I’m Mad Online About Carlton Bragg

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I hate to admit getting angry on the interwebs, but I am.

If you don’t know the story about Carlton Bragg, here’s the AP write-up following his recent arrest:

Kansas Jayhawks forward Carlton Bragg Jr. was suspended indefinitely Friday after he was accused of pushing his girlfriend down a flight of stairs and charged with one count of battery.

The 20-year-old sophomore was taken into custody shortly after midnight, according to the district attorney’s office in Douglass County. Bragg allegedly struck the woman and pushed her during an argument.

Bragg pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor, which carries a fine and up to six months in jail if he is convicted. His next court date is scheduled for Dec. 27.

Not a great look by any means, but there’s a reason they just don’t immediately throw people in jail for six months right away. Given that both parties in this incident were under the influence of alcohol, it certainly stands to reason that both should be interviewed again in a more sober state, maybe talk to any witnesses, etc. Who knows, maybe there’s a video around?

Kansas has reinstated forward Carlton Bragg Jr. after authorities dismissed a battery charge against him and charged the woman who accused him of shoving her into a stairwell.

Bragg, a 20-year-old sophomore, had been suspended indefinitely from the Kansas basketball team after he was arrested Friday. The Douglas County district attorney’s office said Wednesday in a release that the charge was dismissed after law enforcement officials reviewed surveillance video.

That surveillance video showed that before a man “forcefully” shoved a woman away from him and caused her to fall backward into an ascending staircase, the woman shoved, slapped and struck the man and put her hands around his neck.

“This has been a difficult and humiliating experience for me, and I’m glad it’s over,” Bragg said. “I appreciate the authorities taking the time to get this right. I also appreciate the support of my teammates and coaches, and I’m glad I can put this behind me and move forward.”

The DA’s office said Saleeha Soofi faces one count of battery. It’s unclear whether she has a lawyer.

So to recap: Bragg was charged with battery for “pushing his girlfriend down the stairs”, but what really happened was his girlfriend was beating the shit out of him and he pushed her ON to a staircase in self defense.

Charges dropped on Bragg and now video evidence reveals that he was the victim.

That obviously sucks for Bragg. And of course a lot of people are saying the real shame in all of this is that his girlfriend is going to be part of the reason why people will have a reason not to believe the victims in high-profile domestic violence cases such as this one.

There’s truth to that. But what’s also true is that there was a domestic battery in this case, except in this case the abuser accidentally self-reported herself and accused the victim.

And that’s only because there was video. Imagine if there wasn’t. Bragg would still be charged with battery right now, possibly convicted, and, if convicted, likely would have his scholarship revoked by Kansas.

So maybe just let it play out before you rush to judgment on these things, which finally brings me to why I’m actually #MadOnline.

Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander of CBS Sports.

Generally, I like Parrish. I’ve been following his stuff since Twitter started becoming hot in the streets. Poll Attacks is getting pretty stale, but other than that I’ve enjoyed his coverage of college basketball over the years.

I can’t say I’ve read very much of Norlander, but I did read this before the season, so I haven’t really felt compelled to go back and in full disclosure may contribute to my current ire in this matter.

Anyway, they put out this podcast after Bragg was initially charged. They start talking about Bragg around the 36-minute mark.

Parrish starts the subject reporting the facts of the case. That’s a good start, but then they start discussing it and that’s where it went off the rails for me. If you don’t want to listen, I’ve parsed soundbites.

“Carlton Bragg, I don’t feel sorry for him. If he did this, he deserves whatever punishment he gets. You talk about someone throwing away some real opportunities…This is somebody who really messed his life up now.” -GP

“Carlton Bragg’s mugshot is an awful look because it’s him smirking, if not smiling…it will garner no sympathy.” -MN

“It really just is the worst look ever.” -GP

Norlander then goes on a rant on how he’s so against domestic violence. Quite the controversial take.

