Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Duke Lacrosse

You probably won't like this one, but here goes...

They way I see things, where we're at in Durham, NC is the point where, if a Duke lacrosse player isn't charged with rape, sodomy and assault, there'll likely be rioting in the streets.

Because, you know, somebody had to have done this, and since all the evidence -- or at least the hearsay -- points to them, well, one or more of these guys has to go down, right?

Because, according to Alexander Wolff in the April 10th issue of Sports Illustrated, fifteen current players had previously been charged with "underage drinking, violations of open container laws or noise regulations or public urination." And nobody was ever convicted of a damned thing, so although we know these stick-wielding bastards are evil personified, we also know they're flouting laws and ordinances like it's going out of style down there at Duke.

By the way, anyone here -- especially anyone with a penis -- who went to college and a) didn't drink until their twenty-first birthday, b) never walked around with an open container or made excessive noise, and c) never took a leak in the free to leave the room. As a journalist, you simply can't take shit that every college student in the history of mankind has done at one time or another and act as if you're horrified by the fact that such behavior exists. That's dirty pool, and if you're attempting to indicate in your writings that such things shock you, I'll readily question your integrity because I think you're completely full of shit.

A "Duke graduate," in a rather public email that has "made the rounds of the internet" told the coach of the lacrosse team about players "breaking bones, trying to urinate on furniture, and shattering a window with a keg during his time at the school."

They tried to urinate on furniture? What exactly does this mean? Were they successful? If not, why not? Did a particularly nimble sofa somehow manage to dodge the stream? Hell, if they'd succeeded, wouldn't it read differently? "They urinated on furniture," perhaps? And someone threw a keg through a window once in this guy's four years at the school? I mean, shit, a keg through a window? What's next? Rape?

There's also the guy next door who says he heard a racial comment come from the house, so I guess we have to accept that as gospel. And twenty members of the team went out drinking two weeks later, so you know, there's also the horrific nature of that.

Mr. Wolff goes on to tell us about a 1995 study which "found that while athletes made up 3.3% of the male students (at ten Division I institutions examined), they accounted for 19% of reported sexual assaults." I hardly mean to make light of the situation, but did Mr. Wolff ever stop to consider the fact that athletes simply "pull more ass" than anyone on campus? It certainly doesn't make sexual assault something we should find acceptable, but this, to me, is simply a matter of skewed statistical sampling. It stands to reason, from my collegiate experience, that there will always be more sexual liaisons between women and male athletes than between women and, say, the biomedical engineering club. In other words, exponentially more opportunities for something to go horribly wrong.

Here's my point, and here's what I'm sick of in all the coverage of this case: Whether one or more of these pricks did this or not -- and, believe me, if they did I'll be the first to call for the maximum allowable sentence -- the holier-than-thou bullshit of journalists like Alexander Wolff, who pile on anyone accused of a crime by listing every fucking traffic ticket they've gotten in the past twenty years is blatant hypocrisy, pure and simple.

What you really have to do, unless you have no idea what it means to be unjustly accused of something, or you haven't the capacity to empathize with those who potentially have been, is wait until you have all the facts of the case before you start throwing fistfuls of shit on the principals involved. Because when someone fingers you for something, and the journalistic profession sanctimoniously brings every single one of your foibles -- relevant or no -- to the surface, it certainly seems unfair from my vantage point.

I'm not choosing a side here, and neither should you. All I'm asking is: what if? What if the Duke players' version of events is the truth? Again, any guy over the age of twenty who has never been in the presence of strippers can leave the room. What if the woman in question really did show up to their party in that condition, as they're claiming? What if that's true? Can Alexander Wolff, and all the rest of the journalists who've been kicking the accused in the teeth for the past month possibly know if it is or isn't?

So why polarize the entire fucking world so we arrive at this stage? Where if the police tell us someone other than a Duke lacrosse player did this, nobody's going to believe it, and people are going to riot. Where we excoriate asshole college males for doing shit that asshole college males do at every asshole college in the world, stunned -- stunned -- at their sense of entitlement, when the reality of the situation is that the people writing the fucking stories likely acted in the same asinine manner at the same age, albeit sans rape in most cases.

And so people in Durham march. They protest. They hold rallies. They bang pots and pans together in front of the house where the assault allegedly occurred. And for what? Because they know something? Fuck, no. It's because they want these people to be guilty because they don't like them, or what it is they supposedly stand for. That's not the way it works. You simply can't do that. You have to wait and see if they actually did it first.

Listen, I have no great love for Duke University. In all likelihood, I wouldn't get along with most of the players on the Duke lacrosse team. Guys they went to high school with are dying in obscurity in Iraq while they're on the phone ordering strippers to the keg party. They're probably assholes. I don't know, and I don't care, and I have no desire to ever meet any of them. But people who weren't there and don't know what transpired that night need to stop what they're doing until the legal system finally tells us what happened.