CSI: Durham

As anybody who has read my comments on basketball knows, I have an intense dislike of the Duke men’s basketball team, mostly due to their fans, who combine the arrogance typical of fans of a dominant program with a sort of snobbery regarding their own class and cleverness. This is particularly aggravating given the institutional contrast between Duke’s status as an elite private university and their main competitors’ status as larger, more diverse public institutions– it pushes my class consciousness buttons, and makes their antics all the more annoying.

In a weird way, this has prevented me from saying anything about the legal situation of their lacrosse team, because any comments I make are likely to be dismissed by Duke fans as mere partisan griping. And besides, I figured it was better to give them the benefit of the doubt, and let the legal system run its course. And the university was, as far as I could tell, doing basically the right thing by suspending the season– I would’ve preferred to see a faster and more complete shut-down, but what they did is about as much as you could expect from a Division I school.

The latest set of revelations, resulting from the unsealing of some court documents, including a warrant to search the dorm room of one of the students (images available at The Smoking Gun), is pretty strong stuff. It lays out the story in considerable detail, and provides a full description of the evidence the police had gathered to that point.

(Cut to push thoroughly vile details off the front page)

The bare-bones evidence is pretty much what you would expect for a rape/sexual assault case: The vicitim was treated by medical personnel, and had injuries consistent with rape. Some of her belongings were found at the scene of the alleged attack.

The really bad part, though, is the text of an email sent by one of the players shortly after the incident (quoting from the Inside Higher Ed story):

The e-mail message from a player to other players came shortly after a party at which a woman — hired to appear at the party as a dancer — says she was raped by three lacrosse players. In the e-mail message, the player said he would hire strippers for another party at which he planned “on killing the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex.” (Text is verbatim from the e-mail.)

Now, I’ve known a lot of asshole lacrosse players, and they’re assholes even by the standards of other athletes–it’s a toxic combination of contact-sport machismo and rich-white-kid elitism. This, though, is positively subhuman. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for the lawyer who had to spin this as a positive:

“While the language in the e-mail is vile, the e-mail itself is perfectly consistent with the boys’ unequivocal assertion that no sexual assault took place that evening,” said the statement from Robert Ekstrand. He noted that the e-mail was sent shortly after the party took place and shows that “its writer is completely unaware that any act or event remotely similar to what has been alleged ever occurred.”

Almost.

Whatever the ultimate resolution of the legal case– the police evidence laid out in the warrant looks pretty strong, but then, it’s a warrant application, not a trial– this kid does not deserve to be a privileged athlete on a college campus. He needs to be in counselling somewhere, preferably without access to sharp objects.

To their credit, the university has pulled the plug on the team– the rest of their season has been cancelled, the coach has resigned (presumably under pressure), and internal investigations have been launched. This probably should’ve happened about three weeks ago, but at least they’re catching up. If the team culture is toxic enough to produce that email, that’s a bare minimum– at this point, I think they ought to eliminate the lacrosse team completely, for at least four years (that is, until anyone connected with the current mess is gone from campus).

This is thoroughly appalling. And I would say that whether it was Duke, or Maryland, or Union, or Williams. There’s absolutely no place for that sort of thing in civilized society, let alone on a college campus.

Comments

  1. #1 Ed Martz
    April 6, 2006

    And besides, I figured it was better to give them the benefit of the doubt, and let the legal system run its course.

    Yeah, this was pretty much my position until I read that e-mail. Even though I know that people like this clown exist, I generally try to give folks the benefit of the doubt. Now though, I’ve pretty much moved to the nuke ‘em from space camp. And that’s from the perspective of someone who has often rooted for Duke, although that may have more to do with my dislike for Carolina, having seen far too many pre-shot clock games where Dean Smith pulled out the four-corner offense with fifteen minutes to go.

  2. #2 bigdumbchimp
    April 6, 2006

    Granted it’s morally discusting and totally out of the bounds of a civil community if what happend to that lady happened. And it is also disgusting what was said in that email and should be shocking and angering. However when is it against the law to be a disgusting asshole that pisses people off?

