Saturday, March 31, 2007

Remembering the Good, II

After DIW’s version of March Madness (the worst of op-eds; Duke faculty publications; “news” articles; and soundbites), I had a request to remember the best work of the case. Thursday’s post focused on the media outside of the Duke campus; today’s looks at the best from the campus along with the best from the political realm.

In this category, one figure is of towering significance: Jim Coleman. (If this point sounds familiar, it should.) In a period of maximum tension locally, when the Group of 88 and the potbangers were still riding high, he conducted a fair and impartial investigation of the lacrosse players. His conclusions showed the bad and the good—the team drank too much, but also the players were good students who treated athletic staff well, had a solid record of community service, and had a good relationship with the women’s team.

In the aftermath of the Coleman Committee report, only closed-minded ideologues could accept the caricature of the lacrosse players offered by Nifong, his media allies—the Herald-Sun and the New York Times—and his on-campus facilitators, the Group of 88.

On campus, meanwhile, the Duke Chronicle has provided a combination of news articles, analysis pieces, op-eds, and editorials that has been superb. It would be an interesting test to give a sample—without the bylines—of the Chronicle and the New York Times coverage to 10 people who hadn’t followed the case closely. I suspect nine of the ten would guess that the Chronicle was actually “all the news that’s fit to print.”

Four other categories:

Duke students

Kristin Butler’s superb weekly columns have provided one of the few pleasures associated with this case. Whether analyzing Nifong’s misconduct, the peculiar state of Duke-Durham relations, the informal press rule against naming the accuser, or the agenda-driven CCI, Butler has provided high-quality commentary that ranks among the best of the case.

Stephen Miller penned one of the most important columns of the case—on April 12, recognizing the extraordinary inappropriateness of the Group of 88’s statement a mere six days after the ad appeared. And he’s stayed on top of the issue, denouncing the apparent misconduct by Group member Kim Curtis, and organizing a Facebook group with hundreds of Duke students demanding an apology from the Group.

Confronting a lawless D.A. and a Police Department whose official policy was to treat Duke students differently from other Durham residents, the activists in Duke Students for an Ethical Durham responded in a way that would make any educator (except Grant Farred) proud—they organized Duke students to vote, trying to change the system from within.

Student Government president Eliot Wolf was a rare voice of reason on the Campus Culture Initiative. The sole CCI member willing to speak out publicly against the flawed process that resulted in the February report, he has been tireless in demanding a greater student role in shaping the culture in which students will have to live.

Faculty and Coaches

Chemistry professor Steve Baldwin was the only arts and sciences professor to speak out against Mike Pressler’s dismissal; and, in October, he was the first Duke professor to publicly criticize the Group of 88. The expected occurred: the next day, Robyn Weigman, head of the women’s studies program, attempted to silence him with an accusation of racism. But Baldwin refused to back down, and has provided an increasingly passionate critique of the Group’s dubious agenda.

Engineering professor Michael Gustafson has done his best to appeal to the better angels among his colleagues. The vision of Duke he has offered in his posts is one where professors actually care about their students, rather than focus on forwarding their personal, political, or pedagogical agendas. Like Baldwin, he has spent months on this effort, providing a public reminder that the Group of 88 doesn’t speak for all Duke professors.

Perhaps the most spectacular faculty move came in early January, when 19 professors, 17 of whom were from Economics, published a letter endorsing President Brodhead’s call for an inquiry into Nifong’s misconduct and affirming that all students—including student-athletes and lacrosse players—would be welcome in their classes. It would have been much easier for the Ec professors to remain silent and thereby avoid the inevitable attacks from the Group of 88. It was refreshing, therefore, to see a group of professors step up and do the right thing—just because it was the right thing to do.

Women’s lacrosse coach Kerstin Kimel was the first person affiliated with Duke to speak out publicly on the men’s players’ behalf. She also a critical person behind the scenes in keeping people on an even keel last spring—a time when the Duke administration appeared to abandon the players, both legally and on campus. Meanwhile, the 2006 women’s lacrosse team, by taking a public stance of support, generated torrents of criticism from the politically correct (led by Harvey Araton of the Times)—only to be wholly vindicated as Nifong’s case imploded.

Political Figures

Beth Brewer was the spokesperson and leading activist for the Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek effort. At a time when more experienced figures shied away from challenging the seemingly omnipotent DA, Brewer was outraged at Nifong’s misconduct and devoted hundreds of hours to the campaign. While the Cheek line didn’t prevail, no one did more to ensure that Nifong could not claim support from a majority of Durham voters.

Jackie Brown could have sat out the fall election, thereby not risking going against normal allies in groups like the People’s Alliance. Instead, she provided critical behind-the-scenes political know-how for the Recall Nifong effort, helping to transform what appeared to be a longshot campaign into a candidacy that—but for “Spoiler Steve” Monks dividing the anti-Nifong vote—could very well have ousted Nifong in November.

North Carolina congressman Walter Jones became the first member of Congress to publicly demand that the Justice Department do its job and launch a formal inquiry into Nifong’s behavior. The decision was more than a photo-op for him: Jones has been relentless in pressing the Attorney General to move forward—and, as more of Nifong’s misconduct has become public knowledge, Jones has looked prescient.

There’s little political benefit for a Democratic presidential candidate to endorse a federal inquiry—even though, of course, prosecutorial misconduct disproportionately affects minorities and the poor. So Hillary Clinton remained silent, as John Edwards hired a blogger who gleefully proclaimed the players guilty in January 2007. Barack Obama, meanwhile, stood up for principle, and called for the Justice Department to open an investigation.


