Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday Post-Election Roundup

Friday’s Chronicle featured yet another extraordinary article by columnist Kristin Butler. “Shocked and dismayed” by 49 percent of Durham residents having voted for Mike Nifong, a figure “who has disgraced this community before a national audience,” Butler called on Duke students to stand up for their rights and “continue to reject the ignorant, counterfactual and deeply offensive logic embraced by many of his proponents.”

Butler quickly, and appropriately, dismissed the claim that Duke students aren’t somehow “real” Durham residents. During the 2005-2006 academic year, she noted, the institution’s full-time students spent nearly $100 million in Durham, while devoting “tens of thousands” of hours to local community service.

Duke students, therefore, should confidently address the “very serious problems” currently confronting the relationship between them and the community in which they reside:

  • A district attorney “who thinks it’s acceptable to target Duke students because our 'rich daddies’ can buy us 'expensive lawyers’.”
  • A police force with what attorney Bill Thomas called “a real pattern of arresting Duke students on less serious charges while not arresting non-Duke students on much more serious charges.”
  • Most important, “the fact that three of our classmates will face a politically motivated prosecution this spring despite overwhelming evidence suggesting their innocence.”

“Let’s come out and say it,” declared Butler: “We are owed some basic fairness under the law.”

Just as I hoped every Duke student could have read Butler’s pre-election column, I hope every Duke students reads—and is guided by—Butler’s latest work.

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A commenter reports that twice during Election Day, Cy Gurney, Nifong’s wife, was interviewed by local television news. She offered, the commenter correctly notes, “two stellar lines.”

The first: “I don’t know the details of the [Duke] case, but I do know Mike, and I know he would never do anything wrong or unethical.”

To take but one example, we “know” that Nifong ordered the police to violate their own regulations, in multiple ways, in the April 4 lineup. Apparently, Gurney sees nothing “wrong or unethical” with a “minister of justice” ordering police to override designed to ensure due process so that he could get someone—anyone—to indict before the primary. One wonders what the Nifong household would consider a “wrong or unethical action.”

Gurney’s second line: “Winning the election isn’t worth it if you, you know, lose your soul in the process.”

That’s a moving sentiment. In fact, my post from the day before Gurney’s comment concluded with this haunting question posed by a Michigan lawyer: “What does a prosecutor profit when he gains the world but loses his soul in exchange?”

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Nifong is, if nothing else, flexible in his conception of his duties.

Before the election, he asserted, “If a case is of such significance that people in the community are divided or up in arms over the existence of that case, then that in and of itself is an indication that a case needs to be tried.”

After his plurality-vote victory, however, he proclaimed public opinion—divided or not, up in arms or not—irrelevant: “What decides what I’m doing is what I think is the right thing to do. I’m not somebody who rules by referendum.”

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Friends of Duke spokesperson Jason Trumpbour highlighted two encouraging accomplishments from this election season:

  • Beth Brewer, who “stepped forward to organize Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek and, within a short period of time was able to offer serious opposition to Nifong”—and, from my personal knowledge, devoted enormous time to the effort.
  • The organizers of DSED, who, “by educating and organizing students, they showed the world that Duke does support the three accused students despite the position the administration has taken.”

Trumpbour also cautioned against lashing out at the 49 percent of Durham residents who voted for Nifong. That outcome, he correctly noted, “is foremost the product of Nifong’s demagoguery”; and secondarily, the “product of the failure of most of Durham’s civic leaders to speak out against Nifong’s misconduct” and the Herald-Sun having “actively condoned that misconduct and ran interference for Nifong.”

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Although the campus received less attention than events at Duke, the election also shone a spotlight on North Carolina Central. The news from Central, however, was less than positive:

  • Turnout in the NCCU precinct, at 8.9 percent, was by far the lowest in the county, suggesting that the accuser’s fellow students weren’t exactly rally to her defense. But then again, someone who behaves in the manner portrayed in yesterday’s Herald-Sun article probably wouldn’t be very popular on campus.
  • That Durham has a polling place on NCCU’s campus, at the Miller-Morgan Building, raises uncomfortable questions of why no polling place exists on Duke’s campus. Has the Duke administration made such a request? If not, why not? If so, why was it turned down?

Moreover, the composition of NCCU’s student government raises profound concerns about campus attitudes. The most infamous comment of the entire case to date came from NCCU student Chan Hall, who said he wanted to see the Duke students prosecuted “whether it happened or not. It would be justice for things that happened in the past.”

Hall, incredibly, is not a random extremist student. In fact, he is a campus leader. An elected senator in the NCCU Student Government, he chairs the Legislative Affairs Committee (the body that deals with policy issues). Hall also was runner-up in the election for Student Government Speaker. That someone with Hall’s views could be elected to a leadership position at NCCU is chilling indeed.

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At the pre-election Duke media forum, the N&O’s John Drescher declared that no newspaper in the country over the past three years has done more to expose prosecutorial misconduct than the News & Observer; Duke Law professor James Coleman seconded the observation. The work from this case by Joseph Neff or Benjamin Niolet or the columns by Ruth Sheehan confirmed Coleman’s observation.

This record makes all the more puzzling the N&O’s decision to make no endorsement in the Durham D.A.’s race. Do members of the editorial page board read their own newspaper? If so, how could they have chosen to take a pass on the race, given that their own reporters and columnists have thoroughly exposed Nifong’s unethical behavior?

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In a column taunting critics of the “minister of justice,” the N&O’s sole pro-Nifong columnist, Barry Saunders, compared Nifong to Richard Nixon, who once described his political goal as having one more victory than defeat. Citing the plurality vote received by the district attorney, Saunders chose “to paraphrase Tricky Dick,” and observe that “all Nifong needed was one vote more than his opponent.”

The comparison is, of course, apt, though Saunders’ ideological blinders prevented him from detecting the obvious connection. Both Nifong and Nixon are men who committed the ultimate sin against democracy—corrupting the government process for personal political gain.

