Monday, April 23, 2007

The Don Imus - Duke Lacrosse Connection

(Note: I had orginally planned to post this entry early last week, but delayed due to the Virginia Tech tragedy.- DB)

During the week following Easter two distinct but (in my mind) related announcements were made: CBS announced that Don Imus would no longer be aired on their radio stations and the Attorney General of North Carolina announced that rape charges against three Duke lacrosse players had been dropped. A great deal was made of the Imus case and its relationship to other “shock jock” radio hosts, as well as rappers and liberal commentators who have made equally offensive statements and yet are still on the air. At the same time, the CBS show “60 Minutes” aired extensive interviews with three Duke lacrosse players. However, to my knowledge no commentators noted the serendipitous connection between these two events.

A cynic might say, “Well the white guys came out even. They won one and they lost one.” I think it goes deeper than that. Like many people, I was glad to see Don Imus taken off the air, and I could not help but notice the irony that Don Imus is only one among many commentators who engage in various forms of destructive and degrading speech. One can only wonder how quick MSNBC and CBS would have been to fire Imus if the sponsors had continued to back him. But here is the connection I see to the Duke case: Imus was fired for his sexist and racist remarks and the Duke players got in trouble with the law because they were engaging in sexist and racist behavior.

As a Duke University alum, I closely followed the Duke lacrosse case. Throughout the last year, to my knowledge neither the players nor their parents have publicly commented on the fact that the alleged rape occurred at a party where a bunch of well-to-do white college guys hired a African-American stripper to “perform” at their drunken party. The fact that there was a party and that the young woman was hired to come there has never been disputed. The players and their parents, so intent on proving their innocence, failed to note that there never would have been a rape case if there hadn’t been a party in the first place. These guys may have been victims of politically motivated district attorney, but they were also eager participants in behavior that clearly demeaned and degraded others. As much as they talked about the difficulty of “rebuilding their lives,” they have come out relatively unscathed. One of them is already working on Wall Street, [and the other two are playing lacrosse at other colleges]*. Please forgive me, if the tears aren’t flowing.

*[NOTE: I was in error when I stated the other two players were currently playing lacrosse at other colleges. As the one comment-er said, they have not done so yet. Duke has offered to allow them to return, but they will probably go elsewhere. In all likelihood next year they will be playing for other schools. I stand corrected. D.B.]

After Don Imus was fired, the president of CBS said that the media giant had to “change the culture” that would allow such statements to occur. The culture issue goes much deeper than a few degrading words. The culture issue goes to the fact that the media will use and abuse others when it suits their purpose or makes them money. The culture issue looks at the way the rich can exploit the poor and come away unscathed (What if a black lacrosse team had hired a white stripper; would anyone have cared if players had been unfairly charged?). The culture issue reveals that there are different sets of rules for those who have access to money, power and high priced lawyers, and those who do not.

I for one, am sick of the hypocrisy, and will do what I can (as a well-to-do white guy from Duke) to highlight the fact that racism, sexism and just general human meanness is immoral, unethical and intolerable in any form.


Anonymous said...

Pardon me sir,your agenda is showing.

Anonymous said...

You wonder whether anyone would have cared about black lacrosse athletes being falsely accused? Had the case received this much publicity, yes, I believe people would care. The fact is a black man raping a women doesn't fit anyone's agenda, so there is little media attention given to such cases. Therefore, the general public isn't even aware of these cases. If the public isn't made aware, then, no, there will be no outrage. After following this case, I have no doubt that people of all races are sometimes falsely accused. It should certainly be a goal to ensure no man is sent to prison for a crime that didn't happen. However, this case ONLY resulted in an indictment because it fit the agenda of the 88 Duke professors, the DA, the media, the Durham activists, the NBBP, Jesse Jackson, etc. Had the players been black, Nifong would have had no reason to pursue this joke of a case, since he was after the black vote.
Where is the outrage over the black man who just raped the Columbia grad student? Where is the outrage over the young white couple brutally murdered by a group of black men in Knoxville? Where is the outrage over the black teens that attacked two white girls on Halloween night in Long Beach? (I believe they received community service for their horrific crime. Witnesses were intimidated during the entire trial, including the trashing of one of the witnesse's vehicles.) How about the members of the black football team accused of raping a young 14-15 year old girl? Silence from Jackson, the 88, and all the activists because it doesn't fit their racist agenda. Disgusting.
By the way, when I was in college, I was told by women's studies professors that stripping should be respected - that a woman has a right to do as she wishes with her body. William and Mary and VCU just hosted a show that was supposed to teach the students about the sex industry, including live "stripping" demonstrations. Several women's studies professors made this show "mandatory" for the students in their classes. So pardon me if the outrage displayed by this group about a stripper party is laughable. Colleges are literally supporting this industry. These men didn't take advantage of this woman. She was hired to perform a service and she was a willing participant. Do you think that the other 20+ groups that hired strippers on Duke's campus should also have been suspended, including the basketball team?
The agenda has now been made clear. At first, it was "castrate" the rapists. Next, the agenda was about 'sexual assault", followed by the concern for the safety of minorities on campus. When the sexual assault didn't pan out, it was about underage drinking. We have now reached they were "demeaning the stripper" portion of the agenda. Face it, this case was about one thing - rape. When that didn't work out for the "rich, white, athletic, man haters", they attempt to deflect the subject. They have been made to look like foolish, bigoted, idiots and rather than simply apologize, they simply change the discussion.
By the way, the players did apologize for the party and I read several stories where the parents expressed displeasure over their sons participating in a stripper party. In addition, Reade and Colin are not back playing lacrosse. They have missed an entire year away from the sport and are waiting to hear from colleges. The schools would not accept them until the charges were dropped. Frankly, I am not convinced that you have followed this case closely. You seem to not even have the basic facts of the case down.

Anonymous said...

Don Imus had a long, long history for continually making comments on air that were racially insensitive. He made a career out of it. His boss only made an issue of it when his comments generated a national controversy. If his sponsors had not bailed, after his apology, his job would probably be still intact today and the ratings for his station would have probably increased. Money speaks most louldly in this materialistic society. When Imus lost his sponsor support, only then was he finally axed.

Drick Boyd's Blog said...

If I have an "agenda," it is to say that the racist and sexist behavior exhibited by Imus and the exonerated Duke players is offensive. I think the "boys will be boys" attitude regardless of color or socioeconomic status is unacceptable and should be challenged. African-American rappers who call women "hos" are no more excusable than Don Imus. As one comment-er said, if the sponsors hadn't bailed on Imus, he would still be on the air. In the end it comes down to money, privilege and power.

As for the Duke lacrosse team, they were a time bomb waiting to explode. There had been numerous complaints about their arrogance and their parties. Students and local residents had complained about them for a long time. There is no question District Attorney Mike Nifong tried to use the Duke lacrosse players for his own political gain. My only point was to say, let's not miss the bigger picture here: as a culture we tolerate far too much behavior that degrades others - let's clean it up!


Anonymous said...

I'm responding to the comment that included the idea that we should have respect for the sex industry. I felt very sad for the stripper in this case. Even if she wasn't raped, it seems to me that whether one "has to" or "chooses to" work in the sex industry, the paying clients usually do not respect the person offering the "services", so that person, more often than not, is vulnerable to abuse.