Adam has followed our coverage of the lacrosse case and asked that we make
sure to mention a few things. We said, well, why don't you write it up and
we'll run it? He did, so we are. Thanks Adam!
When news of the lacrosse scandal first broke, it divided people into three groups: those who immediately assumed that a rape had occurred and that the players were guilty, those who immediately assumed the opposite, and those who declined to form an opinion until more evidence had come to light. The story seemed plausible enough â a tightly-knit bunch of young white men became a horde of violent sex offenders because of a dangerous combination of alcohol, racism, pack mentality and machismo culture.
In the months since the night in question more evidence has, in fact, come to light, and virtually all of that evidence suggests that no rape occurred and that the players are innocent. Almost everyone â including most of those who initially assumed otherwise â agrees that the case is without merit, and the only holdouts are those who probably will not change their position unless the accuser fully recants her story. On the surface this appears to be a clear and decisive victory for those who always assumed that no rape had occurred, and it seems to call into question the plausibility of gang rape stories in general.
The problem is that gang rapes do occur, as demonstrated by the rape-and-murder case stemming from the actions for four U.S. soldiers in Mahmoudiya, Iraq. On March 12, a tightly-knit bunch of young men really did become a horde of violent sex offenders because of a dangerous combination of alcohol, racism, pack mentality and machismo culture. When the news from Mahmoudiya first broke, it divided people into the same three groups as the lacrosse scandal did; this time, however, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the accused are guilty. While this can hardly be considered a victory for any group, it does serve as a reminder of the fact that gang rape is both plausible and real.
The truth is that most â perhaps all â of the people who jump to conclusions about rape accusations do it for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the specific incident in question. Whether they assume guilt or innocence, they do it for any number of personal, political, ideological or identity reasons â reasons which have nothing to do with what actually happened. This is a disservice to the accuser, to the accused, and to everyone else whose life is affected by sexual assault. Rape is a serious problem and a serious allegation, and each individual case is too important to be judged in anything other than its own right.
Duke Basketball Report has done an excellent and fair job of covering the facts of the lacrosse case, but it is crucial to remember that those facts pertain only to this one incident. The lacrosse case should not compel anyone to assume innocence in the future, just as the Mahmoudiya case should not compel anyone to assume guilt. Instead, the two cases together should remind everyone of the importance of withholding judgement until all of the relevant facts have come to light.
Adam Bonneau, Pratt '05