Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Sally Hemings Perplex; or, What Do We Know When White Men Need to Be Protected from Black Women?

I started this as a comment on an earlier post, since I am taking my friend Tim Lacy's suggestion (talk about what we can learn from the younger set -- dignity, kindness and civility come to mind) that I move on to the topics my regular audience prefers to read about. But, with apologies to Tim, it got too long, and I had to post it. And I also think some of these ideas, and the critique I am trying to develop here, contribute directly to what responsibilities academics, and historians in particular, have for thinking about the ethics and practices cohering in that public square called the blogosphere.

The first issue I would like to speak to is my argument about resentment, in the paragraph where I theorize about what Durham in Wonderland is "really about" (it's always interesting to me what gets picked out and what gets ignored. Most of the post is usually ignored, not just by DIW people, but by most commenters. I do it too.) Let me say that, as I noted in the post, there are the "facts" of history and then there are the stories we tell about historical events using those facts. Historians and lawyers (among others) know that you can tell a number of different stories from the same collection of facts, depending on how those facts intersect with other imperatives. Several of those versions will, perhaps, be true, but audiences (juries, academic fields, fans, activists, voters) will tend to coalesce around the arguments they find especially compelling. And this is what, connected to my strong feelings about needless harm done in the name of acquiring "justice" for the falsely accused at Duke, is culturally interesting about the DIW story -- it is not the "fact" of the accused men's innocence that is the source of so much intensity, although DIW was committed to establishing that -- it is the nature of their innocence, and its absoluteness, that the story both elaborates on and makes the source of intense feeling.

Consider this: it was not the fact that Eliza and Tom were slaves that caused Harriet Beecher Stowe's white readers to weep openly before strangers; after all, some of them saw slaves on the street every day, and they knew the shirts on their backs and the sheets on their beds were made from cotton cultivated and picked by actual, not fictional, Black hands. It was those readers' conviction that they could, through Stowe's words, feel Eliza's and Tom's spiritual and physical anguish in their very own bodies and souls. That was the source of their tears.

So we need to ask ourselves, why is one particular story -- a tale about men whose honor and purity is articulated in complete contrast to the criminal role they were falsely cast into -- largely by black women, if we are to believe the rhetoric -- so intriguing to the DIW crowd? Why not another story? One might imagine the possibility of this, very different, narrative: in youthful exuburance, naivete, pounding hormones, inebriation and an ignorance of the human condition, young men who have everything in the world to lose make a dumb mistake. They compound their mistake when they realize they have invited a desperate woman who is under the influence into their home, she fails to perform, and they refuse to give her all the money she wants. They respond to her threats that she will get revenge on them, not by removing her gently (perhaps with the aid of the campus police), but by shoving her out the door. She makes good on her threat by charging them with one of the worst crimes imaginable, and the system, to their horror, seems bent on convicting them -- not of foolishness, but of rape. And yet, justice prevails, all the same. The young men emerge wiser, more mature -- if battered -- and vow never to forget that citizens must always be vigilant over government to ensure that the principles our democracy stands for prevail. They will dedicate their lives to this evermore. The end.

I find this story completely believable. And, much as I find parts of it tawdry, I find it sympathetic in a number of ways. But it is not heroic -- it is comedy, turning quickly to tragedy.

It is striking to me that the DIW crowd has had its imagination so completely captured by a heroic story of stark good and evil, one in which the conspiracy is unimaginably huge, that they prefer to understand what happened in Durham as almost entirely local in its significance. And yet, all kinds of things are happening around the country that are equally dreadful, and all kinds of injustices done -- many at schools and universities, but many in the thousands of courtrooms that make up a justice system that favors the prosecution almost exclusively. And it is also happening at Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, Iraq -- need I go on?

However, connections to those other systemic injustices (some quite horrendous, involving murder and torture) are almost never made, the extension of the ideas expressed at DIW to larger ideas about the justice system or prosecutorial misconduct virtually never articulated. That many respondents felt a moral and ethical compulsion to come to the defense of young men who were being wrongly prosecuted in Durham for a spectacular crime doesn't surprise me, since they have written about it in heartfelt and sincere ways. What does intrigue me is the level to which the faculty and administration at Duke have been targeted by DIW for not "saving" the young men themselves as if, in fact, this was possible, and as if any prosecutor gives a rat's ass what the Duke faculty thinks. And they have been targeted using (highly disputable) interpretations of actions, documents, emails and speeches, interpretations that have been produced by a group and a scholar who more or less reject interpretation as a credible way of producing knowledge.

As I say -- it's only a theory -- but you have to think that there is a strong desire among the DIW commenters to be intimately linked to Duke itself, through the lacrosse players. Their need for justice does not include, for example, the desire to help a man on Long Island, also railroaded by a prosecutor, who has been in prison since he was a teenager for a double homicide that may have been committed by his father's business partner in 1990. I find it striking that only the falsely accused Duke students themselves have made that kind of connection, and it has had very little impact on the general tenor or interests of DIW as a virtual community.

To return to the almost wholesale rejection of argument and interpretation as a mode of thought by the DIW crowd: their strident positions about the Duke faculty and administration, based on Johnson's often selective readings of texts produced by Duke faculty, actually constitutes an argument -- laced as it might be with racism, mockery and name calling -- not a mere collection of facts and sources, as DIW commenters and Johnson assert. The invective they prefer is crucial to the interpretative field that they have created, and it is critical to positioning Johnson as the voice of reason who creates a rhetorical space between the "extreme right" and the "extreme left."

Furthermore, rejections of the position that the "the Listening Statement" was not an attack on the accused students per se also rest on this invective. The invective argues that the faculty who signed are, always were, and always will be, liars and incompetents, independent of their actions in this particular case. These arguments, mediated and authenticated by Johnson as an "insider" critic to the culture of academia, are stylistically representative of longstanding right-wing movements to "take back" knowledge production from the egghead academy from faux intellectuals hiding behind ten-dollar words that obfuscate their thinly-veiled contempt for "real" Americans. But the rhetoric of guilt and innocence has played another role too, and it is the prominence of African-American women as objects of contempt on DIW that is a critical piece of evidence here. The absolute "guilt" of (Black Woman) Wahneema Lubiano, the faculty member who has been positioned as the leader of the "guilty" 88 and the Duke administration, is a necessary, symbolic and practical corollary to the supposedly absolute legal and social "innocence" of the three white men who were falsely accused of the crime.

In other words: Sally Hemings was a liar and her children bastards; hence, Thomas Jefferson was a paragon of political masculinity and the father of our freedoms.

To move on. This is a useless correction, I'm sure but -- I never said in the other post that the DIW crowd can't get into college, or that middle-class people in general can't get into college: they can get in, they just can't pay for it anymore, many of them. I was writing not literally, but metaphorically. What I do believe about DIW and its readers' emotional connection to both Johnson and the act of taking continuous revenge on the so-called "Group of 88" is that imagined connections to elite universities are talismanic and magical in a day and age in which many people, for good reasons, are deeply insecure about the future. The veneration for places like Duke is acted upon almost exclusively through fandom in a day and age when student or alumni status is harder to achieve and there are fewer alternate routes to wealth and social power. In addition, the difficulty of getting into elite colleges has escalated at a historical moment when the economic need to have that credential seems dramatically enhanced. Fantasized connection to places like Duke, particularly through varsity sports, is one way to become part of a community that won't take you otherwise. Athletes also sometimes come in for special veneration because they are seen as people who have made it to the top, not through namby-pamby, untrustworthy bookishness or their wealthy parents' connections, but through traditional masculine virtues: hard work, toughness, and strength. Or, in the case of lacrosse, whiteness. DIW readers have a lot to say about how the lacrosse team's overwhelming whiteness and maleness made it an object of hatred by "others" -- they have nothing to say about what seems to some of us very important: being white and male makes some athletes objects of cultural love too. Pointing this out is, of course, how my involvement in this whole mess began in the first place.

DIW, in my view, represents an attempt to "take back," for the People, an elite place like Duke, a place that ordinary folk long to be connected to but despise for their lack of actual access to it. Some people enact that connection through buying game jerseys (drug dealers in New Haven wear Yale gear.) Many DIW readers, and Johnson himself, acted on their desires through what they perceived as an heroic crusade -- saving three "innocent" men -- that for the readers, if not for their leader, also required devoting a lot of volunteer time to the project. Hence the crucial importance of the word "innocent" to this group, because by recognizing and defending the accused men's innocence, they demonstrate their own moral fitness to be part of the Duke community and -- more importantly - the moral unfitness of their enemies, the faculty and activist students protesting campus racism and sexual violence, to be privileged with an actual, material association with Duke.

"The bottom rail is now on top, Master," the black Union soldier is reputed to have said to a Confederate officer at Appomatox.

Here's something else that I think should be highlighted on the credibility chart: virtually all the DIW commentators who really run the show and set the tone on the comments are anonymous. The hate mail is anonymous. The phone calls are anonymous. This has caused me to wonder at times whether some of these characters are someone we actually do know by name posting under different pseudonyms (and some of the tactics and rhetoric suggest that they are) to whip up the interest in and narrative value of the blog. Who is crazed Debrah? Gregory? And why does he go "MOO!"? Who is the dignified Amac? Steve from DC? John? The vicious Polanski? beckett03? The multiple anonymous posters? We don't know. And yet it is the so-called "credibility" of people who do use their real names, who write in ways that allow people to respond to them, that is repeatedly called into question and abused through invective, letters written to university officials, the call for "facts" and the like.

Finally, Professor Horwitz's point about free speech is well taken, and I think it is an important principle. Let me extend it: the right to free speech does not extend to unlimited anonymous speech, or to cyberbullying, and no reputable publication prints anonymous letters. The only reason I tolerate anonymity at all on Tenured Radical is because I know that some bloggers I know and respect feel they need it. I began as an anonymous blogger, and that may be a necessary step for some people as they gain confidence. In addition, I want to encourage my students, and untenured faculty over whose careers I could potentially have some say, to engage in dialogue with me.

The DIW crowd is always yelling about who is going to get sued next, but they have all protected themselves from any consequences for their behavior by not revealing who they are. And threatening to harm someone using the mails, the internet, or the telephone is a federal crime, in case you think I am just referring to the ethical implications of such acts. I have received a number of hate letters at my office, for example, and at one point I started writing back to them to see if the addresses were good, and guess what? I got the letters back. No such people at those addresses. On the other hand, Horwitz, myself, Burke, Lacy and Zimmerman - not to mention Piot, Lubiano, and the others linking their work to the anti-KC Johnson blog -- all publish, blog and comment under our own names. That the masses at DIW and their hero KC can exercise what they see as their right and duty to "hold us accountable" is only possible because you know who we are.

The point about a blog having only its credibility to offer may be something I disagree with to the extent that I think DIW's criteria for that are very self-serving and can't be universalized. There are many people who don't think the New York Times is credible (can you say "Judith Miller"?) although mostly I do. But what, exactly, is completely credible about a blog whose integrity is proven by the presence of large numbers of vicious people who are afraid to tell us their names, and a blogger who claims to have no responsibility for what they do or say? I ask you.

(Photographs were taken from this site by permission.)

133 comments:

whatever said...

Wow. Just wow. This is a wonderful post. I don't know how you do it. Sorry for gushing, but I know how hard it is to produce good writing even without the pressure of doing it in really timely fashion for a regular blog.

This really is a contribution to thinking now not only about the Duke matter but for thinking about how to think, how to engage, how to speak, and how to write.

Thanks. (Sorry for the chickenshit anonymity on my part.)

pink 2 said...

Ditto 12:33. Especially the chickenshit anonymity. I just don't want to deal with those people.

Anonymous said...

This comment deals with an admittedly minor part of your post. As a historian I would think you have had some experience in researching and analyzing the application of the laws of war. Those laws, often referred to as the Geneva Convention(s) attempt to define how civilized societies deal with the most uncivil of all human endeavors, modern warfare. I would like some additional clarification on your allusion to Guantanamo in the fourth paragraph of this post.
If the Geneva Conventions were followed there would be no prisoners in GITMO. They would be dead, having been executed for taking part in armed combat as “irregular forces”. Irregular forces are considered to be those individuals who are not members of the armed forces of a particular country and who wear no identifying uniform. Sounds silly I know, but the civilized (I use the word loosely) countries want to know, to the extent possible, who the “bad guys” really are. No one really likes to kill innocent civilians.
The countervailing argument is that the detainees in GITMO do not represent the armed forces of a sovereign state. Thus they cannot wear uniforms. This raises another question. The rules governing the treatment of prisoners anticipate captured individuals being repatriated at the cessation of armed conflict. Armed conflict with the entities involved in this war has not ceased. Why then would these formerly armed combatants be returned? US servicemen and women in the Pacific Theater of Operations during WWII, as well as many US civilians, were treated as less than human by their Japanese captors. They certainly didn’t get warm and dry quarters, 3 meals a day, health care and religious freedom as do the detainees in GITMO.
Finally, to which entity or entities should these formerly armed individuals be returned? What guarantees prohibiting their future involvement in armed activities against US forces should be secured? Which entity will assure that the negotiated guarantees be met? If the guarantees cannot be secured, what should be done with the detainees?
I appreciate your reading this and look forward to any response you choose to make explaining the “injustices” at Guantanamo.
No anonymity on my part by the way –
Mike Rayfield
Spring, TX

Flavia said...

There's so much to admire about this post, but--perhaps because I'm a literary scholar, perhaps because I blog in a largely autobiographical vein--what I find most compelling is your discussion of the way we construct narratives from whatever facts may be available. . . and what's at stake in those narratives: why we come up with the stories we do, and why we sometimes have a hard time seeing or accepting any others.

But that's what historians and literary scholars do: we look at the narratives that have been written, try to understand where they're coming from, and perhaps construct new ones. Simply saying that a narrative (new or old) is possible or even probable isn't saying that it's the only or the full story, and I think that's what (some) of your critics don't get.

For instance, you write:

[I]magined connections to elite universities are talismanic and magical in a day and age in which many people, for good reasons, are deeply insecure about the future. The veneration for places like Duke is acted upon almost exclusively through fandom in a day and age when student or alumni status is harder to achieve and there are fewer alternate routes to status and wealth. . . . Fantasized connection to places like Duke, particularly through varsity sports, is one way to become part of a community that won't take you otherwise. Athletes also sometimes come in for special veneration because they are seen as people who have made it to the top, not through namby-pamby, untrustworthy bookishness or their wealthy parents' connections, but through traditional masculine virtues: hard work, toughness, and strength.

That's an interpretation that I find, for a variety of reasons, deeply compelling. Is it the motivation for every commenter at DiW (some of whom I'm sure will immediately start in telling you what excellent schools they attended and how, actually, they hate sports)? Absolutely not. Is it in any real sense the full story? No. But it's a story that gets at some of the issues I don't think have been considered before, and therefore is important.

Been there, done that said...

Well, I can tell you what fascinated me about this case, is that one institution after another failed -- and the more I learned, the more appalled I was. This is also not the first time I got personally involved in a case of injustice -- I offered expense money to an old classmate who was at that time still chugging uphill on "a case you would know." He ended up not needing my money because both the ACLU and NAACP stood up. I also worked on a case that you would not know -- so its not whether the injustice is famous -- it's just ones in which I think I can make a difference, one opinion at a time.

My philosophy is that you do have to act -- which is why I am encouraged that you are willing to stand up for your friends -- no matter if I think they were colossal dolts who should have smelled this as a hoax within the first few weeks.

I've written a few emails, but none were hateful. I attempted to show some how really terrible this was, but always in a respectful way. And my real name is attached to the email, so never anonymously.

At this point, I am interested in the motivations, and have been looking for reasoned discussions of why the institutions failed. I hope that the commenters here can explain why the professors were so quick to turn on a part of the student body, and so slow to figure it was all made-up.

AMac said...

In this post, as in "We're Having More Fun", TR waxes expansively and eloquently on the DiW commentariat. She offers an elaborate and lengthy theory on the shortcomings of a group of people who do not think as she does. This intricate construction draws elements from psychology, psychoanalysis, economics, sociology, history, and literature.

To judge from the plaudits offered at the two posts, TR's unified field theory has found favor among many of Tenured Radical's regulars.

Among practicing scientists, one of the first impulses on hearing an intriguing hypothesis is to ask, "what are the ways that this idea could be disproven?" The more vigorously and rigorously a notion can be tested, the 'better' it is.

On reading today's essay, this Wikipedia entry came to mind:

"An apparently scientific argument is said to be not even wrong if it is based on assumptions that are known to be incorrect, or alternatively theories which cannot possibly be falsified or used to predict anything. The phrase was coined by the early quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was known for his colourful objections to incorrect or sloppy thinking."

steve from DC said...

Yes, TR nothing is all black and white or all right and wrong. Not exactly insightful. We agree

We do not agree however on your continued lumping of KC Johnson with his commenters. You do not share my opinions so why should he be responsible for theirs? Yes, there are racist, right wing dodos who emailed DIW (and, while there have not been that many, left wing sickos as well.) On your blog too, commenters (now that you have allowed opinions different from your own to survive) differ radically from your own. Do you accept that their opinions are yours? surely not. So let's not be hypocrites.

Your post is long but I would like to respond to two of your statements:

1.You write: "Let me say that, as I noted in the post, there are the "facts" of history and then there are the stories we tell about historical events using those facts."

I assume this is your defense to criticisms of your earlier statement that objectivity is not necessarily desirable in historians. This latter statement does not excuse your earlier one but is certainly true. There are facts and "facts", in particular, in this case but you have apparently decided to ignore them and call them "stories" when they are inconvenient. For example, Lubiano's email clearly linking the ad to the alleged rape does in fact make her a leader of the 88. Your placement of quotation marks around the term "guilty" 88, indicates you ignore the facts of their guilt. Even if that guilt were only that of a rush to judgement rather than of some more heinous activities e.g. intentially railroading their own students for their own selfish (or perhaps, in your opinion, altruistic) purposes. You have morphed from historian to lawyer and yet you criticise Johnson for being a prosecutor. He was prosecuting to defend what the North Carolina AG ultimately called innocents. Who are you defending?

2. You wrote "I find this story completely believable. And, much as I find parts of it tawdry, I find it sympathetic in a number of ways. But it is not heroic -- it is comedy, turning quickly to tragedy."

I like a laugh almost as well as anyone. I must say KC gave me a lot of those when he discussed some of the academic "scholarship" of some of the 88 -- however uncomfortable that made me feel. But I hope you did not mean to imply that anything these kids went through is a "comedy" If so, I only hope the apparatus of the state is never after you. And, if it is, I hope your colleagues and students don't encourage the governement in its malfeasance.

My last comment is a general one. The fact that there are numerous injustices in the world, in the country, in the state and even in Durham does not excuse the lacrossse hoax. if you are upset about other injustices I urge you to start a blog dedicated to righting them. You might find it more rewarding than defending the injustice KC Johnson tried to right.

One Spook said...

Claire writes:

1. " ... why is one particular story ... so intriguing to the DIW crowd, and not another story?"

Read the heading on the DIW Blog, to wit:
"Comments and analysis about the Duke/Nifong case." Note that DIW is not a discussion of injustices anywhere in the world.

2. "What does intrigue me is the level to which the faculty and administration at Duke have been targeted by DIW for not "saving" the young men themselves as if, in fact, this was possible, and as if any prosecutor gives a rat's ass what the Duke faculty thinks."

The gist of the criticism of Duke faculty and administration was not they they failed in "saving" the young men but rather, that they: (1) ignored the due process rights of some of their students; (2) presumed the guilt of students; (3) actively slandered and libeled students through their actions and words; and (4) engaged in retaliation toward students, in two cases actual grade retaliation.

If you followed the blog, you would have noted that Duke settled several lawsuits which alleged, among other things, actions of the Duke faculty in (1) through (4) supra. There is presently another lawsuit filed against, among others, Duke faculty, administration, and employees that alleges this same tortuous behavior, and including numerous other allegations.

And, had you followed the DIW blog, you would have noted that many commenting at DIW had considerable praise for Duke Law Professor James Coleman who was alone among Duke faculty in June of '06 in standing up for the due process rights of the wrongly accused lacrosse players.

3. "DIW readers ... have nothing to say about what seems to some of us very important: being white and male makes some athletes objects of cultural love too. Pointing this out is, of course, how my involvement in this whole mess began in the first place."

Good luck in taking on the horrid inequities of "cultural love," Claire. Perhaps you can help me explain why my eldest (white) son, at age 4, insisted on going out on Halloween as the female super-hero Isis (I agreed and bought him an Isis costume), and why my next eldest (white) son has a five foot poster of Jimi Hendrix in his room to this day, and NO posters of white male athletes. Where have I gone wrong?

For extra credit, do some research to see how KC Johnson got the nickname, "KC." "Cultural Love" is tough to explain using the prisim of race, class, and gender.

4. "DIW, in my view, represents an attempt to "take back," for the People, an elite place like Duke, a place that ordinary folk long to be connected to but despise for their lack of actual access to it. Some people enact that connection through buying game jerseys (drug dealers in New Haven wear Yale gear.)"

It is obvious that you haven't read DIW much, if at all, Claire. Most who comment at DIW want absolutely nothing to do with either Duke or Durham, simply because of the outrageous behavior exposed in this hoax. DIW commentors who are Duke Alumni mostly lament what has become of Duke, and many have announced their intention to not support Duke financially until changes are made.

And, I've spent time in New Haven ... drug dealers there use Yale gear as cover. This may come as a shock to you, but wearing collegiate gear in a college town when dealing drugs is much better for business than showing up in hip hop attire driving a pimp-mobile.

5. "... virtually all the DIW commentators who really run the show and set the tone on the comments are anonymous. ... Who is Debrah? Gregory? And why does he go "MOO!"? Who is the dignified Amac? Steve from DC? John? ... the right to free speech does not extend to unlimited anonymous speech."

KC chose to allow anonymous comments, as is his right. You can easily find out who Amac, Debrah, and others (including me) are simply by asking them to e-mail you, just as I did. How hard is that? Be a BIG girl! FYI, "MOO" means "My Opinion Only."

And, in American law, the limitations on anonymous speech are exactly the same for those limits placed on identified speech. How is that an idictment of anonymous speech? What on earth are you saying with that statement?

6. "The DIW crowd is always yelling about who is going to get sued next, but they have all protected themselves from any consequences for their behavior by not revealing who they are."

You'll have to trust me on this one Claire, since I am an expert on "anonymous activity." Anyone who posts on KC's blog, your blog, or any blog can be easily traced and identified if their behavior is illegal. Such "Anon" postings do not protect anyone from "any consequences for their behavior."

One Spook

Stu Daddy said...

Tenured Radical readers will appreciate Ralph Luker's newest post at Cliopatria here.

By the way, is anyone else falling behind on their holiday schedule?

It's taking many minutes to check plentiful posts and comments at John in Carolina, Liestoppers, Durham-in-Wonderland and Re:harmonized.

Are there other blog or periodical sites where Professor KC Johnson, DIW, Duke and Durham are being discussed?

What hiatus (at DIW)? Now, if only I can remember to leave milk and cookies near the hearth for Santa Claus!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the fact that you have written 2,516 words (not including the title) to not answer my question, which simply asked what you meant by this:

"Taken as a whole, in the end, DIW is about why some people get to go to places like Duke and other people don't -- it is about class rage, it is about the collapse of opportunity for middle-class people who actually had wonderful college educations in their grasp a generation ago, and have now been shut out of them. It's about how some of us made it in, and slammed the door behind us."

I get the impression that your stab at an answer had a lot to do with what you wrote earlier about the profession of History. You wrote:

“[T]here is no dominant consensus in the profession at all as to whether objectivity is either possible or desirable....”

I believe your attempted answer and your theory of History are intertwined because I cannot otherwise explain how one can issue a blanket theory about thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of comments and millions of words without any attempt at objectivity, support for the argument, statistical sampling, interviewing or basis in fact.

For example, it's a fact that any middle-class person in America who wants a good education can get one. It's a fact that some of the commentariat on D-i-W, including the blog owner, have educations equal, or superior, to that which one can obtain at Duke University. It's a fact that there are financial aid and loan packages at ALMOST EVERY American university which will ensure any qualified student can attend. Your protests notwithstanding, it's a fact that educations are frequently purchased on the installment plan in this economy.

A theory isn't a theory if it isn't supported by facts. Frankly, I don't know what you call a "theory" when the facts actually DISPROVE it.

I did, however, enjoy your mass psycho-analysis of thousands of people at once. It reminds me of the Goldfish confronted with the problem of re-setting the DVD machine. The Goldfish swam around and around in its bowl, but it did not stand a chance of manipulating that particular piece of electronics. Why? Because it's a Goldfish.

You are not a psychologist.

MOO! (my opinions only) Gregory

pink 2 said...

Thanks, stu daddy for the Cliopatria link. After having read the blog to which Ralph Luker refers in his Cliopatria column, I see the need for it. If nothing else, it provides one Duke faculty member who was regularly attacked on DiW, by both Johnson and other posters, a chance to defend herself. I hope KC Johnson can explain why he didn't avail himself of some of the information it appears he could have...like sources for the oft-mentioned Chronicle article. This blog also provides the reader with a first-hand look at some of the vile mail the LAX case engendered. I think this is a good thing.

Luker did not convince me that there was anything wrong with people getting together and answering KC Johnson and his supporters. After all, that's what they've been demanding. Perhaps, they simply don't like the form the answers have taken. Tough luck.

Perhaps, had KC Johnson been more generous and tolerant--fair, even--in his blog postings, this blog wouldn't exist. But, he wasn't.

