Vicious words hurled in insult towards collegiate athletes, athletes that never did anything wrong to their accuser. The perpetuation of a nasty stereotype. Vast media coverage and the exposure of one man’s misguided way of thinking.
Think Rutgers women’s basketball knows about these things? Those women should speak with Duke Lacrosse.
When Don Imus was canned by both MSNBC and CBS it brought one of the most absurd and over-reported stories in years to an end. The Rutgers-Imus saga not only took up unnecessary space on ESPN.com that should have been used to report actual news stories. It also overshadowed a much more important story that the nation has already seemed to forget about as if it never occurred.
All charges against the former students and lacrosse players from Duke University were dropped last week, finally exonerating the young men who were wrongly accused by most of the nation for roughly one year. These young men were accused of rape by a young lady who just happened to be a stripper. Since the woman involved happened to be a black woman and the students accused were white (the only Duke athlete at the party who was black never faced charges), countless people jumped onto the bandwagon to expose these villains for the monsters they truly were. Vigils, marches, and protests were held. My two favorite loud-mouthed idiots Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson called for these “guilty” individuals to confess their crimes.
Unfortunately for Jackson and Sharpton, the students named weren’t guilty of anything. They didn’t do anything wrong. That didn’t matter in the court of public opinion, however. Talk shows and columns in every print publication imaginable followed this story just waiting for these players to be convicted of this vicious crime. Finally justice would be served, proof that even if you’re rich and white you can’t get away with rape.
Shame on every single one of you who accused them. I can say with my head held high that I never once believed them to be guilty. Something about this case just felt, well, wrong. You could see in their press conferences that these men weren’t rapists. They were scared young kids who didn’t understand why they were being accused of something that never took place.
If there’s anything to be learned about what has taken place over the last month it is that an apology gets you nowhere these days. Therefore, I am demanding that the following actions take place immediately so that the healing process can begin for these tortured and innocent individuals.
I would like for every journalist who wrongly accused the players to be fired from their jobs immediately, regardless of whether or not they offered any apology for their harsh words. Even if this is the first time that they have made such a mistake these journalists must be held accountable for their error in judgment. No apology can make up for the pain these young men have suffered.
Until these people are stripped of their positions I am calling upon prominent white leaders in the country to lead rallies and protests outside of the offices where these so-called “writers” publish their hateful words. Also, all companies should pull their advertisements from both the websites as well as the publications which print these columns. This is the only way to show that we mean business.
Finally, I want all of these people who wrongly accused the former Blue Devils to meet with these extraordinary young men. By doing so these journalists can apologize in person to the players. Hopefully, then, the players can begin to move on with their lives.
The only problem is that none of these steps can right the wrong here. This isn’t some completely irrelevant story such as being called a “nappy-headed ho.” These men were labeled as rapists. An apology doesn’t fix that. Somebody losing their job doesn’t fix that. Nothing erases that in the minds of people.
Think about it. Do you really believe that anybody other than close friends and family will look at these guys again without thinking about the false accusations that were made about them? Even though there was nothing behind the statements made by some stripper these young men are now labeled for the rest of their lives. While the Rutgers basketball team will receive a standing ovation next season the former lacrosse players will forever be thought of as potential rapists. Ironically, both teams are guilty of doing the same thing.
I have constantly used the phrase “young men” in this article because these students remind me of myself. Sure, they have a lot more money than I do. However, I’m a young white male who doesn’t have a horribly difficult life. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I were accused of something that I know I didn’t do. It would be almost unbearable to live a year of my life with the entire world telling me that I am guilty of something I didn’t do and deserved to spend 20 years behind bars.
The next time you think of Don Imus and his comments and you want to praise the “heroes” at Rutgers you remember the real victims of the past year. Duke Lacrosse lost a head coach, players, and a potential national championship, not to mention garnering the shame of the nation. Any of you who think these women who weren’t good enough to compete against Tennessee in the national championship game are “heroes” or “courageous” don’t know what those two words mean.
If you don’t believe me then find those young men. Ask them their opinion on the matter. Is it worse to be labeled a broad stereotype by one loud-mouthed individual or being called a rapist by the entire country? Unfortunately, we all know why one story was on television for hours on end while the other one received a thirty-second afterthought. It’s as simple as black and white.