This Saturday, Dec. 7, Duke will play Florida State University for the ACC championship, a game the No. 1 ranked FSU is expected to win.
Ironically, that date represents the first anniversary of an incident involving FSU’s star quarterback and Heisman hopeful, Jameis Winston. A former FSU co-ed says he raped her on that day a year ago, and she is pressing charges.
One has to wonder how Duke alumni Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans feel about the FSU community’s all but unqualified acceptance of Winston’s denials.
In 2006, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong recklessly charged these three lacrosse players with rape despite a mother lode of exculpatory evidence.
On the one hand, these athletes know what it is like to be falsely accused and, I suspect, would want to see Winston receive fair treatment and due process.
On the other hand, they have to wonder why Winston has received such dramatically better treatment than they did despite the much stronger evidence against him.
In the Duke case, the university not only suspended the players, but it also canceled the lacrosse season and fired the coach.
The university took these steps despite the fact that none of the DNA samples from any of the team’s 46 white players matched the DNA found on the accuser.
Facts did not much matter. Urged on by the New York Times, the civil rights community, the feminist establishment and the Duke professoriate, Nifong had the three young men indicted for rape within two months of the incident.
A year after the FSU incident, the State of Florida is still dithering in the Winston case. What is known, however, is that the quarterback’s DNA was indeed found in the underwear of his accuser.
Authorities released this bit of information recently and reluctantly. Only after its release did Winston’s attorney, Timothy Jansen, suggest that the player and the alleged victim may have had consensual sex.
The victim’s family promptly countered, “To be clear, the victim did not consent. This was a rape.” The DNA evidence notwithstanding, the accuser has received close to no sympathy from the FSU community and no known support from the feminist establishment.
If anyone has protested Winston’s presence on the playing field, the media have failed to report it. Instead, as the Miami Herald has noted matter-of-factly, “Winston fans have parsed the evidence, outted the woman and derided her credibility on message boards, blogs and on Twitter.”
Last week, Winston left the field triumphantly after his team’s drubbing of Idaho to stadium-rocking chants of “Ja-meis! Ja-meis!” Rape? What rape?
There are several obvious reasons for the disparity in treatment between Winston and the Duke lacrosse players. The first is that football, especially when played for multi-million dollar stakes, simply matters much more than lacrosse.
Beyond the lacrosse faithful, no one really cared that the Duke lacrosse season had been suspended even though the team played at a national championship level.
By contrast, if FSU were to terminate its football season, or even suspend Winston, fans statewide would be marching on the capital with pitchforks.
The second reason is race. The Duke lacrosse players were white and their accuser black. Winston is black, and although the race of the accuser is not formally known, the bloggers are saying that she is white and blond.
Like the prosecutor Kramer in Tom Wolfe’s prescient “Bonfire of the Vanities,” Nifong had a shot at what Wolfe called his central character, Sherman McCoy, a “much-prized, ever-elusive … very nearly mythical creature, the Great White Defendant.”
It was in similar spirit that Florida State Attorney Angela Corey brought equally reckless charges against the transparently innocent George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting. The opportunity to align oneself with the remnants of the civil rights movement has left many a prosecutor giddy.
A third reason is sexual politics. Feminists got much more agitated when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” or when Senate candidate Todd Akin used the ambiguous phrase “legitimate rape” than they did when the Democrats chose a credibly accused rapist and impeached president to keynote their 2012 convention.
The accusation of rape, like the accusation of racism, is a weapon feminists and their media allies use selectively. Their easy acceptance of film director Roman Polanski’s drugging and rape of a 13-year-old is a case in point.
In 2003, Hollywood gave the fugitive rapist a standing ovation when Polanski received a best-director Oscar in absentia.
In her own appalling way, actress and Democratic activist Whooi Goldberg clarified Polanski’s crime on “The View”: “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.” The media humiliated Akin and savaged Limbaugh for much less.
To be sure, not all claims of rape are “legitimate.” In fact, the most consequential rape case in American history was not. Norma McCorvey, aka “Jane Roe,” called the consensual sex that led to her pregnancy “rape” and changed history.
What is equally illegitimate is the wide disparity in the way rape cases are treated by feminists, the media and, yes, sports fans.
Winston’s accuser deserves the same respect as any credible accuser. Winston deserves the same due process.
Whites deserve the same level playing field as blacks, and conservatives (see Clarence Thomas) deserve the same level playing field as liberals.
The FSU case is wrong for exactly the opposite reasons the Duke case was. The media need to acknowledge this.