It seems, indeed, that the district attorney even has his own version of Tricky Dick’s “enemies’ list.” After the election results, he told the N&O, “I don’t know if I’ve learned who my friends are, but I have learned who my friends aren’t. Which in some ways is more valuable.”

As the N&O correctly noted,

Remember that Nifong is the same guy who said he would quit Durham County’s Animal Control advisory committee after spotting the names of some fellow board members among the more than 10,000 signatures on the petition to put lawyer Lewis Cheek on the ballot. Supporters of Cheek and write-in hopeful Steve Monks might want to drive the speed limit for the next four years.

While this advice is well-taken for those who voted, in good faith, for Monks, I doubt that anyone in Monks’ immediate circle has anything to worry about from the “minister of justice.”

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Duke Basketball Report’s lacrosse message board has featured a fascinating, and passionate, dialogue over Durham’s reaction to the election, with local posters appearing to go overboard in excusing their fellow citizens’ selection.

On the one side were a number of passionate posts similar to that of Stray Gator, who wrote, “The voters of Durham have expressed their will. And no amount of spin can obscure the fact that what they have signified is approval of Durham law enforcement’s unjust, discriminatory treatment of Duke students . . . Does anyone doubt that Nifong and Durham law enforcement officials will regard this vote as anything less than an endorsement of their current practices, and encouragement to continue coming down hard on Duke students? . . . Tonight I can’t escape the feeling that Durham is no longer a genuinely hospitable place for those of us associated with Duke.”

The other side was reflected by Durhamatologist, who asserted that Nifong voters “may not have followed the Duke case nearly as closely as we all have and truly don’t know just how corrupt Nifong is.”

I am inclined to share Stray Gator’s interpretation—but either way, the result testifies to the failure of the Brodhead administration’s strategy in handling this crisis. For the last seven months, the administration, despite repeated chances for doing so, has refused to protest the decision by Nifong and the Durham Police Department to establish a “separate-but-equal” legal system for Duke students and Duke students only.

In the most charitable interpretation for its approach, the administration feared that speaking up for Duke students’ rights could have provoked a backlash in Durham. But with a “minister of justice” engaging in race-based demagogic appeals, the backlash occurred anyway. Therefore, the situation hardly could have been worse had Brodhead and other Duke administrators not silently accepted Nifong’s “separate-but-equal” system.

Moreover, Duke’s speaking up as an institution—perhaps along the lines of James Coleman’s individual comments as a professor—might have educated those Durham residents who otherwise, Durhamatologist claimed, “truly don’t know just how corrupt Nifong is.” Nifong himself certainly wasn’t going to admit to corruption; and the Herald-Sun has gone out of its way not to report the misdeeds of the “minister of justice.”

So, for now, Duke has the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, it confronts a situation unlike, to my knowledge, any other university in the country: the school’s students are treated according to different legal procedures than those granted both to all other residents of the city and even to all students of other colleges in the city, such as NCCU. On the other hand, it confronts an anti-Duke bloc vote stimulated by the actions and remarks of a local demagogue.

Brodhead’s passive approach, in short, has failed. It’s time for Duke, as an institution, to follow the advice that Kristin Butler gave Duke students, and assert, “We are owed some basic fairness under the law.”

60 comments:

Another Duke mom said...

Thanks, KC! As always: spot on!

Anonymous said...

KC,
How are we going to get Broadhead and the Duke admin. to speak out on behalf of their own young men?

Anonymous said...

1:47am-I am also not sleeping. I would say that the best thing a person can do is e-mail, call or write Broadhead and tell him he needs to do more to stand up for the Duke Community both in the Duke Lax case as well as against the Durham Authority who obviously know Broadhead is a doormat and as a result, handcuff and haul to court anyone wearing a Duke shirt.

I e-mailed Broadhead last week following the election and told him just that. I did not receive a response. Perhaps Broadhead did not like being called a doormat, sometime the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

Brodhead's appeasement of local blacks and their leaders is as foolish and as much a failure as appeasement of any entity that seeks your deconstruction is.

Anonymous said...

While I find your comments "right-on", I also see a certain amount of naivete. I could have told you weeks ago that Nifong would be elected DA. That the black precinct would go heavily for Nifong. I also suggest that if you think anything is going to be done about is misconduct by his peers in the legal profession you are truly living in LaLa land.

anne fox said...

I think poling places are in public facilities, which I would think NCCU is and Duke definitely isn't.

AMac said...

> I think poling places are in public facilities...

That explanation wouldn't hold here. I voted Tuesday in a church basement--accessible to the public rather than gov't-owned seems to be the rule. I doubt this reasoning explains the difference between NCCU and Duke, either (though N.C. is not Maryland, where I live).

KC Johnson said...

The 8.58 is correct here--there is no obligation for polling stations to be in public property.

Durham polling places include the Forest Hills Clubhouse, the Monument of Faith Church, VFW Post 2740, Mt. Cavalry Lighthouse Office, Holy Infant Catholic Church, The River Church, Bethesda Ruritan Club, Triangle Church, and I.R. Holmes Senior Recreation Center.

GPrestonian said...

Local briefs: NAACP to honor two at banquet

Nov 11, 2006 : 8:21 pm ET

The Durham branch of the NAACP will honor Durham Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden and retired pastor Haywood Holderness on Saturday at its annual Freedom Fun Banquet.

The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Durham Hilton at 3800 Hillsborough Road.

The speaker is Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University.

http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-787587.html

Anonymous said...

Why in the world is Broadhead speaking at that event? Broadhead is truly a doormat, and a push over of the sickest kind. Broadhead will not cease to end his own butt kissing of the Durham Community. Does Broadhead fail to remember that it was the NAACP who had all but convicted our boys of rape, assualt and kidnapping well before any facts on the case of any sort came out?

I am not saying he should not do good will in the Durham Community. Rather, I am saying he should do his real job first. And that job is to safe guard his own back yard and the Duke kids who utilize it.

