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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Duke/Nifong Hoax: Day #277

Today's items:

Charlotte Allen, The Weekly Standard:Duke's Tenured Vigilantes
Duke's Tenured Vigilantes — Mike Nifong's handling of the case was clearly outrageous. But he would probably not have gone so far, indeed would not have dared to go so far, had he not been egged on by two other groups that rushed just as quickly to judge the three accused young men guilty of gross and racially motivated carnal violence. Despite the repeated attempts by the three to clear themselves, a substantial and vocal percentage--about one-fifth--of the Duke University arts and sciences faculty and nearly all of the mainstream print media in America quickly organized themselves into a hanging party. Throughout the spring of 2006 and indeed well into the late summer, Nifong had the nearly unanimous backing of this country's (and especially Duke's) intellectual elite as he explored his lurid theories of sexual predation and racist stonewalling...

Indeed, it was the Duke faculty that could be said to have cooked up the ambient language that came to clothe virtually all media descriptions of the assault case--that boilerplate about "race, gender, and class" (or maybe "race, gender, sexuality, and class") and "privileged white males" that you could not read a news story about the assault case without encountering, whether in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or Newsweek for example. The journalists channeled the academics....

The metanarrative they came up with was three parts Mandingo and one part Josephine Baker: rich white plantation owners and their scions lusting after tawny-skinned beauties and concocting fantasies of their outsize sexual appetites so as to rape, abuse, and prostitute them with impunity....

comment: Any article that can work in a "Mandingo" reference (presumably the book/film and not the porn star) has got to be read. Also the "hanging party" description is great...that's a keeper.

LieStoppers forum: Weekly Standard Story, do yourself a favor and read this
FreeRepublic: Duke's Tenured Vigilantes — Bravissimo!
TalkLeft: Duke's Tenured Vigilantes — one stellar piece of writing
Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun:
Players' parents turn anger at DukeLacrosse team supporters say university misled them, abandoned team members - For months, Duke lacrosse families have directed their anger largely at the prosecutor who brought what they consider a baseless sexual assault case against three players.

But District Attorney Michael B. Nifong, who recused himself from the case last week, isn't the only object of their rage. Parents of team members say the university abandoned the 46 players, buckling under pressure by faculty and demonstrators to take action against the team when an African-American stripper's rape allegation surfaced last March.

In a series of interviews, parents and lacrosse team supporters say Duke officials misled them about the university's position, privately assuring them that they believed players' claims of innocence but undercutting the team publicly by making critical comments and forfeiting games. The school's handling of the case has also alienated some alumni...
Jeff Barker on arrest & background of Dave Evans (May 16, 2006):
Md. native charged in Duke case — Evans graduated in 2002 from Landon, an all-boys school in Bethesda where tuition is about $25,000 a year. He was a captain of the lacrosse, football and ice hockey teams, said his lacrosse coach, Rob Bordley.

Evans was a member of one of Landon's best-ever lacrosse teams, the 2002 squad that went 20-0. He was rugged enough, Bordley said, to have once played a game with pneumonia, an experience that left the player wheezing and sent him to the hospital that night...

The Baltimore Sun's coverage of Duke lacrosse investigation (50+ articles)
Baltimore Sun: Duke Lacrosse investigation Photo Gallary

Sheriff Col. George Naylor hands out police mug shots of Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann to the media.Sheriff Col. George Naylor hands out police mug shots of Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann to the media. Seligmann was arrested early Tuesday (April 18, 2006) on charges of raping and kidnapping a woman hired to dance at an off-campus party.

Tom Ehrich, Indianapolis Star:
Duke scandal is a lens into troubling flaws of our society — From the beginning, the Duke matter has been a lens into larger cultural issues that are corroding our common life. It's the same kind of attitude we see among political leaders who resist accountability and candor, corporate bosses and church officials who have to be dragged into court before they will admit anything, and citizens who think dishonesty is a clever strategy instead of a moral failing. Almost every detail speaks to troubling flaws in our society.

KC Johnson:
Ten--and More--Questions for the (Rump) Group of 88 — In a recent Duke Chronicle article, Group of 88 member Ronen Pressler maintained that the new “clarifying” statement would form a “basis for a conversation on campus... a conversation that will eventually lead to some understanding.”In that light, ten questions for the (Rump) Group of 88...

