Advertising with convicted rapists?
A heated debate has broken out in Lithuania about commercials for the telecommunications company Telia featuring basketball stars Darjuš and Kšyštof Lavrinovič. The two brothers were convicted of participating in a gang rape in 1998. Commentators discuss the role model function and the potential for deterrence and rehabilitation.
Encouraging those who want to atone for mistakes
Lrytas argues that the brothers have proven in the 16 years since their release that they are exactly right for the job:
“They lead a decent and respectable life, are good citizens and serve their country with their sports achievements and charity initiatives. This is also part of their atonement. When you see the Lavrinovič brothers in public they never come across as arrogant stars but are always friendly and optimistic. This is why they can and even must become vehicles for advertising. They are the best role models for young people who have committed crimes. Even if you've made a big mistake you can still be reborn, return to society, serve it and even become a basketball star.”
Set the right moral precedents
Author Vaiva Rykštaitė argues in Lrt that even repentant rapists are not suitable as role models:
“I am trying to imagine how I should explain the choice of this advertisement to a son or brother. What's the message behind it? You can go ahead and rape women, in the worst case you'll have to go to jail for a few years, but after that you can still become a star. All these women will eventually be forgotten. ... Today I look at the Lavrinovič brothers without hatred, but I firmly believe that we need not only legal but also moral precedents. And someone also has to fill the role of the scapegoat and serve as an example.”