Should A Rape Court Case Be Live Blog?

You may remember this rape case that made headlines on March 4, 2007: a 17-year-old girl was plied with alcohol until she passed out at an off-campus party, ended up on the floor of a bedroom where eight men—seven were from the De Anza College baseball team—took turns having sex with her, three women from the soccer team broke into the bedroom to rescue the comatose teenager to take her to the hospital, and the district attorney’s office declined to file charges due to the lack of evidence two months later. The young victim is now having her day in civil court to seek justice that was denied to her. The San Jose Mercury News is live blogging the case with an hour-by-hour summary.

The whole idea of live blogging a rape case comes across to me as being a form of voyeurism, where the carnival barker cries out every hour to the passing crowds to look through the peephole to see an unspeakable horror that they would never want to experience themselves. This reminds me of the O.J. Simpson murder case that was a media sensation that did nothing more than to turn the legal system into a media circus. Of course, this civil case isn’t being broadcast live on national television and concerns probably no one except for people living in Silicon Valley.

I would feel more comfortable reading the end-of-day summary about this case. Some information that seems relevant in an hour-by-hour summary is often lost as being irrelevant in the end-of-day summary. The Los Angeles Times will sometimes create stub articles on their website to focus on one aspect of a developing story—for example, the rioting that took place after the L.A. Lakers won a championship basketball game—that will later disappear when the finished article is posted. One such stub article focused on the fact that most of the rioters were minorities, which elicited comments from readers that minorities could always be counted on to destroy property. The stub article and comments disappeared the next morning. The finished article made no references about race but featured a photo of two white guys jumping on the hood of a car.

What have we learned so far from this civil case?

The victim had two beers and a dozen vodka shots. She spite an ex-boyfriend by agreeing to go into the bedroom to make out with a different guy. The defense is arguing that she consented to have sex with eight guys. Two beers and a dozen vodka shots, I don’t think so. No woman in her sober mind would consent to being gang-banged comatose. Anyone who had that much booze in their system is incapable of granting consent. The fact that she was underaged should have been obvious that she wasn’t able to give legal consent, sober or not.

The defense had tried to undermine the victim’s creditability by introducing pictures from her Facebook account, including one showing her on a bunk with a guy lying on top of her, that she is still a party girl at heart. This is the sleaziest part of the civil trial. The defense can’t say that the men weren’t there in the room with her, so they need to cast doubt and blame on her to prove themselves blameless. A study came out today that women who post lots of photos on Facebook need attention. Considering what the victim went through, and not knowing what kind of help she had gotten over the last four years, she may still be crying out for attention and still attracting the wrong kind.

We do finally get an explanation to why the District Attorney’s office never filed charges. The three women who rescued the victim took her directly to the hospital without calling the police from the party house. They had the opportunity and the means to collaborate on their stories to implicate all the guys. Due to a turf dispute between different police agencies, the crime scene itself was not secured until seven hours after the victim was brought to the hospital. The guys had the opportunity and the means to clean up the crime scene and collaborate on their stories. I can see why this would lead the district attorney’s office not to file any charges if an outright victory wasn’t guarantee.

But there is one question that always bothered me about this case: Did the district attorney’s office drop the ball on this case because most of the men accused were college baseball players?

In California, it’s not unheard of for school administrators to piss, moan and groan that there is no money for buying school supplies, reducing class sizes and updating older buildings. However, when it comes to building a brand new, state of the art sports field, money can always be found in a hurry. We live in a society that enables “bad boy” behavior in celebrities, politicians and sports stars. (Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson are this week’s celebrity specials.) I wouldn’t surprised if the baseball players got special preferential treatment from the district attorney’s office in this case. After all, baseball is as American as Mom and apple pie.

And so is rape, live blogging or not.

Cheech & Chong In Santa Rosa

Although I saw the “Cheech & Chong” movies when my family got cable TV in the early 1980’s, I didn’t quite remember their comedy routines and wasn’t really a fan. After attending WonderCon in San Francisco, my friend and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to see their revival show at the Wells Fargo Center for The Arts in Santa Rosa.

Chong’s re-interpretation of the Bible with God being the ultimate stoner was hysterical. The scripture says God is Lord of the MOST HIGH, who created a GREEN earth to get stone on the seventh day, spoke to Moses from a burning MARIJUANA bush, and led His people with a column of fire and pot smoke in the desert. The ancient Israelis kept asking Moses if he was high enough while wandering the desert for 40 years, and Moses wanted to find the land of milk and honey because everyone had the MUNCHIES.

Chong pointed out that Mexicans and pot are everywhere except for one place. Cheech comes out as a janitor who takes a joyride on a rocket to the moon with the theme music of “2001: A Space Odyssey” movie playing in the background. The video screen at the back of the stage showed Cheech in a spacesuit getting into a lunar rover on the moon to jack the front end up-and-down on hydraulics like a 1970’s low rider.

I have a very indirect relationship with the pot culture.

My older brother was a 1970’s hippie/stoner who grew pot in the backyard. When he told our mother that the pot plants were tomato plants, she believed him until the plants got really tall without any red fruit appearing. After a pair of FBI agents came by looking for him one day, my parents cut down all the weeds behind the house. For the next ten years, I was forbidden by my mother from growing tomatoes plants from seed since she was afraid that the FBI agents would come back.

On the other end of the legal spectrum, I took care of a roommate dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease for four years in the late 1990’s. He had a prescription for medical marijuana, which I didn’t know about until I told him that his “special” brownies looked like horse manure and made the connection. After paramedics failed to revive him from a cardiac arrest, I was busy dumping his stash down the toilet while a sheriff deputy waited for the medical examiner to pick up his body. Depending on where you are in the medical marijuana debate, my roommates were either heroes or criminals for helping to ease the pain of a dying roommate.

A thousand joints lit up at once when the show ended, as a huge cloud of pot smoke appeared above the audience. We got out of there as quickly as possible. Secondhand smoke from pot always gave me a pounding sinus headache. That kept me awake on the two-hour drive back home.