Earlier this week in the light of the NFL draft starting, Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley was accused of raping a woman in a Cleveland hotel earlier this month. Conley has since spoken out about the allegation claiming his innocence and that this does not fit his character. Not only has Conley claimed his innocence, but so has Linda in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Both of these focus on the representation of the Keywords essay Innocence.
In the Keywords essay, innocence is defined as “freedom from sin, guilt, or moral wrong…freedom from cunning or artifact.” Innocence is about what you lack (guilt, guile, knowledge, experience) or what you cannot do. However, whenever I hear the term innocence, I think of innocence in a sexual sense. Innocence means that a child is “pure and has no stains.”
Linda in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl starts out her life innocent, not knowing that she is enslaved. As she gets older, she learns about the horrible life she is enduring and the pain that it causes. Eventually, Linda loses her innocence because her master abuses her, which was common for slaves to endure during the time they were enslaved. Because of this, Linda realizes that this is something she wants to escape from and from then, we learn about her plans to escape and if she indeed does escape. (You’ll have to read the story to find out!)
Now, Gareon Conley is claiming innocence for something that should not be taken lightly. I think what is interesting about this story is that it came out just days before Conley was supposed to be chosen in the Top-10 of the draft. Rape is a big deal, and should not be joked about. Not that I am taking his side, but I think that it needs to be investigated more because people who were with him that night said that nothing happened and that he actually asked the female to leave before anything could happen, at which point she got upset. Conley understands that he is “powerless” and said “I realize that I put myself in the situation and I could have used better judgment. However, I have worked tirelessly to put myself in position to have the honor of being an NFL draft pick and these untrue allegations are putting a huge cloud over my name and the NFL Draft.” Clearly it was not too big of a cloud because last night he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders as the No. 24 pick. Conley decided not to attend the draft in Philadelphia because he thought it would be selfish of him to “be a distraction to the NFL, the other players, and their families who have worked just as hard as me to enjoy the experience.”
In the coming weeks, we should know more as Conley will be appearing in court. Hopefully justice is served wherever it needs to be.