Steven Horwitz said...

Two questions for Professor Potter:

1. Do your criticisms of anonymous blogging apply with equal force to whomever is behind the "Truth about KC Johnson" site/blog?

2. I would also second the spirit (if not the specifics and tone) of Gregory at 423. I do wonder whether this post's implicit psycho-analysis of the DiW commentariat isn't equally guilty of the "groupthink" that you rightly criticize DiW for with respect to the Duke faculty.

My own experience at DiW was that there was quite the mix of people there, even among the regular commenters, each with their own reasons for becoming interested in the case and for sticking around well after the declaration of innocence. Yes, there were wackos, racists, sexists, narcissists, harpies, haters-of-academics, and the like from every corner of the world. Sometimes all in the same person!

But there were also serious people trying, amid a great deal of noise, to engage in some good analysis of what happened and why. Engaging in the kind of group analysis that you've done here paints over important differences in rationale and argument much as KC and others have done with the Duke faculty.

You'll get no argument from me that the loudest voices were often both the least serious and the most offensive, which is why I finally walked away. But they were hardly the only ones and I think it's really oversimplified (and a bit ahistorical) to offer the kind of group reading that you do here.

Tenured Radical said...

Steven:

Quick answers to your questions, as i have to go retrieve my politically correct organic, free-range turkey (although the really PC turkey would be made of Tofu, I know):

1. Yes -- although since it doesn't allow comment, and the articles that it links to are signed, it represents an interesting use of the blog as a "platform." But in the main, yes. Although I think it might be hard for you to understand what it has meant to some of those people to have had their phones and email accounts deluged for months with unspeakable crap, all quite vengeful. It doesn't really bother me any more, but on the other hand, my exposure to it has been brief and episodic.

2. Yes again, although that's what people who do cultural critique do, is they ask speculative questions and provide complex answers that can then be challenged. And contrary to the DIW charges, I don't take down all posts that disagree with me: I take down the crazy ones, and the abusive ones. And I do think that KC had some obligation to moderate, long before he did; when notified that people associated with his crusade were doing horrible things to people, he had an obligation to think about his role in it and intervene. Instead, he egged them on. And cultural critique and history -- what I do -- is different from the law - what you do. DIW rhetoric collapses all kinds of knowledge into legalistic "proofs" that have little to do with the values attached to most forms of intellectual endeavor.

So yes -- there are/were serious people involved. I get that. But I think there is also a serious critique to be made of what the hidden (or not so hidden) agendas of the chief blogger and many of his followers has been, and why the Blogger in Chief chose not to moderate or expunge those comments until various people close to him pressured him to do so.

Happy holidays, and in haste,

TR

Steven Horwitz said...

Two follow ups Claire (before I go eat my politically-incorrect pork products for lunch):

1. I do understand the desire for anonymity and the reluctance to open up comments on the part of people who have been targeted by nasty emails of the sort on that site. I also understand the multiple reasons why some DiW commenters preferred not to use their real names. I do think that your ongoing suggestion that they might well be multiple "sock puppets" (to use the Net term for it) of one or two people is wholly without substance and overlooks legit reasons they might have for being anonymous. I can assure you that they are NOT all the same person.

I'm not so sure any of the reasons (other than the fear of abusive email based on past experience) for anonymity would apply to tenured faculty.

2. Actually, I'm not a law prof ("the law, what you do"). I'm an economist, which probably doesn't help my case. :) I do, however, understand the role of cultural critique and, had I been in KC's position, I would have intervened into the comments in the ways you talk about.

But... you suggest that it's an established fact that the abusive emails faculty were receiving were from "people associated with his crusade." I'm curious as to what that means. Do you mean those emails were from regular DiW commenters? Were they people who just invoked DiW as a source for where they heard about things? Did they use langauge directly from DiW?

I do not believe a blogger can be held responsible for what his/her commenters say or do, but even if I did, I would need some actual evidence that there was somehow a direct connection between those emails and KC's blog. I've yet to see that. In its absence, even if I DID believe bloggers were responsible for their commenters' behavior, there's no grounds to say it's people "associated" with KC.

Anonymous said...

To stu daddy,

I address this to you only because you linked Luker's post, but these are questions for anyone to think about who is interested in these matters.

Luker's criticism of the truthaboutkcjohnson website and his not so thinly veiled implication that Lubiano is responsible for the site doesn't address any of the content of her response to Taylor and Johnson, a response that she attached her name to.

What about what she points to in the book? And what does her lack of publication productivity have to do with any of the Duke matter, with writing the ad?

What is the link between the professor that he names (Armstead Robinson) and the other professor of forthcoming materials at whom he hints and whose forthcoming books are a consistent focus of KC Johnson and DIW attacks? Is it that they are both black studies professors? Is it that being underpublished makes those particular people somehow more reprehensible than anyone else in the academy who hasn't published much?

Is this part of a condemnation of black studies as a field where there are some scholars who don't publish much? What of other fields, with under-publishing scholars? Is it the coming together of "angry studies," black American scholars who haven't published much, and the Duke matter that is the problem? If so, then what about the rest of the signatories?

And do people really want to start pegging academic worth completely to quantity of publications? I know enough about universities even in tier one to know that there are some tenured and under-publishing faculty in many of those places whose value to those institutions doesn't depend upon their publication records. Are we really trying to have a discussion about publication records as something that provide us with knowledge about who said and did what (and why) with regard to Duke?

What on earth does one do with the "angry studies" and black American scholars who have published quite a bit, and the signatories who don't fit in either of those categories?

Aren't there some incredibly productive people among the signatories to the ad? Does their productivity put them in another category for Luker and critics of the Duke matter? I'm curious about the intertwining of one scholar's written footprint and what happened that has so many people focused on this when so many of the other signatories who are quite well published in their fields. Is there a one book or two book minimum for faculty weighing in on matters at Duke?

To other posters with regard to the question of anonymity, I think that TR's post is trying to make sense of both the limits and possibilities of anonymity. While she is critical about people happily piling on with viciousness from the safety of anonymity, she includes in her post some understanding of why, under specific circumstances, some might choose anonymity.

AMac said...

I agree with much of what pink 2 wrote at 4:29am, Christmas Eve--although she might not appreciate my reasoning. Prof. Lubiano's post defense of her actions during the early stages of the Hoax/Frame adds to the public record. Some of her points appear straightforward, and may result in corrections or retractions from KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor. Other points seem, er, disingenuous: pitched to a readership that is unfamiliar with the key problems of the faculty enablers' metanarrative. But that's fine, too--such claims can be evaluated and, if appropriate, rebutted.

Another virtue of posts such as Prof. Lubiano's is that they open up focused lines of inquiry.

(1) Prof. Lubiano's account of how the student quotes in the Listening Statement were handled prompts this set of questions:

1a. [For the 2005/06 Duke Chronicle staff]: Lubiano claims that "The Chronicle, as a condition of publication, made us document every student quote. The respective students had to email the newspaper from their Duke email accounts and indicate that he or she was the author of those particular words and was quoted correctly." To my knowledge, this is the first time that this account has been given--twenty months after the Listening Statement's publication! Did Johnson or Taylor ever inquire about your vetting procedures? If so, how did you respond? Has the Chronicle ever explained its concerns about running the ad, and how they were met? (URL, please!) If not, why not? Did nobody think to ask? Did Duke's Administration request or demand silence?

1b. [For Johnson/Taylor]: Lubiano claims that the chair of AAAS responded to a query by Johnson, emailing him the correct account of how student quotes were handled (i.e. Lubiano's account). While the correspondence predated the publication of Until Proven Innocent, Johnson and Taylor ignored this information in their book. Is this correct? If so, why did UPI's authors fail to present the AAAS chair's account where it differed from their view?

1c. [For Lubiano]: You state that the Listening Statement authors and the Chronicle staff went through a protracted pre-publication process, and you indicate that the Statement was repeatedly revised in consultation with some of its signatories. In the Clarifying Statement and on many other occasions, Listening Statement signers and supporters have claimed that the Statement was not about the then-pending criminal case, and was not intended to support those who were vociferously proclaiming the guilt of Lacrosse team members. Since Statement drafts and accompanying emails would speak eloquently to the question of "intent," will you release them? If not, why not?

(2) Prof. Lubiano's account of how "Shut Up and Teach?" was presented in UPI raises this issue:

2a. [For Lubiano]: You imply that what you said at the "Shut Up and Teach?" colloquium was misquoted in UPI. But your phrasing is odd: you assert that only those who review the authorized video have the authority to quote you, and you emphasize that that tape may only be viewed by selected researchers within the Duke community. Yes or no: were you misquoted? If so, what did you actually say? Why is AAAS unwilling to release its record of this important event?


Two closing notes. First, I loaned out my copy of UPI and thus can't check the page numbers Prof. Lubiano references (112, 114, 115, 135, 145, 336, 337, and 342). At this writing, UPI's online notes contain no errata for these pages. Johnson and Taylor do provide source notes for each of the mentioned pages.

Second, since part of this discussion has concerned anonymity, I pointed out via email to T.R. that I make no claim of Authority when penning these pseudonymous comments--my ideas stand or fall on their own merits. If pink 2 or another regular thinks my identity is important, I can be reached at amac-2007 at usa dot net.

Flavia said...

Steven Horowitz said:

I do not believe a blogger can be held responsible for what his/her commenters say or do.

I'm not sure that these are exactly equivalent cases, but perhaps a useful comparison is the (quite serious) harrassment of female law students that was occurring on the message board AutoAdmit. The moderator of the message board insisted that he had no control over the comments that his readers left, and refused to take any down (despite freely pulling threads on other subjects when it suited him).

Coverage from Bitch, Ph.D. (with links to some of the relevant WSJ articles) here.

Flavia said...

(Oops. Apologies for the misspelling.)

DMG said...

I take your point about the Elite University issue. However, I think I may experience it a bit differently than yourself, with more empathy for the "outsiders", having come from a less than working class background myself. It can appear to many who have not been priveleged to attend such institutions, let alone spend life as a faculty member at such,
that certain people who have obtained these things look down on "regular people" and their lives.
This is always experienced as deeply offensive and provokes a lot of resentment. I confess that I was really annoyed that people with such pleasant lives could be so whiny
and so cavalier about causing damage to the lives of other people.It seemed that their choice of subject matter-justice, oppression, suffering- and the priveleged positions they hold would caution them against inflicting such damage. There was a certain beligerence and disdain for reality that was confusing and upsetting to people who perhaps do revere such institutions and thus expected more from faculty. I know I was personally shocked by the Listening Statement and its implications and I certainly didn't need KC JOHNSON to tell what to think about it. It was pretty clear.
Forty years ago a young Professor of American Literature taught my freshman English class. He was from a top ten school beginning his career at a state University. He opened his gig by writing on the board"What does the Pepsi Generation mean to me?" and telling us to talk about it and then write essays etc. etc. I knew there was trouble and that we would spend the quarter dissing the very American culture I was trying so hard to enter. I had never had a Pepsi. We didn't have money to waste on soft drinks, no nutrition, the sugar rotted one's teeth and the dentist was too expensive. He thought I was not cool, although he dated my Marxist older sister. I did what I thought was really radical-I majored in Chemistry as the only girl with 750 boys. It was fun and personality was not important.
SO, there are the biases-class resentment and a scientific desire for precision and exactitude.
Let's bury the hatchet and be friends.
Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Tenured Radical said...

Apologies for calling Steven a lawyer! There's so much lawyer-speak flying around that I got confused.

Re. Stu Daddy's link - thanks for that, hadn't seen it. I wrote Ralph this, but I know on good authority that Professor Lubiano did not put that blog up. And I have taken down several posts that said vicious things about me and about her; I took down another that made a loopy charger about Robyn Wiegman that I didn't even understand -- something about Lost in Space, and the power people have to damage others with their thoughts.

I will continue to take down posts that seem intended only to harm others, and as Flavia implies -- I do think it is the right thing to do, and I think KC should have done it too. I wouldn't let a student
trash another student in my class either without intervening, because not to do so seems to me tacit acceptance of that behavior.

And as I said, people have good reasons to be anonymous. But then, I think the anonymity has to be used responsibly. And the excuse that someone could be easily located on the internet and prosecuted does not convince me that the onus is on the offended person to take responsibility.

TR

Tenured Radical said...

DMG,

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

TR

Debrah said...

" I wouldn't let a student
trash another student in my class either without intervening, because not to do so seems to me tacit acceptance of that behavior."


Really?

That's admirable.

Then please explain your never-ending support of many who make up the 88 professors at Duke who did just that with abandon.

Steven Horwitz said...

Flavia,

I think that's a different case. I would agree that the host of a website or a blog is in some sense responsible for what is posted THERE. For example, I think it IS fair to apportion blame to KC Johnson for the too-frequent racism at DiW in the sense that he could have exercised more editorial control, though he made a principled decision not to. And to the extent DiW became a place where specific individuals were the targets of racist language, I do think you can make the argument that KC bears some responsibility for that outcome because he could have stopped the comments before they were posted. KC, as far as I can see, has accepted responsibility for this at least in the sense that he's put his commitment to open discourse above any other goal. To me, that says you are willing to countenance racist language in the name of unfettered discussion.

What you absolutely CANNOT blame a blogger for is what his/her commenters do in space he/she has no control over. If some DiW regular commenters sent abusive emails to Duke faculty, the people to blame for that is THEM and only them. KC could not have stopped them from doing so, and the argument that he created an environment where racism was accepted therefore he bears that responsibility is, to me, a non-starter as it denies full agency to those who engaged in the abuse. I'm not willing to give such people any sort of pass on such things, nor blame others for their choices.

KC Johnson said...

I'm struck by the irony of Prof. Potter's condemnation of pseudonymous blog comments in a thread where she purports to know the author/authors of an anonymous blog, but seems to have little problem with that behavior.

"I will continue to take down posts that seem intended only to harm others, and as Flavia implies -- I do think it is the right thing to do, and I think KC should have done it too."

As Prof. Potter is well aware, I did decline to clear comments that were vile; and I had a standing policy for the duration of DIW of always removing specific comments if a reader e-mailed me saying he/she found them offensive.

"And I do think that KC had some obligation to moderate, long before he did; when notified that people associated with his crusade were doing horrible things to people, he had an obligation to think about his role in it and intervene. Instead, he egged them on."

Prof. Potter, of course, has not presented a scintilla of evidence that "people associated with [my] crusade were doing horrible things to people," or that I "egged them on."

To respond to the questions asked of me above:

I three times e-mailed the spring 2006 chair of the AAAS Department, Prof. Charles Payne, to ask if the department paid for the ad; and how the student quotes were ascertained. He never replied to my e-mails.

After he signed the clarifying statement, I e-mailed Prof. Charles Piot, who succeeded Payne as AAAS chairman, to ask how he could speak to the intent of the ad's signatories. (Piot signed the clarifying letter but wasn't a member of the Group of 88.) He didn't answer the question, but he did add his interpretation of how the signatures were vetted. But, of course, he wasn't chair of the department in 2006, when the ad was prepared.

The obvious approach, of course: Prof. Lubiano should release the names of the alleged students, and they can testify as to what they said. It was, and remains, unclear why she did not identify the students' names in the ad.

After glancing over the rest of Lubiano's commentary, I'll certainly add to the footnote on p. 132 that Prof. Mark Anthony Neal originated the idea of converting the discussion into a discussion of the rape case. Since, by all accounts, Prof. Lubiano and Prof. Holloway presided over the discussion, it hardly seems inaccurate to say that they also converted the gathering's focus.

As to all of other Lubiano's points: with one exception, they all seem to be based on material (the transcript of the 3-30 faculty meeting, the video of the shut up and teach forum, the e-mails and drafts of the Group of 88's statement) that she is refusing to release. I'm afraid that's a strategy bound to raise serious questions among any fair-minded readers.

The exception is her comment that UPI described her as active on gay and lesbian issues. It's not clear to me if she's denying this--she was, as the DIW post makes clear, a participant in DRAGnet (Duke Radical Action Group), which, according to the Chronicle, featured professors “running around campus dressed from head to toe like drag queens” performing political skits; and she was closing speaker at a 2001 conference called “Black Queer Studies in the Millennium.” That would seem to me to fit the description; but, certainly, if Lubiano doesn't consider the above an accurate description, I'll post a comment in the notes. To be frank, however, it's not clear to me what she's trying to say in that section of her essay.

I should note, of course, I e-mailed Lubiano to ask about her comments at the 3-30 faculty meeting and her habit of listing books as forthcoming and under contract for a 10-year period; she refused to answer, and ordered me not to e-mail her again, and I accommodated her request. But she hardly can say that I didn't give her a chance to provide her version of events.

Anonymous said...

I'm 12:27p above.

Thank you, Professor Johnson, for responding to some of the questions.

Now, I don't know anything about the past or present chair of African-American Studies at Duke, however, I did read what Prof. Lubiano wrote at truthabout. It seems to me that you didn't have to rely on either chair for guidelines from the Chronicle about what they require in terms of documentation for ads with anonymous quotes. You could just query the Chronicle ad office yourself. Doing so seems to me to be as obvious a course of action as her releasing the names. I mean, it's your book and you are a pretty impressive investigator.

Yeah, you're right that Prof. Lubiano could just release the names of the studnets, but I can understand why students who asked for anonymity wouldn't merit that betrayal. If they did ask for anonymity. And as far as I've read in Duke publications no students have written or posted, (from the safety of permitted anonymity online at the Chronicle), that students quoted in the ad never asked that their identities be held secret.

I know, I know. This kind of stuff that I'm writing probably has diminishing returns the longer I go on about it.

Still, if it's true that they sent documentation acknowledging their language as part of commiting themselves to anonymity and to being quoted, that's what the guidelines are for. If Prof. Lubiano is lying about that, then it would even worse if she named some names of students.

I just don't get why you didn't just ask the Chronicle what their guidelines are if you didn't want to accept what Prof. Piot said.

And about the gathering where the students supposedly spoke, you say "by all accounts" Lubiano and Holloway presided over the discussion? Exactly where are the *all* accounts that you speak of, given what "all accounts" means?

As to the being active on gay and lesbian issues or causes (I can't remember which), she didn't deny being active in or around those things. She asked what being active in those things had to do with anything. Why was it part of what the book had to say about her. I'm not trying to be rude here, but maybe as the book's author you should respond to what she wrote since she questioned what that activity had to do with the book's work. As someone who is not of the straight persuasion, (being a little, okay, a big queer myself), I'm curious about that.

But then again you don't owe me or any of the rest of us any answers to any of this. Not even someone who's curious like I am.

Not even if I emailed you and asked you to come clean about your version of events such as her or anybody else's activity around gay and lesbian causes or issues, or dressing in drag, or being a closing speaker at a conference called Black Queer Studies in the Millenium. Because none of that has to do with whatever happened at Duke, right?

I guess that I'm not getting the connections. And it's getting late on Christmas Eve. Sorry to TR and everybody. Well, unless you want to be here reading this stuff.

Michael in NH said...

[So we need to ask ourselves, why is one particular story -- a tale about men whose honor and purity is articulated in complete contrast to the criminal role they were falsely cast into -- largely by black women,]

Who were these black women? Crystal was the false accuser. Kim Roberts/Pittman stated that the accusations were a crock.

[if we are to believe the rhetoric -- so intriguing to the DIW crowd? Why not another story? One might imagine the possibility of this, very different, narrative: in youthful exuburance, naivete, pounding hormones, inebriation and an ignorance of the human condition, young men who have everything in the world to lose make a dumb mistake.]

I'd suggest taking a look at the pictures of the young men at the party. They looked either disgusted or bored.

In high school, Seligmann participated in a community service project in Kentucky's Appalachia region; he also worked in a program sponsored by his high school that brought food and clothing to the homeless in New York City. (A high school classmate wrote that Seligmann "has stuck out in my mind as the most caring and honorable individual I have ever met.") At Duke, Seligmann made the dean’s list, and had a clean personal record. One fellow student noted, "He's the most amazing person I have ever met, with the biggest heart. He is full of love and considers everyone before himself"; a second commented, "Reade is one of the most amazing guys at Duke, and I would bet my life" on his character; a third described herself as "blessed to call him a friend."

(DIW)

One editorial writer, Kathleen Parker, asked her readers to identify a college group. She went on to say, "The group has a 100 percent college graduation rate. Sixty percent have a 3.0 grade point average or above. During the last four years, 80 percent have made a national honor roll. Members regularly volunteer at more than a dozen community agencies, building houses for the homeless and serving in soup kitchens, while raising more money than any other group for the Katrina Relief Fund." She pointed out that, although no one would know it from the press coverage, this group was the Duke men's lacrosse team.

Duke Magazine May-June 2006

[They compound their mistake when they realize they have invited a desperate woman who is under the influence into their home, she fails to perform, and they refuse to give her all the money she wants.]

Crystal and Kim were paid upfront. Kim wanted to sell additional services but I'm curious as to why you think that they refused to giver her all the money that she wanted.

[They respond to her threats that she will get revenge on them, not by removing her gently (perhaps with the aid of the campus police), but by shoving her out the door.]

Could you provide a source in where she made threats that she would get revenge? Roberts did call the police to report racial slurs but I think that Crystal was out of it.

[She makes good on her threat by charging them with one of the worst crimes imaginable, and the system, to their horror, seems bent on convicting them -- not of foolishness, but of rape.]

There's a lot of evidence that she made up the charges so that she wouldn't be involuntarily committed. The idea that she could extort from the family probably came up later.

[And yet, justice prevails, all the same. The young men emerge wiser, more mature -- if battered -- and vow never to forget that citizens must always be vigilant over government to ensure that the principles our democracy stands for prevail. They will dedicate their lives to this evermore. The end.]

Well, not quite yet.

[However, connections to those other systemic injustices (some quite horrendous, involving murder and torture) are almost never made, the extension of the ideas expressed at DIW to larger ideas about the justice system or prosecutorial misconduct virtually never articulated.]

They were in the past. Championed by Professor William Anderson. For some reason, perhaps the blog format, these did not have legs. On Liestoppers, which uses a threaded phpbb format, there is more discussion on these other cases. Typically a thread is opened for these additional cases. Liestoppers is more of an activist community than DIW (my impression) where members write their governors, senators and other elected officials on matters of the wrongly accused.

[As I say -- it's only a theory -- but you have to think that there is a strong desire among the DIW commenters to be intimately linked to Duke itself, through the lacrosse players.]

There are many on DIW linked to Duke as alumni, parents of students there, etc. But with visitors from all 50 states and 134 countries, my guess is that at least half of DIW's readers would be hard-pressed to locate Duke on a map.

I have no relationship to Duke, no interest in sending my kids there (I'm pretty happy with the schools selection of schools in Massachusetts) and don't personally know anyone connected with the school. My connection is with sons and daughters. It's a connection that anyone that has raised children to adulthood should understand.

[Because their need for justice does not include, for example, the desire to help a man on Long Island, also railroaded by a prosecutor, who has been in prison since he was a teenager for a double homicide that may have been committed by his father's business partner in 1990. I find it striking that only the falsely accused Duke students themselves have made that kind of connection, and it has had very little impact on the general tenor or interests of DIW as a virtual community.]

This was discussed on Liestoppers. And there were a few posts on DIW about it. And some of us even wrote our elected officials to ask that they up the compensation limits in our own states. Has this blog owner, after reading the NYTimes article, done the same?

Michael in NH said...

re: 4:24

[That's an interpretation that I find, for a variety of reasons, deeply compelling. Is it the motivation for every commenter at DiW (some of whom I'm sure will immediately start in telling you what excellent schools they attended and how, actually, they hate sports)? Absolutely not. Is it in any real sense the full story? No. But it's a story that gets at some of the issues I don't think have been considered before, and therefore is important.]

There have been huge arguments on the value of sports in universities at DIW. Suffice it to say that some people at DIW like sports and some don't. Kind of like the general population.

Michael in NH said...

[Furthermore, rejections of the position that the "the Listening Statement" was not an attack on the accused students per se also rest on this invective. The invective argues that the faculty who signed are, always were, and always will be, liars and incompetents, independent of their actions in this particular case. These arguments, mediated and authenticated by Johnson as an "insider" critic to the culture of academia, are stylistically representative of longstanding right-wing movements to "take back" knowledge production from the egghead academy, faux from so-called intellectuals who hide behind ten-dollar words that obfuscate thinly-veiled contempt for "real" Americans. But the rhetoric of guilt and innocence has played another role too, and it is the prominence of African-American women as objects of contempt on DIW that is a critical piece of evidence here. The absolute "guilt" of (Black Woman) Wahneema Lubiano, the faculty member who has been positioned as the leader of the "guilty" 88 and the Duke administration, is a necessary, symbolic and practical corollary to the supposedly absolute legal and social "innocence" of the three white men who were falsely accused of the crime.]

A charge of racism and maybe sexism I guess.

I came from your typical single-parent minority home with struggles in procuring food from time to time.

DIW praised women. DIW praised those of color. Like Elmostafa. There were racists that posted there. KC kicked out the worst of the lot. I like to think that DIW based their opinion on the character of a person rather than the color of their skin. Not true for all but it's unfair to call everyone or even a majority at DIW the R word.

[To move on. This is a useless correction, I'm sure but -- I never said in the other post that the DIW crowd can't get into college, or that middle-class people in general can't get into college: they can get in, they just can't pay for it anymore, many of them.]

