Thursday, April 2, 2009

i'm back

First Post in a year. I will try to continue to post.

The Donte Stallworth saga.

In case you don't know the whole story, allow me to run a quick version by you. Donte Stallworth, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver, who last year totaled 17 catches for 170 yds, and one touchdown, despite earning a high-priced contract, (details which seem inane for this issue, but become important later...just wait!) was charged today with DUI manslaughter dating back to an icident which happened over two weeks ago.

These details, despite not coming directly from the courts, seem pretty corroborated between both Stallworth and the Miami PD, that I feel my account is just as close to the truth available. Stallworth, driving eastbound on a causeway connecting Miami and Miami Beach at 7 AM, hit and killed a pedestrian. The man was NOT in the crosswalk, and both Stallworth and a witness claim that he saw the man ready to enter the street from a distance and flashed his lights (from the west, away from the rising sun) and honked his horn. The man ran into the street and was struck and killed.

Stallworth then stopped, waited for police to arive, passed a field sobriety test and was allowed to go. He later said in a statement that he was greif stricken (obviously a heard thing to cope with) and has stayed out of the news since the incident. However, at the scene, Miami PD took a routine blood sample from Stallworth, standard procedure when a major injury or death occurs. Today Stallworth was charged with DUI manslaughter after the two-week old blood test showed he had a .12 BAC, over the .08 legal limit.

My issue with this isn't the Miami PD, or even the media's jump-to-conclusions coverage of the story with the limited facts that have been released in the last two weeks. My issue is more with the public repsonse to Stallworth's actions. It seems like most of the comments on the news sites are incredibly outraged at this man's actions, depsite the fact that they were pretty common in our society. Stallworth was out drinking the night before, and decided against driving home that night, and instead waiting until morning, where unfortunately, he still had a buzz. I am in no way defending Stallworth's actions, other than saying that almost all of us have done similar things, and were lucky enough to not encounter a dare-devil jaywalker as we drove directly into a rising sun at 7 AM.

The problem is that so many of the comments mention his braided hair, the fact that he was driving a Bentley, and his meager statistics from last year. Words like "thug," "primadonna," and "diva" seem incredibly out of place given the story that has been pretty consistently agreed upon by the suspect, the police, and the eye-witnesses.

It is a terrible situation, but with comments attacking the legal system, arguing that Stallworth (who was charged today, and will await trial, though most likely never go to trial) will get off based on his status as an NFL player and his money. However, I don't understand what these people are basing this on.

We just finished reading about the Ryan Moats saga in which the Dallas PD abused their power and helped embarress themselves in the national media. The argument here is that the officer didn't know that Moats was an NFL player (though he is a 210 lb. black man in a 80,000 dollar car) and Stallworth DID in fact let the officers know who he was. But the fact that Moats was an NFL player is the only reason this story even made it to the media. It was not officer's actions that forced him to resign, it was his ignorance as to who he was dealing with. One can only imagine that this type of incident is more than common, not just in the south, but everywhere that black Americans drive.

We are also coming to the tail end of the Michael Vick story, in which a young black man was sent to prison for killing dogs. He has spent the last year wasting away with murders, rapists, and thieves, despite the fact that his actions were quite similar with those of last year's Republican Vice Presidential Nominee's vacation activities.

Where does the public think that NFL stars get off easy? Sure, Leonard Little, the NFL star who's drunk driving killed a woman several years ago, and subsequent DUI arrest has not stopped him from playing, but for every Leonard Little, there is a Vick, Moats, or Ricky Williams, whose marijuana use has had him suspended and banned and this and that for years.

The point is that the public is so effected by Stallworth's aesthetic, skin color, and small statistics, that not only is his guilt assumed, but his actions are clumped in with other criminal athlete's like Little, Pacman Jones, and Vick. However, when "star" quarterback gets in a fight after he and his friends repeatedly hurling homophobic attacks on a group of gay passer bys, the incident is quickly forgotten.

Is killing a man and being an outspoken gay-basher on the same level? Of course not, and I am not arguing that the two are comparable. The issue is when commentators, credible or not, attack Stallworth's character because of the outcome of his actions (actions which were indeed irresponsible, but lacked malice, pre-meditation, and bad intentions) when Quinn's actions are a far better gauge of one's character.

If Quinn were a black, dreadlocked wide reciever, whose numbers were less than stellar, I would assume that the public outcry against his "character" would be far from praiseworthy, while if Stallworth were a white, catholic QB from Notre Dame, his actions would be viewed with more sympathy given the commonality of the situation that he put himself in.

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