Margaret called my attention to a story that should curdle the blood of everyone — but especially anyone with affection or respect for Duke University.
First, I acknowledge the principle of innocence till proof of guilt; nothing has been proved at this point.
Second, the allegations compiled in this story demand public, vigorous, unwavering enforcement directed not only against convicted offenders, but also against any circumstances that conduce to encourage students to imagine actions even remotely comparable to the most innocent account of what could have happened. Rape, kidnapping, and strangulation are not simply out-of-bounds; they bespeak an utterly disordered sense of what counts as possible human behavior. At this point, Duke’s officials have a human obligation to step up and stamp out any sense that anything even vaguely like this event is tolerable.
The many dimensions of vicious brutality that converge here are neither coincidental nor arbitrary. These men are alleged to have used life-threatening physical violence to effect sexual violence against a woman of color (at whom they allegedly addressed bigoted rhetorical violence). No element of the situation permits hesitation, ambiguity, or the risk of lingering infection.
This sort of crime is intolerable, and Duke needs to send the loud, clear, convincing message to that effect. Immediately. Effectively.