In her peculiar January 2007 N&O essay, Group of 88 member Cathy Davidson invented a past that never existed—she claimed rampant racist defenses of the lacrosse players on the “campus quad” in the days after the story first broke—to rationalize the Group’s ad. The Davidson essay, for the most part, took its appropriate place in the “Group of 88 Rehab Tour” as an initiative that only made the Group look more foolish.
One claim in the essay, however, had staying power—at least among the beleaguered defenders of the Group. Consciously imitating the most outrageous Nifong slime against the lacrosse team, Davidson denounced the Group’s internet critics as “right-wing blog hooligans.” This line of attack was later taken up by Duke administrators, and by Jim Coleman and other Group defenders among the faculty.
It’s undeniable that there have been vile and sometimes racist comments about the case posted on various blogs, including this one (although I have deleted any such comment brought to my attention).
The critique of Group defenders, however, suggests ignorance of how blogs function. The anonymity of the internet permits angry or vile comments, items whose authors doubtless would say them differently if forced to do so in their own name. This is, of course, a drawback of the internet.
The idea, however, that such angry or vile remarks were confined to anonymous defenders of the lacrosse team is absurd. Anyone who followed the case through the TalkLeft discussion forums would be familiar with the daily character assassinations against the lacrosse players made by a handful of pseudonymous commenters. Similar comments appeared on pro-Mangum blogs, such as the one maintained by the North Carolina NAACP or the CourtTV forum, which for months was wildly slanted against the lacrosse players.
This blog, as well, has featured its share of sneering, angry comments—although, in the case of DIW, these comments almost always have been directed at critics of the Group of 88 rather than the lacrosse players.
It would be presumptuous of me to suggest that any of these comments reflected the beliefs of Group members (although some of these statements, which were always anonymous, purported to come from people at Duke)—just as it would be preposterous of Group defenders, such as Charlie Piot, to suggest that scattered vile comments on DIW reflected my beliefs.
In the end, as Daily Kos' Markos Moulistas pointed out, occasional vile trolls are part of doing business on the internet, and their significance is dwarfed by the democratic promise that the blogosphere holds. (Both Group defenders like Piot and likeminded anti-intellectual figures on the other side of the ideological spectrum, such as Bill O'Reilly, disagree with Moulistas, and argue instead that anything posted by anyone on a blog necessarily reflects the viewpoint of the blog author.)
A couple of additional items are worth noting.
1.) Critics of the Group of 88 and other faculty excesses have offered lengthy critiques (over 900,000 words, in my case) in their own voice. So the idea that a reviewer would need to turn to anonymous comments to determine the views of Group critics is a stretch.
2.) Just as it’s hard to miss the ill-concealed anger in the anonymous comments left by Group defenders, so too has it been hard to miss the anger in statements offered by Group defenders in their own name—such as Charlie Piot; or Prasad Kasibhatla (who urged people to read the Piot piece, and then boasted he would not even look at a critique of the Piot article).
In this respect, the anger of which Davidson claimed to be so concerned is far more characteristic of the Group and its defenders than of critics of the Group. Indeed, a level of fury appears to be a consistent element of the Group and its defenders.
Last December, Liestoppers did a frightening post that compiled the voices of the “
All spelling errors are unchanged from the original comments. I added only three [bracketed] items to provide context to three of the comments.
You know, the real question is why are you so obsessed with some of these Duke faculty. It seems a bit envious to have spent this much time and attention on them.... Your motives begin to emerge as the more interesting topic the more you harp on the 88. Is it institutional envy? I mean I love
Brooklyn College, but NYU and Columbiaare also in . Maybe you could go on the market with this book and find a way to feel better about yourself so that you don’t have to go looking over the publication histories of those who have done some better than you, professionally speaking that is. New York
My son goes to a well-regarded private school. Duke is still one of the popular places to apply.