“If you want to talk about what it means from a Kansas basketball perspective, I got no problem doing that…but this is garbage human behavior” -MN

“Obviously if it’s all a fabricated story from the accuser, then that is the worst thing in the world and I hope she is punished in some way, but that doesn’t seem to be what this is about (begins shouting) and by the way that is almost never! Yeah she could be making it up, but there are people who study these crimes and what they find out is it almost never happens. Like, yeah, you could win the lottery, but you probably won’t. Yeah, she could be making it up, but history shows she probably isn’t. And as it relates to this specific case, nobody literally, even Carlton Bragg has said that this didn’t happen. Ya know, like no one has said I can’t wait to tell my side of the story. Like I never laid a hand on anybody. I haven’t heard that at least, so it appears to be what it is.” -GP

Norlander then finishes by going on another rant about how domestic abuse bothers him. Thank you for your service.

Now I will add that they did say a couple of times that he’s innocent until proven guilty. But the rest of the conversation is basically talking about him with the assumption of guilt. Do the quotes in bold from Parrish sound like he’s even leaving open the possibility that Bragg is innocent? Sure as hell doesn’t to me.

You can’t just say “innoncent until proven guilty, but…” and then talk about him as if he definitely threw her down down the stairs. That’s the logic of Ricky Bobby.

I get it. Most of the time in these cases, the victim is telling the truth and the accused is guilty. There have been plenty of studies to prove this, as Parrish states.

However, that doesn’t mean you just get to rush judgment on every single person who’s accused. Just because most of the time the victims are telling the truth doesn’t mean that Carlton Bragg is guilty. As far as I know, Bragg hasn’t ever been accused of something like this before. It’s not his fault that thousands/millions of other guys out there hit their significant others.

This isn’t some gamble where you’re playing the odds and hoping it goes in your favor. It’s a 20-year-old’s life and reputation you’re discussing and once you say something about that person on a national platform, it’s out there and in people’s heads. Not everybody reads/watches/listens to every update about a story and I’m sure there’s quite a few people who consumed the thoughts about Bragg being charged with battery that missed the much quieter news about, you know, the truth.

Then it came out a couple of days after that podcast that Bragg was innocent.

So I tweeted this:

I wasn’t the only one. Today a new podcast came out, including a written lead-in from Parrish.

Carlton Bragg’s battery charge was dropped Wednesday after police determined the Kansas sophomore was actually the victim in last week’s incident with his girlfriend. Such an usual story. Obviously, Matt Norlander and I discussed it at the top of this episode of the Eye on College Basketball podcast. But if you’re expecting some sort of apology from us, well, you’re going to be disappointed.

Simply put, there’s nothing for which to apologize.

Yes, it sucks to think a woman would falsely accuse a man of physical abuse. And if that’s what she did, I hope she’s punished to the fullest extent of the law. But that doesn’t change the fact that, last Friday, Bragg was formally charged with battery. And when a rotation player for a top-five team is formally charged with a serious crime, it’s going to create a headline and be discussed every time.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t stink for Bragg.

I hate that he had to go through this.

But the idea that any media outlet was wrong to report, and discuss, the fact that a former McDonald’s All-American was charged with battery is silly. And if you’re somebody who thinks otherwise, you’re silly.

First off, I have no disagreement with Parrish that something like this would be reported and discussed (to a certain extent). My whole problem was with their tone in the first podcast and how they didn’t even treat Bragg like he had the possibility of innocence.

I don’t really have much to say about their second go-around at a podcast on this issue once the facts were out. It was largely defensive. This was the very first thing Norlander had to say.

“I’m not recanting anything from the previous podcast because we really spoke more about the issue of domestic violence in sports and how it permeates and consists.”

Which really was true from his perspective. He really didn’t have much to say that most reasonable people couldn’t get behind.

Other than that the only noteworthy thing said was that people should be fair to both sides before all the facts are out in these cases, which is rich considering they weren’t fair at all to Bragg.

I’m sure there were Jayhawk fans on Twitter saying Bragg was innocent from the jump. That’s dangerous, too. I wouldn’t disagree in the slightest. But as much as these two want to make those people out to be in the wrong (I would agree), so are they by being on almost the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

I didn’t really have a dog in the fight when it came to this story. I don’t know Carlton Bragg or his girlfriend. They could both be really nice people or a couple of assholes, I don’t know. I too stand out on that ledge of being against domestic violence.

But I also believe in fairness and that first podcast wasn’t fair in its tone. And apparently Parrish doesn’t feel that way because he thinks anyone like me who believes they owe Bragg an apology is “silly” and “not a smart person”.

I’ve been called worse, but usually it’s deserved.





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