In a recent radio interview, Duke’s Larry Moneta criticized a website called juicycampus.com. Moneta pointed to the site’s anonymous rumor-mongering to describe it (correctly) as worthy of condemnation.
Moneta’s outrage about the site prompted an understandable question from panelist Christopher Anderson, who wondered why Moneta hadn’t seemed concerned in spring 2006, when Duke professors and some students embarked on a rumor-mongering campaign against the lacrosse players. “I don’t see any correlation between the two incidents,” responded Moneta. The exchange is below.
I’m puzzled that Moneta struggled to see the connection raised by
Though Moneta might not have done so, surely others would see a link between expressing concern about a website making false, anonymous rumors about Duke students and condemning Karla Holloway’s sending out a January 2007 mass e-mail containing a claim that she either knew or should have known was false: that a secret witness existed who would say there were racist remarks when Reade Seligmann and Collin were at the lacrosse party.
And it seems to me that a professor—say, Peter Wood—informing a New Yorker reporter that a lacrosse player had advocated genocide against Native Americans (when, in fact, Wood was basing his claim on nothing more than an anonymous course evaluation form) poses a far more serious issue of protecting student rights than speaking up against an anonymous rumor-mongering website.
Could it be that one reason Moneta wasn’t too concerned with the rumor-mongering of Holloway, Farred, and Wood was that he shared their basic approach to the case? This was, after all, the same Larry Moneta who—when the case first broke—dismissed attorney Samantha Ekstrand’s request that the administration protect the lacrosse players against the local mob and against Duke professors intent on retaliation. Why no concern with the lacrosse players? As Moneta told Ekstrand, “Frankly, Samantha, I don’t believe them.”
When pressed on the lacrosse case by