of Chicago, Cornell, and Stanford, and probably many of the other places you and your luncheon-mates are planning to have your kids give a miss. I say, keep it up! Makes it easier for the rest of the kids to get in!!! Please, send your kids to Ditto U. . Pretty please. Brooklyn College
Indeed, if you have the less prestigious teaching fellowships (the research fellowships are generally considered more prestitigous, requiring as they do, knowledge of languages of research) [in fact, this year I am the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, which is “generally considered more prestigious” than a regular fellowship, of either the teaching or research variety], but I wonder how it looks for future Fulbrighters--especially teaching Fulbrights--to see that one of their own spends his time obsessing about Duke. If I were the Israelis, I’d feel like you weren’t such a good Fulbright choice, since you’re mind is pretty obviously on
Nice to see what a high-quality readership you have, KC. To Duke’s great credit, they have not -- and will not -- limit the ability of their faculty to express their opinion. Or do you readers agree with your National Socialist (Nazi) buddies, who believe that Duke’s black faculty should be lynched?--
Folks, plan to be discouraged, outraged, blah blah blah. Your ire will go exactly as far as this blog. Sure some of you will write irate emails to the 88. And poor pitiful KC will continue his pathologic obsession with Duke faculty members so you folks can be disgusted and have a safe space to share.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as somebody copied from another site, the Duke faculty you love to hate will continue their patterns of reward, speech, high salaries and other perks of academe. But do not completely despair, you always have this site to talk among yourselves. That is exactly how far your outrage extends, except to those of us who check in to collect our bets on how long KC will be unable to disentangle himself from his obsession. It’s really getting quite pitiful, if not borderline hilarious. He can’t let go. even from
. This has become his identity, and he obviously needs all your praise cause he’s not getting it from the academy where he has become a laughingstock. I won money today. Keep it up y’all. Israel
When are you going to stop “big brothering” the Duke faculty, KC Johnson? I fail to see why John Thompson’s name is on your hit list today, Prof! And what, pray tell, is “going off syllabus”? Is correct “going off syllabus” allowed? And are you up there somewhere at good old
to tell faculty when they may or may not “go off syllabus”? Brooklyn College
Get a life, KC Johnson. What business is it of yours what kinds of fellowships/programs Duke has? In short: it’s not your business. If you’re on your Fulbright, I’d’ve thought you should be doing work connected with that, not sticking your nose in Duke’s business.
I’m sure all of your right-wing blog buddies will think you’re just great, but I think you should be ashamed. You’ve gone from defending the LAX to an on-going attack on a university, indeed, perhaps, attacking intellectual diversity, by going after that which you don’t like. For shame.
KC has a LONG career harrassing anything at Duke that doens’t match his vision of what a university should be. Lord knows he has little influence at
Brooklyn College, and what inifluence he has doesn’t much matter since it’s . And he is overseas on a fellowship made possible by his Republican and rightwing buddies--academic graf if there ever was such a thing--which means that he can blow off working on whatever project he said he was going to work on and instead blog about Duke! Way to go KC! Brooklyn College
This stopped being about the Lacrosse accusations a long, long, long time ago, and has been the ‘KC the righteous and aggrieved academic Show’ for quite some time. It’s all about KC! Why on earth do you think he spent so much time writing about Piot’s article? Because it gets to be about him! (And by the way KC, just how long *did* you spend on that blog entry! It’s gi-normous!)
Now we know the trutth! The Duke Lacrosse Scandal is about KC Johnson! He will be the Blog Decider of the World and say what is good and bad about anything at Duke! All Hail Wingnut KC! Yay!! LOLOLOL!!
So show me how KC Johnson is a workaholic? Prodigious schoarlship? I don’t think so. Where are his sources? In the
, true? In English, true? Many published, true? Not so difficult to produce a narrative, is it? Or do you know? What are you comparing his output with? US
Now, if KC had a life, maybe he’d spend time on that rather than this blog.
13,000 copies?! No wonder this appeared on the Reader’s Digest List. Of course, you may have noted that yesterday’s USA Today’s top sellers mentions NO lacrosse related book at all. OMIGOSH! But, then, after all, that’s a wider reading audience survey than that accomplished by the esteemed Reader’s Digest. By the way, the Harvard Coop, has no Stuart Johnson/KC book either. (Lots of 88 publications on the shelves though). Seems there’s a standard being applied someplace. But we must all be thankful for the dependable Reader’s Digest. The publication that edits the text down to the most readable for the common reader...and leaves all that other stuff that might challenge out. Good location. And let’s hope the next 13000 are similarly snapped up. I stand by my October surprise prediction. A Halloween night bargain on the remainders shelves.
I’m not marginalized. Why would I be? And certainly not by you. Not a chance our paths would cross. I don’t have any reason to be around your sort. Bottom feeders who talk baby talk. Such an adult behavior. I’m impressed.
