I’m a few days behind on my TiVoing of The Daily Show, but last night I saw the episode from Tuesday, I believe, where Jon Stewart ridiculed the media coverage of the Duke lacrosse rape case. Now, it’s clearly true that it’s a zoo in Durham, and clueless 24-hour news correspondents designated to cover the case tend to look … well … clueless. It’s also true that thousands and thousands of black women get raped, and yet only when it impinges on the frat-boy lifestyle of a few privileged athletes does a case make the news.
On the other hand, I can recall that early on in this case, many bloggers were suggesting that since this was a white-on-black crime, it would simply get swept under the rug. Obviously that hasn’t happened, so isn’t that a good thing? Do we just have to move on to the next complaint, or can’t we at least stop for a moment and acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, some small bit of progress has been made in the battle against racism and anti-woman prejudice? Isn’t it okay that many in America are outraged that these priviliged white men with high-priced attorneys might not be brought to justice?
What I do hope will come out of this is some hard thinking about the isolated nature of jock culture and the damaging effect it can have on both men and women. When men who compete in violent sports are bunched together in specialized dorms and off-campus party houses, they tend to lose perspective. Other than the strippers, were there any women at the party where the rapes were alleged to occur? Scholarship athletes have their own tutors, their own study halls, their own weight rooms, and some even have their classes picked for them by coaches. They spend up to 40 hours a week practicing together, and rarely have an opportunity to interact with the regular student population. And yet we are surprised when they have a distorted sense of reality, of what’s right and wrong?
These are important things to be thinking about, and it would be great if CNN and the other networks could be covering them in intelligent ways. But I do think the fact that these networks are covering this case at all does signal some process, however small. We’ve got a ways to go, but let’s at least acknowledge how far we’ve come.