Liestoppers obviously has been the key player in this regard. John in Carolina has been relentless; Bill Anderson's columns have ranged widely and persuasively; Johnsville News has provided a useful clearinghouse; LaShawn Barber's forays into the case have been timely; Betsy Newmark and Craig Henry have brought their talents to the case.

Three sites, however, occasionally have gotten overlooked for their critical role in the case:

Jeralyn Merritt at Talk Left saw through Nifong almost from the start--from the perspective of a well-connected criminal defense attorney who was nationally known for her effective defenses of Bill Clinton during the impeachment trial. Alas, over the summer, the TL discussion forum got hijacked by a handful of Nifong enablers who reveled in others' misery and appeared to operate under the belief that an accused was guilty until proved innocent beyond all reasonable doubt. But that shouldn't set aside the many Merritt posts in April--when virtually no one was challenging Nifong--pointing out the DA's procedural shortcomings.

Kathleen Eckelt at Forensics Talk was probably the most helpful blogger for me in terms of information, because her posts explained--in terms a layperson could easily understand--the function of the SANE nurse. Since this was an area about which I knew nothing ten months ago, this blog could not have been anywhere near as effective without Eckelt's contributions. She convincingly showed the flaws in nurse-in-training Levicy's actions in this case, but she also persuasively pointed out the procedural flaws in the handling of medical evidence by Nifong and the police.

Finally, Duke Basketball Report is, without a doubt, the unsung hero of the internet and the case. DBR editors correctly understood that this was in part a sports issue--Nifong went after the players in part because they were athletes, and his enablers in the media and the Duke faculty seized on anti-athlete stereotypes to make their cases--but that the case was mostly a moral issue. DBR commentary was consistently first-rate regarding both the political and the legal elements of the case.

Reader Suggestions

Some appropriate additions, suggested by readers.

Provost Peter Lange, the only member of the administration wholly untainted by the affair, whose response to Houston Baker's race-baiting screed represents one of the high points of the administration's response to the case.

On the blogger front, Jon Ham and Right Angles, whose coverage has been great; and Ham's daughter, Mary Katherine, who produced my favorite video of the case.

Jason Trumpbour and Friends of Duke--which fell between my two categories (on and off campus), and has been perhaps the most significant grassroots organization of this case.

Over the past 12 months, most of my posts have tended to be critical. Lots of people have betrayed their professions in how they handled this case, ranging from Nifong to the Group of 88 to journalists such as Duff Wilson. But it's worth remembering that--both on campus and off--lots of other people ensured that the overall story was not an exclusively negative one.


Anonymous said...

there's a typo in your first paragraph
focused focuses. you only need one. thanks for another interesting article

wayne fontes said...

The Ace of Spades has been following the case lately. I think his blog has more unique visitors per day than all of the Duke related blogs put together.

Jon Ham has also contributed. His personal blog is Right Angles but he has written for the John Locke Foundation who have followed some of the G88 for years. I believe KC has used some of their articles as source material. His daughter Mary Katherine Ham did one of the better Duke related videos.

Anonymous said...

JLS says...

Very nice positive post Professor Johnson. I am sure you enjoy getting to write positively for one of the few times on this mess.

Anonymous said...

Why does anyone bother to correct such petty typos on a blog? I mean, what's the bloody point?

Anonymous said...

1:29 Thank you. Who Cares -

Anonymous said...

Original Lyrics By Jimmy Buffett

"Durham Wonderland"

Nibblin' on spong cake
Watchin' Bill Anderson make
All of those G88ers
Look foolish and soiled
Strummin' my six string
On my front porch swing.
I smell all the hypocrites
they're beginnin' to boil.

Wasted away again in Durham Wonderland
Trying to bring this travesty to a halt
Some people claim that there's a lying, criminal, druggie, whore to blame
But I think, it's mostly Nifong's fault.

I know the reason
I blogged here all season
It's KC's unwavering commitment to justice
And this brand new tattoo.
It's a real beauty
A Duke women's lacrosse cutie
How it got here
I haven't a clue

Wasted away again in Durham Wonderland
Trying to bring this travesty to a halt
Some people claim that there's a
lying, criminal, druggie, whore to blame
Now I think, - hell it could be her fault.

I blew out my laptop
Clicked on a pop up
Crashed my disk,
had to cruise on back home
But there's green tea in the blender
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction
that helps me hang on.

Wasted away again in Durham Wonderland
Trying to bring this travesty to a halt
Some people claim that there's a
lying, criminal, druggie, whore to blame
But I know, it's mostly Nifong's fault.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of betraying one's profession, somebody should ask Easley about this:

He needs to reconcile what he said last August when he signed the Innocence Commission into law and what has happened in the Duke case with respect to DNA evidence.


Art Deco said...

It would have been much easier for the Ec professors to remain silent and thereby avoid the inevitable attacks from the Group of 88.

Sir, most of them are likely tenured and thus not vulnerable to dismissal and work in different departments that the signatories of the 'listening' advertisement and its successor and thus do not face the unpleasantness of that crew on a mundane basis. One might also offer a conjecture as to how possible or desirable it would be to maintain a personal friendship with Houston Baker or others of this crew with like dispositions. Nineteen of the twenty-two professors to whom you have referred made an unexeceptional statement at a time (December 2006) when the innocence of these three young men was patent. I am pleased, but this seems closer to a baseline of decency than to something requiring a citations for merit. If I have interpreted your tabulations correctly, about 120 professors signed the 'listening' or 'clarifying' statements. That gives you a sense of the ratio of dispositions among the liberal arts faculty at Duke - what they are willing to put up with and what they can and cannot be bothered to notice. Please note that only one of the four faculty you named as having stuck their necks out prior to December came from the liberal-arts faculty. Here is a solution: move the Economics faculty to the business school, move the Chemistry faculty to the engineering school, and shut Trinity College down. Then, in three years time, attempt to rebuild some sort of liberal arts program by hiring scholars who have demonstrated a possession of sensibilities characteristic of ordinary people and not krill suspended for decades in the foetid waters of academic departments.

bill anderson said...