Anonymous said...

The Lacrosse issue is not the only thing on Broadhead's agenda. There are many other issues on how Duke interacts with Durham than just this case. For instance, Duke is also currently trying to get a major renovation to Central campus approved, many aspects of which require support from Durham.

I am not saying that Broadhead has taken all of the actions he should have to help the Lacrosse players, but I just think that you should keep in mind his other duties as President when analyzing what he does.

KC Johnson said...

I'm eager to see the text of Brodhead's remarks at the event.

The state NAACP has turned its back on 70 years of tradition to support Nifong in this case. It will be interesting to see if Brodhead's remarks in any way provided even the gentlest of statements on the importance of due process.

Anonymous said...

I think the 2:35 PM post is a good example of the kind of knee jerk reaction to Brodhead's speaking at the NAACP event that I would expect to see on this web site. I suspect that what is going on here is that Brodhead understands that the only way to heal the racial divide that exists between Duke and the black community in Durham is through the very long, slow, difficult, tedious, and largely thankless task of engaging in a dialogue with the black community and hopefully enlightening them in regard to a few basic but very important points, such as: (1) the students at Duke are not all rich, white athletes; (2) something like 40 percent of the students at Duke are minority students; (3) something like half of the students at Duke are receiving financial aid; (4) Duke is committed to providing minority students with access to a Duke education and even before this mess hit the fan had started a capital campaign for the express purpose of creating an endowment of something like $200 million to provide need-based scholarships for students from lower income families; (5) Duke provides hundreds of jobs to minority residents of Durham; (6) Duke students pump something like $100 million per year into the economy of Durham; (7) Duke students spend literally thousands of hours per year on community service projects which benefit Durham; and so forth. These points may seem self-evident to some, but I doubt that they are self-evident to the average black resident of Durham. These are also things that the black community in Durham is never going to understand unless someone gets out there and communicates it to them, which is exactly what Brodhead is doing. So while his decision to speak at the NAACP event opens him up to cheap shots from people who frequent this web site, the truth is that he is doing far more to address the underlying problems that have been brought to light as a result of the LAX mess than any of us.

KC Johnson said...

Just to clarify:

The 2.35 was a comment, not a post.

As I said in my comment above, I'm eager to hear exactly what Brodhead said before either praising him or criticizing him.

It would raise grave concerns for me if he in no way mentioned due process and its importance when speaking before the state NAACP, given the positions that the group has taken.

Anonymous said...

While the fact remains that Brodhead might be fulfilling some duties in speaking to the NAACP, the fact ALSO remains that Broadhead's actions have made this situation much worse, and if the Duke Three are tried in Durham, the possibility of a wrongful conviction is a real possibility, given the political climate there.

Second, Brodhead encouraged professors to make false accusations and then was silent when the facts started coming out. Third, the poster refers to the "LAX mess" as though the lacrosse team was responsible for all of this trouble.

Let us not forget that the basketball team at a party two weeks before the LAX party also had strippers, but neither Brodhead nor any of the Gang of 88 has spoken out against it. (And, please do not tell me he is not aware of the B-ball party.) The people of Duke and Durham CHOSE to use the LAX party as an excuse for a wrongful prosecution.

Everything else in Durham pales right now to the fact that three people are being unjustly charged with a crime they did not commit -- and a crime that never occurred. Brodhead bears much responsibility for what happened. If the man had any decency, he would resign, or if the Duke Trustees had any backbone, he would be fired and forever banned from ever working in any academic situation again.

Here is a man who encouraged people like Peter Wood and others to denigrate their own students. I would hope that future students would not be subjected in the classroom to people like Brodhead and Wood, as they are a disgrace to the profession of teaching in higher education.

Broadhead had the "courage" to speak out to a foreign government regarding the unjust prosecution of a Duke student, but when it occurs in his own backyard, he is part of the NAACP cheerleading squad that seeks to overturn literally every safeguard that has been put into place over hundreds of years to protect defendants. Let's face it; a "guilty" verdict lets Brodhead off the hook, and don't think for a second that he does not know it.

William L. Anderson

Anonymous said...

3:40
I'd be surprised if he mentions Duke at all.

Anonymous said...

To 3:40- If I had ANY hope at all that the black community in Durham would be willing to amend its bias against Duke and its students, then I would agree with you about Broadhead's speech. However, it has become painfully obvious that the AA community in Durham wants only one thing from Duke and its students- their money injected into the local economy. If intellectual honesty was a useful tool for the African-American community in Durham, Nifong's pandering would not have won for him the primary, much less the election. Racism is racism, whether it is black on white racism or vice versa, and the NAACP in Durham has done nothing in the past eight months but expose it's own racial prejudice- my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I regard your post as a great example of fanatical LAX team supporter nonsense. Whether you want to admit it or not, the LAX team is primarily responsible for creating this mess because the LAX team captains organized the party and hired the stripper, a member of the LAX team made the broom stick comment, another one or more LAX team members shouted racial epithets, and yet another LAX team member sent the disgusting email about killing and skinning strippers, and without these actions by the LAX team, there would be no LAX mess. I realize that the false accuser and Nifong have also played key roles in creating this mess, but the mess began with the irresponsible actions of the LAX players, and that is a fact which cannot be denied. People like you and KC and the LAX team parents who are basically engaged in a public relations effort to spin the story in a way which suggests that the LAX players are just innocent victims and who then turn around and attack Brodhead because in your opinion he has not done enough to help the players dig themselves out of the mess that they created for themselves are really just full of it. Also, your statement that Brodhead encouraged professors to make false accusations against the LAX players is just more fanatical LAX team supporter garbage. I will grant you that in retrospect maybe Brodhead should have issued a strong condemnation of the 88 faculty members who published the We Are Listening item in The Chronicle, but to say that he encouraged members of the faculty to make false accusations against the players as if to suggest that he was calling them up and urging them to make false accusations is baloney and very typical of the biased, one-sided and over-the-top hatchet jobs that I see on this web site in regard to Brodhead.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Bill, your statement that if Brodhead had any decency, he would resign is also garbage. As the father of a Duke student, I have heard Brodhead speak on several occasions, I have read the transcripts of a couple of his speeches, and I am familiar with his background at Yale and at Duke. Brodhead is the epitomy of a kind and decent and self-effacing man who wants only the best for Duke and its students, and for you to suggest otherwise is just more fanatical, over-the-top garbage, which helps to explain why I do not give much weight to most of what I see posted on this web site.

