May 5, 2010
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
“Accused UVA Murderer Came from A Life of Privilege; George Huguely Attended Prestigious Prep School, Vacationed in Palm Beach” (ABC)In the wake of this week’s tragic loss of a University of Virginia lacrosse star, one thing could be certain: that the media would race to discover truths that aren’t there; and manufacture its own fictional, but philosophically honed, narrative.For example, someone reading the above could come to the conclusion that vacationing in Palm Beach somehow results in a propensity to commit crimes; or that having a nanny is a sure path to moral decay. (Comparable statistics on how many persons who did not have a life of privilege and who vacationed, say, on Coney Island, and still ended up with a felony record, are not available.)Or we are sure to read about the “UVA lacrosse case”; as though lacrosse must figure into it somehow. Perhaps there is something about that sport which leads to the dark side? Just in case the point isn’t made, many articles have hammered home, as a sly aside, some insidious reminders about ‘those Duke players‘.They forget, of course, that the Duke players were innocent; they were the victims of crime (false accusations--and much more, to boot). One could even assert, and not be wrong, that it was entirely their social class, gender, athletic connection, maleness, and ethnicity, which caused them to be targeted for the false allegations in the first place (why try and shake down a poor nerd?); and which permitted Nifong to prolong his fatuous ‘prosecution’ for so long without everyone laughing him out of the courthouse. (As somebody said, some cases are so important to various agendas, that mere innocence cannot be allowed as a defense.)But lacrosse had no more to do with this week’s tragedy than did attendance at the University of Virginia itself.Neither did maleness. The percentage of males who are involved in violence against either gender is rather small; and in any case maleness is not--as Valerie Solanas would have us believe--a defect. (“To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.”) But we shall doubtless be subjected to more of that kind of analysis, from those who believe it makes them appear brilliant to proffer such conclusions.What are we to say then about this week’s events? “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them,” said Solzhenitsyn. If only it were possible to select the target of our own agendas and vindicate our own beliefs by pointing to this or that group as being responsible for everything.At Duke, professors who wanted athletics eliminated from the university curriculum leapt onto the vehicle the false accusations provided them, and even asserted that it was “helmeted sports” which led to violence (as though no basketball player ever crossed the line). Just eliminate sports. Surely that would bring us to Wells’ world of peaceful Eloi from The Time Machine. “But,” as Solzhenitsyn added, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”Our betterment isn’t going to come from plucking one or another aspect of life from out of ourselves, and turning everyone into colorless identical drones. (An argument could be made that it is the non-conformists who have done most to enrich our lives.) Neither is it going to come from affirming our fantasies about those we dislike. The human condition brings with it wretched acts with even more wretched consequences, the like of which we have seen this week. But these acts did not have their origin in sports, or riches, or gender identity. And while it is dangerous to be sick, it is more dangerous to be diagnosed incorrectly, and then fervently embrace the wrong treatment.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!