I’ve been asked to share my thoughts on the Duke LAX rape case being dropped.
I am suppressing my gut reaction to cry bullshit automatically. Honestly, I am still not convinced that the men are innocent, and I am not entirely convinced that they are guilty (but I can’t get that awful email one of the players wrote out of my mind). While there are certainly a lot of flaws to our legal system, it really is all we have to count on. Sinply put, without the due process we would be reduced to nothing more than Salem witch trials. If all these unethical things did not happen, would the verdict of the trial have turned out differently? Hard to say. I can’t use moral relativism when I decide who gets due process or not.
It is a little fucked up that the players were suspended and all the media attention before a verdict was reached. That maybe was more of a PR move for Duke Athletics rather than a punitive thing. I think all the media hoopla also affected the validity of the trial and the whole thing. This isn’t the direct fault of the players necessarily, but I think you have to ask WHY is got the media attention to begin with. Is it because they were privileged white kids? If this were a poor urban youth, would people be in an uproar? Would it have made a high-profile case, thus resulting in the flawed trial?
I think one of the players mentioned the whole thing about the unfairness of someone being able to have a high priced attorney on their side. In a fair, just world, everyone would be assigned an attorney and that would be that. However,because there is a market for it, it exists. Why should we expect someone who is a gifted attorney to decide to be a public defender when they could make 10 times as much as a private attorney? So you can’t really blame the individual defendants for being “privileged” for hiring a high powered attorney. If I were in the situation I would probably do the same.
A note about DNA sampling: I think people were expecting the DNA from the rape kit to be the deciding factor in the case. Believe it or not, DNA evidence in sexual assult cases are rarely ever clear cut. There is very rarely good evidence take from the survivor that is a reliable for dcientific testing. If there even is at all.
My feelings go out to the woman who was involved. I hope this situation does not contribute to the belief that women commonly cry rape for attention or to be vindictive. Because some people actually believe that happens all the time, which is so infuriating to me. I still think something happened, even though we will never know what. I am quite positive that intitially coming forward with the accusations was no picnic for her either.
Then we get to the monolithic issues about the culture of men’s college athletics. This is something I directly deal with, probably on a day to day basis. Again, it would be very easy of me to blame the individuals on teams for being misogynist, homophobic assholes and call it a day. You have to look at the things around it, the socialization of this whole male identity, and the culture surrounding it, and the expectations set up by coaches/parents their whole lives. Not that people can say they are helpless victims of circumstance, everyone still has an individual choice of how to act. Then you have to look at sportls like lacrosse and hockey, and realize that these are sports that are cultivated and supported in well-off communities and schools, so there is the whole privileged, white, prep school culture which is a monster on its own. And then you need to look at how coaches are role models for teams and how they promote violence, rejection of anything not remotely masculine and the peer culture of social norms maintaining the “cult of masculinity”. I don’t even know how to start even breaking rhe surface, both in talking about it and actually challenging it in real life.