Marcus Dixon & Kristie Brown: A Moral Case Study
May 4, 2004
I started writing on the Marcus Dixon case months ago with an attempt to point out some similarities (and not so similarities) with the Kobe Bryant trial. I have since stopped because there's just too much to say. However, in light of recent happenings in the Marcus Dixon/Kristie Brown case, I thought I'd throw around some ideas. Yesterday, Marcus Dixon was freed after serving 15 months in a Georgia prison for having sex with an underage girl, Kristie Brown (she was 15, he was 18). Dixon was convicted of aggravated child molestation. Georgia state law is very strict when it comes to sexual activity and minors. State law carries a mandatory prison sentence of 10 years for those convicted. The News-Journal.com reports:
In a 4-3 ruling Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the child molestation conviction. Dixon remains convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape, but he has already spent more than the required year in prison for that offense.
Because Dixon is black and his accuser is white, one can imagine this has turned into quite the controversy gaining attention by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and most unfortunately, the NAACP. If I were Dixon, I would have asked Kwesi Mfume and the rest of his cohorts to please keep my name out of their collective mouths. Notwithstanding the NAACP's involvment, this case has gained national attention from much of the media and has incited quite an interesting debate and once again surfaced a discussion around equity and justice as it relates to race.
I'll just put my opinion right out there. I don't believe Dixon raped this girl. I believe it was quite consentual (you don't just agree to meet in a classroom afterschool for the purpose of sexual favors). Nor did Kristie Brown trip and her clothes accidentally fell off. It is somewhat forgotten the fact that Kristie Brown initiated oral sex prior to anything taking place. However, I believe she became very upset at the fact that she lost her virginity (understandable), and then fearful that the rumor she was "with" a black guy would spread in their small, rural, and rather segregated town. This fear and trauma has caused her to not only fabricate this false perception of what took place, but she's also done so to the point where I believe she actually thinks she's telling the truth. If you've seen her interviewed and have a smattering of discernment, you can tell she is not telling the truth. My prediction is about 25-30 years from now, Newsweek will do some big article where Brown comes forward with a confession about how she really lied about the rape allegations and was coerced into doing so by her parents, namely her racist father. There is nothing new under the grand ole sun. It's a classic case of "he said/she said". The most unfortunate reality is that in those types of cases, it's all about credibility. If you had to choose a babysitter for your children, who would you choose? The nice 15-year old southern white girl or the 18 year-old black football player who admitted to having sex with a younger girl? If you've watched 30 minutes of television in your life, you'd have chosen the white southern girl. In my opinion, the fact that Marcus Dixon did in fact have sex with Kristie Brown completely ruins his credibility. Just as the fact that Kobe Bryant committed adultry rightfully vilifies him in the eyes of the general public. In the case of Dixon, a Georgia court thought so too and convicted him, although most on the jury didn't realize the sentence it carried.
In all honesty, I feel sorry for both Kristie and Marcus. See, they are the product of a moral breakdown. It is interesting that everyone has tooted the horn of Dixon for being a star athelete, great student with a 3.9 grade point average, and earning a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University. I don't quite see what this has to do with much of anything except to say that we put intelligence and accolades on the same playing field as moral stability when in fact the two are not related at all. That's a big mistake on our part. I wrote a few months ago on the Fallen Man about this very topic. To think Dixon blew all that for a few moments of self-gratification and extremely poor judgment is pretty disheartening. Then there's the fact that Kristie was a "nice southern girl" and supposedly an "unsuspecting sophmore". This got highly overplayed by the media as well. This is the same girl who clearly out of a lack of self-identity, offered her "services" to a classmate, and ultimately was in consent to give up her virginity on a desk in a classroom portable. How low can you go? Apparently in Kristie's case, very low. If we really want to be honest with ourselves, we will recognize that Dixon got himself in hot water not because he was black (although a white person may not have received the same backlash), but ultimately because he compromised in the area of sexual purity. There's David and Bathsheba, Sampson and Delilah, and now Marcus & Kristie. We're all living epistles and poor self-image it what's gotten humanity into trouble from the beginning of time. There are probably millions of teenagers all over the world who could have been charged with the same crime Dixon was. This however, doesn't preclude Dixon from being made into a prime example of what can happen when you think with your genitalia and not your conscience. To whom much is given, much is required. I can only hope that Dixon has learned the true lesson that can be extracted from this situation.
From a story on Oprah.com:
Some say the case is not about sex between two teenagers, but really about the racial prejudices that still exist in this small, rural town of Rome, Georgia.
Well I say it is about sex between two teenagers. In many ways, Dixon brought this situation onto himself. He was clearly a young man with a promising future and I still believe he was innocent of the charges against him (rape), but he put himself in a compromising situation. There was no good reason why he should have even been alone with Kristie in that classroom portable with the door locked and the blinds closed. I don't care if he was tutoring her in math. Perception is everything; especially in Rome, Georgia. It was her word against his and he admits that he did have sex with her. The question of whether or not it was consensual is what's really up for debate. And by golly, we wouldn't even be in this quagmire if we had just kept our pants up and our legs closed. I'm sure it sounds rather fundamental, but teenage sex causes more societal problems than most sociologists care to admit. It is interesting however, that throughout all the debate, there has really been no conversation around whether or not these two should have been having sexual relations in the first place.
Posted by Ambra at May 4, 2004 10:15 AM in Culture