Those Duke Boys Just Needed A Dose Of Chivalry

David Brooks’ op/ed has me quite literally shaking with rage. I don’t have TimesSelect, but Amanda kindly forwarded it to me, and posted her own thoughts. Now, paragraph by paragraph:

All great scandals occur twice, first as Tom Wolfe novels, then as real-life events that nightmarishly mimic them. And so after “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” it was perhaps inevitable that Duke University would have to endure a mini-social explosion involving athletic thugs, resentful townies, nervous administrators, male predators, aggrieved professors, binge drinking and lust gone wild.

Ignoring the fact that “I Am Charlotte Simmons” sucked, let’s take a second to point it out one more time: Rape is not about “lust gone wild.” It is not about “lust” any more than fantasizing about killing someone and skinning them is about “lust.” It’s about violence, power and depravity. Not sexual attractiveness. Not the inability to control your hormones.

If you wander through the thicket of commentary that already surrounds the Duke lacrosse scandal, the first thing you notice is how sociological it is. In almost every article and piece of commentary, the event is portrayed not as a crime between individuals but as a clash between classes, races and sexes.

Perhaps because the men were yelling racist epithets at the strippers? Perhaps because, by nearly all accounts, there have been serious issues with race, class and sex at Duke, and in Duke’s relations with Durham?

“This whole sordid party scene played out at the prestigious university is deeply disturbing on a number of levels, including those involving gender, race and the notion of athletic entitlement and privilege,” a USA Today columnist wrote.

“The collisions are epic: black and white, town and gown, rich and poor, privilege and plain, jocks and scholars,” a CBS analyst observed.

The key word in the coverage has been “entitlement.” In a thousand different ways commentators have asserted (based on no knowledge of the people involved) that the lacrosse players behaved rancidly because they felt privileged and entitled to act as they pleased.

The main theme shaping the coverage is that inequality leads to exploitation. The whites felt free to exploit the blacks. The men felt free to exploit women. The jocks felt free to exploit everybody else. As a Duke professor, Houston Baker, wrote, their environment gave the lacrosse players “license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech and feel proud of themselves in the bargain.”

It could be that this environmental, sociological explanation of events is entirely accurate. But it says something about our current intellectual climate that almost every reporter and commentator used these mental categories so unconsciously and automatically.

Well, that is what happens in a post-Civil-Rights-era world (to be clear, that isn’t to imply that the goals of the Civil Rights movement are over): we have a heightened sensitivity to issues of race, gender and class. Certainly this sensitivity isn’t heightened enough, and there is still a long way to go. But the idea that all crimes are simply acts against “individuals” and never motivated by other social forces has been thoroughly de-bunked. We’ve recognized that whites do exploit blacks, men do exploit women, etc etc.

But that doesn’t stop Brooks!

Several decades ago, American commentators would have used an entirely different vocabulary to grapple with what happened at Duke. Instead of the vocabulary of sociology, they would have used the language of morality and character.

If you were looking at this scandal through that language, you would look at the e-mail message one of the players sent on the night in question. This is the one in which a young man joked about killing strippers and cutting off their skin.

You would say that the person who felt free to send this message to his buddies had crashed through several moral guardrails. You would surmise that his character had been corroded by shock jocks and raunch culture and that he’d entered a nihilistic moral universe where young men entertain each other with bravura displays of immoralism. A community so degraded, you might surmise, is not a long way from actual sexual assault.

You would then ask questions very different from the sociological ones: How have these young men slipped into depravity? Why have they not developed sufficient character to restrain their baser impulses?

Well, I think people are asking those questions, aren’t they? They’re answering, “Extreme privilege.” “Racism.” “A life where there were never any consequences.” Etc etc.

Further, not raping isn’t about an ability to “restrain their baser impulses.” It’s sort of like not murdering, or not going around and physically assaulting people. There is not an inborn male desire to rape. Brooks’ idea that men don’t rape because they exhibit “restraint” is indeed frightening. It reflects a pretty dim view of men, and it makes me pretty uncomfortable when I think that he must, at least in part, be basing this on his own views.

But the problem with Brooks’ positioning of this issue is that he assumes this problem to be an individual one. It’s not. Sexual assault is nothing less than an epidemic. Gang rapes in particular are worth examining sociologically, because many times at least some of the men involved would probably not commit rape on their own. There’s obviously a lot more going on here than just an individual issue.

The educators who used this vocabulary several decades ago understood that when you concentrate young men, they have a tropism toward barbarism. That’s why these educators cared less about academics than about instilling a formula for character building. The formula, then called chivalry, consisted first of manners, habits and self-imposed restraints to prevent the downward slide.

Jeez. Remember what I just wrote about Brooks having a pretty dim view of men? Double that.

When you put a bunch of guys together, they tend toward barbarism? Seriously, David? And they say feminists hate men.

As for the last part of that paragraph, what? Apparently a few decades ago, college was charm school for boys. Academics were secondary; teaching little Charles Anderson Crawford III how to open doors was priority numero uno.

Nevermind, of course, that this is totally at odds with reality and history.

