After posting on the Steubenville Rape Case, I pointed out the link between the fanatical association of high school football with money and the privileged treatment of people whose talent at sports gives them a free ride. In this case? Support from various groups after raping someone.
What’s more bizarre is this story.
She was a 16 year old cheerleader from Silsbee High School (Texas) was alleged to have been raped at a house party. (Clearly because she was batting above her standards, got drunk and wanted a piece of whatever it is an Alpha Male is and was a slut… Right MRA?). Three students were arrested. One of whom is Rakheem Bolton. He pled guilty to a lesser charge of Misdemeanour Assault allowing for 2 years of probation, community service, a fine and anger management classes. The charge of rape was dropped allowing him to return to his place on the basketball team. Because Assault is an acceptable crime…
In any case four months later in January 2009. This young girl (called HS) travelled to an away game where she was involved in leading the cheers. Except when it came to Rakheem’s turn to take a free throw. She decided to stand silently and have her arms folded.
“I didn’t want to have to say his name and I didn’t want to cheer for him. I just didn’t want to encourage anything he was doing”
If we are to go by the admission of the defendant, he is guilty of sexual assault.
HS was dropped from the cheerleading squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player who had sexually assaulted her.
She then challenged the decision to be dropped legally. And she lost. She has to pay $45,000 because as a cheerleader she spoke for the school rather than herself and so had no right to stay silent when the coaches demanded that she cheer for the boy who had molested her at the very least and raped her at the very worst.
It’s an issue of Free Speech and the Right to exercise it. It’s also the issue where the school and indeed various courts showed absolutely no grasp of human decency.
Richard Bain who is the school superintendent was the man who told her to leave the gym. He was the man who told her to cheer for her abuser. The lack of sensitivity in a teacher is frankly astonishing.
“As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams,” the appeals court decision says. “This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.”
Yes, she undertook that position voluntarily. I didn’t have cheerleaders growing up. They are a weird american thing which from an outside point of view sexualises young girls and creates artificial popularity. Do young men in hot pants gyrate and cheer for female atheletes? No. Cheerleading is an uniquely american concept and being one is considered a good thing for reasons that are beyond me. I assume it adds to your high school experience.
But that’s the thing. In this toss up of who we should care more about, shouldn’t you be more worried about the sexual assault victim’s experience rather than the molestor? Isn’t the voice of the school (and indeed the USA) now saying “We don’t care about the victim of sexual assault if the molestor can throw a ball through a hoop better than other kids.”. It’s saying “Fuck your experience woman, can’t you see we got a game to play?”.
HS was at a basketball game to cheer. She was there to have fun in her role as a cheerleader. She came to support a team, she didn’t come to support Bolton…
But a more important question is what the flying fuck are they doing allowing a sexual abuser/rapist play a game? Representing your school should be a badge of honour. The fact that schools take sports this seriously is terrible because the incentive to let Bolton play was higher than the idea that we should not force the victim of sexual assault to CHEER for her assaulter.
And this isn’t just Texas being a Yosemite Sam Stereotype. This is an “America” problem.
The family’s lawyer said the ruling meanst that students exercising their right of free speech can end up punished for refusing to follow “insensitive and unreasonable directions”.