Cheerleader who refused to cheer for rapist loses court case

The student cheerleader who was kicked off her high school squad for refusing to cheer for the basketball player who had raped her just lost her last shot at an appeal.

Texas high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player – the same athlete she said had raped her four months earlier – lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal Monday.

A federal appeals court ruled in September that the cheerleader was speaking for the school, not herself, and had no right to remain silent when called on to cheer the athlete by name.

The Supreme Court denied review of the case Monday without comment.

I think it’s appalling that a student, actually an entire cheerleading squad can be considered “the mouthpiece” of the school. They are actually people, not machines who spit out rhetoric blindly. Mostly I feel sympathy for this young woman who has had to suffer this kind of treatment and humiliation for not wanting to cheer on her rapist. Why is it that survivors always seem to get punished the most?

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  • Melissa Lynnette

    She has no right to stay silent?! What kind of bullshit is that?! The rest of the crowd is probably hollering that guy’s name anyway. No one is going to notice if she isn’t. This is crazy talk.

  • Smiley

    Actually, I have to side with the Court on this.

    If the guy has not been charged or convicted, then the cheerleader is saying “I believe I was raped, and therefore I am exempt from carrying out the job I was hired to do”.

    Is it reasonable to expect a cherrleader to cheer? Yes, it is. If she is unhappy about one of the players, for whatever reason, she can resign.

    In the same way, a supermarket is right to expect that a cashier will ring up meat products, even if he or she is a vegetarian, and a drugstore can expect that condoms will be sold by an employee who is opposed to contraception.

    • ocm

      She should be expected to quit her job because she was raped?…….It is beyond words that you have just equated a RAPE with someone buying meat. Sick. If you don’t like that you were raped you can resign’. Fucking. Sick.

    • Amanda

      Cheerleader is a volunteer sport at a school, meant for the students’ enjoyment. Cheerleaders are not paid. She wasn’t hired to do a job.
      And your supermarket comparison is fucking ridiculous. I’m a vegetarian and while I wouldn’t enjoy touching meat, I know that it’s not even CLOSE to the way a teenager would feel about being forced to cheer for a man who violated her. The vegetarian in your scenario has not been RAPED by the piece of meat. You have no idea what you’re saying.

    • Jasmin

      As a vegetarian, AND a survivor, I find your comparison extremely inappropriate.

    • lilia

      She was a high school student. Cheerleading is an extracurricular activity, you do not get paid for it. It is not a “job”, and you don’t get “hired” for it. She is not an employee of the school. It is absolutely nothing like a vegetarian cashier having to meat products, or someone who disagrees with contraception having to ring up condoms. And comparing a student having to cheer for her rapist to those things? Not okay.

    • unequivocal

      If the guy has not been charged or convicted, then the cheerleader is saying “I believe I was raped, and therefore I am exempt from carrying out the job I was hired to do”.

      Jesus, I know it’s all the way down in the 4th paragraph of the article, but come on:

      “Bolton ultimately pleaded guilty in September 2010 to a misdemeanor assault charge and received a suspended sentence.”

      So, yeah. Charged and convicted of assault against this girl. Pleaded guilty. Is that sufficient cause for her to be given a pass on cheering for him? I mean, I guess I’d understand if you said no. I’m sure she could have fought harder, or dressed less provocatively or something.

      This is not a case of using an unfounded accusation to justify her behavior; it is absolutely cut and dried that this guy committed a crime against her.

    • Jenny

      Woah… woah.
      First off- it’s not her “job” which she was “hired to do.” It’s an extracurricular activity at a public school which she is a part of. She owes the school nothing. In fact, just the opposite is true. And- really? You’re giving her a dilemma of “cheer for your rapist” or “stop doing what you love and do FOR FREE and quit complaining”? False dilemma.
      Second-Meat did not personally assault and violate vegetarians nor did condoms personally assault and violate those opposed to contraception. This is a weak analogy- and an insulting one at that. And I’m saying that as a rape survivor AND a vegetarian who once worked at a grocery store and two different delis.

      What the school SHOULD have done is kick off the student who assaulted another student- and in this case, pleaded guilty in a court of law to assaulting another student, in an effort to say to the student body: “this behavior is unacceptable for students who wish to represent this school in extracurricular activities.” It would also act as a gesture to those assaulted and say, “you’ve done nothing wrong here and we support you.” I’ve seen kids get kicked off high school teams for minor marijuana offenses- and this kid gets nothing but the school forcing a cheerleader he assaulted to cheer for him personally. He is being rewarded.

      Instead of doing what they SHOULD do, the school goes on as if this assault didn’t happen and she is simply being insubordinate for no reason. To the student body, they are saying, “We would rather have a basketball team member who has committed a crime against another student represent our school than allow the tiniest bit of insubordination from a cheerleader who has been the victim of the violent crime committed by said team member.”

      This is just downright sick.
      Culture de Rape.
      Sexual Assault=acceptable
      Insubordination due to victimhood=pay us 45,000 dollars for frivolity and you’re kicked off the team for remaining silent during a personal cheer for the person who assaulted you

      What is the message here??? And where does this leave other victims and future victims at this high school? What are these teenagers left to think about their rights at this school? And what are boys who who commit these crimes left to think about theirs?

      And people wonder why so many rape victims do not report the crimes against them.

    • Jemma Howitzer

      A cashier is expected to sell meat. A cheerleader isn’t expected to get raped and then sing a song of praise for the man who hurt her so much.

      it’s awful, and horrible, and just wrong, and you would know that if you knew the slightest thing about rape. Which you don’t. Yet you still comment about it like you do.

      If a woman “believes she has been raped” then she has been raped. Period. This is feminist theory 101.

      You don’t belong on We have no need for a rape apologist.

    • Cat

      So because he hasn’t been charged or convicted of rape, she’s automatically lying? REALLY? I would expect this sort of ignorance on a totally different website. We all know that rape is extremely under reported, and most of the cases that are reported do not even see a jury. I’m so glad here on Feministing, I get to read comments that in so many words say “he wasn’t convicted therefore, it never happened to her.”

      Also he did plead guilty, he just got a very small penalty. Apparently the school is totally okay with a rapist on their basketball team but they are not okay with a young woman taking a stance on something like sexual violence. Oh priorities.

  • Sarah Green

    She’s kicked off the squad for refusing to fawn over her rapist, while he, on the other hand, is allowed to stay on the team and they have no problem with a rapist representing the school? Brilliant.

  • Kate

    uhh. Why is HE even on the team for her to even have to deal with this? Isn’t there some sort of honor code for team members which include a suspension for any criminal charges?!?

  • Adrienne

    How is he still allowed on the team? At my high school, our star quarterback beat up his pregnant girlfriend (punched her in the stomach repeatedly) in the hallway at school. He was immediately kicked off the team and arrested. They went with QB #2 for the rest of the season– a scrawny sophomore and had a losing season because of it. I would hope that if someone had RAPED a high school girl they would be no longer allowed to play.

