Monday, April 03, 2006

Thoughts on Duke

Thoughts on the Ongoing Lacrosse Team Rape Case at Duke:

1. The accused are guilty until proven innocent. Most of these thoughts are, accordingly, on the furor more than on the case itself.

2. The main issue here is certainly not the 'Old South'. The students at Duke tend to come from prep schools in the DC area and further into the Northeast. Most of the kids on this team seem to be from upstate New York and New Jersey. In other words, they were likely not Good Ol' Boys.

3. The flashpoint is race, again. Race is like the nagging toothache that never goes away in America. Ignore it all you want, but it's still there.

But, this issue tends to cloud our thinking. Fundamentally, this is an alleged sexual assault with racist overtones, and not the reverse. In other words, it doesn't sound as much like a hate crime as a sex crime. Race should be addressed, but not at the expense of making the rape of one victim seem somehow more heinous than the rape of another.

4. So, the issue of gender has to be addressed. Parents should be much more worried than they are about sending their daughters to universities with drunken runamok young boys ruling the social scene. Implicitly or explicitly, a part of the package that American universities sell to potential students is the party scene. To put it mildly, this scene seems to have been unquestioned at Duke.

A student writes:
"These same administrators then go to tailgate before football games, an event at which I would venture to guess more than 75% of the attendees are underage (but 100% of the attendees are wasted), and hand out water bottles so that no one gets dehydrated."

Universities have sold their souls for "retention", bending over backwards to admit and hold onto students who have no place in polite society, much less a university. The local stories about lacrosse players getting drunk in bars and yelling at patrons, even now, are shocking because they show the lack of moral gravity that comes with an absense of moral consequences.

5. If the party scene needs to be questioned, it also needs to be asked why town/gown relations are so terrible in Durham. Having gone to a very similar university in the South, I can attest that student animosity towards "townies" is all-too-common. But, this also a side-effect of how the university deals with students. Pumping them full of "you are the special ones, the noble ones" rhetoric, and refusing to discipline them in any serious way for seemingly serious violations prior to this one is a recipe for disaster.

6. Again, this team certainly seems like assholes by all accounts, but we should reserve judgment about whether or not they're rapists. The question that it seems this all begs, for me, is why the university feels that it is none of their business if their students are assholes.

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