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.

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3 Responses to Intolerable

  1. Reverend Ref says:

    I don’t even know what to say to this. The rational side of me wants to say, “This isn’t tolerable and Duke should make sure that nothing is swept under the carpet and the victims receives the proper assistance.”

    But another part of me wants to simply march these bozos down to the principal’s office and whack them on their backsides and make them write a letter of apology to their parents, the victims parents, the victims, the school, the alumni/ae ….

    So, no, I really don’t know what to say.

  2. adamsj says:

    The principle of innocent until proven guilty is a good one, and I support it. On the other hand, it’s not the same as saying that a crime wasn’t committed. I take the women at their word that they were assaulted, and thus someone is guilty. But who?

    Years back, our lousy local newspaper wrote about an “alleged” rape. The woman was beaten, she was bruised, there was no reason to doubt her account–yet she was an “alleged” rape vicim. In their version, she was guilty until proven innocent.

  3. j.a.m. says:

    “Rape, kidnapping, and strangulation are not simply out-of-bounds; they bespeak an utterly disordered sense of what counts as possible human behavior.”

    Uh, that’s why they’re felonies. Who on earth has suggested otherwise?

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