felt like boot stomping a basic principle of their craft. Respect for standards, atonal statements of fact?? Thats for wimps, coffee is for closers and winners are about circulation.I ask you Josh, could there even be word play that would exempt that from being libel or slander? I can never remember which is typed and which spoken. So don't want to go off on a rant, and that ship sailed with the possibility of fair adherence to the law applying to this case, but TYTYTY Josh for your craft. Im not a journalist or even much of a writer, but I understand your piece was editorial commentary which I applaud when done professionally, but as shamelessly corrupted as everything about this case has become, which certainly includes reporting. huge kudos to youre thoughts, your insights and your balance, I only wish a couple of the supposed reporters theoretically covering news understood the difference or would at least try and include one or two objective facts in their trailer park position pieces, or as I more commonly call them, their humiliating drunken rantifestos. Thanks again Josh .

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    Replies
    1. I appreciate both your reading my piece and your kind thoughts regarding it. I agree that journalistic standards have sunk to sadly low levels and that the drama of the Kane accusation has now completely eclipsed the possibility of justice. Whatever the ruling - if there is indeed enough evidence for this case to make it before a judge and jury of Kane's peers - the sides have already been set. Thanks to some hasty reporting and an overabundance of Kane-slamming or accuser-slamming editorials, there are now established camps of people who are convinced of Kane's guilt or innocence entirely, and will defend that conviction angrily and loudly. Having such be the basis for public opinion of a person - not matter who that person is - as well as for future treatment of that person, is irresponsible at best.

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