Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Word to the Wise

As the men’s lacrosse team prepares to take the field in today’s Final Four, another unfortunate sports column, this one from Mike Wise of the Washington Post.

“With all due respect to those ‘INNOCENT’ bracelets worn around Durham this year,” Wise writes, “this isn’t ‘To Kill a Mockingbird II.’”

With all due respect to Wise, here’s North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper: “We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.”

In short, each and every person who wore an “innocent” bracelet—which, Wise neglected to mention, contained the numbers of the three accused players—was vindicated by Cooper’s all-but-unprecedented declaration.

To rationalize his statement, Wise cited the facts that “aren’t disputed”: the McFadyen e-mail; the fact that college students held a raunchy spring break party (imagine that!), and that afterwards one of them (though not, as Kim Roberts admitted, any of the three to whom the “innocent” bracelets referred) made a racist comment.

Wise forgot to mention a few other facts that “aren’t disputed”—that the racist remark came in response to a racist taunt from Roberts; that we generally do not hold a group of nearly 50 people responsible for the reprehensible thoughts of one of its members; and that the McFadyen e-mail played off a book assigned in at least three Duke courses.

The second part of Wise’s statement is even more intriguing. It’s been a while since I’ve read the Harper Lee novel, but as I recall, none of the novel’s characters claimed that the man falsely accused of rape, Tom Robinson, was (to borrow a phrase preferred by Duke administrators) a “choirboy.” Indeed, Robinson’s personal character wasn’t a major theme of Lee’s novel. Nor was the character of Robinson’s friends, or any people who happened to play on sports teams with Robinson.

Instead, To Kill a Mockingbird explored how an ambitious prosecutor fanned racial prejudice and brought charges against a man he knew or should have known was innocent; how the majority of the town allowed emotion to overcome reason and joined the mob; and how Atticus Finch and his family experienced this prejudice first-hand when Finch defended Tom Robinson, stood up to the mob, and argued that all people—even those who don’t represent a group politically popular with the local majority—deserve the same procedures before the law.

To me, those are themes that resonate given the experience of Durham over the past 15 months. But, as I said, it’s been a while since I read the Harper Lee book. Perhaps Wise obtained a different interpretation from someone who has read it more recently than I have. After all, as Mike Nifong told the Herald-Sun last year, To Kill a Mockingbird is his favorite book.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another sloppy thinking journalist. These people never get challenged as they go through the system.

As a result, you get this type of silly thinking. And, their capacity for self-delusion is very great also.

These type of people form a conclusion and try to fit the facts as best as they can.

martin said...

Some sportswriters have something to say besides describing the game at hand. Mike Wise is not one of them. He is clearly a small talent hack who can't even get the gist of the story, much less the facts, correct. He's one of the rare humans unworthy of admission to the Group of 88, the members of which at least do not pretend to be fair minded social commentators. Then again, he does work for the Washington Post, which may be almost as good.

Anonymous said...

Another sloppy thinking journalist. These people never get challenged as they go through the system.

Let's be brutally honest here. Our best and brightest have NEVER gone into either Journalism or Education, yet somehow many people have been deluded into thinking that journalists and college professors are both knowledgeable and ethical.

This case may disabuse many of such absurd notions. If that happens, at least some good will have come from it.

Mark Twain said that the very ink of history was merely fluid prejudice. That applies as much to writings in academia and journalism as it does to history per se......

Anonymous said...

I am in DC right now for the Duke Lacrosse game and my Dad showed me that article. Thanks for your comments which I have printed and will go show him. You say it like I wish I could! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

12:31
That's rather harsh, isn't it?

bill anderson said...

K.C.,

For that matter, the Scottsboro Boys were not "choirboys" either. They were drifters and many of them were quite familiar with the bare-knuckles street life.

The point never should be the so-called character of the accused. The focus ALWAYS should be on the truth of the accusations, period.

However, the MSM had a narrative and will not let it go for any reason. Truly despicable people. If there are character issues here, they are with journalists from the NY Times and Washington Post. The last time I heard, spreading falsehoods is a sign of bad character.

Anonymous said...

