The current brouhaha over allegations by a black stripper that she was gang-raped by the almost all-white Duke U. lacrosse team sounds likes an amalgamation of Wolfe's three novels: "I Am Charlotte Simmons" (Duke U. was the main model for Wolfe's "Dupont U. and lacrosse players pop up in it as mega-frat boys); "A Man in Full" (one of the subplots was a dubious rape allegation made by the white daughter of Georgia Tech's biggest donor against the college's top black football player); and "Bonfire of the Vanities" (about the NYC district attorney's search for the Great White Defendant to relieve the tedium, distastefulness, and political incorrectness of prosecuting countless lowbrow guilty-as-sin minorities).
America's most distinguished jurist-intellectual, Richard A. Posner, has admitted Wolfe's prophetic talents in Posner's book Overcoming Law:
"When I first read The Bonfire of the Vanities … it just didn't strike me as the sort of book that has anything interesting to say about the law or any other institution…. I now consider that estimate of the book ungenerous and unperceptive. The Bonfire of the Vanities has turned out to be a book that I think about a lot, in part because it describes with such vividness what Wolfe with prophetic insight (the sort of thing we attribute to Kafka) identified as emerging problems of the American legal system.
"The book was written before Michael Milken was convicted and Clark Clifford indicted; before investment bankers and securities brokers were dragged, crying, in handcuffs from their offices on charges of criminal fraud that often turned out to be unsubstantiated; before courthouses became scenes of violence; before the Tawana Brawley fraud; before the trials of the police who beat up Rodney King; before the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal in the first of those trials; before the trial of the rioters; before the indictment of O.J. Simpson. American legal justice today seems often to be found at a bizarre intersection of race, money, and violence, an intersection nowhere better depicted than in The Bonfire of the Vanities even thought the book was written before the intersection had come into view."
UPDATE: 4/10/06: The Duke Lacrosse Goat Rodeo only gets better: KTLA reports:
Lawyers representing members of the Duke University lacrosse team say DNA tests found no link between players and an exotic dancer who says she was raped at a team party.... An attorney representing the team says tests by the state crime lab found no DNA material from any young man on the body of this complaining woman.
Defense attorneys also say time-stamped photographs show the woman was already injured when she arrived at a party.
Also, WRAL reports:
According to a 2002 police report, the woman, currently a 27-year-old student at North Carolina Central University, gave a taxi driver a lap dance at a Durham strip club. Subsequently, according to the report, she stole the man's car and led deputies on a high-speed chase that ended in Wake County.
Apparently, the deputy thought the chase was over when the woman turned down a dead-end road near Brier Creek, but instead she tried to run over him, according to the police report.
Additional information notes that her blood-alcohol level registered at more than twice the legal limit.
In spite of that incident, her attorney at the time, Woody Vann, asserts that what happened then should not cause people to question her character now. He said she is a decent and credible human being.
Isn't it about time that Tom Wolfe's critics publicly admit that the man understands modern American better than any of them could ever dream of?
Once again we see from the media's frenzied hunt for the Great White Defendant (to use Wolfe's term from 1987's Bonfire of the Vanities), so reminiscent of the last umpteen episodes of the Law & Order franchise, that what white Americans really like is sticking it to other white Americans. As Wolfe pointed out in his description of the New York City district attorney's office, white Americans find the transgressions of African Americans and Hispanics to be depressing and boring, in large part because whites see themselves (condescendingly) not as being in status competition with minorities, just with other whites. This is not because white people hate white people as a whole, just other white people they are competing with for status. The Duke lacrosse team, a bunch rich preppie jerks, makes a wonderful target for other whites wishing to parade their moral superiority.