KC Johnson said...

I notice with interest that the same anonymous poster regularly appears saying virtually the same thing every time Pres. Brodhead is in any way criticized, either by me or by a commenter.

A curious pattern . . .

Anonymous said...

To commenter 5:16 & 5:29:

Thank you. I agree with your points. Many comments on this site are way overboard and are just making the situation worse.

I want to point out however, that I think KC Johnson has been very careful not to make too outrageous of statements. Yes, he has questioned what Broadhead has said and done; but I felt it has been inline. It is important to question some of his actions as a way of checking the system. In particular, KC has been careful in this set of comments to point out the difference between a post and a comment - meaning he does not neceessarily agree with all of the comments.

I think Broadhead has acted fairly well in handling the matter. He is in a difficult position where he has to take actions very carefully. I feel, if he had come out early on opposing Nifong, this would have been a much larger mess between Duke and Durham. Thus I don't agree with everything KC posts about Broadhead, but I accept it as fair criticism.

Anonymous said...

KC, I notice with interest that you also continue to attack Brodhead again and again saying virtually the same thing every time you attack him, a curious pattern which presumably reflects your desire to assist the LAX team parents in their campaign to villify Brodhead for cancelling the season and not doing more to help their sons dig out of the legal mess they created for themselves. If you want to stop attacking Brodhead, I will be happy to stop defending him.

KC Johnson said...

Hmm. This blog has 174 posts. 21 deal with the administration. I'd be hard pressed to say that the blog focuses on Brodhead.

As to repeating criticisms, the only comment about Brodhead made in today's post was that the election results show that if his strategy was designed to prevent an anti-Duke backlash in Durham, it has failed. Since the election hadn't occurred before Nov. 7, this was a point I hardly could have made previously!

Beyond that, the Brodhead-related posts deal with:
--his appearing on stage at a forum to address a "culture of crassness" with a professor who describes himself as "thugniggaintellectual"
--the percentage of his April 5 and June 5 statements that in any way addressed due process
--the scapegoating of Coach Pressler
--the bizarre claims about the history of higher education in the Duke Alumni Association statement
--the one-sided Duke Magazine article on the case
--Brodhead's past willingness to speak up for due-process related issues when the students associated with them were "politically correct"
--Brodhead's insinuation that the fact that his policies have received criticism from “diametrically opposite" perspectives suggests that his policies were correct
--Brodhead's response to the Friends of Duke letter
--Brodhead's unwillingness to use his own freedom of speech to criticize professors such as Peter Wood, whose remarks appear to have slandered Duke students
--Brodhead's unwillingness to adjust his perspective as more facts have come out
--Brodhead's refusal to mention any positive findings from the Coleman Committee report in his June 5 remarks

In my mind, each of these items is a different issue. A bland policy of condemning the lacrosse players--as in the 5.16 post--seems to me a credible explanation for presenting a pro-Brodhead view as of April or early May. Given all that has emerged since that time, however, I'm hard pressed to see how it justifies his policies now.

Good leaders adjust to new conditions. Brodhead has been unable or unwilling to do so.

Anonymous said...

5:16 - With misconduct all over the place in this case, Brodhead has not seen fit to defend his students and has barely defended their right to due process.

In public, he has made a few literary references and uttered a few plaititudes - one of which had the players having to prove their innocence, which is the opposite of the actual state of the law. His comments have outright condemned the players at times - particularly his comment made after Seligmann and Finnerty were indicted - that even if they were not guilty, whatever they did was bad enough.

In private, Brodhead refused to meet with the parents of the players when they were on campus. Apparently he has not been in contact with any of them except for the Sherwood family, the family of another unindicted player who he happened to run across by chance, and the Finnertys. Brodhead refused to meet with the Finnertys at all until a head of fundraising threatened to resign. Then he argued with them and they left his office when he started insulting them.

I can't think of anything positive to say about his handling of this case.

Anonymous said...

Brodhead's mantra has been that Duke cannot judge guilt or innocence so we must let the legal processes go forward. This might be true in an ideal world, but we are dealing with Nifong, Sgt. Gottlieb and the Durham PD, and a very strange North Carolina court system.

Brodhead should demand 1) a special prosecutor; 2) adherence to normal police and court standards; 3) a speedy resolution of the case; and 4) an end to "special" treatment of Duke students by the Durham PD.

Anonymous said...

A hunch and a question:

My guess is that for many years the leftist faculty at Duke has quoted the following quote from some famous legal thinker, whose name I do not recall:

"It is better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be sent to prison."

I wonder how many times that has been uttered on campus since March of this year?

And isn't it interesting that the only substantive recommendation that broadhead's committee came up with was to increase the diversity of his staff? give me a break, well, unless of course, having more blacks on his staff would have permitted him to say much earlier that the false accuser was lying.

Anonymous said...

They are all speaking out about the lacrosse case. Lisker, Holloway at McDaniel College in Virginia (see "Duke Professor to Discuss Race and Sports", Brodhead at the NAACP. It's the newly discovered occupation of the 88 to take this case outside of Duke.
http://www.mcdaniel.edu/4727.htm

Anonymous said...

