OP-ED: Protecting the Innocent and their Earnings

Nia Ramsey

November 16th, 2018

Jose Osorto, an Oral Roberts representative, presented his “Protecting the Innocent and their Earnings” act to the house on November 16th, 2018. The bill is an interesting piece of legislation, it is one that also, in its subtext, was rooted in flaws carrying an immense power to serve the Oklahoma community or infect it with social injustice.

The bill consisted of vague language that posed an extreme risk for swaying opinions of other delegates through confusion on the bill’s actual intentions.Phrases such as “victims of false allegations” has open-ended interpretation so that on the surface, the bill seemed to appeal to all types of falsely accused individuals.

In fact, a pathological argument can reside in the narrative of college-aged students losing scholarships, a government sanctioned financial award, for being wrongfully convicted of crimes—violent or otherwise.

Now, initially, one may agree with the sentiments of the assumed nature of the bill. After all, no one wants to have their governmental assistance or reward revoked because they were accused of something that they didn’t commit.

For people of color, Osorto’s bill may seem like a godsend. The National Registry of Exonerations stated that in 2017, “a record number of people were exonerated of murder. More than half of them were black”.

Statistics and the consideration of society’s current stigma stereotypes young black men as being inherently violent and other minorities being stereotyped as untrustworthy. It is easy to correlate how the bill could be addressing the addition of protective measures for disenfranchised minority youth who are too often wrongly convicted of crimes they didn’t commit—like murder or theft and lying to government institutions. However, Osorto’s bill is not looking out for minoritieswith governmental assistance.

The “Protecting the Innocent and their Earnings” bill aided to perpetuate the privileges of white male athletes accused of sexual assault and here’s how.

First, government institutions like universities have been notorious in covering up and essentially protecting the security of the male assaulters.  CNN reported on Penn State’s defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, and his sexual defilement of ten boys continuously for 15 years. The officials knew about the assaults, but consciously abstained from reporting it. Baylor University suffered similar issues where there were allegedly 52 rapes by football players in only a span of four years.

Beloved delegation, we must be aware that enacting a bill such as this would mean each one of us becoming enablers to the persistent and reprehensible rape culture within our society.

This act sought to protect men’s comfort after being accused of sexual assault. It lessened the tremendous impact it had on the victim of assault and trivialized it through its push for men to be viewed as the unfairly treated sufferers. Moreover, by not enforcing negative punishment on people accused of crimes, it could articulate to the public that the subject matter at hand is not too important.

In theory, this bill would help many people who are likely to be subjugated to false accusations, but, under current circumstances such as the “Me Too” movement, the bill simply shouldn’t operate.

However, unfortunately on November 16th, the “Protecting the Innocent and their Earnings” passed in the house.

Delegates, what have we done?