If anyone knows a decent orthopaedic surgeon, I did some serious damage to my wrist. Reading this article caused me to facepalm so hard, I may have fractured something:
In his closing submissions, defence lawyer Doug Marion said Mr. Phillips “consented” to a three-on-one fight with the men and “could have walked away from this fight if he wanted to. You can see him in the video, he’s backing away but his arms are open and he’s screaming ‘come on!’ and then pointing to his chest,” Mr. Marion said. “The reality is, that is consent.”
I feel a bit bad for Mr. Marion, having to defend clients who are the cowardly scum of the Earth. This desperate grabbing at straws defense is about as feeble as the fighting skills of his clients. I wonder what would happen to Mr. Marion if he was accosted by three people on racial grounds, and forced to defend himself. Would he have walked away from the fight? Better question – would he have dared to turn his back on three drunk rednecks who were trying to hit him and screaming racial obscenities at him? The fact is that when you look at the video, it’s pretty obvious what’s happening. Far from egging his attackers on, Mr. Phillips is doing pretty much the same thing a cat does when threatened – making himself appear larger.
Mr. Phillips says that he refused to allow the verbal assault to go on without reaction, since lack of dissent was, in his mind assent. He saw himself as standing up for other members of the black community who face similar discrimination but don’t speak up. I’m inclined to believe Phillips’ account, given that racism of the type evinced by his attackers rarely happens in a vacuum – there’s always something going on in the community that feeds that. Of course, there is always more to the story. Jay Phillips is no saint, having had run-ins with the law in his past; however, that doesn’t matter one bit. There is no excusing the actions of three cowards who shouted racial epithets at a person on the street, then stopped their truck and engaged in a three-on-one beating.
My sympathies for Mr. Marion are somewhat blunted by the fact that he’s going to the same default excuse that accused rapists like to use: “look at what she was doing – she was asking for it!” There is a fantastic article about this issue on a feminist blog called The Curvature. The subject matter is different, but the take-home message is the same: nobody ever asks to be assaulted, regardless of what twisted interpretation of their actions you might be able to produce.
My concern in all this is that as stupid as this defense obviously is, it might work. Racism of the type that seems to be endemic in Courtenay means that the members of the jury may be swayed by the argument. Either subconsciously or consciously, they may want to find a reason to excuse the actions of these pea-brained thugs and may seize upon this flimsy argument as sufficient grounds for acquittal. I hope I’m wrong about this.