Said one NCCU student: “You have this team of white lacrosse players from Duke, and you have this North Carolina Central University black girl that strips for a living. It’s just kind of not in her favor.” Added a local pastor, Carl Kenney, “The consensus I’m gathering, particularly from African-American females, is that the system was weighted very heavily on behalf of the privileged.”
To say that the system favored the “privileged” and “white lacrosse players from Duke” means that we should just ignore the events of the last 10 months, in which the county’s district attorney and the city’s police broke rule after rule in order to back up the accuser’s tale.
- “I personally believe something happened.”
- “We saw an African-American female and white young men, and we still see that. And the history between the two groups is one that’s not favorable. So for us, especially being black women, even today we stay on the defensive.”
- “None of us have really been in that type of situation she was in. To be violated like that, that’s trauma . . . there is truth and there is validity to that story.”
The last student didn’t identify which of the accuser’s many stories contained truth and validity.
As part of the continuing stream of impressive commentary from the college media, Brandon McGinley had a must-read column in the Daily Princetonian. His topic? The “disgraceful aftermath” of the allegations made against the lacrosse team: that “without considering the potential innocence of their students, the postmodern elite among the faculty at Duke sprung into action.”
As McGinley observed, “It was irrelevant that the case against the students deteriorated daily; it was irrelevant that the accused were members of the Duke community and, as such, might be entitled to respect and support; and it was irrelevant that the young men were innocent until proven guilty. Their status as wealthy Caucasian males was enough to pass judgment on their actions and their character.”
McGinley recounted some of the most indefensible comments (Houston Baker, Karla Holloway), but focused primarily on Group of 88 members’ refusal to reconsider their actions in recent weeks. “One would hope,” McGinley correctly reasoned, “that now, after the accuser and the prosecutor have been discredited and the allegations have been all but obliterated, the faculty who encouraged this shameful display would have the humility to acknowledge their error.” Instead, of course, the “clarifying” faculty produced a document, “published only a few weeks ago, which pompously rejects all requests for apology or retraction.”
McGinley also took note of Cathy Davidson’s apologia, particularly her claim that the real “social disaster” was that “18 percent of the American population lives below the poverty line” and “women’s salaries for similar jobs are substantially less than men’s.” McGinley, unlike the Group, has no trouble identifying “the real social disaster” in this case—that 88 members of “the Duke faculty appointed themselves the sole arbiters between right and wrong, innocence and guilt” and “determined the guilt of the lacrosse players based solely on preconceived notions about their race, gender and financial situation—prejudices equal to racism and sexism.”
It’s not clear whether the Group of 88 figures presenting at tomorrow’s edition of the Rehab Tour would consider McGinley’s column part of the campaign of “intimidation” against them.
Beth Brewer’s civil affidavit urging the removal of Mike Nifong from office attracted considerable media attention and an odd resolution—Durham Superior Court judge Orlando Hudson announced that he would stay any action on the matter until Nifong’s ethics trial has concluded.
There is, however, nothing in the relevant law, General Statute §7A-66, to suggest that Hudson possesses the power to stay consideration of Brewer’s affidavit.
How to explain Hudson’s action? It might be that he simply considers state law irrelevant in Durham. More likely, the judge is privy to information suggesting Nifong might be on his way out. (Of course, I admit that I might be overly optimistic in this interpretation, though Hudson does seem to have a good reputation.) WRAL quoted former federal prosecutor Dan Boyce, a frequent commenter on the case unassociated with Nifong critics, arguing that Nifong has “got to consider whether, in the interest of justice and in fairness to the people of Durham County, whether it’s time to resign.”
It remains a mystery to me why the N&O editorial page hasn’t echoed this sentiment—or at least urged Nifong to step aside until his case is resolved. The Herald-Sun, of course, appears to cherish Nifong’s behavior.
Last week featured a good deal of intentional and unintentional humor.
1.) Responding to the revelation that Governor Easley had extracted from Nifong a promise to serve only as an interim appointee, Nifong backer Mark Edwards asked in the Herald-Sun: “Is there something special about Mike [Nifong]? Is there something special about Durham?”
After what we’ve witnessed over the past 10 months, it hardly seems necessary to answer those questions.
2.) For Reason&Revelation, Nifong’s reaction to the Brewer affidavit filing was “just too much.”
“I’m looking forward to having the case heard and having the opportunity to have my side told publicly,” Nifong told the Associated Press. “I would really hope that everybody would be willing to withhold judgment until that procedure that is already in place had been given an opportunity to work.”
“If only,” R&R reasoned, “he would have practiced that in the handling of the Duke lacrosse team.” Nifong, it seems, was oblivious to the irony in his comments.
The intentional humor:
1.) The staff at The Hatemongers’ Quarterly announced “painful” news: at a party around a year ago, “either one, two, three, or fourteen Mike Nifongs came up to us, assaulted us, and then brutally raped us. Yeah, that’s right: Every last member of the crack young staff. All 250 or so of us . . . In fact, we’re certain that he had a moustache at the time. And, difficult as it may be to believe, he answered to the name ‘Adrian Zmed.’”
For those who disbelieve this tale, the THQ staff bets “that you also don’t know what a social disaster looks like. Kim Curtis could sure teach you a thing or two about a thing or two.”
And we can prove that Mike Nifong was our assailant. In fact, if you line up a number of Mike Nifongs in a row, tell us that each one is Mike Nifong, we’re willing to bet that we could pick Mike Nifong out of a crowd.
In addition, we have absolutely no DNA evidence to help our case. But, heck, who needs that stuff? Certainly not the great legal mind of Nancy Grace.