Furthermore, it was believed that each of us had a godlike and a demonic side, and that decent people perpetually strengthened the muscles of their virtuous side in order to restrain the deathless sinner within. If you read commencement addresses from, say, the 1920’s, you can actually see college presidents exhorting their students to battle the beast within — a sentiment that if uttered by a contemporary administrator would cause the audience to gape and the earth to fall off its axis.

Well… yeah. Because a hundred more years of moral philosophy, sociology and anthroplogy has shown us that there’s a lot more to moral decision-making than an internal binary battle of good v. evil.

Today that old code of obsolete chivalry is gone, as is a whole vocabulary on how young people should think about character.

The vocabulary of good versus evil is gone? Someone give that memo to our President.

As for this idea that eliminating chivalry causes rape, again I call bullshit. First: Chivalry isn’t dead. Second: Rape existed in 1920, too, and apparently that was the height of chivalrous behavior. Third: Men don’t rape because they haven’t been taught about “character” or “chivalry.” Would anyone look at Ted Bundy, shake their heads and say, “Well, it’s really too bad that he was brought up in a society where moral character wasn’t emphasized enough. If only he was more chivalrous, maybe he wouldn’t have killed all those women.” Of course not. Chivalry doesn’t protect women from victimization at the hands of violent people. Chivalry doesn’t keep otherwise violent men from behaving violently. But Brooks seems to believe that all men are innately violent and have a deep-seated desire to harm women, which can only be quelled by demanding that they pull out our chairs for us.

But in “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” Wolfe tried to steer readers back past the identity groups to the ghost in the machine, the individual soul. Wolfe’s heroine is a modern girl searching for honor in a world where the social rules have dissolved, and who commits “moral suicide” because she is unprepared for what she faces.

Many critics reacted furiously to these parts of Wolfe’s book. And we are where we are.

So we know he has crappy taste in books. But let’s look at what else he’s saying here: “Wolfe’s heroine is a modern girl searching for honor in a world where the social rules have dissolved.” Does anyone actually believe that the social rules — like don’t fucking rape people — have dissolved? Really?

Now I suppose feminism is to blame for this, because the demise of chivalry is probably our fault, and without chivalry men will run around raping and killing and skinning strippers and doing God knows what else because they’re ignorant, evil beasts who need a great deal of social control to keep them moderately well-behaved.

But I don’t really buy that. See, I don’t think that the expectation that men will behave like normal human beings is really setting the bar that high. I don’t think men are inherently “bad” and therefore unable to not commit violent crimes without coercive social forces pushing them in the other direction. And I don’t think that men need to position women as secondary in order to not physically harm them.

This is where the real cognitive dissonance comes in: Brooks basically argues that chivalry is necessary for male character development, ostensibily because an ideology which positions men as the big strong protectors of women will keep those same men from physically harming the women they’ve been sent to protect. Of course, this raises questions of who they’re protecting those women from, given that chivalry is supposed to make all men “good.” If chivalry worked, there wouldn’t be any need for chivalry, right?

His analysis also completely ignores basic power structures. Give men more power over women through chivalry, he argues, and they will rape them less. This ignores, again, the fact that rape is very much a crime of power and control, and the very reason that men rape women is because they can — because women are the “weaker” sex, and rape keeps them in their place.

Now, I suppose that “chivalry,” in Brooks’ view, is actually a white upper-class male concept, and the chivalrous men are the same ones who have always had access to wealth and higher education (hence the line about how back in the good old days, colleges were focused on morality and character). So the chivalrous men are actually there to protect similarly-situated white women from the menace of poor and black non-chivalrous men. Which is why this whole “the boys lacked chivalry” argument is particularly applicable here, as opposed to, say, the Kobe Bryant rape case. Consider if David Brooks had written this same editorial then; how much sense would it really have made in that context? Could it even have been written?

His point, then, is that we should remove “identity politics” from our discussion of the Duke rape case, but then he launches into an argument that can only be made when we’re talking about a particular, privileged identity. He continues to assert that men will not rape (or rape less) if they’re given more power over women, ignoring the fact that these boys’ power was what enabled and encouraged them to rape in the first place.

Talk about extreme illogic. The whole thing has my head spinning.


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55 comments for “Those Duke Boys Just Needed A Dose Of Chivalry

  1. Peterr
    April 9, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    I love your “And they say *feminists* hate men?” line!

    Another aspect to Brooks’ illogic is the complete absence of any notion of group psychology. Mobs will do things that individuals will not. Anonymous posters on websites that spew racist crap will take the drivel posted by others as license to vent their own hate – which they would likely not do in a face to face conversation with someone else. Group dynamics matter, as least as much as individual agency.

    What’s next for Brooks: being opposed to sex because it might lead to dancing?

  2. April 9, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    Bravo, Jill.

  3. April 9, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    I’m honestly surprised he didn’t blame feminists for the rape.

  4. April 9, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    let me get this right…because brooks is telling us that we just need to give white men a chance…and things will be okay?

    oh, seriously…

  5. April 9, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Another contradication is that he bashes the “vocabulary of sociology” and then blames “shock jocks” for the rape.

