Friday, January 23, 2004

Kobe Bryant racism charge...

This allegation in the New York Times may be true, but it may not be. It appears that Bryant's attorney, Pamela Mackey, "suggested in open court Friday that the Los Angeles Lakers star may have been falsely accused of rape because he is black."

It turns out, reading the article, that Mackey actually said, "There is lots of history about black men being falsely accused of this crime by white women ... I don't think we want to get dragged down into this history any more than we want to get into the history brought up by the rape crisis center." (The crisis center was arguing that following a certain Florida case where the victim's medical history was introduced the number of reported rapes dropped - so the defense here shouldn't have access to certain medical records.) It really doesn't seem to me that Mackey makes the claim the Times attributes to her. Maybe she obliquely "suggests" (in the very broadest sense of "suggest") that there is some racial component -- and she may very well adopt that tactic later in the trial -- but it doesn't sound to me like she's doing that here.

Mackey is an odd character, certainly, and I wouldn't be surprised if in her vigorous defense she did "play the race card," but she didn't here, it would appear. I guess I find this somewhat frustrating for a couple of reasons -

First, the Times is obviously exaggerating (if not deliberately misleading) their readers -- something you would think they'd have learned not to do.

Second, this belittles an actual, genuine problem of interracial sexual attitudes by making them seem like a scam run by defense attorneys (since many people, upon hearing the Times interpretation of Mackey's comment, would laugh).

Third, the "summary" of the defense attorney's statements is more fuel for the fire of those who are predisposed to dislike the legal profession (who may read the Times account and view this as ridiculous lawyering).

None of that is clearly expressed, but hopefully you get the idea. I'm too hungry to elaborate.

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