My hat went off to the members of Duke University’s women’s lacrosse team for showing solidarity with their men’s lacrosse brothers by wearing wristbands inscribed with the word “innocent” when they played in the national semi-finals on May 26. These brave young women (brave because it takes courage to stand up to Duke’s radical feminist and anti-lacrosse team faculty) also wore on their wristbands the numbers of the three Duke lacrosse players indicted for the alleged rape of an African-American stripper on May 13 despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence. Too bad the Blue Devils lost to Northwestern is all I have to say.

Naturally, the liberal press has already convicted and hanged the three defendants, on the theory that since a) the three are whites from affluent families; b) all young white men are rapists; and c) North Carolina (home of Duke) used to be a slave state, they’ve got to be guilty. Ipso facto, the Duke lacrosse women must be guilty of something too. Here’s columnist Stephen A. Smith for the Philadelphia Inquirer (hat tip: La Shawn Barber, the woman to go to for all you need to know about the Duke case):

“These 18-, 19- and 20-year-old women evidently were either ignorant or insensitive to the fact that there were 94,635 rapes in the country in 2004, according to the FBI. Or they weren’t aware that rape is one of the most underreported crimes, which one would think should heighten any female’s sensitivity radar.”

I don’t quite follow Smith’s logic here–the alleged victim in this case duly reported the crime (although not right away). The idea seems to be that because there’s such a thing as rape, everyone accused of rape has got to be guilty. Even worse, says Smith, the Duke administration didn’t censor the lacrosse women’s gesture of solidarity (I guess Smith has never heard of freedom of expression on college campuses):

“The word innocent was going to be sprayed on wristbands, and Duke said it planned to do nothing about it. It planned to do nothing even though that declaration was going to be made public, in an NCAA-sanctioned venue, by representatives of the institution, and Duke practically condoned it with no regard as to how this may look.”

The problem for Smith and other liberal media-ites is that it “may look” as though almost no one except activists like him believes that a rape occurred at the Duke party house that night. The good news is that Mike Nifong, the grandstanding district attorney whose pursuit of this case seems motivated mostly by his desire to win re-election, is reportedly under investigation by the North Carolina State Bar. Nifong, who has been trying the case in the press for more than two months, is now seeking a gag order to prevent defense attorneys from publicly airing the mounting evidence of their clients’ innocence, evidence that includes the alleged victim’s numerous changes in her story, a lack of incriminating DNA, and various records indicating their clients were elsewhere when the rape supposedly occurred.

Here, courtesy of La Shawn, is what New York Times columnist David Brooks has to say:

” We know now that the Duke lacrosse players are not the dumb jocks they were portrayed to be. The team has a 100 percent graduation rate. Over the past five years, 146 members of the team made the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Honor Roll, twice as many as any other ACC lacrosse team. According to the faculty report written by law professor James E. Coleman and others – which stands out as the one carefully researched and intellectually honest piece of work in this whole mess – ‘The lacrosse team’s academic performance generally is one of the best among all Duke athletic teams.’…

“The male lacrosse players ‘volunteered for numerous community service activities,’ the report says, including reading programs, mentoring programs, the Special Olympics and Katrina relief.”

As Brooks points out, yeah, there was heavy drinking at the party, some lacross players (not the three defendants) made racist remarks that probably warranted the discipline (a suspension of the team that has just been lifted), and it’s a really lousy idea to invite a sex-show artiste at midnight for undergraduate entertainment. Nonetheless, as Brooks points out saliently:

“The members of the lacrosse team were male, mostly white and mostly members of the suburban bourgeois middle class. For many on the tenured left, bashing people like that is all that’s left of their once-great activism.

“And maybe the saddest part of the whole reaction is not the rush to judgment at the start, but the unwillingness by so many to face the truth now that the more complicated reality has emerged.”