The Rush Into a Verdict

“It is unfortunate that an insatiable appetite for sensationalism blocked so many from searching for the real answers for so long”, Gary Condit


I must admit, I was once young, oh please who am I kidding I am still young, and obsessed with white or black. I never knew what gray meant and never cared to acknowledge it or give an inch of possibility of it even existing. For me the world revolved around my sphere and as far as I was concerned, nothing else mattered.

Last week, I read a column by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, an Investigative Reporter/Attorney titled “Gary Condit Deserves an Apology” regarding the ex-U.S. Representative from Modesto, California. I thought to myself why? Why do we owe him an apology or even care? I mean, it is not like we don’t know what his name suggests or is associated with? It is not like we never heard his story? Does it really matter that he was a Congressman? Really?! Is it relevant that he illustriously represented his constituents and was one good Representative until the blustery weather hit?

Apparently, he got romantically involved with an intern, and he should not have – first because he is married and second, professionally it was just not sound (what, he did not learn anything from Bill Clinton?). He quickly found himself embroiled in a vegetable soup and hanged on a freezer bag by elastic cords when the intern was found murdered in a Washington D.C. park not too far from her residence.

As many others quandary go, the red flag was blowing at mesmerizing speed as the maestro stick pointed straight at him long before the classroom was charted. He did not yet get a cheese sandwich but everyone knew it was fish sandwich he had in mind; he did not yet wear khaki pants but everyone just knew it was denim he had in mind; he did not yet drive to work but everyone just knew it was a driver he had in mind. We just knew and would not let out or permit the guy to sneeze because in the court of law, (oops! public opinion, one is presumed guilty until proven innocent), he had already been condemned, so why apologize. He was judged by his peers and received the sentence that he deserved before the verdict was even read.

Headlines such as (Gary Condit disgraced U.S. Congressman questioned in death of his illicit lover, intern Chandra Levy … Gary Condit: The Most Despised Man in America 16 July 2001 – Nobody is more hated in this country right now than Gary Condit.)… (Polls show opinion about him getting more negative every day. Hardly anybody trusts him. The majority of Americans think he had something to do with intern Chandra Levy’s disappearance. Few people think he can ever be re-elected to office. Hopefully by the time elections come around, he won’t even consider running. He would simply by an embarrassment to the Democratic Party in a congressional district which is heavily conservative), (Condit soundly defeated By: Robert Salladay Date: 6 March 2002 Source: San Francisco Chronicle), dominated the airwaves.

Congressman Gary Condit should run to and show his gratitude to all of those who participated on adulterating his reputation and livelihood. C’mon, let’s face it; he owes them an enormous big thank you. What else is there to do? He should sprint to the likes of Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne who came to fame, well at least to me (he was already established but became even more popular) during the OJ Simpson saga and whose article for the magazine he quoted verbatim contacting a source in the Middle East who told him that Chandra Levy had been sold there as a sex slave. Ouch! Say what? That’s some source and that’s some first class columnist; and to think that the killer was sitting in jail all along.

Do I say more! Apparently, the malefactor dude has been incarcerated for having assaulted two females around the same time Chandra Levy’s vanished from her Dupont Circle apartment. So when did the prisoner found himself in the Middle East? I heard mosquitoes can actually fly (they do!) but to “swim” that far across the Atlantic without being detected? Nahhhh, he was a stowaway and secretly boarded an aircraft, yet to be identified. I think not even him knew he was out of the country. Good for him… (Former congressman Gary A Condit settles his $11 million defamation suit against Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne over assertions Dunne made about Condit’s…)

Just like JonBenet’s parents long before the Congressman, in particular her mother Patsy Ramsey, endured scorn and were mercilessly accused for months (by smart people I may add) of having killed or being accomplices to their own daughter’s disappearance. They were later cleared of all charges yet to some the cloud still lingers; they must have done something. C’mon where there is smoke, there is fire, say the naysayers. Yeah, until it happens to you!

I think they too should run to the many experts and pundits who long concluded that they had something to do with the murder, and thank them for having bankrupt their lives and reputation.  It is funny that after all the mudfest, the apology did not come in a plate; it came bungled in a box and went cotton as in your bed sheet minus the hoopla. It was not even a public apology but one that could have gone under the radar had one sneezed.

It did not have the same flair and boat parade as when they announced their raison d’être for having them under suspicion in the first place. Even knowing that Patsy Ramsey was dying of cancer, the pundits did not lit up. They continued pounding to the point of her not taking pleasure of the partial good news (the offender has yet to be found and they were no longer under suspicion) before her passing. No one had the decency to write an apology of sorts for having been wrong. They were just doing their job, they stated. Should JonBenet’s parents ask for some sauce on their pudding? Whatever!

