May 5, 2010
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Since the current tragedy at the University of Virginia, the media has frequently brought up the Duke lacrosse case, as though the latter had some kind of relevance to the former.
Because such associations are likely to be made in the future, let’s get a few facts straight:
The Duke lacrosse players did not commit a crime in Durham; they were the victims of a crime (several crimes in fact: false accusations, and much more).
Their community rushed to judge them, including preachers, newspapers, politicians, and assumed whatever “truths” were most convenient for their own agendas. The comparisons with Scottsboro are eerie, the sort of perfect parallels which could only occur if we humans really are all alike under the skin, regardless of where and when we live.
Their university went into PR mode and did everything it could to distance itself from them. According to allegations made in current lawsuits, student records were turned over to police in violation of FERPA restrictions. Faculties were instructed to harass lacrosse players (which resulted in one professor making lacrosse students sit apart from all the rest of the class; another abruptly flunking the two lacrosse players in her class; and others interrupting their lectures to deliver diatribes against players).
The Dean of the Chapel sermonized against them. University police records were altered or hidden, because they didn’t support the rape mantra. And much more.
All of which, by the way, might have become public knowledge by now; except that justice in America moves at a crawl; and the judge hearing the suits, in his infinite wisdom, decided not to permit testimony to be taken in depositions until other legal business had been taken care of--in the interests of “judicial economy."
It is not unusual for civil suits to move at a snail’s pace; but in this instance, in the interim a key witness has committed suicide (likely for unrelated reasons; but meaning that a key piece of the puzzle may have been lost forever); and the preservation of other records may be in question.
Durham does not have the best record for maintaining electronic and recorded information; in the Duke case, as well as in other instances, police and other recordings have been recorded over “by mistake." Who knows how many other witnesses will assert that they have now “forgotten."
Had this information been permitted to become public by now, and had the principal allegations made in the suits been confirmed, then the university might have been seen to have cooperated in a conspiracy to frame students whom it knew to be innocent. That knowledge would have put to rest the notion that the lacrosse players were somehow bad actors anyway, who just narrowly escaped the consequences of their actions. No comparisons would be being made with the present tragedy; and “lacrosse” would not be linked to every mischance as a logical association.
The damage done to lacrosse and to the reputations of the accused in Durham is still rampant. The inflated bubble of lies which university administrators, community leaders, and agendistas of all stripes rushed to construct has yet to be burst. This is the real scandal at Duke; and if any comparisons are to be made, they should be sought in the world of lies, false accusations, and scapegoating, and not in sports.
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