Why would you think I’m scared? Of you, not hardly. Indeed, not of much.
Fine, if it’s an observation. I guess your observations are just sort of useless.
It doesn’t matter to me very much that KC Johnson is--in my opinion--right wing. Nor does it matter much to me that many of the people who comment here are.
What bothers me is that he provides a blog spot for racist comment. Oh, yes, I know many of you think you’re not racist--and some of you may not be, BUT some of you say things that reasonable people can construe that way. I understand that. I understand some of you think white men are on the defensive in the
, however unlikely this may be. You are entitled to your opinions . . . US
You seem to think only KC can argue cogently. I’m not overwhelmed by his forensics abilities. He’s ok, but he’s a bit self-impressed & doesn’t always write well.
Sign me: Yep! I’m a professor and I don’t support the 88, but I think that KC should just shut up. Please.
Sorry, KC -- he’s got you on this one. You can splutter, but fair minded people see you as a one sided, unfair crank -- shalom and you won’t be missed...
You are not the only one who has noticed KCs tone, a bit petty, a bit braggadocio, a bit over the top. He’s lost major academic credibility, so the effort is to try to create blog credibility. Well,if that’s his audience of choice, so be it. I guess we all need some place where people ‘know our name’.
Your hope that you matter to someone other than yourselves is so sorry to watch (but not without its own humor). News flash. You don’t. And we write because you guys are sooooo easy. And there are bets about how many comments we can get. And then a lot of lunch time laughter. So here’s bait people. Go for it. But geesh, can’t you make it a little more difficult? Thin skinned, wishful thinking, failures that you are. How many comments can I get for that?
Trust me. If KC were such a hot scholar, he’d be at a better school.
He makes errors of omission all of the time in his blog & he frames arguments to back his right-wing, in my opinion, racist, assumptions. And he provides a safe home for racist commenters in the blogosphere. That’s his business, but, old son, it ain’t scholarship.
Meanie? No, I don’t think I’d say that. He’s more whiney. The Eddie Haskell type crossed with one of the kiddie show hosts. I mean, in look/style.
What a burn, KC -- Coleman calls your position “destructive,” “biased and inaccurate.” He specifically rebuts your contention that “the Lacrosse Committee report... is a ‘stunning vindication” of the team.’ Any authentically impartial reader would find that it ‘very carefully details a pattern of behavior that the committee characterized as ‘socially irresponsible’ that should ‘have been a cause for alarm.’” But wait -- the knife goes a lot deeper -- “Dismissing this finding as trivial is a biased and unjustified misrepresentation of the facts.”
“Biased and unjustified” -- wow, if the shoe fits...
And as for your ranting on the faculty? “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Coleman ACCURATELY says that faculty -- including the 88 -- “care deeply about students and are passionately committed to their personal and intellectual growth. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the daily life of a faculty member will quickly appreciate the time, effort and energy that faculty put into teaching, advising and mentoring students.”
But wait -- there is a cherry on this cake: “To suggest otherwise, on the basis of isolated and selective incidents that occur over the course of complex events and are taken out of context, is nothing more than a tragic rush to judgment.”
Tragic rush to judgment -- sound familiar? Maybe you and Nifong are soul mates...
KC, darling, I’m not worried at all. I’m laughing at you. You’re so pompous. You tactic is so cute. Someone disagrees with you, so you call them angry. But when folks agree with you, angry is just great.
I can imagine why you don’t go off syllabus. You’d get your knickers in a twist just like you are over this.
I was laughing as I typed the first post, because I thought you were so silly. Now I am laughing even harder. AT YOU.
KC has a long history of engaging in pointless disputes with people, in which he harasses people endlessly, claiming to have the “facts.” It’s a shuck.
Why don’t *you* stop beating a dead horse? The lacrosse case is over. Leave these people alone. Who cares what happens at Duke? How about giving a shit what happens to all those nice white -- as well as black and brown -- kids over in
who are getting their legs and heads blown off at the rate of twenty or thirty a week? Iraq
KC Johnson is a fictional character that used o be a real person who did real scholarship. Now he’s just an athletic supporter with a large fan club.
Scary, isn’t it, KC, when folks get to *your* dirty little secrets.
I must say, however, I do wish that
Brooklynhad managed not to tenure you. You seem really difficult to be around: you’re somewhat thick when you choose to be. You put words into people’s mouths and onto their comments. A bad idea. I’d think you’d be a better historian if you didn’t do that.
