My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


When Words--Whether True Or Not--Destroy

I've been watching with a great deal of interest (I don't know why) the debacle that has become the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. The university itself came out with a report yesterday; the key points:

Duke underestimated the rape allegations against members of the lacrosse team in part because Durham police initially said the accuser "kept changing her story and was not credible," according to a university report issued Monday.

The day after the March 13 team party where a 27-year-old black woman claimed she was raped, Durham police told campus officers that "this will blow over," the report said. It said that the woman initially told police she was raped by 20 white men, then said she was attacked by three.

Of course, this is hardly exculpatory--the fact that a grand jury has indicted two players can not be ignored. On the other hand, the accuser raised similar claims ten years ago in a case that never resulted in charges, and I hardly think it's coincidence that the two already indicted are among the wealthiest players on the team. And then, of course, there's the indisputable fact that one of the accused has an ATM receipt from, like, 97 seconds after the alleged rape happened.

And yet, before there were indictments, before there's been even a trial, much less a conviction, a coach lost his job and an entire team lost its season.

Can the actions of those team (having a party, hiring a stripper) be defended? Of course not. On the other hand, what they did is not illegal, or, as far as I know, even against a code of conduct. Immoral, debauched, disgusting . . .yes. But not deserving the consequences brought down on them just yet.

Then there's this local story, which led the 10 o'clock news on at least one of the local stations last night.

A middle school teacher was arrested on a charge of sexual exploitation of a child and other counts involving a former student, authorities said Monday.

Now, if that's where the story ends, its one thing. But the teacher's name, place of employment, and mug shot were put on the news and got about two minutes of air time right at the top of the news.

My problem with that is this: the arrest is based on the allegations of ONE student based on an incident from two years ago (right--no physical evidence). If this student turns out to be troubled or delusional, this teacher's life is still over.

You see, in this profession, there is no presumption of innocence, and eventual exoneration guarantees nothing for the teacher except continued humiliation. Odds are, he will never be allowed to return to a job he has been doing for years and apparently loves.


But I think it's irresponsible of the media to have plastered his name and face all over the TV based on one allegation.

And so we have two cases where criminal conduct has been alleged but nowhere near proven, but the consequences have already been extreme. Conviction by media; no chance for appeal.

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