Monday, June 30, 2008

The Perkinson Files

UPI received two negative reviews from what, at first blush, could be considered expected sources. One came from The Independent: no one would have expected the Triangle’s alternative weekly to suddenly abandon its demagogic view of the lacrosse case. The second, however, came from The Nation—a publication with a distinguished history of championing dissenting thought.

For its review, The Nation turned to Robert Perkinson, an assistant professor in American Studies from the University of Hawai’i. His website states that “student activism”—in such issues as the Yale graduate student union movement, a cause célèbre among “activists” in the academy—“originally kindled Perkinson’s desire to become a historian, and he remains committed to political engagement beyond the academy.” He describes his current scholarship: “Examining the dynamics of race, crime, culture, and politics from slavery to the present, it argues that Texas has served as the crucible of a uniquely harsh, racialized, and profit-driven style of punishment that became a template for the nation in the post civil-rights era.” An episode like the Duke case is clearly difficult for Perkinson to compute. Beyond having the “wrong” kind of victim for a race/class/gender advocate, the case’s very existence—North Carolina’s open file discovery law, the willingness of the State Bar to act—appears to undermine his (dubious) assertion that Texas’ extreme system is a “template for the nation.”

Like Duke defenders of the academic status quo, Perkinson’s review aggressively plays the race card: “The authors,” he writes, “spotlight Alan Gell, a white man wrongfully sent to death row in North Carolina. Conspicuously, though, they omit Darryl Hunt, an African-American North Carolinian who spent eighteen and a half years in prison for raping and murdering a white woman, ten of them after DNA testing proved his innocence. (The Hunt saga apparently provides too awkward a counterpoint to the authors’ drumbeat about reverse racism.)”

Perkinson apparently considers it self-evident that a book on the lacrosse affair should have discussed the case of a black man (Hunt) imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit alongside a case of a white man (Gell) imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. For those in the reality-based community, for whom race-based editorial decisions aren’t self-evident, Perkinson offers no additional guidance.

Gell’s relevance to the lacrosse affair is clear: his case directly led to passage of North Carolina’s Open File Discovery Act, without which Nifong could have concealed many of the files that led to his undoing. And criticism of the State Bar’s passivity in targeting Gell’s prosecutors doubtless emboldened the Bar’s grievance committee to file ethics charges against Nifong—the turning point in the lacrosse case.

None of these factors appeared in the Hunt case—where the most dubious actions came from North Carolina judges and the Winston-Salem Police Department. It’s true Stuart and I could have referenced the case to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the North Carolina NAACP, which celebrated DNA’s importance to free a wrongly convicted black man but denigrated the value of DNA when dealing with falsely accused whites. But we had more directly on-point evidence of such hypocrisy as it was.

More broadly, the Hawai’i professor never says why a book championing a “drumbeat about reverse racism” would have included a chapter discussing non-North Carolina cases of prosecutorial misconduct involving black and Hispanic victims. It likewise is a mystery why such a book would have repeatedly mentioned that minorities and the poor are disproportionately the victims of prosecutorial misconduct.

So why, again, was UPI flawed for not discussing Hunt but stressing Gell’s significance? Perkinson doesn’t say, other than to point out that Hunt is black.

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As in his comments about Hunt, Perkinson’s review seems designed more to obscure than enlighten, perhaps from an expectation that most Nation readers would not recall enough about the specifics of the case to challenge the review’s assertions. Some examples:

The lacrosse players’ character: The book, Perkinson complained, omitted how the “lacrosse players, [emphasis added] who make up less than 1 percent of the student population, account [emphasis added] for 25 percent of the school’s disorderly conduct violations.”

I wonder how many Nation readers guessed that the passage above actually was talking about one lacrosse player, in one incident. (The sample size was four students.) Perkinson’s use of the present tense (“account”), meanwhile, implies that the total is a comprehensive, ongoing one; in fact, this statistically insignificant figure came from one (supposedly randomly selected) term only. Few reliable social scientists would extrapolate from such a sample set—the reason Stuart and I did not include it in the book.

When Perkinson can’t use peculiar statistical interpretations to uphold the early media caricatures of the lacrosse players, he resorts to stereotypes. He concedes, for instance, that the players were good students. But of course they were: after all, they graduated from “Northeastern prep schools.” How Perkinson’s analysis applies to the academic performance of the many lacrosse players who didn’t attend “Northeastern prep schools” he did not reveal. Nor did Perkinson indicate any understanding of how the players’ academic performance contradicted the very media caricature his review sought to rehabilitate.

The Group of 88: On April 6, 2006, a full-page ad endorsed by 88 Duke faculty members appeared in the Chronicle (described by the signatories as “the most easily seen venue on campus”). The advertisement falsely claimed the support of five academic departments, was posted on the African-American Studies Program’s official webpage for six months, and unequivocally asserted that something “happened” to Crystal Mangum; it also thanked protesters who had (among other things) urged the castration of Duke students. According to Perkinson, however, this full-page advertisement was merely an “intemperate open letter.” (To my knowledge, no Group member has ever publicly described their advertisement as a letter.) Perkinson’s review does not mention what about the “open letter” made its contents “intemperate,” nor does he hypothesize what it says about Duke’s academic environment that most signatories publicly reaffirmed the contents of this “intemperate” document nine months after it was originally published.

The nature of Nifong’s prosecutorial misconduct: The lacrosse affair, reasons Perkinson, was a “comparatively mild” event. Would most Nation readers suspect that “mild” prosecutorial misconduct entails: concealing exculpatory DNA evidence; lying to two different judges; obtaining a non-testimonial order against people who weren’t even in the county on the night of the alleged crime; ordering the police to violate their own procedures and conduct a “do-over” lineup confined to suspects in the case; usurping the role of Police Department spokesperson and then repeatedly lying about the evidence to a national TV audience; presenting a wholly new timeline and then version of events after the defense revealed unimpeachable exculpatory evidence; being convicted of criminal contempt; and violating 27 counts of State Bar ethics rules, leading to disbarment—all in an attempt to secure the prosecutor’s nomination and then election by charging innocent people for a crime that never even occurred?

Politics, partisanship, and ideology: The book, according to Perkinson, accuses Group members of “voting disproportionately for Democrats.” In fact, in its discussions about Duke’s response to the case, the book went out of its way to dismiss the relevance of either political ideology or partisan affiliation. (For all I know, the entire Group could be registered members of the Natural Law Party.) The book argued that the pedagogical approach of individual professors best predicted whether a faculty member would rush to judgment. Moreover, while strongly criticizing Nifong, who campaigned as a liberal Democrat (Perkinson’s review mentioned neither Nifong’s party affiliation nor his ideology), UPI also praised such liberals and/or Democrats as Jim Coleman, Jeralyn Merritt, Barack Obama, Lewis Cheek, Brad Bannon, and Roy Cooper. How such praise could be reconciled with the book’s non-existent attack on the Group of 88 for voting “disproportionately for Democrats” Perkinson doesn’t reveal.