Thanks for the kind words on my columns. The blogosphere has been a factor that someone like Nifong never could have anticipated when he undertook this false accusation.

In fact, I doubt any one of us really anticipated what we have observed in the blogosphere. In the "old days" before the Internet, the defense would have had a very difficult time getting past the propaganda from the mainstream press.

By the way, I do find it interesting that the other relatively new phenomenon, Cable TV punditry, for the most part has fared very poorly in this caper. Most of the talking heads either were just plain wrong, or, like Wendy Murphy, they were dishonest. The bloggers tended to be much more accurate in their assessment of the case.

(Of course, we have seen bloggers like Amanda Marcotte, Yolanda Carrington, and the current TL administrator either ignoring the facts altogether or pursuing an ideological agenda that dismisses any facts that get in the way.)

Anonymous said...

In the blogs section, KC did not mention DiW, but I would hope that the book DOES outline his great contribution. The blogs I liked best were Liestoppers, JinC and of course DiW (the flagship blog). Bill Anderson's columns were especially good. I mentioned earlier that he should get an A+++++++.

Anonymous said...


How could you have forgotten the Provost at Duke, who shredded Houston Baker?


AMac said...

Art Deco,

Over sixty Duke faculty members have stepped forward to sign a petition in support of the Economics Dept. letter, so the skew isn't as dire as you may suppose (I can't recall the petition's online home--FODU?)

Bill Anderson,

Excellent point about the wild-cards that blogs and online commentary have added to the Hoax. Among such diverse outlets, of course some contributors will be worse than lame. But given print and broadcast media's performances, it's chilling to contemplate how this case would have ended in the pre-blog era (convictions and jail time).

Anonymous said...

I nominate Jason Trumpdour and FODU. Jason was an early poster on DBR and wrote an excellent critique of Nifong's ethical violations early on. He drafted a detailed complaint against Nifong that referenced the specific violations. As a law professor, former MD Asst. Attorney General, Jason brought professional expertise to the DBR and FODU. As spokesperson for FODU he has devoted countless hours to the cause.


Anonymous said...

Re AMac’s 8:46am comment:

Below is the link to the petition you were referring. The list of Duke Faculty who endorsed the Economics Professors letter is available on the right side under the links section.
Petition: Concerned Duke Alumni and Faculty

Art Deco said...

Amac, I am certainly pleased that sixty faculty are, in the current circumstances willing to go on the record as saying:

1. The conduct of the public prosecutor merits an inquiry (after a lab director, in an admission that could destroy his business, admitted entering into an agreement to hide evidence that would exhonerate persons the prosecutor wished to indict);

2. That patently innocent people who play team sports and have among their number three people who have been persecuted by the public prosecutor and forty-three others who have been harrassed by the authorities and scores of others are welcome in their classrooms.

Now it says something about the mentality of faculty members that the willingness to say this on the record when prompted again and again by events is exceptional; and that a disinterested observer (Dr. Johnson) should consider it worthy of citation.

Fr. Paul Shaugnessy, SJ offered to his readers a number of years ago this assessment of many Catholic religious orders and dioceses: that they were 'corrupt' in a sociological sense (by which he was not referring to the personal probity of their members). It is his view that any collectivity has scoundrels and heroes and people who go about their business honestly but take no risks. When all is well, the heroes set the overall tone and malefactors are disciplined. When they do not, the behavior of the institution shifts not to sanctions for misbehavior but to public relations, and the collectivity ceases to be able regulate itself and the task of so doing repairs to exterior authorities.

The thesis is this: that the faculty of Trinity College is 'sociologically corrupt', and that this is a general problem among liberal arts faculties.

Anonymous said...

Special kudos to both you and Dr. Andersen.And to the blogger who feels tenured profs have no fears,I beg to differ.The administration may not be able to terminate them(easily),but can make life miserable.

rod allison, detroit said...

The Duke Lacrosse Hoax, like the CBS National Guard forgeries, is another case of old media vs. new media.

CBS News and the New York Times were the icons of the old media.

They have both now been shown to have been, not just totally wrong, but deliberately wrong and deceitful, on a major story.

In pre-internet years, they would have gone practically unchallenged. There would have been little questioning of them in the traditional print or broadcast media (the phoniness of the CBS forgeries would probably have eventually come out, but not until after the election, and not as indisputably).

Their days of deciding what is news, how its presented, and how it is to be perceived, are over (maybe they still decide what is news, but that will end soon, as well).

The Duke Hoax is a lot more than a phony rape charge. Part of the reason for decline of the traditional media is that new technology has made other news sources more accessible. But part of it is because these new sources have been able to show that the old media is dishonest and agenda driven. People are abandoning it because they don't, and shouldn't, have confidence in much of it. At the least, they use internet, cable, and talk radio sources for reality checks.

When historians study the demise of the old media, the Duke Lacrosse Hoax will be prominently cited. In past years, Duff Wilson's August piece would have shaped the public opinion on the case. Today, it was blown to smithereens by Stuart Taylor and others before the ink was dry.

It makes you wonder just how much the NYT, CBS and others abused their influence in the past.

