If you walked up to a six-year-old and asked him or her what the meaning of the word “gravity” was, then I bet that a fair number of times you would get shrugged shoulders and “I dunno” as a response. However, just because someone might not be able to define the word “gravity” doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t understand that what goes up in the air also comes down. You can have ideas and understandings before you are familiar with all of the proper lexical items that describe those ideas.
Let’s keep that in mind as we look at the Derrick Rose allegations. Rose is currently facing a civil suit for rape from an anonymous woman. In June, that woman’s lawyer questioned Rose:
Question: “Do you have an understanding as to the word consent?
Derrick Rose: “No. But can you tell me?”
Question: “I just wanted to know if you had an understanding.”
Derrick Rose: “No.”
If we assume that Rose isn’t just playing dumb here, then what does it mean that he didn’t have “an understanding as to the word consent”? Hopefully, no one is taking a lack of understanding of the word to mean that he doesn’t understand that people have to voluntarily agree to enter situations, including sexual ones. Not knowing what the word “consent” means may simply reflect what I would call a limited vocabulary, especially for a 27-year old.
Realistically, I don’t see how you can get through high school and a year of college, as Rose did, without having an “understanding as to the word consent.” Then again I wasn’t exactly a blue chip with my four-point-per-game high school basketball average in northern Alberta. The point being, I actually had to do my own homework, unlike the guys that are bound for the association, and I writing those essays expanded my vocabulary.
Anyone familiar with the preferential treatment that athletes get in school has to admit that it is possible that Rose might not understand a simple word like “consent” because he was an outstanding varsity/collegiate athlete. Those guys don’t necessarily care about becoming ‘learned scholars’ if they think they are heading to the professional ranks. If that sounds like I’m taking a jab at Rose all I have to say is that he’s the one that’s gone on the record stating he doesn’t understand what a very common word means.
However, I don’t want to digress from the point at hand. I just want people to be sure to understand that literally not understanding what “consent” means doesn’t mean that Rose harms or helps to harm people. If he is guilty of the accusations then him literally not knowing what “consent” means doesn’t speak to his innocence or guilt. Maybe he understands similar words like “authorize,” “permit,” “sanction,” or “allow” and would use those instead.
But even if he doesn’t understand all of those words it still doesn’t mean anything important except that someone was doing his homework for him in school so he could focus on basketball. I hope that people keep the juries in their heads out for the time being regarding Rose, because while someone’s vocabulary might pertain to his efforts in school, I don’t see how it pertains to his actions as a citizen.