The sports world is abuzz over the decision to not charge Jameis Winston with a sexual assault charge. Winston is easily the most exciting player in college football. Being a freshman, he is not eligible to be drafted by an NFL team – if he was eligible, he could easily be the first pick. He is a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.
To begin: something terrible occurred. Either Winston got away with a criminal act, or Winston was falsely accused of a horrendous crime. But this isn’t the point of this post.
What is the point? This is the first time I can recall reading such open criticism of the state’s (in)justice system in mainstream media outlets in the last decade – perhaps since September 11, or even the Vietnam war. Even sports television and radio – normally cheering on the military and the so-called first-responders at every turn – is openly criticizing the public servants.
First, the DA. In announcing his decision, he apparently decided to do stand-up:
There was laughter. There were jokes. There were smiles. The news conference in which Florida state attorney Willie Meggs announced that Jameis Winston was not going to be charged with sexual battery was an extremely light-hearted affair.
Everyone seemed so incredibly happy to be talking about an alleged sexual assault.
Reporter: "Was there a sexual assault?"
Meggs, laughing: "Well, that's kind of why we're here."
Reporter: "Any idea why she was hesitant to tell you who her boyfriend was?"
Meggs: "Well, tell us about your girlfriend."
More laughs. It was a regular riot, with that smiling former state senator, Al Lawson, standing in the background, playing Ed McMahon to Meggs' Johnny Carson.
Again, either a horrendous crime is going unpunished, or a young man has been falsely accused of that crime. Not a jovial moment either way.
Then to the police. The charge was first made almost a year ago, and basically sat:
Then consider the strong words from the accuser's lawyer that she was advised by the police not to press charges, and this looks like a group of authorities in a stereotypical small town fumbling their legal responsibilities because they were so smitten by their football team.
Meggs curiously declined to criticize the police for failing to investigate the case for 11 months.
Of course not. They play for the same team.
That's the face of justice in northern Florida in the 21st century?
No, this is the face of justice in the United States. The only difference is that usually the smugness is discretely hidden from view, or just not reported in the mainstream.
This time, for some reason, it is being exposed and reported for all to see.