I'm struck speechless by these Wise cracks. It is Memorial day weekend. Why didn't the Wise cracker mention the lacrosse player who recently gave his life for his country? How can he insult those wearing "innocent" bracelets? Has he no respect for a true justice system and freedom of speech? He has succeeded in making me think that he has character problems, not that the lacrosse team does. What were he and his editors thinking?

Anonymous said...

People like Wilson are awful. It matters not what their ignorance does to the community, any community. Their training or education manifests an ignorance about the world that has begun to endanger the ability of this country to understand and rationalize reality in a way that will allow anything to be fixed or made workable. Their arrogance won't let go of their ignorance. They do not see that they in their prejudice or racism and sexism are the bigoted towns people of Harper Lee's book and not the three innocent lacross players.

Anonymous said...

This guy has a good message when he urges Americans to do something about corrupt judges; however, he's about the worst vehicle for that message.

What a bad speaker! And he's filmed in an almost dark room.

LIS!!!

A_Dark_Message

Debrah

Anonymous said...

Someone asked a while back why there needs to be lawsuits filed in this case. The best answer is Wise. Wise called the entire Lacrosse team EVIL (his little word play stating the team was midway between good and evil, there is no midway evil is evil).

Wise should not be allowed to get away with this garbage. The lawsuits need to start to not only protect this team, but to help prevent future cases of media abuse such as this. I would ask you what is worse to destroy someone’s name for malice or profit?

Tom E.

Anonymous said...

I want to know why the Herald Sun cannot be sued. They are the very worst.

Anonymous said...

We know Nifong saw himself as the prosecutor and not Finch. He told us outright. Wise is as nasty and wrong as other writers on the Post. After fifty years, I cancelled my subscription two years ago. I even had the paper mailed to my kids when they were in University - so they could keep up with all the news fit to print. What a sad end for a great paper.

Anonymous said...

Donald Graham is the chief executive officer of The Washington Post Company. He is a fair-minded person, even if some of the journalists employed there aren't. Wise's stupid, ill-informed and mindless commentary is one of a number of columns appearing in The Post over the past year about the lacrosse frame-up. Write to Mr. Graham. Please be polite and stick to the facts.

Anonymous said...

In real life, Harper Lee would slap Mike Wise in the face. But in her novel, she gave the Wises' of the world what they wanted; death by prejudice.

Anonymous said...

Bo Jones is Donny's right hand man. Write to his also.

Anonymous said...

KC

Reade Seligmann is closest to being a "choirboy" as any college student you'll find on any campus anywhere.

kayman007

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

If Wise describes sports like he describes Crystal or Nifong, the Post is in trouble. For instance, Wise describes Crystal as:

"...a black single mother...who made a poor career choice to support her children..."

Geez, that's the first I've heard someone describe inserting a dildo in your crotch to amuse paying customers as a 'poor career choice' - or stealing a car from a strip club customer to crush a cop beneath its wheels or passing out naked after pawing another woman, etc.

And he describes Nifong as a "..bungling prosecutor"? 'Bungle' means to "act or work clumsily" and there was nothing clumsy about Nifong smoothly ordering the lab to bury exculpatory evidence, nor him screaming obscenities at defense counsel or threatening to railroad 3 innocent kids for decades for a crime that never happened, etc.

If Wise describes sports the same way, I expect him to describe table tennis as doing a butterfly stroke in the pool.

Anonymous said...

"Let's be brutally honest here. Our best and brightest have NEVER gone into either Journalism or Education".

So where have they gone? Entertainment? Business? Law? Politics? Not likely...

Anonymous said...

Aren't there some lawyers out there who would, pro bono, sue slander artists like Wise?

Michael said...

There's a scene in "A Christmas Story",
after the mother breaks the leg lamp that
the father had won, where he picks up
the pieces and the narrator says "he
gathered up the sad remains of his
shattered major award"

That MyFayden e-mail and the racist
remark, these are the shattered remains
that people like Wise and the Group of
88 are left clinging on to --
the shattered remains of the great hoax
that had given their self-aggrandizing
policial missions in life such great
meaning.

It's sad and pathetic at the same time.

Anonymous said...

12:43
"Has he no respect for a true justice system and freedom of speech?"

You already likely know the answer to that question. If Wise had respect for justice, he wouldn't have written his misguided words.

