We must admit that some people, at Duke and elsewhere, may have been too quick to judge the players guilty. That was wrong and, as Duke President Richard Brodhead and this newspaper pointed out at the time, everyone needed to remember the bedrock concept: innocent until proven guilty.
In recent months, there’s been a totalitarian whiff to events in
Today’s Herald-Sun, meanwhile, rewrites the past in another way: “As Duke President Richard Brodhead and this newspaper pointed out at the time, everyone needed to remember the bedrock concept: innocent until proven guilty.” Let’s leave aside the question of exactly where the H-S found a discussion of this “bedrock concept” in Brodhead’s 2399-word April 5 statement canceling the season, and turn to the writings of the H-S itself.
To address the issue, a multiple choice quiz. Of the seven excerpts below, which reflects a different point of view from the other six?
a.) March 28: “When police officers arrived at the house with a search warrant on March 16, none of the players would cooperate with the investigation [sic] . . . There’s no question the student-athletes were probably guilty of all the usual offenses -- underage drinking, loud partying, obnoxious behavior. But the allegations of rape bring the students’ arrogant frat-boy culture to a whole new, sickening level. ‘Get a conscience, not a lawyer,’ read signs waved in front of the house on Sunday. We agree that the alleged crime isn’t the only outrage. It’s also outrageous that not a single person who was in the house felt compelled to step forward and tell the truth about what happened.”
(This same editorial, amazingly, notes that the presumption of innocence is “a precious part of our constitutional rights.” It’s hard to see how the H-S argument reflected that belief.)
b.) March 30: “But few would ever put the lacrosse team in that classy category. If one had to predict a Duke team that was capable of getting into big trouble, you might pick lacrosse. For years, the team has had a reputation for loud, obnoxious partying and belligerent behavior.”
c.) April 7: “The note has had serious consequences, perhaps giving
d.) April 12: “But even in the wake of compelling DNA evidence, those who would echo team members’ attorneys and declare the case shut would be smart to wait to see what District Attorney Mike Nifong has up his sleeve. Nifong was convinced early on that a crime occurred and he has not ruled out filing charges.”
e.) May 18: “Campus rapes and sexual assaults are fueled by a culture of alcohol abuse and an arrogant, macho attitude among some male students that should be a throwback to a bygone era, but stubbornly persists.”
f.) October 17: “Roberts was separated from the accuser for two periods of at least five to 10 minutes. We still haven’t heard why an assault couldn’t have occurred during those gaps.”
g.) Today: “As . . . this newspaper pointed out at the time, everyone needed to remember the bedrock concept: innocent until proven guilty.”
All those who answered “g” have, unfortunately, eliminated themselves from the H-S target audience.
One revealing point. The editorial’s ostensible purpose was to comment about Friends of Duke’s questions for the Group of 88. Yet even the Herald-Sun—in its latest “there must be a trial” editorial—made no attempt to claim that the Group of 88 didn’t rush to judgment and ignore the presumption of innocence. The sextet at tomorrow night’s leg of the Group’s Rehab Tour clearly has their work cut out for them.