10.) Do you believe that Mike Nifong acted properly when he went to the grand jury on April 17 to seek indictments against Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty?
Letters to News & Observer:
Debrah Correll (Chapel Hill): Faculty trouble — Regarding the Jan. 17 article "Duke post seeks to defuse '88' ad": How much longer must the public endure the train wreck in Durham? Sadly, this travesty has been made even worse by the Group of 88 professors at Duke whose selfish antics only serve to create a constant atmosphere of discord, with whipped-up archaic fantasies of mass victimhood....

Dolores Collins, Kinston, NC: Naming the Accused — Under no circumstance is there justification for a woman to be raped. But there is a flaw in the policies that protect the accuser's identity. Until such time as the accused has been tried and convicted, that person should have the same protection -- keeping his name from publication. The Duke lacrosse players' names and pictures have constantly appeared in the national press. How can they ever be compensated for defamation of character if they are innocent, as it certainly appears? It is way past time for equal justice under the law to be practiced in all circumstances.

Tema Okun, Durham: Unequal Justice — I find People's Forum letters about the lacrosse case very disturbing. The enraged outcry about judicial misconduct in this case was noticeably absent in the case of Alan Gell, who faced the death penalty as a result of prosecutorial skullduggery....My hope is that we might instead hold equivalent compassion and concern for everyone in this community.

David Need, Durham: Siding with the defense — I am disturbed by the way The N&O, unwittingly or not, has presented lacrosse-case defense team accounts of District Attorney Mike Nifong's conduct as if these were fact. The latest example was your Jan. 15 front-page story headlined "Nifong conduct rebuked early."...As it stands, you act as a conduit for the defense team's narrative and argument.

Donna M. Stewart, Raleigh: Out of control — Regarding a Jan. 14 People's Forum letter-writer who said the decrease in applications at Duke University may be because mothers are afraid to have their sons suffer the same fate as the accused lacrosse players: Some of us are afraid to send our daughters to a university that lets student athletes run amok by hiring strippers and allowing underage drinking.

Marjorie George, Durham: Poisoned comments — Regarding the Jan. 12 article "Venom has aftereffects for Duke": Of all the insults hurled throughout the Duke lacrosse scandal, Tricia Dowd's vitriolic attack on Karla Holloway was among the most revealing. Lacrosse parent Dowd charged Duke professor Holloway with being a selfish, failed mother of her mentally ill son. [The article also quoted Dowd as saying she regrets her comments about Holloway.]...

Nancy McCaffrey, Fuquay-Varina, NC: Agenda-drivenCathy N. Davidson's Jan. 5 opinion piece shows how removed she is from the facts of this issue. The statement she signed with the other 87 at Duke is very clear. I have a much different definition of "social disaster" than Davidson. The real social disaster here is to heighten race at the expense of reason. District Attorney Mike Nifong could not have found better friends than the Duke 88, who fed the irrational response based on one woman's unproven claims. Who look the fools now? The backpeddling and damage control has begun, and this opinion piece is just one recent example....

Leigh-Anne Krometis, Chapel Hill: Degrading culture — District Attorney Mike Nifong's sensationalizing of the Duke lacrosse case is reprehensible. If the rape charges were false, it is unforgivable. However, dropping the rape charges does not acquit us from seriously considering the values we teach our children. There should be little doubt from the underage binge drinking, racial taunts, hired strippers, e-mailed violent sexual fantasies and past criminal offenses that some lacrosse team members would be no one's first choice to date their daughter. But to what extent are these incidents also reflective of our own culture's flaws? ...

Bill Wagner, Cary: She should talk — Regarding Ruth Sheehan's Jan. 15 column "Nifong made call too late": How can Sheehan criticize Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong for his actions, when just last month she was attacking Cary Academy officials for not speaking to the media until all the facts were known [about a teacher's case] -- while she was the one speaking out too quickly? Maybe Sheehan should take a hint from Nifong and step aside.
Letters to Herald-Sun:
David Highlands, St. Petersburg, Fla.: LAX coverage unfair — What hypocrisy! Nowhere in your Jan. 11 editorial do you admit culpability for the rift between town and gown, black and white, rich and poor, private and public education. You, along with Duke's administration, were the very first to join with District Attorney Mike Nifong in his vainglorious pursuit of a higher profile by leading a figurative lynching party against three lacrosse players. When this is all over, if there is any justice, Nifong will be disbarred, disgraced and both unemployed and unemployable...