  • unequivocal

    You missed the best part:

    Federal courts have also ordered H.S. and her parents to reimburse the district more than $45,000 for the costs of defending against a frivolous suit.

  • deanna

    I find it strange that someone would suggest this cheerleader do the job she was “hired to do”. She is a student at a public school.

    The player in this instance eventually pleaded guilty as the news article points out.

    Remaining silent should always remain an alternative to anyone under the protection of the Constitution who does not want to participate in any activity at a public school, whether it is saluting the flag or cheering on your rapist during a public ballgame.

  • Matt

    Students are very much not entitled to free speech when they are participating through a school organization. However, the school is also unreasonable to impose such speech given a case such as this one. If such an issue, for balance, requires the abolition of calling out player names by cheerleaders in general, so be it. Last time I checked, everyone is supposed to be quiet during their team’s free throws anyway; you instead make noises and other distractions when the *opposing* team shoots free throws.

    • Michael Freddoso

      This is true, but incomplete. There isn’t a first amendment violation here, for the reasons you’ve stated. The court was right in dismissing that claim, although far more tenuous claims get dismissed without awarding attorney fees.

      However, the cheerleader may, and in my opinion does, have other claims against the school, such as intentional infliction of emotional distress. Any reasonable administrator would have ignored her quiet refusal to cheer rather than making an issue of it. I have to wonder what they were thinking, and none of the explanations that come to mind reflect well on them.

      I can see why the school felt it had to readmit the alleged attackers after the grand jury initially refused to indict. But a school can legally kick someone off an athletic team (or any extracurricular) merely for underage drinking. They would not have to assume guilt of rape in order to have kicked the alleged rapist off the team, even after the first grand jury did not indict (it was only later, after the refusal to cheer incident, that he was indicted and pleaded guilty to a lesser offense). Schools are not bound by the rules of evidence or the findings of a court of law in making such decisions, because students have only limited rights to participate in extracurriculars (they can be ineligible for grades, frequent detentions or other disciplinary issues, etc.).

      The school clearly had no interest in losing a star player. The town has slightly more than 7,000 residents, and the football stadium seats 7,000. That should tell you something about the priorities of the officials involved in this farce.

  • Jenny

    The supreme court clearly made the correct decision.

    1. The basketball player was not even charged with rape, much less convicted for it.

    2. The cheerleader is clearly a mouthpiece for the school, and her speech has to fall under the control of the school while she is cheerleading.

    To see this, you can examine the recent court cases in Mississippi over student-led prayer. Everyone on this site would immediately argue that the student does NOT have the right to lead a prayer “independently” from the school as it is still school sanctioned speech.

    The cheerleading case is the same way. The cheerleader cannot say whatever she pleases as she is participating in speech by a student organization sanctioned for a specific purpose by the school.

    Either way, the job description for a cheerleader is to cheer for every player. You cannot pick and choose who to cheer for. The cheerleader clearly violated her duties as a cheerleader and deserves to be terminated for that.

    As some of the people on here said that there is so many people her voice won’t matter — She can now show her support for the rest of the team legally from the stands and boo the boy that was not even charged with rape all she wants.

    • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      Actually I WOULD argue that students have a right to participate in independent, student-led prayer, so long as they were not imposing it on any other students who didn’t share their beliefs. So much for your ASSumptions about what “everyone” on this site would “immediately” do. But that aside, way to champion groupthink and the denial of the very real pain that rape causes, and is probably causing this poor girl over the rights of an individual.

    • Jasmin

      boo the boy that was not even charged with rape all she wants.

      She didn’t even want to boo him, why bring that up?
      “not even charged” ? yeah, because getting a rape conviction is so easy.

    • tyler

      “Bolton ultimately pleaded guilty in September 2010 to a misdemeanor assault charge and received a suspended sentence.”

      He wasn’t charged and convicted of rape, but he was was convicted of assault. Probably because Rape is often hard to prove legally speaking. or because Texas is not all that into prosecution of rape offenders:

      Or there could be a million reasons why she didn’t come forward at first and therefore the evidence wasn’t there anymore.

      Either way the point is not whether the court made the right decision, the point is that it seriously screwed up that this young woman has to deal with this and that this kid is still on the team.

      It’s not about what’s legal it’s about whats right and what we as a society value.

    • unequivocal

      The basketball player was not even charged with rape, much less convicted for it.

      I can draw two possible conclusions from this claim, and I don’t know which casts you in a less positive light:

      1) You didn’t bother to read the article, but still feel informed enough to comment;

      2) You read the article, but you’re willing to quibble on whether Bolton’s admitted assault against the cheerleader constituted sufficient reason for her not to cheer him, since he was only convicted of assault and not rape.

    • Jennifer

      From the full story:

      “The girl, identified by her initials H.S., was 16 when she said she was raped at a party in her southeast Texas hometown of Silsbee in October 2008. She identified the assailant as Rakheem Bolton, a star on the Silsbee High School football team.

      “Bolton ultimately pleaded guilty in September 2010 to a misdemeanor assault charge and received a suspended sentence.”

      It appears they ended up letting him plead down to a lesser charge.

      So he plead guilty to assaulting the girl. She definitely shouldn’t be forced to call out his name. Personally, I don’t think he should have been allowed to continue playing on the team.

    • Mark

      Troll – some of that exact phrasing turned up in a Fark thread on the case last night, especially the stuff about “job description” and “he wasn’t charged nor convicted”. I’ve never heard of high school cheerleading referred to as a “job” before, so the repeated use of the term across multiple sites stands out.

      Truly incredible what some people will attempt to minimize.

  • Caroline

    I think that supporters of rape culture should discuss their views elsewhere than on a feminist site. This case is clearly not comparable to a vegetarian cashier that won’t ring up meat product. Rape is a crime and should be regarded as such. The victim should not have to give up something because of a crime that was perpetred on her.

    • emmie

      You know, I don’t understand why people like Smiley or Jenny bother coming on here, when this is a FEMINIST site. And they are unfortunately apart of this disgusting support of rape culture. This poor girl was raped. Rape is a huge crime. And she in no way deserved to go through this. Justice needs to be done.

  • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    To hell with Texas, the Supreme Court, the whole rape culture, and any troll on this thread condoning this decision that unpunished rapists must be cheered for. I will never salute my rapist or anyone who does the same to any other person, and I will stand in support of anyone who refuses to bow down to their oppressor. (And make no mistake, rapists ARE oppressors.)

    • Matthew T. Jameson

      As has been noted before, there is no evidence this guy was a rapist. Sure, we can believe every woman when she says she has been raped, but is being an accused rapist the same thing as being a rapist? Come on.

      • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

        Rapists are notorious for getting off the hook, and in light of other news stories coming out of Texas I don’t trust their system’s handling of such things very much.

