The ongoing story about the alleged rape of a young woman by members of the Duke Univeristy lacrosse team just weighs on me. What weighs on me is that no one seems to want to talk about several issues that I think are really key to what was going on here.
Let me make perfectly clear at the outset that I'm not passing judgment on the guilt or innocence of the team members or the veracity of the young woman's story. I don't know enough about the facts to have an intelligent opinion.
But here's the facts that bother me. Both the team and the young woman made some really dumb decisions. Decisions that placed them into positions where bad things could potentially happen to them. And no one is calling them on it.
Members of a sports team at an elite southern university CHOSE to attend an off campus party where we know there was an "exotic dancer" present and which we can reasonably assume there was alcohol. Anyone really naive enough to believe that a bunch of college aged guys were hanging around watching a stripper with lemonade in their glasses? The two young men charged so far are both listed as being 20 years old. Last time I checked the legal age to drink in the U.S. is still 21.
So their choice placed them in an environment where bad things could happen. Even if they are in fact innocent we have every right, and I would argue every requirement, to look at them and say "What, are you stupid?" Spare me the "Boys will be boys" nonsense too. At 20 you're not a boy anymore. Actions and choices come with consequences. Being associated with events like this have consequences too even if you were just a bystander. Even if the accusations are totally false (and again I have no idea if they are or not) how do you explain what you were doing there to your girlfriend, mom, little sister? You risk jail, loss of scholarship, loss of education, loss of your future and at best carrying with you for the rest of your life that you were one of "those Duke lacrosse players". All for what? A couple of drinks and the chance to see some attractive young woman shake her ya-yas?
And virtually all those same arguments can be made for the young woman who chose to work as an "exotic dancer". Even assuming the tamest definition of that term she put herself in a position where she would be shaking her whatevers in front of a bunch of likely drinking/drunken guys who are going to make some unsavory assumptions. It's not even the relatively controlled environment of a club but just some off campus party for college guys. For the rest of her life she'll carry the label "former stripper". That's no justification for rape or sexual assault but there's still the question of what's the value of placing yourself in a position where virtually only bad things can happen? For her she risks jail, sexual assault, loss of education, loss of her future. All for the benefit of a fee and some tips stuffed into her costume.
I hope the truth comes out, whatever it is. I hope the guilty parties are punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Mostly I hope that somebody learns a lesson from this, be it the young woman, the young men or just all the rest of us who are watching this all unfold.
Stupid decisions. Tragic results.