Wednesday, March 29, 2006 at 10:36 AM
Some erstwhile intelligent and responsible people have argued that the reason for this discriminatory coverage has everything to do with national interest in big-time professional sports (football) versus only parochial interest in this obscure ivy-league game (lacrosse), which barely qualifies as an intramural sport. And, that may be. But I submit that the real reason has far more to do with pandering to racial stereotypes than going with the story that has more objective news value. Moreover, this story is about rape; not sports. And no one can deny that a bunch of rich white university students gang-raping a black woman – in the kind of “wilding” frenzy the media has associated with poor black high-school dropouts – is far more newsworthy than a bunch of black athletes being portrayed, yet again, as hyper-sexed exhibitionists.
Nonetheless, here’s the alleged victim’s version of what happened:
She’s a student at North Carolina Central University who works as an exotic dancer to help pay her tuition. On 14 March, she and another dancer were hired to perform at (what they thought was) a small bachelor party at a house on the cloistered-campus of Duke University, which, incidentally, is located in the mostly black city of Durham, North Carolina. When they arrived, however, they were greeted by dozens of preppy-looking men (most notably, 46 members of the lacrosse team) behaving like drunken rednecks and demanding to be entertained. When the women balked, they were verbally assaulted with racial and misogynistic slurs that would have made antebellum southerners proud. But the women managed to escape and made it to their car relatively unscathed. They were lured back, however, after one of the host students apologized and assured them that the environment would not be so hostile if they agreed to perform. But as soon as they returned to the house, the NC Central student claims she was pulled into a bathroom, sexually assaulted and beaten.
Alas, I’m not at all surprised that these two-legged hyenas with dicks for brains are getting a relative pass from the media. Nor would I be surprised if they get away with rape. But one has to wonder what responsibility Duke University will assume for this crime, and what action they will take to reinforce their institutional integrity. Because it does not auger well that it took university president Richard H. Brodhead two weeks to issue a statement. And that when he finally did, it read more like a brief for the defense of the lacrosse team than a declaration of Duke’s intent to rid its student body of anyone even remotely associated with such a heinous crime.
Here’s what he said, in part, in his 26 March statement:
….The criminal allegations against three members of our men’s lacrosse team, if verified, will warrant very serious penalties. The facts are not yet established, however, and there are very different versions of the central events. No charges have been filed, and in our system of law, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Meanwhile, because these arrogant snots refused to cooperate with the investigation, it took police over a week to coerce DNA samples from them, which finally arrived at the lab for testing on Monday.
But I’m profoundly dismayed by what appears to be the university’s very pro forma reaction. After all, this gives aid and comfort to the perpetrators that their high-priced family lawyers will get them out of this mess – just as they probably have on other occasions. And, what does it suggest about consequences for bad behaviour when the Athletic director forfeits 2 games as an expression of official outrage over the players’ involvement in this rape and their deliberate obstruction of justice? (Especially since they have already taken back to the field and are playing games as if nothing happened…..) In this regard, Duke would do well to learn from Grinnell College, where in 2003, the rugby team was suspended for an entire season for merely failing to properly register its players.
More important, however, it behooves the university president to take a more principled stand. Because, where I agree that the public should wait for a trial to determine the guilt of these players, the undisputed facts of this case compel Duke to pass summary institutional judgment. Accordingly, it should dispense disciplinary punishment commensurate with the gravity of this case and which reflects the extent to which these students violated the university’s code of conduct. And, it will not do to limit blame in this case – as the university president seems inclined to do – to the “three members of our men’s lacrosse team”. Because all who were present are complicit in this crime for helping to create the hostile environment in which it was perpetrated (with their rebel yells of racial hatred and female degradation); And, their complicity has only been compounded by their refusal to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.
Therefore, merely forfeiting 2 games hardly suffices when the season should have been canceled and these players suspended immediately and indefinitely. All of which begs the questions: Where’s the discipline? Where’s the media coverage? Where’s the public outrage?
NOTE: Duke has 12,000 students. Yet, despite the aggressive efforts of some on campus to stir moral outrage, only about 100 of them have participated in rallies protesting this gang-bang rape and the refusal of the players to cooperate with the investigation. Shame on Duke!
I encourage you to express your outrage to the university president: email@example.com
UPDATE (8:40 am): It seems Duke University has gotten part of the message at least because AP reports that its president has now overruled the Athletic director’s insulting 2-game suspension by supending “the school’s highly-ranked lacrosse team from play until school administrators learn more about allegations that several team members raped an exotic dancer at an off-campus party.” No shit! Now, how about those suspensions from school….