        Also, since I’m not a rape apologist, I don’t automatically decide a woman is lying just because there’s no conviction. “Come on.”

        • davenj

          Some rapists get off the hook.

          Rakheem Bolton was accused of rape.

          Rakheem Bolton is a rapist?

          Not seeing the logic here.

          • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

            I’m not seeing the logic in how any other part of the internet I visit where this story comes up, it is met with outrage and disgust, except here on a feminist site where people like you are championing it.

        • Matthew T. Jameson

          Using terms like “alleged rapist” is not assuming she is lying, it is assuming that the young man is innocent until proven guilty. Do not accuse me of “deciding a woman is lying.” That is garbage.

          • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

            You’ve given no reason why questioning her story means you think she’s being truthful. That’s garbage.

  • Jen

    I thought that the supreme court ruled that corporations are people. Doesn’t that mean teams, schools, whatever ate people also? I hope the rapist got kicked off the team once he pleaded guilty. Talk about representing the school.

  • jennifer gates

    It seems impossible for this to be true- shouldn’t he have been EXPELLED?
    I have to tell myself there’s something about this we don’t know, otherwise this would just tick me off just enough to ruin my night.

  • Neil

    This is a very interesting case. I agree with Jenny, it would have been hard for the court to rule any other way, because to do so would set an absurd rule for analogous cases. This is especially so because there was no charge of rape and there was a guilty plea only to a misdemeanor assault. This case also appears to have a racial dimension.

    We cannot allow a mere charge of rape to mean the same thing as proven accusations. There is a very strong emotional case to be made by the cheerleader, and the school should have handled this more circumspectly and quietly the accommodated the cheerleader without appearing as to pass judgement on the merits of the case.

  • Perilous

    Couple people here posted about how he wasnt charged or convicted.

    Did you read the article? He plead guilty to assault and was served with a suspended sentence. He probably did it as part of a plea set up with his attorney to avoid having a record as a sex offender because of his age. Are you people for real?

    The kid plead guilty and he’s still on the team and has the entire school defending him. And so are you. This girl is being victimized again and again by the very institutions that are supposed to protect her. Does she have to be killed or maimed for anyone to actually take this seriously?

    Hopefully none of you will ever be on the receiving end of such an “innocent” boy’s attentions, but if you are, and if you find that you are blamed for being a victim, remember that karma is a real bitch. And so were you for defending this guy.

  • konkonsn

    A “frivolous suit?” A what?!

    Can someone clarify…are they really going to have to pay that all? Is there someway they can at least appeal the ruling of the cost? Or defer it? To add that money on top of everything…and those words…god, I’m sick.

    • Michael Freddoso

      The first amendment precedents are pretty clear that this isn’t a first amendment violation. Her lawyer screwed up in making that claim rather than other claims that are stronger. I do think that the award of attorney fees was uncalled for, as much weaker claims than this one get dismissed without awarding attorney fees.

      I think she has at least a prima facie case for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and possibly other torts against the school, the district, and her admitted attacker and alleged rapist. I say “alleged” as a legal formality, but if the reports I’ve read are true it is nothing more than a formality. Witness testimony indicates that other party-goers broke down the door when they heard the victim screaming (good for them), and this guy jumped out the window, leaving his clothes behind. Presumption of innocence does not require suspension of brain activity.

      Also, do note that it is not too late for her to sue in state court for tort damages, and the dismissal of the federal claim does not affect that. This is not over.

      To those who stress that he was not convicted of rape, is it any more reasonable to force a cheerleader to cheer for someone who admittedly committed assault against her? It isn’t as if she made a scene; she just did not participate in a single cheer. Any non-vindictive administrator would have let her do this. Who cares if the school has a legal defense for what it did? It was clearly a terrible lack of judgment at best to punish this young woman (again) rather than allowing her silent protest.

  • Quinn

    Yes, if a school wants you to say the pledge of allegiance or praise Hitler, you must do so without question. Sounds like proper policy for a callous, authoritarian (not public) institution. Free-thinking? Democracy? Human rights? What do those terms mean?

  • Quinn

    So he gets away with rape and she cannot get away with remaining silent. Who says sexism doesn’t exist?

    • davenj

      How do you know he raped her?

      Who says racism doesn’t exist?

      • MKE

        Notice how the lawsuit isn’t about whether or not he raped her? He admitted to assaulting her and pled guilty on a lower assault charge.

        But us women totally lie about this shit all the time, right???

        • Matthew T. Jameson

          Nobody is saying she’s lying. Several of us are arguing that a woman alleging that a man raped her makes that man an “alleged rapist,” not “a rapist.” Not assuming guilt is not the same as assuming the woman is lying.

          • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

            So what is it then? If you believe he’s innocent, what do you believe about her claims? It all sounds like rape apologism to me.

          • davenj

            It’s not, Jenny.

            Her claims are her claims. I really don’t know too much about them, nor do you, as neither of us were the police who interviewed her. We did not have access to any case evidence, witness testimony, etc.

            It’s not “rape apologism” because, as far as we are to understand, Rakheem Bolton was never convicted of rape.

            If Bolton claims innocence, H.S. claims a rape occurred, and there’s no other evidence one way or the other, how can we claim to be just if we call Bolton a rapist?

            I find it spurious that a site where many question the execution of Osama Bin Laden has no trouble declaring a person a rapist regardless of the fact that he was never convicted of the crime.

          • Matthew T. Jameson

            Nobody ever said we believed he is innocent. We believe that he has been alleged to have raped someone, and are not ready to assume that he must be guilty because of these allegations (as you and many other posters seem perfectly willing to assume). PLEASE stop accusing me and/or Davenj of saying/doing/believing things in order to call us rape apologists. That is dishonest and disrespectful.

        • MKE

          One more time: THE LAWSUIT ISN’T ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT HE RAPED HER. The lawsuit assumes he did assault her, and says she should have cheered for him anyway. That’s what the article and this post are about. So you making bunch of comments about how he hasn’t been convicted of rape, bringing up some bullshit about false accusations like it’s relevant? That’s EXACTLY what rape apologism is. It’s giving more attention to the sliver of false accusations than to the millions of women who suffer gross assaults and then have to listen to assholes go on about WELL WE DON’T KNOW WHAT REALLLLLLY HAPPENED. No, neither of us know what happened between these two people, but that doesn’t preclude either of us thinking this ruling is fucked up in all kinds of ways.

  • Stephanie

    What a disgraceful decision by the courts. There is no reason why this young woman should be made to cheer for someone who has been charged with assaulting her. She deserves much respect for establishing her boundaries and standing up for herself; and her family deserve respect for supporting her.

  • davenj

    I feel extremely uncomfortable with a lot of statements being made here, particularly in regard to guilt, culpability, and presumed knowledge.