"What were he and his editors thinking?"

These kind of people are the type who can't "get over it". That's probably what was in their minds. They live their sorry lives festering in the past. Losers.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a few of you need to do some reading. Tom Robinson was prosecuted and convicted. He also died in the end. A decent blogger would take these differences seriously, and not suggest that the three lacrosse players are the equivalent of Tom.

Anonymous said...

re "best reason for lawsuits"--DISCOVERY, and the boys' lawyers will be sure to discover a conspiracy among the 88 to railroad the boys.

re "best and brightest don't go into journalism and education"

This has to be the stupidest piece of writing ever stuch to this blog.

Let's see...education:
BF Skinner
John K Galbraith
Stephen Hawking
JK Kittredge
WJ Bate
Gauss
Donald Barthelme, et al

Journalism:

Reston
William Shawn
Safire
Abe Rosenthal
Walker Evans
Tom Wolfe, et al

Good work, sporto--you really won that debate.

Polanski

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
re "best reason for lawsuits"--DISCOVERY, and the boys' lawyers will be sure to discover a conspiracy among the 88 to railroad the boys.

re "best and brightest don't go into journalism and education"

This has to be the stupidest piece of writing ever stuch to this blog.

Let's see...education:
BF Skinner
John K Galbraith
Stephen Hawking
JK Kittredge
WJ Bate
Gauss
Donald Barthelme, et al

Journalism:

Reston
William Shawn
Safire
Abe Rosenthal
Walker Evans
Tom Wolfe, et al

Good work, sporto--you really won that debate.

Polanski

May 26, 2007 2:52:00 PM

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Actually, using Tom Wolfe to prove your point misses the point. Wolfe has made a career out of taking shots at the likes of Broadhead, Wise, gang of 88 and other Durham/ Duke education/journalism types.

You can't even begin to compare people like Wolfe, Rosenthal, and Hawking to these jokers.

Gary Packwood said...

Wise is not especially wise.

The indelible stain he talks about is just now showing up on the resume of our justice system with respect to probable cause.

Dave, Reade and Colin will always be the Duke 3 who themselves now... have probable cause to right that wrong by restoring innocence back into the discussions of due process for those accused of wrong doing.

Wise had pinned another irrelevant Argumentum ad Hominem.

Consider the source and disregard the comment.
::
GP

Jamie said...

Caroline 1:52 -

Sorry to disagree, but I find it appropriate to say "thank God Nifong was such a bungler" -just as we describe woefully inept crooks as bunglers. We aren't approving of their criminality, we're simply astonished at their ineptitude.

If the Knife hadn't done such a monumentally terrible job of framing the LAX players he would probably have succeeded in his scheme. Of course, Nifong felt safe being sloppy because knew he didn't need much of anything to get this pig to trial...geez, even now there are Durhamites (and others) who simply will not accept the accuseds' innocence ... but the Knife managed to make such a supreme botch of this job that Cooper, notwithstanding the pressures from his constituency, really had little choice but to say this crime just didn't happen.

That declaration of innocence is as much a testimony to Nifong's aggressive incompetence as a frame-up artist as it is to Cooper's integrity.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:44 said:

"Maybe a few of you need to do some reading. Tom Robinson was prosecuted and convicted. He also died in the end. A decent blogger would take these differences seriously, and not suggest that the three lacrosse players are the equivalent of Tom."

-------

Hooboy.

Maybe you need to do some thinking. A decent reader would easily recognize that, while the Duke 3 were not convicted or imprisoned, or indeed murdered (as promised IN COURT by the New Black Panther Party), this was only because the defense lawyers had not only the dedication and skill of Atticus Finch, but also a bit more luck.

More to the point, the difference, clearly, was NOT that Tom Robinson was any more innocent than Reade Seligmann.

Tom was more disadvantaged than Reade, but when the prosecutor is an utter scumbag who turns the full power of the State against an innocent person, very few innocents can overcome such an assault.

I'm glad you read the book, but did you comprehend it? Hello?

Anonymous said...

The ombudsman of WaPo is Deborah Howell. Her email is:

HowellDC@washpost.com

Of course, she will likely respond that Wise's column is opinion. So I would limit any commentary to Ms. Howell to the facts he left out so as to paint a slanted picture.

