Do What in the What Now?

What does the NFL Draft have to show us about language and storytelling? I think there’s at least one important point this year, centered on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.

If you don’t know, Winston is a gifted player and accused rapist. After an incompetent at best police investigation he was never charged. He’s also done a lot of knucklehead college kid stuff that wouldn’t usually stand out.

But I think one of his ‘minor’ misdeeds deserves greater scrutiny. Most articles describe the incident as Winston “shouting an obscenity” in a crowded room. Nobody describes the specifics, because they’re thinking of the children.

I think they should. This isn’t a case of a white reporter not using the N-word. The reader can’t understand the full story without knowing the specific obscenity. Winston shouted “Fuck her right in the pussy!”

That’s not harmless fun. It’s violent, misogynistic, and just plain creepy. And please don’t argue that the phrase isn’t about rape. While I admit it wouldn’t be as snappy to add “after receiving her enthusiastic consent!” you can’t expect that to just be implied when you’re bellowing F-bombs. It’s probably a better idea to simply avoid shouting about fucking anybody in the anything.

Back to Winston, shouting a sexually violent obscenity in public when you’re the most visible representative of your school is both creepy and mindless. Doing it when you’re under investigation for committing sexual violence shows an utterly psychopathic lack of awareness for the perceptions and feelings of others.

And it’s not even hard to give the specifics of the obscenity without writing out the words. Look how I did it in the last paragraph. Commentators are leaving out half the story for decency’s sake, and I wish they wouldn’t. This isn’t knucklehead college kid stuff.

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