Walking by a bulletin board in Perkins Library recently, I noticed a few flyers on the board with quotations from basketball recruit Shelden Williams. The quotes, some of which came from The Chronicle, were the ones Williams gave in response to allegations of rape. Along with the quotations, the flyers bore slogans such as "Basketball is not an excuse for rape." I found this exercise of free speech to be cowardly and completely not called for. No charges have been filed against Williams, and even if there had been charges filed, one of the tenets of American justice is that anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty.
To me, rape is without question one of the most despicable crimes a person can commit, if not the most despicable. But to further damage the reputation of a young man and future member of the Duke community based on speculations about what he may or may not have done is unfair.
There is no excuse for rape. Ever. But neither is there any excuse for calling someone a rapist when it has not been proven. Williams has gone through enough over this case. It is not up to anonymous people who stick flyers up on bulletin boards in the library to decide his guilt or innocence, nor is it their job to punish him for it. To do so is unwarranted and tasteless.
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