    A vast majority of people here are calling Rakheem Bolton a rapist, when in actuality he was never convicted of rape. What, exactly, does that mean, then? For one, I think it demonstrates how folks are all too willing to convict people in the court of public opinion, a vague and unfair “court” that relies not merely on facts, but also implicit biases.

    I can’t help but notice that Bolton is an African American male athlete, rendering him vulnerable to a variety of presumptions that aren’t really being discussed here.

    Is it possible he’s a rapist? Absolutely. However, none of us has the knowledge of this case or the circumstances to make these claims with certainty, which makes me extremely uncomfortable with all of Feministing convicting an African American man of rape through basically just saying “he’s a rapist” over and over again.

    Quotes like:

    “If a woman “believes she has been raped” then she has been raped. Period. This is feminist theory 101.”

    are absurdly unhelpful, because at its core that statement is blatantly untrue. Every woman who believes she has been raped has not been raped. If that’s Feminist Theory 101 then we need a 102 that deals with the challenging landscape of consent and its complications that accompanies sex.

    Or whatever. I’ll let ya’ll get back to convicting a black guy of rape without any evidence.

    • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      I did not even know the race of the rapist in this story. I do not know the race of the cheerleader, who is only being identified by her initials. Perhaps she is also African American? If she is will that matter to you? If it’s any consolation to you, I hate all rapists equally. This one did plead guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, as many others on this thread have pointed out. I suspect there were some legal negotiations at work there.

      The only thing you’re making sense on is your statement that simply believing one has been raped makes it a rape.

      If you think we’re simply interested in “convicting a black guy” you’re either looking for something on the wrong kind of site or else attempting to use the perp’s race to distract from his ACTIONS. Old bait.

      • davenj

        First, there is no “rapist” in this story. There is an alleged rapist who was never convicted of the crime of rape, nor admitted to committing it.

        Now, as for the race of Rakheem Bolton, it’s clearly important. The narrative of the black male rapist who preys on white women (and H.S. is reportedly white) is a major ongoing bias in our society. That you may not have known isn’t entirely relevant, either, because the story was told to you by our media, a media system that depends on these narratives to craft stories that the public will then consume. Then you read an interpretation of that interpretation, and comments that further interpreted this, all of which were affected by the initial bias, making your view of Rakheem Bolton colored (no pun intended) by this narrative and its ongoing prejudice-inducing effects.

        You may hate all rapists equally, but the degree to which you believe Rakheem Bolton IS a rapist, given no conviction of the crime and (as is true for all of us) a minimal amount of knowledge of the case, is absolutely affected by his race.

        Bolton did plead guilty to misdemeanor assault, but many youths plead down to misdemeanors, even when innocent, because of the minimal penalties they entail. Maybe a rich white youth has the legal team to fight a misdemeanor tooth and nail, but a sixteen year old black basketball player turning down a plea deal that leaves no record and no jail time? It’s hard to imagine turning that down, given the circumstances.

        I disagree with your final statement, too. The notion that this guy’s race is a “distraction”, as opposed to a relevant factor to the way that posters here assume his guilt, demonstrates how different kinds of privilege intersect and supersede each other in this community. His race isn’t relevant only because he’s the accused, not the accuser, and people here “hate all rapists equally”, a false veil of racial equity when none truly exists.

        So yeah, I’m not buying it. When the title and the author of the post state unequivocally that a black youth raped a white girl, regardless of the fact that he wasn’t convicted of the crime, I’m calling foul.

        • Katherine

          If this were a matter of race instead of unfair treatment of a victim (because even a victim of assault shouldn’t be forced to celebrate her attacker) there would have to be some ulterior motive and goal behind this young girl’s actions. What would she gain besides the ability to stay on the team yet not have to cheer for her attacker?

          You’re calling her a liar. You’re saying that she’s using her “resources” to one up this guy in court for some reason. That her lawsuit was some roundabout way to get people to falsely accuse a black student. Well, why? Why would a child waste so much time and resources on a lie? Why do you feel the need to demonize her intentions in defense of a convicted attacker? And suddenly, because you’re focused on race, a girl that was, at the very least, assaulted (and possibly raped) is being pigeon-holed in to some sort of Atticus Finch scenario.

          This is not a case of “buyers’ remorse” as so many people love to describe the Cry Rape stereotype. This is a young girl with nothing to gain but the right to her own opinion and the ability to exercise it. Her first court case obviously didn’t get him kicked off the team, or convicted of rape, or punished in any lasting way. Yet you’re saying that she’s willing to go to the ends of the Earth(or at least up to the Supreme Court) for a cause that has not benefited her at all.

          You want to talk about unfair treatment of people NOT convicted of crime? It’s this girl. It’s the things you’re saying about the people who would like to defend and support her. Fact is, that boy WAS convicted of a crime and is still having an easier time and receiving more support than an innocent girl who had the “audacity” to speak out about rape.
          Since you like stereotypes so much I’m surprised you haven’t seen the obvious “athletes can practically get away with murder because of their star power” theme running through this story.

          • davenj

            The issue of race is simple: we don’t know if Bolton is a rapist or not. Our willingness to go along with the narrative that he is, a narrative reinforced by an already racist media, is influenced by his name, race, and participation in athletics.

            There is an ongoing theme of the athletic black male rapist who forces himself on white women, especially daughters, and this theme has been around for centuries. The idea that it DOESN’T have an impact on how people here claim to know Rakheem Bolton is a rapist simply doesn’t pass muster.

            The word “alleged” is found once on this page, and I’m the one who wrote it. A long initial post and over 60 comments, and the word “alleged” only ever comes up once.

            That means something.

            I’m not claiming that H.S. is a liar. She has every right to her feelings, experiences, and sensibilities. However, unless I see a court conviction I cannot in good conscience call Rakheem Bolton a rapist.

            Neither can a school district.

            I am not claiming that H.S. is using resources against Rakheem Bolton. She’s not. The prosecution for a case comes from the state, so neither she nor her family directly fund the prosecution. I brought up resources to illustrate a point, though: challenging a misdemeanor assault charge, regardless of its veracity, is very expensive. There are many reasons to plead down to that charge, and not all of them involve a person’s guilt. In so doing, we may say that Bolton is guilty of misdemeanor assault, but nothing more. Frankly, I’ve known many decent people who, as youths, were convicted of misdemeanor offenses.

            Also, a school has no right to kick a player off of a school team for a misdemeanor committed away from school grounds. Therefore, the school district has no ability to bar Bolton from playing on the basketball team.

            I’m not going to speculate on whether or not this was a Tom Robinson scenario or not. I’m not going to speculate at all, because I have no information to make it anything but unfounded speculation. I would advise everyone else here to do the same, though.

            As for H.S. trying to get a writ of cert, I think a lot of this goes to unscrupulous lawyers. Any decent legal counsel should have backed down after the appellate level held with Kuhlmeier. Trying to go to the Supreme Court was a supremely bad decision from a financial and legal perspective, and appears to be based on seeking damages from the school district that could help repay some of the costs of litigation.