In California, community college costs $26 per credit hour for residents. In MA, rates run about $130 per credit hour. NH is similar to MA I think. I assume that rates vary between these extremes around the country. My opinion is that it is hard for the middle-class to afford college if one is financially prudent. I put myself through college and tuition was about $3,500 a year at Boston College back then. A grant and part-time job really ate into the tuition bill back then. Today, the ratio of what a college student can reasonably make to a private college bill is lower than what it was many years ago. So I think that it is harder to afford private schools outside of what Harvard is now offering. On the other hand, public colleges and universities represent excellent values. In Massachusetts, those students that score well on the MCAS tests get free tuition to MA colleges and universities. In 2005, Romney awarded free tuition to 14,000 MA high-school students. Tuition doesn't cover the whole college bill but getting it waived is a big help.

With this current post, are you saying that the DIW crowd can't pay for college? Or that middle-class people in general can't get into college? I'm still rather perplexed at what you meant by your group slamming the door shut on those middle-class or DIW people. Perhaps you can enlighten us on what you actually meant instead of telling us what you didn't mean.

[I was writing not literally, but metaphorically.]

I guess I'm incredibly dense in not understanding your meaning. Perhaps it would help to be simple and clear for those of us that think in real terms.

[What I do believe about DIW and its readers' emotional connection to both Johnson and the act of taking continuous revenge on the so-called "Group of 88" is that imagined connections to elite universities are talismanic and magical in a day and age in which many people, for good reasons, are deeply insecure about the future.]

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ Composite and S&P 500 are all up for the year despite the financials and housing indexes getting absolutely creamed. Intel is up 35%, Microsoft is up 24%, Apple is up over 100%, Oracle is up 26% so it's clear that not everything is wrong with the economy. Tech is actually booming with the weaker dollar.

Perhaps you could cite some posts on DIW which leads you to your conclusion.

I'm impressed with the number of law enforcement personnel, doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals that pop in from time to time.

[The veneration for places like Duke is acted upon almost exclusively through fandom in a day and age when student or alumni status is harder to achieve and there are fewer alternate routes to status and wealth.]

Could you post your net worth? You don't write like a person that knows much about wealth.

[DIW, in my view, represents an attempt to "take back," for the People, an elite place like Duke, a place that ordinary folk long to be connected to but despise for their lack of actual access to it.]

Does Duke University have a lot of name value in your local population? If you asked the median person in your community on their thoughts about Duke, would they have an opinion on it?

I think that others have answered this well.

[The DIW crowd is always yelling about who is going to get sued next, but they have all protected themselves from any consequences for their behavior by not revealing who they are.]

I've been on electronic discussion boards since the mid-1980s so perhaps I have a little more experience than the average poster or blog-owner. One could protect themselves by using a public access terminal, creating an email account and then sending from that account. But they would leave footprints. One could hire a zombie to do the dirty work but that would be illegal. My understanding on Blogspot is that the IP address is logged.

[And threatening to harm someone using the mails, the internet, or the telephone is a federal crime, in case you think I am just referring to the ethical implications of such acts. I have received a number of hate letters at my office, for example, and at one point I started writing back to them to see if the addresses were good, and guess what? I got the letters back.]

That's just spoofing. Did you examine the IP addresses in the headers?

[No such people at those addresses. On the other hand, Horwitz, myself, Burke, Lacy and Zimmerman - not to mention Piot, Lubiano, and the others linking their work to the anti-KC Johnson blog -- all publish, blog and comment under our own names. That the masses at DIW and their hero KC can exercise what they see as their right and duty to "hold us accountable" is only possible because you know who we are.]

There have been a number of hoaxes in various domains lately. One could even send a threatening email to themselves and claim that they're being attacked. I'm sure that KC gets his share of hatemail and threats and chooses to ignore them.

[The point about a blog having only its credibility to offer may be something I disagree with to the extent that I think DIW's criteria for that are very self-serving and can't be universalized. There are many people who don't think the New York Times is credible (can you say "Judith Miller"?) although mostly I do. But what, exactly, is completely credible about a blog whose integrity is proven by the presence of large numbers of vicious people who are afraid to tell us their names, and a blogger who claims to have no responsibility for what they do or say? I ask you.]

Perhaps you haven't posted on the blogs at the New York Times but they essentially run the same way that DIW runs. You must provide an email address to post and your post can be removed if someone complains about it. For DIW, I believe that the poster's IP is logged and KC removes posts that others complain about if he thinks that the complaints are valid (latter part is my assumption).

You will find far more racist, sexist and anything-ist posts at the New York Times blogs than you will at DIW.

David said...

I enjoyed this post and just wanted to comment on one part of it. I don't think many people admire the Duke accused because they are lacrosse players. The sport is not very popular and has virtually no national profile at the professional level. I also find the argument that whiteness is somehow associated with athletic masculinity puzzling, considering that the most beloved athletes in American sports almost all belong to races other than white.

Finally, the overwhelming whiteness of Duke's lacrosse team is pretty easily explained. Lacrosse tends to be popular at preppy, private schools and among wealthy kids. Most people with athletic ability, white or black, gravitate towards other sports with a higher profile and that are, frankly (speaking from experience here) more interesting to play.

The Random Rambler said...

"DIW readers have a lot to say about how the lacrosse team's overwhelming whiteness and maleness made it an object of hatred by "others" -- they have nothing to say about what seems to some of us very important: being white and male makes some athletes objects of cultural love too."

As someone who absolutely loves Duke basketball (women more than men, but still), I would like to point out that it is clear the two most hated Duke men's basketball players in the history of the program are Christian Laettner and JJ Redick, both white.

And then there was Gerald Henderson's hard foul on a North Carolina player last year;
http://youtube.com/watch?v=C04fSlYTGzI&feature=related
While Henderson was called a thug and other such names many times in the remainder of the season and off-season, he has really not taken a huge personality hit since then. Would they have let this is go as much if the player was white? I cannot be sure, but the continued message board shots at Christian Laettner's "stomp" against Kentucky and the surrounding urban legends surrounding the incident suggests a white player would be treated more harshly...

"They compound their mistake when they realize they have invited a desperate woman who is under the influence into their home, she fails to perform, and they refuse to give her all the money she wants. They respond to her threats that she will get revenge on them, not by removing her gently (perhaps with the aid of the campus police), but by shoving her out the door. She makes good on her threat by charging them with one of the worst crimes imaginable, and the system, to their horror, seems bent on convicting them -- not of foolishness, but of rape. And yet, justice prevails, all the same. The young men emerge wiser, more mature -- if battered -- and vow never to forget that citizens must always be vigilant over government to ensure that the principles our democracy stands for prevail. They will dedicate their lives to this evermore. The end."

I would just like to point out that the false accuser did not say she was raped until she was specifically asked if she was raped, which is a HUGE mistake on the part of the medical profession.

And while these men got off, we must remember they and their families had to pay a huge price. David Evans' father stated at the Nifong ethics trial, that a man of 55-65 (I cannot remember the exact age), he has developed juvenile diabetes. There is only two ways a man of his age can develop this disease, bad health or extreme stress. He stated that before this ordeal he happened to have a physical that gave him a clear bill of health. Hmmmm....

And it cost them huge amounts of money in the short terms.

It is sad we have a justice system where many innocent people are put away. However, in many of those cases, it is a renegade prosecutor who ignores evidence to put these men away. I do not recall of anyone being put away because of a biased juries. The Duke lawyers had plenty of firepower. But with some of the statements already made, there was a legitimate fear that a jury in Durham would put these men away regardless of the trial evidence.

"Hence the crucial importance of the word "innocent" to this group, because by recognizing and defending the accused men's innocence, they demonstrate their own moral fitness to be part of the Duke community and -- more importantly - the moral unfitness of their enemies, the faculty and activist students protesting campus racism and sexual violence, to be privileged with an actual, material association with Duke."

I cannot speak for others, but the reason I emphasize innocence is:

1. Nifong's repeated use of accuser and victim.

2. Some of the internet's use of the word victim, accuser, and something happened.

She lied. These men are innocent. I personally want to make sure history not to look upon this incident and think "something happened but because of a renegade prosecutor, these men want free." They are not OJ Simpson "acquitted." An attorney general and his colleagues looked at the evidence and stated these men are INNOCENT.

You also speak of trying to make a connection to something above us (Duke) and that is why we get involved. Besides being a Duke fan:

1. I was appalled at the very slanted, pro-accuser slant by the main stream media.

2. I was personally verbally attacked when I had the audacity to say "women and African Americans are jumping to conclusion with no evidence that a sexual assault occurred except an accusation. Let's wait for the evidence." I was attacked before I had to go on stage and act in a Shakespeare play, none the less. Imagine how hard it was to keep my composure. I split after the play and was in tears for an hour after I returned to my dorm room.

The reason I interpret the ad the way I do is because not once do they say alleged accuser or alleged events, they talk of the sexual assault as if the event actually occurred.

One of the signatories actually took the ad to a lawyer who said it could be interpreted as guilt. According to KC Johnson, she apologized for signing the ad but would not publicly do this for fear of job treatment among her colonies. While I never personally took the view of "left-wing nut jobs," you have to begin to wonder at these feelings...

Besides the ad being put in the paper, I still would like to know:

1. Who paid for the advertisement?

2. Why were DEPARTMENTS put down as supporters in the ad? And if we are to take the excuse by Lubiano that she didn't necessarily want to use individual’s names, why did she not put "some individuals from the following departments..."

It is also hard to believe their was not an agenda with professors like Kim Curtis being charged with grade retaliation and other professors to take time out of their class to talk about the lacrosse issue when in fact their classes had nothing to do with the issue.

It is also hard to not think there was no agenda by some professors when at a meeting with Brodhead they demanded the season canceled and the firing of the lacrosse coach on simple accusation (Until Proven Innocent, 62-63).

Finally, I give you my last blog entry. Why did the NAACP go against their history of recommending a change of venue in cases where race is a major issue? Why did no one not only condemn the New Black Panthers threatening the accused in front of the courthouse, but also not condemning the fact the NBP's were ALLOWED IN THE COURTHOUSE!!! Why did not anybody use this as a teaching moment instead of furthering their agendas?

If you immediately put people on the defensive, they come out swinging. The main stream media put the accused (and anybody who did not immediately believe them men were guilty), athletes (and their supporters), and white men in general on the defensive.

What makes you think we are not going to come out swinging and "let us use this as a teaching moment and were sorry for everything that occurred to women and minorities in the past?"

reharmonizer said...

The analogy with Sally Hemings as a liar is an interesting and plausible one. I'm not familiar enough with the literature and rhetoric on that one to say much more than that, but the name of one of the sites closely connected to DIW--Liestoppers--makes it clear how central the project of outing liars is to that community. Even the more polite liestopping is often a kind of rhetorical vigilantism--requests or demands for retractions and apologies made by people who feel empowered to act on behalf of the lacrosse players.

There's no better evidence of the DIW devotee's dedication to the "one particular story" than the reaction (or lack of it) to the letter James Coleman and Prasad Kasibhatla sent to the Duke Chronicle in early October. It didn't say Duke faculty were blameless, just that they had been misrepresented by Johnson and Taylor "on the basis of isolated and selective incidents that occur over the course of complex events and are taken out of context." Since Coleman had been singled out repeatedly in DIW as Duke's number one voice of reason and decency, you'd think this rebuke would be cause for reflection and reconsideration. It may have been for some readers, but not for Johnson, as far as I can tell. Here's one reaction from a Q&A post--one of my favorite DIW moments, since it sums up both the obsession with apologies and imperviousness to criticism:

Q: Did Jim Coleman ever respond/apologize to you and/or Stuart for his letter to the Chronicle?
A: He did not apologize, nor did he supply evidence to substantiate his claims. He has, however, come under attack for similarly overblown rhetoric in another post-case development.

Based on almost 10 years of teaching at Duke, it seemed to me that Coleman and Kasibhatla were stating the obvious, but then having spent that much time at Duke probably disqualifies me from having an informed opinion.

The Random Rambler said...

Some other thoughts I forgot.

Personally, I believe the signees of the listening advertisement should apologize. However, irregardless, why can they not admit the advertisement probably should have been reviewed by a lawyer and/or the advertisement might not have been the most appropriate at the time it was printed?

And for the New York Times. People have differing views. But there have been really slanted articles (Selena Roberts) and down-right misleading and deplorable (Duff Wilson).

KC wrote the NYTimes about five things that needed to be corrected about an August 2006 written by Wilson. These items were corrected and then editors for the NYT had the audacity to come out and defend their coverage. KC (and all of us) have a right with slanted coverage of this case by the NYT.

Finally, I said that what I would like to see from this fiasco is that Duke aatep back and review what they did. There is a good reason to be concerned when:

1. Duke is acting like "move on, nothing to see here and

2. The Duke chronicle did a two-part series article where they explore Duke gives LESS rights to accused students since the lacrosse incident.

The Random Rambler said...

Reply to 2:03

DIW did spend some time discussing this. Coleman asserted KC misrepresented his findings in the Coleman report.

DIW, by large, had a hard time understanding that after all these months, why Coleman now had a problem with the way the findings of his report were interpretted. Coleman knew what KC was doing and I believe they even met on occasion.

Why did Coleman all of a sudden now have a problem with KC?

Stu Daddy said...

Perhaps the Christmas spirit is at work here, but it seems to me that recent TR threads display TR regulars, DIW regulars and new commenters engaging in civil discourse, disagreeing agreeably, and probably attracting and retaining new readership by behaving nicely.

I'm hoping that Professor Potter won't be presented with any vile or destructive comments that test her patience and openness to full and frank debate.

Readers might benefit by reviewing Professor Johnson's latest post revisiting of the Group of 88, triggered by ongoing attempts of apologists here and elsewhere to rationalize the Group's motive and intent, and downplay the significance of its Listening Statement advertisement and its later Clarifying Letter.

pink 2 said...

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays all, and I hope someone's is white...

Some general Christmas morning comments while the turkey is roasting...

1. I still have no problem with the TruthaboutKCJohnson site, but I'm wondering if it really consitutes a blog as such? Or something different, because no one can respond? I'm just wondering...

2. Ralph Luker's Cliopatria attack on the above site has confirmed my low opinion of him and my concern that this site provides both Luker and KC Johnson space to post material I find reprehensible.

3. Why does one spook seem to assume that the nasty e-mails posted on the Johnson site are fraudulent?

4. I am unimpressed with KC Johnson's ongoing inability--as evidenced in his post above--to say "I was wrong" when he is shown to have made an error. (which Lubiano did...)

5. Finally, amac, I don't know why you thought I'd want to know who you were. Not that I don't want to know, if you see what I mean, but I'd never thought about it. :-p Your "amac" works for me. Sorry if I gave you the impression otherwise.

pink 2 with red nose said...

Oops. In my 5:18 post above, point 2, "this site" refers to Cliopatria. Too much eggnog!

Tenured Radical said...

Dear all:

Here is a response from Ralph Luker, responding to a characterization of his post at Cliopatra who has had trouble getting into blogger (or posting to this site) for reasons neither of us understand:

"To Anonymous at 12:27 -- I have *never* used the term "Angry Studies" and the implication that I have or that I categorize academic studies in such terms is a flat lie. Moreover, I attribute coinage of the title "Professor Forthcoming" to Clarence Walker because, so far as I know, he coined it and I'm following the honorable tradition of giving credit. If you want to read *racial* connotations into that, it's a measure of your narrow perspective and lack of regard for traditions of honoring attribution. Most of your questions, therefore, collapse into nothing. As for a connection between academic productivity and the Duke lacrosse case, there's a legitimate question about how academics spend their time and energy. Ten years of 'forthcoming' seems quite long enough to me."

And btw, I agree with the comment about the increasing civility and exchange. And with that -- as it is Christmas -- I am turning comment moderation on for the rest of the day so that I don;t have to moderate the site. And yes, Debrah, I will continue to delete your comments until you get a civil tongue in your head.

And a (Radical) Merry Christmas to all!

TR

Michael in NH said...

re: 9:01

Angry Studies is a perjorative for African-American Studies. The term showed up on DIW some time ago. I don't know the origin.

Ralph Luker said...

Pink 2: I'm glad to have your low opinion of me. It enhances my reputation in respectable quarters. I agree, btw, with TR's blocking of Debrah's comments. Every time she hits the keyboards, the sum of human knowledge is reduced. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

pink 2 said...

To the ralph luker at 11:50 AM EST, Since you haven't a clue who I am, you also haven't a clue if my opinion of you enhances your reputation in respectable quarters--whatever that may mean--or not. Silly, silly comment.

One Spook said...

Pink 2 writes @ 5:18 AM

"3. Why does one spook seem to assume that the nasty e-mails posted on the Johnson site are fraudulent?"

... and Pinky adds this revealing truth @ 5:20 AM

"Oops. ... Too much eggnog!

Pink, I think you should share you eggnog with me, if not with all of us. It appears that your egg nog is very potent.

I do not recall making any assumption that nasty e-mails posted at DIW are fraudulent. I did state, as others have as well, that "Anyone who posts on KC's blog, your blog, or any blog can be easily traced and identified ..." My comment was directed toward anonimity.

Like others, I deplore racist comments and the communication of vile, hateful, and threatening words in any communication format.

The internet is a two-edged sword. It allows open communication to and from a virtually unlimited audience, and that is a positive development. Productive, civil discourse contributes to the same in society.

Unfortunately the open nature of internet discussion also permits vile and hateful comments, but such commentary can be deleted, controlled, shunned, and limited.

I believe that KC Johnson did a most admirable job in this regard. I wrote to him and commented on several occasions to ask that he consider deleting comments I found offensive, as did others. Each time I did so, he complied.

Honestly, during the course of this hoax case, I found some comments published in the media and on the internet from some NCCU students, certain Duke professors, and members of the North Carolina NAACP to be far more racist and alarming than any comments I ever read at DIW.

It's important to remember that comments can be racist when they are directed at majority or minority races, a concept sometimes forgotten by those of us who have a long history of supporting minortiy rights, as I do.

The samples of the vile e-mail posted at the "Let's all take pot shots at KC Johnson" site are bad indeed, but I have to say in truth, not as bad as some e-mail, snail mail and phone calls I've gotten after appearing at City Council public meetings and/or being quoted in the media.

Being a veteran of both "helmeted sports" and the military helped me learn to ignore such ignorant attacks. [insert "yawn" here]

Such is life, disgusting as it can sometimes be for quasi-public figures. Some people are vile and nasty and they deserve our pity and derision.

This has been a good discussion thread and I thank TR for facilitating it.

One Spook

Ralph Luker said...

Glad you're sobering up, Pink. But honestly, do you think that a nasty ad hominem comment about me from you, under cover of your pseudonymity, *deserves* anything other than a "silly, silly comment"? I'll take you seriously when you get serious, abandon attacks to the person, and -- gasp! -- take responsibility for what you say by posting in your own name.

becket03 said...

Let's see how many of Prof Potter's myths I can shoot down.

When I first began to use the internet, I used my own name quite often. After a while, I found it disconcerting that a google search on my name popped up all my posts, so I discontinued the practice.

On the few occasions when I've emailed individuals about Duke lacrosse, including once to Prof Johnson, I've signed my name. The only other person I recall emailing was Gail Dines, a supposed expert on media metanarratives who made a fool of herself on national television by discussing the case without knowing any facts about it. We had a very civil exchange of emails.

I always use either becket03 or beckett for every post I submit to the web. My work is easily researched and my name available to anyone who wants to email me for it.

I have always had a strong disdain for everything Duke, a disposition I've kept to myself since I didn't want to unnecessarily offend the Duke contingent (quite large) at DIW. Can't stand the school, or its teams. The whole Duke family, big tobacco connection has always irked me.

I'm a graduate of Marist College, and did post-grad work at NYU. My sister lives down the block from the Finnertys and my nieces know the boy quite well. They vouched for his character, and, knowing them and their character, that was all I needed to know.

I'm 57 years old. I sang along to Fixin' to Die Rag with Country Joe and the Fish on Yasgur's farm, right up front, baby.

Although I can't claim to match the 200 to 300 books a year Prof Potter says she reads, I'm a lifelong reader of history and philosophy with special affection for Karl Popper, David Berlinski, Michael Oakeshott, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Alasdair MacIntyre, Douglas Hofstadter, Roger Penrose, George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens, and, as might be obvious from my nom de plume, the absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett. I have seen and learned a great deal in my life, easily enough to spot academic charlatans when I encounter them, and the Group of 88 has a good five or six of them, at least.

And finally, the case of Martin Tankleff is infamous on Long Island. I followed the case closely when it first happened. The Tankleff family is packed with disagreeable folks who have been playing every available angle from the very beginning in the hope of springing Martin, who was convicted on overwhelming evidence of brutally murdering his parents. Leave it to Prof Potter to highlight a particularly gruesome case as if it were some kind of miscarriage of justice. One must assume that she simply didn't bother to properly research the case before mentioning it.

beckett

pink 2 said...

Sobering up? (Another silly remark from you and spook, to be fair.) I guess ralph luker has no sense of humor in addition to very little sense of perspective. My so-called ad hominem attack on him doesn't seem to me to be an hominem at all. IMHO, ralph luker attacks people and not ideas, a habit he shares in common with KC Johnson. His Cliopatria column was not one I would have wanted to sign my name to. It was nasty and didn't add much to the general discussion. Is this ad hominem? I don't think so. University professors are obliged to do much, much more than just publish research. (From my perspective, if someone at Duke is not publishing a great deal, but publishing articles/chapters, etc., that enhance their discipline, I think that's much better than publishing tripe just to publish.)

I take responsibility for my own comments by posting under the same name. If you don't like it, that's too bad. You don't have to read my comments. Your comment about Debrah, IMHO, applies to you, as well.

spookie (since we're apparently on terms of dimuation), sorry I thought it was you who seemed to dismiss the importance of the anonymous e-mails. Not everyone takes hate mail the same way. Just because you suck it up doesn't mean other people do. It should not be sent.

Tenured Radical said...

Okay -- it's the day after Christmas, so I am taking comment moderation off, but let's chill on the back and forth insults. This reminds me of how email sometimes escalates bad feelings, in that we will put stuff out there that we wouldn't say in person. I considered not putting the posts between pink and Ralph up, but couldn't figure out where to start.....but could we say, as they used to in British children's novels, "Pax"?

Debrah, you are still on the unpublishable list, now because you have taken to insulting other DIW commenters as well as insulting me. You best be watching how you burn your allies, girl.

I would like to thank one spook and beckett for sharing more information about themselves and their different interests in the Duke case. For me, that explains something about your commitment to the case as individuals that the mass phenomenon of DIW simply does not explain sufficiently. And I do think it's better to view people as human beings rather than as symbols or faceless bearers of ideology-- that is part of what DIW people have argued lo these long months, isn't it?

Well, we who you have lampooned are not just symbols or carriers of ideology either, and in the spirit of continued listening I guess I would ask beckett and others to consider something else, just for fun. What would it mean for you to believe sincerely in what you have done on behalf of the falsely accused men, to believe sincerely that you are right about how it happened and how Duke people are implicated, *and* to also recognize that others have a legitimate point of view? Not about the "facts" of the investigation, but about the nature of what is under dispute? To listen to or tolerate a point of view that you simply think is wrong, without attempting to trash or punish others because they disagree with you? Or claim that the disagreement represents a division between good and evil? To enter into the kind of dialogue that has appeared in this comments section, and in my email box, as a matter of course?

One of the things that I find interesting is that, other than Ralph Luker (who I would like people to stop trashing, please: write him personally if you have a bone to pick from now on) is that the first person who attempted that was random rambler, who is *really* young. And despite his very strong feeling about various aspects of this case, rambler has a personal stake because he is interested in what I would call the cultural representation of college athletics, and what he would call athletic department public relations work. And the guy is a good listener -- which made me want to listen to him. Just saying.

Part of what I find fascinating is that every time one of you writes me a personal email (or a post) that actually seeks to explain your personal feelings and beliefs about the case, your life history, and your specific disagreement with something I have written in the context of what you know and believe, I find the exchange much more sympathetic. Some of you made a point of breaking anonymity so that you could say directly that you weren't the people who wrote those dreadful letters and emails, which was a decent and kind thing to do. I may not agree (although several writers and I have discovered points of agreement in the disagreement), but it is a conversation. These exchanges -- some public, some private -- are a real contrast to what I see as DIW boilerplate rhetoric, ie, the repetition of the same events, same quotations, same assertions, and same vitriol against a group of "enemies."

And here's where I think beckett's crack about my ignorance of the Tankleff case is a good example: for reasons I cannot disclose in this forum, I actually know a lot about that case, and I do not know whether the man is innocent or guilty. What I do know is that the investigation needs to be re-opened and the case retried, and that the prosecution always fights such a thing for the same reason the Nifong case was such a huge disaster (beyond the Duke case) for the Durham prosecutor's office. That reason is this: when an investigator is proven to have broken the rules and violated people's rights it throws open the legal door to reopening every single conviction that person participated in. This is a huge burden for a city, but an unimaginable burden for a town, and so for financial as well as bureaucratic reasons, they pretty much always fight it, even when there is legitimate doubt about a case. Now beckett may feel he brings something to this that renders my concerns about injustice groundless, but I am equally clear that my concerns are not groundless -- and I quite suspect that "sourcing" my opinion to death would not convince beckett anyway.

