National Columnist

Fans' reaction to Alabama man's sexual assault of LSU fan is mind-boggling


Brian H. Downing pleaded guilty to obscenity Tuesday and faces two years behind bars. (AP)  
Brian H. Downing pleaded guilty to obscenity Tuesday and faces two years behind bars. (AP)  

Weep for the world, because this is who we are. We are people who would spot a guy passed out in public, and then with a crowd of animals rooting us on, we would unzip our pants, remove our genitalia and place it on his unconscious face.

And we would blame the victim.

This is us. Well, some of us. If it's you, man, I weep for you. I weep for your children, your spouse. And I weep for a world where there are so many people like you, unfeeling brutes who don't understand the severity -- the violation -- of such a sexual assault, that you feel emboldened to share your despicable opinion on this story.

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You know the story. The teabagger from Alabama -- but let's not get too caught up in the Alabama part. This isn't a time to pile on Alabama fans, because this wasn't Alabama fans. This was Alabama fan. This was one guy. Yeah, I know, alleged tree-poisoning Harvey Updyke was another Alabama fan. That's two. Two out of, what, 10 million Alabama fans? Leave Alabama alone on this one.

Focus instead on the sexual sadist who committed this crime, a loser named Brian H. Downing, and on the ghouls who would defend him, blame the victim or decry a system that would send Downing to jail.

Weep for this world, and note I don't say "weep for America," because this isn't an American problem. This is a societal problem, much bigger than a sports problem even if this happens to be a sports story. The fuel that drove Downing to put his sexual organs onto a defenseless person's face -- that's Sexual Assault, 101 -- was sports. The victim was an LSU fan in LSU gear. Downing was an Alabama fan. Alabama had just defeated LSU for the national championship in New Orleans, and because presumably that wasn't enough for Downing, he decided to pile on by taking out his penis and scrotum and smearing it against a defenseless LSU fan's face.

And there are people out there who think Downing doesn't deserve prison.

What's wrong with you people?

The victim is someone's son, brother, boyfriend or husband. He is or will be someone's father. Someone's grandfather. If some animal put his sexual equipment on the defenseless face of my son, my brother, my grandfather or grandchild, I would be in a rage. I would want to hurt that sadist, and then I would want the court system to punish that sadist, and you wouldn't hear me complain for a second that two years in prison sure does seem like a harsh sentence for what happened.

Would you complain? If that victim were your father, your son, your brother?

Weep for the world. I really do. I just took a break from writing to look at our news story about the two-year prison sentence for Downing, at this link here -- and at the moment I looked, four of the six most recent comments were from readers attacking the system, blaming the victim or both. Maybe those people are Alabama fans unable to view this through unbiased eyes. Maybe they're sexual sadists themselves, predators hoping to find a defenseless victim to offer a blank canvas for their own sadistic sense of art.

Maybe they're just not very smart.

Maybe they're just not very compassionate.

Here is what one of them wrote on the message board below that story:

The real crime here is law enforcement. To extort taxpayers for two years to house a non-violent criminal? That is a crime. Ok, let's see you get drunk and pass out in a bar. Expect to be messed with.

And another.

The LSUoozer's name will come out and he'll be laughed at the rest of his life. What a tool suing for something he was too wasted to do anything about.

And another.

Ticket the moron that was "teabgging" for indecent public exposure and ticket the drunk idiot who passed out for public intoxication. ... you are very naive if you think you can just get drunk, lose control and everything will be all right. If you get so drunk that you pass out in public, you're lucky you just had some [guy] "teabagging" you!

The victim was asking for it. That's what some are saying. Women who are raped, do we judge the length of their skirt before deciding whether to press charges? Yes. Some do. Children who are molested, do we accuse them of being "the seducer"? Yes. Some do.

A man passes out drunk in a public restaurant -- not a good choice, no -- and suffers the violation of having another man smear his genitals on his face. Do we blame the victim? Do we scream at a justice system that would put the attacker in jail?

Yes. Some do.

From a reader on the message board below our news story about Brian H. Downing's prison sentence:

This is hilarious. The Bama fan should get a medal ... not a jail sentence.

Weep for the world. These people walk among us.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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