            H.S. was not treated unfairly. All cheerleaders in her school district must cheer for all players. If they cannot then they cease to be effective cheerleaders. H.S. has every right to her position, but holding that position renders her ineffective as a cheerleader, meaning she can’t have both.

            Similarly, if a neo-Nazi wanted to be a cheerleader for that school district, but only wanted to cheer the white players, they could not do so. They could do so from the stands, but not as a representative of school-sponsored speech. This all goes back to Kuhlmeier, and it’s pretty cut and dry.

            Here are the essentials: you don’t know Bolton is a rapist, nor do I. He has never been convicted of rape, and was convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge against H.S. This charge is not grounds for his dismissal from the basketball team. Therefore, in the eyes of the law and society he is a basketball player with a misdemeanor record. That’s it.

            All the other speculation is tainted with the biases present in different narratives, but it achieves nothing except to reveal how privilege intersects in this community.

        • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

          You’re calling foul and I’m calling apologism. You’re the only person on this thread who even brought up this guy’s race. Everyone else is focused on his ACTIONS, and the legal decisions against the victim.

          • davenj

            I’m the only one who brought up the issue of race DIRECTLY. Two very different things.

            The absolute willingness of both the original poster and the majority of initial commenters to call Rakheem Bolton a rapist has been influenced by his race.

            You’re saying you’ve focused on his “actions”, but what “actions”? The guy was never convicted of rape.

            No, what you and other posters did was convict a young black man of rape without a shred of evidence, and you all did it lightning-fast with little to no questioning. Then, when someone had the gall to bring up that maybe, just maybe, the race of the accused had an impact on the way you all view him, people got angry and offended, as if racism is some abstract problem that never influences the way we look at criminality.

            There’s been no apologism from me, nor will there ever be. Rape is a terrible crime, and deserves all the stigma it entails.

            But Rakheem Bolton is not legally a rapist.

          • Matthew T. Jameson

            BUT we don’t know what his actions are, only what she has accused him of doing.

  • Amanda

    The message this ruling sends is that as a representative of the school through a sports team, students ARE allowed to rape or assault other students, but they are NOT allowed to refuse to obey the instructions of their coaches at any time. Too bad the basketball coach didn’t tell players to treat women with respect. Then the player would have to be kicked off the team for not fulfilling his duties!

  • Neil

    It is interesting watching the collision of the maxims “guilty til proven innocent” and “trust women” in cases like this. How many of you that rush to judgement in rape cases based only on allegations support the evisceration of due process that we’ve seen in the war on terror? Probably more now than did when GW was pres.

    Re: the guilty plea. The misdemeanor that he plead to is such a slap on the wrist, an innocent person would have taken that plea. Remember, this is two black boys in Tx accused of raping a 16 yr old white girl. The downside risk of a trial is enormous, even for a completely innocent person (eg, not even there that night). Rahkeem, I would imagine, was guilty of something – at the very least boorish drunken behavior.

    The school would have been wise to refrain from making the cheerleader chant the free throw cheer “put it in Rahkeem, put it in”… that is just ridiculous. If it was their policy to suspend him for pleading guilty to assault, they should have suspended him. At some point, he would have done his punishment and should be allowed back on the team. At that point, they are not under a legal obligation to let one of their cheerleaders treat him like he is different from the other players, to mark him as a rapist.

    • Katherine

      They’re also under no legal obligation to prevent another student from commenting on his character. So why punish the girl? Especially when she was not publicly defaming him, simply refusing to support him. It could have been a completely mum topic and a private choice, instead they made a huge stink about it.

      • davenj

        She wasn’t punished. Her actions made her incapable of fulfilling the duties of cheerleader, therefore she was cut from the squad.

        Students have every right to comment on the character of other students, but cheerleaders engage in school-sponsored and school supported speech.

        If a cheerleader refused to cheer for a gay basketball player due to their religious convictions the case would be the same: school-sponsored speech is regulated by the school, and must be free from discrimination.

        As a private individual H.S. is under no obligation to cheer for Bolton, but as a cheerleader for her school she must cheer for all of the players. To do otherwise is to be an ineffectual cheerleader, and ought to result in being cut from the squad.

  • Neil

    From C.S. and her family’s appellate court brief.

    “Sheffield was invested as the Hardin County District Attorney in January 2009, and he decided to present the complaints of sexual assault of a minor against Rountree and Bolton to the Hardin County Grand Jury on January 27, 2009.

    Prior to January 27, 2009, before the Hardin County Grand Jury met to consider the matter of the complaint against Rountree and Bolton, Sheffield summoned H.S.’ father, C.S., to meet with him. During the meeting, Sheffield said that although the evidence against Rountree and Bolton was strong and exceeded the requisite requirement for probable cause, the Grand Jury was racially divided and that the black grand jurors would not vote to return an indictment against Rountree and Bolton because of their race. Sheffield said he would “nevertheless take the matter to the Grand Jury to see what happens.” (CR at 336-337.)

    On January 27, 2009, the Grand Jury had refused to indict Rountree and Bolton. On the same day, Sheffield said in a post-grand jury press release, “I’m not surprised by the [no-indictment] decision after seeing the evidence I’ve been privy *7 to . . .” in clear reference to H.S. and her testimony before the Grand Jury. (CR at 351.)”

  • Neil

    But, a special prosecutor was able to get an indictment.

    A special state’s attorney was appointed, and presented the matter to another Hardin County grand jury. Both Rountree and Bolton were indicted on November 24, 2009, for the sexual assault of H.S., a minor. (RE at 153)

  • Jenny

    By definition the guy is not a rapist as he has not been convicted for it, much less charged.

    I completely agree he committed misdemeanor assault.

    However, as the assault is only a misdemeanor and occurred off school property the school has no jurisdiction over the incident whatsoever.

    It it had been felony level assault then the school would have jurisdiction.

    Consider this scenario:

    The quarterback punched one of his teammates. He was charged with misdemeanor assault. Now, the player he punches refuses to participate with the team. When he is thrown the ball he promptly catches it and hands it to the defense every time. On defense he purposefully tries not to tackle running backs. He says he is not participating on the team as the quarterback punched him. He gets kicked off for not being in the team’s best interest and is replaced with someone who can actually play with the team.

    If the guy was a rapist he would have been convicted as a rapist. He was convicted as a misdemeanor assaultist. Therefore, by definition, he is not a rapist.

    • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      Of course he would have. Rapists are ALWAYS convicted as such because our culture is SOOOO enlightened on the topic. It’s not like we have Boehner and other anti-choice activists attempting to whittle down the definition of rape further and further as we speak. Oh wait…

      • davenj

        Oh, I get it. Innocent until proven guilty unless the case involves rape.