    Examining the impact of the media on behavior is one of the main areas of sociology.

    Unlike Brooks, I don’t blame shock jocks.

  6. April 9, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    Rape is not about “lust gone wild.” It is not about “lust” any more than fantasizing about killing someone and skinning them is about “lust.” It’s about violence, power and depravity. Not sexual attractiveness. Not the inability to control your hormones.

    Not really related to this particular, horrific rape case, but I must object to this blanket statement.

    I suspect feminists make this claim to avoid letting men off the hook (“aw, he just wanted some sex, that’s not so bad”)*, but I don’t believe the dogmatic insistence about it’s NOT about sex, is really based on facts. And indeed, I don’t think it matters why the rapist did it, the crime is vile and needs to be punished with seriousness.

    Usually Nicholas Groth’s work on rapists is provided as support to this, like in this site:

    Rape is NOT about sexual gratification. Rape is a crime of violence, anger, and power. It is NOT motivated by sexual desire.

    Of course, Groth’s work really found out that (from an excerpt):

    Rape is a distortion of human sexuality. It is sexuality in
    the service of nonsexual needs. Rape is the sexual expression of
    hostility and aggression
    – a behavioral act not a psychiatric
    condition. Rape typically reflects deep seated feelings of
    inadequacy.
    For the most part, offenders report finding little if any
    sexual satisfaction in the act of rape. Their subjective reactions
    range from disappointment to disgust. When rapists discuss
    pleasure they speak of being aggressive and having power over
    their victim, her actions, her life. “It gave me pleasure knowing
    that there was nothing that she could do.”

    (my emphasis)

    Which isn’t exactly the same as a blanket statement: It’s NOT about sex.

    Then, the site beautifully contradicts itself later, on acquintance rape (which is, as I understand, the most common type, unlike the stranger rape, which perps Groth interviewed):

    Many acquaintance rapes are initiated by the perpetrator, with the intention of having sex. When the victim resists the perpetrator’s advances, the perpetrator uses more aggressive measures to ensure compliance.

    Intention to have sex is NOT about sex?

    Thus I submit that the primary motivators for date rape are sex and utter, reptilian selfishness.

    This excellent site, that discusses self-defense and criminal mindset writes (under Agenda over Reality):

    We disagree with many trends in WSD programs, and we certainly disagree with this blanket statement. Is power and control a factor in rape? Yes. Is it the primary motivation in certain kinds of rape? Absolutely. Is rape and violence used as a means to control women in extreme patriarchal countries and cultures to this day? Yes. But we maintain: In civilized countries, a majority of the time rape is about sex. But more than that, it is about selfishness.

    This is especially true in many — if not a majority — of date rapes. It is interesting to note that nobody defends against a date rape charge with: “Yes I raped her for power and control.” The immediate defense is that it was consensual sex. We have a problem with conspiracy theories. And that includes inferring that every experienced rapist took aside a novice and told him to use that plea. So in light of the use of this defense, we can assume that an overwhelming number of these idiots believed it was consensual sex. Was it date rape? Yes. Did they see it as such? No. And if they didn’t know it was rape, how could it be about power and control?

    Gee, could it have been about getting laid?

    (my emphasis)

    I’m not blaming anyone expect the rapists here (don’t shoot the messenger). And the article you took down was kind of asinine, I agree on that.

    * Glaivester explained this in a good analysis, the controversial part being:

    The more casually a society takes sex, the less of an impact the act of rape has in terms of sex. Therefore, in order to have rape be a serious crime, one has to redefine it away from sex.

    That was not the only part, but anyway, I agree with him on his analysis.

  7. Thlayli
    April 9, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    When you put a bunch of guys together, they tend toward barbarism? Seriously, David?

    Don’t give Bobo too much credit by assuming that’s an original idea on his part. He got it from Lord of the Flies.

  8. April 9, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    Yes, bravo, Jill. What Brooks is articulating is the old lie that male responsibility is inextricably linked to female vulnerability. Diminish the latter by empowering women, and men will naturally abdicate self-control. It’s a compelling myth, and one that does a tremendous disservice to both sexes.

    I’ll try and have some thoughts up tomorrow or Tuesday.

  9. April 9, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    Great post, Jill. It’s mind-boggling that the NYT pays Brooks to write this swill. God forbid they could hire someone (preferably not a privileged white male like Brooksie) with a brain instead.

  10. April 9, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Jill, you may delete my comment #4 on mod queue with impunity now that there is a trackback (of course, you don’t need my permission for that, but anyway, it’s bit off-topic to this).

  11. littlecat
    April 9, 2006 at 6:18 pm

    The thing about chivalry is that it doesn’t embody love and respect for women: very much the opposite, in fact. It embodied, and continues to embody, perfect idealization of, to paraphrase Ursula Le Guin, the “woman-shaped object”, in which there is a precise and dialectical absence of humanity.

    In many respects, this need for “chivalry” seems to be born from an intense fear of the idea of women as imperfect human beings. Brooks seems to be suggesting that in order not to rape women, men must idealize them to the point at which their humanity ceases to exist; and that if women inevitably fall from that high pedestal – that is, if they dare to be human beings – why, then, they’ve obviously failed to deserve chivalrous treatment and are therefore ripe for raping. It’s just the old madonna/whore complex again, really.