KC -- Your comments about Brodhead are spot on. There is much, much more he could have done, and still should do, to assure Duke students (or any else associated with Duke) are treated with basic fairness and respect. Really not too much to ask, but for reasons never explained Brodhead refuses to engage. As KC points out, when Brodhead has engaged, it is usually to paint the players in a very negative light with perhaps a statement or two raising noncontroversial statements (even then, remember Brodhead early on looked forward to the players "proving their innocence"). Brodhead defenders bristle at any criticism of the way he has mishandled this matter, and I have heard the "players brought this on themselves" rhetoric from other Duke alums and Brodhead defenders. Expect considerable nastiness when you suggest tha Brodhead is part of the problem and the solution.

Keep up the great work!

HMan said...

To Brodhead Defenders
None us here really beleive that you guys actually buy into the notion that the LAX team three deserves what has happened to them. Unless you are hopelessly out of touch with modern college culture, nothing about that party and email would seem like a big deal.
Instead, I bet you are among those who went public with a too hasty condemnation of the innocent boys and to now change course would force you to look in the eye the fact you participated in a great evil. Keeping on with blaming the players is a way to from doing that.
The worst among you would enjoy a conviction of sorts for the same reason.

Eric Straton said...

Very simply, money talks. All Duke alums parents etc should withold all donations until Brodhead is fired. Brodhead Must Go, a blog started to make it clear to Brodhead me MUST go.

Eric Straton said...

Here is the link.

http://brodheadmustgo.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Since the unidentified anonymous poster insists on making personal insults mixed in with his administration talking points, let me answer what he says.

First, we have to keep in mind that from the outset, Brodhead and the administration have pushed the same story: the lacrosse players were singular bad actors whose behavior was so over-the-top that the rape charges and subsequent legal problems were inevitable.

Yes, they hired strippers. So did the basketball team, and so have many other Duke students, for that matter. No, I do not approve, but neither am I willing to condemn only the lacrosse team and somehow forget the others.

Let me ask a question: Had someone accused the basketball players of gang-raping her, do you think this would have gone as far? Lacrosse is what we call a non-revenue sport; basketball is by far the biggest single revenue-maker at Duke University, at least in sports.

Now, let us talk about the broom incident. Kim Pittman asked if anyone had any sex toys, and someone held up a broom. Yes, that is nasty but neither woman was threatened and everyone knew it was said in jest. Again, I do not approve, but I would bet that worse things than that have been said elsewhere. Each year, Duke University hosts the "Vagina Monologues," and the language in that "play" is rough, too.

Again, hiring strippers and holding up a broom STILL does not equate to rape charges. The talking points here do not compute.

As for the racial comments, it began when Kim Pittman made a racial slur at one of the players, and someone (none of the people charged, by the way) made the "nice cotton shirt" comeback. Again, that was wrong, but it does not equate to a rape charge.

According to the unidentified poster, I am supposed to the believe that Nifong and the accuser are minor players, and that Reade Seligmann and the others were asking for it. Since the "Duke father" insists upon giving us Brodhead's talking points -- and that precisely is what they are -- is he prepared to tell me that Reade Seligmann is a "bad actor"? Does he even know Reade Seligmann? I do not know the young man, but I know people who do, and they speak very highly of him, but according to the "Duke parent," I am supposed to assume he deserves the rape charge against him.

As for the "skinning" email, let us remember that Ryan McFayden's email, as bad as it was, was right out of a book that is on the Duke University reading list. If the "Duke parent" objects to such words, then perhaps he needs to talk to the English Department or maybe Brodhead himself, since he got his start in academe as an English prof.

Since we are on the subject of Brodhead, will the "Duke parent" tell me why it was that Brodhead gave the public impression that the lacrosse players were "stonewalling" when, in fact, they had openly cooperated with the police investigation? As for the poster's "garbage" accusations, tell me when Brodhead ever spoke out against ANYTHING said by the Gang of 88, as well as Peter Wood and others? The statements that those professors made were vile, slanderous, and untrue, yet Brodhead kept silent. In my book, that is the same as giving encouragement.

I do not know Brodhead; I only know his actions. He may be self-effacing, but right now the talking points coming out of his office are misleading, if not altogether dishonest.

The poster forgets that these young men are being falsely accused of a crime that never even occurred, and Brodhead and his gaggle of minions giving us the administration talking points know it, yet they continue to give us this nonsense about the legal system "needing to work."

People, the legal system is not working in this case. I get emails from lawyers all over the country who tell me the same thing, and I get emails from people who either have been in prison or are going to prison, and their stories are mind-bending.

I have SEEN the legal system as it is, and Brodhead's defense of people like Nifong and the others is nothing more than blatant dishonesty.

As for being a "fanatical LAX team supporter," I am fanatical on things like due process and the rights of individuals. If you do a Google search on me, you will find a number of articles that reflect that passion. Furthermore, I make no apologies for my support of the Duke Three. They are wrongfully charged, and we already know the record of the State of North Carolina on wrongful convictions.

Is the "Duke parent" going to try to tell us that the legal process that has resulted in the rape charges against the Duke Three is "fair"? Literally ALL of the prosecutors to whom I have spoken have told me that Nifong is a rogue prosecutor, and that the charges are specious.

Yet, I am supposed to believe that all of this falls upon the LAX players because they had a party with strippers. Yes, they made a bad choice, but the bad choice they made pales to the very bad choices from the Duke administration to try to feed us talking points when the truth just might be a better fit.

William L. Anderson

Anonymous said...

It seems that President Brodhead has prioritized Duke/Durham relations ahead of plain Truth and Justice, not just for his students but for Durham and by example for the rest of the country. Sometimes it is necessary or at least desirable to obfuscate for the sake of diplomacy, but this is NOT one of those times. This is a time for speaking straight from the heart, a time for candor, a time for supporting the basic ideals and principles of our justice system on which our civilization depends. Duke really needs some heroes now, and has one in James Coleman. President Brodhead should be standing solidly with the Professor now, and the Duke president's abdication thus far is deeply disappointing. In the breach, however,we have Kristin Butler who has very ably and passionately articulated on behalf of Duke what President Brodhead apparently could not. Thank you, Kristin!!

