Sex and Responsibility at Duke

Michael Nifong, the prosecutor who used allegations of rape against three Duke University lacrosse players to promote his own political career is getting disbarred. He will likely face other civil and possibly criminal charges. I have zero patience for those who, entrusted with the powers of the state, use it against innocent people and for their own selfish reasons. So Nifong is getting exactly what he deserves.

Having said that, I'm a little stunned that the lacrosse players are now being portrayed as innocent all-American boys. Yes, they were innocent of the particular crimes with which they were charged in this case. But unless you think wild parties with underage drinking, strippers, racial epithets, and sex with strangers are just good clean fun, these guys are not blameless.

We are losing sight of the fact that our decisions have consequences. Live a life of debauchery and sooner or later it will catch up to you. Yes, maybe you will have a lot of fun first. But when we make such decisions, we shouldn't be surprised when bad things happen to us.

Suppose, for example, that I decide to drive my car recklessly through the streets because I think it will be fun. My decision has several possible consequences.

  • Maybe I will get to my destination safely after enjoying a few thrills, or
  • Maybe I will encounter a police officer who takes a dim view of my recklessness, or
  • Maybe I have an accident, damage my car, and injure myself or others.
If my reckless driving puts me in the hospital, whose fault is it? My own. I placed myself in a situation where bad things were likely to happen. There was no need to drive recklessly; I could have got where I needed to go without taking undue risks. I really have no one to blame but myself.

So it is with the Duke lacrosse team. Their lives seem to be, according to this story, one big nonstop party. It isn't surprising that eventually the odds caught up with some of them. If it hadn't been false rape accusations, something else bad was bound to happen.

The stripper lied. Nifong used her lies for his own ends. Both of them bear responsibility for their own actions. The fact remains, however, that the lacrosse players' own decisions made them vulnerable to what happened. If you don't go to parties with strippers, it is very unlikely that one will falsely accuse you of raping her.

I'm glad justice finally prevailed for these players, but they're not blameless, and they're certainly not heroic. They are actually a symptom of the cultural depravity that now prevails on our elite campuses. The lionization of these lacrosse players is a sign that we still have our heads in the sand about it.

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