Several recent high-profile incidents where thugs, both paid and volunteer, have violently supressed opponents of their candidate of choice have provided me with a chance to finish my story on the protests that accompanied the return of quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. As ugly as the reactions by ticket-holding football fans were, amazingly, nobody was stomped on or arrested.
In a feat of courage and will, reminiscent of a 2009 protest by 300 women in Afghanistan who faced down an angry, stone-throwing mob 1000 strong, to demonstrate against a law that made Taliban-like treatment of women part of the Afghan constitution, several dozen Steeler fans faced down tens of thousands of the kinds of drunken, pampered, over-fed yuppies who can actually afford to attend NFL games in the 21st century, unlike in our industrial past. I would like to think that the working-class fans of yore would take a different, if not somewhat paternal, view of such treatment of women by pro athletes.
Whether the people who live through the exploits of millionaires who were enganging in the verbal abuse were afraid to throw rocks like their Afghan counterparts or if rock-throwing is too much like the kind of physical labor for such good Christians on a Sunday, the drunk people who pay hundreds of dollars to see overgrown men roll around in piles, in a stadium built with tax dollars, were feeling courageous enough to express their medieval feelings about sexual assault and their support for millionaires who bring their own police with them when they intend to prey on drunken co-eds.
Which included gems such as :
- “You’re just jealous Ben didn’t rape YOU.”
- “Rape is awesome!”
- “She was asking for it!”
- “He didn’t rape her, he just got head!”
- “I hope yinz get raped!”
Based on this sampling of remarks it is not hard to figure out why some of the disappointed fans who particpated in the Big Ben’s A Jag-Off counter tail-gate concealed their identities using black and gold bandannas. If you vote, and you close the curtain when you vote, it should be easy to figure out why some faces were covered. The main difference being that when you pretend there is a difference between two political candidates and choose one, no one is threatening you with assault, in a loud voice.
Which other public figures gained notoriety for their dedicated “rape-rooms” and their use of security forces to procure unwilling women for their fiendish amusement? Former US asset-turned villain, Saddam Hussein and his son, Uday, that’s who. Especially Uday.
Like “Big Ben,” Uday was employed in the sports industry; in his case the Iraqi Olympic Committee.
Both Ben and Uday suffered from life-changing injuries; Ben’s 2006 motorcycle accident and the 1996 assassination attempt against Uday.
Both expressed a desire to “…be valued in the community and a role model to kids” ; Uday was the head of the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Ben chose to host his “Ben-a-palooza” 28th birthday celebration in the college/tourist town of Milledgeville, Georgia, home of the fictional title character in the film, Pretty Woman and plenty of young folks.
Both men had body doubles; Hussein had Latif Yahia and Roethlisberger (as well as former Steelers Jerame Tuman and Brian St. Pierre) had Brian Jackson.
Both shared a fondness for, motorcycles, alcohol, and fitness supplements.
Although this may sound somewhat far-fetched, at the time of Mr. Roethlisberger’s conception, Saddam Hussein was just coming into his own as a US ally. Don’t laugh: remember, large numbers of people in the US have bought into less plausible conspiracies about the late Iraqi dictator, than this one.
Some of the strongest similarities between Ben and Uday can be found their uses of pickup lines. These pickup lines, were apparently spoken to bodyguards (or ‘assistants’ or ‘friends’) who would then procure young women for the two men. Former members of Hussein’s entourage seem to be a little better at keeping their terrifying stories straight than Roethlisberger’s ‘friends’ do.
We know where the fans of the Udays, Rands and Bens of the world stand on their heroes’ ideas of violence and consent, but the voices of football fans with lives and minds of their own have been drowned out by the interests of a multi-billion dollar industry. The following is part of a statement from protest organizers:
Privilege: Let’s be real here and point out the fact that anyone making accusations against Roethlisberger face substantial barriers to justice due to the privileges he enjoys. As a white, ablebodied, extremely wealthy, and famous man in our society, he calls the shots. He can afford the best lawyers, he’s a moneymaker for the Steelers, and he’s clearly got connections with law enforcement. No wonder this case was not brought to trial. The odds are in his favor.
No charges does not mean he is not guilty: Just because this case was not brought to trial does not mean he did not do anything wrong. It seems that most people think that our justice system is actually just, which is a fallacy. The victim’s statement clearly shows that Roethlisberger does not know the definition of consent, and sexual acts without clear consent are sexual assault.
Open charge on Ben: This is not the first accusation that Roethlisberger has faced, and this needs to be taken seriously by the NFL. A four game suspension is not a fitting punishment, but what can you expect when there is so much money to be made off his talent? We need to be mindful that his actions off the field not only violate the conduct policy, but they also make his a poor excuse for a human being.
Police role: One of the most upsetting aspects of the case is that Roethlisberger had two police officers as bodyguards on the night of the sexual assault. Their assistance in his assault is sickening and shatters the illusion that the police are here to protect us.
Victim blaming: We must believe folks when they tell us they’ve been sexually assaulted. Statistics show that less than 2% of accusations are false, so it is imperative to always believe the survivor. The victim blaming that is going on in this case is honestly disgusting, It does not matter what she was wearing, whether she was drinking, or if she was not legally supposed to be in the bar; it is never ok to rape! No one is asking for it, ever. If we participate in victim blaming we are complicit in the rape culture that we live in.
Steeler fans: This tailgate and protest against Ben Roethlistberger originated from Steeler fans themselves who are upset that a sexual predator is still on the team. We believe a lot of fans have been blinded by their fanaticism to the point of purposefully ignoring his actions off the field. Roethlisberger may be a good football player, but he is still a member of society. Just because he can throw a football it doesn’t make him above asking for consent when it comes to sex. During the draft season, many fans themselves wanted him off the team, but now that the actual season is upon us, many folks just want to forget this whole thing happened and move on. You can be sure that his victims will never forget what he did to them, so why should we?
There are fans here today with us who are disappointed with the fact that Ben is still on the team. As I heard from one fan, they love the Steelers, but they “love consensual sex more”. What kind of message are we sending to survivors of sexual assault if we just ignore his actions? Rape is not ok, no matter who you are, and a famous quarterback is no exception.