The World is Watching

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 22, 2006

On Tuesday morning in Durham, two members of the Duke University lacrosse team were officially charged with the rape and kidnapping of a woman who had performed as a stripper in their fraternity house on March 13.

Once again Americans will be forced to watch as our judicial system trudges its way through a social spectacle that will put the American legal system on trial as much, if not more, than the men who have been accused of these crimes.

As a sports writer I am interested in seeing how this affair plays out. As an American, I am not at all anxious to watch the circus and public debacle that will ensue once this trial begins.

In contrast to the O.J. Simpson trial and the Kobe Bryant no-trial the accused in this instance are white males. Unfortunately like O.J. Simpson, Kobe Bryant, as well as Robert Blake, the defendants are wealthy and because of that the animosity and venom that will rear its ugly head as these proceedings begin will disgust me to my inner being.

For the time being, nobody outside of the defendants and the accuser know what actually happened on the night in question. We all know however what will happen from this point forward.

For anyone who thinks that the only people going on trial in the case are a couple of Duke lacrosse players, you are sadly mistaken. For the duration of this fiasco, Duke University will be on trial as well as the entire state of North Carolina.

We have again two versions of the same night, much like the Kobe Bryant case and just like the Kobe case somebody is telling an absolute fib.

In February 2004, a woman accused several members of the St. John’s basketball team with rape, only to be later charged herself with filing a false police report once cell phone footage provided by one of the players charged contradicted her account of what happened.

The circumstances in this case are eerily similar. If the young lady who has levied these charges was not a stripper who had agreed to perform lewd acts at a house occupied by several dozen male college students, her credibility might not take the assault that is certain to follow.

If members of the Duke lacrosse team were not found to have forwarded bigoted e-mails to friends then maybe their character would not be assailed in the manner that is inevitably forthcoming.

More importantly, the entire state of North Carolina will be painted with broad strokes on every media outlet designated to cover this event. Is North Carolina a state worked by blacks and run by whites? Is Durham the city that best personifies the state of race relations in North Carolina; our country?

Unfortunately, a couple of less than upstanding college males and a female adult performer will be the measuring sticks which the rest of the world will use to pass judgment on the entire state, and yes the world will be watching.

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