The Cavalier Daily
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Kory settlement offer never mattered

I GUESS we're supposed to feel really stupid right about now. With Alexander "Sandy" Kory's alleged greed exposed, we're supposed to fall all over ourselves weeping bitter tears of shame over the agony through which we put Richard Smith, Bradley Kintz and Harrison Kerr Tigrett.

Perhaps you missed our "moment of revelation." Last week, The Cavalier Daily obtained a copy of a letter to Smith's attorney from Kory's lawyer. In the letter, Kory's lawyer offered to drop all University Judiciary Committee and civil charges against Smith for a $500,000 settlement. Smith denied ever approaching Kory about a settlement offer, although Kory's lawyer contends he did. At any rate, Smith apparently took this as an indication that Kory was after his father's money.

Smith also correctly pointed out that the "Expulsion for Assault" rally would not have happened had he accepted Kory's offer. He said that the organizers had been easily misled. He also said he hoped that they feel stupid. I agree--in fact, I hope we all feel stupid.

But not because of Kory's offer.

I hope we feel stupid because we continue to allow charades like this to serve as excuses for all kinds of unconscionable behavior. So what if Kory wanted money? I want money, too. Everyone has a little greed. Most of us manage to keep it under control, but everyone slips up once or twice. We pay a price for that, just as Kory has through damage to his image.

Nonetheless, we once again seem to be on the verge of allowing the crimes of the accuser to erase the crimes of the accused from our mind. Kory wanted $500,000. He could have wanted $1 million, or even $2 million. But no matter how much money he wanted, Richard Smith would still have committed a violent crime against another student of the University.

We should feel ashamed that this tactic even has a chance of working. And it does have a chance--more than just a chance, really. Its effectiveness was glowingly illustrated by President Clinton's evasions during the Lewinsky matter. Over and over again, prominent Republicans were hit with allegations of infidelity. Some of our nations finest legislators from either party were forced to step down. Meanwhile, Clinton managed to hold on to his office.

But was his crime any more diminished by the fact that others had committed it? No, of course not. But somehow, our national consciousness pushes this aside, oblivious to the fact that a wrong is a wrong, no matter who committed it, and no matter the turpitude of the accuser.

What will we require of those who accuse others of crimes? Must they purify their thoughts through constant meditation and bathe thrice daily in holy water? Can our puritanical minds accept none save the most high and pure as guardians of our moral conscience?

Events like this revelation about Kory divert our attention from the relevant issues at hand, just as the issue of Fred Smith's wealth distracted many people. When I participated in the "Expulsion for Assault" rally, it wasn't because I thought Kory was a great person. This, I think, was the general sentiment of other people participating in the rally. I didn't join in because I felt the elder Smith's wealth was skewing the case, either.

I rallied because we were letting our vaunted self-governance be ruined by ineptitude and legal vulnerability. I rallied because I felt that if students abandoned their judiciary system at this point, then the retreat of student self-governance would turn into a rout.

But mostly I rallied because I feel that assault, even if it is punching someone "only one time," should not be tolerated at an academic institution. Anyone who would attack another student for any reason other than defending the person of himself or another should not be allowed to remain at a quality institution like ours.

Nobody's perfect, certainly not to start out with. But though we may never achieve perfection, we can become better people. The way we do that is rejecting and punishing those behaviors which make us worse, and rewarding those that make us better. So Kory does not deserve any reward. Smith, nonetheless, deserves to be punished-- not for the wealth of his father, nor for any factor about himself save that he lacked the control necessary to participate in decent human interaction.

So, yes, we should feel pretty stupid. We should feel stupid for believing that this was ever about Sandy Kory, or even Richard Smith. Who they are is immaterial--they are but two of thousands who could have played their respective parts in this drama. What they've done does not matter either, except for this: one November night, Smith assaulted Kory.

That's all that matters. And to me at least, it's all that ever did.

(Sparky Clarkson is Opinion Editor for the Cavalier Daily.)