Art Deco said...

And to the blogger who feels tenured profs have no fears,I beg to differ.The administration may not be able to terminate them(easily),but can make life miserable. Cprwin

Yes, it is possible that dean of Trinity College or the university provost will undertake to deny raises and withhold approvals for new courses for Dr. Baldwin and like-minded faculty. That is also to say that the institutional leadership is an extension of the faculty who signed those 'listening' and 'clarifying' ads. Which would tend to re-inforce an argument for turning Duke into a federation of professional schools for an interim period of years.

Anonymous said...

Two points:

1. Owing to modesty, Professor Johnson is not really able to highlight the good that he has done in this case, which is vast. And the good professor has set a very high standard with his postings here, which are models of probity, clarity and well-informed good judgement--everything this case has not been.

2. What, only 60 (or thereabouts) Duke faculty?! All credit to them, but that's a pathetically low number, if hardly surprising given the timorous nature of the profession. It stands as a real indictment of the Duke faculty. In many ways their silence (with some notable exceptions) is much more depressing than the noisy protests of the Gang of 88 and their supporters. Duke faculty and administration come out of this whole mess discredited and weak--if not worse. Most are hiding under their desks scribbling away at obscure books and scholarly articles while their institution is exposed and humiliated for all to see.

Bakerman said...

Think Nifong operated in a conspiratorial vacuum, you know, like some sort of a once-in-a-blue-moon rogue prosecutor? Well, please think again.

Since I’ve been posting here at DiW (approximately one month), the number of exonerations ripped from the tracks of railroaded “justice” - and achieved by the Innocence Project, climbed from 196, to 197, and now 198. A few law profs and a small law school, 198 exonerations. Imagine how many Nifonged individuals now dead or serving life-killing sentences might have walked free had it been two or three law schools. Even better, two or three really big law schools.


“Innocence Project client Antonio Beaver was exonerated this morning at a hearing in St. Louis. Beaver spent 10 years in Missouri prisons after he was wrongly convicted of a 1996 carjacking that happened in the shadow of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. DNA tests on blood stains left by the perpetrator prove Beaver’s innocence.” (

Chicago said...

As much as I admire the man, if I was Men's Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski and read this post I would hang my head in shame. I would feel like a hypocrite sitting in my Penthouse Office in the Schwartz-Butters Building overlooking Krzyzewskiville with the covers of my numerous leadership books framed on the walls and frown upon myself in sorrow. This Hall of Fame Coach who champions himself as a leader and has preached in numerous books that "a leader is at his best when his team needs him most" chose to take his marching orders from a academic wimp like Dick Brodhead. This same celebrity who makes millions off "his team" each year and demands hundreds of thousands of dollars for endorsements from Chevy, State Farm, and American Express was left in the dust by a young women's lacrosse coach, a law professor and numerous 19-22 year old students who write for the school paper for free.

I am a HUGE Duke fan of all sports at Duke but Coach K really let us down in this case. He did not walk the talk he preaches. We needed him more than ever last Spring/Summer and he was no where to be found.

GPrestonian said...

Here's a couple of links to other items mentioned in today's post or comments:

Mentioned by KC - Old Duke LAX blog posts by Jeralyn Merrit on TL

The above is a listing of blog posts - as KC mentioned, the TL forum is now a wasteland after being taken over by trolls and Nifong enablers. Truly the backwaters of Duke Lax discussion forums now.

Mentioned by Jeff M 8:45am - Provost [Lange] Responds to Faculty [Baker] Letter Regarding Lacrosse

Chicago said...

In my honest opinion, the three single biggest heros of this case when it came to coverage are KC Johnson, John in Carolina and the staff at Liestoppers (not sure who they are but they have been amazing). Do not overlook yourself KC!

Chicago said...

I failed to mention Bill Anderson, sorry Bill! Together, Bill and KC are fire and ice. KC is the cool customer pointing out the many flaws in the system and injustices, while Bill has done the same, but with more urgency. The Fire and Ice combination is exactly what I would want in my corner if this ever happened to me.

Also, "Tony Soprano" at Liestoppers has done an amazing job of private eye work, specifically involving snuffing out what a slimmy character "Cousin Clakki" is. Obviously we knew from the start she was full of crap, but he took it to a whole new level in showing what an absurd character he/she is. He also did a great job of showing what her true motives were and that she was indeed a first rate criminal herself.

Bakerman said...

RE: "I am a HUGE Duke fan of all sports at Duke but Coach K really let us down in this case. He did not walk the talk he preaches. We needed him more than ever last Spring/Summer and he was no where to be found." - Chicago

Excellent, excellent point. A lot of people have been wondering the same thing, "Where was coach Mike Krzyzewski?"

I suspect it was Mike Krzyzewski who got blown out in the first round - by his disheartened players.

His whole career reduced to zero.

Anonymous said...

If I wanted to be Governor for life, I would promise to use taxpayer money to fund my own Innocence Project and free every wrongly convicted man and woman I could.

Michael said...

re: 12:14

A rather interesting snippet from a quote from the LA Times from the Innoncence Project. The interesting part is that "prosecutors can be sued". Completely different than what Nifong did but it takes prosecutorial immunity down a notch.

Federal appeals court finds that prosecutors are accountable for snitches

In an important 3-0 decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Wednesday that prosecutors can be sued for failing to maintain and uphold policies regarding jailhouse informants.

The ruling came in a civil damages case filed by Thomas L. Goldstein, who spent 24 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction based largely on the testimony of jailhouse informant Edward F. Fink.

