The case of the alleged rape of a teenage girl by members of the high school football team in Stubenville, Ohio has many different dynamics in play that have created some quite vitriolic debate on message boards across the Internet. Questions surrounding the legal definition of consent, the duty of bystanders to stop or report crimes, and the potential for sports stars to receive preferential treatment seem to be the most hotly debated topics. But I’d like to focus the debate on the alleged cover-up. Many seem quite convinced (and I find it quite likely myself) that school district officials, local law enforcement, and the various football coaches and boosters have gone out of their way to sweep this incident under the rug and attempt to diminish the severity of the charges.
Many people find this to be shocking or outrageous, but I do not. In fact, I find it to be entirely predictable. Such actions are completely and totally in line with collectivist political philosophy, and nearly all the parties involved work for the government and worship at the altar of statism on a regular basis.
The article in the New York Times describing the incident refers to the Steubenville football team as a source of pride in the local community. It brings entertainment, excitement, and likely a pretty decent amount of money to an area that is slowly decaying in both material wealth and cultural relevance. Meanwhile, in the local high school, teachers and administrators reinforce and affirm the principles of collectivism in young minds. The local police force is available to mete out swift and brutal “justice” to any who would dare live outside the rules that the state has set for them.
Under the philosophy of statism, the needs of the collective are considered superior to the needs of the individual. I would guess that in the ranks of employees within the Steubenville education system and police force (and indeed, among American society at large), this principle is accepted as self-evident, and without controversy. Given such a mindset, the actions of these parties in the aftermath of such an event is entirely consistent. I have to ask: If the statists are right, and the collective is superior to the individual, why shouldn’t Steubenville officials cover up this crime? After all, the continued success and positive image of the football team benefits the collective. Regardless of one’s personal opinion of the merits of competitive sport, it seems indisputable that this particular football team provides joy and comfort to thousands. The victim, meanwhile, is just an individual. Just one girl who had an act of aggression committed against her by a protected class of individuals, the high school football team. A class of individuals that is protected specifically because of the benefits they provide to the collective.
I’d like to challenge anyone who thinks that the behavior of the school officials and local law enforcement was wrong to re-consider their political and philosophical premises. Why were they wrong? Why is it wrong, in this specific case, to put the needs of the collective above the needs of the individual, but it supposedly isn’t wrong to do that in other cases?
Ultimately, this tragedy is just another example of the failures of statism and collectivism, and exposes the inconsistencies of many who hold those tenets in high regard. The only truly moral system of values is, of course, strict adherence to the non-aggression principle. The right of an individual to not have acts of aggression committed against them is paramount, regardless of whether the act of aggression comes from one individual, multiple individuals, a group of individuals protected by the state, or the state itself. What happened to the alleged victim in Steubenville is, unfortunately, the logical conclusion of the statist philosophy that dominates our society. Until we win the war of ideas and change this philosophy, we should expect it to continue happening, and we should not be shocked with results like these.