Outside praise of the book: Perkinson notes that the book received (strong) praise from George Will, Thomas Sowell, and the Weekly Standard. He ignores the (strong) praise from Nadine Strossen of the ACLU; Gene Upshaw of the NFLPA; and John Grisham, who most recently was a high-profile supporter of Hillary Clinton. Conceding that the figures on both the right and the left strongly praised the book would have undermined Perkinson’s thesis.

The central target of the book: According to Perkinson, “the most dastardly evildoers in this overstuffed polemic are Duke faculty members.” That would be news to anyone who’s read UPI (or even to anyone who just glanced through the index). While the book strongly criticizes the performance of the Group of 88 and its allies, the central villain is obviously Nifong, whose path of misconduct dominates a dozen chapters. As a defender of the academic status quo, Perkinson seems unusually sensitive to criticism of his ideological comrades, and therefore inclined to inflate its presence—much like the Zimmerman blog, which falsely claimed that 50 percent of DIW’s posts were about the Duke professoriate. The total is actually less than 20 percent.*

Nifong’s motives: Perkinson summarizes the book’s argument in the following way: “Taylor and Johnson speculate that Nifong took personal command of the case to garner publicity for his sagging political campaign against a rival in the DA’s office, but this doesn't fully explain why he would continue the quest long after the polls closed and the press turned predatory.” But the book never claimed that understanding why Nifong took command of the case explained why he sustained the case. Perkinson mysteriously omits from his review the book’s discussion of why Nifong went forward. The emergence of the Cheek challenge made it necessary for the D.A. to keep the case alive through the November election, so as to retain black voter loyalty (as ultimately occurred). And getting the case to trial—especially in Durham, where a hung jury was all but ensured—was a central component of Nifong’s strategy of fighting Bar ethics charges that he knew had been filed. A hung jury would have given the D.A. a chance of beating back ethics allegations that he had brought a case without probable cause.

The insinuation that Perkinson leaves: since UPI didn’t offer a reason why Nifong sustained the case (when, of course, the book did), perhaps Nifong, in his own mind, believed that he had a legitimate rationale for sustaining the case (when, of course, he did not).

Nifong & his enablers. In one of the review’s more curious passages, Perkinson writes, “Most incredibly, the authors suggest that faculty ‘cheerleaders for Nifong,’ aided and abetted by fellow travelers in the community such as the ‘all-powerful’ Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, a local political group, beckoned the prosecutor forward and aided his metamorphosis into an antiwhite ‘racial demagogue.’ If this was the case, Nifong's conversion was incomplete. Of the 431 people his office sent to prison in 2006, 82 percent of them were black—hardly the output one would expect from the PC panderer depicted here.”

It’s telling that even a Group of 88 apologist like Perkinson doesn’t deny that the Group’s statements and actions, as well as those of local “activists,” bolstered Nifong. (That would be hard to do, of course, given the copious evidence presented in the motion to change venue.) Instead, Perkinson suggests that Nifong’s policies harmed Durham’s black residents, and so the disgraced D.A. apparently wasn’t a “racial demagogue.” Yet throughout the early and mid-20th century, Southern “racial demagogues”—people like Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo or Ross Barnett—regularly used race-based appeals to win votes from people (poor whites) who were harmed by the demagogues’ actual policies. Perkinson’s website lists him as someone who teaches about U.S. politics and who writes about the U.S. South; I’m startled that he appears ignorant of the tradition of Southern race-based demagogues to which Nifong so richly contributed.

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Perkinson’s review operates in an air of unreality for anyone who actually followed the case. How did events in Durham attract such white-hot media attention? Perkinson cites only Nancy Grace and (unspecified) blogs “on the left.” (The New York Times, whose coverage the review fails to mention, apparently doesn’t count in Perkinson’s world.) Yes, Perkinson implies, some Durham residents did overreact, but he (paternalistically) portrays them as unthinking automatons, figures condemned by their past and their station in life to leap in protest amidst Nifong’s pre-primary publicity crusade. Perhaps, Perkinson concedes, President Brodhead (whom he describes as “an aureate middle-of-the-road literature professor”) did cancel the lacrosse season prematurely, but the president quickly reversed course, and—in an Orwellian interpretation of events—“repeatedly intervened on behalf of the players(!).” Apparently the president’s summer 2006 open letter asserting that a trial would allow “our students to be proved innocent” was, in Perkinson’s version of reality, part of Brodhead’s heretofore unrevealed record of bolstering the players.

At the most basic level, Perkinson offers a blunt message: Stuart and I should have written a different book, on a different topic, one that didn’t challenge his preconceived, race-based notions of U.S. society and the academy. An alternative? He references Jena—once a holy grail of the politically correct but now a crusade that even Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton appear to have abandoned, as more facts became public—as an appropriate high-profile case of prosecutorial misconduct. What Nifongesque prosecutorial misconduct occurred in the Jena case (or, indeed, what prosecutorial misconduct occurred at all) Perkinson declines to reveal.

On one level, Perkinson’s review was hardly surprising: a Group of 88 apologist defended the Group and minimized the significance of the case to which the Group had embarrassingly linked its agenda. On a personal level, however, the review was disappointing. As some DIW readers know, I have a distant connection to The Nation. My second book was a (very sympathetic) biography of former Alaska senator Ernest Gruening. Best-known for casting one of the two votes against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, Gruening also thrice served as editor of The Nation.

During Gruening’s first stint at its helm, in the early 1920s, The Nation played a critical role in rallying public opinion against the U.S. military interventions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. Gruening also helped fashion a trans-national anti-imperialist coalition, which had a transformative effect on Caribbean Basin international affairs for much of the interwar period.

Ernest Gruening’s Nation, in short, was a publication willing to speak truth to power, even if it meant confronting the national security policies of the U.S. government. The Nation as represented by Perkinson, on the other hand, comes across as a magazine committed to resolutely defending the status quo, even if doing so requires the peculiar leaps of logic evident in the Perkinson review. It’s sad to witness such a transformation.

*--I have been forwarded a post from Prof. Zimmerman in which he denies that his 50 percent total referred to the Duke professoriate, but merely was a reference to how the case affected Duke. It's not clear to me how he determined his (incorrect) figure, but my apologies for assuming that this Group apologist referenced the faculty with his (incorrect) claim. Interpreted literally, around 98 percent of the posts on DIW refer to how the case affected Duke, since, of course, the case involved three people who at the time were students at Duke. (The remaining 2 percent are posts that deal with bookkeeping matters at the blog.)

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

KC,

I was particularly struck by his suggestion that you should have written on a different subject (perhaps Jena.) You have explained on more than one occasion in the blog your interest in the Duke Lacrosse Case. You are an academic, and you were drawn in by the abuse of other academics rushing to judgement against their own students.

