Tim Tyson is one of two Duke faculty members (the other is Faulkner Fox, who has repeatedly declined comment about her behavior on the weekend of March 24-26, 2006) to admit to attending one of the potbangers’ events.
In a March 27, 2006 interview, Frank Stasio asked Tyson why he had done so.
Q: You were one of those who took part in a vigil over the weekend at the house where the alleged rape took place. Why were you there?
Tyson: Well, I was there as a teacher . . . somehow these young men have had available to them the best liberal arts education that money can buy, and they yet somehow failed to absorb any of its lessons. And so I guess I was there really because the women in the house that night were somebody’s daughter and somebody’s sister and somebody’s mother and somebody’s sweetheart. I think that we have to come together as a community and say that this is unacceptable on a number of different levels.
Just a few hours after Tyson attended—in his capacity as a “teacher”—the vigil outside of 610 N. Buchanan (below), where the crowd sang This Little Light of Mine, the “little light” herself, Crystal Mangum, was captured (below) on a video from the Platinum Pleasures Club, dancing in a most limber fashion.
No evidence exists that Tyson attended any vigils outside of the Platinum Pleasures Club, even though Mangum, presumably, remained “somebody’s sweetheart” on March 25, 2006.
Why was Mangum dancing that night? Tyson blamed society, while lionizing Mangum.
One of those young women, who is a mother of small children, is a student at North Carolina Central. Our society has not chosen to support people as they try to advance themselves and our economy by pursuing an education, so that people without means find themselves in desperate situations and seek desperate means of supporting themselves, while meanwhile we have this ghastly spectacle of these rich boys wanting her to dance naked, and making racially degrading remarks. The neighbors who have no ax to grind in this, presumably, seem to confirm the charges of the women that there were a lot of racial insults thrown.
The always quotable Butch Williams providing a devastating retort to the scarcely concealed paternalism evident in Tyson’s comments: “C’mon, kids. She wasn’t this little poor North Carolina Central student working the fields. She was a whore.”
Unlike Tyson, who presented Mangum as a stereotypical lower middle-class black woman, H.P. (“Fats”) Thomas actually knew the false accuser. Thomas described her motivations to Don Yaeger: Mangum was “more of a hooker than a stripper. She was stripping as advertising for hooking.” Defense lawyers, meanwhile, uncovered no evidence that Mangum even was a full-time NCCU student, much less that she was looking to—in Tyson’s words—”advance herself and our economy(!).”
Tyson never revealed—either in that March interview or anytime thereafter—who the neighbors were that confirmed “that there were a lot of racial insults thrown.” In fact, there was one neighbor who confirmed one racial slur—which, as we know now, was a response to a racial taunt from Kim Roberts. But why let the facts interfere with the metanarrative?
When asked how Duke should respond, Tyson hailed Brodhead as he ignored basic constitutional rights:
I have a lot of faith in President Brodhead. I think he’s a humanist of the first order and a wise man. I’m not content with Duke’s response partly because one of the really terrible things about this is that these young men are banding together and refusing to cooperate with the police investigation. I think that may be illegal. It’s certainly a violation of the spirit of the honor code of the university. It’s a terrible moral miscalculation that I think you have to be utterly blind to pursue . . . I wouldn’t—if I were in President Brodhead’s shoes, and I think he fills those shoes mighty well—I think I wouldn’t let this team continue to exist until the police get some cooperation from them. [emphasis added]
On March 27, 2006—the very same day that Tyson uttered those words—Bob Ekstrand, a lawyer for many of the lacrosse players, met with DA Mike Nifong, who three days previously had assumed personal command of the police investigation. Ekstrand stated that he had proof of innocence. But Nifong was interested only in statements that would confirm one of Mangum’s myriad, mutually contradictory stories. He told Ekstrand, “If you’ve come here to ask me questions instead of telling me what you know about who did it, then we don’t have anything to talk about. You’re wasting my time. You tell all of your clients I will remember their lack of cooperation at sentencing. I hope you know if they didn’t do it, they are all aiders and abettors, and that carries the same punishment as rape.”
In effect, Tyson wanted Brodhead to present the players with the following choice: they could (falsely) implicate one or more teammates in a crime that never occurred; or they would never play lacrosse again at Duke. Upon hearing his remarks, an outsider might suspect that Professor Tyson is a secret admirer of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who has taken a very similar approach to civil liberties.
Tyson is listed as among the instructors in the Duke History Department. Stasio asked the professor to use this academic training to provide historical context for the lacrosse players’ behavior. Tyson’s reply—which, of course, relied solely upon the version of events presented by the Nifong-led investigation—was nothing short of mindboggling:
It also smacks of a kind of minstrelsy. You know, rich boys used to hire black people to—they’d tie their hands behind their back and have them dip around in a barrel of flour for coins and bills. This used to be a thing that rich college boys liked to do . . . White men have been abusing black women for generations—you know, since the days of slavery. And this kind of sexualized mistreatment of people has been really at the heart of our racial caste system over the course of its history. I think the spirit of the lynch mob lived in that house on Buchanan Street, frankly, and I think that we prefer to think of white supremacists as ignorant, pot-bellied, tobacco-chewing sheriffs and Ku Klux Klan members from Mississippi, but here we have the sons of power and privilege, the wealthy and well-educated among us, who are acting out this history. You know, James Baldwin said, “We’re trapped in history, and history is trapped in us.”
It certainly appears that Tyson was “trapped in history” in his rush to judgment about the case.
I e-mailed Tyson to ask whether—in light of the facts that have emerged since March 27, 2006—he considered his attendance at the vigil to be consistent with his responsibilities “as a teacher,” and whether he still believed the players’ approach to the Nifong-led DPD investigation “may [have been] illegal.”
Tyson’s response, in its entirety: “You can read my book and I’ll read yours.”
Chapter Six of the Duke Faculty Handbook requires professors to treat all Duke students—regardless of their race, class, gender, or athletic status—with “respect and consideration,” as “fellow members of the university community.” Despite its timidity in confronting apparent faculty misconduct, I don’t think even the Brodhead administration could credibly claim that a Duke professor publicly comparing Duke students to KKK members conforms to the provisions of the Faculty Handbook.