Monday, April 16, 2007

Please, Enough Of Licking Their Lips

It was bandied about in a few panels of talking heads yesterday, and dismissed in what may have been a reflexive dignity following the meltdown of Imus' exit. But here it is again. Let's go after the woman in the Duke Lacrosse wild sex story.

Howard Kurtz wakes up this morning, and suggests there's more here to shovel. Why waste all those notes he's taken on the racial divisions in Durham and the black women working as strippers to support their families on the other side of town from Duke fratboys?

The three players were not choir boys -- the team had, after all, invited a pair of strippers to a midnight party -- but they hardly deserved the national scorn of being loudly trumpeted as accused rapists.

The accuser got to make her charges from behind a curtain of anonymity, which is entirely proper in sexual assault cases. But I'm not so sure the media should continue to shield her now that investigators have determined her to be a liar. The New York Post, Washington Times, and Raleigh News & Observer have all identified the woman.

What Imus said was indefensible, and he lost his job in part because passionate complaints by African Americans at CBS and NBC tipped the scales at those networks. And it is true that he had a history of making insensitive cracks, and that the politicians and journalists who appeared on his show, including me, were too willing to look the other way.
I heard worse growing up on the streets of Brooklyn, where Don Rickles was a role model. I always made the distinction that Imus was operating out of humor, not malice. In retrospect, I failed to appreciate how the cruder bits sounded to those who were not part of the white guys' club.

There you go, fellows, a chance to use that female anatomy lesson you learned from the earlier descriptions of damage to the whatever is your language for vagina, more discussions of what kind of rough trade was indicated. The girls are guilty of something, let's get some more drooling going and write some more great lines about strippers making stuff up. That will do no end of good for the white guys' club. They've probably all got axes or other pieces of anatomy to grind on that score.

If there aren't any editors out there heading off the wolves, I'd like to put in a word here and now for it. False accusations are sick enough, but more licking of lips over descriptions of sexual injuries is sicker. Replacing the guys gone wild theme with the gook under the nails from the golddigging stripper one isn't making the news game a winning one. Time to call foul, and leave it alone.

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