  12. April 9, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    Not really related to this particular, horrific rape case, but I must object to this blanket statement.

    I suspect feminists make this claim to avoid letting men off the hook (”aw, he just wanted some sex, that’s not so bad”)*, but I don’t believe the dogmatic insistence about it’s NOT about sex, is really based on facts. And indeed, I don’t think it matters why the rapist did it, the crime is vile and needs to be punished with seriousness.

    Tuomas-

    I don’t think I made the claim that rape isn’t at least somewhat about sex; my point is that it isn’t about lust. Rapists often rape for perverse sexual gratification; that gratification comes from the power and violence inherent in their act. However, rape isn’t caused by average men being suddenly unable to control their lustful urges. That’s what Brooks was implying, and what I was objecting to.

  13. April 9, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    Apologies for misreading you, then (I suppose I used this as a starting point for somewhat generalized statement, because many feminists will be quite adamant in insisting that rape has nothing to do about sex, but is all about power. Personally I think both views: all about sex or all about power are wrong ).

    But (the legendary weasel word!) isn’t lust linked to sex?

    However, rape isn’t caused by average men being suddenly unable to control their lustful urges.

    I agree. If men are so inclined, they certainly can, even if the said men would be (for reason or another) predisposed towards rape (culture, upbringing, views on women…).

  14. Mickey
    April 9, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    The obvious thing is that it was not a rape; it was a gang rape. In a rape, it is fair to say that morality or lack of it is the only consideration. In a gang rape, sociology can trump morality.

  15. April 9, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    Am I understanding rightly that Brooks thinks that in the good old days, white men knew that they were obliged to be chivalrous to black strippers? I can’t help thinking of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech – evidently she didn’t find herself much of an object of chivalry, back in the day.

  16. paul
    April 9, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Wasn’t the Duke rape pretty much dead center in the chivalric tradition? Women not of the aristocratic class, check. Women under their own banner rather than under the protection of a man, check. Women not demure but making a living by trading on (limited) sexual display, check. Why should a man of noble birth give a second thought to their wishes?

    Why didn’t these guys ever get basic lessons in human decency? Because you, David, and the rest of your smug friends were too busy clucking about how indelicate it was of women to take their suffrage seriously.

  17. April 9, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    He continues to assert that men will not rape (or rape less) if they’re given more power over women, ignoring the fact that these boys’ power was what enabled and encouraged them to rape in the first place.

    So, um, how much power does he think will stop them from raping? Power like what they had over that woman once they started raping her, perhaps? Here’s a little hint: if the solution is worse than the problem, it’s really not a good solution.

    Of course, if they are given that power legitimately, the exercise of it ceases to be a crime, at which point they can do shit like this full-time without any threat of punishment. Or, as David Brooks would call it, “problem solved.”

  18. April 9, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    let me get this right…because brooks is telling us that we just need to give white men a chance…and things will be okay?

    Yep. Just like the women in question gave the white men at the party a chance, and everything turned out fine. *sneers*

  19. April 9, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    Damn Lynn! You beat me to it. That’s exactly what I thought after reading this.

    And this chivalry nonsense? Give me a break. He’s glorifying a tradition where men could beat their wives for disobedience? He’s waxing nostalgic about a time when women couldn’t vote because they were believed to be incompetent? He thinks we should go back to an age where a Black man would get lynched for looking at a White woman the “wrong” way?

    Give me a fucking break. Paul is right, this has nothing to do with chivalry, this is about basic human decency.

  20. Nobody
    April 9, 2006 at 9:51 pm

    This looks to be, entirely, a problem of semantics. The Brooks piece, and the reaction it’s engendered, I mean. You’ve imputed to the word chivalry far more than Mr. Brooks does.

    You have got his view of man’s intrinsic nature down, though it’s a bit odd that it seems to shock you. Of course he thinks all men are, but for their own self-restraint (however they come by it), potential rapists, potential murderers, and potential batterers. Lord of the Flies, Hobbes, that whole original sin thing in the bible. . . this isn’t a new thought. It’s also not rare.

    “Every new generation constitutes a wave of savages who must be civilized by their families, schools, and churches.” –Robert Bork

  21. Jackson B.
    April 9, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    Further, not raping isn’t about an ability to “restrain their baser impulses.” It’s sort of like not murdering, or not going around and physically assaulting people. There is not an inborn male desire to rape.

    Huh? This makes no sense. First, there are many occasions in life where a man might feel the urge to be violent — after being insulted at a bar, at a sporting event, when getting cut off in traffic, even at home when the kids are driving him crazy. Some men give in to these urges, while most men don’t. It’s almost tautological to say that the non-violent men have learned, somehow or another, not to give in to their violent urges. You can’t just assume that non-violence is the normal condition of men. The whole history of the human race shows otherwise.

