When it comes to football, our fandom sometimes gets in the way of our reason. That's why Baltimore Ravens fans proudly wore Ray Rice jerseys even after that video of him knocking his fiancée unconscious in an elevator went viral.
And fandom is why my old high school, South Kitsap, once a perennial football powerhouse near Seattle, hired the all-state quarterback from my senior year to come back and coach the team, even though his professional coaching record was 3-24.
Adoration and a desire for the communion of victory supersedes all.
Which brings us to the curious case of football, fandom, and justice (or the lack thereof) in MISSOULA: RAPE AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IN A COLLEGE TOWN.
I bought the book yesterday and mainlined it in two sittings. It's a teeth-gritting, trigger-inducing, meticulously sourced read, and I can't recommend it enough.
Truth-be-told, I'm a Krakauer fan and the book is the June selection in the Books & Brews Book Club that I'm a part of. But mainly, I wanted to read MISSOULA* because I live in Montana and my daughter is a junior at the university there.
In fact, this fall, three of my four daughters will be away at college, so I have more than a casual interest in safety, justice, and the passivity of institutions that allows rape culture to thrive on campus like a virus in a Petri dish.
WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD. (Much of this has been in the news forever. But, if you haven't been keeping up, or want to read about it in the book, I suggest you skip this).
In the case of MISSOULA, that institution first and foremost (and most disturbingly) was the prosecutor's office, where in one example, 114 instances of sexual assault were recommended for trial, but only 14 were filed.
And Kirsten Pabst, the deputy attorney in charge of prosecuting sexual assault at the time, once testified on behalf of an accused rapist and his family. The County Attorney's Office was so scrutinized for its mishandling of sexual crimes that it warranted (and refused to cooperate with) a Department of Justice investigation. Pabst later resigned to defend and exonerate a star QB accused of rape.
That action, popular with local sports fans, no doubt contributed to her later being elected County Attorney. Because of football and fandom, the historically weakest link in Missoula's justice chain is now back in charge of rendering justice.
(I'll pause to let your head stop spinning).
Missoula is an awesome town. The University of Montana is a fantastic school. Let's hope the the County Attorney's office can be more than a cheerleader.
*As a Montana resident, a sentiment that I hear is, "Why Missoula? This happens everywhere, why pick on us?" This CBS interview does a yeoman's job of answering that question.