Anonymous said...

All of us Duke parents need to stop all donations. Money talks, then maybe Broadhead will get enough pressure that he would finally have to stand up for his own students.
For the record, my daughter was a senior last year and a group of senior girls hired strippers for someones birthday party. Broadhead and co. haven't denouned them yet. Come on people those boys weren't doing ANYTHING any different than the rest of the students at Duke.

Anonymous said...

Cy Gurney's election day comments: The first: “I don’t know the details of the [Duke] case, but I do know Mike, and I know he would never do anything wrong or unethical.”

I don't know how Mrs Nifong can possibly claim not to know the details of the case. I know for a fact that she reads the blogs where the details of this case have been laid out in such detail.

Anonymous said...

KC, you are so disingenuous about everything relating to Brodhead that I am really starting to wonder about you. As you know, I did not say that your blog focuses on Brodhead. I did say that you have attacked him again and again, which is true. Also, despite your little exercise in semantics, we all know that most of the attacks on Brodhead by you and the members of your audience basically involve beating him up for not speaking out more aggressively on behalf of the LAX players. In fact, I get the distinct impression that as part of the defense strategy in this case, you and the LAX team parents have decided that if you just keep pounding on Brodhead long enough, you will be able to pressure him into speaking out on behalf of the players. This might be good for the players, but it might not be so good for the university. However, I do not think that you or the LAX team parents really give a damn whether it is good for the university because you are mainly focused on pushing your own agenda, which is to help the players. Also, in this particular case, Bill made some silly comments to the effect that the LAX players are not responsible for this mess, that really Brodhead bears much of the responsibility for what happened, that Brodhead encouraged faculty members to make false statements about the LAX players, that if Brodhead had any decency he would resign,and so forth, all of which is basically just the same old fanatical garbage that has been recycled on this web site countless times over the past several months, and I responded to those comments. If you do not like my response, that is too bad. You and the LAX team parents say a lot of things that I do not like either, but that does not prevent you from saying those things. Of course, you could just start deleting my comments. That way, you and your audience could continue to repeat the same garbage about Brodhead over and over again, and you would not have to listen to any dissenting voices.

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.50:

I have a quite open strategy: the only comments I delete are those that contain false statements. I welcome dissenting views--it's the reason I have a comments section--although, personally, I always feel that comments are more effective when they aren't anonymous.

I have written over 100,000 words on this case, and have never, once, maintained that Brodhead should "speak[] out on behalf of the players."

I have maintained that Brodhead, as president of a university, has an obligation to speak out against a procedural set-up that has established a "separate-but-equal" set of procedures for students at his own university. I have seen no evidence, from either Nifong or the Durham police, that this "separate-but-equal" structure applies only to lacrosse players, as Kristin Butler so effectively pointed out in her recent column.

Anonymous said...

Again, we simply are dealing with talking points. One interesting thing to come from the Duke administration has been the claim that the university is in "constant contact" with the players' families.

The players' families tell me a much different story: there has been almost NO contact. And, remember, Brodhead did refuse to meet with the players' families early on in this case.

The poster twists statements to a point to which they are deliberate. None of us have said that the LAX players are blameless. Obviously, had there been no strippers, there would have been no case.

However, the Duke administration has chosen to take the position that somehow the LAX team was the ONLY entity to hire strippers, which simply is not true. Moreover, I cannot help but wonder if the accuser had planned to make the charges even before the party, and had she been at the basketball players' party two weeks before, might she have pulled something similar?

The LAX players were guilty of some bad judgment, but then so were the many other Duke students who had hired strippers. But I do not back down from my contention that Brodhead's actions in the aftermath of the first wave of accusations made things worse.

The administration talking points -- and that is what the poster is using -- are aimed at creating the following piece of fiction: the LAX players were a special set of "bad actors" who are entirely to blame for what happened.

Yet, if the accuser is lying -- and it is obvious she is, and even the poster surely would admit that -- then no one on the LAX team made her lie.

Is the poster about to excuse what Nifong has done? You answer me this: What is worse, college students who basically do what other students at Duke are doing, or a prosecutor who has engaged in massive procedural violations, continually changed his stories, told a large number of lies and half-truths, and has generally run roughshod over the law.

In the former, we have kids doing what any of us wish they were not, but it is not out of step with the current college culture. (I don't like it, but that is another story.)

But, in the latter, we have a seasoned prosecutor, an officer of the court, making mockery of a system of justice, and trying to overturn the protections that the law has provided for people accused of crimes.

Yet, the talking points given by this anonymous Duke parent want me to believe that Nifong and the others are blameless, or simply "doing their jobs."

Think of the millions of dollars being wasted by this legal hoax, and think of the damaged lives. I guess the anonymous poster really would not care if three young men were sent to prison for 30 years for a "crime" that no one even committed. That is a heck of a lot more serious than some college students hiring a stripper at a party, as immoral as many of us might believe it to be.

Thus, the poster and the administration he defends are guilty of "straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel."

William L. Anderson

Anonymous said...

1.it is obvious to anyone that kc johnson has an agenda and it is that of the lax parents. they want to attack brodhead, an honorable man who is trying to salvage duke's reputation in all of this. he has done the best he could. pulling the plug on the season, getting rid of the coach who could not control his players( as the coleman report stated, the lax team had more criminal and school disciplanary actions than any other sports team at duke), and suspending students accused of felonies was the only thing he could do in the situation to try to help duke survive the maelstorm of media criticism at the time. since then, he has reinstated ryan mcfayden and he had the coleman report try to whitewash the players. on this blog, however, he is pilloried by both kc and the duke parents that post on here because he has not bent over backwards and apologise to the parents and lax players who CAUSED this whole mess to start with and brought shame on the alma mater. nifong did not create the party that went wrong. the heroes of the lax did and sometimes in life you actually are held accountable for what you do even if your parents do not like that fact.

Anonymous said...

