Huffington Post on the Duke Rape Case
Durham, North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong should do the right thing, cut his losses and drop the remaining charges of kidnapping and sexual assault against the three Duke University lacrosse players. That would close what has to be one of the dreariest episodes in the history of rape and racial victimization cases.All true, of course. And Hutchinson goes on to draw the sensible conclusion.
But Nifong has given no hint that he has learned any lesson from the fiasco. Whether it’s ego, to save face, or just plain bull-headedness, he’s determined to barge ahead and pile more embarrassment on himself with a prosecution. But there are compelling lessons that can be learned from the aborted rape case even if Nifong hasn’t learned them.
One is the danger of shouting race in a rape case. Women’s groups have waged a relentless and often times frustrating fight to get police, prosecutors, the courts and the media to treat rape as a serious crime, especially when the victims are poor, black or minority women and the alleged attackers are white males. But a suspect cry of rape in an impassioned racially charged case does great harm to that fight.
It leaves rape victims of any color and income wide open to the charge that they will falsely shout rape to cover up their sexual misdeeds. That could make police more hesitant to make arrests and prosecutors even more gun shy about vigorously prosecuting rape cases. It also makes black leaders, who are mostly male, more reluctant to vigorously denounce genuine sexual victimization crimes. That puts women, particularly black women, at greater risk from sexual attack. That’s a tragedy because sexual victimization is a deadly fact of life for countless numbers of women.
The next lesson is that in a racially charged and politically tainted rape cases the battle lines will quickly form. That happened almost the instant the charges were filed in the Duke case. Black and women’s groups squared off against a legion of coaches, sports jocks, and a deeply skeptical public. One side screamed that it was a case of elite, privileged white males victimizing a black woman, while the other side screamed that the athletes were legally victimized because they were white and athletes.
The Duke case bruised lives, gave the justice system a momentary black eye, stirred racial divisions on one of America’s elite campuses and riled the public. The final lesson is that when politics, race and passions collide in a questionable case, caution and good sense go out the window. The Duke case proved that.We are old enough to remember college sociology classes that lectured students on the evils of “stereotyping” people.
The liberal professors who taught that lesson, we soon enough learned, were quite happy to stereotype groups who didn’t share their own cultural and political beliefs.
Which is why we have never labored under the illusion that liberals are any more tolerant than any other group.
In this case it’s not the old stereotypes (blacks as criminals) that did the damage, but politically correct stereotypes about how privileged white athletes victimize black women.
But one stereotype is not better than the other.