Fill up her email in-box. She should also be asked to encourage Wise to respond.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Yup, Jaimie at 4:17, you've got a damned good point. We should 'thank God Nifong was such a bungler'.

It's frightening to think what a slick DA might have done to those three players.

Anonymous said...

Screw that pathetic fanatic hack. End of 3rd quarter...Duke 10 Cornell 6. A few late goals by big red. NCAA lax game record 52,004 in attendance. Go dukies

Anonymous said...

A slick DA would likely have not had to do all of this. His record would have spoken for itself, and would have allowed him or her to simply get elected.

Anonymous said...

Duke wins 12-11 on shot w/ 3 secs. left. On to the finals

Lloyd said...

I think that Mr. Wise should be charged with federal drug smuggling charges for his violation of journalist standards. I mean if a few college rules violations means you should be falsely indicted on rape charges, shouldn't journalistic ethical standards violations get you indicted for something. And I think that his article does appear to be written by someone on drugs consistent with cocaine.

bookish said...

Lets see. In "To Kill a Mockingbird" you had the word of the victim (whose story never changed) independently verified by another witness, and the victim's physical condition was consistent with her story (she had been beaten up, pre DNA). If Nifong had this set of facts, the three young men would certainly have gone to trial and probably have been convicted. So Wise is right, it certainly is not "to kill a Mockingbird." It's much, much worse.

Michael said...

Absolutely, this was worst than
"To Kill a Mockingbird"! The parents'
lives were threatened as well. One of
the fathers was told -- in court --
"you will not leave this courtroom alive"!
This was NOT a novel -- this was real
life!!

In addition to all the parallels already
drawn above, let us not forget a scary
but very true statement made by Prof
Coleman when asked about Nifong's
interest in justice: "It says he is
indifferent to justice"

Yes, the ending was different due to
some smart diligent lawyers and an
Attorney General who had the courage
to say and do the right thing, to
stop the madness and derail this
crazy train.

Anonymous said...

At the moment he wrote that, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that Wise did NOT think that "To Kill A Mockingbird" was a work of fiction.

I know it's being taught as non-fiction in my kids' schools.

Anonymous said...

Someone explain what dollars to doughnuts means. I've always wondered.

Deklan Singh said...

Four things to this latest schmuck in the media.....

Despite all the "Innocent" bracelets, this is not the "Soup Nazi" episode of Seinfeld, this is not a lawn chair, this is not Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Gingsberg's favorite hat, this is not a bar of soap, this is not a well prepared steak, this is not alot of things that have nothing to do with the fact that three men were knowingly wrongly accused and knowingly wrongly prosecuted by a drug-addled, mentally unstable prostitute and a morally void DA. Congratulations, WPost guy. You're an idiot.

McFadyen's email was a weak pass at what Brett Easton Ellis did in American Psycho. He deserves derision for his poor allusion.

The "cotton shirt" joke was clever. It was racist. It was indefensible. It was something that I hope I never would have said. Also, it was not really about the strippers. The kid, whoever he is, said it because he's a Duke student and Duke students like to be clever. Additionally, he was in an argument with with two strippers who were taunting him and his friends. He wanted to be part of the group and impress everyone, but most of all, probably, he wanted to be clever. I'd be interested to find out how the exact wording of the "cotton shirt" joke came to attention of anyone. If I recall correctly, the next door neighbor told the cops. Maybe that's not right, but given what we know about Mangum, I'd be shocked if she even understood the joke. Maybe Kim Roberts got it. Who knows. It was horrible, but it was clever.

I don't believe that To Kill A Mockingbird is Mike Nifong's favorite book because I don't believe that Mike Nifong can read.

Michael said...

The Wise guy got hit pretty hard in the readers' comments section of the article.

KC's entire post here was copied into the comments section for good measure.

Too bad Linwood doesn't have a comments section as his Gospel music website.

Kilgore said...

You would think that of all people that a sports writer would be sensitive and understand the emotional pain of these young men who now stand and watch their team mates play for the national championship. Their participation and their dreams of being a part of a national championship team has been thwarted by a false accusation. My heart goes out to these young men. This has got to hurt. This is so typical of the media. They refuse to print the emotional pain of men and boys. And so it goes.