The decision marked the first time that the 9th Circuit has considered this issue, and the U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the precise question. Because of the potential ramifications for prosecutors, Loyola Law School professor Laurie L. Levenson said she thought the case might go to the Supreme Court.

"I'm really happy with the decision," Goldstein said by telephone. "Jailhouse informants have been used by prosecutors to put a lot of innocent people in prison…. The ruling by this court is the first step toward making district attorneys accountable for their actions."

Jailhouse Snitches

Michael said...

D.A.s can be sued over jailhouse informants, court finds

Goldstein maintained his innocence and more than two decades later, a federal judge overturned the conviction because of Fink's credibility problems as well as the prosecutors' failure to tell Goldstein's attorney that they had made a deal to go easy on Fink in a separate criminal case.

After he was freed in 2004, Goldstein sued several Long Beach police officers, Los Angeles County, former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. John K. Van de Kamp and his chief assistant, Curt Livesay, contending that his federal civil rights had been violated.

In particular, Goldstein alleged that Van de Kamp and Livesay had failed to develop policies and procedures, and failed to adequately train and supervise their subordinates, to fulfill their constitutional obligation of ensuring that information regarding jailhouse informants was shared among prosecutors.

In its 3-0 decision, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a district court ruling and rejected Van de Kamp and Livesay's contention that they were entitled to absolute immunity.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused.
On this and other blogs Cousin Jacki is said to be a man who dresses like a woman. And models? Really?
Is all this true? That person isn't attractive enough to be a model.
Is Cousin Jacki a transvestite or transgendered?
It's very confusing.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

"rod allison, detroit said...
The Duke Lacrosse Hoax, like the CBS National Guard forgeries, is another case of old media vs. new media."

Rod, you said it perfectly.

And now that the lies of the 'old' media about Duke have been exposed, I'm sickened by the realization this can't be the first time they lied. Because of the Duke case, I now realize that much of what the old media once made me believe about Viet Nam, Nixon, Israel, feminism, etc., had to have been riddled with lies as well.

The scary thing is that catching the old media lying doesn't do anything - they not only won't admit they lied, they keep doing it. (Or did the Times give back Duranty's Pulitzer and fire Selena?)

Anonymous said...

One thing to remember in evaluating who did what is that there is a difference between the presumption of innocence, a legal rule, and the assumption of innocence, a matter of opinion.

Jack Ruby whose murder of Lee Harvey Oswald was viewed live on television by millions of viewers was allowed the presumption of innocence under the law but nobody doubted that he had done it.

Judges in assessing bail make judgments about the likely culpability before deciding the conditions of release prior to trial.

What is clear is that in spite of denials, the vast majority of Duke faculty and administrators acted as if they assumed the players were guilty. There is no other possible explanation for suspending the students and cancelling the lacrosse season.

From the first day they must have been faced with two versions of the story. The lacrosse players' version that denied the accusations emphatically and the accuser's differing versions that she started claiming only after facing a trip to the hospital for detox.

The Duke faculty and administration at some level must have trusted the word of a sex worker with a history of criminal and erratic behavior over some forty students whose worst transgressions were underage drinking and public urination.

That speaks volumes to the mindset of all too many people at Duke. I don't know how Brodhead or Lang or any of the student affairs people can look the parents of the players in the eye after having so publicly taken CGM's word over the word of their sons.

They still haven't even come close to owning up to what they did.

Gary Packwood said...

Chicago 12:45
Well said. I could not have said it or even imagined a better way to talk about responsibility of leadership.
I have the picture of those leadership books in my mind...just hanging on the wall...collecting dust.

Thank You

Anonymous said...


I agree with you completely and the "assumption" of the guilt of the lacrosse players by the Duke administration and by the Group of 88 has been one of the most troubling aspects of this case for me as far as Duke is concerned. I find it appalling that the administration found the accuser's numerous and uncorroborated versions of the night more credible than the steadfast denial of its own students. The admistration readily believed that not only an assault had taken place but also that the rest of the team did nothing to stop it! I just wonder about the mindset of people who readily believed their own students were capable of such a crime. For me the jump from alcohol infractions to the alleged crime would be a quantum leap.

AMac said...

Art Deco,

Your thoughts on the liberal arts faculty's performance seem, unfortunately, on target.

You might find this explanation by an (anonymous) G88-opposed Duke professor to be of interest.

lm said...

It is nice to see a list of the positive - thank you Professor Johnson.

Did anyone else see the editorial by Stanley Fish (!) in support of Missouri House Bill #213 (Emily Brooker Intellectual Diversity Act). Fish is supporting the position that advocacy has no place in academia. Is this a step in the right direction?

Gary Packwood said...

AMac > Art Deco said... 3:52

Your thoughts on the liberal arts faculty's performance seem, unfortunately, on target.

You might find this explanation by an (anonymous) G88-opposed Duke professor to be of interest.
I read the comment and I'll bet the professor's comments are respresentative of the faculty.
I left a comment for him.
A bunch of intellectuals sipping tea alone at Duke University while watching re-runs of Hogan's Heroes --- and repeating after Sgt. Schultz... I KNOW NOTHING.

It is going to take more than that professor to re-write history.

You watched bad things happen to your students and you did ...nothing.

I vote for more good news.

Anonymous said...

