The Kobe Beef [Jul 20, 2003]
Many topics array themselves today on the table of my mind. First, we have last weekend's suicide of the British scientist who served as the point man for the intelligence that may or may not allegedly have been forged but nonetheless led us to depose one of the most brutal tyrants ever, and therefore it doesn't matter. While a dead man is a dead man, certain deaths mean less than others, and could even be called useful. I'll just let that lie fallow for your cogitation.
Then we had U.S Imperial Viceroy L. Paul Bremer's spectacular performance on the Sunday morning news shows, where he correctly stated that everything was going fine in Iraq, that our soldiers were happy, and that the people killing our happy soldiers are mere "bitter enders" who will be wiped out as soon as we establish a private Iraqi security force. Then our merry merry armed men will be free to fan out into the countryside and arrest anyone who looks at them crosswise, further pacifying the population and bringing liberty to the survivors. I found Bremer's comments especially delightful because "Bitter Enders" was my favorite soap opera when I was studying philosophy at Cambridge. I never missed an episode.
But the Kobe Bryant situation has, naturally, taken up most of my brainspace, because it's been on television. I'm not a basketball fan by nature. The acrobatics of Michael Jordan caught my attention when he was in his heyday with the Washington Bulls, and I enjoyed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's performance in Airplane! This Kobe character, I must admit, is new to my ears. Still, I've been accused of crimes myself, and his case troubles me.
It's obvious, from listening to the highly-reliable reports on ESPN, a cable network devoted to sports, that Kobe has been framed by an unscrupulous and troubled young woman who he raped. Isn't it typical for people to assume that all a black man wants to do is ravage a white woman? Besides, she had it coming, unless you consider that all intercourse is rape, and consensual sex a social construction of the patriarchy. Kobe has no one to answer to except for himself, his wife, and God. It's just that she was such a nice girl who would never have done anything like that. Can teenage women escape the deadly virgin/slut paradox corner into which they've been painted? When will athletes be able to escape the relentless glare of the media spotlight so they can do whatever the hell they want on vacation? Will Kobe lose his endorsements?
As you can see, this case will be an important litmus for our social attitudes about race, gender relations, adultery, Vail, room service, cameras in the courtroom, and, ultimately, the meaning of human existence. Never before has the sports world, so innocent and untouched by scandal, been embroiled in such a controversy. How I long for the mess to be settled and for the commissioner to once again utter those words that signal the beginning of a fresh season in the NBL: Play Ball!