Jon Sanders

Tonight, in Durham, 87 college professors and instructors are hurting. The outside world has misunderstood them. Goodness, they didn't mean to claim the lacrosse players were guilty of gang rape.

They just meant to say that all of you are guilty for making that racist gang rape possible. Even though it didn't happen. Because, you know, it's just like what's happening every day to students at Duke.

But first: please, America, re-read their "listening" statement . They never flat-out say that the lacrosse team members are guilty of gang rape. They make the requisite qualifications: "Regardless of the results of the police investigation," "If it turns out that these students are guilty," "the disaster didn't begin on March 13th and won't end with what the police say or the court decides." See?

Remember that while you consider their other statements of drop-jawed hysteria: "illuminated in this moment's extraordinary spotlight [is] what [students] live with every day"; "These students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves"; "This is not a different experience for us here at Duke ... We go to class with racist classmates, we go to the gym with people who are racists"; "students know that the disaster didn't begin on March 13th."

No, they never said the lacrosse players were guilty of gang rape. They took the occasion of a horrific crime to vent their spleen at the student body and community at large, accusing untold numbers of students and community members of racism and sexual violence the level of which was creating a climate in which "every day" was just like gang rape and sexual battery for lots of students.

For some reason, that appalled many of those people, a reaction that shocked the professors. They've had those sentiments for years and no one's ever objected before! Of course, they don't normally take those sentiments outside the Gothic halls into what people in the university and out of it call "the real world."

Be that as it may, people were misconstruing their meaning, and they couldn't allow that to continue. Well, not beyond nine months. Two months if you start counting from when the Duke African and African American Studies pulled the "listening statement" off its web site mere hours after discovering people in "the real world" were linking to it and discussing it.

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.