If hiring a stripper means that one automatically should be charged with rape, then by all means let us convict the Duke basketball team, too. Let us convict every Duke student or every college student of rape. Let us convict the feminist groups around the country who hire strippers, as they recently did at Bucknell University.

Holding someone responsible for underage drinking and hiring strippers is quite different from charging them with rape and kidnapping. Brodhead's talking points confuse the two, and apparently the previous anonymous poster wishes to further the propaganda.

The parents of three lacrosse players are seeing their sons charged with false rape and kidnapping charges. Let us not forget that. But, since the Duke administration and its acolytes insist on saying that hiring strippers is the same thing as rape and kidnapping, then let us arrest the Duke basketball team and charge those members with rape, too. By all means, let us be consistent.

But if we cannot be consistent, then we need to shut up.

William L. Anderson

Anonymous said...

To 11:50
I am 9:43. I am not the parent of a Duke LAX player, and I have no other connection to Duke. I do not know any Duke LAX family. I am a lawyer with children who are or will be applying to college soon. This case has captured my attention with its stunning procedural irregularities and historical significance. I completely realize President Brodhead is in a difficult position, but I would have hoped that the president of Duke (not to mention more members of the faculty) could have spoken out strongly on behalf of truth and due process. How can that possibly be too much to expect from these highly gifted individuals?

Anonymous said...

Re: "It would raise grave concerns for me if he in no way mentioned due process and its importance when speaking before the state NAACP, given the positions that the group has taken."

Don't forget the purpose of the event is to honor 2 people who have worked to improve the Durham community. I don't know Cole-McFadden, but I do know Haywood Holderness and he has been dedicated for 30+ years to community service and helping others. (by the way, he's white) I understand what you're saying but I'm not sure this is the appropriate venue for such a statement and I certainly wouldn't expect it.

KC Johnson said...

The 7.40am comment is an interesting one.

It's revealing of the Brodhead bunker mentality that a presumption exists that anyone who criticizes Brodhead must be a lacrosse parent. According to the sitemeter stats, this blog has attracted an average of over 5000 unique daily readers in the last week. Somehow, I doubt there are 5000 lacrosse parents.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you just don't get it, do you? I have said several times on this web site that I believe the LAX players are innocent of the charges that have been made against them and that Nifong is guilty of a massive breach of legal ethics and should be disbarred. However, I also believe that most of the criticism of President Brodhead that I see on this web site is without merit. I think that Brodhead was put in an impossible position through the irresponsible actions of the LAX players and that he has been doing what he honestly believes is necessary to protect the best interests of the university. Since there has been absolutely no criticism of Brodhead from any of the trustees of the university, I think it is safe to say that the trustees agree with the way in which Brodhead has handled this mess. I think that KC and the LAX team parents have been trying to tear Brodhead down and villify him because they want to punish him for cancelling the LAX season and because they want to put pressure on him to speak out on behalf of the players, something which might be helpful to the players but which might not be in the best interests of the university. Accordingly, all of your statements to the effect that I am excusing what Nifong has done and I am taking the position that Nifong is blameless are wrong. I am not doing anything of the kind. What I am doing is stating the obvious, namely, that the LAX players are the ones primarily responsible for creating this mess, with the assistance of the false accuser and Nifong, and that the LAX players are far more blameworthy than Brodhead, who basically had this mess dumped in his lap by the LAX players through no fault of his own. Yet people like you and KC and the LAX team parents put comments on this web site which seek to minimize what the players have done and portray them as innocent victims while at the same time tearing into Brodhead with comments like, to quote your words, "Brodhead bears much responsibility for what happened," and "if the man had any decency, he would resign, or if the Duke trustees had any backbone, he would be fired and forever banned from ever working in any academic situation again." Your statement that Brodhead bears much responsibility for what happened is garbage. Brodhead had this mess dumped in his lap by the LAX players, and he has been doing what he thinks and what the trustees apparently also think is necessary to protect the best interests of the university. Also, your suggestion that Brodhead has no decency is garbage, and your suggestion that he should either resign or be terminated by the board of trustees just because he has not done the bidding of KC and the LAX team parents and spoken out more aggressively on behalf of the players without regard to anything else he has done to benefit the university is biased, shallow, one-dimensional, over-the-top, fanatical LAX team supporter garbage. I hope this has helped to clarify my position for you.

Anonymous said...

KC, you are being disingenuous again. As you know, the fact that you have 5000 readers per day does not say a thing about who is doing all the Brodhead bashing on this web site. You could have 100,000 readers per day and many or most of the Brodhead bashing comments could still be coming from LAX players and their families and friends.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you stated that "the Duke Administration and its acolytes insist on saying that hiring strippers is the same thing as rape and kidnapping." Would you please provide us with a link to the place where the Duke Administration says this.

Anonymous said...

No one in the Duke administration, no one, I repeat, has been willing to say publicly that the Duke Three are NOT GUILTY of rape. No one in the Duke Administration, no one, has uttered a word of criticism about Nifong and the way he has handled this case.

Why single out the LAX team for the strippers? First, most of the players did not even know that the captains had hired strippers, and they did not find out until they got to the party.

Second, as I have said before (and the administration acolyte refuses to acknowledge) that other organizations on campus have hired strippers for parties, including sororities and the basketball team. So why I do not like the idea of ANYONE hiring strippers, the Duke administration has tried to make us believe that only the LAX team has done anything like this.

The administration talking points are based upon trying to make people believe that the LAX team was especially evil. In other words, they pretty much give us the Houston Baker argument.

Furthermore, and I will say it again, the administration has claimed to be in constant contact with the LAX families, which is not true.

When my oldest daughter was looking at colleges, she visited Duke. All I can say is that I am glad she did not go there. That is a place where vocal faculty members verbally attack students, lie about them, but receive no reprimand from the university administration. My daughter was graduated from a place where the faculty treated her with respect, which is more than I sure as heck can say about Duke University.