So my question is this: why does my reference to the Tankleff case then produce the response that I am ignorant, or not well-read, or what have you? Because this is the general tenor of DIW comments that I think needs to be addressed: that everyone who didn't agree was wrong, stupid, sloppy, ideologically prejudiced, blah, blah. Sometimes there are genuine grounds for disagreement about things. In my view the fields for disagreement at DIW are not primarily the factual "guilt" or "innocence" of those who were falsely accused (although, as a historian of crime, I do find the stories told about such things worth thinking about on a meta-level). I think what is in dispute are the ethics of the struggle surrounding the case, of which I will only state my part here because it is how I got involved in the first place: the treatment of the so-called 88 by the blogger, the often racist and sexist harassment of individual scholars in ways that are directly connected to the way they were portrayed in the blog (harassment that many of you have disavowed as individuals, I know), whether their fields of study (not to mention their life's work and their publication records) should be ridiculed relentlessly, or whether taking a stand racism and sexual violence on campus at the moment of the rape accusations was part of a concerted and knowingly dishonest liberal/radical conspiracy to frame and stigmatize white men.

Now, I realize that DIW people have their own list of what they perceive as ethical violations too, that I am not going to enumerate in this comment, as they have been thoroughly enumerated here and elsewhere. But just speaking for myself -- if there was a failure specifically at Duke, it was an institutional failure, and it was very complex and very longstanding. Everything, and everybody, else is/are just window dressing. Take it from someone who has spent enough time on the inside of university administrations to know that. And when black women are almost exclusively bearing the brunt of the criticism for that, it is going to piss me off as much as it pisses DIW people that the three Lax men seemed to have been singled out to be punished on behalf of all white men.

Part of what is distressing is that although the initial situation of the falsely accused men genuinely qualified as an emergency, at least for them, there is no longer an emergency. But the failure to be able to discuss the events as past, and the sense that they will remain unresolved until such a time as Duke is purged of liberal/radical influences has no relevance to what happened except to keep the "state of emergency" alive into the indefinite future. And you have to wonder who, exactly, is going to benefit from that. Probably only people who are hoping to sell books about the case -- and believe me, even if you are not a regular reader of academic journals and law reviews, the Johnson/Taylor account will not be the only one.

TR

Tenured Radical said...

Footnote: as I was taking off the comment moderation, and deleting another attack on Ralph (this time from the wackadoodle right wing), I did a brief google search on the right wing nut's charge against him, and came up with this. Which, if you want to get a more complex sense of who Ralph is as a person and an intellectual, you will read.

TR

AMac said...

[Re-submitted, after having earlier failed the spam filter, or TR's moderation policy... though if it's the latter, you won't be reading this!]

All this conversation, and I had missed the mention of my pseudonym in the body of the post: "Who is crazed Debrah? Gregory? And why does he go "MOO!"? Who is the dignified Amac? Steve from DC? John? The vicious Polanski? beckett03? The multiple anonymous posters? We don't know."

Dignified? Surely TR meant "perceptively insightful"? No matter. For the record, my secret identity has lain unmasked in TR's Inbox (...or Trash...) since I emailed her (April 11, 2007 10:29:28 AM EDT).

----

pink 2 wrote early Christmas morn (5:18am):

"5. Finally, amac, I don't know why you thought I'd want to know who you were. Not that I don't want to know, if you see what I mean, but I'd never thought about it. :-p Your "amac" works for me."

Pink 2, the second comment in this thread is --

"pink 2 said...
Ditto 12:33. Especially the chickenshit anonymity. I just don't want to deal with those people."

So I thought that pseudonymity did concern you, as well as TR.

----

Regarding the emails to the Group of 88 published here: In the absence of a 'chain of custody,' one can't know that they are genuine. But they seem about right as a sampling of the vilest messages to foul Prof. McClain et al.'s inboxes.

I condemn the sending of obscene or offensive emails, with or without racist or sexist overtones. Sending such missives anonymously is not only offensive but cowardly as well.

Does (re-)placing this marker do any good? Doubtful; the senders are unlikely to care what I think. But perhaps it helps at the margins.

Few human problems have technical solutions, but this is one that often does. It is harder to send genuinely anonymous mail than most people realize. Duke's IT department should be able to discern the originating ISPs from the headers; much of the content of these emails is sure to violate the Terms of Service that the senders agreed to. This guy apparently solved a related spoofed?/real? question for lefty blogger Glenn Greenwald.

As far as the threatening emails, there is no way that Google, Hotmail, Orange.fr or other ISPs would want to shield the senders. The Duke Police Department should certainly be able to issue any required subpoenas! I continue to be puzzled and dismayed that there have been no reports of the outcomes of such investigations--or even acknowledgments that they have been requested and initiated.

Michael in NH said...

[and that the prosecution always fights such a thing for the same reason the Nifong case was such a huge disaster (beyond the Duke case) for the Durham prosecutor's office. That reason is this: when an investigator is proven to have broken the rules and violated people's rights it throws open the legal door to reopening every single conviction that person participated in. This is a huge burden for a city, but an unimaginable burden for a town, and so for financial as well as bureaucratic reasons, they pretty much always fight it, even when there is legitimate doubt about a case.]

There have been various discussions on DIW on various other "innocence" cases and there can be other reasons as to why prosecutors don't want to reopen cases besides municipal costs.

There's the issue of malice on the part of the police and prosecutor. If there was malice, then any cases involving the police or prosecutor should be reexamined. If there was no malice involved - where the convicted innocent person could look at the evidence and think that he committed the crime, then there may be no need for reexamining other cases.

There is the financial liability but that varies all over the place. What I'd like to see is the states picking up the costs for innocents that were prosecuted, convicted and/or jailed. The state will then have an incentive to police prosecutors and law enforcement in their cities and towns.

I think that the main reason as to why prosecutors don't want to reopen cases is ego. And for those that actually have a conscience, accepting the weight and responsibility of ruining lives.

Another reason for railroading people is that in many cases it works to further career with little downside. A look at the players involved in the prosecution of the Fells Acre Day Care case will show you that they moved onto higher and better-paid jobs with no downside to their career - even after the case was discovered to be bogus.

AMac said...

A remark on an issue that is more central than those I discussed this morning (comment re-posted 11:42am after failing to appear earlier). In my opinion, most of TR's posts about the Duke Lacrosse Rape/Hoax are liberally salted with elements that are somewhere between dreary and dreadful. For instance, starting at the top, this post contains:

A reference to TR’s theory that DiW is really about resentment.

A complaint that most of the content in TR’s (really long) posts does not generate feedback from commenters.

The notion that you can tell a number of different stories from the same collection of facts.

An elliptical, sneer-quote-rich paragraph by which TR (once again) attempts to wriggle around the fact (“fact”?) that no felony or for that matter misdemeanor* crimes occurred the night of the party**. Therefore, necessarily, the entire Duke lacrosse team and their guests were objectively, factually, completely innocent of the charges laid against them, and all other “something happened” charges as well. (* ex. underage drinking) (** ex. the conduct of the false accuser)

A discussion of why white readers of Uncle Tom’s Cabin wept.

An insistence that the Lacrosse Hoax/Frame is viewed by DiW readers as a tale about men whose honor and purity is articulated in complete contrast to the criminal role they were falsely cast into -- largely by black women, if we are to believe the rhetoric. (Huh?)

A paragraph that starts by asserting that (unlike oafish DiW readers) the perceptive TR can imagine the possibility of a very different narrative: “in youthful exuburance, naivete, pounding hormones, inebriation and an ignorance of the human condition, young men who have everything in the world to lose make a dumb mistake. They compound their mistake when they realize they have invited a desperate woman who is under the influence into their home, she fails to perform...”

... That same paragraph segueing into the sort of false “something happened” accusations that helps keep the smear of individuals’ reputations potent: “[The lacrosse players] refuse to give [Mangum] all the money she wants. They respond to her threats that she will get revenge on them, not by removing her gently (perhaps with the aid of the campus police), but by shoving her out the door.” ...

... The same paragraph veering back to a plausible “different narrative”: “[Mangum] makes good on her threat by charging [three, or four, or five, or twenty of the lacrosse players] with one of the worst crimes imaginable, and the system, to their horror, seems bent on convicting them -- not of foolishness, but of rape. And yet, justice prevails, all the same. The young men emerge wiser, more mature -- if battered -- and vow never to forget that citizens must always be vigilant over government to ensure that the principles our democracy stands for prevail.” ...

... And the same paragraph, ending with a sarcastic flourish: “They will dedicate their lives to this evermore. The end.”

Then TR notes that she finds “this story” including its unfounded accusations to be “completely believable”!

----

Deep breath.

That’s 721 words down and still 1827 words to go (plus the 2283 preceding words in “Barrel of Crackers”).

I read for content: does the writer’s account comport with the known facts? Does she link to the sources where her version diverges from what well-informed people know? Does she alert readers when her narrative moves into fanciful, speculative territory? When she has a theory to offer, does she explain it in the plainest possible manner, or do rhetorical flourishes and digressions obscure the central point? Does the essay even have one or two main points?

I imagine how such a perspective might be received if I was somehow invited to write a review of a jazz recital or the opening of a modern art show. (Not well.)

Some people work with words and ideas, and glory in their interplay. How wonderful to connect a “ripped from the headlines” story to Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Sally Hemings, and other current events! And to do it in a way that reinforces the good thoughts the author has about her friends’ actions and the negative remarks she's offered about those she disdains!

One can write literary and cultural criticism in this manner, without much ill effect, I suppose. But it’s not an approach that is likely to be widely adopted for purposes such as designing a bridge.

The North Carolina Attorney General and the N.C. Bar have shed much light on the prosecutorial misconduct at the heart of the Duke Lacrosse Hoax/Frame. Much less has been made clear about the contributory malfeasance of other ‘members’ of the anti-Lacrossard ‘consortium’: the Durham police, Durham city government, Durham’s self-styled progressive activist community, the media, Duke’s police force, the Duke Administration. And, alas, a self-selected subset of Duke professors.

I think that the Lit-Crit style of writing obscures more than it illuminates, when it comes to offering insight to What Went Wrong in this case. Failure Analysis and not obfuscation is what’s needed here.

By all means, TR, continue to stand up for your friends. Continue to slam DiW, its author, and its commenters, where you feel it’s warranted. Most careful readers, left and right, will agree that there are live issues about public discourse in general and blogging in particular that are worth discussing. Clearly, the Duke Lacrosse Frame/Hoax did hit a very sensitive nerve—lots of them! If there are some issues that the radical left can hardly bear to touch even with a ten-foot pole, there are other pieces that only the left wing will bring up.

That said, I remain dismayed that you have not retracted the erroneous assertions you have made, starting in April with Where Credit is Due: Rutgers Basketball, Don Imus and Drive Time Shock. If you continue to salt your essays with misleading intimations, as supra, you risk having me hold the opinions that you offer in lower regard.

Tenured Radical said...

Dear Amac (of whom I am growing fond despite his testiness),

Don't take it wrong that I can't answer this point by point, because it really is one person's read against another, and I have printed so many clarifications of the April post you link to, I can't go back there *and* get my work done today. But I'm glad you got your read of the most recent post in circulation, and please don't feel dismissed that I won't be re-parsing the post. It is what it is.

But one small correction -- what makes you think the last two lines of my alternate "story" are sarcastic? I think there is ample evidence that they may be true, given the public statements made at the time of exoneration, Mr. Seligmann's subsequent public appearances (particularly in the Dershowitz class up at Harvard LS), and the team's volunteering -- on behalf of the Innocence Project, wasn't it? I'm not going to look this up, because I am basically only checking the blog today to police troll behavior, but that is what I recall. There may be other stuff too.

And as to your previous comment -- did I forget to modify "dignified" with "perceptive"? Silly me.

Happy Boxing Day,

TR

AMac said...

TR --

> what makes you think the last two lines of my alternate "story" are sarcastic?

Well, it read that way to me. Perhaps some of Seligmann's teammates will go on to Wall Street, become insurance agents, work as D.A.s, or become Bhuddist monks. Those are all acceptable outcomes; none would require me to restate the central theme of the Hoax/Frame narrative.

And HBD to you as well.

The Random Rambler said...

Just to let people know: For those who think I am for athletics in front of academics, this is not true. I just feel athletics (just like the arts) are all important to the college experience. I was and continue to be shocked by professors who slam athletics.

And for those who think I am only about athletics, I point out ALL of my closest friends at my undergraduate institution did not care for athletics one bit. I also acted in the theatre two separate times, once in a Shakespearian play (A Winter's Tale) in fact.

I disagree with many of TR's points; however, I would like to offer a defense. No matter if you disagree with her, I am of the impression that she does care deeply for her students. This is more than I can say for some of my teachers and professors through the years.

I would also like to thank TR for her kind words which I would like to add. While I am young (graduated from my undergraduate institution in December 2006 a semester early, I do have the insights of having just been a student at a college (which I feel not many posters have that insight on here).

When it became clear that the accused where completely innocent, (again, two of the accused had alibis and the police could not even place Reade Seligman at the party when they indicted him) I reflected on situations I had experienced and would experience in my future. If it is that easy to indict individuals and ruin their lives, how easy would it have been for me to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and have my life turned upside down? I quite often am confused as someone else in my hometown. If this individual did something, could I be confused as him (or if he did something, someone identify me as the individual who committed the crime)?

Employers, by and large, are held liable for their employees’ actions while in an official capacity of their work. Lubiano sent the email out from her Duke account, professors signed the ad and it appeared in the Duke chronicle. Could Duke be held liable for their actions? Should the professors be held accountable?

As for the ad, I would like to use an imagining tactic TR used. Imagine you are one of the accused in April 2006. Virtually every main-stream media outlet has a story slanted in the accuser's favor. You have to endure countless ridicule from students who you do not even know and do not even know you personally. You have certain professors discussing this in a context that neither have anything to do with the class they are teaching and they are slanted as if the lacrosse players committed the crime. You have just witnessed the pathetic excuse of a rally where banners state things such as "castrate." Then the add appears thanking people for speaking up and not even once referring to the events as alleged. How would you feel? Some of these professors you do not even know personally and some of the professors may be ones you hold in high regard and you can talk to them about life in general. Some of those professors you even have for class! How would you feel?

Why have the group of 88 not even issued a "non-apology" apology. Something along the lines of "We were speaking of racial issues in general and not this specific incident. However, we should have taken more care in the language and the time of the placement of the advertisement." Acknowledge that some of their tactics were not-well thought out (as it seems some where).

Also, I do not consider this close. Some of the players and the accused may have some closure if Duke is actually reviewing their responses and learned something from their actions. Some of their actions and rhetoric since makes me less than encouraged.

How can Duke sweep under the rug the fact a dean told the lacrosse players "do not get lawyers involved?" How can Brodhead and Duke defend that he refused to even meet with the players and their parents to hear their side of events? Why does Duke feel it is ok for Brodhead to say these kids will be punished if they did what they are accused of but "what they did is bad enough?"

Newsflash: Students underage drink in college. Students go to strip clubs. Whatever you believe morally, hiring a stripper is not illegal.

TR has spoken to the mistake these players have made that night in having the party. However, I would like to point out:

1. Many of us did something absolutely horrendous and ill-advised in college. Hypothesizing what happened to them is somewhat deserved because they hosted a party are like saying it is ok what happened to Natalie Holloway because she made the bad decision to drink and then split off from the group.

2. By and large (as KC has pointed out), the only one to apologize in this whole fiasco is the 2006 Duke men's lacrosse team.

Tenured Radical said...

Dear Rambler,

Nice imagining. I think what you wrote to get people to see another point of view is very evocative.

TR

Anonymous said...

At this point I believe Dr. Potter is just beginning to enjoy all the attention. The point of the attention is to make YOU rethink some of your ideas, Doc.

The Random Rambler said...

And at this point I would like to add:

Coming here and taking shots at TR or other bloggers out of spite and running is very cowardly. We should appreciate that TR has not totally censored comments and have allowed debate.

If you are here to actually engage in debate (like I am), there are ways to argue without taking shots personally. By reading over some of this blog, I realize TR and I differ quite greatly on politics and on this specific issue. However, I feel if I have shown my reasoning rather spirited but (I believe for the most part) not attacking someone personally.

Michael in NH said...

[But one small correction -- what makes you think the last two lines of my alternate "story" are sarcastic? I think there is ample evidence that they may be true, given the public statements made at the time of exoneration, Mr. Seligmann's subsequent public appearances (particularly in the Dershowitz class up at Harvard LS), and the team's volunteering -- on behalf of the Innocence Project, wasn't it? I'm not going to look this up, because I am basically only checking the blog today to police troll behavior, but that is what I recall. There may be other stuff too.]

Seligmann was heavy into volunteering before arriving at Duke. The Duke Lacrosse team was heavy into volunteering before the infamous party. The falsely accused did an appearance with the Innocence Project and I assume involvement. I am not aware of involvement by the other players though I haven't actively looked for the information.

I still take exception to “in youthful exuburance, naivete, pounding hormones, inebriation and an ignorance of the human condition," as 1) a blanket snapshot analysis, and 2) pounding hormones and youthful exuberance as factually incorrect. One only need look at the pictures of the party to see that. That they had no interest in Mangum's "other services" further indicate a lack of pounding hormones and youthful exuberance. And, perhaps, that they weren't as naive in that area as some might think.

The main posts seem to be "salted" with things that are factually incorrect about the case. Or perhaps the writer is using a little poetic license.

Michael in NH said...

Regarding the team volunteering for the Innocence Project: apparently the Brown team did this.

David said...

I too am often amazed by the negative attitude many academics have towards athletics. At many universities, student-athletes are essentially poorly paid slaves; their accomplishments often significantly raise the profile and revenue of a given school, but they get very little in return (unless the alumni are taking care of them or there is some other gross violation of NCAA rules going on).

To take one example, the 2006 George Mason basketball team probably did more to raise the profile of that school than anything else in recent history. What was the reward these athletes received? Some momentary adulation...free tuition...maybe a few other perks.

Personally I think we should cut through the hypocrisy and return to the days when school teams were stocked by ringers who weren't even registered at the university.

Anonymous said...

TR--

I loved your analysis, and think it's spot on.

Let me say why I post anonymously, both here and last summer at DiW. I post anonymously because to attach one's name to any discussion of how Johnson has used the false rape charges as an engine to power his quasi-professional/personal vendetta against those academics he deems unacceptable brings all the hate mail, phone calls, etc, that mean to make life unbearable. Who has the mental and emotional energy to shield themselves and their place of work from what seems to me a type of psychosis and idee fixe among a core set of readers of DiW, not to mention Johnson himself? Look at what Johnson did to the professor at UNC who wrote about the case on her blog. She was in search of a serious dialog about race, ideology, and the difficulties of the hoax. Instead another scholar of color found herself pilloried--and Johnson himself joined in because it suited his narrative about academia and identity. What Johnson does is demagoguery. "Some people might say"--to use one of his favorite phrases--that he whips up the crowd and lets them loose, then denies culpability because of course he didn't *mean* for anyone to act on his outrageous mischaracterizations of work, people, and personalities.

Last summer I felt deeply angry about Johnson's hateful project. Now, I simply feel deeply sad. But he won't stop, of course. He has books to sell and a hobby horse to ride. The nexus of personality and politics that denied him tenure at Brooklyn will play itself out over the years in ever more attenuated ways, and as it wears on it will wear thin, and look ever more shrill and sad.

It's all very exhausting, and all the more reason to thank you for creating meaningful dialog about the interesting (however painful) after-life of the case and Johnson's idees fixes.

AMac said...

Anon 8:07pm (one comment up) --

Why not pick a pseudonym and use it? That way, interested readers can follow your thoughts within a thread and from post to post. Many long-time commenters here take this approach.

I've heard the UNC prof story repeated a number of times, but I don't remember it playing out quite that way. IIRC, Asst. Prof. Ho entered a somewhat poorly-informed post on her blog that presumed the players' guilt, and then received heavy criticism at DiW and elsewhere. A commenter writing under a name like "Prof. Ho" submitted a defense of her position to DiW: the comment's rather inane style mirrored that of the genuine blog. When Ho notified Johnson that the comment was not actually hers, he removed it.

Anon 8:07, I'll stipulate that my recall is not total. Do you have any links or screen caches that support your more malign interpretation of Johnson's actions?

andrea said...

Your post is perceptive--especially regarding the Duke 'appeal' and it seems correctly reasoned and targeted.
It's interesting to note that no one has taken on the issue of why not another case? Why not extend the outrage to cases that have been more harmful to those who have found the legal system not particularly just? Why not even a focus on other local to NC cases where recent miscarriages of justice and prosecutorial malfeasance has caused the incarceration of young men? Why is it that these young men, who are black, cannot find the same level of outrage and condemnation as that received by lacrosse players who did not even see a day in a courtroom, much less a jail cell?
One of the failures of DIW and KC's obsessive interest is that it fails the balance test. If this were an outrage about injustice, it would reasonably have concluded when justice was rendered. It would not have tolerated postings that attacked faculty's families much less their scholarship. It is not a balance for KC to say he is a supporter of Obama, nor does it explain his inability to earn or to want the degree of civil disagreement that you have insisted upon here. What a difference that seems to make in the quality and tone of the discussion! One can only speculate then, as to why KC's discussions spewed so much venom. The 'angry studies' comments, the vitriol surrounding the faculty who signed the anti-racism ad that supported students whose already difficult days at Duke were made even more difficult by the lacrosse party aftermath, the targeting of the scholarship of some of the signatories...all this points to a deeply held bias and his desire for others to join him in this--no matter the form or content or tone of their responses. Perhaps this is because he was new to blogging and the response overwhelmed. But it seems to me that simple integrity would have, especially for an academic, meant more than this uncontrolled nastiness. Perhaps the numbers of respondents mattered, or perhaps the ugliness in the responses was not substantively different enough from KCs own perspective.

A final note people. Let's be factual. The wailing about 'presumption of innocence' is a straw man. That is a presumption bound to a courtroom. NOBODY, neither professor nor flower-seller is called upon or has the responsibility to exercise that presumption unless they are in a courtroom and are judge or jury. As an American, you can think anything you darned well want to about legal matters. There is no profession, not a preacher or a church secretary or a public or private school teacher or a college or university professor that alienates your right to think however you want to about legal matters in process. There might well be a preference, but there is no dictate. BTW, I can't recall any presumption of innocence cries around OJ. Even with the most recent charges. So if these professors did think the students guilty--a fact that has not established no matter how many times KC repeats it as if it were true--but even if they did, guess what? They could. They are US citizens. It's a right. Stop trying to extend that presumption to the public arena. It is viable only within the confines of the court.

AMac said...

Andrea 10:42pm --

I'm traveling at 6am tomorrow, so this'll only address a couple of your points--though each one has been discussed over the course of the Hoax/Frame.

> Why not another case? Why not extend the outrage to cases that have been more harmful to those who have found the legal system not particularly just?

Suppose that I believe that nuclear proliferation (or global warming) is more important than the Padilla civil rights case (or feminist literature). How should I communicate my indignation that folks discuss what interests them, instead of what I think should interest them?

More specifically, the Duke case has been called the worst case of abuse of prosecutorial power in recent memory. The early days of the case combined these elements:

* An unlikely set of charges;
* An accuser with major credibility problems;
* A crime that could not have been committed in any of the ways that the false accuser and the DA said that it was (e.g.: the bathroom was too small to physically accommodate a rape victim and two, or three, or five, or twenty accusers);
* Defendants whose character and personal history made them very unlikely to have committed crimes such as those they were accused of.

Add to this:
* A police force that ran a railroading investigation that included ignoring and suppressing exculpatory evidence, lying in affidavits, and leaking phony evidence to the press;
* A DA with obvious ulterior motives to pursue the case;
* Judges who rolled over to please the DA;
* A university police department that worked hand in glove with a municipal department to drum up evidence against the university's students.

Add to that:
* A news media that was eager to vilify the falsely accused, and that suppressed exculpatory information;
* A university administration that aided the persecution of its students as part of a public-relations-focused crisis-management approach;
* A self-selected group of university professors who rushed to assume the guilt of the falsely accused students in the service of a larger, "more important" social agenda.

Anyone familiar with the case could go on (and on). I'll jump to the present to add a striking fact: Aside from the rogue DA himself, virtually nobody has apologized for their role in the case--however big or small. Virtually nobody has suffered any adverse professional or legal or social consequences for their role, while a large number of individuals have prospered.

OK, so you think this Hoax/Frame isn't exceptional. You seem to believe that decent people should abandon commenting on it, in favor of what you see as more worthwhile cases. Those would be cases where:
* The likely innocence of the defendants was clear-cut at an early point;
* The chance that any crime had occurred could be seen to be very slight at an early point;
* The rogue prosecutor was able to drive the case forward thanks to the complicity of police and judges;
* The press largely ignored evidence of innocence in favor of a predetermined narrative;
* Intellectuals who usually look askance at abusive behavior by Law Enforcement supported the prosecution;
* None of the enablers apologizes or attempts to make amends.

Note that this was not an instance where it turns out in retrospect that many such elements existed. Here, complete outsiders figured out what was happening within a few months of the alleged-but-nonexistent crime.

So: Name the recent cases that you think are more unambiguous and more deserving of scrutiny than the Lacrosse Frame/Hoax.

Now explain why the demonstrated abuses in the Duke case should not serve as a cautionary tale, and an opportunity for reform. Why so quick to see this particular case lapse into obscurity? It can't be because lessons have been learned: the Assistant DAs, the Durham Police Department, the City Government, the Duke Administration, and the signers of the Listening and Clarifying Statements appear to have learned no lessons.

None at all.

reharmonizer said...

Rambler--I read through the discussion of Coleman's letter on DIW, and, yes, they mostly had to do with Coleman's timing and motivations.

Amac suggests that, rather than TR's "Lit-Crit style of writing," what's needed to sort out the lacrosse case is the kind of hard-headed, factual analysis that goes into building a bridge. If so, the first reaction to Coleman's criticism should have been to wonder how sound a structure Johnson has been building. Some people may have had that reaction, but based on what I see in DIW Johnson and the commentariat busied themselves shoring up the narrative.