It's about race to everyone else, but I don't see how anyone can read your work and conclude that it is about anything other than academia and the criminal justice system behaving badly.

Mike S

Michael said...

Just add Perkinson to the huge list of people who are too lazy to get it, don't want to get it or deliberately don't get it because it disagrees with their worldview.

The Lacrosse case is a big, big case and it's hard to get a handle on it if you haven't followed it closely. I still learn new things about it (learned something new about it over at Liestoppers this weekend). I don't see how you can reasonably review a book without a lot of research.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there are still way too many who want to view this case through a certain lens that either obscures or refuses to allow the real facts of the case to be visible. This makes it all the more harder for real justice to be done. There exists the mindset on the one hand (the Tara Levicy view) that if a woman cries rape it must be true so there fore anyhone accused of such a crime must be guilty. There also exists the mindset that college athletes are unprincipled, sex-starved, alcohol swilling ingrates (the Mike Nifong and Gang of 88 view). There is the mindset that whites (particularly rich northern whites) will seize any opportunity available to mistreat blacks (a Durham attitude?). Any of these in and of themselves is a dangerous belief to hold but the combination of the three led to the hoax that still has much credence in certain quarters. While Roy Cooper emphatically declared the three students innocent of all charges and THAT NOTHING HAPPENED, unfortunately, for those who possess the mindsets described above such a declaration was not only wrong but unacceptable. The only way that the hoax will be laid to rest is when the civil suits come to trial for the world (Durham and the academic community in particular)to see just how wrong they were in their beliefs.

Charles said...

It is almost certain that Perkinson views himself as one of the "smart" people... in kinship with those very "smart" people among the Duke faculty G88. In fact, Perkinson is revealed to be a shallow fool.

Why is such nonsense tolerated, to its discredit, among publications such as The Nation. As KC mentions... a sad state of intellectual decay.

W. R. Chambers said...

This is another fascinating post. I am going to try to find Perkinson's review and read it.

At this point it seems, again, that an expert, Perkinson, makes ideological arguments that ignore or are in conflict with relevant, established facts.

I hope I am wrong. I hope that Perkinson or The Nation show that Perkinson's review was fair argument, fair in the sense that it respected established facts. The reason I hope for that is that if KC is right, if there is no credible defense to KC's claims, then one is left with the disappointing conclusion that what was described as a review of DIW by a scholar published by a respected magazine was in fact not a book review in any fair sense. Rather it was ... what? What would be a fair characterization of Perkinson's piece? And how many readers will believe that what Perkinson wrote is accurate? The Nation lent its credibility to Perkinson.

Is it fair to say that like everyone else scholars ought to have a command of facts (as boring and as ordinary as they may be compared to the thrill and easy availability of ideology) before making arguments about the meaning of what has happened?

Does anyone else sense that in the case of his DIW review Perkinson has something in common with the Nifong and certain members of the Durham PD? Both prosecutors and professors exercise power - very different types of power - but they do have this in common: the ability to abuse their power by making arguments that hide or misrepresent evidence.

Anonymous said...

Perkinson's behavior should come as no surprise. The Nation, like most of the self-styled 'progressives' who subscribe to it in the early 21st century, is neither progressive nor intellectual, but simply the house organ of a group of political dinosaurs who share the world view typified by the G-88. Unfortunately, as long as this view is the accepted orthodoxy of the power elite in the academy, it is unlikely we will see any substantive change.

UPI is a work of actual scholarship, most of what these people write and teach is political propaganda. The term 'usable history' should not be used with pride, but should be recognized for what it is - the work of supporting a political cause with noble sounding words, regardless of the facts. 'Usable history' is often the historical charlatan's version of Comrade Lysenko's crop yields. One may well wonder how the Supreme Court's decision in the recently decided Heller case might have come down had no one uncovered Michael Bellesile's academic dishonesty and or incompetence, and showed Arming America to be what it was - a work of propaganda, not history.

You and Taylor are honest researchers and writers. Until the academy decides that factual honesty trumps political ideology, we will continue to see many of the Perkinson like reviews, and G-88 style reasoning in the classroom, and Broadhead / Steel style university administrations. I am not optimistic. Most faculty are unwilling to challenge the Perkinson crowd, either because they to some degree with their social and cultural beliefs, or because they are afraid of them. Either way, it creates a majority on campus that supports the Perkinsons of the world, and who give support to the pitiful rag that Ernest Gruening's Nation has become.

Archivist said...

The criticisms, sadly, are politically motivated. Worse, they are misguided. To the extent people care about false rape claims and wrongful convictions for rape, whether the victims are blacks or white, they should be on their hands and knees thanking you, personally, Professor.

UPI and this blog have done more to raise awareness about false rape claims and attendant injustices than any event or publication in American history.

Because of you, countless people now understand that false rape claims have become so embroiled in the radical feminist sexual assault milieu that they have been largely, and improperly, removed from the public discourse about rape. More than anyone, you have injected false claims back into the dialogue. Because of you, many people have become familiar with the work of the Innocence Project that primarily benefits black men wrongly convicted of rape and murder. Countless people now understand that at least nine and probably closer to half of all rape claism are false, but that it is politically incorrect in the extreme to publicize this fact.

Because of you, many people now understand that certain sexual assault counselors routinely and disingenuously denigrate the experience of the falsely accused by dismissing their victimizations as a "myth." And a lot of people now understand that that these attitudes are not merely dishonest but morally grotesque.

Most important, because of your work on this case, a lot of people realize that these sorts of injustices can happen to anyone. And if it can happen to these relatively privileged young men, it must be -- it IS -- happening with frightening regularity to black men who are poor and disenfranchised.

So for those critics who care about black men -- and white men -- sitting in prison for decades for rapes they did not commit, be thankful that Prof. KC Johnson opened a lot of eyes about this frightening problem. The themes that you've highlighted in this -- that matters foster a culture of false rape hysterics -- inspired me to start a blog dedicated solely to the false rape phenomenon. False Rape Society

Anonymous said...

These people will throw everything including the proverbial kitchen sink to avoid responsibility. What these academics want to avoid is right and wrong.

No one anywhere should be more on the side of the lacrosse team than the likes of the DukeGroup88 and their apologists. It is the law that protects all of us.

This is the great error of Nifong. To hide behind a "dead cat" or "herring" or "reverse racism" to hide the obvious is stupidly arrogant and fundamentally foolish in protecting the rights of all of us.

Everyone has a right to expect justice even young white or black males who are so often abused by the likes of Nifong in this society where it has become so easy to respond to irrational bigotry and emotions than obey the law or follow it . . . in a word what a damned piss-poor review of the book, but a right-on discription of one's own bigotry.

