Uh-oh. After all we’ve heard about the Duke lacrosse-rape case, here comes one more unsolicited opinion — and worse, from a fuddy-duddy grandmother.
The travesty of justice and exoneration of the innocent themes have been the prominent focus of every report. Here are some of the headlines: “Justice at Duke;” “Ex-players cleared in Duke rape case;” “Nightmare finally ends for accused;” “Charges Dropped in Duke Lacrosse Case.” All but ignored has been a question lurking behind this sordid mess — the question of the “party for forty” about which this grandmother has been wondering: BOYS, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!
To be sure, you were wrongfully accused, wrongfully charged, wrongfully abandoned by your alma mater, and you wrongfully suffered. All wrong and belatedly corrected. But it might be wise to think of how this mess came about, and to recognize that none of this trouble appeared out of thin air with no help from you. Here are just two less discussed components of your ordeal:
* First, Your Culture: You live in what Professor Lionel Tiger calls “the craven crumminess of popular culture” in which casual sex and risky behavior are supposed to have no consequences and are seldom condemned. The Washington Post said only, “Hiring a stripper to perform at a team party is offensive.” Not exactly a strong criticism. So you hired a stripper about whom you apparently knew little other than that for money, she would do things that other women would not do. Did that don’t-worry-everybody-does-it-so-don’t—be-judgmental atmosphere blind you to the other side of your behavior? There are times to use that discredited judgment, and this well might have been one of them. Consequences do happen.
It is now reported by the Christian Science Monitor that colleges are looking at themselves. “Concern about the alcohol-fueled party that provided the backdrop to the case prompted Duke administrators and faculty to undertake an introspective examination of campus culture…. The notoriety of the case forced Duke to the front of academe in this evaluation of student life and campus culture. But colleges across the U.S. are also soul-searching and refining policies in the wake of the case, recognizing that Duke is not the only campus where the confluence of race, sex, privilege, and booze could spark a scandal.” Duke’s answer? “…accountability for perpetrators, more and better support for victims, and…more intensive prevention programs.” We shall see what that means.
* The second component, This PC World: Unfortunately for you, Political Correctness is rampant throughout higher education and throughout the press. The privilege vs. victim theme was and remains irresistible to these folks. Even now — after the dismissal of charges — they can’t let go. Said Terry Moran of ABC News, “These young men will get on with their privileged lives….They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.” Dick Meyer of CBS News spoke of “rooting for the fall of these privileged white boys playing with strippers.”
At the end, two of the vindicated students spoke out. David Evans said that the players were “just as innocent today as we were back then. Nothing has changed. The facts don’t change.” And Reade Seligman added, “This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed.” May it also open your eyes to the fact that in this world, you are the masters of your fate now and for the rest of your lives. For good or for ill, your behavior will have consequences, so think about them. Good luck.