It will be an unmitigated outrage if all of the students who refused to co-operate with the police (i.e., the wall of silence) are not expelled directly. Whether or not Duke takes a serious attitude about obstruction of an investigation of a crime of this magnitude will say volumes about the quality of Duke leadership.March 26:
Though the facts on exactly who committed the crime may not yet be known to us, the fact that the crime occured [sic] seems to be pretty irrefutable to me. A woman was brutally assaulted in our neighborhood. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know exactly who is guilty yet, we do know that SOMEBODY (several somebodies) ARE guilty. It’s just a matter of time…The current case? Writes Ham, “What has been the reaction on the
“(sound of crickets)
“Not. A. Word.
“Not. A. Single. Post.”
In their apologia for the Group of 88, the “clarifying” faculty spoke—without supplying any evidence to support their claim—of an “atmosphere that allows sexism, racism, and sexual violence to be so prevalent on campus.”
To my knowledge, however, not one Duke professor has issued a statement condemning the 2007 fraternity party in which the rape allegedly occurred. No jeremiads about the moral evils of underage drinking, either.
Why the double standard? Orin Starn informs the N&O: “Normally with a rape case, police do the investigation, and charges are filed, and it goes through court. The lacrosse case was something of an anomaly. It became a media event that was covered and dissected and debated, both locally and nationally.”
Starn’s quote represents an example of three sentences that said nothing: we know how cases normally proceed, we know the lacrosse case was an “anomaly,” and we know it became a media event. The question is why, and on this point Starn was silent.
One way to explain Starn’s disparate reactions: since the current house is rented by non-athletes, exploiting this case would not further his crusade to transform Duke into a
As for the Group of 88: to use Wahneema Lubiano’s phrasing (which she now appears to be denying), in the lacrosse case, the players were “perfect offenders.” For faculty who worship at the altar of the race/class/gender trinity, for what more could they ask than a case in which a black woman was accusing white males who play a sport associated with the upper class?
The current case, on the other hand, is dangerous in terms of academic politics. Ultra-feminists—such as Robyn Weigman—contend that we always should believe women who charge rape. But the woman in this case is white, and might very well come from a more privileged background than the accused. So while “gender” points to one reaction, “race” and “class” point to another. In response, it appears that the Group of 88 will sit this issue out.
In the lacrosse case, the media almost always reported the race of the accused students. In the current case, local media outlets, chiefly the N&O, have gone out of their way not to report the race of the suspect. The policy, political correctness run amok, basically leaves the reader trying to decipher code words—the suspect, for instance, was described in the N&O as “wearing a black do-rag.”
The explanations offered for this decision were unconvincing.
According to N&O public editor Ted Vaden, managing editor John “Drescher also makes the case that in an increasingly multi-ethnic community, race is less useful as a description . . . How do you distinguish between black, brown, white, dark complexion, light complexion and other? He pointed to photographs of Barack Obama and North Carolina U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield. Not knowing their ethnicity, would a reader describe them as black or white?
“Keith Woods, dean of the Poyner Institute, a development center for journalists in
This line of argument reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s approach to racial issues. Playing a faux blowhard on his Comedy Central show, Colbert regularly says he has moved “beyond race”; when someone points out he is white, he responds with lines such as, “If you say so. I don’t see color.”