On a separate note, in my family's town in the Deep South a sheriff was killed many years ago attempting to save a black man from being lynched. Obviously, he was unsuccessful, but he gave last full measure (Where have you heard that phrase?) to uphold the law. What were his ambitions? He protected the law and he protected us with his life.

Perhaps it is exteme to think that KC Johnson has risked so much, but in a time of polictical intolerence and so-called correctness, it is not a stretch to imagin or think that he too, has risked much, and in effect, others in the academy should be ashamed of themselves not to join him in his efforts to present this in a way that will be sorted out for the better. Duke and Durham need to go that way regardless.

Anonymous said...

Here in 2008, our dollars are losing value, costs of food and energy are rising above inflation, and college costs are growing even faster. Parents and students have to reevaluate the wisdom of a "liberal" education when just the money cost is so high. On top of that we see that hapless university students are subject to luck-of-the-draw professorial buffoonery, favoritism and sometime humiliation. Within the humanities, K.C. is among the few making a positive difference; Perkinson is among the many reinforcing this gloomy tone.

Debrah said...

TO 1:12 PM--

Perkinson is just an assistant professor....and where?

Hawaii?

Must be stiff competition and a magnificent daily grind on the surf around Diamond Head.

And yes, this guy didn't even bother with basic facts. He has essentially created his own story.

I hope this does not violate the new rules that some anonymous emailer has helped install on this blog when I mention that the editor, publisher, and part-owner of The Nation, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, is known for playing fast and loose with the truth.

She will most likely stand behind Perkinson all the way.

Lastly, writer Christopher Hitchens who used to write for The Nation---one of many publications with which he was associated---left and cut all ties with Vanden Heuvel precisely because of her unethical practices.

Joey7777 said...

I agree with anon 9:20: "You and Taylor are honest researchers and writers. Until the academy decides that factual honesty trumps political ideology, we will continue to see many of the Perkinsen like reviews.."

tu nd said...

Saw Dave Evans on the subway this morning on his way to work. He was talking to another young guy - sounded like a co-worker. Def got a few blatant stares from people which was obnoxious - I left him alone. Seems like he's doing pretty well though, for what it's worth.

Bella said...

So terrifying that people like Perkinson, not to mention the 88 and countless others like them, are allowed to teach.

Anonymous said...

Is Perkinson a Communist?

Anonymous said...

Perkinson failed to help Willingham, who was executed by Texas. Is he now writing with green ink? Perkinson spent the first 1/3 of his article explaining how he prejudged Willingham, "dithered" away any opportunity to help him or even correspond with him, and now felt "remorse" after Willingham's execution.

Seligmann, Evans and Finnerty had a champion who told their story with clarity and without fear, who wrote blog post after blog post, day after day, hardly dithering away his opportunities, and the boys were eventually freed.

K.C. Johnson did everything for Reade, Dave and Collin that Perkinson failed to do for Willingham. I would be jealous too.

Perkinson made a grave mistake with the phrase: "the comparatively mild Duke lacrosse case." What he, and many people, fail to realize is that the Duke Lacrosse case was unprecedented in the modern era because of the sheer bravado that the bloodthirsty crowd exhibited in attempting to railroad obviously innocent kids.

In most cases of unlawful prosecution, the key to freedom is hidden from view. It may be that a certain scientific testing wasn't available at the time, or the prosecutor had failed to turn over the name of a crucial defense witness.

In Durham, it was apparent that Reade, Dave and Collin were innocent after the DNA came back from the SBI. Yet, the whole charade continued to play out in the national media.

Unlike most cases -- Perkinson basically admits as much when he claims to have pre-judged Willingham -- the Duke Three were obviously innocent in the minds of all fair-minded people soon after the evidence came out.

The difference between the Duke case and most cases is that, in most cases, only the prosecutor acts unfairly. In the Duke case, there were almost no fair-minded people. They all did their part:

Levicy
Baker
Nifong
Meehan
Duke faculty
Local and National Media
NAACP
Durham Police
Duke Administration
Durham Voters
and on and on.

In the usual case, the lynch mob consists of one, maybe two, people. In the Duke case, there was a cast of thousands.

RichGC said...

Hi KC, Off topic - but wanted to bring this article to your attention. From LI Pulse Magazine.

Matt Danowski By Brett Mauser

http://www.lipulse.com/newsite/LILife/Living/julysportsminded/tabid/382/Default.aspx
d/tabid/382/Default.aspx
Close up Photo of Matt drinking a beer is annoying enough but,
what upsets me the most is the recounting of the False accusations in detail, and then just saying that "Charges were dropped." with no mention of the declaration of innocence by NC Attorney.

How can Brett Mauser be so low?

bill anderson said...

I think you did a good job of dealing with the review. Like so many publications on the left, The Nation wanted the original story to be true, and when it was demonstrated to be absolutely false, nonetheless the old narrative still came through.

The Nation has committed itself to a hard-left, Marxist view of the world, and once in a while the facts get in the way. Unfortunately, instead of questioning its original narrative, The Nation instead attacks the messengers who tell us that the Emperor is naked.

Anonymous said...

The Nation is, for example, where Noam Chomsky published his lies defending the genocidal Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. With this "intellectual" level, it would have been an enormous surprise if it had not trashed "Until Proven Innocent".

Anonymous said...

You say "Texas’ extreme system". As a member of the Texas bar, I'm so mad I could spit. I am getting about tired of you and Prof. Anderson attacking America's or (in this case) Texas' legal system. The legal system did this case right. It stopped Nifong and even jailed him. It's the UNIVERSITY SYSTEM that has yet to be brought to justice! So, "Professor", clean up your OWN house before attacking MINE!

RRH

Anonymous said...

Showing his complete contempt for his readers, Perkinson accuses Until Proven Innocent of "intellectual dishonesty" immediately prior to his distortion that the team accounts for 25 percent of the disorderly conduct violations.

Any Perkinson fans out there ought to know how stupid he thinks you are!

-RD

Anonymous said...

RRH -- Don't disagree that the University System has some house cleaning but 'the legal system did this case right'? You're kidding, right?

Perhaps just a poor choice of words? Maybe 'the legal system stopped the false prosecution more than a year after it became clear what was happening?' There is absolutely no evidence and no cause for confidence that the Durham injustice system won't repeat itself, tomorrow.

bill anderson said...

You say "Texas’ extreme system". As a member of the Texas bar, I'm so mad I could spit. I am getting about tired of you and Prof. Anderson attacking America's or (in this case) Texas' legal system. The legal system did this case right. It stopped Nifong and even jailed him. It's the UNIVERSITY SYSTEM that has yet to be brought to justice! So, "Professor", clean up your OWN house before attacking MINE!

RRH


I recall that Texas is where a supposedly legendary prosecutor declared something to the effect of: "Any prosecutor can convict a guilty man; it takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent man," and then spent a career trying to be a "great" prosecutor.