John Madden, Durham: More media exploitation — There was yet more media exploitation of Durham's lacrosse tragedy Tuesday night. Paula Zahn of CNN swooped into town for another round of hit-and-run "television journalism." Zahn hosted a televised forum on race....It would have been great if Paula Zahn gave her "forum" and nobody showed up.

A.D. George, Hot Springs, AR: Nifong's fumble — I am appalled at District Attorney Mike Nifong's handling of the Duke lacrosse case. It seems Nifong has been trying to make a name for himself at these young men's expense. The whole dirty episode has backfired on him and now he wants to turn the heat over to someone else...It's about time our prosecutors start trying to get to the bottom of cases and quit trying to make a name for themselves...

John Garand, Durham: Tired of LAX case — The first thing Roy Cooper, North Carolina's attorney general, does after receiving Mike Nifong's request to take on the Duke rape case is to go on CNN and hold a press conference. All he had to do was issue a one sentence press release but it seems that politicians cannot resist the opportunity to grab their one minute of fame. Sadly, this is all at the expense of the three young men who are accused. I hope this fiasco ends soon.

Denis Crivello, Alton, IL: No excuse for Nifong — I was appalled at the way the Duke boys in the rape case have been treated by law enforcement in Durham. I hope District Attorney Mike Nifong gets his day in court. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

Monte Scott, Centerville, OH: Not visiting Durham — Durham and Duke University are the laughing stock of America and the southern justice system. Anyone who would send their child to your county to attend Duke would have to be crazy!...Not only will my children not be attending Duke, I certainly won't be visiting your county anytime soon.
Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Hires Lawyers — The prosecutor who removed himself from the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case has hired a well-known law firm to defend him against ethics charges before the North Carolina State Bar. Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong has retained Winston-Salem lawyers David Freedman and Dudley Witt, law partners known for defending lawyers facing professional misconduct charges.

"Years ago, I just started helping out lawyers who got in trouble for various things," said Freedman, a 1982 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's law school. "I have a firm belief that you look out for your own." ...

Titan Barksdale, Winston-Salem Journal:
When a lawyer needs a lawyer — Partners make career of representing colleagues charged with misconduct - There are some drawbacks to defending high-profile clients, David Freedman [Nifong's attorney] said. The handling of the case is scrutinized, and there is a risk of personal fallout that can result from defending people who may have drawn public criticism, he said. A reporter recently highlighted Freedman's critical remarks about Nifong's handling of the Duke case during an appearance on MSNBC's The Abrams Report.

"That's a perfect example of a drawback. When everyone is watching, any mistake you make will be noticed," Freedman said. "And when people read about things, they will be apt to criticize what you do. Everyone wants to be the armchair quarterback." ...

Stanley B. Chambers Jr., Durham News:
Duke campus conversation centers on race relations — Many students at Duke University say race relations on campus are usually shaped by three issues: skin color, birthplace and personal experience. That prompts many students to associate almost exclusively with their own race, which, in some measure, helped fuel the perception of racial division that came to light with the lacrosse team incident last year.

Although the moderator of a recent discussion on race relations at Duke said the forum wasn't influenced by the case, the incident has sparked similar discussions across the country. The event, "Race Relations at Duke: Student Leaders Speak Out," drew a standing-room-only crowd. The gathering was part of Duke's "Freedom School," a series of sessions associated with the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Participants spoke about personal experiences of perceived racism on campus.

Updated - yesterday's (1/19/07) items:
This story from the Hartford Courant caught my attention: Woman Who Lied About Rapist Faces Arrest...
Jan 19th..A Superior Court judge gave Hartford police the go-ahead Thursday to arrest a woman who sparked outrage in the city's black community when she admitted she made up a story about being raped by a heavyset black man in Bushnell Park, police and court officials said.
The woman filed the rapes charges in November....If you were searching for one infinitesimal silver lining in this entire God awful mess, it would be that the folks who were so eager to pass judgment in this case and so hopeful of exploiting the tragedy to advance their own narrow agendas have seen their credibility evaporate right along with Mr. Nifong's.