    Same with rape. I’m not sure about the Duke incident, but you bet that there is an inborn desire in most men to have sex as often as possible. The fact that more men don’t commit rape in order to get sex is a testament to the fact that they have learned to control their sexual urges in at least that respect. But when men who have NOT learned such self-control take a woman home, date rape is often the result. Why? Not because of a desire for power/control. Because they want sex,and they’ve never learned to put anyone else’s feelings first while controlling their own urges. Again, this is almost tautological.

  22. B
    April 10, 2006 at 12:51 am

    Jill, while I wholeheartedly agree with your main point, Brooks’s contention that groups of men are disposed to barbarism has respected anthropological research behind it, if by “barbarism” we mean a tendency to rape and murder. See Richard Wrangham’s Demonic Males for a book-length exposition of this. Wrangham looks both at human history and our primate cousins and comes up with the following basic points:

    1) in the entire animal kingdom, the great apes are exceptional for having a tendency to commit organized intra-species acts of violence;

    2) these acts are overwhelmingly committed by the males of each species;

    3) the species that are violent are either solitary or form patriarchal social groups. By comparison, the major exception to the apes=violence rule forms matriarchal groups (it’s the bonobo, God love ’em.). Rape/murder/war seems inextricably tied to male dominance, and humans are no exception.

    Certainly not a very nice view of men’s “natural tendencies,” but a conclusion that’s hard to escape given the evidence laid out in the book. Now, Wrangham’s no determinist; he never argues that this is just the way that things are fated to always be. And he of course doesn’t fall into an atrocious “is=ought” paradox in an attempt to morally excuse male violence. After reading the book, though, peace and goodness among homo sapiens sapiens seems decidedly “against our grain,” so to speak. Though if Brooks is really arguing that giving men more power over women via chivalry is going to curb male violence, he’s got his head up his ass. Wrangham’s research suggests just the opposite.

  23. April 10, 2006 at 2:40 am

    Maybe we should all bookmark this article for the next time anyone argues that “Feminists say all men are rapists.” No, it’s pretty obvious that people like Brooks are the ones who believe that.

  24. johnieB
    April 10, 2006 at 9:40 am

    I, too, have difficulty imagining why a fu*kwit like Brooks is paid for this sort of thing, not to mention regular appearances on the Newshour. I think it emblematic of the decline of political discourse and of the NYT’s contribution to same. It’s not all the news, not is it balanced coverage; it’s moral cowardice.

    Another reason to read this, and other good blogs, and ignore the MSM, says me.

  25. April 10, 2006 at 10:12 am

    Jackson B writes:
    there is an inborn desire in most men to have sex as often as possible. The fact that more men don’t commit rape in order to get sex is a testament to the fact that they have learned to control their sexual urges in at least that respect.
    Or it’s a reflection of the fact that they wouldn’t find non-consensual sex enjoyable.

    It doesn’t take self-control to restrain yourself from raping if forced sex wouldn’t give you any pleasure.

  26. April 10, 2006 at 10:17 am

    Jill writes:
    Apparently a few decades ago, college was charm school for boys. Academics were secondary; teaching little Charles Anderson Crawford III how to open doors was priority numero uno.

    Nevermind, of course, that this is totally at odds with reality and history

    I’ve put up a post here about how Brooks misrepresents the history of gender relations at American colleges, in case anyone’s interested.

  27. zuzu
    April 10, 2006 at 10:26 am

    But (the legendary weasel word!) isn’t lust linked to sex?

    Lust is linked to a lot of things. Money, for instance. Lust is merely the desire to possess something one does not have.

  28. April 10, 2006 at 10:29 am

    Some men give in to these urges, while most men don’t. It’s almost tautological to say that the non-violent men have learned, somehow or another, not to give in to their violent urges. You can’t just assume that non-violence is the normal condition of men. The whole history of the human race shows otherwise.

    I disagree. It seems clear to me that those who appear to be inherently violent have actually figured out that they can cross personal boundaries and get away with it without much negative consequence.

  29. April 10, 2006 at 11:47 am

    Once again, we should turn to the Bible to resolve this issue.

  30. April 10, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    Brooks is right. Several decades ago, the case would be defined by morality. The victim would have blamed. Everyone would have accused her of being the one lacking morality.

    Chivalry is dead, and good riddance. The dirty little secret about chivalry is that, while the knights protected their ladies, they had no respect for any other women. After a long day of putting noblewomen up on a pedestal, a nobleman would go out into the country and rape the first peasant woman he saw. Guess who was blamed for that.

  31. April 10, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    You can’t just assume that non-violence is the normal condition of men. The whole history of the human race shows otherwise.

    Dear Diary;

    What a day! It started out normally enough, pinned down by a hail of semiautomatic weapons fire from the milkman, but he let up and drove away after I got his shooting arm with a throwing star. That practice has really paid off! But the milk was sour. Next time I’m aiming for his face.

    So then I’m eating my dry cereal, which still has blood on the box from the checkout clerk, when I get an email froom my brother. He says he’s looking forward to his visit, and he’s sharpening his knives. He’s a sneaky little bastard, that guy. I can’t wait to bite his other ear off.