I hope there are some answers to TR's "just for fun" question--I would also like to know whether there is a way to respectfully agree to disagree at a fundamental level about the lacrosse case and Johnson's treatment of it.

Hats off to TR for turning this into a conversation.

pink 2 said...

This is a question for Random Rambler,

You've mentioned that only the LAX team has apologized. Who else do you think should apologize and to whom?

So you know where I stand, I think the LAX team was correct in apologizing for having a party at which 50-odd young men were going to watch strippers. I think objectifying women--which I consider this to have been--is a bad thing. I don't think the so-called 88 owe the LAX team an apology for something I don't think they said [the Listening Statement]; nor do I think these people owe their students an apology for "hating" them, when it's patently clear--to me, at least--that they don't. I do think Professor Johnson owes Professor Ho an apology for not verifing that her alleged e-mail was actually from her and then attacking her on his site. (Since I--and others--could tell the e-mail was likely a hoax; it's not clear to me why he couldn't.)

Because you commented on athletics, I wanted to say that I think that physical activity/intramural sports are good for all students, indeed, people of all ages, including faculty. I'm not convinced that big-time sports (football and bastketball come to mind) are best played as part of a university education, but I'm not heavily invested in this opinion.

Much of the uproar over the entire LAX "case" has more to do with perceptions of entitlement than with lacrosse or athletics in general.

To quote Gregory: All of the above is MOO.

pink 2 said...

PS Random Rambler, I hope it's clear that I really do wonder what you think and that I'm not attacking you.

Pink 2

Anonymous said...

Chistalmighty - it wasn't an e-mail he responded to, it was a hoax posting on his blog by some jerk who called himself "Polanski." Once he realized it was bogus, he removed it, acknowledged it was a hoax, apologized, and henceforth deleted "Polanski" whenever he found out he was posting.

You people never ever let a fact slow you down, do you?

Steven Horwitz said...

Pink 2:

You don't think Houston Baker needs to apologize for calling the LAX players "farm animals?"

You don't think Grant Farred needs to apologize for suggesting that a voter registration drive was evidence of student racism?

You don't think Kim Curtis needs to apologize if she did indeed, as the quick settlement suggests she might have, engage in grade retaliation?

And for Andrea: yes, you are quite right in a narrow sense that the "presumption of innocence" is a legal doctrine that matters first and foremost for court proceedings. However... those who presumed the lax players guilty and who made public statements to that effect at the very least owe them an equally public apology for doing so. And if any Duke faculty engaged in classroom discussions that included clear presumptions of guilt, they owe some apologies as well. Legalities aside, a public accusation that turns out to be false is deserving of an apology under any circumstances, and certainly when possible felonies are involved.

And those who are asking for apologies from the LS signers honestly believe that the LS presumed guilt as well, hence the need for an apology. Even if the intent of the signers was otherwise and even if they do not believe the text presumes guilt, they could have engaged in the now-common practice of the non-admission-of-guilt apology, as in "we do not believe that the statement presumed guilt, but we can understand how some took it that way, and we are sorry that it was interpreted in a way we never intended." Having spent a lot of time at DiW, I honestly believe that even such a non-apology apology would have thrown some water on the fire there.


Yes, people are entitled to their opinions, but if they express those publicly, the objects of their false presumptions equally deserve apologies when those opinions involve a demonstrable false accusation of a heinous crime.

(Standard disclaimer: none of this is to suggest that there aren't apologies equally necessary and deserved from "the other side." There certainly are.)

Tenured Radical said...

OK, here's a tantalizing question. Suppose apologies were offered by everyone. In other words, let's say we made a list of all things which each group found hurtful, discriminatory, and cruel, and each group agreed to stipulate that, whatever the intention of the original, they acknowledged harm done. What if everyone (including KC, and representatives from the DiW commentariat) got in a room together and had that exchange, face to face, possibly aided by a professional mediator?

What would happen then? And would continued civil litigation still have a purpose? If so, why? If not, why not?

TR

Anonymous said...

To Pink 2
Why do men owe an apology-and to whom-for enjoying watching women take their clothes off and showing them their bodies. Heterosexual men really really like women's bodies. That's why women can get a lot of money from men to show their bodies to them. There was no coersion here.
Where I live it's quite in vogue for women to have parties where men take their clothes off and gyrate about. However, it's not really necessary to pay someone. The guys from the Navy are happy to come over and entertain. Professionals require cash. Do these women owe apologies?
Do people who committ adultery owe apologies to people who disapprove of non-monogomous behaviour? Do gay people owe apologies for their sexual behaviour?
What sexual behaviour is acceptable to you? Does it matter?
It is a crime to drink under legal age. In my opinion, this is a bad law. It creates criminals. Behaviour that is unacceptable while sober is also not acceptable while under the influence. If individuals cannot be trusted to handle a beer, how can they be allowed to vote,to go to war,to get married, to keep any children produced etc. However, this is a law and there are penalties for breaking it and being caught. Hiring strippers is not against the law.
If more men were present than expected, which might explain why the usual bodyguards were not with the women(or it might not as maybe they just didn't want to share the fees in a prudent manner)
the appropriate behaviour for the women would have been to phone the agency and complain and get someone sent over or to leave. They were not forced to stay .
A woman does not lose her civil rights when she earns her income as a stripper, but nor do men lose their civil rights when they pay the stripper or do other things that you don't approve of.
Also, I don't think any of us should apologise for things that we are not sorry for doing. Saying sorry is not the issue really.

Michael in NH said...

[And would continued civil litigation still have a purpose? If so, why? If not, why not?]

Part of the reason for the civil litigation is to expose the alleged crimes committed by Duke, the Durham Police Department, and District Attorneys Office. The Feds should have done this but they declined. Attorney General Roy Cooper is deciding on charges. The problem is that everyone in a law enforcement position has to make a political calculus instead of seeking justice.

In addition, there were damages incurred and those damages should be atoned for. An apology does nothing to pay for real damages. But it's a start.

Tenured Radical said...

Okay Michael, but here's the problem: why would someone apologize for anything if it potentially exposed them to a civil suit?

And actually, there is good precedent -- in South Africa, Argentina, and Rwanda -- for atonement that happens entirely through conversation and speech acts in public places. Part of what it requires is exposure of "what happened" in a public place (a village council, a Truth and Reconciliation court) so that people can move on. And this for crimes like torture, murder, and actual, brutal rapes, where victims and survivors receive public accounting and apologies from the perpetrators. So why wouldn't it be an option in this case?

Michael in NH said...

[Okay Michael, but here's the problem: why would someone apologize for anything if it potentially exposed them to a civil suit?]

Or criminal prosecution.

In the case of the 88, it appears that some still are making comments despite likely requirements of the Duke settlements that Duke not make disparaging remarks about Reade, Colin and Dave. We can see this in the recent Pressler suit after their settlement based on Burness' comments. The 88's past statements should be covered by Duke's settlements with RCD. But yes, they are still potentially liable for suits by the unindicted players. But it is likely that Duke would pick up any liability that the 88 incurred given the history of the case.

Why apologize despite the threat of civil litigation? To show that you're a decent human being. We apologize for very little things routinely. Why is it harder on bigger things?

With regards to other parties (the DPD, Levicy, and City of Durham) where individuals have been sued in addition to the corporate entities, liability is a problem. One would hope that settlements would be reduced for an allocution. Of course there is no guarantee.

[And actually, there is good precedent -- in South Africa, Argentina, and Rwanda -- for atonement that happens entirely through conversation and speech acts in public places. Part of what it requires is exposure of "what happened" in a public place (a village council, a Truth and Reconciliation court) so that people can move on. And this for crimes like torture, murder, and actual, brutal rapes, where victims and survivors receive public accounting and apologies from the perpetrators. So why wouldn't it be an option in this case?]

This is common here too. In serious criminal cases. And usually before sentencing.

It isn't really an option in this case for the 88 as they're shielded by their corporate entity.

Tenured Radical said...

OK but one point -- in those places I have cited, unlike the United States there is no sentencing and no financial settlement. The revelation of all facts and motivations, the apology and the forgiveness are the sum of the process. There is no incarceration, no damages paid, no execution, because these things are considered inimical to the reconstitution of civil society, whereas coming to terms with what happened and forgiving is considered a foundation for civil society.

And actually, I wouldn't say if I were you that the Duke faculty are violating the terms of the settlement. That is a point of argument that only has a basis in your already low opinion of them. The settlement is secret, so you don't know. None of us do who were not part of it.

TR

Nickname said...

What I'm writing here is meant to address the discourse of apology, but I do want to address what michael of nh just wrote: michael of nh, when you talk about "some of the 88" still making comments after the Pressler settlement, you should be specific because when you mention Burness you are not talking about a signer of the ad. You are talking about a member of the Duke administraton.

More generally, I’m sorry if this fails to reach anybody because I’m trying to talk about things that people have brought up about the ad (especially the demands or requests for apologies) in order to do something that TR is urging us to do but without having the time to write more concisely. Or clearly.

1. What if, following TR’s suggestion, we were to assume for the sake of argument that the writer (Prof. Lubiano) and/or signers, or some subset of the signatories of the ad, wrote exactly what at least some of them (in the “Clarifying Statement” for example or in Prof. Lubiano’s comments) say they wrote? Which was to write on behalf of some students’ concerns that were both historically unattended to on that campus (racism, class entitlements, and sexual violence) and were pushed to the margins in the discussions around what did or didn’t happen in that house. If we take their honesty about their words as a given, and bracket for a moment the perfect vision of our different examples of hindsight around their language and our desires that each utterance always do what it attempts to do from our different points of view, then maybe a refusal to apologize is a principled refusal to do what is now socially acceptable and, to my way of thinking, a transparent way to try to manage public perception: the non-admission of guilt apology, the “I’m sorry if I hurt anybody’s feelings” apology that people do quite easily? What if she and different others aren’t apologizing because, as hard as it might be for some of us to believe, she and different other don’t think that they made a public accusation or pronouncement of guilt? I know, some of you might well say or want to say, then they are fools or knaves. That’s why I began with asking that we assume something other than foolishness or knavery in order to get off the treadmill of a constant repetition of charges of foolishness, knavery, or conspiracy. What if she or they or some subset of they won’t apologize because they intervened in a world different from the world that Prof. Johnson and others have created around that ad?

Imagine, just imagine, a discussion that isn't driven by what has developed into a demand for apologies.

Yes, I know that some of us are talking about what we would like to see or would have liked to see before or hear said, yes, I know that we are talking about what difference it might or might not have made to many discussions here and elsewhere. But I’m trying to get us to think, outside of what TR describes as the state of emergency, what could be thought outside of the realm of necessary and sufficient apologies given as a precondition for thinking.

In other words, is there anyway that those of us who aren’t interested in an apology, who aren’t desirous of an apology, or who are ready to have some discussion without an apology could talk? How about a discussion among those attending to TR’s blog, that leaves aside an apology?

2. What *if* the ad does not constitute a public assignment of blame? And please do not just keep repeating the litany of “facts” and interpretations produced by those who have already, forcefully, and in detailed fashion done so. What if it actually targeted a university that has disregarded for a long time the fears articulated by the students who spoke in the ad in a moment when those students were finding it hard to be heard? What if it actually spoke on behalf of those students trying to find a way to say that in the discussions and debates going on, they saw and heard themselves routinely under attack. What if, for example, black women students really were addressed as if speakers saw them as allied with the accuser by race and gender? What if instead of trying to know in a way that could be absolutely settled whether those students said things that were accusations about the incident, we tried to discuss what forms of public speech are available and to whom and under what circumstances? In other words, as an exercise, take the students' quotes seriously and maybe read those students’ words as the ad's framing suggests when it says that the students are talking about themselves in talking about this moment, a real expression of their fears about themselves and their sense of what their world looks like.

3. What if, for example, we were to consider, again for the sake of discussion, that Prof. Davidson’s article describing the *relative* lack of response to the ad on campus throughout the semester following the ad, is not a filthy piece of pro-signatories’ propaganda but could be a narrative with implications that we could consider? Before anyone jumps in to remind us that KC Johnson, DIW, Liestoppers, many serious folks, etc., dispute this, I will admit right now: yes, I know that KC Johnson, et al. dispute this. It is a dispute, not a war, so I’m thinking that maybe we could consider some things before somehow a moment of magical truth reveals all.

In other words, if none of us can go back to that moment and understand it uninfluenced by the constant circulation of Prof. Johnson’s writing of that moment, and I don’t think that we can, can we do something different and go on to have other kinds of discussion without being able to nail down exactly what happened and when and why? I ask this especially because whether or not we accept what Prof. Lubiano has written that challenges different things that Prof. Johnson’s book or blog says about her, we do know that we have reason to question why he himself (since he signed his name to the book and to his blog posts), for example, is interested enough in the question of her sexual orientation, in her publication record, and in her and specific other faculty members’ possible political positions, to include them as matters of concern in the book and/or in the blog. I’m pointing here to Prof. Johnson’s writings not to ask for clarification but to get us to think about the problem inherent in allowing his perception of these events continue to drive all discussion possibilities. I’m not asking, what if Prof. Johnson is wrong about the ad, about Lubiano, about the other faculty? I am asking how might we talk without knowing answers or having apologies that might be withheld for principles reasons?

What if we were to take seriously Prof. Starn’s statement, signed and published in a newspaper, or Prof. Piot’s piece, also signed, that some lax players have even enrolled in the classes of signatories of the ad since it ran and think of that as something that indicated that maybe on Duke’s campus, despite the hardening of positions into threatened and actual lawsuits, there’s a more complicated set of interactions going on? Before the apology seekers and the contingent that wants to make sure that all of the “facts” are properly sourced, or that all of the evidence is accounted for, I want to remind you that I’m asking that we consider things for the sake of argument. This blog and comments aren’t a trial. What TR is trying to do is to get us to talk as though conversation might be possible before all is revealed or even if all is never revealed.

4. Specifically to the question (thorny for many of us) of Prof. Curtis, given how much of the discussion here and in other places likes to traffic in the discourse of the law and matters of legality, a settlement where the terms of the settlement are sealed necessarily limits what can be known. Supporters of both sides of various settlements, not just the Duke settlements, often disagree about what a settlement means. I use the word supporters because the actual parties to this particular legal settlement aren’t permitted to speak of the terms. Many of us know that universities, corporations, and individuals, have sometimes settled suits for reasons that aren’t clear, aren’t made clear, and don’t indicate what actually happened. We don’t know what produced that settlement. We know the accusation. And yes, we know the grade was changed.

But seriously, for those of you who have taught in colleges and universities, please consider that professors’ grades are sometimes changed by different administrative entities for many different reasons (some good, some not so good). Since we only know the accusation of retaliation and we know that Duke changed the grade and settled the suit, we think we know all that we need to know in order to have a discussion about this. Because of those things that we know we think we also know what happened. But not only are we limited with regard to some understanding of the facts, waiting to hear more (including an apology or explanation) from anybody involved in that suit or to know more about that suit, or demanding those things before we can find other ways to talk slows down the process that TR is trying to move in other directions

Before I’m jumped on for defending Prof. Curtis or accused of being Prof. Curtis, again for the sake of argument, what if we were to move from arguing about language from people involved in a settlement, and talk about the complexities of trying to speak at all in moments such as the circumstances of the Duke matter.

As always, your mileage may differ, but I’m interested in the possibilities of TR’s suggestion of a non-state of emergency engagement.

nickname said...

sorry, meant to write michael in nh, not of nh.

Michael in NH said...

[And actually, I wouldn't say if I were you that the Duke faculty are violating the terms of the settlement.]

Where did I state this?

I stated that they were still making comments. But not about RCD. My point is that if they are still making comments, that they could also still apologize as that would also be a form of comment.

[That is a point of argument that only has a basis in your already low opinion of them. The settlement is secret, so you don't know. None of us do who were not part of it.]

The settlement is secret but a reasonable person could look at the Pressler settlement along with his latest lawsuit alleging that the settlement was breached due to negative comments about Pressler by Burness to surmise that there were clauses that the parties wouldn't speak ill of one another.

nickname said...

To michael in nh,

[Where did I state this?]

I'm sorry that you think that I mis-read you. But when I read what you wrote, "In the case of the 88, it appears that some still are making comments despite likely requirements of the Duke settlements that Duke not make disparaging remarks about Reade, Colin and Dave," given the syntax of your sentence and the inclusion of the names of the three players, I think you might see how I might think that you were referring to some possible members of that group as making comments about the players especially since you write that it "appears that some are still making comments."

You don't name any of the specific instances of "members of the 88" making statements. You name Burness. Who is not a member of the 88.

Further, you now write about what a "reasonable person" could look at with regard to a settlement, the Pressler settlement, of which the terms are not made public.

Given what you and others have made of the problem of reaching conclusions from allegations, you might want to be more careful about lawsuits that "allege" things, settlements that aren't available for public consideration, and tying all of this to your non-specific statements about members of the 88 who aren't named in a sentence that names someone else.

pink 2 said...

10:31,

I agree with you. I wish that people would quit demanding apologies, not least because I think many of those demanding of them are taking part in a black-and-white sort of morality play & I disagree with the narrative. I was posing a question to one of the people who has commented here.

Thanks very much for the lecture on sex, but I suspect we'll have to agree to disagree. I don't like any kind of objectification. That has little or nothing to do with a number of the other issues of gender/sexuality that you mentioned.

I like TR's proposal.

nickname said...

To anyone else reading at this point, my response to michael in nh isn't what I consider interesting or significant. At the risk of flogging my own thoughts, I refer you back to what I've written about what other kinds of conversation that we might have following from TR's painstakingly written posts and comments.

Michael in NH said...

re: nickname at 12:27

[I'm sorry that you think that I mis-read you. But when I read what you wrote, "In the case of the 88, it appears that some still are making comments despite likely requirements of the Duke settlements that Duke not make disparaging remarks about Reade, Colin and Dave," given the syntax of your sentence and the inclusion of the names of the three players, I think you might see how I might think that you were referring to some possible members of that group as making comments about the players especially since you write that it "appears that some are still making comments."]

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Lubiano still making comments on the case? I would assume that the 88 isn't making comments on RCD given the likely settlement terms.

[You don't name any of the specific instances of "members of the 88" making statements. You name Burness. Who is not a member of the 88.]

We've been discussing Lubiano's site for some time here. Correct?

[Further, you now write about what a "reasonable person" could look at with regard to a settlement, the Pressler settlement, of which the terms are not made public.]

I would suggest that you read the Pressler Lawsuit. His suit is for the breach of the settlement and the suit mentions specific examples of the breach. A reasonable person could determine aspects of the settlement from the suit.

[Given what you and others have made of the problem of reaching conclusions from allegations, you might want to be more careful about lawsuits that "allege" things, settlements that aren't available for public consideration, and tying all of this to your non-specific statements about members of the 88 who aren't named in a sentence that names someone else.]

I would suggest you read Pressler's suit and the latest suit.

Stu Daddy said...

Ditto to Professor Horwitz' comments regarding the importance of apologies.

To Pink2... Yes, although their actions were legal (except for some underage drinking), the lax players apologized early and often for their careless, sophomoric behavior... because it left them vulnerable to the evil machinations of a lying stripper, brutish police and a corrupt district attorney... and because it brought embarrassment and bad publicity to their families, their coaches and classmates, and the entire Duke University community.

Although it was a mistake to have a stupid party, or at the very least not to exercise caveat emptor, the players' sincere apologies placed them a league apart from their 88 professors and the Steel/Brodhead administration at once reputable Duke.

andrea said...

It is important to understand what work an apology would accomplish for those who have assailed the signatories' judgment, motives, families, and scholarship.

The apologies called for have been demanded to convince the accusers of the faculty that their accusation of bias against lacrosse students is the correct 'read' of the ad. It would be the event that would render their mis-reading of the anti-racism statement as the 'truth.'

In other words, the call to apologia, as frequent and impassioned as it has been, stands in for the insecurity of their allegation.

The ad is not opaque. In fact, it actually has to endure a tortured process to turn it into what those who want an apology wish it had been.

An apology would grant their accusation a credibility it has otherwise failed to gain on its own merits (or that a plain and reasonable reading of the ad would render). The extraordinary efforts to coerce the signatories' apologies--via KCs 'profiles' or smarmy emails, or blog responses--seem reasonable evidence of this effort to rewrite the ad and to coerce the signatories to bend to this revision.

Michael in NH said...

Please delete my previous comment. I had a problem cutting and pasting from two different operating systems on the same machine.

re: nickname at 11:26

[What I'm writing here is meant to address the discourse of apology, but I do want to address what michael of nh just wrote: michael of nh, when you talk about "some of the 88" still making comments after the Pressler settlement, you should be specific because when you mention Burness you are not talking about a signer of the ad. You are talking about a member of the Duke administraton.]

I was under deadline this morning and perhaps some aren't as familiar as I am with the lawsuits.

[More generally, I’m sorry if this fails to reach anybody because I’m trying to talk about things that people have brought up about the ad (especially the demands or requests for apologies) in order to do something that TR is urging us to do but without having the time to write more concisely. Or clearly.]

I have expectations of apologies. I've never contacted any of the professors as I feel that they should figure it out on their own. I don't know that someone forced to apologize really resolves the situation. It certainly doesn't work with little children.

[1. What if, following TR’s suggestion, we were to assume for the sake of argument that the writer (Prof. Lubiano) and/or signers, or some subset of the signatories of the ad, wrote exactly what at least some of them (in the “Clarifying Statement” for example or in Prof. Lubiano’s comments) say they wrote? Which was to write on behalf of some students’ concerns that were both historically unattended to on that campus (racism, class entitlements, and sexual violence) and were pushed to the margins in the discussions around what did or didn’t happen in that house. If we take their honesty about their words as a given, and bracket for a moment the perfect vision of our different examples of hindsight around their language and our desires that each utterance always do what it attempts to do from our different points of view, then maybe a refusal to apologize is a principled refusal to do what is now socially acceptable and, to my way of thinking, a transparent way to try to manage public perception: the non-admission of guilt apology, the “I’m sorry if I hurt anybody’s feelings” apology that people do quite easily? What if she and different others aren’t apologizing because, as hard as it might be for some of us to believe, she and different other don’t think that they made a public accusation or pronouncement of guilt? I know, some of you might well say or want to say, then they are fools or knaves. That’s why I began with asking that we assume something other than foolishness or knavery in order to get off the treadmill of a constant repetition of charges of foolishness, knavery, or conspiracy. What if she or they or some subset of they won’t apologize because they intervened in a world different from the world that Prof. Johnson and others have created around that ad?]

I think that anything would help. Look at what the Economics department did. Many criticised them for too little, too late. But it turns out that they provided more public support for the players than any other group on campus.

[Imagine, just imagine, a discussion that isn't driven by what has developed into a demand for apologies.

Yes, I know that some of us are talking about what we would like to see or would have liked to see before or hear said, yes, I know that we are talking about what difference it might or might not have made to many discussions here and elsewhere. But I’m trying to get us to think, outside of what TR describes as the state of emergency, what could be thought outside of the realm of necessary and sufficient apologies given as a precondition for thinking.

In other words, is there anyway that those of us who aren’t interested in an apology, who aren’t desirous of an apology, or who are ready to have some discussion without an apology could talk? How about a discussion among those attending to TR’s blog, that leaves aside an apology?]

I think not.

[2. What *if* the ad does not constitute a public assignment of blame? And please do not just keep repeating the litany of “facts” and interpretations produced by those who have already, forcefully, and in detailed fashion done so. What if it actually targeted a university that has disregarded for a long time the fears articulated by the students who spoke in the ad in a moment when those students were finding it hard to be heard? What if it actually spoke on behalf of those students trying to find a way to say that in the discussions and debates going on, they saw and heard themselves routinely under attack. What if, for example, black women students really were addressed as if speakers saw them as allied with the accuser by race and gender? What if instead of trying to know in a way that could be absolutely settled whether those students said things that were accusations about the incident, we tried to discuss what forms of public speech are available and to whom and under what circumstances? In other words, as an exercise, take the students' quotes seriously and maybe read those students’ words as the ad's framing suggests when it says that the students are talking about themselves in talking about this moment, a real expression of their fears about themselves and their sense of what their world looks like.]

{The central message of the ad as I see it doesn’t need a reference to protestors and doesn’t require the rape allegation to be true, so I don’t think either line is necessary as written. The mention of protestors seems especially superfluous, and it’s on that point that I’m most sympathetic to the criticism of the ad–it’s hard to reconcile the blanket endorsement of protestors followed by a long list of faculty signatures with the crowd on the sidewalk at Buchanan Blvd. holding a banner that says “Castrate” and hounding out the lacrosse team as rapists. I find it odd and disappointing that those who signed the ad and continued to speak out and editorialize didn’t meet the issue head on.>

From Zimmerman's blog, "The Perfect Mess"

[3. What if, for example, we were to consider, again for the sake of discussion, that Prof. Davidson’s article describing the *relative* lack of response to the ad on campus throughout the semester following the ad, is not a filthy piece of pro-signatories’ propaganda but could be a narrative with implications that we could consider? Before anyone jumps in to remind us that KC Johnson, DIW, Liestoppers, many serious folks, etc., dispute this, I will admit right now: yes, I know that KC Johnson, et al. dispute this. It is a dispute, not a war, so I’m thinking that maybe we could consider some things before somehow a moment of magical truth reveals all.

