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Wednesday, April 12, 2006 

On a Serious Note

I usually try to keep things light and fun here on The WAD, but today I’m compelled to talk a little more seriously than usual. So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here goes:

Over the past several weeks, the story of the Duke Lacrosse team and the alleged sexual assault has found its way onto the front page of every paper in America. In this era of steroid scandals in baseball and NHL gambling rings, we’ve grown all too used to sports stories finding there way onto the front page. The Duke Lacrosse story, however, is much more difficult to stomach than its recent front page predecessors. This story, unlike the others, exploded and brought a storm of community unrest, harsh and rash judgments, and most regrettably of all, tension between the African American and white citizens of Durham. The question that I have been asking myself for the past several weeks is “why”? More specifically, why has the media been so anxious to put this story front and center when the facts of the case appear to be unknown to even the investigators, much less the media?

Unfortunately, we live in an era where the media exercises little to no discretion or responsibility, and in my opinion, therein lies the answer to the question “why”? My point is simply that the media all too often sees a juicy story and runs with it without taking the time to distinguish between fact and innuendo. Sure, they use words like “alleged”, but there is no mistaking the tenor and tone of their coverage. For example, when the news broke about Wayne Gretzky’s wife’s involvement in the recent gambling ring, we saw a deluge of stories insinuating that Gretzky was, at a minimum, aware of his wife’s behavior, and at worst, actually personally involved in the scandal. Again, nobody would come right out and say it, but the tone and the insinuations were there. Some writers went as far as to suggest that Gretzky should have withdrawn as the leader of Canadian Hockey at the Olympics. No doubt, these stories caused great consternation and distress to Gretzky and those that are close to him, but at least the sphere of influence was limited in that case. In the case of the alleged sexual assault and the Duke Lacrosse team, however, the influence of the media has been far more expansive and devastating.

From the moment the stories of the alleged acts of March 13 came to light, the media descended on Durham and created a firestorm of controversy that has ripped the community at its core. For nearly a month, the media has painted the kids on the lacrosse team as children of privilege with a sense of entitlement. They have painted Duke University as an institution that fancied itself above and better than the citizens of its town. When the players, no doubt at the advice of counsel, shrouded themselves in a cloud of silence, the media portrayed them as all complicit in a heinous crime, and the more the media piled on these kids, the more they stroked the flames of controversy in Durham. Then, as the protests and unrest grew, the guilt of the players became a foregone conclusion and the real story became the protests and the controversy. In other words, without all the facts, before the investigation was completed, the media created a story even bigger than the original story. The beast fed itself.

Now, in the wake of yesterday’s revelation that DNA from none of the players was present on the alleged victim, what are we supposed to think? Does this mean the players are innocent? Doe we believe the D.A.’s statements that the investigation is ongoing and that in 75% - 80% of all sexual assault cases lack DNA evidence from the assaulter? Do we believe the reports that the doctors treating the alleged victim state that her injuries were consistent with those of a sexual assault? Unfortunately, we don’t know what to believe? How could we?

Ultimately, to draw the conclusion, in the wake of the negative DNA tests, that no assault occurred is just as absurd as drawing the conclusion that the players are guilty before the facts of the case are fully accumulated. It’s not fair to the accuser or the accused to have stories whimsically floating on the front pages of the papers until the facts of the case are known. In fact, it’s irresponsible. The only fact we are certain of is that nobody other than the parties involved yet knows what happened at that party on March 13, and until the D.A. completes his investigation and either decides to indict or not indict, no story should exist in Durham. Thanks to the firestorm created by the media’s descent on Durham, however, stories of community unrest and racial tension do exists, and they have they have become very very real. I just wish that the media would take a step back, give the D.A. a chance to complete his full investigation, and ultimately make a decision on whether to indict any of these players or not. This would be the responsible and fair thing for the accuser, the accused, and the Durham community. Unfortunately, the words “responsible” and “media” just don’t go together these days.

Duke's president has been irratating throughout this entire process. He said that it was proper for the coach to resign and to cancel the season.

Does anybody out there think he would have acted in the same manner if it were the basketball team? Absolutely not. His actions are further proof that universities offer different degrees of support to revenue teams and non-revenue teams. Sheldon Williams and Coach K could have been double teaming an underage boy with Reddick filming and the basketball season would have gone on uninturrupted.

