I just read an article on Kobe Bryant, and it brought to mind something that's been bothering me for a while.
For quite some time, there has been a rule (law or custom, I don't know which) under which the victim's name is never
published. The purpose of keeping a rape victim's name out of the papers is to protect her from the stigma attached (wrongly, in my judgment) to having been raped.
OK, fine. There shouldn't be a stigma attached to having been attacked, but in the real world, there is. Some people will think that she is lying. Others will believe that she had it coming or led the guy on or something
. No matter what the evidence is, there are those in this world who will blame the victim. And of course, regardless of what actually happened, she is claiming she had sex with the guy and the "damaged goods" crowd is still with us, even though in smaller numbers than in the past.
My question is, what about the man? Prior to conviction, he is innocent. Isn't he entitled to the same consideration given to the alleged victim? Isn't there a stigma attached to being accused of rape? Are there not people in the world who will think that he is lying, regardless of what the evidence shows? Aren't there people who will believe that the SOB escaped conviction as a result of prosecutorial error, slick defense lawyers, stupid juries, unfair judges or medieval laws? Just as some will blame the victim, others will blame the supposed perpetrator.
So why is there no prohibition on publishing the guy's name before the trial? I don't care about post trial publicity if there is a conviction. The conviction establishes that he did it. That makes him an asshole, at best, and undeserving of any consideration in this regard. But before trial (and post trial as well, if there is an acquittal), he is just as deserving of protection as the alleged victim is.
The double standard involved creates a perverse incentive for an unscrupulous female. Assume for a minute that woman A wants to shake down male celebrity B. Because she gets to hide (at least temporarily) behind the barrier of the publishing ban, and he does not, an unfair advantage exists. The celebrity accused pays the price (as Bryant is now paying) in terms of horrendous publicity and possibly cancelled endorsements, appearances or even careers, not to mention high priced defense lawyers. And, even under the best circumstances, only the two people actually involved know what really happened. Practically by definition they were alone at the critical time. The rest of us have no clue until the trial. Sure, there can be physical injuries, but no one except the two participants knows how they came about. So there is a huge incentive to the celebrity to avoid the whole mess by paying the woman to go away, regardless of what happened.
Come to think of it, you don't even need a celebrity defendant. Can you say Tawana Brawley?
To eliminate the problem, all you have to do is to avoid publication of both
names, not just hers.
Sauce for the goose ...