        • unequivocal

          The guy pleaded guilty to assault. At a minimum, he is guilty of assault. That in and of itself is sufficient to justify not forcing H.S. to cheer for him.

          You can go on all you want about how you likely it is that Bolton is innocent and copped a plea because it was logical, but you have exactly zero evidence to support this assumption. On the other hand, those of us who are inclined to take H.S.’s statement at face value have two fairly compelling reasons to do so:

          1) There is an accuser who claims that she was raped.
          2) There is a defendant who acknowledges that he is guilty of assault.

          At a minimum, that seems to indicate the likelihood that Bolton is not an innocent victim of racism.

          I don’t really know where you want to go with this. While I acknowledge that (obviously!) racism plays a huge role in accusation, indictment and sentencing, what is the standard that you propose? Shall we assume that since the accused is black, he is innocent, in spite of the combined accusation and confession?

          I don’t want to come across as unenlightened, but I admit that I have a sneaking suspicion that it is at least possible that someone is guilty of rape, even though he’s a black teenager, and his victim was white.

          • davenj

            He is guilty of misdemeanor assault off of school property, a situation where the school has no jurisdiction to apply any real punishment to a student. Misdemeanors off of schools grounds almost never result in punishment by the school.

            H.S. was not forced to cheer for Bolton, either. She was offered the choice of fulfilling her role as a cheerleader, which involved cheering for all players, or not, thus making her incapable of pursuing that extracurricular activity.

            I don’t know why Bolton took the plea deal, but I do know, through experience, that a lot of black male youths take plea deals in order to avoid going before a biased jury and being charged with a felony. It would be absurd for anyone not to take the plea deal in this scenario, guilty or innocent, so while it is an admission of guilt, it is an admission of guilt under suspect circumstances.

            Do I know this is the reasoning for sure? Not at all. But I do know that this site, which would otherwise be pushing the narrative of “black youth in Texas before a racist society”, has thrown the issue of race and privilege out the window and attempted to convict someone with no evidence, and that means something.

            So, while Bolton may have pleaded guilty to assault, it actually doesn’t speak to whether or not he was guilty of rape.

            It also does not indicate that Bolton is not a victim of racism. Must all black males who plea bargain down to misdemeanors be guilty of that charge, or of worse? Absolutely not.

            The standard I propose is simple, and it’s the same one our courts use: innocent until proven guilty.

            Everyone here calling Bolton a rapist is wrong, both legally and ethically, because they are using a minimal amount of racially biased information to claim to know he committed a heinous crime. Racial bias aside, they’d still be totally wrong, but the bias is important, because it affects the narrative, and thus the conviction, that posters here have when they claim (with essentially nothing but the charges) to know that this guy is a rapist.

            It’s absolutely possible that Bolton raped H.S. It’s also possible that this is some Tom Robinson scenario. We don’t know, and almost certainly never will know. We need to be honest and admit that we don’t know, though, not say things like “she had to cheer for her rapist”.

            Plus, it’s unproductive to the cause of justice to keep calling Bolton a rapist, because it reinforces the narrative that an accuser can destroy someone’s reputation by accusing them of rape, regardless of conviction. As long as people cast judgment on the accused in this regard that narrative will survive and thrive, perpetuating further difficulties in obtaining rape convictions.

          • unequivocal


            He is guilty of misdemeanor assault off of school property, a situation where the school has no jurisdiction to apply any real punishment to a student. Misdemeanors off of schools grounds almost never result in punishment by the school.

            Also, a school has no right to kick a player off of a school team for a misdemeanor committed away from school grounds. Therefore, the school district has no ability to bar Bolton from playing on the basketball team.


            You are terribly misinformed here. Students get kicked off school teams for all kinds of misdemeanor or even non-criminal activity that occurs outside of the school. A quick Google search confirms this.

            The school had the right (if not the responsibility) to kick Bolton off the team as a result of his misdemeanor assault against a fellow student. The fact that they didn’t is probably the result of the privilege afforded to most athletes.

            I don’t disagree with you that Bolton shouldn’t be referred to as a rapist unless he is convicted of rape. He was, however, convicted of assault. By strict definition, he is not a rapist; he is a violent criminal. Fine.

            I think common-sense exceptions should be made in cases where someone’s professional responsibilities put them in a position where they are required to interact with the violent criminal who victimized them. The school was not in violation of the law in this case, but they were still morally wrong to leave Bolton on the team, and morally wrong again to force H.S. to cheer for him.

            Davenj, I will say that you seem to be inconsistent in your approach to how important pure legality is in determining how to approach this situation. On the one hand, you are inclined to stick to the letter of the law (Bolton isn’t a rapist if he wasn’t convicted of rape; the school was not legally obligated to kick Bolton off the team; the school had the legal right to kick H.S. off the squad). On the other hand, you seem eager enough to question the accuracy of the legal system when it comes to the legitimacy of Bolton’s plea bargaining.

            I agree that this site displays potentially problematic bias in favor of H.S., and I agree that Bolton should be referred to as an alleged rapist rather than a proven rapist. However, I think that you are displaying problematic bias in favor of Bolton.

          • davenj

            “You are terribly misinformed here. Students get kicked off school teams for all kinds of misdemeanor or even non-criminal activity that occurs outside of the school. A quick Google search confirms this.”

            That it happens in some places with honor codes is true.

            However, it is a rarity for one to be fully banned from such activities. Often, the result is a suspension.

            This is compounded by the fact that litigation was ongoing against Bolton, with the plea deal being struck in September, 2010 if I read correctly.

            Outside of school grounds it would be tough for a school district to make a ban on extra-curriculars stick in this instance.

            Was the school morally wrong here? It’s tough to tell. Schools have a difficult job of managing their legal and moral responsibilities, and are often left with the dilemma of making a difficult choice with legal consequences, which have further moral implications on resource usage, or making the choice by the letter of the law.

            In this instance allowing a cheerleader to alter speech in a significant manner such as this might not meet the standard for common-sense exemption. It also opens up a district-wide precedent for school-speech that creates further difficulties for the school in the future.

            I questioned the legal system in both ways here. We all know the legal system isn’t great at getting rape convictions (understatement). We also know that people plea down to crimes due to lack of resources and the threat of state punishment. However, that second part was not being represented in the ongoing debate. It was just “black guy pleads guilty to assault”, as if there aren’t flaws going both ways in the legal system.

            I’m not in favor of Bolton. What I am in favor of is our legal system’s standards for guilt and innocence. Bolton may seem like the vessel for that argument, but in actuality I’m simply trying to show how biased this site has been, in part due to race, while covering this issue.

        • Matthew T. Jameson

          I feel like we are going to absurd lengths here to “believe women,” up to and including the idea that “a woman saying a man raped her makes that man a rapist.” That is a violation of one of the most fundamental principles of our legal system, and of basic ethics. Call me a rape apologist if you will . . .

