Several Duke University lacrosse team members are facing criminal charges for raping a stripper at a wild party, and that is a cause for national mourning. It is a single incident, but it exposes a massive American market for the world to see: the commoditized sex-for-sale industry. This is a market that is cowardly and dehumanizing, the opposite of what good economies aid in building: life-sustaining and dignity enhancing societies.
We should mourn as a nation because we continue to encourage men to become consumers of female dehumanization. The sensational Duke lacrosse case is a display of all-too-common failure on this score. There is outrage aplenty, but the sources of the problem are deeper than alleged acts of sexual assault. Why is there no national outrage about the fact that two adult women subjected themselves to voyeuristic, live pornography? What kind of men do we raise in America that they would even want to hire a stripper?
As Duke University President Richard Brodhead puts it, the school's lacrosse team has a “history of boorish behavior and underage drinking.” Why is there no social pressure on Duke's campus, among other students, for these athletes to be known as men of honorable character? Where is the social pressure to promote the good?
The dehumanization began when two women entered into an economic arrangement with a buyer to be sold for a night of degeneracy. This legal market of lewdness provided the venue for the alleged illegal behavior. It further benefited from the cowardice of those who witnessed but did not stop the activity.
Duke's lacrosse team is a team of fully grown, adult men, and they should be expected to live that way. If we send men as young as 18 years old all over the world to die for freedom, then surely we should expect the same high standards of character from men in our colleges and universities.
America perpetuates adolescence and enables irresponsibility by not holding college men to the high standards of moral integrity. Duke has no college “kids” going through a “phase.” No child called the Allure Escort Service to hire two women ages 27 and 31.
What is desperately needed is a hero to emerge from Duke's lacrosse team, one who is committed to justice and human dignity, to make what may be the toughest decision of his life – that is, to tell the truth.
There must be at least one man on the team whose conscience is ablaze at the flammable injustice of what he saw, heard, or knows and wants to stand up and shout, “Enough!! Here's what really happened.”
Maybe he fears the rejection or possible retaliation the truth will bring? Maybe he fears the label “traitor?” What this man needs to know is that “selling out” a few teammates for the sake of justice and neighborly love is one of the most valiant, honorable, and costly actions a man could ever take. America should expect real men to have the character to stand up and fight for the good, because doing so honors the dignity of the human person, builds community, and liberates the soul. On the foundation of such courage is erected the culture that can sustain free and economically vibrant communities.
Instead, and perversely, there are other market effects. As Duke scrambles to save its public image, sales of the school's lacrosse gear has soared. Tom Craig, general manager of Duke's retail stores, said that they can't keep up with the new demand. “Over the last month, sales have increased to three or four times our normal rate,” he says.
Would it not be better if sales of Duke's lacrosse gear rose because people were proud to promote a team with a reputation for being not only stellar athletes and excellent students but also the kind of men known for justice, wisdom, courage, and self-control? A good start would be for one player to stand up, tell the police the truth, and fulfill a wonderful calling to fight for human dignity and justice. That Duke man would be my hero.