We have accusers who can identify their assailant. In Durham, it has to go to a jury.
2.) IowaHawk, meanwhile, intercepted the “Pandagon Papers,” heretofore secret correspondence between John Edwards and controversial blogger Amanda Marcotte.
Amazingly, the “correspondence” was copied onto the comments section of the Edwards blog by a reader who thought the e-mails were legitimate.
In an early November interview with the AP, Nifong remarked, “I must say that the single good thing about all the publicity that I’ve gotten is that so many people know my face now that it’s really easy for me to meet people. Before, literally very few people had any idea who I was, so I had to go up and introduce myself to everybody. And now I don’t have to do that.”
There’s no denying that Nifong has made a name for himself. UrbanDictionary has introduced the word “Nifonged,” or “a verb that describes the railroading or harming of a person with no justifiable cause to do so, except for one’s own gain . . . It is created to display someone being taken advantage of unfairly by someone without scruples or morals.” (“Railroaded” is a suggested synonym.)
Meanwhile, at the N&O’s “Bulls Eye” blog, Ben Niolet discovered that “for at least one judge, Mike Nifong’s name is a shorthand . . . In a federal Court of Appeals, a judge dropped the Durham prosecutor’s name to emphasize what he saw as misdeeds by the government in a case of international money laundering.”
Wrote Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith: “This is a case of a prosecution run amok. Mike Nifong, another prosecutor apparently familiar with the ‘win at any cost’ mantra, most surely would approve.”
Emily Bazelon of Slate had an interesting column last week that placed the ethics charges against Nifong in a broader perspective. What should happen to Nifong?, she asks. “Nothing good, according to just about everyone who has weighed in on the fate of the North Carolina district attorney.”
Bazelon’s column notes that Nifong’s treatment seems to be against the norm: “Prosecutors are rarely punished for breaking the rules designed to ensure that defendants get a fair trial.”
A case could be made, Bazelon contends, that “the North Carolina State Bar may have moved too aggressively. By charging Nifong with ethics violations now, it swooped in to disrupt an ongoing criminal case brought by a duly elected district attorney.”
Of course, the Bar had little choice but to follow this approach, since there appeared to be no other way to get a rogue prosecutor off the case. North Carolina, unlike most states, has not followed Standard 3-2.10(b) of the ABA’s suggested guidelines, which suggests:
The governor or other elected official should be empowered by law to substitute special counsel in the place of the local prosecutor in a particular case, or category of cases, upon making a public finding that this is required for the protection of the public interest.
The Daily Tar Heel had an odd editorial on Friday. Focusing on the actvities of the Association for Truth and Fairness, the editors noted,
The Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a stripper are facing ever rising legal fees even though it appears they're not guilty But now they're getting help. We just wish that more people who are wrongly accused could be afforded the same aid.
The editorial implied--but never came out and stated--that those contributing to ATAF should spread their money evenly to all other falsely accused defense teams. DTH editors instead might have urged the state NAACP to return to its roots and focus on such efforts, rather than aiding the prosecution of those falsely accused.
Cathy Davidson was suggesting that the lacrosse players’ behavior could be used to symbolize male/female wage differential and for poverty, so why not make them a symbol for the war in Iraq, as well? This seems to be the operative thesis of among the more vapid columns on the case, a Huffington Post item from Patricia Zohn.
Zohn contended that the recent 60 Minutes broadcast interviewing the President about his policies in Iraq and the three sets of lacrosse parents provided a “telling juxtaposition of subjects, one that served to highlight the entitlement of frat boys of all ages and their enablers.”
“The Duke Lacrosse team,” Zohn observed, “springs from similar elites” as did Bush. “It’s impossible to grow up like that and not have it imbue everything you do.” It’s not clear how Zohn would have interpreted FDR and JFK through this lens, but why let the facts get in the way of a bad argument?
“Athletic teams,” lectured Zohn, “have a culture of unity,” of “conformity and listening to a coach and to each other (and blocking everybody else out),” a “code of omerta, of sticking together, of hard work, yes, but also expected slack in other areas (academics, for example).” How does the Duke lacrosse culture explain the failure of the war in Iraq? “Bush has surrounded himself with powerful men who protect and serve with single minded devotion in a White House where fraternal loyalty is prized over clear, informed thinking.” Based on the quality of her post, it’s not at all clear that Zohn could identify “clear, informed thinking.”
Meanwhile, Zohn conceded that Nifong might have “overreached on the indictment counts and might even have obstructed justice,” but she found it “chilling” to see the parents defend their sons. (Somehow I doubt that Zohn would have objected to seeing Darryl Hunt’s mother defend her son.) “Not one parent,” Zohn fumed, “seemed to find it objectionable that even if their sons were technically not guilty of rape,” that they had done many things wrong, including “that there had been underage drinking and when things had gotten out of hand, that none had come forward to tell the whole, sordid story.”
Zohn’s bio says that she is a “writer living in Los Angeles.” Does she really expect people to believe that as someone who moves in LA’s cultural circles, she’s shocked and appalled by “underage drinking”? And as for no one having “come forward to tell the whole, sordid story,” apparently Zohn overlooked that Dave Evans went to the police without a lawyer and gave a detailed statement, his DNA, his e-mail password, and offered to take a lie detector test; or that Reade Seligmann put out a minute-by-minute account of what he had done that night.
Zohn’s implied meaning is that “none had come forward to tell the whole, sordid story” that she would prefer to hear.
One HuffPost commenter suggested tongue-in-cheek that Zohn must really be Amanda Marcotte’s mother.