2:59 and 3:39

You are both right on the money. The Duke administration bears tremendous blame for the actions it took in the immediate aftermath of the event. Faced with the lacrosse team's unequivocal denials, they took the word of the accuser (whose credibility should have been suspect to any objective observer) over that of their own students without any corroborating evidence to support the accusations. Assuming their guilt, as you noted, the adminstration suspended Reade and Colin, terminated the team's season (ending the careers of the seniors on the team) and forced the resignation of Coach Pressler. These would be significant penalties if there had to that point been been an adjudication or at least significant corroborating evidence of a violation of law or established school rules or policies. To impose these penalties before any investigation had been done was a rush to judgment more significant (certainly to the player and their coach) than the words and actions (even the threats) of the potbangers. The Duke administration and in particular its President can not be allowed to take refuge in the tepid support they have belatedly offered. If Duke has a Board of Trustees that exercises even a small quantity of independent oversight and acts with some modicum of responsibility, there will be consequences for Brodhead before the sun sets on this tragedy.

As a final point, in case any alumni are wondering whether the performance of the Duke administration has had any effect on its applicant pool, let me suggest that it has. I have two students at Ivy League colleges and also have a junior in high school looking at colleges. The junior has the strongest academics and SATs of the three and will graduate, if she stays healthy, with 10 varsity letters). When she expressed interest in applying to Duke, I told her that there was no way I would pay to send her there after watching what the Duke administration did to the boys and Coach Pressler. The failure of its leadership much more than the radical left agenda-driven faculty members (who probably aren't much worse than you find in most colleges' liberal arts faculties) is what has put me off the school. I would be surprised if I am the only parent of a HS junior that feels this way.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Amac at 3:52: I followed your link to the email comments of the Duke professor who refuses to give his name and instead calls himself 'John Doe'.

Should you ever wish to email the gutless bastard back, tell him I view his self-serving excuse for doing nothing, saying nothing, writing nothing -- while the Gang of 88 tore like ravenous dogs into the lacrosse students -- as proof of his moral, civic and intellectual cowardice.

It is telling he chooses a 'nothing' name to identify himself. Since nothing is precisely what he did for his students, his university and his own self respect, it's the perfect epithet.

Dodi said...

I think one of the most important series of columns in the Duke Chronicle was written by Boston Cote, who in one instance tore Houston Baker to shreds. Her "Houston, We Have a Problem" column demonstrated that Duke students were more honest and better informed than their well-paid professors:

Anonymous said...


Great, great work as always. One name you might add to the list is Dr Tom Mayer, the Duke lacrosse parent who spoke out very courageously and articulately to the Coleman Committee, and whose remarks were widely circulated on the internet and commented upon by several MSM columnists. To speak out early and at a time when Nifong might well have retaliated against the players (including his son) took considerable stones. Again, great work.

AMac said...

Carolyn wrote at 6:35pm --

> [I read the comments of the] Duke professor who refuses to give his name and instead calls himself 'John Doe'...It is telling he chooses a 'nothing' name to identify himself.

I have unintentionally misled you. Prof XYZ allowed me to share his comments, but without attribution, for the reasons he gave. I chose "John Doe" as a literary device to accomplish that.

Re.: "his students"--FWIW, I'm virtually certain that he had none of the lacrosse players in any of his classes.

Art Deco said...


Thank you for the link.

The professor's excuse does not cut it for the following reasons:

1. It was not a small fraction of the faculty who signed the 'listening' and 'clarifying' statements, but fully one-fifth of the faculty of Trinity College, to which were opposed, prior to December, by one faculty member from Trinity College and three others from other units of the University.

2. I would not expect most professors to be 'activists'. It is not their vocation and, as Fr. Shaugnessy noted, that would be unrealistic in most social organisms. I merely note that the ratio of 'activists' on one side to 'activists' on the other has ranged from two to one to 88 to one depending on circumstances.

3. It cannot be true that there is a consensus among his colleagues on the nefariousness of the public prosecutor and the necessity to make amends to the students. One hundred and twenty faculty at Trinity College signed the statements and few have repudiated them.

4. Paula McClain, a signatory who has tersely and explicitly refused to retract or qualify her public statements, was elected chairman of a consequential faculty committee thereafter.

5. We can be fairly confident that no one worth bothering about will believe that he speaks for the faculty in general if he offers the appropriate disclaimers. We can be equally confident of that if he signs his name to his comments or if he does not. We can reasonably surmise that he himself does not believe his own explanation in this regard.

It is reasonable to draw a tentative conclusion that faculty have not publicly objected to the activities of Baker, Lubiano, McClain, et al. because they understand them as a variant of normal behavior and opinion. That conclustion is re-inforced by the spectre of Prof. John Doe playing games with you.

miramar said...

Anonymous 5:33 is correct to blast the Duke administration, but I would definitely ask him or her to reconsider the decision to refuse to pay for his/her child to go to Duke. I share the sense of outrage, but I can assure anyone that as a Duke grad and the parent of a current Duke undergrad, it is a great place to go to school. I can also say that I know or studied with several of the twits who signed the absurd petitions (I even studied with Professor Weintraub, who I am glad to say was responsible for the Economics Dept. message) and they really are no different from the profs you would find at any Ivy League school (for better or worse). With the exception of a small core group of truly malicious incompetents, most of the signees were just silly fellow travelers who simply have not had the decency to apologize. I also know full well from several sources that many of them realize that this was an absurd episode (a social disaster might be a more appropriate term) but I would say that the overwhelming majority are only guilty of moral cowardice rather than being truly malicious. I am certainly not trying to defend them, quite the opposite, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. I was accepted the Yale and Penn, and I am delighted I chose Duke. My daughter is working hard, learning a lot, and having the greatest experience of her young life (which includes wearing a Duke lacrosse tee shirt and going to the matches).

rod allison, detroit said...

"Her 'Houston, We Have a Problem' column demonstrated that Duke students were more honest and better informed than their well-paid professors:"

Boy, thats a good point.

