This morning, I ran across a post from Claire Potter, a history professor at Wesleyan, where she teaches such courses as "Queering the American State." Potter's post strongly, and appropriately, criticized Don Imus' slur against the Rutgers women's basketball team. But she then decided to turn her interests southward:
I think the comparison of this to the pattern of media representation that we saw as the the Duke men's lacrosse team scandal unfolded over the last year is instructive. When it became clear that Durham prosecutor Michael Nifong had run roughshod over the investigation, and that the exotic dancers may have made charges that were untrue or inaccurate, those nitwits down at Duke who have been wearing the "Innocent" bracelets claimed that their faith in the players was vindicated. This view has been tacitly, if not explicitly, supported by the media as accounts of team behavior in general have dropped out of the news. But really -- although the lacrosse players may not be guilty of a prosecutable crime, that does not make them innocent. Many players who were under legal drinking age spent the entire day of the incident drinking (illegal); the dancers were, it is clear, physically if perhaps not sexually assaulted; and this behavior was part of a pattern of ingrained, anti-social behavior that repeatedly led to people being targeted by team members for violence, either on the streets or at team parties (and do we think that women have not been raped at Duke lacrosse team parties? that women under the influence of drugs and alcohol have not been coerced to have sex without their explicit consent? Think about it.) The ethical culture of this lacrosse team was so out of touch that many players who were not involved in this incident, and who did not do anything wrong, still refused to speak about what had happened, in the misplaced belief that loyalty to one's friends is a higher virtue than treating people who aren't on your team with respect. And in the face of all this unethical behavior on the part of the lacrosse team, a great many people at Duke -- most prominently, the women's lacrosse team -- still insist on characterizing these profoundly screwed up young men as "innocent." . . .Potter, who appears to adhere to the far-left neo-prohibitionism that the Duke case has spawned, might be correct that the Rutgers women's basketball players are all part of the roughly 20 percent of American college students who don't drink alcohol, and therefore are worthy of her praise as those Duke lacrosse players who drank beer are worthy of her condemnation.
That these male lacrosse players at a private university, almost all of whom are white, have not been repeatedly identified -- in jest or seriously -- as the semi-criminal youth gang that they appear to be; and that C. Vivian Stringer's squad of public university scholar-athletes, almost all of whom are black and who have consistently carried themselves with dignity and grace, are slandered on national radio, ought to tell us something about selling race and sex in Amerika [spelled as in original] today.
As for her other comments, mindboggling is the most charitable adjective that can describe them.
[Update, 1.20pm: In Group of 88 fashion, Potter has added an item to her post claiming to have received "intimidating e-mail." (She also describes DIW as the work of "someone out there cruising for postings on the Duke lacrosse team controversy who has created a blog to host them.") She has provided no evidence for her question, "Do we think that women have not been raped at Duke lacrosse team parties?"]