NBC Criticized For Casting Mike Tyson as Victim of Abuse

-By Warner Todd Huston

NBC is taking some flack for casting Mike Tyson–a convicted rapist and accused serial abuser–as a victim of abuse in an upcoming episode of the TV show “Law & Order: SVU.”

In the episode Tyson will portray a death row inmate who was abused as a child and who was convicted of murdering one of his abusers.

The network originally scheduled the episode, which finished filming months ago, to air on February 13 but since rescheduled it to air on February 6 in order to distance its air date from an international, anti-violence event planned for February 14. The international event, the One Billion Rising march, is meant to raise awareness of abuse and violence against women.

The casting was protested by rape survivor Marcie Kaveney who started a petition to have NBC recast the role removing the convicted Tyson. The petition got over 7,000 signatures.

Kaveney, a rape-crises advocate from Fort Meyers, Florida, told the Washington Post, “As soon as I saw it [in a news report], I just saw red.”

On her petition, Kaveney laments the casting of the convicted Tyson, saying, “As an advocate and a survivor, my heart aches at the thought that this man gets a free pass because he is famous! I can’t even begin to imagine what this news would mean to his victim.”

In 1991Tyson was convicted of raping 18-year-old Miss Black America contestant Desiree Washington and served a six-year sentence. Also, in the late 1980s, Tyson was accused of multiple cases of domestic abuse of his one-time wife, Robin Givens.

Tyson has weighed in on the television show controversy saying he’s been sober for five years and in that time has remained a law-abiding citizen. “I’m just trying to live my life,” he said.

“I didn’t rape nobody or do anything like that, and this lady wasn’t there to know if I did or not,” the former boxer told TV Guide in an interview about Kaveney’s petition.
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Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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Copyright Publius Forum 2001