Prof. Michael GustafsonMichael Gustafson, Duke engineering professor:
I'm Concerned, Too — Onto the Open Letter. Allow me to vent the snarky part of this posting first. Over 80 Duke faculty members get together to post a webpage on a server hosted by someone who charges $500 per minute of finished product for documentaries, and that's the BEST format you could come up with? Let me help - I present... An Open Letter With Flair. Four pieces of flair, for the Office Spacers among you. Snark over. In reading the letter, I had the following reactions, by paragraph:

1. The opening paragraph contains the phrases "we heard" and "we were told." These are not good ways to begin a document signed by people whose jobs include research...
LieStoppers: Gustafson is concerned too - His latest entry is a must read response to the recent open letter from the remants of the Group of 88.
Rush LimbaughRush Limbaugh:
Race Industry Wanted Duke Rape to Be Real (transcript 1/19) — RUSH: Get this. “The state chapter of the NAACP on Thursday called on those involved with the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case -- from defense attorneys to state bar association officials -- to stop talking publicly while the state attorney general's office begins its review. 'We sincerely believe that the high level of public scrutiny and controversy involved in this matter is unwarranted and threatens to pervert the truth-finding process,' said the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP....

I totally understand why the NAALCP would like people to shut up about this, because it's ruining their business. You know the dirty little secret is these guys would love for this rape to have occurred, and since there's no rape now, they would love for this sexual assault to have occurred. That would promote the race business; that would promote the template; that would give them a reason to go and fundraise and all of that. That's why they want people to shut up about this.
KC Johnson:
The State NAACP's Hypocrisy — Just what’s in that McSurely-authored memorandum, posted on the state NAACP’s website, that McSurely lauded as demonstrating the organization’s fairness to “both sides”....The above constitutes fairness to the lacrosse players, according to the North Carolina NAACP.
Editorial - Duke Chronicle:
Apathy toward CCI is reasonable — If faculty members don't think the Campus Culture Initiative is worth their time, why should students? William Rand Kenan Professor of English Karla Holloway's resignation as co-chair of the CCI's race subcommittee is another blow to an initiative that has drawn little interest from undergraduates-except perhaps for some of the DSG types.

Holloway's resignation was symbolic: she was angry that Duke had offered to reinstate indicted former lacrosse players Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, and wrote in her resignation letter that she "could no longer work in good faith with this breach of common trust." But many undergraduates believe that the CCI as a whole was created for purely symbolic reasons, and few believe that an army of committees headed by tenured faculty can bring about top-down cultural change....

The composition of the CCI's steering committee has hurt its credibility. Two out of the CCI's original five subcommittee chairs (Holloway and literature professor Anne Allison) signed an advertisement in The Chronicle last April applauding protesters who surrounded the home of lacrosse players, and a third-history professor Peter Wood-has criticized the team in numerous media outlets. Stacking the CCI with critics of "white male privilege" suggests that the initiative was created to pacify countercultural professors, rather than to shape a new and improved campus culture.
KC Johnson: The Chronicle on the CCI — Today's Duke Chronicle has a must-read editorial on the Campus Culture Initiative, explaining the reasons for student apathy to the program....
Carolyn CostelloCarolyn Costello, NBC17.com:
Lawyer: DAs Have Protection From Lawsuits — Nifong will defend himself before the State Bar in May. But Nifong could also be forced to defend himself before a jury in a civil trial down the road. In a recent interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," the parents of the three indicted players vowed to hold Nifong accountable for how he's handled the Duke case. One parent said: "You will pay every day for the rest of your life."

Exactly how could the families of Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann go after Nifong? Don Beskind, an attorney in Raleigh, says it might not be easy. "District attorneys have an enormous protection against being sued," Beskind said. Under state law, district attorneys have what's called absolute immunity from civil suits, meaning they can't be sued.

"Even if you've done something for a bad reason, even if your corrupt no matter what as long as your being a DA, you have an absolute immunity." Beskind said. But according to Beskind, if lawyers can prove Niflong acted outside the scope of his duties as DA, he could lose his immunity. For example, under state law the families could sue Nifong for defamation, saying he made false statements, either knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth, and those statements harmed the reputations of the accused players...
The Robesonian:
Sorry soup — We guarantee that the special prosecutor will drop the remaining charges either before, during or immediately following a hearing that will deem a lineup that Nifong used to identify the accused as illegal. Nifong could have partly redeemed himself by dropping the remaining charges himself, but if this district attorney has demonstrated nothing else during the past 10 months, he has clearly shown he has no interest in justice in this case....