In other words, if none of us can go back to that moment and understand it uninfluenced by the constant circulation of Prof. Johnson’s writing of that moment, and I don’t think that we can, can we do something different and go on to have other kinds of discussion without being able to nail down exactly what happened and when and why? I ask this especially because whether or not we accept what Prof. Lubiano has written that challenges different things that Prof. Johnson’s book or blog says about her, we do know that we have reason to question why he himself (since he signed his name to the book and to his blog posts), for example, is interested enough in the question of her sexual orientation, in her publication record, and in her and specific other faculty members’ possible political positions, to include them as matters of concern in the book and/or in the blog. I’m pointing here to Prof. Johnson’s writings not to ask for clarification but to get us to think about the problem inherent in allowing his perception of these events continue to drive all discussion possibilities. I’m not asking, what if Prof. Johnson is wrong about the ad, about Lubiano, about the other faculty? I am asking how might we talk without knowing answers or having apologies that might be withheld for principles reasons?

What if we were to take seriously Prof. Starn’s statement, signed and published in a newspaper, or Prof. Piot’s piece, also signed, that some lax players have even enrolled in the classes of signatories of the ad since it ran and think of that as something that indicated that maybe on Duke’s campus, despite the hardening of positions into threatened and actual lawsuits, there’s a more complicated set of interactions going on? Before the apology seekers and the contingent that wants to make sure that all of the “facts” are properly sourced, or that all of the evidence is accounted for, I want to remind you that I’m asking that we consider things for the sake of argument. This blog and comments aren’t a trial. What TR is trying to do is to get us to talk as though conversation might be possible before all is revealed or even if all is never revealed.]

From a practical point of view, all of this discussion seems superflous.

[4. Specifically to the question (thorny for many of us) of Prof. Curtis, given how much of the discussion here and in other places likes to traffic in the discourse of the law and matters of legality, a settlement where the terms of the settlement are sealed necessarily limits what can be known. Supporters of both sides of various settlements, not just the Duke settlements, often disagree about what a settlement means. I use the word supporters because the actual parties to this particular legal settlement aren’t permitted to speak of the terms. Many of us know that universities, corporations, and individuals, have sometimes settled suits for reasons that aren’t clear, aren’t made clear, and don’t indicate what actually happened. We don’t know what produced that settlement. We know the accusation. And yes, we know the grade was changed.]

We also know that Curtis and her husband are leaving for sunnier climates. We know that KC Johnson acquired the papers and graded them providing detail in his grading methodology.

[But seriously, for those of you who have taught in colleges and universities, please consider that professors’ grades are sometimes changed by different administrative entities for many different reasons (some good, some not so good). Since we only know the accusation of retaliation and we know that Duke changed the grade and settled the suit, we think we know all that we need to know in order to have a discussion about this. Because of those things that we know we think we also know what happened. But not only are we limited with regard to some understanding of the facts, waiting to hear more (including an apology or explanation) from anybody involved in that suit or to know more about that suit, or demanding those things before we can find other ways to talk slows down the process that TR is trying to move in other directions]

{The professor’s behavior toward the other lacrosse player in Curtis’ spring 2006 class followed the same pattern—after she suggested, in writing, that he was part of a conspiracy to cover up rape, his grades plummeted. The player’s first paper was a B+. As with Dowd, the teammate’s second paper was due on April 5—after the allegations were made public, and, ominously, the same day that the McFadyen email was made public. This time, Curtis gave a grade of C- (the same grade that Dowd’s second paper received).

The third paper was due just after the New Black Panthers—certified as a hate group by both the SPLC and ADL—arrived on campus. They had announced that they planned “vigilante” justice, threatening to invade the dorms to force lacrosse players to say what the Panthers wanted to hear. Just like Dowd, Curtis gave him an F for the paper. He received a C- on the final grade—which prevented him from making the ACC Academic Honor Roll. Disappointed, the player asked to meet with Curtis, whose message amounted to “I don’t really care, all people have problems.”

The players’ parents sent the three papers to the holder of a chair in Journalism in a prominent university He graded the first paper the same as Curtis (B+), but the second, post-accusation, a B+, not a C-. He said the third paper was the worst of the three (unlike Dowd’s), but clearly not an F.>

DIW "Curtis-gate"

{I took a look at Dowd’s three papers—each worth 25% of the overall grade. Let me say at the start: subjectivity is an element to all grading, especially grading of papers. No two professors will analyze the same paper in an identical fashion. But it’s not hard to detect failing papers. In short, subjectivity and differing grading scales can explain why a paper to which one professor might give a B would receive a C from another faculty member—something that happens all the time in higher education. But subjectivity can’t explain how such a paper could get an F.

Two things immediately come to light from Dowd’s papers:

* First, if 100 professors graded Dowd’s third paper blind, I suspect that 95 would assign it a grade somewhere between a B and a C, with the outliers probably giving it a B+ or a C-.
* Second, if 100 professors compared Dowd’s three papers for the course, I suspect that between 90 and 95 of them would consider the third paper to be the best of the three, and it’s hard for me to believe that any would analyze it as significantly worse than the other two.

Perhaps Professor Curtis has an innocent explanation for why the two students who she publicly suggested were accomplices to rape saw their final grades plummet to an F after she made the accusation. I emailed her repeatedly asking for a comment; she did not reply. Political science chairman Michael Munger also said he couldn’t comment on the case.>

DIW "Dowd and Duke"

[Before I’m jumped on for defending Prof. Curtis or accused of being Prof. Curtis, again for the sake of argument, what if we were to move from arguing about language from people involved in a settlement, and talk about the complexities of trying to speak at all in moments such as the circumstances of the Duke matter.

As always, your mileage may differ, but I’m interested in the possibilities of TR’s suggestion of a non-state of emergency engagement.]

I do follow the Rate Your Students blog and read about the challenges that professors have in the area of grades but, in this case, it appears that the parents did have the papers reviewed by outside parties. And this behaviour to the only two lacrosse players in her class does look pretty suspicious. It appears that KC requested her side of the story a few times.

Tenured Radical said...

Can I ask two things at this point,as this discussion continues?

First, please don't re-print huge hunks of previous quotes -- it makes the responses too lengthy and makes it hard to decipher what the respondent is saying.

Second, please don't repeat accusations against Professor Curtis or anyone else on this blog that rely on speculation, no matter how iron-clad you think your reasoning is: if you must refer to these things, provide links back to the relevant DiW posts, because that will be the original -- and most accurate argument for the speculation, and I want KC -- not this blog -- to own it if possible. But really -- aside from what other things I might or might not disagree with Professor Johnson on -- his regrading of the papers is proof of nothing. We have no idea why those papers received a grade of F, and KC "regrading them" without having taught the course or even sat in on it is not good proof of Professor Curtis's bad behavior, nor is her unwillingness to respond to him in his ad hoc role proof of guilt. Most people don't explain their grades to complete strangers, particularly those who are in the process of attacking them.

And btw, without knowing what actually happened, if I had been Professor Curtis, and if I had believed I had behaved ethically and that the University's need to settle the case (or to fix its own pr problem that resulted from the administration's errors) had been given priority over demonstrating my integrity as a scholar-teacher, I would have found another job too.

So could we drop this line? I do think that what Michael is saying here very briefly in mid-post is more important to outlining his position: that in his view, there is no other way to read these documents than the way he believes they should be read, that an apology is required, and that the DiW blog represents fact -- all other accounts fiction. I would say we should simply accept that as his view, a view that some of us disagree with, and move on.

But here's something else to throw into the mix: do the three players who were accused want an apology, from whom and in what setting? We know what all kinds of people who have come to their defense want (although it isn't clear what that apology would accomplish for many of them, given that the words spoken by Duke faculty members are treated with such vast skepticism). But what Johnson and DiW readers of various descriptions want strikes me as irrelevant. When the young men speak for themselves, what do *they* want, taking into account that they have received a large cash settlement already?

TR

Anonymous said...

As I understand the matter, people felt differently about the matter.One originally wanted apologies as part of the settlement but this was refused. As the family was seriously in debt to the lawyers, they really needed the money from the settlement and so dropped the request for apologies. The apologies would have had deep meaning for them emotionally, but they owed millions by that time.

nickname said...

Again, michael in nh, I'm not willing to enter into a discussion of the settlements or the lawsuits at all. Nor am I going to indulge your desire to make a conversation that I'm interested in having disappear. I would love to be part of a conversation that goes on outside of repeated attention to your or Johnson's allegations, to the allegations of the cases, to the allegations of those interested in a discussion of "facts" of the case such as you or Johnson, et al. sees them, or to the truth or verifiability of what Lubiano or the other signatories of the ad said, thought, or did. That's what you and others have done here in continual fashion.

You have said that you "think not" on the question of whether a discussion could engage what TR has suggested, a non-state of emergency exchange around larger issues. Okay. I get it. And I get your insistence on addressing what you see as material germane to another kind of discussion. I see your interest in that. I have some inkling, given what you say here, of what that would require for you.

But I don't care about an apology or continuation of pro-apology discourse. You do. I want the possibility of discussion about ways to talk publicly about public matters on university campuses.

I've suggested what suspension of a need for being sure of what happened and who is at fault and whether those people regret whatever it is that you and others think they should regret . . . I've suggested that suspension of the desire for persuasion, suspension of a desire to convince others of a "truth" about a reading of the Duke stuff, could be a condition that might help our moving to other issues that come out of this case. That's why I read TR asking us to think about.

If we continue along the lines that you set out with not only more repetition of what has been said repeatedly here and/or in other places and with even more attention to yet other pieces of information alleged by you or others, including yet more attention to what happened with Curtis, then how is this discussion any different from DiW or Liestoppers?

Um, scratch that question because I don't want to read a list explaining the minutiae of the case, the ad, the lawsuits, the settlements, the papers, what Curtis did or didn't do thereby giving you, and others, a chance to repeat what you've already made clear you think about what happened and allowing yet another defense of DiW or Liestoppers. Or another yet another list this time of the differences between what was said here by you and what was said, exhaustively and obsessively, by other people in those other places. Doing that just allows you and others to ignore questions raised that don't join in lockstep with your interests.

In fact, once again in your posts today as well as previously, more and more of DiW and Liestopper boilerplate is repeated here every day that TR makes this space available for other kinds of conversation.

Perhaps there isn't sufficient interest in the other kind of talk that TR is beckoning us toward. But since that's what I'm looking for here, I will bow out of the kind of conversation that you're continuing.

nickname said...

My apologies TR. I wrote and edited my last piece before I read your asking us to move on.

I will.

Michael in NH said...

[that in his view, there is no other way to read these documents than the way he believes they should be read, that an apology is required, and that the DiW blog represents fact -- all other accounts fiction. I would say we should simply accept that as his view, a view that some of us disagree with, and move on.]

It is also an informed view. What frequently annoys me is when one posts something factually incorrect or puts forth a position that isn't supported by the facts, and then a request is made to look at various documents. And the person begs off as it's not interesting, too much work, or they have a different worldview. Perhaps this isn't the best place for an intellectual discussion.

I have a lot of work to do and I think that this is a good enough place to finish here.

Tenured Radical said...

Nickname: No need for apologies, and I don't mean to shut down the kind of discussion the two of us want. I think the back and forth I am discouraging is the "factually incorrect" thing. What the facts are, what constitutes facts and what constitutes being informed, is an open question -- not on all things, for sure, but on a great many things that the DiW crowd is sure of.

BTW, I also wanted to say to Michael that Rate Your Professors is not a blog, and it is not a venue for getting a sense of who teachers are and what their students think of them. The average teacher at Zenith generates 30-100 internal evaluations a semester; I have around 2000 for my whole career, and I believe about 8-10 people have written into this site to comment on me. One comment is from a student commenting on a course I never taught, and I have asked them to take it down several times and they won't.

TR

The Random Rambler said...

This is my last post on Kim Curtis

Here are the facts:

-Between March 27 and April 6, Kim Curtis attended rallies denouncing the players (background, in this photo); suggested, in writing, that the lacrosse players (including two students in her class) were protecting the real rapists; and signed onto the Group of 88’s statement.

-While grading is subjective, KC looked at all of three papers and stated the one that got the second lowest grade of all three (other than the F) was the best paper.

- Not only was the issue settled, the university publically acknowledged the grade was changed.

Kim Curtis 2

- "[O]n March 29, she emailed fellow Durham activists expressing outrage that defense attorneys had (correctly) stated that no DNA match would occur to any lacrosse player. 'The self assurance,' wrote Curtis,

'in the statement issued yesterday by the team that they will be exonerated by the results of the DNA testing makes me wonder if we’ve gotten the full story about who was at the house that night. Were there others present who in fact carried out the rape and who are being protected by everyone else who was there? How do we know who was there?'

KC then made this assertion:

- I took a look at Dowd’s three papers—each worth 25% of the overall grade. Let me say at the start: subjectivity is an element to all grading, especially grading of papers. No two professors will analyze the same paper in an identical fashion. But it’s not hard to detect failing papers. In short, subjectivity and differing grading scales can explain why a paper to which one professor might give a B would receive a C from another faculty member—something that happens all the time in higher education. But subjectivity can’t explain how such a paper could get an F.

Two things immediately come to light from Dowd’s papers:

* First, if 100 professors graded Dowd’s third paper blind, I suspect that 95 would assign it a grade somewhere between a B and a C, with the outliers probably giving it a B+ or a C-.
* Second, if 100 professors compared Dowd’s three papers for the course, I suspect that between 90 and 95 of them would consider the third paper to be the best of the three, and it’s hard for me to believe that any would analyze it as significantly worse than the other two.

He has a point. I think most professors could squabble on a paper for between two letter grades, but over a passing paper and a non-passing paper?

I help with gymnastics, and our stats system which enters scores is supposed to flag if two judges give a difference of 0.4 score on an event for a gymnast. I find it hard to believe to judges could look at an event and be that far off...

You can make your own decisions about what Kim Curtis' actions.

Steven Horwitz said...

A few other comments on "apologies."

1. I hope I didn't sound like I'm "demanding" apologies. I *do* think some specific individuals owe some apologies (I note no one leaping to defend Baker or Farred). And, I should note, it's not just the three central players who were targeted by public and false accusations, so even if they don't think they are owed apologies, other lax players might. Given the new suit from the unindicted players, that seems a reasonable assumption.

And here's a hypothetical of my own: Do people think that if Duke and/or the LS signers had issued some sort of apology that the unindicted folks would have been so vigorous in pursuing the courts? Maybe, maybe not. It would have run the risk of opening them up to admitting guilt, but it also might have healed some wounds earlier so they would not have festered. My own judgment is that, after skimming that suit, it's hard to believe it could have made matters worse.

2. TR is quite right that we don't know the details of the Curtis case, and I phrased myself more "if, then" there. And I also think any attempt by KC or anyone else to "regrade" the papers is beside the point. Academic work happens in a course context that folks outside the course cannot replicate. In my six years as an administrator, I firmly refused to second-guess faculty grading on the grounds that I "wasn't there." (I did, however, offer to help any student with a legitimate grievance to navigate our grievance process.)

3. As for the LS... I think the role of an "apology" is purely instrumental. I'm willing to accept the signers' statements of intent if they will admit that the language left themselves open to the interpretation it's been given. I do believe that at least publicly admitting that much would be a step toward some reconciliation here.

On the assumption that many of the LS signers probably accept the ideas that the meaning of a piece of communication is the result of the interaction between communicator and audience and that one cannot know what a text means only by resort to authorial intent, it is highly ironic that they are resorting to authorial intent as a method for getting at what the LS "really meant."

So much for the hermeneutic circle and elements of post-modernism.

4. TR's proposal of apologies all-around is an interesting one, as lots of folks have things that I think they could apologize for. But boy it's hard to imagine the circumstances under which everyone would proceed in good faith. Having been party to similar, though lower-stakes, versions of this situation in the past, I think it will take an effort of courage for someone to be the first mover.

Doing that in a climate of litigation, however, might be courageous to the point of stupidity.

shorty said...

wow, so now random rambler takes up the "fact" stuffing that tr asked that people not do anymore of.

maybe you just missed her post a few paragraphs up asking people not to do any more of what you just did?

The Random Rambler said...

As for the apologies:

I believe Duke as a whole (not the faculty) should apologize (or at least explain their actions) for their role. Brodhead already did, but that is not enough.

- Houston Baker for his utterly horrid racist comments and email.

- John Burness made ill-advised comments, so much so Pressler wanted to pursue another lawsuit.

- The Medical Center. The SANE Nurse in training made assertion she was not legally allowed. She stated that discharge from a yeast infection was semen. I would think a SANE nurse-in-training would be able to tell the difference.

- Whomever hired an unqualified attorney to first represent the players on behalf of the university who was unqualified for that area of law.

- Dean Sue for telling the players to cooperate fully with police and to not get lawyers involved.

- President Brodhead, head of the BOT, and Joe Alleva (AD) for canceling the season. I personally believe the season should have been cancelled for safety concerns; however, they gave horrid responses for their reasoning.

As for others:

- The city of Durham

- The Durham police department

- The DA's office (Nifong may have been the front man, but there were many in the wings who allowed this to continue

- The hospital (there were many so I cannot keep track, it has been awhile since I read UPI and I do not have the book by me) who first suggested rape to the (false) accuser before she actually said something to the effect of being beaten or assaulted.

- The NC NAACP that not only had a list of false accusations on their web site (even after the charges were dismissed), they continued to go against their precedents established for cases that are this racially charged.

- The media for their absolutely slanted coverage to the accuser. First impressions are the most important, and few, if any, were fair.

As for the "listening ad," obviously Pink and others have different interpretations on the intention and we are not going to change minds. However, I think we can for the most part agree that the timing and wording of the advertisement left a little to be desired.

I think it is unprecedented that the listening ad was actually mentioned in a court document motion.

What also perplexes me about the ad is that Lubiano stated in her email it was in response to the lacrosse incident. Then the ad says that they are listening to their students... "Who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism." In the early stages, who was being racist to the African-Americans and women on campus? The feelings of most everyone making themselves (save at that point Tucker Carlson and Dan Abrahms on MSNBC) were for the accuser.

And I think the core of the group need to explain, "To the students speaking individually and to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and making yourselves heard." So far, the only protests known were about the ones who marched in front of the house holding "castrate" signs and the like. So if the professors were not thanking them, who were they thanking?

Harmonizer, KC may have well misinterpreted Professor Coleman's report. But it is also very strange that the two established contact with each other very early in the case and more than a year later is when Coleman finally informs KC (through the media no less) that he was misinterpreted.

And I find very strange that Duke hid behind the "the law enforcement was so sure that a crime had occurred that we believed them because we believed they would be truthful." Huh? Doesn’t the university, more than many other factors, tell us to use logic and not blindly follow. So why was Duke "blindly" following the DA? Especially after he made false statements (that Duke knew were lies) such as they were hiding a blue wall of silence. And, a statement as reckless as "If they were innocent, why would the need to hire a lawyer?"

Finally, from my standpoint of just graduating and then attending graduate schools, I look to professors as leaders and people to guide the students that are for the most part paying their salaries. The three most influential professors in my life at my undergraduate institution all have very polar opposite political views that I have. However, they were there to guide me and give me good advice. Most importantly, they were willing to listen. When I changed my major from history to communications after two years, my professor was willing to listen to me as I made a decision FOR TWO HOURS (over the summer no less).

I feel some Duke professors failed in their duty to these lacrosse players.

Regardless of whether Kim Curtis actually used grade retaliation, she openly participated in the horrible protests and made and absolutely horrible statement in response to attorney's for the players doing their job.

Houston Baker made absolutely horrendous and racist comments and emails.

One lacrosse player reported to KC that a professor who he had been mentored by all his life treated him horribly after the incident and would not listen to his reasoning.

Does this sound like leadership qualities? Maybe I am misinterpreting the role of a professor?

nickname said...

To Steven Horwitz,

On this blog, *I* was someone who talked about the LS ad and suspending our need to have its intent, whatever we think the intent is/was, clarified. Contrary to what you write, that it is "highly ironic that they are resorting to authorial intent," I am not "they." What I was trying to get us to think about wasn't the same as my trying to make an argument to prove their motivations or their intent in the ad.

Or, if that is what you (or other folks) thought that I was doing, or if, in fact, that is what I was doing, I want to correct that. I'm in literary studies and authorial intent argumentation is like original sin. We are trying so hard to over come it.

I am attempting to get around trying to having our discussion depend upon any establishing of intent by suggesting as a thought experiment what dropping an insistence on seeing their intent as foolish or knavish might offer to our talking. Or, maybe I was asking that we consider treating, however impossible that might be, the ad, the discussions of the signers about the ad, as not what has been established so thoroughly in some other places.

I don't know what the intent is/was. I just want to interrupt the insistence on establishing it as foolish or unprincipled behavior *before* any other kind of conversation can go on. Since much of the discussions around the ad that went on in the most extended conversational sites focusing on it take off from the point that its signers were biased or wrong, a kind of counter-factual commonsense has been established (despite instances of strong dissent to that commonsense on/in this blog and its comments).

Because our conversation, yours and mine, is pretty immediate and I really do want to talk to you, I don't want you to think that *my* resistance to apology discourse comes from wanting to establish some version of a postmodernist hermeneutic circle (whatever that means given postmodernism's circulation as a form of blanket coverage). Not trying, by the way, to diss postmodernism. Just trying to be clear.

I asked my questions earlier in the form of "what if" because I'm trying to see if there's a way around taking a side on intent. I don't know the intent and, for the purposes of this blog's conversation, I don't care. Instrumental role, yes, for you I see and hear its importance. But not for me and not for some others of us talking on this blog. And while you think the language left itself open to the interpretation that it has been given by *some people*, some others who have piped into conversation here don't agree.

So, how do we talk past that point of disagreement?

Can we talk past that point of disagreement?

I want to. I've found so much of what has already been spoken about here by various people to move into directions that aren't addressed in other places. And I like how you talk.

I'm keeping my comments here are addressed to this discourse community only because TR has asked that we not drag in or refer to conversations that have happened in other places. This is a good faith argument from my own point of view. I'm really trying to talk about my reading and some things that I've read here that aren't represented by the more negative readings.

But I will happily give up reminding us of other readings of the signers' motivations. I will happily give up trying to keep before us other possibilities of their motivations in the interest of talking about some other matters that come out of this moment in the spirit of sallying forth into non-state of emergency land.

The Random Rambler said...

an answer to anonymous 4:24:

I had two seperate issues to talk about and I split the posts so TR can make her own assertions on whether to delete or not.

However, it is fact that the two lowest grades were lacrosse players and it is fact she had made comments in- and outside the classroom. I just then pointed to KC's assertions.

And while different professors can argue of whether a paper should be a B or C, I do feel that as someone who has graded all their life could easily spot a B or C to failing work.

And she were in those protests. We knew her feeling of the case. How hard is it to ask the question that maybe her feelings clouded her judgment on grades? I am sure Duke investigated before settling.

It is like like the NBA ref accused of gambling problems. I am not sure it is fact he specifically bet on games that he officiated, but it makes you wonder if he called games a specific way to win bets...

One Spook said...

michael in nh @ 3:28 PM writes:

"What frequently annoys me is when one posts something factually incorrect or puts forth a position that isn't supported by the facts, and then a request is made to look at various documents. And the person begs off as it's not interesting, too much work, or they have a different worldview. Perhaps this isn't the best place for an intellectual discussion.

I have a lot of work to do and I think that this is a good enough place to finish here."


Amen.

Like other frequent DIW readers who have commented here, I have tried to be fair and courteous to the author and participants on this blog. For that, I have been criticized by at least one DIW regular reader.

I originally came here because I wanted to read Professor Potter's reply to KC Johnson's posting that she has never retracted her statement that "the dancers were, it is clear, physically if perhaps not sexually assaulted", despite the investigation performed by the office of the Attorney General of North Carolina determining that there was "no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night".

Apart from a statement from Professor Potter that her writing was in the "passive voice," I've read nothing from her or others here that address any cogent explanation or reason for the demonstrably false assertions in her statement.

I believe that, at a minimum, for a scholar to make such indefensible statements and not retract them is shameful and frankly, unprofessional.

Now, participants here are asked by Potter to not quote arguments advanced in the DIW blog, or to not bring up certain aspects of Professor Curtis' behavior.

Framing the "discussion" here in that manner renders the discourse absolutely and totally useless, and I'll not be a party to it any further.

For those of you who remain, please read amac and steven horwitz's comments here and address their questions. The comments of those two PhD scholars are valid and worthy of your regard.

I'll take my leave, thanks.

One Spook

reharmonizer said...

Good as it is to see some frank back and forth about the issues of apology and reconciliation, ultimately it's something that has to be sorted out between people at Duke and the lacrosse players, their families, etc. For a hypothetical discussion of the issue to be constructive and enlightening, these are some the conditions I think need to be met...

1. There has to be at least an attempt to connect it to the real people who live here in Durham, spend a lot of time on the Duke campus, have a stake in the community, and know things about it from personal experience that you can't pick up on the news or in DIW.

2. The discussion should start with individuals, not groups. One of the least defensible aspects of Johnson's campaign against the so-called "Group of 88" was his constant use of the statements or actions of individuals to incriminate the group (comments in this thread by Steven Horwitz and others point in a better direction). The fact that a professor's name appears on the list of 88 tells you virtually nothing about whether they prejudged the rape allegations, whether they brought lacrosse-case issues up in class or treated the players in an inappropriate way. It tells you even less about the quality of their scholarship or their value in the community. To engage in grade retaliation or classroom lectures on the reprehensible character of the lacrosse team are, first and foremost, professional lapses by individuals, not representations of an ideology or a group. I'm sure there are meaningful generalizations to be made about Duke's institutional culture, but the generalizations aren't the starting point.