    But then things turn bad as soon as I get out the door. My neighbor’s out walking his dog, and it’s a nice dog, so I go up and kick it hard in the ass. But get this: my neighbor’s all like “what the hell did you do that for?” all surprised and stuff. Listen, if he doesn’t want people playing with his dog he should just say so and not cop an attitude.

    The subway was about usual. Car was full when I got on at Brighton, probably about a hundred fifty people all jostling and stuff, and only two of us left alive by the time we got to Houston Street. The other guy looked big, but I got the drop on him and that was that. You learn a few things when you ride the subways for a while.

    But then get this: I get to work and my boss tells me I’m not maiming enough clients, that Johannssen has been really cleaning up in his territory in the Poconos and he’s raised the bar for the whole firm. Well of course I shot my boss in the eye. Now I’ve got to file for unemployment. God, I hate those lines.

  32. April 10, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    Lust is linked to a lot of things. Money, for instance. Lust is merely the desire to possess something one does not have.

    With this broad definition of lust, “not lust but power” seems to be impossible. Perhaps they lusted sex, perhaps power, but anyway.

  33. April 10, 2006 at 3:48 pm

    Erika wrote:

    Chivalry is dead, and good riddance. The dirty little secret about chivalry is that, while the knights protected their ladies, they had no respect for any other women.

    Pretty much. Chivalry has a very easy out: “But you’re not a lady!”

    It also seemed to be strongly linked to madonna-whore dichotomy on female “purity” and lack of it.

    You can’t just assume that non-violence is the normal condition of men. The whole history of the human race shows otherwise.

    Depends on the situation: In modern civilized situations, high inclination to violence is usually a negative trait (except perhaps during war). Men are jailed far more than women (hmm, few seem to be calling “discrimination” or “sexist police and courts” on that difference), so I’d say men are more inclined towards violence, which does not benefit men nowadays that much.

  34. Nobody
    April 10, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    I think Chris Clarke is right. Human nature is exactly like what it’s looked to be in the places he’s lived for the several hours he’s been alive (you were born yesterday, weren’t you?). Everything else is a peculiar aberration which warrants no consideration.

    Unrelated: yes the knights were assholes, but the peasant boys weren’t any much more circumspect. It may be more galling for the knight to get away with it, but isn’t that your problem? A rape is a rape; no special points should be awarded to EITC-recipient rapists.

  35. April 10, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    I think Chris Clarke is right. Human nature is exactly like what it’s looked to be in the places he’s lived for the several hours he’s been alive (you were born yesterday, weren’t you?). Everything else is a peculiar aberration which warrants no consideration.

    OK, speaking slowly for the idiot pop-fake-anthropologists in the audience: more than 99 percent of human interactions throughout the history of our species have been non-violent. Perhaps if you’d stop jerking off to Desmond Morris paperbacks and think about little details like sampling error, you’d see my point.

  36. Nobody
    April 10, 2006 at 5:06 pm

    Sampling error! That’s just precious is what that is.

    And a third of all human behavior is sleep. Deep, huh?

  37. April 10, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    Perhaps you have some evidence to rebut the palpable fact that humans, compared with many other mammals of like size, are remarkably non-violent.

    But I’m guessing not, other than just a weird libertoonian misreading of history and the anthropological evidence.

  38. Jeff in Texas
    April 10, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    I also have been troubled by the oft-repeated assertion that “rape is not about sex” because I think in a lot of cases, including most date rapes, it really is pretty much about sex. But apart from the motivation– lust, a need to dominate, anger, whatever– what all rapes have in common is an extreme disregard for another human being’s wishes (whether that disregard is momentary and isolated or systemic and pathological). In a case like the Duke rape, it is only natural to ask where such disregard comes from. And the easy and obvious (though not necessarily 100% correct) answers are race, class, education, and position of privilege. For Brooks to act as if such questions are simply a reflection of a P.C., post-modern sociology is absurd. The reason no one would have asked such questions in the 1920’s is because no one would have given two shits if a bunch of rich white college boys gang-raped a black “whore.” That distinction says something about the differences between then and now, but it sure as hell ain’t no reason for a normal human to get nostalgic for the old days.

  39. April 10, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    Perhaps you have some evidence to rebut the palpable fact that humans, compared with many other mammals of like size, are remarkably non-violent.

    Chris, ever heard of (cue to ominous music) War (hey, perhaps that’s just weird libertoonian reading of history. Didn’t happen really, except of course “BushHitler’s” Iraq)? How ’bout the fact that humans have caused many species to go extinct by hunting etc.?

    The point is, humans have remarkably social nature, and form complicated social networks (which then make intra-group violence quite rare), but “humans are remarkably non-violent” -claim is just BS.

  40. Nobody
    April 10, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Mr. Clarke- The conclusion you reach is only possible if you ignore, entirely, the variable of civilization. It’s touch and go, even then, but so it goes. What do your statistics tell you about that? Are violence rates identical through all societies? Or is it your pleasure to suggest that any group with higher than dead average rates is inherantly violent? Problematic, no?

    Getting back to the actual topic, there’s a new problem for all sides. What if, instead of the privileged boys raping the woman, they didn’t?