Boys and the Boy Crisis

Anonymous said...

4:30:00 PM Carolyn

"It's frightening to think what a slick DA might have done to those three players."

That is precisely the point. The backlash against prosecutorial misconduct created by this case should make it clear to the general public that such behavior is not unique to Nifong et al. Knowing that other innocent people around the country are still being Nifonged, how much more of this criminal behavior can one stomach? Don't waste your time asking asking the slick "professionals" like Wise and the G88 who could care less.

Anonymous said...

since when did racist comments become criminal??? i can dislike blacks if i want to and this case has given me more than enough reason to.

hate to say it, but the boys got what they deserved for having one these animals in their house. duke gets what it deserves by employing them on the faculty and the country will get what it deserves if it elects that monkey obama.

Anonymous said...

Hiya, Polanski!

Anonymous said...

9:38 not Polanski

But, yes, Barack Obama has serious simian features. Some political cartoonists will go for it at some point. Count on it.

Polanski

Anonymous said...

I agree. He's ugly. But his wife is the real simian.
But Dennis Kucinich is the worst of all.

Anonymous said...

KC Please get rid of 9:38 - Making racist comments is an indicator of stupidity and lack of class. Emotional pain???. The Reagan's are in undescribile pain. After what, these guys and families have been though, I can not imagine any of them suffering because they are not in a game.

Anonymous said...

8;05 Disagree totally - These kids come from such PC homes, that is their idea of a strong insult.

No justice, no peace said...

7:40 Inre: "Dollars for Doughnuts"

Seriously?

It's similar to "Can of Corn", everyone knows that, don't they?

Anonymous said...

I will bet you my dollars to your doughnuts, I am so sure - this is easy.

Anonymous said...

Elects Obama? Now wouldn't that be interesting. Regardless of how good he is, he'll never come close to delivering the idiotic things that 21st century black people feel entitled to. He'll simply join Mr. Powell and Ms. Rice in their 'uncle tom' trash heap.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 7:40 said...

...Someone explain what dollars to doughnuts means. I've always wondered.
::
The first explicit reference to betting is not found until the 1920s, in a story by "Ellery Queen"--"I'll bet dollars to doughnuts Field played the stock market or the horses"--but betting is unquestionably the origin of the expression.

Dollars to doughnuts means 'most certain' or 'most assuredly'. It comes from the idea of betting. Betting a dollar to a half-dollar, for instance, means that you're giving 2 to 1 odds--you're willing to risk a dollar to win only a half-dollar. Being willing to bet dollars against doughnuts (viewed as worthless) means that you're totally confident that you're right, so confident that you'll bet money against nothing.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

As a DC-area resident, I was shocked by the Wise column. He's generally quite good, the underrated member of the Post's columnists corps.

I would've expected this sort of piece from Sally Jenkins, who often has a brilliant turn of phrase but rarely bothers to learn all there is to learn about a situation.

KC, you're still wrong to defend the McFadyen e-mail just because it's a Bret Easton Ellis quote. Context is everything. Shakespeare wrote some nasty stuff, too.

That said, McFadyen apologized and is back on the team. It's over. Time to let it go.

Which, frankly, goes for a lot of people on all sides of this.

As far as the digs at journalists go -- remember this: KC has become a journalist. He's writing about things as they happen on the blog, and he's rushing a book into print. That's not history. That's journalism. For the most part, he's doing a solid job, though he's clearly a little too close to the subjects and not close enough to the typical Duke student or alum.

In any case, nice to see the men in the final with a chance of avenging 2005. I'm just sorry the women lost.

Anonymous said...

re the adage "dollar for doughnuts"

You're dating yourself. Doughnuts cost more than a dollar know.

Perhaps a more apt phrase is "dollars for Panties anus"

Anonymous said...

Thanks, GP. That was a very nice explanation. I thought so, but just wondered why anyone would say "doughnuts".

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... at 2:44 PM
Maybe a few of you need to do some reading. Tom Robinson
[the defendant in "To Kill A Mockingbird"] was prosecuted and convicted. He also died in the end. A decent blogger would take these differences seriously, and not suggest that the three lacrosse players are the equivalent of Tom.

