lundi, mai 15, 2006

Insider Scoop on the Duke Rape Case

Okay, the title is a lie. I need to stop writing titles that drive traffic to my blog. I have no insider scoop, but that's my point.

One thing about the blogosphere that troubles bloggers like myself is that I always feel like a hearsay commentator. I try to always reference my sources, but giving an opinion on an issue of the day without being ill-informed is more difficult than it sounds.

Bloggers love to criticize the MSM (Main Street Media) for its bias, its over-coverage, its under-coverage, its priorities, etc. But, like it or not, the MSM is the primary source of information for casual bloggers like myself. So, if the MSM is biased or flawed, ILIM, and sites like it, run the risk of magnifying those flaws.

An example of an issue that is difficult to discuss or add to, is the Duke rape case.

I must confess that I read just about everything I can about the Duke rape case. There are several reasons for this:

1. Duke sucks.

2. I hate Duke for several reasons – perhaps this could be a separate post.

3. I’m fascinated by the issues of gender that it raises..

4. I’m fascinated by the issues of class that it raises.

5. I’m fascinated by the issues of race that it raises.

6. I’m fascinated by the issues of athletics and athletes that it raises.

7. I’m fascinated that it allegedly occurred within an insular community that functions like a
fraternity and holds a lot of potential for the all too familiar secrecy pacts, etc.

8. I’m fascinated by the prospect of young lives in the balance – for the dancer/stripper there is the awe I feel that she is challenging the very house of power in her world; for the young men,

9. I’m fascinated that the outcome here really is the difference between the opulent life of a Wall Street shark, and the “Scarlet Letter” life of a sex offender.

10. I’m fascinated by how it exposes our inability to discard irrelevant items when seeking answers to delicate questions, to wit:

-We struggle around the use of the words “dancer/stripper”

-We struggle to trust women who dance/strip for a living

-We consider the complainant less trustworthy because she was allegedly assaulted in the past.

-We consider the complainant less trustworthy because the other dancer/stripper that night was discovered to have ulterior motives.

11. The young men on the lacrosse team seem to celebrate their privilege with impunity

12. Duke seems to celebrate its privilege with impunity

13. It has a lot of weird elements – shoes and “spiked” beers and a profiteering cohort and, most of all (and the main subject of this post)

14. Duke, its students, its administrators, and its alumni have been indignant about the whole thing – make no mistake about it…to them, the victim is not a black woman from a humble home who works her way through college, it’s the elite university founded by a tobacco magnate with the multi-billion dollar endowment and more time on ESPN than the dadgum Yankees; it’s the student who absolutely must be falsely accused (nothing else makes sense).

Look, I know full well that sitting at my desk in St. Paul, Minnesota, armed only with what I read in the MSM, that I’m horribly ill-positioned to reach any definitive conclusions on what happened, on who’s lying, or on what would be a just outcome, but I know that when I read that graduates put Seligmann’s and Finnerty’s lacrosse jersey numbers on their graduation caps, or that the Provost mentions “sad events and relentless media coverage” as having an impact on the school’s image, that I want to vomit. How can they be so sure? How are they able to hold these young men up for celebration? Are there any other victims out there that we might want to consider?

If I went to an elite University, I might cite some lesson from antiquity here, something about hubris, but I went to public college, so let me just say that:

Pride goeth before the fall.

Which means that we should have our results on all this by September at the latest.


Anyway, much is yet to be determined, but if we conclude that an assault took place, my sincere hope is that those who celebrate the wrong victims will learn the lessons available to them, and that the false invincibility of privilege will be shredded to the point that even the elite and exalted among us are humbled.

After all, O.J. and Kobe and William Kennedy Smith all got their comeuppance, so…