Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Duke Lacrosse Case As Rorschach Test.

Report is the North Carolina attorney general will be announcing sometime later this morning that all charges will be dropped against former Duke lacrosse players Reade Seligmann, David Evans, and Colin Finnerty with regard to a rape accusation at an off-campus house last year.

This seemed to be in sight when Durham County DA Mike Nifong recused himself from the case after the accuser changed her story. Nifong is now facing ethics violations in front of the North Carolina bar, and he could be disbarred as punishment (and some suggested the accused should go after him.)

It's worth noting for all the ways this case was initially examined -- the accuser was black, an exotic dancer, and a student at a nearby public university; the accused were three relatively well-off white men attending a private university at a game widely perceived as the purview of well-off white men. It pushed every button possible for media attention and pre-judgment on everyone involved, including the media, and a lot of outlets wound up eating crow.

Ultimately, your initial reaction regarding guilt or innocence when the accusations were handed down probably told a lot more about you than it did about the case itself, much like a lot of crimes that are he-said-she-said by nature, and still awaiting concrete DNA evidence at the beginning of the frenzy (which there was none that directly implicated the accused; Nifong thought he had enough circumstantial evidence to go on.)

Much like the rape allegations and civil settlement involving Kobe Bryant and a Vail hotel worker (which pushed all the same racial and social buttons, but in different combinations), the case became less about sport, and like everything in America when reduced to a national news package than runs no longer than one minute and 30 seconds, more about the divide, the distrust, the fear, and where you stood on that -- and let's not forget academia vs. athletic tensions prevalent on many Division I campuses. But then again, it may have been just like sport, because a lot of people probably picked sides, based on our own biases and experiences -- we are only human; we have a tendency to do this.

Somewhere it became less about the accuser and the accused and more about us. No matter where the truth really lay at that house party, that wasn't fair to anyone involved.

(Although Wikipedia is hit and miss, it has a good series of articles at the bottom for citations worth looking at on this topic.)


Sanchez said...

*wipes forehead with back of fingers*

for a minute there I thought you were blogging about lacrosse...

Signal to Noise said...

Sanchez, you have me beat on niche sports. It's more a media thing, obviously.