In a comment on my first Duke post, below, Michael Simpson notes that he did not explicitly state that the Duke players had committed the rape of which they were accused. I acknowledge that, and wish to correct the implication that he did so. He did not. The conviction to which I was referring when I wrote about Michael's earlier post was his claim convicting the Dukies of extraordinary boorishness, utterly embarrassing behavior, and other hyperbolic descriptions of desperate immorality. And I must note that it would have been disingenuous for me to fail to mention that such opinions, which I was criticizing in my post, had appeared on this very blog. It would have left us open to charges of favoritism.
As noted, Michael Simpson stopped short of saying the Dukies had commited the rape of which they wre accused, but he did exemplify the conservatives' rush to judgment in claiming that this case shows the decline of Western civ., etc. And that's his prerogative, as it is mine to seek a little truth in and perspective on the matter.
Another commenter referred to the racial epithets supposedly flung by the Dukies at the party, and the nasty email that was sent afterward, as proving that these players, all 30 or so of them, are strange monsters given to utterly perverse and fiendish activities at which Mr. Hyde would have shrunk in revulsion. I emphatically disagree. I have said that I don't believe the epithets happened, as they are an additional charge by the person who says a lot of other things happened that couldn't have happened. The claim is embroidery on a phony story, and we have no reason whatever to believe that it is true. And even if someone did say something racial at the party, this is no news story, much less a sign of the moral collapse of the West. It would have been wrong to do, of course, but lots of wrong things happen in this world without causing a ripple in the national press. As I've pointed out repeatedly, it is the false charge of rape that gives this story (false) significance: Does anyone here really believe that every shouted racial epithet should be a major newspaper story? If so, there would be no room for anything else.
As to the email, yes, that was putrid. But did all 30 players sign it? Then how can anyone but a fool condemn them all for it? In addition, young males say things like this all the time, and good young men as well as the slimy ones do so. It's wrong, but not exactly a hydrogen bomb. The difference here is that the individual put it in an email, which could get into the wrong hands (and unfortunately did—those of the colege administration and district attorney's office). In its original form, a message to a single individual, the statement could not have hurt anyone, given that it was absurdly unlikely that anyone would tell the next stripper what this fellow had written. (Bad business practice, that, at the very least.) The email would never have gotten out to the public had not the authorities sent it out to the press in the first place. So, who is more responsible for any hurt feelings the message might have created, the player who sent it to one person who would surely not have repeated it to anyone whose feelings might be hurt by it, or the authorities who sent it out to the world? Without the false rape charge, this email stays where it belongs, in the fevered fantasies of a hormone-engorged college boy. But the authorities chose to publicize it. Let's put the relative responsibility where it belongs.
How this entire incident could be exemplary of the decline of society is utterly beyond my comprehension, given that the Duke players have been much better than the average college student, as noted repeatedly in my previous postings on the subject, as documented by Duke's own witchhunt, er, study. It's important to remember that even in conservatives' beloved Victorian era, things like this happened. They're incidents, not things by which we can characterize people's entire lives. Anybody with a soul has said things they regret, whether drunk or not. Who here really has the right to cast this particular stone? Well? Just so: a single email or attendance at a drunken party surely cannot establish one as an example of utter depravity except in the most lurid and hypocritical kind of mind. I do not believe that Michael Simpson or most of the other critics of the Duke lacrosse team have such minds, and I press this point so that we can all understand exactly what is important about this incident.
It is the evil power of politics that stands out most vividly here.