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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Duke Case: Dysfunctional Durham


"He may be an evil liar, but he's our evil liar." - anonymous Durham voter

Mike Nifong - prosecutor of the hoax
Mike Nifong has got a choke hold on three innocent men, the criminal justice system, and on the voters in Durham. Nifong has used the circumstances of the Duke case to set himself up as an underdog in this election, pitted against powerful outside forces, who want to control Durham's future. As News & Observer columnist Ruth Sheehan put it:
.... in a strange way, Nifong has become a symbol of Durham to the nation. And in Durham, as in most dysfunctional families, it may be OK to holler and throw lamps at one another within the family, but let an outsider criticize and, honey, watch out.

Durhamites are tired of seeing their city mischaracterized and maligned.

A friend of mine from Durham recently visited Philadelphia and had lunch with a woman whose own city, according to the FBI, is one of the most dangerous in the country.

Yet this woman said she'd never send her child to school in Durham: too violent.

My friend was steamed.

Whether halfway across the country or a half-hour up the road, we outsiders might be appalled at Nifong's handling of the Duke lacrosse case, but on this one, Durham voters are in the driver's seat.
The more Nifong is trashed in the main stream media and on the Internet the more support he builds in dysfunctional Durham. Call it a backlash or blowback, but it is another perverse case of "The Law of Unintended Consequences." For example, Durham voter recognition of Nifong has probably become 100%. He told the AP:
"Now I must say that the single good thing about all the publicity that I've gotten is that so many people know my face now that it's really easy for me to meet people. Before, literally very few people had any idea who I was, so I had to go up and introduce myself to everybody. And now I don't have to do that."

Compare that to the recognition of his two opponents: Steve "take me to dinner" Monks, and Lewis "I will not serve" Cheek. How many people can put a face to either of these two lame opponents? How many Durhamites will vote for the man they perceive as having a backbone, crooked though it might be?

Whether you are in Baghdad or a Durham, nobody likes "outsiders" coming in and telling you how you should run your city. A backlash vote against these "outsiders" will help propel Mike Nifong back into the DA's office. Nifong will use his new found notoriety to hold the DA's office until the day he retires, outsiders be damned.

So after Nifong wins this election, then Durham like Baghdad should be marked off as a "dead zone," and all outsiders, especially tourists, students, and businessmen should steer clear. There are better opportunities elsewhere.

update: Exhibit A-
Ms. Sheehan:

I am writing to express my outrage that you could use the front page of the City/State section to call us Durhamites idiots for voting for Mike Nifong in the upcoming election.

If you wanted to phrase your sentiment with something like "you are fools for voting for a over zealous prosecutor no matter the other issues in Durham are, or what the actual facts of the case are", that's one thing. But, most everyone I talk to is proud that the community is united and we are voting on more than the Duke Lacrosse issue (which was a no-win situation from the outset). Who cares what our national reputation is (as evidenced by what? the media like Nancy Grace and 60 minutes? and your friend's friend in Philadelphia?--who cares about that?) By all accounts, Mike Nifong is a great guy and an incredible advocate for Durham and that's why we want him to stay in office.
Exhibit B: Letter to Herald-Sun-
....I hope the people of Durham look at this and realize that a crime is a crime no matter who performs the act. DA Nifong is not the problem. Letting people who do not live, raise their families, volunteer and fight for their country, and call Durham their home to dictate to the rest of us is the problem.

November 2, 2006
Turning the tide in Durham [Ruth Sheehan NewsObserver.com, Oct. 30, 2006]
AP Interview: Mike Nifong on the Duke lacrosse rape case [heraldsun.com, Oct. 30, 2006]

DA's foes raising more [NewsObserer.com, Oct. 31, 2006]
Why Nifong will win the DA's race [Talkleft.com]

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