If you pay attention to the news you are, I hope, aware of this. Basically, a Texas cheerleader was raped by a star athlete (I suppose, I should say “allegedly,” but he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge), and then refused to cheer for him. Consequently, she was kicked off the cheerleading squad. She sued and lost (the court said she was a “mouthpiece” for the school) and is now being forced to pay $45,000 for bringing a frivolous lawsuit. This makes my head want to explode, so I am going to take a minute to break down everything that is fucked up about this situation.
1. Cheerleaders are the mouthpieces of the school? Really? Really? I mean, yeah, if you’re a cheerleader you cheer. I get that, it’s part of the program, but you’re not allowed to take exception to some things? I don’t see how it is ever reasonable to expect someone to follow orders that are as extremely unreasonable as these.
2. This sets one hell of a bad precedent. Hey kids! You have free speech! Except, if you try to sue when that right is threatened, it might cost you a whole lot of money if you lose the court case. Which actually makes it seem like costly speech, doesn’t it?
3. He was still on the freaking team!!! This is the biggest one. I mean, what was this school district thinking? He pleaded guilty to assaulting her. Even if you want to pretend the rape didn’t happen, that’s still awful. How is this guy not kicked off the team? Don’t basically all schools have conduct clauses for students who want to participate? And if they don’t shouldn’t they? Would it really be the worst thing ever to say, “no one convicted of a violent crime can play for us.”
Oh wait, I forgot. This is sports. High School Sports. What could possibly be more important. Thousands of people come out for some of those contests so they can pin their hopes and dreams on children playing a game. I like sports, but shit, being a good athlete does not mean you don’t still have to be a good person. I don’t care how important high school sports seem in Texas. They aren’t important. Not really. I like sports, but one of the best things about sports is that they are frivolous. That’s kind of the whole point. If we have gotten to the point where high school – HIGH-FREAKING-SCHOOL – sports are so important that we will cheer someone no matter how bad a human being he may be – that we will step on the rights of others so that he can play, then we have some serious, fucking issues as a society.
The worst part is – and here I’m going totally into conjecture – I will bet you money that if the situation was reversed and the cheerleader had done something to the star athlete and he didn’t want her on the sidelines when he played, she would have been gone. In the blink of an eye. And they would have talked about how he had rights and she had done this and he shouldn’t be punished for it. Tell me I’m wrong.
I know this is America, and I know that, right now we are having a renaissance of hatred for women. I know that we really seem to value the rich and the powerful over the poor and the weak (Christian nation that we are), but come on? Do we have to fine the poor woman? Why? She already lost her appeal. Why do we have to pile on. (Aside: I’m not trying to call the woman poor or weak, I’m just making the point again that charging people for free speech and valuing athletes the way we do is problematic.)
Right now, I hope two things: 1. I hope someone starts a fund to pay for that fine for her because, frankly, she’s already gone through more than any person deserves. 2. I hope this fund is overwhelmed with donations such that her college (she is reportedly in college now) can be paid for. That to me, would be the best “up yours” to the assholes who made this kind of injustice possible. What a ridiculous world.