The judge in the Kobe Bryant (search) case says the evidence is slim, but the trial will move forward. But no matter what happens, Bryant's life will never be the same.
If he did rape the young woman, he deserves the anguish and the harsh punishment. But if he engaged in consensual sex, he does not. But the reality is in the court of public opinion, Bryant's has already been smeared.
Remember Cardinal Joseph Bernadine of Chicago? Some guy accused him of molestation. The charge was bogus, but the cardinal endured tremendous suffering over it. And some believe it shortened his life.
There are few things worse than a sex accusation. If you can accuse somebody, you can hurt them dramatically. And bad people know it. The problem is there's an epidemic of real sexual abuse throughout the USA as the priest pedophilia scandal proved. And there is no way the authorities can properly evaluate every case. Some fraudulent charges are going to get through.
And all fraudulent charges will get through to the media, which reports accusations all day long. None of us in the press know what really happened in the Kobe Bryant case, for example, yet we speculate on it for hours.
This is wrong, both morally and journalistically, yet we have to cover the case. But we should do so responsibly. Reminding viewers and listeners that Bryant may well be innocent, not breathlessly reporting every rumor.
Put yourself in this position. You make an enemy. That person accuses you of some sex crime, maybe harassment. You're totally innocent, but the accusation is made public. Your life will never, ever be the same.
Talking Points believes society must rethink how this sex stuff is handled and that those who do bogus charges should be punished. Raping a person's character is a crime, too. And evil people who do that should be held accountable.
The defamation laws in the country are far too lenient. Slander and liable are all over the place and are often celebrated by an increasingly vicious media. Kobe Bryant may well be a villain or just a person with bad judgment, but his life is forever altered, even if he committed no crime. And that should disturb all of us.
And that's The Memo.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
An online survey taken by Initiative Media shows that voters in California relied upon network and cable news to get information about the recall.
On TV, the top four sources for political information in the survey were Dan Rather 31 percent, Peter Jennings 21 percent, Tom Brokaw 20 percent, and your humble correspondent -- that's me -- 17 percent.
Whoa. Closing in on the big boys, which may or may not be ridiculous, depending on your point of view.