    I’m not sure you are incorrect by saying he needs some actions taken against him, but if he’s proven innocent what’s to say these aren’t just the rantings of some fucking asshole rich white kid? (I went to NCSU so I hate Duke as much as the next guy).

    “this kid does not deserve to be a privileged athlete on a college campus”

    If we use that line of reasoning I’m sure we can find many other people who “don’t deserve” the same privledges because of what they say.

    I don’t know, it’s a shitty situation.

  3. #3 Chad Orzel
    April 6, 2006

    I’m not sure you are incorrect by saying he needs some actions taken against him, but if he’s proven innocent what’s to say these aren’t just the rantings of some fucking asshole rich white kid? (I went to NCSU so I hate Duke as much as the next guy).

    Those rantings are far enough over the line that they merit suspension from the team at the very least, and possibly from the school. At schools I’ve been at, less offensive words than were in that email have led to people being forced to take a semester off.

    Whatever the result of the police investigation, that email alone deserves sanction. And if that’s the sort of thing sent around the team as a matter of course, the whole lot of them should be in hot water with the university, even if there’s no law against it.

    Athletics is a privilege, not a right, and that privilege carries with it (or ought to) a responsibility to behave in a respectable manner. Just the undisputed facts of the case show that they’ve failed to live up to that responsibility, and they should be punished for that.

  4. #4 bigdumbchimp
    April 6, 2006

    “Just the undisputed facts of the case show that they’ve failed to live up to that responsibility, and they should be punished for that.”

    The team being punished yes, the player being kicked off the team yes. Kicked out of school? Procecuted just for what he said (typed)? I’m not sure.

    of course this all bends one way or the other depending on the outcome of the investigation.

  5. #5 Uncle Al
    April 6, 2006

    A jock and its institution share a contract:

    1) The jock will utterly sacrifice its body to give its institution publicity, social status, revenue, and provide for the harvest of more jocks. The jock will crush jocks of competing instituions without regard to personal survival. In return,

    2) The institution will reward the jock with free tuition and fees, a mercyhump degree, quiet money, an upscale car, the best food in abundance and gratis, and all the sex of whatever kind the jock desires.

    The lacrosse team has been fingered? HA HA HA! Has anybody looked into the football and basketball teams? No, wait – no Caucasians in either. Sacrosanct!

  6. #6 Kate Nepveu
    April 6, 2006

    “Uncle Al,” are you seriously suggesting that (1) there are no white people on Duke’s basketball team, and (2) if a team has *no* white people, then that’s the reason why law enforcement and the public will *avoid* into any allegations of misconduct by the team members?

    Because if so, I suggest that we are not sharing the same reality.

  7. #7 Uncle Al
    April 6, 2006

    Uncle Al deals in empirical reality. You are free to choose any other reality that pleases you so long as you personally pick up the tab, in full, for the results of your beliefs.

    http://www.goduke.com/SportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=4200&KEY=&SPID=1845&SPSID=22727
    http://www.goduke.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=22667&SPID=1843&DB_OEM_ID=4200&ATCLID=157385&Q_SEASON=2006

    What is the Black percentage of the general population?
    What is the Black percentage that scores 1100 or higher SAT?
    What is the Black pecentage of Duke university undergrads?

    The Duke basketball team is 38% Black. The Duke football team is 53% Black. We chemists call this “anomalous enrichment.” The swim team, 23 men, has ZERO Blacks.

    Get real.

  8. #8 Kate Nepveu
    April 6, 2006

    You said there were “no Caucasians in either” the football or basketball teams. As in, zero. Hence my question. If you deal in empirical reality, strive for greater precision in describing it.

    And I still have no idea what you mean by asking whether the football and basketball teams had been “fingered” the way the lacrosse team had, and referring to the racial compositions of the teams. Clarify, do.

  9. #9 Rob
    April 6, 2006

    In slight defense of the university adminstration, as soon as the court documents were unsealed, the president of the university sent a *very* long email to university members. I expect that they had a “innocent until proven guilty” thing until they read the same “Smoking gun” email.

    From the tone of the president’s email I would be very surprised to see the lacrosse team back inside this decade.

  10. #10 NL
    April 7, 2006

    Troll feeding…

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