Last week, Joseph Cheshire and James Coleman testified before a state House committee on the issue of prosecutorial misconduct. Though the topic was confined to misconduct in death penalty cases, the duo’s remarks resonated for the lacrosse case.
Coleman, meanwhile, criticized the “unprincipled exercise of discretion” in seeking the death penalty, which disproportionately targets minorities.
In a recent op-ed that Duke Basketball Report correctly termed McCarthyite, Malaklou contended that despite Nifong’s prosecutorial misconduct, his handling of the lacrosse case is “right,” because lacrosse players need to be punished for unrelated behavior of which she disapproved.
At Duke, Malaklou is a dual major in cultural anthropology and women’s studies, two departments known as hotbeds of anti-lacrosse activism. Cultural anthropology is home to such figures as Orin Starn, among the team’s leading critics. The women’s studies program, meanwhile, features on its homepage Karla Holloway’s “Bodies of Evidence” opus.
The two departments are among only three in which more than 50 percent of faculty members signed the Group of 88’s statement. A staggering eighty percent of the African-American Studies 2005-2006 faculty members signed the statement, followed by Women's Studies (72.2 percent) and Cultural Anthropology (60.0 percent).
Totals from other arts and sciences departments:
Between 25% and 50%
Between 10% and 25%
- 22.2: Asian/Asian-American
- 20.0: Linguistics
- 13.3: Judaic Studies
- 13.3: Theater Studies
- 12.5: Philosophy
- 9.3: Political Science
- 9.1: Math
- 9.1: Music
- 8.3: Classical Studies
- 5.9: Sociology
- 5.7: Physics
- 2.6: Public Policy
At the other extreme from African-American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Cultural Anthropology were the 10 arts and sciences departments that had zero signatories. The “Terrific Ten” departments included: Biological Anthropology and Anatomy; Biology; Chemistry; Computer Science; Economics; Genetics; Germanic Languages/Literature; Psychology and Neuroscience; Religion; and Slavic and Eurasian Studies.
The Group of 88, of course, might suggest that professors in the hard sciences—or in Economics or Slavic Studies—aren’t as concerned as are statement signatories with issues of underlying racism in American society. Perhaps, but it is it far more likely that these faculty members recognized the inappropriateness of professors rushing to judgment and publicly denouncing their students based on wildly incomplete information.
No professors in the
Duke Basketball Report recently published a thoughtful commentary by ’05 graduate Adam Bonneau. Bonneau noted that the basics of the lacrosse case are now clear: “In the months since the night in question more evidence has, in fact, come to light, and virtually all of that evidence suggests that no rape occurred and that the players are innocent. Almost everyone – including most of those who initially assumed otherwise – agrees that the case is without merit, and the only holdouts are those who probably will not change their position unless the accuser fully recants her story.” (My guess is that some Nifong enablers would cling to their position regardless.)
But, cautioned Bonneau, a danger exists in allowing the lacrosse case “to call into question the plausibility of gang rape stories in general.” He cited the rape-and-murder by
Feminist groups, it seems to me, particularly need to ponder Bonneau’s message. Susan Estrich stands as among the few high-profile feminists who have criticized Mike Nifong’s handling of the case. Estrich blasted the “minister of justice” for overriding procedures to take the case to trial: as she noted, such a fraudulent action will leave all true victims’ rights advocates “depressed because we will worry, rightly, about all the messages being sent to legitimate victims.”
As Estrich recognized, by approaching the lacrosse and Mahmoudiya cases as one and the same, anti-rape activists will only lead fair-minded people to doubt their cause in the future.
The Nifong lineup is now the conventional wisdom for a rigged procedure. Straight Dope is a well-reviewed website dealing with cultural trivia. The site recently ran a piece on eyewitness lineups; here's how it characterized actions by the “minister of justice”:
Sometimes law enforcement officials ignore sound advice, to say nothing of common sense, when putting together a lineup. Perhaps Mike Nifong, district attorney for Durham county, North Carolina, and Durham police sergeant Mark Gottlieb were watching The Usual Suspects instead of reading the DOJ guidelines. Defense attorneys allege that a woman accusing members of the Duke University lacrosse team of sexually assaulting her was shown photos of … the Duke University lacrosse team. There were, in other words, no “fillers” at all – every picture she was shown, according to the defense lawyer, portrayed a team member. Not surprisingly, the woman picked three members of the team as her attackers.
For good or ill, the fates of any number of people are tied to the disposition of this case. The most obvious, of course, is Nifong, whose pending ethics case before the state bar would be immeasurably strengthened by somehow getting to trial and achieving a hung jury. But two other figures come to mind as well: Bob Ashley, who has chosen to transform the Herald-Sun into a Nifong cheerleading arm; and Richard Brodhead, who has remained silent as Nifong has imposed a “separate-but-equal” legal system on Duke students and Duke students alone.
Unlike Nifong, who desperately needs a trial for his self-preservation, the fate of Ashley and Brodhead will depend more on financial matters. Ashley’s Kentucky-based bosses must be watching with alarm the plunge in H-S subscriptions since Ashley started serving as Nifong’s minister of propaganda; and it seems hard to believe that limiting his paper’s potential readership to the 49 percent who cast ballots for the “minister of justice” is a sound long-term business strategy. Meanwhile, Brodhead needs to sustain the Duke fundraising base in the face of increasing alumni questions as to why and how his administration has accepted Nifong’s “separate-but-equal” system while helping the Group of 88 assume de facto campus leadership.
Along these lines, Glenn Nick, a former lacrosse player who graduated from Duke in 2006, recently offered an incisive comment to those considering donating this year to Duke.
Though a letter to designate that a contribution be used for, say, Pratt (Engineering) or the athletics department (explaining why) sounds great at first glance, there is a glaring problem with this tactic. No matter where and how money is designated to Duke, President Brodhead and company will still possess the benefit of tallying this amount to their overall alumni contributions, thus painting his tenure as lucrative for the University.
Much of a president’s success is strictly measured by dollars, therefore I beg all interested to write your letters to the powers that be every time a donation request is mailed to you, but rethink where to send the check.
The defense fund for the indicted players and their families is a drop in their legal fees’ bucket. Please consider this donation alternative; it will serve the greater good for Duke by eventually shedding light on the University’s mismanagement of the rape hoax, ultimately holding the enablers responsible by weeding them out.
Nick, of course, is correct—for partisans on both sides of the issue. Those who wish to keep in place what the New York Post’s Abby Wisse Schacter recently termed Duke’s “presidential spinelessness” should boost their contributions to Duke this year.
Board of Trustees chairman Bob Steel is a vehement Brodhead partisan, but other members of the Board doubtless would notice a dramatic spike or plunge in donations, and respond accordingly.
This week’s Wilmington Journal, the paper that runs Cash Michaels’ columns, has a contribution from Nifong citizens’ committee co-chair Kim Brummell. Brummell, who has described herself alternatively as a “corporate security officer” and a part-time employee for FedEx, is best-known for championing the use of DNA to exonerate innocent defendants—when the defendant happens to be a “black man.”
Brummell’s column alleges “a double standard for African-American victims receiving media coverage,” in which the media devoted disproportionate attention to the lacrosse case because it involved an allegation of a white-on-black crime. This line of critique might very well be true—but it seems rather odd coming from Mike Nifong’s citizens’ committee co-chair. Without the media attention that Brummell now denounces, Nifong almost certainly would have lost the primary.
That the “minister of justice” himself fanned the attention with inflammatory and misleading arguments makes Brummell’s current position seem even stranger. I’m sure that Brummell and other Nifong enablers wish outsiders would stop paying attention to events in