The Duke University lacrosse team rape scandal has generated a lot of media buzz.The tension between town and gown, privilege and poverty, white and black – the case has many of the elements of an explosive situation.
On Tuesday, two sophomores from the prestigious Durham, N.C., university were arrested on suspicion of raping a 27-year-old, black exotic dancer at an off-campus party related to the Duke lacrosse team. Speculation swirls around the rest of the members of the once-highly rated squad, with the possibility of more charges being filed in the case.
Durham is a largely poor city of around 200,000, nearly evenly divided between black and white. Duke is an affluent university, costing about $43,000 a year to attend. The accuser is a student at historically black North Carolina Central University. Forty-six of the 47 players on the lacrosse team are white, and some may have thrown around racial slurs the night of the alleged rape.
There’s no way around it: Race is an issue in the case.
But it’s not the issue in the case. The issue is whether a woman was raped, and if she was, who did it? Getting to the bottom of a rape investigation is in everyone’s best interest.
Be careful when engaging in speculation and let the professonals do their work.
Don’t say the stripper was asking for it. Don’t assume that because the accused came from privileged pasts, they acted as if they were above the law.
None of us could do or say anything that could make the investigators’ jobs of finding the truth easier and could only lead to more tension.
In a country with a history of racial divide, we should be doing everything we can to prevent the gap between black and white from widening. Embrace the principle of innocent until proven guilty and let the legal system do its work.
News editor Mike Dwyer for the editorial board.