That brings me to Chris Brown. Long before domestic violence came to life, B.C. OJ Simpson, I spent my weekends at a woman’s shelter and wrote a 30-term page paper on the subject for my Social Work class. But now the issue comes to light once again with the saga of these two young people, Chris Brown and Rihanna.

Don’t take me wrong domestic abuse is an aggressive behavior (especially when it pertains to hurting woman) in every shape and/or form; it is one of the heinous things human beings can perpetuate on another. Note that I said human beings; yes, there is domestic abuse on both sides but one is prevalently more exposed then the other. Nonetheless what Chris did, based on the pictures alone, is extremely concerning, demoniacal irresponsive and not to be taken lightly but/and based on the picture alone should we judge? Can we determine who the injured or the culpable individual is?  Based on the picture alone, we are “supposed” to conclude who it is but what if the picture doesn’t always depict the truth?

Years ago, the one and only Lifetime Network run this movie about domestic abuse with an asterisk and a semicolon on the second paragraph; the abused body was none other than a guy. Yes, a man! The dude was “taking it” year after year, beaten down like a washed out old wrestler but the character portrayed by the wonderful Peter Strauss, could not bring himself to press charges and accuse his wife of domestic abuse. (Sounds familiar?) He was weak, powerless and lost will. Who would have believed him if he had gone forward? It is not like there is a supporting domestic abused man shelter! C’mon, can you also image the stigma and the name calling associated with being beaten up by a woman? Lord?!! “You sissy! You are being grilled and made barbeque sauce by a woman? What! Your mama didn’t raise you right?” Yeah exactly, she did! Apparently, rather than shielding himself, he chose not to raise his fists to his wife just as his mom told him.

Every so often the character would show up with a bruised eye or scratches on his face, he would always wear long sleeve shirts so to conceal the bruises and would always made excuses for them, “I got into a fight with a few dudes at the bar”. “Which dudes man? Damn, they really did a number on you, they beat up you good.” The mister kept saying at the bar but never made the name of the place public! What’s up? No one never asked him for additional details and he kept getting himself in fights at the bar. What kind of monster are you?

I recall, I am still with the movie, him driving to a pay phone in the middle of a thunderstorm – drama – and calling a woman’s shelter to being insolently rebuffed and accused of playing a sick game. The character’s pain and exasperation was masterfully communicated through the actor’s heartfelt interpretation, as the individual was never taken serious. On his exasperated ride, he made up dreadful excuses not only to cover the shame – being beaten up by a woman? – but also to shield his wife from prosecution; she was after all the mother of his child.

It is interesting to note how much of this reversal of fortunes surreptitiously goes on. It is by default easy to accept a man’s condemnation then a woman as the behavior is universally and often perpetuate by the man. Just as a woman goes through great lengths to protect her man, so does the man to protect his abusive wife.

The conundrum was finally deciphered one day when having had enough, he goes postal (got the cojones) and put her in a coma. As predicted, he was not believed and immediately arrested. He was locked up, called all sorts of names and pressed to “tell the truth” whatever the cost (We have no alternative thanks to OJ and many of his breed). It was not until his trial that the audience learned through his little eleven years old daughter while on the stand, having witnessed all, she summoned enough courage and told the court “Mommy always beat daddy. Daddy was trying to defend himself” and then silence.

The poor man stood stock-still, stoic, broken, exhausted but relieved; his face looking down, his hands clasped in between his legs, rubbing them sometimes in maddening strokes, exhausted. The veil came down and he was no longer held in contempt.  It is interesting to note that even after coming out of the coma, she – portrayed by Judith Light of Who is The Boss and now Ugly Betty fame, could not come to her wits and tell the truth. She was still defiant, boldfaced and unapologetic. The movie ended with her in bed looking like a drag queen, discarding him “as a person”, and howling that he was no good, a scambag, a nobody and he should leave, to not come back.  Who would want to go back to you?!

The fact of the matter is that we don’t always have the facts – some may argue that it is no longer needed; we don’t know what transpired – some may argue that it is no longer desired; and what exerted Chris to get to that level – some may argue they no longer care, he did it anyway.  No one knows and all we can do is to wait but why? We have seen the “evidence” and have reached a conclusion, what is the deal?  Fair enough yet no picture of Chris has been released. We have no idea if he has some bruises (he seems to be fine per his latest pictures on the beach), we have no idea about his emotional state; we have no idea about it all and all we are doing is watching the movie before we even have the script. We are all inundated with a bunch of rumors and innuendos acerbated by the many “reliable” websites with pundits once again voicing their opinions, the same ones who pointed the toy gun at Gary Condict.
rihanna1 Per his previous interviews, Chris has indicated that he comes from a violent home, a place where domestic abuse was prevalent (his mother has been divorced from his stepfather) and per my research, the behavior is learned. Rihanna herself has also indicated in a couple of interviews fighting with her two older brothers “to death”. It is understood that if a youngest sees violence as a means of teaching and/or punishment, chances are he/she will emulate the behavior later in life unless coached otherwise by means of therapy. We can accept that some diseases are hereditary so why can’t we accept that certain behaviors are learned?!

