Ronald Darby. That name probably means nothing to most people reading this. But to Erica Kinsman, that name could have been one of a hero. It wasn’t.
Ronald Darby was one of two friends who accompanied Jameis Winston on December 6th, 2012 when it was later discovered that Winston allegedly drugged, raped and assaulted Erica Kinsman. The sequence of events that took place that night and in the months and years that followed played out in an all-too-familiar story where the victim in the case is the only one that loses everything.
Ronald Darby could have been a hero. Scratch that. Ronald Darby could have been a decent human being with integrity but instead, he shrunk into the shadows and let the darkness take over the night that would leave Kinsman scarred for life. As the story unfolded, it seemed that Darby wanted to do the right thing. The initial police report was released 11 months later, albeit heavily redacted, and included a statement from Kinsman taken at the time of the incident revealing that Darby walked into the room while the incident was occurring and said “Dude, she is telling you to stop.” That lame attempt was followed by a post he put on Facebook three days later saying ‘I feel the worst I almost felt in my life Smh #stupid.’
SMH? Shaking my head? He allowed a woman to be raped and ‘shaking my head’ is his reaction? Oh…but wait…he must have been remorseful because he said he felt ‘the worst he almost felt’ in his life. Well Ronald, I guarantee that it was the absolute worst Erica ever felt in her life and you could have stopped it.
But Ronnie didn’t stop there. His guilt was short lived because when it was time to tell the story, time to redeem how he felt…almost the worst, in fact…he folded to the pressure of Winston’s lawyers. He and the other guilty party/friend of Winston, Chris Casher, signed an affidavit stating that when Darby and Casher walked in, Kinsman stood up, shut off the light and closed the door to keep them out.
The outcome? Not only did Winston get away scot-free but, due to lack of corroborating evidence combined with overall investigate negligence by the police assigned to the case (convenient in and of itself considering Winston was FSU’s star quarterback at the time), Winston was never even charged.
In 2015, Jameis Winston was selected number one overall in the NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His life was forever changed. So was Kinsman’s. Now, every Sunday afternoon, she has to avoid the TV in fear of seeing her assailant live out his dreams as the star player of a professional football team while commentators, peers and fans hail him to be a great man. A role model.
If Ronald Darby had listened to the voice of honor and integrity, instead of fear and weakness, this could be a very different story. Winston might still be where he is. That is, if Darby had actually stopped what happened. Maybe he never says anything but at least Kinsman can get on with her life without this cloud hanging over it. Maybe Darby couldn’t muster up the strength in the moment. Not ideal but somewhat redeemable if he later stood up for her and gave her redemption by proving Winston guilty.
He had one chance and he blew it. An opportunity to join the legion of the Everyday Men. Men that don’t do the right thing when it’s convenient. They do it EVERY DAY.
That is the purpose of this blog. Actually, it is much more than a blog. I hope it is simply a vehicle for a movement to bring the good men out of the dark and give them a platform to show other men, many who may not have had role models in their lives, what a man should be.
Why, you ask? Even better…why me? I’m nobody special. I’m not famous. There are no headlines that will sport my name anytime soon. So why me? But that is the problem, isn’t it? We’re all waiting for someone else who is in a ‘better position’ to take this platform. Not anymore. It’s us, the everyday men, that can have the most impact because there are millions of us and just a few of the others. So here I am…an everyday man pleading with others like me to be different and show others that you are.
This is also not, in any way, intended to exclude women from this movement. They’ve already started. We need to catch up. I intend to bring as many stories from women to the forefront because only they can truly represent a woman’s perspective and there is an incredible amount of strength in a legion of women. Don’t believe me? Just look back at the millions that gathered to march against Trump earlier this year.