As I recall, you were the one who insisted on the Reharmonizer blog that the Scottsboro Boys were treated fairly, and that they were guilty of rape. Yet, the lack of physical evidence was clear in that case, but the prosecutors and juries and judges (with the exception of Judge Horton) all went along with the lie.

If you wish to defend wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct, and the like, go ahead. However, I will add that the defense of the undefendable will not go unanswered.

I think it is especially heinous when representatives of the state -- who claim to be "doing justice" -- actively work to frame innocent people. We see it all over this country, and it is not just Texas, North Carolina or Alabama.

Recently, Andrew Cuomo, the AG for New York, dismissed murder charges against Martin Tankleff after he had served 17 years in prison for a crime he clearly did not commit. In the investigation, attorneys found an incredible amount of police, prosecutorial AND judicial misconduct, including a coerced (but not signed) confession, and willful ignorance of the evidence of the case.

(Moreover, it was found that the man who most likely committed the murder had a "business" relationship with one of the police officers.)

Cuomo, true to his political animal self, did not investigate the case and declared that there was "some" evidence against Tankleff, but not enough for a conviction. What he said was a lie, but he was taking care of all his pals in the system who had been involved and who either actively framed Tankleff or looked the other way.

I am not declaring that you "must clean up Texas," and I agree that Higher Education is a sewer. People like K.C. are trying to do their job and to stand up for what is right. Don't forget that K.C. Johnson stood up against the PC crowd at his own college, even when the faux scholars were trying to get him fired. I was very familiar with him and his fight at Brooklyn College long before the Duke business came about, and was glad to see him weighing in on the subject. But even I did not realize the influence he would have, and I was quite happy to tag along and play a bit role (which is about all I could have done).

My last comment is this: DIW and my own writings are not an attack on you or your own legal work. I assume that you do your work with integrity, and I have never challenged that. All I have challenged is your version of the Scottsboro Boys trial, and I think I can do that without attacking your own integrity.

Shouting Thomas said...

"The Nation—a publication with a distinguished history of championing dissenting thought."

You've got to be kidding. The Nation is an overt, proud Stalinist publication. It once even proclaimed Uncle Joe its Man of the Year.

Dissent is an odd term for the ravings of this Stalinist propaganda rag.

Michael said...

"The legal system did this case right. It stopped Nifong and even jailed him."

You have got to be kidding. You mean that it's normal to cost innocent people a million dollars to defend themselves against baseless charges? Nifong should get 20 years; not a day.

Michael said...

The Texas legal system didn't exactly cover itself in glory with the FLDS case either.

The FLDS case is covered extensively in Liestoppers with many comparisons with the Lacrosse case.

jamil hussein said...

Only in Durham:


"Durham Democratic Party official accused in rituals"


"Allegations that a local Democratic official and her husband were involved in Satanic rituals that included shackling people to beds, caging them and depriving them of food and water have horrified county party leaders.

Joy Johnson, a former-vice chairwoman of the Durham Democratic Party, and her husband, Rev. Joseph Craig are accused of kidnapping, abusing, and sexually assaulting at least two victims in their Durham home."

I'm sure there is Duke/Gang88 angle to this..
Lots of news reports about this..

Anonymous said...

The legal system is not perfect, since it is a system composed of humans - if it were, there would not be the necessity of the appeals system. That said,in the lax case there should never have been a case from the get go. One had a vindicative young woman who saw an opportunity to "get even" and make some money from a group of young men. One had an institution, Duke Medical Center, who failed to follow its own procedures. One had police officers with a noted bias against university students who saw this as a chance (perhaps to get even for complaints lodged against him which had resulted in his transfer from one beat to another)to redeem himself and for another to make his name in police annals. One had an appointed prosecutor who decided that he liked the perks of his job so much that he went back on his promise (only to be an interim appointment)to engaging in a primary fight for said position and saw the racial aspect of the case as a way to garner the sizable black Durham vote. One also had a university administration that was feckless at best and downright criminal in its cavalier attitude toward those students who were their responisbility. In turn, a goodly number of the faculty, looking to show how pro-feminist, how enlightened racially and socially they were and how willing they were to distrust their own students were more than willing to abandon their so-called liberal principles and exhortations about constitutional freedoms to throw their very students under the bus and convict them without any evidence except the falsehoods perpetrated by the prosecutor and underscored by the actions of the Duke administration. This all played out in a community which has had not only had racial tensions but town-gown problems for many years. Then too, the flames of all this were fanned by both the print and electronic media which were more than willing to believe the daily press briefings of a prosecutor who saw in his press coverage publicity to aid in his election that cost his campaign little in monies.
I suppose the reason that this case has resonated with so many is that it could have so easily been one of our sons, brothers, nephews, or friends who could have found themselves in a similar situation. While the three men who were falsely accused were able to command resources (though at a severe cost) to fight for their innocence - and make no mistake, it was a fight, the fact is that for most of us, it would be a financial ruin as well as a personal ruin from which it would be difficult to recover. The work done by KC, liestoppers, Kristin Butler, Ed Bradley, and the many, many people who have posted comments on this and other blogs and who routinely write to major news organizations to protest their repeated assertions that either "something must have happened" or to refer to Mangum rather than the three men as the victims cannot be over-rated. What I would like to see happen is for Brodhead and the Gang of 88 to admit how wrong they were and not only publicly apologize for their handling of the issue but also to implement institutional changes to ensure that such an outrage that occured on Duke's campus will never occur again. I would like to see a change in the grand jury system in North Carolina that is meaningful and one that will protect the rights of all. I want to see the Duke Medical Center admit to not following established procedure and to institute steps that will ensure that rape kits and exams are done by fully licensed and trained personnel who do not have an agenda as did Ms. Levicy. Above all, there needs to be a severe punative financial settlement as it is "money that talks" and it is only the talking of money that will be the impetus for real change. I do feel sorry for the citizens of Durham - they are already paying a huge legal bill for the actions of its police and prosecutor. However, they elected the prosecutor and supported to a great extent the actions of its rogue police department. I feel no sympathy for Duke other than for those parents who have their offspring enrolled and who do not want to upset their college careers by moving them elsewhere. Parents will (despite Duke's claims to the contrary)be footing the bill for all the legal maneuverings that are ongoing as well as the settlements already paid. If they were not, then Duke would obviously be able to reduce its high tuition and make it a more affordable college choice for students across the nation. I would guess that like almost every institution of higher learning that their tuition bill for 2008-9 is higher than the bill for 2007-8 There are few other schools that have had to pay out settlements to the tune of what Duke has paid out already in the lax case and continues to pay in legal fees even as we speak. Will any of this happen? The crystal ball is cloudy on the issue of monies but unfortunately is clear on the likelihood of the above institutions owning up to their collective guilt.