So, please, do not try to give me the line that everything is the fault of kids who might have shown bad judgment, but never laid a finger on the accuser. Unless the poster and the administration for which he shills is willing to condemn ALL other campus organizations that have hired strippers, I am going to continue to say what I have been saying about the adminstration and certain faculty members.

William L. Anderson

Anonymous said...

12:47 Could you please expand on (1) your comment that Brodhead speaking up on behalf of the lax players is "not in the best interests of the University?" and
(2) why speaking up would single-handedly jeopardize those interests?
Just trying to understand your perspective.
A non-Lax Duke parent

Anonymous said...

2:35 PM, the truth is that I have no idea why Brodhead and the board of trustees have concluded that it is not in the best interests of the university to speak out on behalf of the LAX players, and anything I say on that subject really is nothing but pure speculation. I gather that it is their view that when a Duke student is charged with a felony, it is not up to Duke to try to inject itself into the criminal process and pressure the local authorities to drop the charges before trial. Instead, I gather that they think that the players are well represented by an army of highly paid and highly capable lawyers, and that it is up to the lawyers to take the steps necessary to protect the rights of their clients, a position with which I fully agree. In addition, I gather that Brodhead and the trustees may have decided that any attempt to inject Duke into the proceedings would be futile in any event and that the most likely result of such an effort would be that they would alienate the entire black community in Durham, including the political leaders of Durham, and that this could create problems for the university down the road on items such as getting City Council approval for the plans for Central Campus and so forth. The bottom line is that despite what KC and the LAX team parents would like you to believe, Brodhead has absolutely no obligation whatsoever to speak out on behalf of the LAX players. He does have an obligation to protect the best interests of the university, and the lawyers have an obligation to protect the best interests of the LAX players, and that is exactly what is happening. The idea that this all means that Brodhead is a disgrace, that he has no decency, that he should resign or be fired by the board of trustees, etc., comments which are repeated on this web site almost everyday, is complete nonsense. As I said in a prior post, I think that the main reasons why KC and the LAX team parents continue to beat Brodhead up on this issue are because they are mad at him for cancelling the LAX season, which was supposed to be the big moment of glory for the players and their parents, and because they want to pressure him to make public statements in support of the players and really do not care whether that creates problems for the university.

Anonymous said...

I am not an LAX parent and I bet you'd feel differently if you were.

The cancelled season is well behind them. The bigger issue is that the University they entrusted with their most treasured, completely deserted both of them.

Wouldn't meet with them, haven't called them, haven't spoken up for them... what a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

I am not an LAX parent and I bet you'd feel differently if you were.

The cancelled season is well behind them. The bigger issue is that the University they entrusted with their most treasured, completely deserted both of them.

Wouldn't meet with them, haven't called them, haven't spoken up for them... what a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

KC, Bill, and 3:30 PM,

In one of his comments today, KC said he has written 100,000 words about this case and has never taken the position that Brodhead should speak out on behalf of the LAX players. Yet in his 2:22 PM comment, Bill condemns Brodhead for not stating publicly that the three indicted LAX players are not guilty of rape, and the 3:30 PM commenter condemns Brodhead for not speaking up for the players. I gather that KC is trying to make some sort of semantic distinction between speaking up on behalf of the players and speaking up on behalf of due process, but the other two commenters are more candid about what they really want. In the future, before you all post comments beating up on Brodhead, you should at least try to get on the same page as to what you are and are not asking him to do.

Anonymous said...

3:16 wrote:
"they would alienate the entire black community in Durham, including the political leaders of Durham, and that this could create problems for the university down the road on items such as getting City Council approval for the plans for Central Campus and so forth."

So, Brodhead and the Board of Trustees think that all black people in Durham think and act alike, not only about this case but insofar as Duke is concerned? And they are likely to be vindictive as a result of the University speaking up?

If this entire mess is the fault of the lax team, how do you explain Harris Johnson's comments about Duke always "sweeping things under the carpet?" What "white rich boys from New York" is he talking about?

Sounds like more than a lax party problem to me...

KC Johnson said...

To the 3.53:

I believe you misunderstand the purpose of this blog. I make posts. I welcome comments because I like to know how other people are approachin the case.

Sometimes they agree with me; sometimes they don't. That's fine with me. I don't consider myself under any obligation to ensure that everyone who has criticized Brodhead is 100% in agreement before I make a comment.

Anonymous said...

3:30 PM, recently Kevin Finnerty was quoted as saying that when the charges against the LAX players are dismissed, Collin will be proud to return to Duke. If Duke is really as terrible a place as you say, why would Collin be proud to return?

Anonymous said...

6:19 Reade said the opposite. Depends on your point of view.

Anonymous said...

Harris Johnson's statement is a great example of why Duke should not be injecting itself into the criminal process on behalf of the LAX players and pressuring the local authorities to drop the case before trial.

Anonymous said...

KC -- Forget trying to talk sense to the Brodhead apologists. I have spoken to quite a few alumni and other Dukies who get white hot at the players. The reason is that they know Duke has taken a pretty good hit and complete blame the players for this whole mess.

Anonymous said...

3:53 you can choose to interpret my words 'haven't spoken up for them' any way you please.... the fact remains that Brodhead has deserted these young men and their families. It is difficult, for me, to see anything admirable in his actions.

Anonymous said...

6:44 wrote:
"Harris Johnson's statement is a great example of why Duke should not be injecting itself into the criminal process on behalf of the LAX players and pressuring the local authorities to drop the case before trial."

Actually, I have the opposite view. It appears that people in Durham like Mr. Harris will always see conspiracies whether they exist or not. The Duke-haters will exist whether Duke donates $5 mio to the Performing Arts Center; whether Duke employs almost all of Durham; whether Duke students perform thousands of hours of community service; whether Duke provides world-class healthcare, etc, etc...
Some people will always see themselves as "victims"---of "something."
Duke should just do the right thing here and speak up for ALL their students' sake.