This is now a battle. It involves everyone. Story after story emerge of rape, abuse, murder and any other number of atrocities men bestow on women. And who is there defending them? It’s not the athletic department at a College. Their priority is clearly to protect their D1 Football program. It’s not the owner of an NFL team. That became pretty obvious to even the casual sports observer. Sports aren’t the only offenders by any means. It occurs in daily life. How about the “best man” in a wedding who knows his friend, the groom, is cheating on his soon-to-be wife. Does he save her from a lifetime of heartache or let the lies of the groom’s vows ring falsely for all to hear as they seal her fate?
This isn’t some diatribe from someone romanticizing the ‘good old days.’ No.
See, I believe there are plenty of good men out there. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You who believe that honor, humility, honesty and integrity are markers of strength. You who believe men should work hard and achieve success but do so quietly. You who are strong but show peace and restraint, who are a ‘catch’ but because you have devoted yourself to an equally amazing woman.
These are the men I am aligning myself with in this fight. Because I believe that all we need are a few to join the ranks of the strong women that are out battling. Ones that will start speaking out and unequivocally state that what’s become acceptable is far from it. A few will feed the lot to establish a platform where good men can gather and stand guard against the weak — and yes that is you Chris Brown, Ray Rice and any other man that has taken advantage of anyone — man or woman.
My request? My hope? That through this blog, I can share insight from other like-minded men who don’t buy into the stereotypes that have been established. I hope to collect hundreds of stories on any number of topics that show other men how cool it is to be kind, how commendable it is to love others around you openly and that standing up to defend others is a quality that should be revered and put above all else.
So, again, who am I? I am a man. Trust me. I have all the necessary parts. By that account, that must mean I am also a laundry list of other things — Strong, tough, competitive, successful (or making all the right moves to be).
I suppose that also means I’m unemotional, unflappable, proud and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve what I want under the protective cover of ‘doing what’s necessary to take care of my family.’
What a convenient excuse to be a selfish, rude, dishonest and unpleasant person in the vain of a false motivation when I truly only care about Anthony.
For the many who don’t know me, I am very proud to say this is most certainly NOT who I am. Yes, I’m still a man. No change there. Parts are still in tact. But I am here to say that I do not, nor do I think any man out there should have to, subscribe to the social norms that have been forming and shaping over the years…defining what a man both ‘should’ and, more importantly, is allowed to be.
If it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the lot, then it only takes a few good men to change the script on who we are all allowed to be.
I am an optimist…though some might interpret that to be an idealist. Even if that’s the case, is that the worst thing? Over the years, my wife (who is my everything) and I have met, befriended, encountered, worked with and generally been around men from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Most of these men are good souls. The rest are Detroit Piston fans (I grew up in the Michael Jordan era and am from Chicago so…). Ok, I’ll admit that some of my best friends are Piston fans but I’m watching them closely!
Through the wide variety of men that we’ve met, I’ve seen a few recurring assessments and overall summations. The first being that every single one is human. Seems like a silly thing to point out … but is it? The idea that we are all human – accompanied by emotions of pride, doubt, fear, anxiety, desire, loneliness, love — seems to get lost. It’s not difficult to see why because….well…duh, we’re all humans with these same sets of emotions running rapidly and simultaneously through our souls.
However, back to the eternal optimist in me, I believe that this is simply proof that we are all good at our core…even those Piston fans. It’s just external factors, and how we react to them, that take good men and turn them into intolerable, chest-beating, self-serving, testosterone-overrun, cheating, lying douchebags. There’s really no other way to say it. I’m sure, as you’re reading this, you’re nodding your head because you can name half a dozen men right now that fit neatly into this description and you probably had a pretty visceral reaction to them.
And there’s the rub. I’m here to tell those guys something. Do you hear me? If you think that that’s just men being men, you’re wrong. If this describes you, I’m also here to tell you that nobody else likes you. Even the other men in your circle? They don’t either but they just want to stay in the circle. That’s just fact. It’s difficult to see this as truth at times because the pack mentality of men strengthens our resolve and shields us from what people’s honest perception of us actually is. This pack encourages men (and I will clarify that no man is immune to this) to be this way because of our nature to be what society has dictated we should be. In a group of guys, it takes courage to be genuine, caring, sensitive, passionate and honest. To walk out on this proverbial ledge means risking being ridiculed in ways that only men are capable of.
