Rape is always a despicable, violent and intolerable act. Its
subject is the matter of many a heated debate and will inevitably
bring out strong opinions about what constitutes rape and what
should be done with those found guilty of it. The punishments that
have been suggested range from the death penalty to castration.
What these all have in common, though, is a recurring theme
throughout this country’s history: That those convicted by a jury
of their peers should be punished, not those simply accused of a
Now while it’s unlikely that Kobe Bryant’s jury in Eagle County
will be one made up of his peers, it is true that said jury should
convict him before he is punished. Some might say he has already
been punished by the unrelenting media harassing him and his
family, or by the fact that his reputation will never be the
According to polling, 12 percent of people asked said Bryant was
one of their favorite athletes before the incident. Two percent of
the population said they were no longer big fans of Bryant after
the incident. The people who said they thought of him in a negative
light increased from 15 to 24 percent.
“I just think it’s been blown out of proportion,” said CSU
senior biology major Andrew Reitinger.
There is discussion in the media and in many bars over whether
Kobe should be able to play basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers
or whether he should be forced to sit on the bench all year.
“I think he should be able play basketball if he wants,” said
CSU senior business major Adam Waggoner. “It’s not like he’s been
proven guilty yet.”
And therein lies the problem. While it goes against the whole
concept of justice to punish someone yet to be found guilty of
anything, these limitations rest solely upon the government and not
against private organizations such as the Lakers or Nike.
Days before Bryant was arrested in Eagle County for the sexual
assault of a 19-year-old woman, he signed a 5-year $40 million shoe
contract with Nike. The original launch date for his new shoe line
was set for Feb. 7, 2004, but that date may be set back or
This is for a variety of reasons but mainly because Bryant’s
reputation as a clean-cut icon has been severely tarnished. This
translates into dollar signs for the big companies that have relied
on Bryant being squeaky clean when they agreed to give him
contracts. These are all justifications for punishing someone who
is already being punished and can face up to life in jail if
convicted of a truly heinous act.
In my opinion, it is never right to undermine the freedom of the
people by compelling them to be punished for something that is yet
to be proven true. It is, however, the nature of a free market
economy to allow businesses to conduct their affairs without
hindrance from the government.
I think we should let the jurors of Eagle County do their job
and decide for themselves whose version of the facts to believe and
abide by their decision. That is the nature of this system of
government and while not perfect, it is the best we have.