  41. paul
    April 10, 2006 at 8:24 pm

    Or maybe the boys at Duke just spent their formative years reading comment threads like this one.

  42. April 11, 2006 at 6:30 am

    Well, at least you can rest easier knowing that DNA evidence (you know, that old dead white man notion of due process of law) has proved that they didn’t rape her. Oh well, I’m sure she’s not trying to make a statement about rape or anything stupid like that. If you feminists were smart, you’d learn by now that there are stupid, evil women like that that lie about being raped and drag all women down with them. If you were smart, you’d support them getting sent to prison as a way to say that rape is serious for both parties and those who falsely accuse others of it are aiding and abetting the victimization of women.

  43. WinstonWebb
    April 11, 2006 at 9:16 am

    Well, whaddya know? The stripper was lying.

    “DNA swabs taken from 46 lacrosse players failed to match evidence collected from a woman who claims she was raped at a team party…”

    I for one am shocked…SHOCKED I tell you!

  44. Me!
    April 11, 2006 at 11:50 am

    After spending a few minutes with my feelings, I think I’ve gathered them into a set of thoughts worth sharing.

    While chivalry has been tainted through the years by misconduct, it doesn’t mean that young men/boys aren’t in need of guidance when it comes to treating women with respect and still maintaining a sense of masculinity to them. Because when it comes down to it, many of us have a sense of wonder, awe and confusion when it comes to what’s between our legs. And the proper expression of that physical symbol is what defines us as man or woman.

    Without the guidance of a man whose refined his sexuality into an respectful expression a young boy has the tendency to either repress or crudely express his sexuality. Neither of which, in my opinion, bodes well for our society. Chivalry isn’t created because of men who aren’t chivalrous, but because there are other things that prevent a woman from being in her womanhood. And a man as I understand it, revels in the presence of a true woman. I can’t qualify what this moment is like to me. But when I know a woman is comfortable sharing her femininity with me, I am just grateful.

  45. April 11, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Jeff in Texas wrote:

    “But apart from the motivation– lust, a need to dominate, anger, whatever– what all rapes have in common is an extreme disregard for another human being’s wishes (whether that disregard is momentary and isolated or systemic and pathological).”

    Yeah, and the really revolting thing is that this disregard isn’t about something casual or noninvasive. A lot of jerks will invade your space over a parking spot or whether they think you’re too fat, but while annoying, it’s not usually traumatizing. Rapists, though, insist on violating and brutalizing one of the most personal things anybody has, their physical body and their sense of self and sexual identity. An assault of such magnitude, if it *didn’t* carry the element of rape, would be easy to prosecute, but as soon as the sexual element becomes involved, it’s suddenly all vague and depends on what color of underwear she had on. I know I’m just stating the obvious, but every time I hear that “boys will be boys” attitude I want to say “but only towards women, and only because they can get away with it.”

  46. Raging Moderate
    April 11, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    zuzu said “Lust is merely the desire to possess something one does not have.”

    I still lust for my mate after 6 years. How does this jive with your definition?

  47. April 12, 2006 at 5:13 am

    MikeT: Well, at least you can rest easier knowing that DNA evidence (you know, that old dead white man notion of due process of law) has proved that they didn’t rape her.

    No, it didn’t.

    WinstonWebb: Well, whaddya know? The stripper was lying.

    The article you linked to doesn’t say that she was lying:

    “It doesn’t mean nothing happened,” Nifong said at a public forum at North Carolina Central University, where the 27-year-old alleged victim is a student. “It just means nothing was left behind.”

    No charges have been filed.

    Nifong said prosecutors were awaiting a second set of DNA results, but did not say how those differed from the tests reported Monday. Nifong added that in 75 percent to 80 percent of sexual assaults, there is no DNA evidence to analyze.

    The district attorney said a rape case can built on testimony from the alleged victim and other witnesses. Nifong also said the hospital exam of the woman has led him to believe a crime occurred at the March 13 party.

    According to court documents, a doctor and a specially trained nurse found the alleged victim had “signs, symptoms and injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted.”

    If you want to work yourself up into righteous indignation about evidence and proof, then you had better learn to read your sources carefully, to represent your sources honestly, and to learn to exercise basic logical distinctions, such as the distinction between (1) the lack of a particular line of evidence for an event, and (2) particular evidence for the lack of that event. What you’ve got here is at the most (1) and not (2).

    But hey, don’t let that stop you from your little “women who accuse male atheletes of rape are lying whores” jag.

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  49. April 12, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t think I made the claim that rape isn’t at least somewhat about sex; my point is that it isn’t about lust. Rapists often rape for perverse sexual gratification; that gratification comes from the power and violence inherent in their act.

    Actually, in some cases, rape is about lust. The man wants to have sex. The feelings of the woman are irrelevant to him. It is not so much that he gets gratification from the violence inherent in the act (although there are other rape cases in which this is absolutely the case); rather he uses violence to get sex because he wants it now and thinks that forcing the woman is the quickest way to get it.

    However, rape isn’t caused by average men being suddenly unable to control their lustful urges.