To cite an example, do you think it was a group of men or women that gave the term ‘gay’ the negative connotation it has today? Rhetorical question, right?
But why? My theory is this — and it could be a complete load of crap but it’s just my opinion. Men want to be all of those things that I described — the ones it takes true courage to be. Not just out of desire, but because it’s actually who they truly are. Do you think that just because you’re a man, you aren’t afraid? I know some of the biggest, strongest, toughest guys who are scared to death of spiders and will scream like children at the sight of one. Stop and think about that for a second. They are scared of something they can kill with their pinky but will jump out of a plane from 14,000 feet without reservation. But rather than ridiculing them for it, I have to assume that they have a basis for that fear. The fear is real. It comes from a real place and who am I to place judgment on that? I, personally, hate scary movies. I have no shame in admitting it. It’s not my thing. I don’t like them and I’m not afraid to tell anyone that. Does that make me a pansy? Guess what…after 37 years on this earth, I realized something that has changed my life. I don’t care.
To a man in his 20’s, early 30’s — and even for many regardless of age — that’s a difficult place to get to. Psychologists, therapists, counselors and others far more astute than I am can certainly explain the psychological and evolutionary reasons for these tendencies that take shape in all men of this age. And no. We can’t, nor should we, stifle the nature of men which is where I think much of the debate ends up. I read a book years ago that talks about the natural need for the male species to be out in the wild, so to speak. That the chains of domestication have stripped men of their true potential as providers, protectors and general bad asses. Do you think it was written by a woman or a man? I’ll give you one guess. I bet you get it right.
Men, just as women do, have an extensive number of qualities that are valuable to society. If you’ve seen Defending the Caveman, or have simply lived on this earth, you know that history shaped men and women differently based purely on the functions that fit our physical and mental make up. I don’t think I will offend anyone by saying that, generally speaking, men are stronger than women. Men also don’t have the trigger of caution and danger that women do. Men tend to think more linearly then women which roots back to the hunter vs. gatherer mentality. Men had one goal. Bring home food. It doesn’t matter how. That’s one heck of a singular focus….a bit like the blank stare every woman has seen in there male companion while watching sports.
As time evolved, particularly in the age of philosophers, men were allowed to broaden their horizons. The term renaissance man was once revered. Something many men strived to achieve as a description of themselves. They extended interest beyond just hunt and kill. It was an era that spawned men like Da Vinci and Michelangelo, Machiavelli and More, Copernicus and Galileo, Martin Luther, Shakespeare — artists, political thinkers (a far cry from today’s politicians!), philosophers and writers.
I’ll admit, which I know will come as a huge surprise, I wasn’t there during the Renaissance. Just missed it by a few hundred years. But I can guess, and that is certainly all it is, that it was just a few who started the movement.
As I said, I’m not a star. I’m not a hero. I’m just some guy that lives in Southern California. I’ve got a good job. I love my wife more than anything on this planet and I am lucky to have family and friends around me that I love immensely. But I’m not famous, beloved by thousands, with the luxury to speak to millions all at once.
But that won’t stop me. Since I don’t have that platform, I’m going to rely on numbers. On the idea that once the door is open, many will enter with their stories. And through these stories, we can reach as many men as possible to let them know that being kind is manly. Loving is cool. Sharing how you feel with those that matter most is respectable. And honor, integrity and humility are qualities worth striving for and putting on a pedestal.
This blog is our platform. A safe place to share, listen and learn. The more that come forward, the stronger we can become. The storm is raging and the ship is going in the wrong direction. We need a strong, brave and worthy crew to turn it around.
I’m calling out to the masses. To the Everyday Men and Women.
What now? How can you join the fight? Send me your stories. For ways to contact me, visit my Contact Page on my website – http://www.anthonyjosephbooks.com or just email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org