On the Radio Factor today, hundreds of people called in to talk about the rape charges filed against two 20-year-old Duke University lacrosse players. Americans seem to be interested in the story for a number of reasons.
First, it's still a mystery. What actually happened at the party? Was the striper really raped and beaten?
Second, it pits two privileged white college students against a struggling black woman, who has two children and a checkered past. Class, perhaps race, is a factor in this case.
And third, the case is rare. It's not often you see a scandal like this at a place like Duke. Just as it is rare that a nice girl like Natalee Holloway would disappear on a friendly island like Aruba. Whenever you have extraordinary circumstances, people pay attention.
But if you look closely at the Duke situation, you'll see it's not so unusual, and that there's a thread that binds both the lacrosse players and the woman together. And that thread is chaos.
Duke University officials knew the lacrosse team often crossed the line, drinking and acting out in immature ways. The coach was warned last year to reign the players in. Apparently he did not or could not. The coach has now resigned.
One of the players charged, Collin Finnerty, may be a violent guy. Last November, he was allegedly involved in an assault on a man in Washington, D.C. for absolutely no reason. And he entered a diversionary program.
Fighting, drinking to excess and generally ignoring social boundaries always leads to bad, unintended consequences. Always!
Likewise, a 27-year-old woman put herself in jeopardy. She has two young kids to support, and no fathers in sight. So in order to earn money, she chooses to go to strange places and disrobe in front of strange men. Do the math.
"Talking Points" is not accusing anyone of anything or making any judgments at all. What I just told you is on the record fact. The lacrosse team operated in a loose fashion. The alleged victim had little control over her environment. Both situations were chaotic. And that's the lesson of this case, which we hope will lead to the truth emerging in justice.
If you put yourself into situations beyond your control, or if you choose to act irresponsibly, bad things will happen to you. It's not if, it's when.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
I often use this time to demonstrate the blatant bias that is present in the American media, and here's another example.
Last week, President Bush and Vice President Cheney released their tax returns, and Mr. Cheney's showed that he and his wife, Lynne, donated nearly $7 million to charity. Seven million!
Now, how many of you read or heard that? Raise your hands. I thought so. Not many.
Even if you dislike the vice president, that kind of charitable giving should be widely reported, should it not? Yes, he's rich, but that's not the point. Seven million bucks to charity is impressive. It's ridiculous not to report that.