Anonymous said...

1:55

Hey Debrah, Hitchens became disenchanted with The Nation because of their dishonest coverage of the Iraq war, among other things. He was for it.

About comments here, It seems a few people from the other blogs want to muzzle you. They continue to write offensive things and then not allow disagreement. Since this is the major blog, they get away scot-free if DiW adheres to a strict comment policy. No challenges.

It works for the Obama haters and the conservatives. Alrighty then!

Keep up the good work diva.

Anonymous said...

I need to address three comments, but before I do, I would like to note the following:

In the lacrosse case the original metanarrative blamed the white lacrosse players for engaging in white-on-black rape which, the metanarrative said, was consistent with the historical behavior of white men. This was the first lie. When it became evident in the lacrosse case that white men could not be blamed, the evil-doers in the "intellectual establishment" fell back on a second metanarrative: Blame "the legal system". If white men aren't guilty, then at least a-system-created-by-white-men is guilty -- almost as good! Thus the Marxists and their useful idiots treat us to long renditions of other cases (Daryl Hunt, etc.) and try to put the lacrosse case in the same line. Amazingly (to me) even some people that I regard as very smart have fallen for this "fallback metanarrative".

Now, to address the comments:

anonymous said at 7:12 AM:

RRH -- Don't disagree that the University System has some house cleaning but 'the legal system did this case right'? You're kidding, right?

Perhaps just a poor choice of words? Maybe 'the legal system stopped the false prosecution more than a year after it became clear what was happening?' There is absolutely no evidence and no cause for confidence that the Durham injustice system won't repeat itself, tomorrow.


How exactly could the legal system -- as distinguished from one out-of-his-mind prosecutor -- have handled it better? Did you want the NC Supreme Court to swoop in and render an "innocent!" verdict as soon as the DNA results were in?

Apparently the legal system making an unheard-of admission that the boys were "innocent" and then jailing the prosecutor was not enough for you? How about the millions of dollars the legal system is now aiding the boys in getting?

Meanwhile the "university system" is rewarding the 88ers -- who are every bit as morally culpable as Nifong was -- with promotions, awards, and praise. If the legal system worked like the university system, Mike Nifong would be the state attorney general by now.

William Anderson said at 7:50 AM:

I recall that Texas is where a supposedly legendary prosecutor declared something to the effect of: "Any prosecutor can convict a guilty man; it takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent man," ....
As I recall, you were the one who insisted on the Reharmonizer blog that the Scottsboro Boys ... were guilty of rape.


First, Prof. Anderson, I would like to acknowledge that you are on the right side of the lacrosse case, that you have been so since the beginning, and that, to my knowledge, no professor other than KC himself has been more active in the fight for justice and scholastic reform.

Now, as for the "great prosecutor" remark, that was nothing more than gallows humor: It was said after a prosecutor learned that one of his convictions had been overturned when it was proven in a higher court that the defendant was -- and this is an extreme rarity! -- actually innocent. You and reharmonizer seem to think that innocent people are routinely convicted. It ain't so. If you want a handy rule of thumb: No more than 1 out of 1,000 people in prison are actually innocent. The TV commentator who was talking about the lacrosse case was right: "99 percent of the time, the cops get the right man". In the 1% where the cops got the wrong man, 90% -- at least -- of those are cleared up in court and the defendant is released. This leaves 10% of 1% who are actually innocent but convicted anyway. Of course, this means that of 2 million people in U.S. prisons, there may be 2,000 who are innocent and that's too many. But show us the justice system that has a lower rate of wrongful imprisonment.

As for your second contention, that I "insisted on the Reharmonizer blog that the Scottsboro Boys ... were guilty of rape", I have to wonder if you had your reading glasses on when you read what I wrote. I specifically said that even if we ignored all evidence of rape in the SB case, there were still enough "other crimes" to justify sending the Boys to prison for "years or decades" that no one ever denied they committed. I didn't think I needed to specify the "other crimes" to people who claimed to be knowledgeable about the case, but from an abundance of caution born from recent experience, I will say now that those "other crimes" were (at a minimum) aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

I don't want to have to re-post my entire comment, but anyone who wants to read it can see it here.

michael said at 10:00 AM:

The Texas legal system didn't exactly cover itself in glory with the FLDS case either.

I think you've confused the "Child Protective Services" bureaucracy with the lawyers and judges who make up "the legal system". Yes, the seizure of the FLDS children was outrageous, but I'm proud that the Texas legal system (including my old employer, the Texas Supreme Court) slapped down the bureaucrats and freed the children. I hope the parents sue the hell out of the state and I hope Texas is made to pay dearly for its violation of rights in that case. But put the blame where it belongs: on the bureaucracy that seized them, not the legal system that freed them.

Michael said...

"How exactly could the legal system -- as distinguished from one out-of-his-mind prosecutor -- have handled it better? Did you want the NC Supreme Court to swoop in and render an "innocent!" verdict as soon as the DNA results were in?"

I would have been happy if the NHSC weighed in on the matter. Of course there were a few judges involved that could have controlled their courtrooms better, that could have seen through Nifong, that could have tossed him in jail far sooner and that could have avoided giving him the benefit of the doubt at every turn.

"Apparently the legal system making an unheard-of admission that the boys were "innocent" and then jailing the prosecutor was not enough for you?"

For one friggin day? With a parade? And a chicken dinner? How about 20 years?

"How about the millions of dollars the legal system is now aiding the boys in getting?"

How about not screwing up so bad in the first place so that they wouldn't have to pay it at all. They don't have the millions of dollars yet so that's a red herring.

"I think you've confused the "Child Protective Services" bureaucracy with the lawyers and judges who make up "the legal system". Yes, the seizure of the FLDS children was outrageous, but I'm proud that the Texas legal system (including my old employer, the Texas Supreme Court) slapped down the bureaucrats and freed the children."

Are you proud of how 51st District Judge Barbara Walther handled herself? Or the Governor?

"I hope the parents sue the hell out of the state and I hope Texas is made to pay dearly for its violation of rights in that case. But put the blame where it belongs: on the bureaucracy that seized them, not the legal system that freed them."

Seems to me that they couldn't have done what they did without the legal system behind them.

You have a convenient way of leaving out important facts.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous commentor @ 12:31 --

Perhaps you can sell the story about the Southern Sheriff who gave his life to stop a lynching to Tim Tyson. He'd no doubt write it up with the title: "To Kill a Mockingbird III."