Chris’s mother was thoroughly abused by his stepfather for years. My understanding and as in most cases, he never received any type of counseling professional or otherwise; although, he has previously stated that he would not land a hand on a woman. Granted, his will may have been alleviated but his psyche was/is still wounded. I bet he never got a chance to “talk it over”… with a professional. You can talk million of years with a pastor or a teacher; it is not the same as talking to a shrink.

I do not believe her injured face’s picture should have been released. It is difficult as it is to deal with the subject and the shame that carries it, let alone having a constant reminder out there of what it was for the rest of her life. This is one of the reasons why pictures of abused victims are never released. The law in many States is there to protect the victim and not to expose or intended to demonize the aggressor. Shame on TMZ for disregarding her right as a victim and profiting on her grief. She never asked for it in both fronts and yet was paralyzed to also stop it.

What to do with Chris Brown? I leave it to the evidence and the Prosecutors. Josh Brolin, (so did Sean Penn while growing up was constantly involved in violent behavior )the actor made news two years ago for having beaten up his wife Diana Lane (they are still together and off course her picture was never released; it was called a “misunderstanding” but the police was called) and he was just rewarded with best male supporting Oscar nomination for his role on the film Milk. He moved on.

One wrong does not make it right but double jeopardy? I believe Chris too deserves a second chance (getting back together, I have mix feelings; I would not recommend but it is up to Rihanna) particularly when he is only nineteen years old; let’s take to notice his age. Are we the same individuals who would like to see less people in jail so that we will not pay for their staying? As a first offender, he should be punished but should be allow to redeeming himself. Perhaps, he should emerge as a spokesperson, go from school to school and teach kids about domestic violence. He should not be “buried alive” for one first but costly error. Anyone can be rehabilitated; there is if you wish to but let’s give the person the opportunity. Let’s face it, who amongst us had not made a stupid mistake?! It just so happens that it never makes national news. Thank God and hope they are not that malevolent.

It is on our DNA; we can’t shun it. We as a being are are predisposed to believe that if it smells like fish then it is fish and off course, we much have OJ Simpson to thank for having put his stamp and total approval on the subject; I mean, he made it utterly possible. We are so nonchalance about committing to the truth. We are prone not to give a once of possibility that the faucet on the corner may be leaking not for the reason that the little kid on the block kicked it (well maybe) but because it is just plain old. Instead of running a diagnostic, we immediately call a plumber; we make a calculated decision here and there to just replace it, an attitude that can sometimes turn out to be one expensive proposition.

We have proven over and over again that one is considered guilty until proven innocent is a standard in our society and there is nothing we can do to meliorate it; we are beings. Long before the camera is turned on, the implication is that the sentence is the end and accepted; the truth is irrelevant; the outcome already predetermined regardless of the conclusion. Just because the characters above mentioned, with the exception of OJ Simpson off course and the kinds alike, had fingers pointed at them, it does not implicate they have actually acted the part. We have yet to hear about Chris Brown’s story and verdict, and based on the presumption that one is considered innocent until proven guilty, we should perhaps alt our judgment and search for the truth; at least we owe that much to those involved and ourselves.

Then you have the pundits Nancy Gray, (yes you) and the so called experts who believe they have an answer before there is even an answer. The Gloria Albrights who believe that one way to combat and acquire empathy is to be one loud mouthpiece and the Al Sharptons who insert voice ahead of the facts. Although, it is frankly sometimes effective, too much of it can turn out to be a little too detrimental to those involved.  These individuals make us drank with their righteousness and rhetorics. They cast suspicion by reverberating venomous spiteful dialog and attempt to influence our ego as if we are not capable of making our own conclusions. As one of my good friends said to me once, if he was an attorney (I am glad he is not), he would never want to have me sited as a member of the jury; there is because I am not so easily captivated by absurdities.  It takes a while to have me bought. I am no longer into black or white; I deviated now to gray; I need the evidence and then some.

As for Gary Condit, nearly eight years after Chandra Levy disappearance on a warm day in May, DC police finally charged an illegal immigrant from El Salvador Ingmar Guandique, 27 (serving a 10-year prison sentence for attacking two other women at knifepoint in the park around the time of Chandra’s disappearance) with killing her near a remote hiking trail deep in Rock Creek Park. Go figure! Gary Condit does deserve an apology with matching colors, parade, marching bands and all.