Woke up this morning to back-t0-back stories on Jezebel dealing with high-profile sexual harassment stories. Football legend Brett Favre will be fined $50,000 for violating the NFL code of conduct in sending unwanted cockshots and sexts to Jenn Sterger. $50,000 to Brett Favre is kind of like when I am robbed of 50 cents by the candy machine. He makes that much in 4.5 minutes of game time. Sterger may still bring a lawsuit against Favre.
Thousands of miles away, former Israeli President (note: NOT the power-wielding Prime Minister) Moshe Katsav was convicted of two counts of rape and sexual assault against former employees. After the conviction was handed down, the prosecutor directed her remarks to the victims, “Today, we salute you. The message to survivors of harassment is ‘do not be silent’.”
It would be inaccurate and problematic to equate the rape and sexual abuse convictions with unwanted sexting, and there are sufficient other differences to make any sort of comparisons a delicate business. But I’m all about delicate business, so here goes: It’s a question of incentive. And in this country, when celebrity is involved (and even when it isn’t), the incentives are in all the wrong places. It’s an unfortunate fact that a simple allegation can be damaging to the accused and financially lucrative to the accuser. Consequently, accusers are subject to intense speculation, skepticism and a reputational review that nobody deserves. As for the accused, a fine will be so insanely small and the likelihood of real consequence so miniscule that any popstar/quarterback/action hero knows no practical reason (setting morals aside) not to send that cockshot, grab that ass, rape that drunk girl at the party.
There has been speculation that the NFL didn’t want mar Favre’s final season in the NFL. It’s a bottom-line industry (what isn’t?) and a public thrashing of one of the game’s heroes does nothing good for the coffers. We could take a page out of the Israeli prosecutor’s book, “Today was not an easy day for the State of Israel on the symbolic national plain, not on Mr. Katsav’s personal plain. But this day teaches us that world leaders and also presidents will be brought court when needed, and that is a symbol of honor for the State of Israel.” If only record-setting quarterbacks were added to that list.