As for the RRH & Bill Anderson tempest, I would have to say that the North Carolina legal system should start with:

1. Requiring transcripts of Grand Jury sessions;

2. Requiring more than a passing nod to the "Speedy Trial" provision;

3. Taking the scheduling of trials and the assignment to judges out of the district attorney's hands;

4. Giving up immunity defenses for prosecutors who willfully violate their oaths even if what they did was a traditional aspect of a prosecutor's duties;

5. Providing a more expeditious means to rid a county of an obviously rogue prosecutor.

I'm sure there are more, but I'm tired! I could also create a list stating the problems with Duke University, because, to me, neither are close to being blameless.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @ 12:31 --

Perhaps you can sell the story about the Sheriff who lost his life trying to stop a lynching to Tim Tyson. He can write it up and sell it as "To Kill a Mockingbird III."

As for the RRH and Bill Anderson tempest, the North Carolina legal system could begin by:

1. Requiring transcripts of Grand Jury deliberations;

2. Putting teeth into the "Speedy Trial" laws;

3. Taking the scheduling of trials and the assignment of judges out of the hands of the prosecutor.

I view the above as MINIMUM requirements for North Carolina to get out of the Dark Ages.

Gary Packwood said...

I suspect Perkinson, our G88 and others in the academy spent the last part of 2006 writing articles and preparing proposals for study about the real Duke lacrosse case only to learn that their work like their work on the Jena mess, was both wasted and wrong.

We should expect to see more of this type of criticism as these academics attempt to recycle their work into their next chapter of their hate narrative where privileged white males who swagger are the enemy.

Bring it on!
::
GP

Duke1965 said...

Interesting........... 33 comments and not a single one disagreeing with KC's commentary.........I personally had a different take on Perkinson's review. KC's innuendo about Perkinson's "G88 bias" aside, at least Perkinson has the basic facts of the case right, without any trace of "something happened". Moreover, Perkinson's main point is very simple: he disagrees with what he perceives as UPI's main thesis, that a significant legacy of the case is the Duke faculty's rush to judgment, and reverse racism/sexism against white males. Perkinson argues that a prosecution run amok is much more likely to seriously impact minorities and the poor, and therefore that issue is far more important than any perceived political correctness or reverse racism in this particular case, although he concedes that UPI does touch on the broader issues as well. Perkinson obviously does not think abuse of "privileged white boys" is a significant social issue in the big picture.

In reality, how dangerous are the radical professors? Was the lacrosse case a one-time aberration, or have these leftist professors actually become so powerful and dangerous that only a fool would send their kid to a Duke or similar school? I don't pretend to know the answer, but I suspect the extreme radical profs have very little real power in the life of a typical undergrad...........

KC Johnson said...

To the 5.33:

You note, "Perkinson argues that a prosecution run amok is much more likely to seriously impact minorities and the poor."

It's not just Perkinson who argues this. The book (and the blog) repeatedly argues it. There is, in short, no disagreement between Perkinson and the book on this point--despite Perkinson's bizarre suggestion that the book's non-discussion of the Hunt case implied otherwise.

"Moreover, Perkinson's main point is very simple: he disagrees with what he perceives as UPI's main thesis, that a significant legacy of the case is the Duke faculty's rush to judgment, and reverse racism/sexism against white males."

There's nothing in my post that denies the above is Perkinson's "main point." To his "main point," I would offer a simple question: over the last, say, two decades, in how many more routine cases of prosecutorial misconduct (those involving "minorities and the poor") did the local faculty issue statements and take actions that defense attorneys cited as bolstering the prosecution's case; or did the establishment media slant the news to bolster the prosecution's case; or did the local left-wing political leadership work tirelessly to bolster the prosecutor's political standing?

I can think of none. Perkinson, as you note, appears to believe that such groups (groups that position themselves as defenders of due process) acting as they did in the Duke case is not "significant legacy of the case." In my opinion, seeing important institutions (the academy, civil rights groups, the establishment media) that are expected to defend process act wholly out of character--and then, with the exception of a tepid apology from the Times--move forward as if they would do it all over again is a significant development. And, as I noted in the post, most reviewers (from the left and the right) of the book have agreed.

You ask, "In reality, how dangerous are the radical professors? Was the lacrosse case a one-time aberration, or have these leftist professors actually become so powerful and dangerous that only a fool would send their kid to a Duke or similar school? I don't pretend to know the answer, but I suspect the extreme radical profs have very little real power in the life of a typical undergrad..........."

In the aftermath of the case, members of the Group of 88 have been: (1) hired by Vanderbilt as a distinguished prof; (2) hired by Cornell with a promotion; (3) hired by the University of Chicago as a distinguished professor; (4) appointed dean of social sciences for Trinity College; (5) elected chair of the Academic Council; and (6) appointed dean of students for Trinity College.

Moreover, in sharp contrast to the handling of the lacrosse team--five investigative committees--Duke elected not to explore in any way what it said about the institution's priorities or policies that the public voice of its faculty acted as cheerleaders for Nifong and appeared to ignore the responsibilities of the Faculty Handbook. Yet faculty conduct is clearly more significant to an institution's health than student conduct.

Perhaps, as you say, such a record suggests that figures like the Group have little influence, either at Duke or on other campuses. I suspect that most people would disagree with your conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Perkinson of all people was chosen to review this book. Who made that decision? The Nation could do better than that.
Much of his review is straight Gang of 88 boilerplate or special pleading for academics who want the right to defame others with no skin of their own in the game. But human beings are just chum, what matters is the model.
Unlike many posters here, although I often disagree with some Nation articles, I generally felt the publication served an important purpose, going back ,iirc, to Olmstead.
But as one with ties to Yale, the Yale connection is of interest to me. Many Duke trustees have ties to Yale, as does David Price, Congressman from that area, and others in the narrative. Yale protects its own.
BTW, although I don't generally think of the Nation as Stalinist, some of the people associated with GESO (Yale Grad Student Assoc) certainly were. I don't say that to inflame really, it's just true.

I wonder how well Perkinson knew Brodhead when he was at Yale?
Pretty well I bet. He was very active and visible at Yale, and Brodhead was there at the time. Brodhead spent his entire adult life at Yale before he was called, so they say, to Duke.
Listening to various levels of Yalies discuss this case, and wring their hands over poor Dick's predicament over the past few years, has been instructive It's tested those who believed they were the good guys, sort of liberal, searching for the 'right thing' to do. But they exposed themselves as insular and closed minded bigots.

Anonymous said...

KC has helped make my point -- and obviously I need help as my point seems to elude so many others here. Thus, with only a substitution, I quote here KC's words:

In the aftermath of the case, members of the Group of 88 have been: (1) hired by Vanderbilt as a distinguished prof; (2) hired by Cornell with a promotion; (3) hired by the University of Chicago as a distinguished professor; (4) appointed dean of social sciences for Trinity College; (5) elected chair of the Academic Council; and (6) appointed dean of students for Trinity College.

