Monday, October 02, 2006

Duke lacrosse: Auto de fe

According to Wikipedia

The phrase auto de fe refers to the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place when the Spanish Inquisition or the Portuguese Inquisition had decided their punishment (that is, after the trial). Auto de fe in medieval Spanish means "act of faith". The phrase also commonly occurs in English in its Portuguese form auto da fe (or auto da fé).


The auto de fe involved: a Catholic mass, prayer, a public procession of those found guilty, and a reading of their sentences . They took place in public squares or esplanades and lasted several hours: ecclesiastical and civil authorities attended
I think this medieval custom explains a lot about the MSM’s poor performance in Durham. They cared little about the crime per se: respectable journalists and highly paid pundits don’t do crime stories. The case just provided a setting--a publicity hook--where they could deliver their sermons on racism, sexism, privilege, the sins of white athletes, and the need for change.

Everything was made ready. The potbangers had attracted the cameras, the guilty parties had been identified: 46 white lacrosse players. Tom Wolfe could not write a better script. The crowd had been gathered by the sensational headlines. Now they would hear the righteous sermons. “Esteemed” professors had already started to deliver their denunciations.

And then the facts came out.

A few hardy souls actually read the court documents and raised questions. Others soon joined them.

It’s hard to deliver a homily at an execution when the crowd is shouting that the condemned are innocent. What good are prepared notes in those circumstances?

It is embarrassing to be caught short on facts by the audience you intend to lecture. Preachers and priests do not go to the pulpit to debate; they go to preach and admonish.

What to do? What to do?

Maybe just sit down and hope it blows over. After all, it is their pulpit. Let the crowd disperse. Wait for the next big case and deliver the lectures there.

Most of all, hope that no one notices that the esteemed and mighty pundits know less than they pretend to. If that idea gets into circulation, who will listen to the sermons?

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