That's why the proposal for a mandatory diversity class - to improve the campus culture - is so ridiculous and insulting. The very idea that the students have some shortcoming in this regard that must be cured by the phonies and sociopaths who would be teaching the class.

If anything, the faculty who would most likely be teaching the required courses should be taking instruction on the matter from the students.

scott said...

10:59 AM said --

It makes you wonder just how much the NYT, CBS and others abused their influence in the past.

Too bad we can't ask Walter Duranty, deceased former "reporter" (read liar) for the NYT. He "won" a Pulitzer on the back of lies he told about what was happening related to people starving to death in the Ukraine in the 1930s. The NYT refuses to denounce the POS award. It's displayed proudly with all the other faux hardware they've garnered over the years by manipulating a story to fit their Communist agenda.

Anonymous said...

With the exception of Reade, most students go to the best school they can get accepted to. Which is wht, I think a lot of Northern whites go to Duke. Soon the dicersity of the school is going to drive these paying customers away, If white people wanted so much diversity as 40, they would be going to Spellman.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the typos - diversity and 40% non whites at Duke.

MTU'76 said...

Doti A 7:11said:
I think one of the most important series of columns in the Duke Chronicle was written by Boston Cote, who in one instance tore Houston Baker to shreds. Her "Houston, We Have a Problem" column

Excellent article and thank you for posting the link.
Her 4/21 article is also excellent, and gives Nancy Grace some well deserved stick.

So the belle of Duke has run away to Vanderbilt. Sigh. I remember reading that while living in Philadelphia during a home invasion situation his wife was raped while he was tied up in the next room - someone suggested this accounted for some of Houston's bad behavior. I don't know. If it was I'd think he could have received therapy to help him cope. I never heard how his wife made out. She probably hasn't been able to confront her own feelings because she has to cope with his. I have no sympathy for Houston Baker, none at all. I am sympathetic to his wife and her children. Rape victims understand.

Huston Baker, I fart in your general direction.

rrhamilton said...

Something slightly off-subject:

I know many of the readers here are lawyers. I was reading over at Volokh Conspiracy ( where a lawyer says, "Most long term members of the defense bar I have asked about it will say they've seen one or two really innocent defendants in a few decades' work."

So my question for the lawyers here: How many of you have ever represented an actually-innocent defendant, and how did the case turn out? If you share your story, I'll share mine (yes, I had one, just one).

rrhamilton said...

So, who do we think should get this year's Karla F.C. Holloway Award for Service to Duke . See (page 37, near the lower left corner)

I would vote to give it to the Duke Chronicle journalists cited in today's DiW. Do I hear any nominations?

Art Deco said...

and they really are no different from the profs you would find at any Ivy League school (for better or worse). With the exception of a small core group of truly malicious incompetents, most of the signees were just silly fellow travelers who simply have not had the decency to apologize.

Why does one go into hock to the tune of $42,000 per annum to obtain the services of 'silly fellow travelers' who 'have not had the decency' to do something that my mother and father were irked when my eight-year-old self did not have the decency so to do: admit a manifest error and apologize for any injury caused? Why does one do that in persuit of a liberal education? Why not learn the insurance business or the pharmacy trade at a state school?

There is an aspect of this that Prof. Johnson has not called attention to in explicit terms that Joseph Bottum did, and stated thus: "for $40,000, you can get hot and cold running strippers, professors who hate you, and an administration that heads for the hills at the first sign of trouble."

rod allison, detroit said...

Carolyn, Scott,

Presently, the NYT is trying to give cover to a corrupt DA because his victims were privileged white boys.

In the 30's they covered for a genocidal dictator. Back then as well, the Times showed contempt for the persecuted because of their perceived social status. The NYT reporter, Walter Duranty, dismissed the starving Kulaks as an "almost privileged class."

The mindset is the same, and the shameful misreporting of the Ukraine Famine shows how dangerous it is. If people don't think falsely accusing three innocent kids and getting a coach fired is bad enough, history has shown that the consequences of this mindset can be far more severe.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous said...
...The failure of its leadership much more than the radical left agenda-driven faculty members (who probably aren't much worse than you find in most colleges' liberal arts faculties) is what has put me off the school. I would be surprised if I am the only parent of a HS junior that feels this way.

I agree with you especially about the agenda driven faculty not being much worse at Duke that most Tier #1 universities.

The difference between Duke and places I have worked is that the agenda people are managed....every day and their actions are anticipated ...every day.

Congratulations to your youngster at home. She sounds special. Keep it up.


Allen said...

It's foolish to think that every Ivy school doesn't also have it's own group of 88 waiting in the wings for their opportunity. There's nothing special about Duke, unfortunately. Remember much of the 88 came from Ivy grad programs. Plus we've already seen what happened to Summers at Harvard and the water buff incident at Penn. Houston Baker, probably the most dispicable of the 88, was hired away from Duke (Vanderbilt).

If you think behavior like the 88's is unique to Duke you really don't understand today's Universities.

Gary Packwood said...

Art Deco 7:30 said...
...It is reasonable to draw a tentative conclusion that faculty have not publicly objected to the activities of Baker, Lubiano, McClain, et al. because they understand them as a variant of normal behavior and opinion. That conclustion is re-inforced by the spectre of Prof. John Doe playing games with you.
I would agree with you but Duke is an exception.
If you work on a campus in a very large urban community the agenda driven faculty interact almost daily with community members - activists - who are adults. Those adults in the community keep most of these faculty members sane.
At Duke, these agenda driven faculty interact daily with youngsters! Not seasoned adults who are activists. Durham is much to small for a strong activist community...with national or regional reputations.
The whole concept of check and balances is missing for these faculty members.
They need much more oversight and much more include anticipating what they are going to do next.

