Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Un-Happy Hour

Reading a book like Jon Krakauer's new book "Missoula" or watching a film like "The Hunting Ground," I'm reminded of the sad fact that many of the victims were attacked by someone they thought was a friend. This could have been someone they grew up with, a classmate, co-worker, or a nice person who ran with the same crowd. "I trusted them." "Always thought they'd look out for me," sadly someone would say, while reflecting the events. "They're the last one I would have figure to do something like this." This sort of behavior is becoming more pervasive in the military, on college campuses, or just in plain old society where an unsuspecting person figures he or she knows the crowd they're running with. And so they figure, if they get blackout drunk, their friends will close ranks around them protecting them from any "stranger danger." However sometimes an assumed protector can't seem to resist the opportunity to drop their moral compass and give into a darker side. Maybe it because they had their own private thoughts about this unconscious person; her drunken body and the music in the bar playing Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night" was a sign that the stars have aligned in their favor. Or maybe they hope porn culture is right, and that sex is something all women want once they get into it. Whatever the reason's are, the respect for him/her as a person has gone out the window. But then, hey, maybe she won't even know it happened.

ABC's 20/20 documents the story of mistrust and mistrial
On June 26, of this year, I sat glued to my seat watching another unbelievable college sexual assault story unfold on the ABC program 20/20.  The story was called "Reversal of Fortune"  and the title rang true on several levels. The jury, after finding two of the college football players at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, guilty of several counts of rape, their sentences were vacated because of the jury foreman who failed to disclose information about his past.
But it was the series of events leading up to the trial that left me with a big WTF in my head. Brandon Vandenberg had looks, charm, and the fortune to be recruited to Vanderbilt University's football program. A young coed met Vandenberg on a tour of the college and once he's officially enrolled, they begin to hit the hot spots around town including a place called
Brandon Vandenberg
the Tin Roof; a popular watering hole in Nashville. On one particular evening after a lot of hard drinking, the young woman with Vandenberg caught a cab back to the university. She was too inebriated to work the key to her dorm, so they get into the woman's Mercedes and he drives her back to his dorm room. As to what was going on in the mind of this 6'6" freshman recruit from Palm Desert, California, only he knows. To his credit, he didn't leave his female drinking date passed out in front of her doorstep that night, but when he brought her back to Gillette Hall on the campus, whatever his intentions were, soon escalated into a nightmare for her. Vandenberg alerts some of his football bros about the blackout date and they hustle her upstairs, unaware that the video surveillance of their operation will later be their undoing. The video footage shows Brandon and his posse dumping her out of the elevator at taking pictures of her lifeless body. They seemed amused at this situation.

Surveillance camera reveals Vandenberg
entering Gillette Hall with his passed out date
The drunk jock now seems to be more of a joker than a protector. As they lugged her in and out of room 213 and then in again, it was apparent this young lady's well being was the farthest thing from their minds. The "Bro culture" seems to be in full mode. It's a far cry from how the evening started with Brandon and this coed. They we're laughing, slamming down drinks and having a good time; but now through sheer stupidity to impress his team mates. this "would-be" all-star just flushed his career college career and reputation. The American Bro Culture is where alpha males throw out the rules of society. The filter comes off of their behavior as they drink hard, yell and scream demanding attention, objectify women, and even taking each other on, while hosing down the decks with their testosterone. You're either amused, impressed or intimidation by their riotous antics. So if Brandon Vandenberg was going to be one of the guys, he had to step up and put his passed-out date on the altar of their fun.
He is a walking scorched Earth policy. He takes what he wants to satisfy some hedonistic impulse and then he leaves her sobbing in a hallway with her friend on the other line. He wrings every moment of every drop of novelty. He is doing shots and never with a chaser, because moderation and restraint is for women and faggots and children. The only way to be a real man is to be a real man as ferociously as humanly possible. He goes all-in, he gets shredded and ripped and defines his life by aggression and competitions. He buys the hamburger that comes with two other hamburgers and a chicken cutlet on top of it. Why? Because it’s three hamburgers with a chicken cutlet on top of it. This American Bro: A Portrait of the Worst Guy Ever  by John Saward March 21, 2014
The victim wakes up the next morning in Brandon's dorm room, complete clueless of the goings-on of the previous night. After asking him what happen, he spins a story of taking care of her and keeping her safe at the expense of her puking all over the place. And of course she is embarrassed but grateful that he cared enough to make sure nothing happened to her. So score more points for Brandon on duplicity and deceit, because after all chivalry only exists on the Hallmark Channel, and she wouldn't find out the truth.
But this alleged victim does figure it out due to the fact that technology is not on the side of these gridiron party guys. One of the things that some guys can't resist is recording their exploits and downloading them. The college pantie raids of the earlier days have been replaced with selfies and cellphone videos to prove sexual prowess. You would think that they'd know better than to record the evidence of a crime. But to pass that up was too much for Vandenberg and his cohorts. The ABC 20/20 documentary reveals the brazen betrayal by Vandenberg, who is heard on the tape laughing and encouraging others to do things to his dead-drunk date. When the Metro Nashville police detectives come in, the players are attempting their own quarterback sneak of ditching the videos, deleting emails and pics, as well as other evidence which would come back to haunt them in court.

The Reversals aren't just Judaical ones.
Sadly the worse part of this situation is that the woman who thought Brandon was a great guy, found out otherwise. She defended his behavior to the police in several meetings until they showed her the videos with his voice cackling in the background. I can't imagine the shock and betrayal she must have felt in finding out the young man she went clubbing with made a decision to drag her back to his dorm room to be used as a sex toy for 3 other's amusement. This 20/20 program was called "Reversal of Fortune" because of the legal boomerang the case was handed, when they found that a juror failed to disclose important info about his past. But the title could also be applied to others as well. Brandon Vandenberg was a prize athlete from Vanderbilt's recruiting class; had fame and sports stardom within his reach. He never got to play one game. And for the young 21-year-old woman who thought maybe she found a prince charming, her reversal was obvious.
The final reversal could be for Vanderbilt College where this all took place, because with all of the security and students that were there that night, no one bothered to speak up for this victim and say this is not what our school is all about.

Preventing Unwanted Sexual AdvancesClick this PSA

ABC News.com "Reversal of Fortune" 
 You Tube- Who Will Help You 

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