I absolutely promise we’ll get back to player previews later this afternoon. Right after I try out the demo of PES ’16. But this feels like a good time to try and maybe attempt to take some of the heat out of all this that’s been building. And some of it is certainly my fault and unnecessary. This is always going to be a passionate subject. There are a lot of raw nerves exposed for a lot of people on this. We can’t remove all of the emotion, nor should we. But as someone who likes to think of himself as somewhat reasonable, I really shouldn’t let trolls bait me into a pure rage or tweet or write things without trying to carefully parse out what it is I really want to say (so no more tweeting and drinking for ol’ Shmuel, at least not about this. Which basically means no tweeting). That doesn’t mean there aren’t times when anger and rage are called for, because there are. I can just pick my spots a little better.
I understand that basically at the moment, there are two warring camps. And on something like this, it’s damn near impossible to find middle ground (and probably not at all). What comes next isn’t addressed to the over-creatined, fanboy, fratboy jerkoffs with their backwards white hats spewing filth from just about every pore. I don’t care what they think and never will, and nor should anyone else. But there is a strong group not near the fringes but near the middle that I and we have sometimes lumped in with that lunatic fringe (no, not Dean Ambrose). Perhaps that’s not totally fair. While I’m not here to “convert” anyone, I think it’s possible to build more understanding between us. Because believe it or not, on some level I do understand where you’re coming from. Keep reading, I’ll explain.
There are two facets to this, and while they’re closely linked each presents its own issues and problems. One is how we view the investigation, and the other is the feeling of Kane being in training camp. I’ll take them in that order. Again, they’re linked, but don’t both share the exact same problems for people.
First, the investigation and cries we’ve heard about “how we all have to wait for the facts.” This is probably just going to echo my first post on all of this way back in August, but maybe I can clean up the language a bit more.
I think that some people who say that, perhaps even most, are actually trying to come from a good place. I know that sounds strange, but I know that because it was my very first reaction to all this too. I first saw the news breaking on Twitter, headed to the gym to try and figure out what I was going to write here about it, and that’s what I thought in the first few moments. Which is why I’m grateful that McClure was first into the breach, because he saved me from writing something I would have totally regretted, would probably still be trying to walk back, and it also put me on the path that I believe is right within minutes of my first instinct of trying to step back from it all.
That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten where that feeling came from. And I know it wasn’t from a victim-shaming, rape-apologist place. That’s not me. I simply didn’t want to believe it. And I’m guessing if you’re on that side of this and a reasonable person, you don’t either. We don’t want our escape to come crashing down with such ugliness. It’s when you cling to this disbelief too hard that you’re more likely to turn into some simply wrong and hurtful tactics to protect it.
But here’s the real problem with the “wait for the facts” way. And if I’m lucky the metaphor I’m about to attempt will come off, at best, as inartful. It’s not that much different from the #AllLivesMatter retort to #BlackLivesMatter. And I don’t mean right wing pundits and nutjobs who use it to dismiss racism and police brutality in this country altogether. That’s Fox News bullshit (and yes, I think Fox News is bullshit. If you have a problem with that, it’s probably best you leave now). But when I first started seeing the #AllLivesMatter tag or whatever, at least some of it was coming from people who wanted to express that everyone should get equal treatment under the law (and I fully admit that I may have seen this wrong about a year ago and it’s always been a right wing attempt to shove racism and police brutality under the rug, in which case go ahead and call me a moron). And that’s a lovely thought, but what it does is basically whitewashes the actual problem and hurts the overall movement. This isn’t a vacuum.
To me, it’s the same here. You may think you’re taking a neutral stand and not adding heat to the debate by stepping back from it, but because of what we know is stacked against any person who accuses another of rape, you’re essentially adding to that deck in another way. It’s swung too far against for us not to have to try and swing it aggressively the other way to just even it out. And I’m not asking you to already dress Kane out in orange. But if it were a point spread, instead of looking at it as a pick’em, maybe look at it as a +1 or +2.