          Also, that does NOT mean I think the girl is lying. Nuance!

        • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

          And in your fairy tale world, if the rapist happens to be black anyone who condemns his actions is a “racist”, despite their overall opposition to the act of rape.

          • davenj

            What rapist? All I see is an alleged rapist who was never convicted of the crime.

            Oh, and a lot of people who are extremely willing to remove the “alleged” part and then act like his race and the narrative it creates has NO effect.

            I never called anyone “racist”. I merely brought up an issue about how this site very easily perceived a young black man to be a criminal, regardless of the lack of him being convicted of a crime, a position that pretty much everyone on this site would be against if the crime was, say, theft.

            This is simply an intersection of privilege in which the accused’s lack of white privilege impacts him more than the accuser’s lack of male privilege impacts her before this audience.

          • unequivocal

            I merely brought up an issue about how this site very easily perceived a young black man to be a criminal, regardless of the lack of him being convicted of a crime, a position that pretty much everyone on this site would be against if the crime was, say, theft.

            I merely brought up an issue about how this site very easily perceived a young black man to be a criminal, regardless of the lack of him being convicted of a crime, a position that pretty much everyone on this site would be against if the crime was, say, theft.

            regardless of the lack of him being convicted of a crime

            Triple quoted for emphasis. These statements that you are making: I don’t think they mean what you think they do.

            Bolton. Is. A. Criminal.

            You are making an unfounded assumption regarding his status. The fact that other people are making different unfounded assumptions speaks to the weakness of their rhetoric, but does nothing to strengthen your position.

          • davenj

            Correct. I was focused on the rape issue, and misapplied criminality in general.

            Bolton is a criminal, in that he was convicted of a misdemeanor offense.

            What I meant to say was this:

            “I merely brought up an issue about how this site very easily perceived a young black man to be a rapist, regardless of the lack of him being convicted of rape, a position that pretty much everyone on this site would be against if the crime was, say, theft.”

    • Katherine

      That’s a horrible comparison. One person making the personal decision not to cheer for one player is not going to lose a game.

      “If the guy was a rapist he would have been convicted as a rapist”
      is highly ignorant. Many acts of rape go unreported and unconvicted each day but that does NOT make the people who rape any less deserving of the title “rapist.” The only truth is that we outsiders cannot treat him as a convicted rapist.

      • davenj

        “One person making the personal decision not to cheer for one player is not going to lose a game.”

        It does make her a bad cheerleader, though, and is grounds for dismissal from the team.

    • Michael Freddoso

      A school can absolutely punish students for certain off campus behaviors. Drinking underage at a party is by itself sufficient for exclusion from extracurriculars, if administrators have any will to take such action. Certainly being convicted of *any* crime is enough.

  • Julia

    I don’t like the defense of Bolton that is happening. So many people are saying he can’t be called a rapist because he was only convicted of assault. Um, EXCUSE ME? Of course he wasn’t convicted of rape! This is America and he’s a male athlete. According to RAINN ( 15 out of 16 rapists walk free every time. Don’t even play that game. We’re meant to be fighting rape culture, not encouraging it.

    Regardless of the actual nature of the attack, there was an attack, and she shouldn’t have to cheer for him–mostly because he shouldn’t be on the team anymore. He was afforded the right to remain silent while he was being prosecuted. Why shouldn’t she be afforded the same during a basketball game?

    • Matthew T. Jameson

      So, now, you’re a rapist, whether you’re convicted or not, as long as a woman says you are?

      I agree she shouldn’t have to cheer for him, because the school should handle it in-house. The Supreme Court made the right decision, however, since to do otherwise would set an absurd precedent.

    • davenj

      Claiming to know that people are rapists, regardless of evidence, is fighting rape culture? Check. Got it.

      We know that most rapists go free. That’s not in dispute. What is disputed is this notion that it’s “defense” when we recognize that, legally, Rakheem Bolton isn’t a rapist. It’s absurd that this site is calling a young black man a rapist when he was never even convicted of this crime, never admitted to it, and plea-bargained down to a charge to preserve his record and freedom.

      The idea that NOT convicting someone in the court of public opinion with zero evidence is “encouraging rape culture” is an absurdity concocted by those who seek an easy answer to a difficult problem. Calling all people accused of rape rapists is not a fair or adequate solution to the problem of low rape convictions, and seeks to fight one injustice with another.

      We know there was a misdemeanor assault, which is not normally grounds for dismissal of someone from a sports team (at least in my experience), particularly if that person’s record is spotless prior to and after the incident. Therefore it makes sense that he’d stay on the team, so long as his conduct was squeaky clean.

      As for cheering, it’s a shame, but cheerleader routines are created by the school. This cheerleader had the right not to cheer certain basketball players, but in doing so she made herself a poor cheerleader, and was thus dismissed from the team. Her actions had the consequence of making her unable to be a cheerleader for the school. This is all supported by the school-speech precedents of cases like Kuhlmeier v. Iowa and such.

    • Katherine

      Well said!

      • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

        I agree that Julia’s remarks are well said. Many rapists DO walk free, especially when they are participants in something our culture values unduly (in this case, sports.) I have a hard time believing H.S. would have pursued her right not to cheer for him this strongly, and through this many legal channels, and open herself up to this kind of scrutiny, if she were not telling the truth about it. In addition, my views on this, and rape in general, were prior to having knowledge of the race of anyone involved, and I’m not going to fall for any cheap manipulations such as being accused of racism if I don’t get on the rape culture bandwagon. Nice try.

    • Jenny

      If he wasn’t convicted or rape he isn’t a rapist, by definition. You can’t argue with the dictionary.

      If you want to argue about the conviction, don’t bother with what the school does, go bother the prosecutor. It is his fault that the defendant was not even charged with rape to begin with.

      This is America. In our courts, you are innocent of a crime until proven guilty. If you are not proven guilty, then you are innocent.

      He is still on the team as it was a misdemeanor assault off school property and not at a school function. The school has no jurisdiction over misdemeanors off their property and away from their functions.

      If he committed a felony then the school would have jurisdiction, but it does currently not.

      Because of this, the school can take no action against the guy.

      What this boils down to is that in the description of the role of the cheerleader, it states that she must cheer for every sports participant.

      As she did not cheer for that guy, she did not cheer for every sports participant and thus violated her job description. She was then replaced with someone willing to fulfill the job description. She has the right not to cheer for him, from the stands.

      Just as the right to drug test extracurricular athletes has been granted to schools while they cannot drug test regular students, the school also has been granted the right to revoke membership in an extracurricular for speech/lack of speech.

      Particular importance can be paid to the current court case where the student was barred from running for student council based on his unsavory comments on administrators.

      If the school was making every student cheer for everyone, that would be a violation. If they are only making extracurricular students in a cheering organization cheer for everyone, in accordance with the rules set out when said students joined said organization, they have the right to kick out anyone they want.

