By lex, on April 12th, 2007
It was yet another demonstration that God not only continues to pay attention, but that he has a delicious sense of irony. In North Carolina and Madison Avenue today, race and culture were placed on display in a kind of rough juxtaposition using the athletic stage as a playhouse. Don Imus, a being whose existence I was aware of, but whose cultural importance I must admit that I had not fully comprehended – I’m an NPR guy, after all – said a rather stupid thing (not for the first time, apparently) about the mostly black and entirely female athletes of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Now he has apparently paid for his stupidity with his job.
This is all to the good. While Mr. Imus had a perfect right to say stupid things, and the federal government is proscribed by the 1st Amendment from violating that right, NBC (as a non-government actor) also has the right to ask that people under their employ not use the resources of the corporation to embarrass it in front of the same public that lines the company’s coffers. NBC has a free speech right, in other words, to say: “You’re fired” to an at-will employee. Just as major corporate sponsors like American Express and General Motors had the right to withdraw their sponsorship of Imus’ program, not wanting to be, however obliquely, associated with thoroughgoing, pernicious stupidity.
Parenthetically, I hope that all the enduring Dixie Chicks fans are paying attention. I’m talking about those who both loved their existing oeuvre as well as those who never much cared for all that redneck yowling but who nevertheless much applauded their political “bravery” for criticizing a sitting president in a time of war from an overseas podium. Because you know that took guts.
Some of those folks were shouting “censorship” while banging their spoons against the high chair back when citizen groups were burning CD’s as a demonstration of market preference, a preferential statement different in degree but not in kind to the choices made by AMEX and GE. Sauce for the goose.
Which brings us to the Duke University lacrosse team, or at least the three designated sacrifices infallibly chosen to pay the interest on 500 years of white guilt regardless of their personal culpability – charges dropped:
(A)fter reviewing the case for 12 weeks and interviewing witnesses and the accuser, (North Carolina Attorney General Roy) Cooper’s team completely recast the scenario.
There was no credible evidence of an attack — there was no DNA evidence and no witnesses at the party who could corroborate the accuser’s account, Cooper said. The accusation also was not consistent with time-stamped photographs and phone records, he said.
A written summary of the factual findings that investigators relied on to conclude that no attack occurred will be released next week.
Happy ending, right? Justice served, and all that.
Consider me unsatisfied.
I’m disappointed that once again, in 21st Century America, the bonds of racial identity – both black and white – seem stronger than our mutual commitment to the ideal of blind justice.
I’m disappointed that a prosecuting attorney felt compelled to push a pitifully weak case against randomly selected victims in order to ensure his re-election in a racially charged environment – a “bonfires of the vanities” choice that was probably as politically necessary as it was morally reprehensible.
I’m disappointed that it took so very long for this travesty to be finally put to bed, when all the whole world realized that three young men were being railroaded. Because of their race. Because of their class. This isn’t who we are.
I’m disappointed that one of the finest universities of the south could be so thoroughly penetrated by the reflexive catechisms of what has perversely come to be understood as “progressivism” that 88 tenured members of the faculty could throw their own students under the bus of identity politics orthodoxy – students accused of a felonious assault, mind you, facing hard time – based on a meagerly supported accusation. This in contrast to all the revered traditions of an actual liberal democracy.
And deep in my heart, I’m disappointed that those black, female athletes from Rutgers, and those white, male athletes from Duke, probably don’t see themselves as natural allies in the fight against race-based oppression and injustice.
We’ve come so far. But we’ve such a long way to go.