Anonymous said...

to miramar

I'm sorry. I do know a number of current Duke students and Duke alumni virtually all of whom I hold in high regard but I can't overlook what the administration did to Coach Pressler and the boys, particulary Reade. My son went to high school with Reade so I knew from the outset the complainant either made a terrible mistake or was lying (we now know which). To suspend Reade without getting enough of the facts to realize he wasn't even there at the time the offense was alleged to have occurred was an inexcusable and outrageous action. Its cost him...well every reader of this blog knows or can imagine what it has cost him and his family. So no, I won't be reconsidering my view while the current President holds that position.

to allen
I agree and my prior post indicated that my view of the University is based on the actions of its leaders not those of its more radical faculty members as I am well aware that there are many faculty members that share such views at every similar university.

Anonymous said...

Allen - Actually, few of the 88 come from Ivy schools. Many have very meger credintials - One has three degrees from Howard University. Goggle their CVs.
Besides Summers (a crime against the President of Harvard), Duke for sure is the only school that has had Professors attacking their students in public - the paying customers. Even Gail Dines attacked Duke students, not Wheelock Us students.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Amac: You defend the anonymous Duke professor for not speaking up because "I'm virtually certain that he had none of the lacrosse players in any of his classes."

I'm not good enough to say it right, but someone else was.

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."

Pastor Niemoller wrote those words because he'd been silent while a camp was built. 12 years later he was in it. It was Dachau.

Anonymous said...

This quote is well represented on both TL and LS

Anonymous said...

Gary Packwood, at 11:56, you are somewhat misleading in saying that the agenda-driven faculty interact daily with these youngsters. You need to note that these faculty members interact only with those students who desire to take their courses, either for an easy grade or because they are interested in the courses, such as those in the women's studies and afro-american courses and some cultural anthropology courses. Students do not have to take their courses, and most students can avoid them, although in a few majors it would be more difficult. Students are well aware of the reputations of teachers and know which ones to avoid. If the crazy CCI recommendation to require some kind of diversity course became a reality, then all students might encounter the agenda-driven faculty, but it is highly unlikely that such a requirement will be established.

Also, Gary, when you say the agenda people at the places you have worked are managed, I take it that you have not worked at the University of Pennsylvania or Harvard or the huge state university where my husband works. Even when not as vociferous as the ones in this Duke incident, the agenda people are powerful pressure groups on campuses, and administrations quake and cater. Management is often by accommodation and reward.

Miramar, at 7:33, has expressed a more realistic understanding of the make-up of the Group of 88 than many posters on this blog. To characterize the Group of 88 as a solid group is wrong. There is a small group of malicious ones (Lubiano and Baker, to name a few) and recalcitrant, outspoken ones, but many were foolishly following the herd, feel foolish now, and are simply not strong enough to apologize, OR afraid to apologize because some of the malicious senior members of the 88 could quite likely be sitting on tenure and promotion committees that determine the academic fate of the lesser 88's. Academic politics is vicious at many institutions of higher learning.

I wish that more faculty had spoken out against the 88 leaders and the administration, and I don't know why more haven't. But how brave we all are on the blogs, either not employed by Duke or employed but blogging anonymously, as we bash the 88, Brodhead, and others on campus. How many of us have done much more than talk or blog about the situation from our secure positions outside Duke or anonymously within Duke? What about you, Art Deco?

Art Deco said...

Anonymous 13:00

I am a common-and-garden wage earner in Upstate New York. I have particular responsibilities with regard to the standard of conduct within my own workplace. I am not on the faculty of Trinity College. Prof. John Doe is.

Anonymous said...

Saw David Horowitz on Book TV talking about 101 Professors. He makes a good case that the stalinist left wing haters are so vicious that many "normal" Professors don't want to take them on. The only way to get rid of these people is an economic boycott. Vote with your tootsies.

AMac said...

Carolyn wrote at 12:48am --

> Amac: You defend the anonymous Duke professor for not speaking up...

Carolyn, I initiated a dialog with Prof. "Doe" because I thought his position as a Duke faculty member made his opinion of interest. I asked for his permission to blog about our correspondence, and he assented... on condition that I respect his desire to remain anonymous.

I don't defend his point of view (read that post's comments), I presented it for its value in the discussion. (It speaks to "why have relatively few professors spoken out on the case?")

If my opinion is important to you (in which case, thanks!), check here (2/9/07 9:14am) or search amac hard left faculty in D-i-W's comments.

Art Deco (6:55am):

For the record, Prof "Doe" is on Duke's faculty, but his primary appointment is with a professional school, not with Trinity (undergrad. liberal arts college).

Anonymous said...

I can only wish that the students would vote with their feet in selecting courses. It seems that the agenda-driven professors have a following on campus. How large it is, I don't know. Does anyone know if enrollment numbers for the malicious among the 88 have changed?

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Amac at 2:08: I do not have your incredible self-control dealing with this "John Doe" professor.

His cowardice and lying about his cowardice disgust me. But he also frightens me because he is the symbol of what allows Gangs in all universities to flourish. They know John Doe professors will do nothing, say nothing, stand for nothing. I would have respected the John Doe professor if he'd at least admitted his cowardice but instead he hid behind self-serving excuses - they're not my students, professors aren't supposed to speak up, the Gang wasn't that bad, etc.

Your interaction with him proves two things: your self-control in dealing with cowards and his choice to be one.

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