An excellent letter in today’s Star-Tribune responding to the Syl Jones column I recently critiqued. As so often has occurred in this case, the voice of reason comes from a Duke student, in this case Sarah Bennett, a member of the Class of 2006:
In his rush to ridicule “conservative cheerleaders” and criticize “rich white kids,” Syl Jones failed to thoroughly research the Duke lacrosse hoax before writing his June 24 commentary.
Jones portrayed the falsely accused as unremorseful over having attended the party. However, as early as March 28, 2006, the players made a statement expressing their “sincere regret over the lapse in judgment in having the party on March 13 which has caused so much anguish for the Duke community and shame to our families and ourselves.” Additionally, the players have repeatedly spoken out about what they've learned throughout the past year and how they hope this case will highlight problems within the criminal justice system.
I am also troubled by Jones’ statement that “something did happen” at the party. Instead of hiding behind ambiguous statements, Jones should have explicitly stated what he believed the players were guilty of and provided evidence for his claim. It is this ambiguity that has allowed those who wish to blindly vilify the players to make insinuations without having to provide any evidence.
The Duke lacrosse case has shown how out of control a false accusation can become. While I doubt that any Duke lacrosse player will ever again hire a dancer or host a raucous party at which underage drinking is present, writers like Jones seem all too willing to ignore the lessons of the past year, and instead continue to make baseless accusations and presumptions about the lacrosse players.