The story that nobody seems to be covering is that the accuser said 3 people attacked her, and she provided some names. That means that the other 44 members of the team have lost their season and their coach because of the actions of a few.

And by the way, how the hell can you expect a coach to keep somebody from raping a stripper? There's some things coaches can enforce, such as attending study hall, but there's no way the coach can control rapist tendencies.

On a lighter note, does anybody else remember seeing the interview with Mike Tyson after he got out of jail for rape?

The interviewer asked him what he thought of Desiree Washington, and he said that he wanted to rape her. Tyson said that he never raped her in the first place, but had gone to jail for it. He figured he had earned a free rape.

If any TV execs are monitoring this news outlet, please please please give me a Mike Tyson reality show.

"Sheldon Williams and Coach K could have been double teaming an underage boy with Reddick filming..."

I stopped liking Fite today.

http://cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/lax/

I hear they throw great parties.

In an effort to keep everyone happy, feel free to replace Bob Stoops, Adrian Peterson and Brian Bosworth in my Duke example. OU football wouldn't scrap the season, and it would be business as usual until convictions came down.

In fact, we've seen this recently with the Gary Barnett saga at Colorado. The few people who did mention forfeiting SOME (not all) of the upcoming games were criticized by all. Now those same media pundits think that it's OK for Duke's lacrosse to kill the season. It's insane.

Much like everything else in this world, this entire fiasco revolves around money. Sure people like to turn it into a race issue, but it's simply money. This would never happen to Coach K's team because athletic boosters would quit giving. If only for a year, this coupled with the loss of ticket revenue etc. would make killing the season a decision no president interested in keeping his job would make. Nobody gives a shit about lacrosse, so there's no real downside to caving to the political pressure.

This, I'm sure, would be the result if OU's dominant gymnastics team were accused. Their season would be over, but the football team gets a free pass.

The ultimate irony is that we act surprised when Rae Carruth kills someone, Jamal Lewis facilitates a drug trade, or Nate Newton becomes the king of weed. Revenue athletes get protection from consequences while everyone else gets thrown to the wolves. There has to be a middle ground.

Fox news was awesome after the defense announced the results of the DNA testing. They didn't stop at celebrating the fact the kids were now supposedly innocent; O'Reilly and the bunch were already calling for prosecution against the woman for making false claims.

Aren't convictions business as usual at OU?

"Big" sports not only make money for the school, but create jobs as well, and they serve as a healthy diversion for the students (unless you're Bob Fisher, and take being a fan to another level). So many people would lose out if a football season is cancelled. No one really gives a damn if lacrosse doesn't happen. I could see how cancelling a football season is practically impossible. Not to mention, its not like someone is going to play lacrosse professionally. Canceling a season doesn't derail anyone's future. What's a NBA-prospect to do if his season gets cancelled because some bench-warmer went out one night with the prestigious OU men's gym team, got hammered, and made a video tape of them sodomizing Adrian Peterson? Sorry, I didn't mean to bring back memories of the SC game.

Nobody plays pro lacrosse????

Am I the only one that follows the

National Lacrosse League
www.nll.com

or

Major League Lacrosse
www.majorleaguelacrosse.com


I'm sure the members of the Professional Lacrosse Players Association would argue that you can go pro in this sport.
www.plpa.com

This is no joke, a pro lacrosse player is getting close to breaking his own record for "scooping up the most loose balls."

http://www.nll.com/article_2334.shtml

Here's the brushback's take on the Duke scandal. Nice and funny, the way I like all my social commentary.


http://www.thebrushback.com/duke_full.htm

Good debate on here today. I like to see that. However, I'm not certain if I'm more disturbed by the Coach K/Sheldon/J.J. visual or the Stoops/Peterson/Boz example? I guess it has to be the latter because anything involving the Boz is automatically twice as horrifying! Don't believe me? Try watching "Stone Cold" sometime!

Tiger criticized for using the word "spaz"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4902432.stm

Man castrated on film

http://www.courttv.com/trials/castration/041106_ctv.html

Best regards from NY! »

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