    I think in many cases it is caused by average (i.e. “not particularly remarkable”) men being unwilling to control their lustful urges. Saying rape (in many cases) is about sex isn’t saying that the man couldn’t control himself. It is simply saying that having sex was the motivation and violence was simply the means to an end.

  50. Chet
    April 12, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    Well, at least you can rest easier knowing that DNA evidence (you know, that old dead white man notion of due process of law) has proved that they didn’t rape her.

    Yeah, I mean it’s not like it’s that easy to get ahold of some kind of membrane or sheath that would allow you to have sex with someone without depositing any sperm in her vagina. I mean, what are the odds that the college-aged, male members of a sports team would have access to condoms, of all things?

  51. jj
    April 13, 2006 at 1:32 am

    i think brooks pro-offers the ‘its not really their fault times are bad, excuse”. certainly with the proliferation of on line pornography and movies, , and the shall we say, more open acceptance, by the police and society , of strippers/escorts, and the more readily available (corner liquor stores) and accepted use of alcohol, he may have a point. But the bottom line is that, those are all still personal choices- to hire strippers, to drink and to participate in group violence against a member of the fairer sex, and hurl racial epitahs at people, then to hide behind lawyers and university officials and to refuse to cooperate with police. i mean i cant think of one morally correct choice those young men made all evening, including not answering the door when the police showed up to investigate. something no one seems to want to discuss their house was ’empty’, when the police showed up. What nonsense. What were those young men hiding?

    This event occurred on university owned property, why arent the Duke Campus police questioning everyone of these young men in attendance, and why doesnt duke simply suspend, them if they refuse to cooperate. And why does the atheletic director still have his job? Some of these students have records for violent assaults and many had misdemeanor records. These are not Choir boys we are talking about.

    The ONLY thing that might cause Duke to really change would be a 100 million dollar lawsuit against their endowment and all the students that were there, and are not cooperating. Duke understands money very, very, well like Harvard. Although they may not understand the law and the necessity to be moral leaders and provide a safe environment for ALL students and people associated with Student life.

    What has been disheartening to me is talking to my fellow, white, male, elite school educated comrades, that dont share in my horror at how duke and these students are being treated with kids gloves for extraordinarily serious charges that have been verified by Duke Medical staff. Fortunately it appears to be mainly the under 40, crowd that doesnt share in the horror of this event.

    What kind of message does that send to the woman on campus at Duke that three potential rapists, and perhaps 37 other complict people in the rape are attending class with them every day,. and the university police dont even require statements.

    also in reading the Duke papers, apparently a number of woman students, whom the Duke team referred to as lacrosstitutes serviced the team sexually. perhaps these woman also shared in some ways with this deranged sense of entitlement these young men seem to have. Why are these woman being identified and giving spirtual or moral guidance? They didnt aquire that nickname by being ‘angels’.

    and most sady among the duke bloggers, most of whom appear to be young, white, male and conservative. there appears to be NO concern for the rape victim, not even basic empathy, especially in light of what the police reports stated. their only concern appears to be for their ‘schools’ reputation. you think their first concern would be empathy for the victim as at the Very Least she was robbed and probably beaten.

    i wont be hiring anyone from duke university, given what i have seen on how terrible the response of the duke leadership and duke alumni is. these people have terrible characters. we will cancel our recruitment to their campus.

    im stunned at the apathy of society to this womans plight, despite the many problems she appears to have. what could have lead her to such low self esteem that she was dancing for men, and that society didnt offer her more viable job opportunities. where was her father and the local church ministers?

    as a white 50+ year old male, ex college lax player, an executive, im OUTRAGED at Duke University and how they have handled this matter. All of the students involved should have been suspended and removed from campus within one week. They should shut the LAX down for 4 years, and revoke all LAX scholarships of students whom even attended and are putting up this ‘wall of silence’.

    and most of all i am very, very sorrowful over the pain and humiliation this woman must be experiencing over this.

    Duke has a good nick name for thier school, the devils. It suits them well.

  52. JH in NJ
    April 14, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    JJ~

    Your blog hit the nail on the head for me. I’m so disgusted with the behavior of these students. They made bad choices and now must take accountability. They’ve disgraced themselves as well as the school. It doesn’t help that Brodhead didn’t revoke scholarships and suspend the players from day one. It seems to me there are more deserving students that should be granted admission to Duke then the current white trash that attended that party. Unfortunately this “college students gone wild” mentality isn’t specific to Duke as we all know and I think it’s high time the schools start addressing this conduct. I attend a small college in NJ, but am so outraged by the apparent acceptance by all colleges administrations of crap like this I went ahead and sent my college president an email suggesting this problem be addressed. I believe more institutions need to be proactive in teaching morality, ethics and values. I don’t blame the schools for causing this problem as I believe it starts with the parents. Why don’t we examine the parents of these boys. Let’s find out what enterprising people they are. Who knows, judging from the lacrosse players actions, their parents are probably not much different then the executives at ENRON.
    All that aside, students need to start learning ACCOUNTABILITY for their actions. The schools need to start being less tolerant of and more proactive in preventing this behavior. These are, after all, our future business leaders, doctors, lawyers, etc…

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