19A Vane Attempt

"Don't Need A Weatherman To Tell Which Way the Wind Blows"

A Series of Innocuous Blogs for Vainglorious Edification.


October 13, 2007
Yes, this is a coined word.  We have coined it in an attempt to quantify a method of education that combines provocative entertainment, sensational issues and broad-based dialog.  The term “Sensasucation” is a meager start at this challenge.  But here’s the idea: provocative issues, e.g. racism, classism, sexism, played out through life-like scenarios, e.g. the Duke lacrosse rape case - result in tumultuous dialog leading to change and social understanding.  To arrive at this result it is fascinating to study the framers of  “Sensasucation” and the purpose behind their work.  Here we take a brief look at the elements of the Duke University lacrosse rape case, the issues that such a sensational undertaking raise and the motivations behind the case’s design.  This is far from a normative investigation because we assume at the outset that the entire enterprise is a fabrication.  But a fabrication that can yield positive social action, if played out with reason and care.

One might think our approach unfair the way it may be unfair to declare the wizard of Wizard of Oz a mere mortal prior to its revelation at the story’s end.  But we believe it valuable to study not only the lesson but the educators who teach the lesson.  Education is only as valuable as the veracity of its content.  Determining that veracity prior to study is a paramount challenge.  The Duke lacrosse rape case is a shocking disclosure of prejudice on both sides of the “race” issue.  What the wrongful accusation, indictment and arrest of the three Duke University students appears to show us is the intense hatred of a certain socio-economic class of people.   That hatred we are led to believe, emanates from liberal, left leaning people of color and marginalized economic means.  In the Duke case these people include far left professors, Durham township citizens, police, the District Attorney, mass media, press and initially a large percentage of Duke students.  The reasoning is understandable.  A black stripper claimed to have been gang raped by three to six or more white Duke lacrosse players during a late night party off campus.  The book “Until Proven Innocent” written by Stuart Taylor Jr. and K.C. Johnson, details clearly how perverse and frighteningly strident the initial reactions to the charge were. 

The primary reaction was a pandemic presumption of guilt built not on evidence or logic, but entirely on the apparent hatred of the socio-economic class the students came from.  Because the students’ parents had achieved some element of financial success and they lived out of state in the Northeast, it was assumed they were “privileged white arrogant athletes,” lacking any shred of good character.  To stir the plot further the District Attorney, seeking reelection to secure a fattened pension, decided after thirty years of practice to make an obstinate spectacle of the case.  And here is where the first red flags rise.  A District Attorney with a good track record nearing retirement might think twice before rushing to judgment.  He would need to be aware that whatever tack he took it would be seen as politically motivated.  He would certainly understand that intense public scrutiny would eventually reveal the facts and that building a case to satisfy public outcry was both unethical and unlawful.   We must ask ourselves the question that neither the “Until Proven Innocent” authors or any journalist seemed to ask.  Is staking your entire life on a politically motivated prosecution worth a ten grand pension increase??  Especially in the face of probable jail time for prosecutorial excess and negligence??

And are left leaning journalists, professors, students and townsfolk so filled with prejudicial bile they are willing to tear from their good conscience the very principles they know to be the foundation of their chosen social structure?   Is there not one voice that will speak out against mob mentality and hatred to remind us that good society is built on even-handed justice and a presumption of innocence??  According to this scenario, NO.  And that raises another red flag.  A “Sensasucation” red flag.  Because as much as we would like to claim the Duke case to be a frightening condemnation of reverse racism - it wobbles with unworldly improbability.  It is improbable that no one in the press, no one in law enforcement, no one on campus, no one in the community would hold a hand up high and say loudly, “Let’s slow down for one goddamned minute here!”  Which is what a normal human being would do.   But apparently not these.

That brings us to the curious place of examining the Duke rape case as if it were a craftily constructed novel;  designed to engage its reader, raise thorny if not divisive issues, and then having sewn its seed, make a stealthy getaway into the night.  It is downright…“Sensasucational!”  

The Duke case pits race against race, class against class, sex against sex.  It carefully nurtures the notion that the radical left wing of academia is riddled with hate filled minorities crouched in waiting for the opportunity to burn down the barn of the majority.  It paints law enforcement as bumbling, half-witted fools who can’t see past the ravings of an obviously corrupt accuser much less tell their ass from an elbow.   It pits the “rich white people” against the “poor, black, disenfranchised people.”  Which means it foments class war, race war and gender antagonism… Sorry, but as Randy Newman says, “Wait a minute teacher!  Maybe my ears are clogged or sumthin…” (1)  Something in this mix don’t sound right.  We just don’t believe it.  Even when it raises issues that are rooted in a semblance of truth - there is an air of untruth and fabrication about this tale.  What the Duke rape case lacks, as so much of what we see and hear around us today lacks - is the ameliorative good conscience of human nature.  The people in this case, regardless of which bench they sit on, lack the infinite complexity of human frailty.  Stuff that is irreproducible by all but the purest of heart.  Which in our opinion makes the Duke rape case - a work of fiction. 

And given it to be fiction, we must ask ourselves - to what advantage does such a work of fiction offer itself?  For what purpose?   And for whom?   Which makes an appealing opportunity for the sequel to this “Sensasucational” little tale.  So stay tuned folks.  This show’s not over.

(1) from “My Life is Good!” copyright © 1986 Randy Newman BMI, ASCAP