The heaviest price will ultimately be paid by Nifong, who showed himself to be incompetent and reckless. Of all the victims in this case, he is most deserving of a sorry fate.
Bob Lipper, Times-Dispatch (Richmond):
Suspicious Minds — Duke's lacrosse team will be under scrutiny as new season is about to begin - these Blue Devils acknowledge they're now operating on a short leash. "It's something we put on ourselves," said Matt Danowski, another senior and the son of Duke's new coach. "We don't want to hurt those three guys who were indicted by slipping up. Every step we're taking, we think of them."

Danowski's father, John, came to Duke from Hofstra. He said he noticed during workouts last fall that players tended "to get down on themselves if they didn't perform well." He wondered if they were "trying to prove on every shot or every save that they weren't deserving of some of the things people were saying about them as a group." More than 80 percent of Duke's 40-man squad posted an average of B or higher during the first semester, according to Danowski. The players also performed 515 hours of community service via a program Danowski implemented.

Gail DinesGail Dines, prof.of American Studies-Wheelock College (Boston), Atlantic Free Press:
CNN’s “journalism” is a fool’s paradise — Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a couple of dozen times, and shame on me — but also shame on what passes for journalism on television. This truism comes to mind after my appearance on “Paula Zahn Now” on CNN this week to discuss the Duke rape case. I’m not naïve about these kinds of shows — which I know are not really about journalism but about ratings, most easily obtained through sensationalism and playing to the prejudices of the audience — but over the past 20 years I’ve gone on a number of them to discuss my work as a sociologist on issues of racism and sexism in media. Like many progressives, I do that with eyes wide open, knowing the limits but realizing it’s one of the few shots we have at a mass audience....

This obsessive focus on the woman is not particular to this case; routinely the media focus on the women victims, with a certain prurient interest. Instead, we should put some of the focus back on the men in this case, as we know much about their behavior that night that is not under dispute....
LieStoppers forum: I'm a victim I tell ya! A Vitcim!, ..and I defend myself with ignorance... — long, pathetic whine fest...

Comment: "Dines whines" or "Whines from Dines" pick your label
The Futon Critic blog:
"60 MINUTES" MAKES THE TOP 10 WITH ITS BEST DEMOGRAPHIC DELIVERY IN OVER A YEAR — Number-one newsmagazine 60 MINUTES made Nielsen's top-10 list by delivering its best audience in key demographics in over a year last Sunday(14). 60 MINUTES, posting an 11.2/16 with 17.47m viewers, was also the night's most watched non-sports program, finishing ahead of the special two-hour premiere of "24" on Fox and an episode of the ABC hit "Desperate Housewives."...

Forum topics of note:

LieStoppers: Duke 3??? — Why in the world do yall call the guys the "Duke 3"
Comment: Good question...this is a nice label the "Hanging Party" likes to use, don't use it.
Older items:

William L. Anderson - teaches economics at Frostburg State UniversityWilliam L. Anderson:
Racial Diversity and Elite Educational Institutions: Duke’s Meltdown (1/18) — the volatile mix of people at an elite university like Duke is a much more fertile ground for a major hoax than would be a typical lower-tier state university. There is a special situation at these types of institutions that plays well to the kind of moral theater we have witnessed this past year....

if this latest document is to be believed, Duke University is a living hell for black faculty and black students. Racism runs unchecked; women are raped; students face intimidation at every turn, and their lives are governed by fear.

Indeed, Duke was an unsafe place – a dangerous place – for some young men who engaged in behavior that was no different than what other students at Duke have done: have a party with drinking and hire strippers. (I am not endorsing either, but neither do I believe that what they did was a Crime Against Humanity, as so many at Duke seem to be saying.) ...

Steve Sbraccia, NBC17.com:
Advocates: Duke Case Has Chilling Effect (1/18) — The saturation coverage of the Duke lacrosse case has been seen all across the country. It's the latest high profile rape case the media has focused on. But, advocates here in North Carolina say with all the continuing coverage about changing details, timelines and charges and counter charges, they're noticing a difference in the way some law enforcement agencies treat those who are reporting rape.
"For the first time some law enforcement agencies who we've never gotten reports from in terms of being victim-sensitive and centered in their approach, we've gotten calls from victims saying we've been asked to take a polygraph test or was asked very up front do I want to move forward and have an investigation of the rape case," said Monika Johnson, the agency executive director. That worries advocates because they say those kinds of reactions from law enforcement have a chilling effect on rape victims making them: "Less inclined to report, less inclined to move forward," Johnston said...
TalkLeft: Chilling Effect of Duke Case- Article