  • Quinn

    The point isn’t whether he is CONVICTED of rape per se. The fact that the student cheerleader alleges that he did should be enough to exempt her from cheering for him. How about a little sensitivity? There ought to be a law that shows girls more compassion. For all the apologists, if you accuse someone of something and can’t prove it, be prepared to cheer for them. What goes around, comes around.

    • Matthew T. Jameson

      I am not an apologist. I merely believe that someone accused of a crime may or may not have committed said crime.

      I also will not be prepared to cheer for anyone, because I did not sign up to be a cheerleader.

  • Quinn

    Why would she make up the story? Revenge? Attention? The skepticism arising whenever a girl or woman claims to be raped is a product of the rape culture.

    • Jenny

      Why would anyone bring false charges in a court of law? Both men and women have admitted to falsely accusing other people in the past.

      I approach EVERY charge against ANYONE with skepticism. Skepticism is the desire to see the proof. I assume innocent until proven guilty no matter what the crime. If you have no evidence, all you have is a he said / she said game, and with that you can’t do anything as it is just on person talking against another.

      If you want to give someone legal consequences you better bring proof because just saying they did something is not good enough.

    • davenj

      It’s not just a “making up” scenario, either. Consent can be so nuanced and difficult to parse that a 15 or 16 year old could easily be confused by it and come to a conclusion that he or she was raped, when under our legal definition no such thing happened.

      This issue is way more complicated than “LIAR!”. It is a sad truth that there will be many unconvicted rapists, as well as many situations where a party feels wronged even if the legal definition of rape has not been met.

      I can’t see how dropping “innocent until proven guilty” is a solution to this problem, though.

      And to be honest, we need to be skeptical about all criminal accusations, because the result of a criminal conviction is so serious and important.

      • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

        Oh, so it’s not that she’s “lying” it’s just that she’s too “confused” to know what happened to her. Because of her age, to boot? Age makes people too confused to know that they’re actually consenting. That must be a child molester’s dream defense.

  • AJ

    I find it interesting that the basketball player was not “speaking for the school” as well. Anytime a player puts on a jersey, he/she represents the school named on the jersey; unless the school’s mascot was a Marauder or something, I fail to see how any school wants a potential rapist, or a convicted criminal, representing its interests.

    I fail to see the harm in not saying a player’s name. The rest of the squad should be cheering, and in many cases the school’s crowd joins the cheerleaders; what difference would one voice not joining in make? She was by no means attatcking or denigrating the player; she refused to cheer for him. There is a difference here that should be noted, but obviously has not been.

    On another note, WHY THE FUCK should this family have to pay $45,000 for a “frivolous suit”?! Insult added to insult added to insult added to injury.

    • davenj

      Outside of school grounds neither Bolton nor H.S. is “speaking for the school”. However, when Bolton dons the jersey, or H.S. the uniform, both engage in school-sponsored speech, and all the limitations that school-sponsored speech entails.

      Bolton was found guilty of an off-campus misdemeanor, an offense that schools cannot punish with something like dismissal from an extracurricular activity.

      H.S. failed to adequately perform her duties as a cheerleader when she refused to cheer for Bolton. Individual fans may cheer for whomever they like, but cheerleaders at a school are required to cheer for their school’s teams in their entirety. H.S. could no more fail to cheer for Bolton on these grounds than she could fail to cheer for a gay basketball player on the grounds of religious conviction.

      The failure to cheer for Bolton, while not denigrating, was a case of H.S. failing to perform her role as a cheerleader, and thus was grounds for dismissal from the team. She is entitled to her beliefs and convictions, but when they conflict with her role on the squad it is up to her to choose which one matters more.

      As for the frivolity of the suit, I don’t think that’s even debatable. It was frivolous. The standard for school-sponsored speech is well-established in Kuhlmeier, and is not really subject to debate. That they forced the school district to defend itself on the appellate AND district levels, and filed for a writ of cert, seems to me to be the height of frivolity.

  • Leira

    I have followed this thread with interest and my moral instinct, as well as my experience in legal practise, lead me to side with the erstwhile cheerleader who has found herself without further right to appeal the decision of her school. Her school decided to privilege the smooth running of a sports programme at the expense of any acknowledgment of the very real way in which a male athlete victimized/assaulted a female student. It speaks volumes, as other feminist posters have pointed out, about the hierarchy of values at the heart of American mainstream culture: rape and sexual assault are collateral damage in the ceaseless, mindless male pursuit of winning the game.

    Notably, the lenghty comments made by the men on this thread use the language of games. It goes without saying that sports and games are of central importance to male culture, which is the dominant culture. I think that the use of game metaphors to describe what happened to the female victim highly inappropriate. They seem to suggest that cultural oppression of women is nothing more than a game.

    I would invite the male posters here to take their glib grade school debating techniques elsewhere and would invite the moderator adopt a zero tolerance policy for mansplaining/derailing. That, and that feminist posters issue a curt reply to male posters whose sole interest is in endless contradiction and rebuttal: “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK. WE KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT THE PREDICTABLE SHALLOWS OF THE MAINSTREAM MALE MINDSET ALREADY.” We don’t have to waste our breath engaging with them, justifying what we know to be true. We don’t need to win them over. They just reiterate the same tired nonsense in a war of attrition against feminists who they see as easy targets and fearsome opponents.

    I’m glad the cheerleader sued and I hope there will be a groundswell of grassroots support for courageous women like her who take risks to make invisible oppression visible. It is unconscionable that the message given by the school and the court is “sexually assaulting women is fine as long as it doesn’t interfere with the game; women who call their assailants to account under the criminal law will be marginalized.” Positively medieval.

    • unequivocal

      I would invite the male posters here to take their glib grade school debating techniques elsewhere and would invite the moderator adopt a zero tolerance policy for mansplaining/derailing.

      While I disagree with davenj and Jenny, I find your comment to be far less useful to this discussion. No one has been “mansplaining” and a discussion of whether the school acted legally and morally, and how significant the racial elements of the press coverage are is entirely relevant to the topic at hand. Your attempt to pigeonhole a subset of the commentators as “male posters whose sole interest is endless contradiction and rebuttal” and “mansplainers” (an awesome word that is rarely applied accurately, this being an eye-rollingly excellent case in point) is the closest anyone in this thread has come to derailing.

      While I disagree with davenj in this case, he is a consistently thoughtful and valuable commentator on this site, and his points warrant a much more nuanced response than what amounts to “shut up, you’re a man.”


      They just reiterate the same tired nonsense in a war of attrition against feminists who they see as easy targets and fearsome opponents.

      Easy targets and fearsome opponents? Huh.

  • Mary

    that anyone would say consent is “nuanced” makes me sick to my stomach. No, it’s really not. If you think it is you shouldn’t be having sex until you understand this.