KC, you have some, perhaps conscious, version of multiple personality, in which you write respectably in respectabel publications and then choose other personae for your more lunatic remarks?
Does anyone but me think that mac is just KC comenting under another identity? I think he does that a lot -- including, I am pretty sure, a lot of the trashy, harassing emails people get from the supposed “supporters” of KC are actually him operating under other email accounts. I keep getting snail-mail letters from someone who mysteriously has no return address, and yet keeps demanding replies.
KC, you have a long history of mysogynist behavior, words and deeds, which is part of what got you into trouble at
Brooklynwhen your scholarship should have allowed you to sail through your promotion review with no problems. You were a polarizer in that department, to the extent that conservatives wanted you gone too. [In fact, the only two members of the department who in any way could be considered "conservative," Margaret King and David Berger, publicly and repeatedly supported my tenure candidacy.] Any google search picks up on it immediately, even in stories that are very sympathetic to how you were wronged in your tenure case: you have a penchant for taking absolute stands, judging others relentlessly, and harassing them in contemptuous, unprofessional ways when they don’t give in to you.
Ah! So that’s what this is about! They [Duke] didn’t hire you!
I don’t do psychoanalytic criticism, but this entry is screaming for a therapist to help it sort out a whole lot of emotional and professional baggage.
Oh, goody! Another hard-hitting expose on ... someone nobody reads [Tim Tyson], no one cares about, and who is non-tenure track, who makes no decisions about anything besides his reading list, at the far periphery of his department. Way to go, KC! Next up, detailed write-ups of pot-sellers and housewares employees at Sears who fuel this angry mob!
I am not horrible for stating the obvious: in attacking the G88, KC plays the data. There is no “truth,” capital T about their work. You aren’t horrible either for assuming there is one “TRUTH” about the G88. Mostly, you are STUPID. You know, STOOO POD. KC plays data in his attacks on the G88. DATA. What is the “truth” about these people’s research? You are much safer in talking about data.
KC is indulging in academic politics. Oh, yes, he could have stayed at Williams. It’s a good school as he is so fond to tell us. A small, good, rich kids school FOR UNDERGRADUATES. A research power house? Not hardly. And, I’m so glad he had a commitment that brought him to
Brooklyn. It ain’t . It ain’t NYU. It ain’t even Fordham or Hunter. And this is the man you let explain the research of people well outside his field...can he read the languages of all of their research? And that’s just a first question. Columbia
Saying that your summaries are badly done is not an argument but rather an assertion.
It happens to be an assertion that is true. It is also true that it needs an argument, but others have started to do that work in comments below (for example, pointing out how you smear and obfuscate non-tenure and tenure stream faculty and only focus on the small fry instead of assessments of the big folk).
No college that I can think of would in their right mind put you on an APT committee--not because you hold certain cultural or political beliefs but rather because you so badly and baldly misrepresent the work of scholars who you’re gunning for . . . Do you treat your colleagues at BC this way? I hope not.
Oh, sure. Get rid of tenure, Ralph and company. KC would be fired so fast his head would spin. Personally, that would make me happy.
I’m always amused when my students tell me what I think because they are more often than not incorrect. I’ve never felt it my job to let them know. I assume others feel that way as well.
You strike me as a bit of a know-it-all. You know, the kind of person who tells others what they think. An Ugly American sort.
I was simply identifying your politics as fascist. It’s fine. You can be a fascist. And, of course, fascist thought is studied and respected. May not be liked. What’s the problem?--
It really is tiresome at this point to read your empty-headed exhortations. You wonder why none of the people you excoriate and few others will engage with your “arguments”? Because your reasoning, like your prose, is facile, depressingly jejune, and means only to incite emotion rather than offer serious critique.
This is it? This is the great expose that we waited so breathlessly for? This is the routing of the PC forces? Where are the hot-and-heavy quotations from the scholarship on race/gender in modern society that prove that this sort of work leads to Stalin-like oppression and Soviet-like ideological dogma? Where are the careful tools of the historian, where you show that the cultural, social, and political conditions of the writing of Chafe’s books lead to Nifong? . . .
OMG, it’s too rich. Thanks for all the laughs, KC. I thought this was gonna be the piece de resistance, but it turned out to be a piece of something else entirely. LOL