That doesn’t mean there probably weren’t times I jumped in too early, if you’ll excuse me piling up the negatives. I wrote a post about a possible settlement, and then it came out that there was no settlement (although this all is starting to sound a little like the trade deadline or draft day where no one wants to admit their source might be wrong so their source says your source is wrong). I wrote a post after yesterday’s news conference and then the various PDs claimed that they had all the evidence sealed. To be fair, it doesn’t seem like anyone has any idea what’s going on with that one.
But we do have one fact that’s not up for debate: This woman went to the hospital and the police that very night. That’s a very tough thing to do, and a lot of victims never get to that point, much less mere hours after an impossibly traumatic experience. To me, that earns her the benefit of the doubt. Because what has Kane done to earn it? Score a lot of goals? Ask yourself, if he were accused of beating the shit out of guy outside of a bar, where would you be? If he was being investigated for murder, what would you think? Innocent until proven guilty is for court. Out here? Knowing what an impossible path it is for anyone accusing an athlete or celebrity of rape? It should almost be the opposite, no matter what that sounds like or make you feel.
Ok, so now to him at camp. It’s a problem for more or different reasons than above, and they’re not necessarily to do with him exactly or exclusively. And please, don’t give me the “He hasn’t been charged!” line. He hasn’t been cleared either, and there’s an undeniable cloud over him. In fact, he’s the only player in the NHL currently with this cloud over him. He’s obviously something of a problem for the NHL’s image, because he wasn’t at their media tour or their World Cup unveiling. Don’t tell me about what would happen at your job, because you’re not a public figure.
Think about that press conference, for just a moment. Think about him taking the ice to a standing ovation. Just for one moment, think about what that makes female fans feel like. Just for a moment. And if you can’t figure it out, they’re screaming it from every direction. Here, or here, or here. Dismiss those as out of towners if you want, though I don’t know why that would matter, but there’s this. And this. And that’s not even close to all that’s out there that is expressing the outrage that women feel right now.
That post from HabsEyesOnThe Prize mentions that 45% of Hawks fans are women. I don’t quite know how they get that exact figure, but I know from my own eyes that women are a massively growing section of the fanbase. I know it because I’ve stood outside the United Center basically before every home game for seven seasons now. When I first started, I hardly saw women at all. The past couple seasons, I see them there a lot. The difference in numbers is huge, whatever the actual figure is.
But let’s just take that 45% number for an experiment. And it’s been studied that 1 in five women will suffer a sexual assault. Maybe that’s not spot on but let’s use it for this. So that means that 8% of Hawks fans have suffered a sexual assault? It also means that a good deal more of us know someone who has survived a sexual assault. And that ovation, that press conference, that touting of your accomplishments during that presser, playing “I Fought The Law” during pregame warmups (yes, not intentional, but come on) is a thumb in the nose to all of us. It’s a middle finger.
And why is it worth it? To satisfy a section of the fandom that’s going to be there anyway? To keep a player who is going to score a lot of goals? Is that it? Because you read those posts, and a lot of those fans are leaving and not coming back. Maybe it’s not enough to matter to the Hawks, but it should. Would this be how they’ve handled a 4th liner under this scope? Hockey accomplishments/contributions shouldn’t matter in this.
Secondly, the Hawks provided Kane their bullhorn and their platform to proclaim his innocence (or mangle it as he did). What does she get? Whose bullhorn does she get to use? You know what she gets? She gets the police leaking the contents of her underwear to a ravenous press (if it was even her underwear). Think about that for a second. Would you want the contents of your underwear in public? The mere condition of mine would be embarrassing enough (and from what I’m hearing at the moment she’s now getting her name and picture plastered all over Buffalo, which is so disgusting I’m going to puke up a lung). A police that’s supposed to protect her is doing that.
Again, I don’t expect to convert anyone here. But I’m hoping that it can make how all of us feel clearer to those who don’t.