I'm surprised the mainstream media hasn't picked up on the similarities between the Duke lacrosse team rape case
and Tom Wolfe's "I Am Charlotte Simmons."
In the book, which is set at a fictionalized version of Duke (the school Wolfe's daughter Alexandra attended) Charlotte is all-but-raped by a drunken lacrosse player. There are the liberal professors and their hangers-on too, ready to damn the jocks and to protest at the drop of a pin. The waffling administrators
. The mostly-minority off-campus neighborhood where the students are less than welcome and feel somewhat ill-at-ease.
Wolfe also picked up on something the mainstream media seems to be missing as well: how the lacrosse team fits into the social structure of the campus of an elite East Coast university. Unlike most of the basketball and football players, who are working class kids and treated like mercenaries by both students and faculty, the lacrosse players come from the same social milieu as the rest of the students. In fact, they were likely high school classmates with many of them. And this makes them far more accessible, the jocks that people actually know, who have some standing with the majority of students as opposed to the ones they occasionally glimpse around campus. Now why one would assume that leads directly to rape is another story, but so much has been made of their privileged backgrounds, you'd have thought someone would have picked up on this nuance.
My fear with this case, which is being tried in the media daily, is that it's going to devolve into another OJ case, where whites take their innocence to be a given and are shocked to learn that even "intelligent" black people (and I use that term in all its liberal-mocking glory) are just as convinced of their guilt.
As for the principals, none of them are getting off easy. The lacrosse players are all being cast as obnoxious spoiled rich kids, the "frat boys" of every Park Slopers worst nightmares. And the accuser, who has gone from "dancer" to "exotic dancer" to "stripper" to "escort" has been painted as a slut with a criminal record.
Given these two-dimensional stereotypes, it's not wonder that most people's reaction to the case seems to have more to do with their personal opinion of say "jocks" or "strippers" than with the actual facts of the case, thus leading to a lot of shrill name calling back and forth.
Take the "#41 email."
Rather than try and see it as the really bad attempt at humor by a drunken 19 year old that it most likely was, the email is being taken in some quarters as proof positive that, given a few more hours, the lacrosse players would have skinned the poor woman alive.
The only winner here seems to be the people who sell tabloid newspapers and television. They'll be living off this case for the next decade.