3. The worst behavior and the most outrageous statements need to be put in perspective. An important aspect of that is realizing that 99.9% of what went on at Duke as the scandal unfolded was not news. To judge the response of all or 88 of Duke's faculty based on the most egregious incidents is like judging the safety of air travel by listing all the crashes that happened last year. The vast majority of professors were teaching their classes and treating their students the way they always had (for better or worse).

4. Don't imagine that the news, or the well-publicized experience of the lacrosse team members, tells the whole story about the atmosphere on campus. I have no interest in dismissing or trivializing the ordeal the lacrosse players endured, but it doesn't cancel out the experience of every other student. One thing you learn little or nothing about from the news is what it was like to ride the bus from west to east campus, walk down the hall of a dorm at night, sit in class before the professor arrives, or stand in line waiting for food. The "listening" statement, as I understand it, has to do with those realms of campus life, and the only way to find about them is to listen to the students who were there. One of the things I find disappointing about the "listening" statement is that it starts with the laudable premise of listening to students but then does so selectively. It would have been nice if those who were bothered by the ad had responded by listening more broadly and more closely, but that's not what happened. With respect to the students represented by the ad, Johnson's reaction was to stick his fingers in his ears and start yelling (figuratively speaking, that is).

5. It has to be possible to talk frankly about how and why the party was objectionable. It needn't and shouldn't be an exercise in judging the lacrosse team, especially since it's now well known that they were not the first or only student group to hire strippers. I agree with pink 2 that the big issue is entitlement--specifically, the sense of entitlement that comes with having money to burn. As a way for people with cash to deal with people who need it, the transaction that night was grotesque, starting with the call to an "escort" (i.e., prostitution) service in which the caller lied about how large the party would be. It would, in my opinion, have been a much different thing if an effort had been made to find performers with the talent and experience to really put on an erotic show--women they cared to know something about and could treat as professional entertainers. They would have saved themselves and the rest of us a whole lot of trouble. Duke, according to its mission statement, is committed to its students' "development as adults committed to high ethical standards and full participation as leaders in their communities." I don't see any way to reconcile that with furtive dips into the sex industry's trade of dollars for desperation.

On the whole I don't think the focus on apologies is constructive. The fact that the lacrosse team apologized numerous times has been mentioned in this thread and on DIW. In the apology I'm aware of, which is posted on the Duke News site, the team captains express "sincere regret over the lapse in judgment in having the party on March 13 which has caused so much anguish for the Duke community and shame to our families and ourselves." I don't doubt the sincerity, but I don't get much out of it. I would much rather hear some frank reflections about where they went wrong, what the lapse in judgment was, the role of money and alcohol, etc. I'm not saying they could or should have done that at the time, given the legal situation--I'm trying to make a point about apologies, not about the lacrosse team.

In his 1:43 PM post, Michael in NH quotes comments I made in my blog about the "listening" ad's "thank you" to protesters. At the end I say that "I find it odd and disappointing that those who signed the ad and continued to speak out and editorialize didn't meet the issue head on." What would have been more valuable than either an apology or a simple disavowal of the assumptions and rhetoric of the highly judgmental protests, in my opinion, would have been some frank reflections on what protests can and should do, how and why protesters motivated by the lacrosse case fell short of those standards, and what can be learned from it.

It would be a terrible shame for Duke to try to just clear the lawsuits and close the book, but I think there are far better ways to come to terms with the awkward and ugly legacies of the lacrosse case than hashing it out as an exercise in assigning guilt and atoning for it.

Tenured Radical said...

Reharmonizer:

Thank you for this thoughtful post -- point #5 in particular is something I have been trying to say effectively and have not achieved, and you hit it on the head.

And what you are saying about apologies also is getting at what I was trying to think about more productively: there is nothing automatically cleansing about saying you are sorry, as I think the DiW commenters are also, in their own way, pointing out, since they see the apologies as foundational for any next move toward resolving this, but are not clear on how closure would be reached even after the apology.

I've always thought it was a peculiarly American myth that certain kinds of damage can be repaired by confession and/or punishment. Hence a certain rhetoric in favor of the death penalty; hence our endless lawsuits against the person who made us smoke, the person who made us fat, the person who.... (fill in the blank). Damage sometimes isn't repairable, and you can't go back to who you were before. Much of literature is devoted to this, actually. The point is -- what can we learn, and how do we learn it? What helps us grow and keep on living?

And yes -- this is about Duke and the lacrosse players, not the rest of us. That is a crucial point.

TR

becket03 said...

Are there any statements you can point to, Prof Potter, which claim that Crystal Mangum was pushed out the back door of the bungalow in a manner consistent with "physical assault?" We know there were no marks on her face or body, except for scabbed over scratches which were visible on film during the dance, and therefore present prior to any possible physical contact with players. If Mangum or Kim Roberts made the charge that either or both of them were manhandled out of the house, I've not seen it. I have seen, however, accounts from several sources, including Kim Roberts, that the incapacitated Mangum was carried to the car by players.

"Carried" is not equal to "assaulted".

It appears to me you've wracked your brain looking for a way to justify your own original unsupported charge that a "physical assault" took place, and this is what you came up with. Rather than back off and provide a dignified apology to the players, you've decided to exercise your powers of imagination in search of a plausible scenario. That's what good lawyers do. But then, you're an historian, not a lawyer, correct?

It seems you have a very casual relationship with facts, Professor, a characteristic one would think would be unusual in an historian. Amac, in his usual fashion, has brilliantly commented on the problem of dragging Sally Hemings et al., into these proceedings. I defer to his analysis in toto.

Professor, you're very likable. And I truly admire the conciliatory tone you've taken on several occasions during exchanges with adversaries. Reading your stuff these past few days has caused me to appreciate your abilities as a writer and your qualities as a person. But my main gripe with you concerns the charge of "physical assault." You've done nothing to mitigate the ethical lapse surrounding that issue. In fact, you seem hellbent on compounding it.

beckett

P.S. Tankleff is not germane to this case and I'd rather not hijack the thread to discuss him. Suffice it to say, if he's ever acquitted by a jury of his peers for the murder of his parents, I'll stand on my head naked in Times Square in February.

Steven Horwitz said...

Nickname,

My comments about authorial intent were not directed at you specifically. Sorry if you took them that way. Others in the more general discourse have, however, made it about intent.

nickname said...

To Steven Horwitz,

Okay. I'm sorry I misunderstood.
(Damn. Now I've apologized. Just joking.)

Duke J. D. said...

"5. It has to be possible to talk frankly about how and why the party was objectionable.... It would, in my opinion, have been a much different thing if an effort had been made to find performers with the talent and experience to really put on an erotic show--women they cared to know something about and could treat as professional entertainers. They would have saved themselves and the rest of us a whole lot of trouble."
----------------------------------
So the lacrosse captains were at fault, and their party "objectionable," because they hired the wrong type of strippers??? What a feeble argument. I'm afraid that it typifies the continuing puritanical desperation of some at Duke to find new ways to blame the students. If only the erotic (or exotic) dancers had been more erotic (or exotic), none of this trouble would have happened?? What should the captains have done? Scour North Carolina for the most "talented and experienced" strippers available? Ask for multiple references?

Women have the legal right to "put on an erotic show" (i.e. strip) for money. Even inexperienced and untalented ones. Their favorite customers are "people with cash" as you put it. Deal with it.

If I call for a plumber and the company sends out a drunk who doesn't know a toilet bowl from a hole in the ground, is that my fault? To blame the lacrosse captains for the artistic failings of the dancers whom they were stupid enough to hire is perverse.

Steven Horwitz said...

Nickname,

Having had a better chance to really digest your longer comment above, let me add a few thoughts.

At the heart of this whole saga, it seems to me, is the following "talking past each other:"

1. Duke faculty and other folks who saw in the lacrosse party a very clear example, both real and symbolic, of a number of problems that are real issues on college campuses - race/class/gender divisions/tensions, athletics/academics tensions, the destructive effects of excessive alcohol consumption, an air of privilege that some students bring with them, and the relationship of faculty, student affairs, and students in a world of extended adolescence and overinvolved parents. These folks chose to use the lacrosse party and the immediate aftermath as a launching point for a critique and conversation about those very problems.

Those problems are real (they exist to some degree on almost every campus) and such conversations are important and much needed.

2. Another group saw in the call by faculty to use the lacrosse case as such a launching point not only a presumption of guilt of the members of the team (that was their *perception*, intent of the LS aside for a moment), but perhaps more important a kind of detached analytical/intellectual framing of it that treated the question of the students' actual innocence or guilt as an afterthought. For those folks, especially those with ideological positions that predisposed them to believe that left wing faculty, especially faculty of color, are "out to get" rich, white, athletic men, this was no time for fussy analysis. The eggheads were selling out their students, and possibly costing them 30 years of their lives, in the name of their agendas.

In their minds, the apparent secondary importance of the students' actual innocence was just as important in reality and symbolically as the crisis of campus culture was to the faculty.

And if you grant that some significant percentage of those outraged by the apparent lack of concern about actual guilt were outraged because they really DO care about innocent people of any race or gender going to jail, there is some legitimacy to that outrage, as plenty of innocent folks are going to jail every day.

Let me just add that based on my experiences at DiW, the percentage of folks there who really fit the nasty, racist etc image of the commentariat was lower than is often suggested. It so happened that those voices tended to be the loudest and most offensive and they often migrated to other blogs where they created an image of DiW commenters that was overblown.

One might compare this to Prof. Zimmerman's point that the vast majority of Duke faculty went on with their business, and it was the loudest and worst voices that got pulled into the narrative such that it was "all" of the signers, or even "all" of the faculty engaging in the more rare awful behavior.

No one has to apologize for engaging in cultural critique or raising the problematic issues that are all too real on college campuses. And no one should have to apologize for being genuinely concerned about innocent people being railroaded to jail. (Calling people farm animals or the racist and sexist comments by some at DiW and elsewhere are a different story.)

But if there's going to be real conversation about both issues, somehow, some way, we're going to have to get beyond each side viewing the other on the basis of the worst behavior that came to light on each side. Beginning that process, I think, will at least involve people recognizing what it was about their own actions that enabled the other side to view them the way they did. Maybe that's not an "apology" but it's at least a level of self-critical reflection that I'm not sure we've seen on any side.

The Random Rambler said...

reharmonizer 6:26

"One of the things I find disappointing about the "listening" statement is that it starts with the laudable premise of listening to students but then does so selectively."

Thank you. Someone who defends the group finally admits a fault with the ad. I cannot speak for others, but one of the issues I had with people who defended the ad and it's signatories is they did not admit it has it's own faults.

You brought up what said in dorms or what is said in the bus. We focus on race but the same issues apply to appearence, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc... I have had to deal with insensistive comments all my life because of my being overweight. I have seen the surveys that suggest that because I am overweight, I will face discrimination when looking for a job.

As for random comments, why do we "gear up" for offenses to race yet there is not such moral outrage for someone making a comment on someone's appearence or sexual orientation (or using such language as an insult but not having a sexual meaning in it)?

When I went to college, I was quite sheltered. I lived my whole life in a town with very little diversity. Sometimes at college I made comments that I thought were harmless (I grew up in an enviornment where this was not necessarily looked down upon) but were in fact a bit racist.

In fact, when a person makes a racist comment to someone who is Black, someone sticks up for them. Where are the people sticking up for me in my life? Few and far between, I assure you.

Also, if the listening ad was so important and to speak of general racism, why did not anyone on the faculty speak out about the clearly biased media coverage? Why didn't any faculty wonder out loud why the New Black Panther's were not only allowed to make threats with no retribution, they actually were allowed in the courtroom? Why has not anyone made an issue that after Nifong clearly made numerous unethical-type statements, it took a tie-breaking vote by the head of the committee to even begin to investigate Nifong? Why is there little mention about getting help for the (false) accuser, who clearly needs it (I think it is apparent she needs mental help if she claims she was raped while suspended in mid-air)? Why did the faculty and the public in general not speak out against the NC NAACP when they had the horribly false list on their web site for so long and went against their long-standing principles (like they did not support a change of venue when race is an issue in court cases)?

Just a note, I do not condone making fun of anyone because of their age, appearence, race, etc...

Anonymous said...

If a woman's sexual history is irrelevant to a rape trial why is the presence of a disapproved of amount odfdrinking on campus or alleged racist or sexist behaviour of others ?As a dedicated DIW reader I have spent some time and effort attempting to communicate with and understand the thinking of those who support views expressed by Dr. Potter. I don't think this attempt is reciprocated in any good faith at all . Opinions are deeply held about both the Lacrosse incident and those who read and liked DIW.I now believe dialogue "is futile" although resistance is not . Re-education camps would seem to be in all of our futures if some of these people had their way. I'm back to the real world a rose is a rose is a rose....a Dieu.

hman said...

I think that most people are more comfortable with a state of reconcilliation than with endless rancor and I also think that most of us would accept just about any sincere apology that came our way. I know for sure we all like it when our apologies are accepted.
However, when bad behavior is soberly plotted, prolonged, and puts your life in danger... then no, the whole notion of an aplogy has no bearing on what needs to happen to make things right.
Followers of this saga can pin-point the exact moment when M. Nifong knew beyond question that the guys were innocent - the day the final, super-sensitive DNA tests came back negative (except for her clients). That data combined with the details of the accusers statement was a head-shot to any coherent argument for guilt. The other hint was that Nifong began to refuse to gather or acknowledge more "evidence" in the case - obviously the most important of his career. He knew that from then on that actual, honest discovery was going to be bad news and he wanted nothing to do with it.
Followers of this case also know that on many occasions various actors made a similar turn to the dark side - by attempting to fabricate evidence like the ER nurse or by passing on an embarrasing email while seeing but then hiding emails from the same night that were highly exculpatory. That last act was committed by someone at Duke.
The point is, it is quite a non-trivial matter who knew this was a frame and when they knew it. That is one reason, among others, that this is not over.
Of course it is impossible to ascertain someones inner thoughts and knowledge. But in a case like this, with such a dense record of communication, it is easy to sort out when someone began to act like they knew something and when they started actively cooperating with self conscious hoaxsters like Nifong. (Despite his public misdeeds) Duke higher-ups come across as stomach turning in this regard.
Those who acted on impulse or too hasty assumptions should have their apologies accepted, imho, but there really does seem to be a long list of folks who knew or should have known this was bogus from the start and who let the dogs lose on these kids anyway. Until a clearer picture emerges as to how many at Duke/Durham were in on this, reconciliation will have to wait.

hman said...

As to the meta-narrative that avid supporters of the LAX team at DiW and other sites have all along just been acting on some kind of unconscios Duke-envy - I do not think anyone seriously doubts that if the case against the LAX guys were stronger this notion (and indeed the whole "Listening Statement') would never have been conjured up. The arguments would have centered around the details of the evidence. The early debates and on-line discussions had little to say about race/class/gender. It was only when facts became unwelcomed did the enablers of this hoax shift emphasis to a "facts are not that important anyway" type of analysis. Indeed, the gang of 88 apparently rushed to get their screed out into the arena ahead of the announcement of the very inconvenient no-match of any DNA. It seems they were afraid the story would fade thereafter and they would have missed their chance.

nickname said...

Steven and Re:harmonizer,

There’s much of both of your posts that I find really compelling. Steven, I think your point no. 2 makes sense to me as a reading of the folks who were critical of the faculty based on what I’ve read. And there’s a lot of such response to the faculty out there to read . Your point no. 1 is harder for me to respond to because the faculty involved haven’t said very much about what they were doing. So, what I’m going to suggest is a speculation based on an alternate reading of the text of the ad (not authorial intention), especially the students’ quotes, since that’s basically all that I have to work with.

What if the text allows us to imagine what you’re describing of faculty in your point no. 1 differently? What if the ad suggests reactions to what was going on in the discussions, in the talk, in what was happening among the students who saw themselves being focused on as the problem?

Re:harmonizer says that discussion really has to connect to the people who live in Durham and spend a lot of time on the campus and have a stake in the community. I agree with that; it is part of the reason that I am so interested in and caught up in all of this although I wonder whether there might also be other kinds of discussions that speak to some of the issues that came up that don’t depend upon being there, but I’ll save that for the end of this post.

Re:harmonizer also criticizes the ad signers having chosen to listen to particular students and not a broader array of students. And he’s right that those faculty chose a particular subset of students. And my being on campus has shed some light for me on why they might have chosen to focus on that particular subset of students. I’m not trying here to dispute Re:harmonizer’s thinking; I’m trying to narrate mine.

With the campus newspaper and the mainstream or majority population of the students treating any criticism of Duke and its culture as an expression of anti-Duke solidarity and with the administration resisting in the newspapers and the media concerns with issues of racism and of sexual violence, black students and their allies concerned with racism, women students and their allies concerned with sexual violence, not only found themselves left on their own by their school, as they have been before, they couldn’t find a place where people would listen to them.

I know that I’m going to seem to be rambling, but I want to get to something that might explain why I disagree with thinking about the faculty as using the ad for a “launching point for a critique” instead of faculty speaking on behalf of what they saw as the most vulnerable students in a discussion. Not the most vulnerable students anywhere under any circumstances, but in a field of discussion and debates on a particular campus with a particular history. If the ad was about what a particular group of students were thinking, feeling, and talking about, not about what happened at the house, then understanding how that group of students could come to be the concern of those particular faculty is important.

Imagine black students and their allies, for example, who have spent years trying to get the attention of the administration in order to have their fears and concerns addressed and female students and their supporters who have spent years dealing with a university that is not receptive to criticism of the way that it handles sexual violence on campus. If the campus system consistently funnels complaints of sexual violence through its own system and away from the Durham police, and if students who do complain about racist episodes to the campus police become themselves targets of suspicion, then these things all have an affect upon students’ understanding of the difficulty of their daily lives.

I want to go back to the ad for a minute. Again, speculation: imagine a gathering where students who have experienced time and again, or know about being the objects of derision because of the David Horowitz anti-reparations ad of a couple of years ago as well as episodes of explicit racism including physical threats, blackface frat parties, or the anti-Asian caricatures, frat party themes, and casual anti-Asian newspaper columns, or the Latino/Latina caricatures, Mexican gardener frat party themes, or students who find walking across west campus and being black subjects them to having bottles and epithets thrown at them, or who are under increased campus police scrutiny for even reporting racist incidents, or who walk through a minefield of threats simply by virtue of being female in a social setting not just where binge drinking goes on but by virtue of walking across campus, or who listened to people compare them to the women hired at the party. Black students on any predominantly white campus, women on any campus, poorer students on any elite campus find themselves marginalized in ways that the rest of the students, much of the staff, many faculty, and many administrators find hard to imagine.

Now, think about what it might have been like in the midst of discussions of the incident, to have the administration describe people (students, staff, faculty) raising the issues of racism, class entitlement, and sexual violence described as marginal, as radical, to the local press or on local television.

When I read the ad and look at the quotes I see the students saying that it’s bad, when you’re surrounded, where there’s all of them and just you, when you’re trapped and there’s so many more of them. They weren’t talking about the incident; they were talking about themselves. That’s why they tried to say look at what’s happening and how little people want us to talk about this; they said when we try to talk about race white people don’t want to hear it; when I’m dressing I have to think about whether I look like a black stripper or sex worker now to my dormmates. When I walk across campus, the cops stop me. When I'm on the bus without a pro-lacrosse bracelet, they ask me if I dance at parties.

I looked at the ad, and I realized that the students were talking about what their lives were like in a period when they couldn’t even find an audience to listen to them say anything because so much of the campus space was given over to generating Duke solidarity. It didn’t matter what these students were trying to say, the Duke din was overwhelming. That state of affairs, on campus, could be what compelled so many faculty members to choose to support that subset of students. Not to take advantage of the moment to go back to older concerns, but to draw attention to what was happening in this moment to students nobody wanted to hear talk about racism or sexual violence in that moment or in any other. This is a way to think about what the ad could possibly mean when it referred to and thanked protests in a general way.

Yeah, I know that my reading doesn’t satisfy those who find some of what specific protestors did beyond the pale of acceptable behavior, and it isn’t meant to do that. I respect Re:harmonizer’s critique of the protestors. But a shout out to the protestors could have been just a general shout out to people trying to raise critical issue. And all of this was read in far more complicated fashion, in far more varied places, at the time that the ad was originally published. That’s what Prof. Davidson’s piece establishing a timeline tried to articulate. It’s what the Clarifying Statement tried to articulate.

Mostly, I'm trying to actually look at what the students said.

And here is where I am interested in thinking about this from a point of view that could include thinking and discussion both on and beyond the Duke campus and the Durham community, like here in TR’s blog. I think it’s worth addressing questions such as what is a protest and how does one gesture to it? When people refer to protests around job actions or wrongful dismissal, protests at city council meetings, protests at military facilities, at schools around the treatment of students or refusal to address issues of student treatment, protests against the war, protests at universities at administrations who are being prodded to change their thinking or their actions, etc., how should such references to protests fit into statements around those moments?

Many of us refer to protests in general terms even when some puppets or effigies in questionable taste are carried at protests, even when particular and objectionable signs are part of a particular protest, even when a speaker at a rally says something that people find objectionable. I’ve read plenty of references to all kinds of protests including, but certainly not limited to public demonstrations. I’ve seen people make gestures to protests, saying things like “and one of the things that has made a difference in this [fill in the blank] struggle have been the protestors who wouldn’t let these things go unaddressed ...” I know that’s lame language, but I’m trying to capture without dragging in quotes (or having to go search for them) some sense of the ways that people point to protests without necessarily delineating which specific protests or which particular protestors one is gesturing toward.

God, I’ve said way too much. But I’ve done it because I’m taking seriously what Steven and Re:harmonizer have thought through.

Goodnight all.

David said...

Just a thought:

Why are people spending so much time arguing about this case? A lacrosse team held a party with strippers, false accusations were made, the DA disgraced himself, and now the lawsuits. It was an interesting story for awhile, but by now it has run its course, even if all the fulminating on it has not. The rest of the world has moved on, and there are now more important things to discuss. No? At what point does this debate stop becoming substantive and start becoming mere navel-gazing for both sides?

nickname said...

One fairly significant point. The ad was published April 6th, almost two weeks *before* the first charges were filed against two of the players. The charges against the third were filed later.

That timing makes a difference when people speak of the ad as something that was directed at the players *after* they were under indictment.

becket03 said...

The verbose Nickname's posts can be effectively edited, I believe, by slightly modifying an an old legal adage:

When the facts are with you, argue the facts.
When the facts are against you, argue the law.
And when both the facts and the law are against you, implore your opponent to "talk past that point of disagreement."


beckett

reharmonizer said...

Nickname, reading your comment is a bit like looking back at myself some months ago, trying to make sense of the LS both in the context of Duke and in relation to all the rhetoric swirling around it. I agree that if you take the quotes seriously as a reflection of real students' experiences (and I think they should be read that way) the statement takes on a different aspect. The points I make about the protests and selective listening are developed in my blog--I don't want to drag all that into this discussion, but you might find them interesting, so there are the links. Are you also at Duke?

I couldn't agree more with Steven about the need for self-critical reflection on both sides. I'm especially disappointed with the lack on the LS side. It's absurd that more than a year and a half after the events I went down in the annals of DIW as the first "group supporter" to publicly criticize the potbangers. With respect to the protests, the pro and con about them has never gotten beyond bickering about which protesters were being thanked, which has been a great boon for Johnson.

I wish I could answer more of Rambler's questions. Perspective is important, though. The vast majority of Duke faculty made no public comments about the case at all, mostly for mundane and practical reasons--too busy, concentrating on other issues, etc. But the ones who did, even the ones whose main concerns were those raised by the LS, could have stood up for due process and fair prosecution without sacrificing their other agenda.

I'm glad to hear, TR, that my point about the party resonated. It's one I'd like to be able to make clearly and with a minimum of antagonism--apparently that's still out of reach.

nickname said...

Hi Re:harmonizer,

Thank you for your post. I will go read your blog.

nickname said...

And serial post offense: yes, Re:harmonizer, I am at Duke and live in Durham.

(No more posting for me today.)

Steven Horwitz said...

Nickname,

I think your re-interpretation of my point 1 is certainly plausible. I didn't mean to necessarily suggest folks were using the incident to "go back" to the same set of issues. Something like the LS always happens in a specific context and I don't think your analysis, which refers to the specific context that those students were dealing with, is inconsistent with the LS trying to open up a larger conversation as well. And either interpretation is a different one from the one adopted by the critics.

And I wouldn't go into the timing of the LS if I were you. First, I don't think the critics are claiming it was targeting the indicted players, rather that it appeared to presume that something awful/criminal happened that night and thereby implicated any/all who were present. Second, part of what I think enrages the critics of the LS is that there was strong evidence "out there" that no rape or assault had happened by the point of publication. If you combine the existence of that evidence (esp. if the charges in the latest civil suit are true that the Duke PD knew it was bogus but inappropriately ceded control over the investigation to the Durham PD), the reading of it as presuming guilt, and what appeared to be a rush to get the LS out there, you get the ugly picture the critics of the LS have run with. With that in mind, defenders of the LS should tread carefully when raising the issue of its timing.

The Random Rambler said...

Re:harmonizer,

That was just listing questions to throw them out there. I was not necessarily looking for a response. I understand the majority of faculty did not act upon this. I guess I have the feeling if some faculty are going to raise the issues early on, follow through and just don’t fall silent (like the majority of media fell silent when their "perfect" narrative fell through). Not suggesting an intention of the LS itself, but this could be reasons why people interpret the ad the way they do:

1. No just the faculty, but Duke by large failed to listen to the lacrosse players.

2. When the facts fell through, it seemed as if it was "all quite on the western front."

David 12:10. The reason to keep discussing this is so there is debate on what the role of the university and their faculty is in an incident like this. Whether you are a staunch supporter of Duke or someone who is the polar opposite, I think we can agree that there are some things Duke did wrong.