I told you that these morons think that book was non-fiction. That's the way it's being taught nowadays, too. Having despaired of finding many REAL "Tom Robinsons", they resort to making believe of the make-believe ones.

scott said...

Wise is not wise.

Anonymous said...

Tom Robinson was "given thirty days once for disorderly conduct," but Harper Lee makes it clear that Tom was fighing a man who was trying to cut him and Tom was the one left worse off in a fight. Both men were convicted of disorderly conduct, but Tom had to serve time because he, unlike the knife wielding assailant, could not pay the fine. So, no, Tom was not a choirboy. But he was a reliable employee, he had a wife and three children, and he does feel "sorry" for and try to assist Mayella Ewell (the accuser). As the oldest child in a family of seven children, she has taken the place of her dead mother, suffering her father's beatings and his incestuous sexual attentions and bearing the entirety of the work load. Tom helps her with the chores when he can. She often calls out to him for assistance when he passes by her house going to and from work.

The parallels between To Kill a Mockingbird and the Duke LAX case do not work completely, but where they do work, they are striking.

First, the evidence clearly indicates Tom's innocence. Mayella's injuries were inflicted by a left handed person (no doubt her father), and Tom Robinson has a completely useless, damaged left arm that he must lift with his right arm and place on the Bible to even take the oath in court. In fact, Atticus Finch points out to the court that the case against Tom never should have come to trial because the entirety of the evidence is exculpatory for his client. Similarly, the DNA evidence excluded the Duke defendants completely, and there is no doubt for Roy Cooper and most of the rest of us that the Duke case never should have gotten as far as it did.

Then, at the trial in Mockingbird, the arguments against Tom Robinson revolve entirely around the lies of the white witnesses and Tom's status as a black man. To quote from the book,

"The witnesses for the state...have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption--the evil assumption--that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber."

Similarly, I would argue that we would not be discussing the Duke LAX case today were it not for the "cynical confidence" of Mr. Nifong, the DPD, the Gang of 88, innumerable journalists--perhaps including Mr. Wise--and many others that the world would go along with them on the assumption that all privileged, white, elite LAX players lie, that all privileged, white, elite LAX players are basically immoral beings, that all privileged, white, elite LAX players are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with white athletes of their caliber and background.

Total disregard of physical evidence, preposterous deference accorded to accusing witnesses who lacked credibility based on the actual evidence (actually as pointed out by another commentor above, Mayella had much more credibility than Ms. Mangum), and
evil assumptions based on the status of the accused drove both cases, the fictional and the non-fictional.

Do you get it now, Mr. Wise?

Observer

AMac said...

Observer 9:41am --

Very eloquently stated.

Anonymous said...

9:41 Wow-WOW Great essai. Of course you are correct about the assumptions and why we are still here today. I remember the WHAT factor in my own head when these things started to unfold. I knew from the second I heard about the event, the team never touched that woman. I thought the justice system would kill the case after the DNA came back negative. I think we have all learned a valuable lesson.

Anonymous said...

35 "incidents" over 4 years equals 8 "incidents" per year tis divided by 56 players equals .14 Incidents per player per year!How does that "feel" Mr. Wise ? How does that compare with the student body as a whole ? How does it compare with other student bodiies? I "feel" that you are a moron or ann agenda driven lizard. How does that feel Mr. Wise?

Anonymous said...

further to my previous post ,What exactly does "incident" mean ? Are all "incidents the same,NOT.More moronic "journalism.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Amac.

I should add that the facts these white, privileged (and some not so privileged) LAX players were Duke students and Duke is in Durham on the site of a former plantation contributed greatly to the negative stereotyping. I cannot begin to imagine these events unfolding this way for the LAX defendants in Providence or Princeton, for example.

Likewise, Harper Lee's story resonates deeply in part because it is set in Alabama. It just wouldn't have made quite as much sense had it taken place in rural Pennsylvania, of course.

Even with Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Maddox solidly by her side, Tawana Brawley did not get nearly as far in rural New York with her hoax as Ms. Mangum did in Durham where a springboard of historical (and probably some current) racial grievances helped Ms. Mangum clear the obvious credibility issues.

Observer