Probably, we should drop the whole Dukie mess.  After killing enough trees to paper over the Western world and using up enough nonrenewable energy to fight at least a little war someplace, nothing has changed in the Research Triangle.  Duke is still as expensive as ever, as “highly rated” as ever, and its lacrosse team almost won a national championship!  And about the same number of fans paid attention to their narrow loss to Johns Hopkins as always pays attention to lacrosse.

Duke’s faculty is still dominated by the postmodernist mythology of the “Group of 88.”

The “exotic dancers” (an interesting euphemism for their act, don’t you think?) got less than 15 minutes of fame—but little blame, no big book deals, and who can remember either of their names?  They are now back in well-deserved obscurity.

The “student athletes” on whom so much attention was focused have been, according to most accounts, completely exonerated.  (“It was like a pile-on,” said Reade Seligmann, when their “innocence” was declared.)  They will not, one can safely predict, suffer much longer.

Several lawyers are quite a bit richer, which always happens when sensational cases involve well-to-do families and fabulously wealthy universities.

Mike Nifong has been disbarred and may face criminal charges.  Isn’t it at least a little ironic that the only long-term damage this glitzy case ends up inflicting is on a prosecutor?

All of this said, there are things that still merit our attention, if only because they have seldom appeared except as afterthoughts in stories with less-than-noble agendas.

Blame games have singled out the players, the “dancers,” the university, the establishment professors, the zealous prosecutor, and even the “culture” of a rich, white school in a relatively poorer, much blacker community.  But let’s try some common sense.  The Duke case is not a tragedy.  It has, to be sure, an abundance of flawed characters who bring about unhappy endings.  Still, nobody is dead, seriously injured, impoverished, exiled, or even permanently disabled (physically, spiritually, morally) compared to their previous state.  Besides Nifong, the one (almost forgotten) casualty was the Duke lacrosse coach, who fell on his sword and resigned.

Everyone acted predictably.  Players denied culpability.  Parents aggressively defended privileged sons.  Their lawyers postured sanctimoniously.  Dancers invented (layer on layer of) charges, as one after another failed to stand up to facts.  University officials went into a mode of reasonable obfuscation designed to control damage.  Professors invoked the holy trinity of postmodern morality—race, class, and “gender.”  (It’s fitting that one of their chief spokesmen, Bill Chafe, is the author of a big-selling textbook on post-World War II America that is a caricature of the new trinity.)  Ambitious politicians acted ambitiously.  Media, all across the political spectrum, lied, cheated, blamed, rumored, and cried hysterically.

Nobody acted honorably.

And if the “innocent” lacrosse players had not hired black strippers to entertain them at an in-season beerfest, none of this would have happened.  But we took it seriously.  And hey, the “innocent” players were granted a fifth year of eligibility to compensate for their time on the cross.  So Duke might win another national championship after all.