Some want more, but I just want assurances Duke is reviewing their responses and learning from mistakes made. (as a side note, I wanted to ask TR this question. As someone involved with administration, would you guess that Duke is doing this but putting on the facade of "just move on, nothing to see here?").

I hope the faculty realizes that while their intentions may have been good, that add hurts the lacrosse team. Looking by and large at the whole picture with the media being so pro-accuser and the student population for the most part yelling at them and making comments as they go to class, this ad further added fuel to the fire. The ideal situation would be to have a Duke law professor examine the ad. Again, whatever the intention, lawyers included it into a court document...

I do think apologies are deserved; however, learning from this is important and "move on, nothing to see here" is very detrimental.

Tenured Radical said...

I have been off-line for a while, but just read the exchange between rambler, re:harmonizer, nickname and Steven Horwitz from Horwitz 9:09 forward, and all I can say is , Wow. This is really great stuff. Thank you.

And it causes me to try to summarize one of the places the discussion is going: what if the grievances of the Duke faculty and students toward the Duke administration, as articulated in the LS , the protest and the CS, are fundamentally the same as the grievances of the accused lacrosse players toward the Duke administration? What if the blame directed at the faculty (who were capable of setting a tone, perhaps, but had no official role or agency when it actually came to the legal fate of the falsely accused men) is a sideshow that obscures where the real struggle lies-- which is in the university's resistance to due process and cultivating a civil atmosphere in which all people are respected and heard? In other words, what if the lacrosse players stepped into a story already in progress, but this time in new roles, in which they are able to "see" the Duke bureaucracy, and forced to suffer its inequities, in the way others have seen it and suffered from it for years?

What is the mechanism by which a possible identification of interests, between what have been figured as opposing groups, has been thwarted, when together they might make a larger point to a more heterogeneous audience about reforming the university?

This is something I have suggested before, but I think this piece of the discussion really points in that direction.

And rambler & nickname, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your reflections on why and how this issue touches you as people who are, or who have recently been, students.

TR

Steven Horwitz said...

Well before I sign off for the day/evening, one comment on TR's last comment:

Another way to look at your point is that perhaps now there are a lot of folks, the lax players for starters but their defenders as well, who now (ought to) better understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a culture and bureaucracy that doesn't hear you and forgets all about due process and the like when you have been victimized. To the extent that students of color have felt that way about claims of campus racism and women about sexual assault, your point about them now perhaps having more in common than they might expect is an interesting one.

The problem in convincing both the lax players and their supporters of that is two-fold:

1. There will always be those who deny that the problems faced by women and students of color are real or sufficiently widespread to justify the analogy, or who will argue that with all the faculty and staff who support them and their causes it would be hard to believe that the institution isn't already working in their interest (watch them cite the University of Delaware residential education fiasco in support of that claim).

2. Once again, the way the LS reads, intent aside, and the other things said and done by a few faculty as things unfolded strongly suggested that the lax players were hardly victims of the Duke administration's lack of due process etc. That argument was most clearly voiced by the critics of the LS.

As I noted earlier, the question of their actual innocence or victim status appeared to be secondary at best. Convincing the lax players' defenders to read things your way TR will be very difficult.

What's interesting is that the players themselves seem to have made some progress along these lines, certainly as judged by Seligmann's strong statement about how this case has made him see the criminal justice system in a new light. Moving forward to get institutions of higher ed to reform the way they treat students, all students in all kinds of situations, is going to have to start with the students.

The most interesting point you raise TR is that the one thing that the lax players, their supporters, and the voices of the LS agree on is that the Duke administration has failed students. They disagree about the particulars, but after the lacrosse case, they certainly have a place to start to get at a commonly identified problem.

If THAT had been the frame of the faculty's voice from the beginning, many things might have played out differently. Imagine that instead of the follow up to the LS that we got (the so-called "Clarifying Statement"), instead we got one that showed how the faculty were now ALSO listening to the lax players and the ways in which they were mistreated by other students and the administration (and even some faculty - horrors, admitting that faculty and not just "administrators" might have screwed up too!) and used that as a place to start a conversation between the lax players and the students whose voices were in the first LS. If the CS had gone that way, we'd be in a VERY different place right now. Having been at DiW when the CS came out, I can say pretty confidently that had the CS taken that tack, it would have diffused a decent amount of the hostility.

That's an alternative past to think about.

Tenured Radical said...

Steven:

You are so right. It is an alternative past to think about, and I hope this does not sound trite, but as a historian, the alternative past can be one form of what we call a "usable past" - i.e., a history that helps us plot a different set of strategies, or a new vision, for the future. I think this thread has moved toward a very interesting set of queries: I think we agree that no one can change the past, but the future need not recycle the past endlessly and unreflectively.

Don't even get me started on college anti-discrimination projects/encounter groups. I think they are more or less a disaster, whether organized by administrators or by students, as have been at Zenith historically. One critique I would have of these projects, and campus identity politics more generally at this stage of history, is that they are usually hijacked by students with self-confidence and they create didactic rankings of oppression rather than showing how power works, or demonstrating that the student community reflects, rather than originates, given forms of discrimination that are far more likely to be structural.

One outcome of this phenomenon is telling some people in a given community that they have no right to feel pain or claim that they have been treated badly because they have "privilege." I don't say this to lampoon any identity group or coalition of groups, but rather, to say that it is a form of false consciousness that often occludes certain kinds of power and the interests that power works in. Such as at Duke, where the point of how power was working is that Duke, as a university, expels and excludes people who are a visible embarrassment from the privileges of its community.

I have seen this play out in my classroom -- or at least to the extent it can prior to quick intervention by moi in some ugly ways that mean I understand how a visually "normal" kid (straight-looking, white-looking, prosperous-looking) can be deliberately, publicly shamed as a representative figure by students who themselves are routinely discriminated against and are seeking someone to articulate their grievances to.

I think what my late friend Sekou Sundiata, a great poet, teacher and activist would say to the Duke lacrosse case is, forget the adults. They have caused enough damage. Let's get the young people working together and listening to each other and creating change together.

And yes, to address an earlier theme, white kids throwing theme parties in which people of color and lampoons of their communities are the "theme" is a big problem on campuses. The drinking, violence and lack of a sexual ethic is an even bigger problem among *all* college students, in my view. What's wrong with hook-up culture is not the sex (the Radical is, btw, a well-known sex Radical, charges of puritanism from the peanut gallery aside) but the failure to adequately care for the people one has sex with as a human being makes one less human, to paraphrase Lionel Trilling's famous 1970 essay on pornography.

Broadly speaking, I would say that failure to care adequately for other is also the problem with other forms of physical and spiritual violence -- racism, homophobia, sexism. Drinking to excess is a problem to others who have to deal with the consequences, but it is a sadder reflection on an individual's lack of self-regard when s/he treats her/his own body that way and loses the capacity to control undignified behavior. And until and unless students themselves try to deal with this failure to take care of each other, bad things will continue to happen to decent people.

best,

TR

nickname said...

Steven,

There are other alternative pasts to consider. One such past would be one in which the LS was not construed as an accusation of bias. That possible past then would preclude demands for apologies.

Andrea wrote upstream at 1:40pm (and I hope it's okay to quote her since I'm not bringing in quotes from outside) that It is important to understand what work an apology would accomplish for those who have assailed the signators' judgment, motives, families, and scholarship." She goes on to say (and I'll trim here) that "The apologies ... have been demanded to convince the accusers of the faculty that their accusation of bias against lacrosse students is the correct 'read' of the ad. It would be the event that would render their mis-reading of the anti-racism statement as the 'truth.'"

That narrative of the ad isn't the "truth" of the ad for some of us, so moving forward into another domain of discussion for that "us" has to be possible without satisfying the need for apologies by some other of "us." Yes, I am unshamedly touting andrea's post on this matter; it is clearer and more cogent than anything I've written.

I am not saying that I can't continue to talk while others hold onto their more negative reading of the ad.

But everytime the ad is addressed as something that self-evidently produced a need for an apology, everytime that the DiW comments community is made something that might have been changed by an apology, what is taken for granted in that language is something that at least a few of us dispute. Not all of us take DiW, in either its worst or best incarnations, as a touchstone for engagement around the Duke matter.

TR, I do agree that it is the young who have to talk to each other. But maybe the terms of "talk" might need some form of assistance by somebody under some circumstances. And while the young are finding their way to each other to talk, can we be sure to keep in mind that they live in a world that historical forces larger than themselves are spinning. That's what both the big histories of racism, sexism, heteronormatity, and classism remind us of as well as the smaller histories on the part of specific young who want to speak to those histories.

From the context of my own natal community I'm reminded of the many times well-meaning black straight students have told black gay students that "we just have to learn how to talk to each other." Sometimes, in particular circumstances, black gay students respond to those well-meaning folks by reminding them of how hard it was to even get to the floor to speak, that "we" speak across a history of homophobia and individual good intentions are necessary but not sufficient for talking.

Since I'm not one of the undergrad young on campus, I'm wondering whether there's anything to be gained by more of our conversations?

That's not a rhetorical question for me. It's a real one. And I'm prepared for the answer to be "maybe not." Maybe there really is a limit to what can be addressed more generally speaking, even in a non-emergency at an off-campus site. That's what I guess re:harmonizer was saying earlier, and I didn't hear it clearly enough the first time I read it: it's not just that Duke and Durham have to work on this, but that this specific problem can't really be addressed in any other spaces even by people who were and/or are at Duke and in Durham.

[For me though, finally after all that I've seen and heard here and the folks that I met here, I'm glad that I showed up and stopped lurking, at least for a while.]

Tenured Radical said...

Nickname:

I'm glad you showed up too -- you have added a tremendous amount. And I didn't mean that only the young should talk -- we are teachers, after all, and I agree with you that we have something to add. I also agree with you about not working from the assumption that the LS requires apology, Also, in my view, the demand for apology is somewhat absolute without anyone having made clear to me what it would accomplish or what problem it would solve.

Re talk: I am reminded of political scientist Nancy Fraser's work on political culture, and her assertion that democratic spaces do not automatically confer equality on all participants.

TR

The Random Rambler said...

I think when we stop attacking and really talk this out; we really say both sides of the aisle can speak to each other in a civilized manner. There are certainly different tones from TR from her post to the comments she leaves in here. I guess it takes on a different tone when addressing a few individuals to a large group. I have found this discussion quite interesting.

I reiterate: The problem I have with saying "case closed, let us move on" is this case brought out many issues that need to be discussed. Not just at Duke or the faculty, but in the world in general.

First and foremost, I think we need to look past the "race card." I felt the majority in the media and others standing up in support of this girl were sticking up for to better there own cause because they know "race card" brings out certain emotions and is a "call to action." I feel the majority of black leaders use race to better themselves and the actually care very little about the people involved. The media used race to draw people in for rating's sake and used this woman.

Through discussions here, I have started to change my thinking of the ad. I generally now think it was good intentions that terribly went wrong (less than stellar timing and wording). Individuals on all sides, I believe, are well intentioned but yet focus of the pathos of the situation and not the logos (I discuss this issue in my blog, to read more click here.


I will admit, the reason I first became so enthralled with this case is I am a Duke fan. Not like a majority of Duke fans that focus just on men's basketball. I follow every sport. In fact, I may be a bigger women's basketball fan then men's. When Duke lost to LSU two years ago and VCU last year, it took me about two hours and I was over it. I am still taking the women's loss to Maryland two years ago and the Rutger's loss last season very tough.

Any way’s (sorry for the little background. But for those who follow sports, Duke fans of just men's basketball and the ones of Duke athletics in general are two very different type of fans), I became deeply involved more and more as I could not get over this feeling that the accuser was being used for other's gains (the media for ratings or readers and Nifong to win an election). This woman needs help. I was not for prosecuting her because I very strongly she needs psychological help.

And into the start of 2007 when it because clear that Nifong had no case and was using the accuser, people was still going after the accused. Why were the staunchest accuser supporters mad at Nifong for using her? Why were the worried about punishing the accused and not on getting the (psychological) help for the accuser?

And with the faculty and the LS, I think those who have interpreted the statement one way have (unfortunately) lumped the signatories into the other groups who seemed (at least to me) as if furthering their own agendas far out-weighed the actually act the alleged victim accuses the lacrosse team of.

In a larger sense, we need to stop using race in a sense because it brings out so much emotion. But the line is being blurred on to who wants to actually help minorities and who wants to exploit minorities to better themselves. TR somewhat brought this idea to the table (I do not know if intentional or unintentionally) that this was a case which that had a more socio-economic, rather than a race, tone. It was outsiders looking to exploit this that largely made it about race. It was the "plantation" Duke vs. the "poor" NC Central. It was privileged kids vs. a woman selling her body to survive. It was the haves vs. the have-not.

Another question that needs to be asked (I apologize in advance, this is outside the realm of this specific discussion) is the absolute horrific role of the media in this whole fiasco. A professor I had in communications, upon hearing me speak of this case for the 10000000000th time about this case, asked me why I did not analyze an aspect for this case for my final paper in communications. If I could go back, I would examine the early media coverage of this case.

I think I am done for the night. I better start going if I am going to hold to my new year's resolution of reading a new book every two weeks. I am starting a new book entitled "Who Killed CBS" and it is about the downfall of the once lofty CBS News. Good night all.

And by the way, thank you for the kind words TR. See, some people who enjoy athletics can involve themselves and add information to intellectual conversations (not directed to you but I have encountered professors who basically thought those who enjoyed athletics are dumber than a box of rocks).

hman said...

TR
I could not agree more: an attempted apology from the gang of 88 would, at this point, accomplish nothing worthwhile.
From my perspective, it would seem like a waste of time because they, like so many enablers of this hoax, knew exactly what they were doing and they clearly meant to do all of the harm they did. So, apologizing is not part of the program. They had an omelet to make and were happy to break some eggs. The lives of the LAX guys were expendable - sort of like collateral damage in wartime - already discounted and written off - for the greater good... from some points of view.
But having survived the onslaught only a lunatic would expect the LAX guys and their legal team to give a thimble full of mercy to Duke University.
Ancient wisdom from the olde west: If you shoot at someone, don't miss because it is hard afterwards to apologize adequately.

reharmonizer said...

Funny, at some point in writing about the case I was imagining a best-case scenario in which members of the lacrosse team were able both to speak to the concerns raised by the students quoted in the LS and at the same time speak up for themselves. I'm sure I got idea came from a post I ran across early in the year in a blog called Justice-For-2-Sisters. The blog is gone now, which is a real shame, but this particularly entry from October 06 was notable enough that The Johnsville News--a gung-ho "Hoax/Frame" site--quoted it in full. I'm resisting the temptation to do the same here. This is the beginning:

You Know What the 3 Accused Players Should Do When This is Over?

Go speak out against racism. Let it soak in for a second. I've said from the start of this case, if the public feels these guys have been treated unfairly and stereotyped, well congratulations, you now know what it feels like to be African-American and be prejudiced against.....

Steven is right that the CS didn't rise to the occasion (that's putting it mildly). Whatever faults the LS has, it reflects the intensity of the moment and takes a stand. The CS has a committee-written feel to it. Of course it's easy to second-guess all that and maybe not so useful.

Let me put in another word for the complicating local factor, though. My intuition about the manic reaction to the allegations is that the particular concerns and issues folks brought to the occasion--racism, sexual violence, liberal intolerance of white privilege, egghead resentment of athletics, etc.--were magnified across the board by pent-up frustration with an institution that doesn't really make sense. Even compared to its peer universities, Duke is an odd, jury-rigged place with a lot of fault lines , or so it seems to me (but then I've never been more at home academically than as an undergraduate at Reed College, so I'm way out of my element here). There are not only the built-in divisions on campus but the passionate external constituencies. And then there are the administrators (who we probably shouldn't turn into another bunch of faceless bums) trying to hold it together and make it look good.

I think TR is right that the students are the ones who might salvage something from all this (that's not quite what she said, I know). Maybe they can or have started to shake off the polarizing energy, especially that coming from off campus. Though I have no way to prove it, I can't help feeling that even the adults would have done a better job of regrouping and reconsidering after the initial furor if the rhetoric coming from off campus had not been so intense.

Even if we're stuck with the worse-case scenario--that the whole thing is a irredeemable debacle and the only thing to do is wait for the shouting to stop and move on--I do hope it's taken the gloss off of superficial and overzealous identity politics. I hope your friends down here are listening to you, TR.

Here, incidentally, is an interesting perspective on the case that I ran across today. It even relates to what we're talking about here.
http://utotherescue.blogspot.com/2007/12/duke-lacrosse-revisited.html

I was about to put this up and saw fresh comments from nickname and rambler. When I said that the issues had to be worked out at Duke, I was partly just stating the obvious--it's people at Duke (mostly) being called on to apologize or find a resolution. But in addition to that, a lot of people have, it seems to me, formed very strong opinions about the case based on their vivid but vicarious connection to an imaginary Duke--not a good basis for a fruitful dialog. On the other hand, I think there is real value in any discussion that manages to float some alternatives to the conventional wisdom. I second TR that it's been good to hear from you, and there's no need to relurk unless you've said al you want to say.

Rambler, I like what you have to say about the accused--I feel much the same. There's no doubt Nifong was using her, and she was good business for the media. Even the protesters shouting slogans on her behalf saw her more as a cause rather than a human being, in my opinion. I'm inclined to agree that she's mentally ill and/or a substance abuser, and needed a much different kind of help than she got, especially with three young children in the picture.

Anonymous said...

"I also agree with you about not working from the assumption that the LS requires apology ...." (TR @ 9:12 EST).

To do so, don't you have to believe that Professor Lubiano had not even a minimal understanding of the English language? Defenses of the “Listening ad” seem to have reached the point at which it is assumed that Professor Lubiano and the other 87 Duke University elite were mere intellectual bumpkins somehow unable to understand the definitions of words like “this” or “happened” or "terror” or "is."

This is a direct quote from Professor Lubiano (not one of the students) taken directly from the "Listening ad":

“These students are shouting and whispering about WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS YOUNG WOMAN and to themselves.” (emphasis added).

I prefer to believe that Professor Lubiano was intelligent enough to understand that simple sentence. There were 3 other sentences quite like it, but attributed to students, in the "Listening ad."

Nickname @ 11:26 AM EST suggests that we "as an exercise, take the students' quotes seriously ...." Let's. Here is one of the actual student quotes from the "Listening ad":

“And this is what I’m thinking right now - Duke isn’t really responding to THIS. Not really. And THIS, what HAS HAPPENED, IS A DISASTER. THIS IS A SOCIAL DISASTER.” (emphasis mine except last sentence).

I believe that Professor Lubiano understood that the word "happened" refers to something that occurred in the past - not an ongoing racism on campus, and not something that did not happen in the past. I also believe that the Professor had the smarts to fit two messages into one 600-word advertisement. Do you?

My opinions only. MOO! Gregory

the random rambler said...

We can argue the intent forever and not get an answer. There are aeguments on both sides. As for some statements, was it to far off to believe something happened? You had a DA so sure of himself. I even thought something happened (but I was waiting on evidence).

Maybe, just maybe, Lubiano did not think it through (as all humans tend to do from time to time). And I would think that if she totally did not think this through, it would be hard for any professor to admit as such.

I see this all the time at my summer job as a lifeguard. The best example is the popular item a couple of years ago, a snorkel with a cage on top that has a little ball so water could not get in the snorkel. Good idea except for one thing: if water cannot get through, neither can air.

It is human nature that when we get rapped up in a "good idea" that we do not always think things through.

hman said...

Re: Random Rambler
Of course it is easy to get carried away in the moment and join a herd, especially when authority figures (like a DA) seem to be signalling approval. This sort of lapse has even been observed among college Profs.
But to get a feel why many followers of this saga have been in a less-than-easy-going frame of mind, consider this fact: The results of DNA tests, the ones that conclusively ruled out the possibility that the accuser was telling the truth, were available to the DA for quite a while before he announced them publically. There were constant high-level meetings between him and representatives from Duke during this period. There is strong evidence of cooperation and coordination between the two.
If you learned that Duke Administration (and the insigators of the LS) knew of the DNA story before the ad was produced, could you keep your lunch down?

reharmonizer said...

Gregory, you've posted basically the same observations on my blog several times, referring back to your lengthy and "brilliant analysis" posted on the liestoppers boards. It's clear that you've parsed the LS in exquisite detail and isolated every incriminating word and phrase in a way you find compelling and indisputable. And that's the rub--the one thing you've convinced me of is that discussing or disputing the LS with you would be tedious and futile exercise, like arguing with my car to roll down the road to a gas station after it's run out of gas.

I'm wondering what you're hoping to accomplish and the what your theory is about how your analysis of the LS will influence those of us who see the ad in a different light.

Is it that it's a lie that must be stopped for anyone to suggest that the LS is anything less than an outright condemnation of the lacrosse team as rapists compounded by numerous other gross generalizations and mischaracterizations? That someone might read a more benign interpretation of the ad and be misled, so it's important that your refutation always be in sight?

Or you think we haven't really read the ad? That we just skimmed it, with ideological blinders on and loyalty to friends fully engaged, and if we see your laundry list of sins and errors often enough we'll eventually come to our senses?

Just curious, and I do appreciate that however strongly you object, you're civil about it and you attack the message and not the messenger.

Anonymous said...

This is just ridiculous, I'm sorry, I know that no-one is supposed to say anything offensive to anyone but you know accusing someone of participating in a gang rape is rather offensive in and of itself without any implcations or considerations of intent.
To those who said nothing of serious consequence happened to these boys, you are wrong. Firstly, they lost their youth. Parents were hospitalised and the cost to mental and physical health down the line is yet unknown. Without settling the
Duke suit,which resulted from the AG's work,homes would have been lost and the education of younger siblings also. Reade Seligman did not become a great kid BECAUSE HE
WAS ACCUSED but he conducted himself under such pressure because he always was such a good person.
As for objectification, who was objectifying whom in this case?The
Lacrosse team has been viewed through the class/race/gender prism
almost exclusively by supporters of the LS creators.And I think it very foolish to have ever drawn the DIW readership with such broad strokes.
I, for instance, spent 3 years of my life working full time for the United Farm Workers Union when I was young for no money. And I was no trust fund baby like most of the fellow travellers.I give money to all kinds of strangers and am certainly no one trick pony when it comes to being concerned with others.This general insult to DIW readers was outrageous.
And honestly, there is nobody attending Duke University who is oppressed. Some might have less than others or less than they might like to have. People in China, people in Iraq, Syria,Iran, etc these are oppressed people. Have some perspective.
To be really objectionable, why in the world should these three boys dedicate their lives to Civil Rights because theirs were trampled? They don't owe anybody anything as a result of these events although they generously thought of doing so.
Ms. CM was not desperate. I have been desperate. It means hungry with no place to live. I have a friend who was desperate. Two children, husband gone after years of abuse. She's still quite beautiful but she worked in a supermarket, cleaned buildings at night and now the girls are going to college. When I got some money-from my husband-I paid off her bills for her. Don't insult her goodness and integrity.
Lots of girls get lots of money from stripping, prostitution etc. Some are victimized, some victimize men. Life and the human condition really cannot be contained in these aphorisms and ideological platitudes.
As you can no doubt tell, I am furious.

the random rambler said...

Hman,

I still hod the opinion of the Duke administration's handling of this case was absolutely horrendous. I changed my opinion of the LS and the faculty in and of itself.

I think the Duke administration failed miserably, and I do think they knew more than what went on (and to me, this is the reasoning behind the lawsuits: to try to learn more about what Duke knew). However, I would be suprised (but not entirely shocked) if Duke "knew" the whole story of the DNA results as it seems as if the only ones who knew the whole story seemed to be Nifong and Himan.

Hman may have thought that I blended the Duke faculty and administration (which I did not mean to do; and if I did, I apologize because that was not my intent).

By in large, I think the college's administration never had ANY students well-being in mind.

And of faculty, I single out one faculty member. It was clear that they had an agenda from the very beginning and thankfully that individual is not at Duke anymore.

The Random Rambler said...

anonymous 3:38

Many of us are still outraged at the "something happened" crowd. Many or us are still made at people who say anthing except INNOCENT. When TR poster her reasoning as to why the word innocence is inportant to certain individuals, I told her I disagreed with the thinking and explained why I feel making people understand that the accused were INNOCENT was important.

She also asserted:

"DIW readers have a lot to say about how the lacrosse team's overwhelming whiteness and maleness made it an object of hatred by "others" -- they have nothing to say about what seems to some of us very important: being white and male makes some athletes objects of cultural love too."

And I pointed out to here that some of the most hated men's basketball players were white (Christian Laettner and JJ Redick) and I forgot to point this out but two of the most made fun of players on the current men's basketball team are white (Greg Paulus and John Scheyer).

In a comment over here (I cannot remember this post), I pointed out Dave Evans' father devoloped type-2 diabetes. I have also pointed out that there was absolutely no evidence suggesting that these crimes even could have occured except:

1. An accuser's stories that contradicted each of the previous from day 1. In fact, at one point she accuses her "partner" that night of being involved in the rape.

2. A SANE Nurse-in-training over-stepping her bounds to make false assumptions.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered, and I for one do not believe in case over, end of story.

The Random Rambler said...

sorry meant anonymous 3:28, not 3:38

John said...

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