In her screed against the lacrosse team in Sunday’s New York Times, Selena Roberts denounced what she termed “the irrefutable culture of misogyny, racial animus and athlete entitlement that went unrestrained that night.” [emphasis added]
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, irrefutable is defined as “impossible to refute: INCONTROVERTIBLE.”
Roberts correctly notes that it is “irrefutable” that racial animus was on display after the lacrosse party—though she withholds from her readers Kim Roberts’ admission that she began the racial taunts; or that none of the three accused players were even at the house by that point in time.
Roberts also withholds from her readers the “irrefutable” racial animus we have seen in this case from figures such as Chan Hall, or Harris Johnson, or officials of the NAACP.
But was the party an example of “the irrefutable culture of misogyny”? Such a claim would presuppose, it seems, that the hiring of strippers is a males-only activity at Duke. Yet, as this Liestoppers post observed, women’s groups at Duke also seem to have hired strippers.
A case could be made, of course, that such behavior is crass, and I’m sure that Roberts’ friends among the religious right would agree with her. Yet how can behavior be irrefutably anti-female if female groups also engage in the same behavior?
Finally, Roberts’ claim that the party demonstrated an “irrefutable culture of . . . athlete entitlement” is, to put it bluntly, absurd. To begin with, non-athletes were at the party. A brief search through webshots.com, a photo hosting service, shows that “spring break party” reveals 291,548 photos; “spring break drunk” reveals 61,682 pictures; “spring break beer” brings up 40,309 snapshots; and the number for “spring break naked” is more than 6,500. Youtube reveals thousands of videos of sexually tasteless activities over spring break. Based on these figures, can Roberts seriously contend that holding a spring break party with beer and sexually explicitly entertainment is a characteristic of “athlete entitlement” and not a more general college experience?
Perhaps the Times uses a different dictionary, one in which “irrefutable” doesn’t mean “incontrovertible.” Or perhaps Selena Roberts overstated her argument.