Why Not? A Rebuttal

Reed Wahington

On January 27th, 2020 talks of Kobe Bryant’s death changed, from the somber remembrance by people who, largely, knew Bryant only by name to the pain of those remembering their own assailants. All because a Washington Post reporter released an article about Bryant’s past sexual assault accusations. Despite the article being removed and the writer suspended, The Washington Post still felt the need to respond to the idea of Bryant not being the hero that is being portrayed by the media, in A Single Action Should Not Define Kobe Bryant Nor Should It Be Forgotten by Barry Svrluga. 

The piece, though well written, made a weak argument that a man who commits an atrocity such as rape should not be defined by his actions simply because he has settled a court case and went on to live the rest of his life. We live in a country where the innocent are proven guilty and guilt is as fleeting as life, have we really succumbed to such mass histeria that we truly believe an assailant should be forgiven because he made a payment or that victims of rape and assualt only need restitution pay to put there lives back together. Restitution pay that was, mind you, a mere .0042% of Bryant’s net worth at the time of his death. 

But, Byant went on, as assailants often do, to live the rest of his life, “A life with layers” Svrluga calls it “A life with chapters” and yet Svrluga forgets to mention the layers in the lives of others, in the lives of the assaulted and raped. How those who have been assaulted go through more chapters of their lives trying to work through the pain of being assaulted than Bryant did in his lifetime. However, I suppose their troubles should be for not, as Bryant settled a civil court case doesn’t that sound wonderful. To live in a world where lives aren’t “messy” as Svrluga says, not messy because it is so easy to put everything back in it’s box. But only assailants get to put things back to the way they were because when things are a mess they can pay to have that mess picked up. While the rest must work to rebuild the box and still clean the mess themselves.

Svrluga did have one thing right, that we should never forget what Bryant did, that we should always think of him with the tainted image that his victim has had to live with for 17 years in counting. Though it should be taken a step further and no longer be just a part of his legacy but as a warning, a proverbial head on a stick to say that no one regardless of how famous they are should get to move on from what they did. Rape is no mistake, a lack of consent is no mistake, and especially not one that you can move on from. Bryant was no hero, no martyr, yes his death was sad, but his life was sadder. Never forget, because she won’t get to.