The story of the Duke lacrosse team has dominated the news lately, which is surprising when one considers how little is there.
There was a party. There were strippers. One of them claimed she was raped by some players. And that’s about it.
What this is is one thing. What it has become is another. The incident and the media firestorm it has created is puzzling.
Some talk about how college athletes feel like they are special. Some talk about how male athletes are motivated to be aggressive on the field, and then it carries over into their personal lives.
Again, that all might be true. But are we sure that’s what happened here? Is there any proof that any rape or sexual assault occurred?
The truth is very few people know for sure what happened that night. But most of the noise has been made by people who don’t know.
Certainly, District Attorney Mike Nifong thinks he knows what happened, or he wouldn’t have followed through with the charges. The defense attorneys for the players are just as certain, having said the DNA of the case doesn’t match the players.
Jesse Jackson has made his semi-annual media appearances. He has even offered to pay the tuition of the woman who claimed she was raped.
But unless he was at the party saw what took place, what can he possibly say about the incident? Another stripper at the party said she didn’t know if a rape took place. If she didn’t know, what could anyone else add?
We have seen protests, but what are the people protesting? An event that may not have taken place?
It’s possible that a rape took place that night. It’s also possible it didn’t. None of us can say for sure at this point. But that hasn’t stopped almost everyone from chiming in.
What it comes down to is what the jury will believe, or what will be settled.
But that’s not it. There are other questions.
Is the case about rape, or a district attorney trying to get reelected with a high-profile case? There has already been criticism that Nifong, up for re-election, has been overanxious to prosecute.
Is the case about rape, or class and race in an upscale community? We have seen countless television interviews on the topic.
Is the case about rape, or is it an indictment of our college culture? We already know there has been fallout there. The Duke lacrosse season has been cancelled and coach Mike Pressler resigned. Pressler had been at Duke for 16 years and the team lost a national title by a goal last season. Now, wherever he goes, everyone will talk about the incident. Who knows if he will be hired again?
The truth is in this case we have no answers but an endless amount of questions. And no matter how much time passes, we are not likely to have that change.
Perhaps the biggest question is who the victims are. It could be the woman. It could be the players. But there will be no winners.
The sad thing is most of us writing about this now will eventually move on and write about other things. So will Jackson, Rush Limbaugh, Larry King and all the other commentators and talk show hosts. But what about the accuser? What about the lacrosse players who were not involved, or the even those who were charged? No matter what happens, those lives are forever changed.
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