Moreover, in sharp contrast to the handling of
[Nifong -- an ethics investigation, a contempt hearing, legislative action --] Duke elected not to explore in any way what it said about the institution's priorities or policies that the public voice of its faculty acted as cheerleaders for Nifong and appeared to ignore the responsibilities of the Faculty Handbook. Yet faculty conduct is clearly more significant to an institution's health than student conduct.

RRH

P.S. Nice catch, anonymous at 11:45 AM, on the Brodhead-Perkinson connection.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Duke1965 said...

Interesting........... 33 comments and not a single one disagreeing with KC's commentary.

That's what Group Think is all about.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said...

Anonymous Duke1965 said...

Interesting........... 33 comments and not a single one disagreeing with KC's commentary.

That's what Group Think is all about.

7/5/08 4:11 PM


Make that 34, since this comment doesn't disagree with KC's commentary either.

RRH

... like shooting fish in a barrel.

Gary Packwood said...

Duke1965 07/03/08 :: 5:33 PM said...

...In reality, how dangerous are the radical professors? Was the lacrosse case a one-time aberration, or have these leftist professors actually become so powerful and dangerous that only a fool would send their kid to a Duke or similar school? I don't pretend to know the answer, but I suspect the extreme radical profs have very little real power in the life of a typical undergrad.
::
It is not just radical professor but radical professors and radical STAFF who are networked across the country via the web.

I strongly suspect that Duke was chosen by the radical groups to make 'a stand' because their numbers had reached critical mass at Duke and Duke was and perhaps still is thought to be the new beacon of intellectualism within the new South.

Many years ago we could have identified these extremists because they were actually members of groups with public agendas. Today, they are cloistered but tied together by a common Internet connection.

It is the staff members who do the dirty work for the extremists and not the faculty as we saw at Duke with the Castrate March. Faculty would not even know how to organize a wellness walk across campus.

Traditional faculty and staff members know not to mess with the extremists because of the rumors that will begin to fly across the campus and academic circles across the world.

Extremists do manage by intimidation and fear and it is apparent now that their message is fairly straightforward. They want changes made to the Constitution of the United States because of what they see as poverty, sexism and racism caused by privileged white people - privileged white young males who swagger - at Duke.

For all of us who have been following this case, we probably owe a debt of gratitude to the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright for allowing us to peek into the inner working of the cloister of radicalism and understand that it is not just students at Duke who are under attack.

Lets keep the light focused on the extremists for the sake of the young people who have no clue what is happening to them.

Searching for the truth as a group effort is not bad thinking for the future...even if it is group think.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

A few other recent examples for the 4:11 p.m.:

U.S. House of Representatives bill H.R. 4040, consumer product safety legislation requiring the reduction of lead in children's toys by the 2008 Christmas shopping season, passed by a unanimous vote, December 2007.

Law to fund research on a rare lung cancer that has disproportionately hit Iron Ranger miners unanimously approved by the Minnesota State Senate, April 2008.

House Bill 4453 (“Mary’s Law”), which allows domestic violence victims to be alerted through a GPS tracking device if their abusers are nearby, passed by a unanimous vote in both houses of the Michigan State Legislature, June 2008.

Group Think, ya think?

(And before we quibble that the above are laws, not an individual's opinion, consider that legislation is nothing but the enacted and enforced opinion held by a parliamentary majority of individuals. Or a parliamentary unanimity, as in the above cases.)

Sometimes, a thing is so obvious or compelling or clear that it simply commands unanimous assent.

4:29 p.m.: Like shooting fish in a barrel, the fish can't shoot. They can't take it, they don't dish it out well, either.

dave in l.a.

Anonymous said...

Fear and intimidation do exist within the hallowed walls of academe - not just at the collegiate level but at the selmentary and secondary level. Faculty meetings (at the secondary and elementary level) are more often than not useless meetings where nothing is discussed of importance (the academic calendar, scheduling concerns, etc) but instead consist of nothing more than an administrater imparting settled decisions that could have been disseminated in an email. Comment is stifled because no one wants to stay beyond the 45 minutes allotted for the meeting.
Students more and more know that they can call the heavy hand of the lawyer down by accusing teachers of discrimination thus cowing teachers who have neither the intestinal fortitude or wherewithal to stand up for what they beieve - and again, administrations, not wanting to make a stand cower and force teachers to either conform or leave. While at the elementary and secondary level the power is in the hand of administrations, in colleges this power has become lodged in the hands of the "soft sciences professors" where scholarship has taken a decided backseat to activism - a holdover from the Viet Nam protests of the late sixties when college administrations found themselves unable and in many cases unwilling to do anything.
It is much easier to close one's door and teach to the best of one's ability - the hunker odwn in the bunker mentality. It is easy to be worn down - both phsysically and mentally. While I do not think that it is the right attitude to take, I am a firm believer in making a stand and to let the chips fall - I am fortunate in that I do not have to worry where my next meal is coming from and I know that while my unpopular stances could result in unemployment in academe, I am versatile enough that I will find employment doing something.
What is so frustrating about the Duke faculty is that with few exceptions, those with tenure have not had the courage to speak on the injustice that occurred on their campus. Is their failure to speak an indication that they do not care about issues of personal and constitutional rights important when it comes to their students? Are they waiting to see what the fallout of the court cases will be? Are they so concerned about town-gown politics in Durham that they are fearful of what speaking to the truth might entail?
Personally, I do not know how many of them live with themselves. How do they get up in front of their students and proclaim the importance of inquiry and an open mind mind when they themselves were so willing to believe and to remain silent about what was going on around them? I suppose that when they look into their mirrors each morning the opaqueness that must permeate the Durham area fogs the glass in such a way that they are only able to see what they want to see.

Anonymous said...

dave in l.a.
The phrase "Group Think" is in reference to the strange situation that all Comments to this blog agree to the opinions of KC. Of course he allows only those comments which complement his opinions. Even if he allows this comment, it means nothing compared to the many he has sent to cyber waste.
Love

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.51:

Over the course of this blog, I have cleared hundreds of comments that disagree with my arguments, sometimes in bitterly personal terms.

The assertion that "of course he allows only those comments which complement his opinions" is, of course, absurd, and is directly contradicted by the comment threads in the blog--which I invite you to peruse at your leisure.

Anonymous said...

KC: "Over the course of this blog, I have cleared hundreds of comments that disagree with my arguments,"

How many days have you blogged?
Hundreds could mean less than 1 a day.
Yet I expect your detractors are many.
Hypocrite.
You promised to go away until the trials started. Yet here you are trying to raise interest in your paperback issue. I'll just screen print this with the rest as I'm sure it will just become more KC cyber waste.

duke1965 said...

1:51,

It's one thing to say that there tends to be a "Greek chorus" around here, which I think is true, but to suggest KC is manipulating it is indeed absurd. As one who has "dissented" around here from time to time, not a single one of my comments has ever been edited or deleted. You may agree or disagree with KC, but his "open comment" policy has been rigorously observed.

KC Johnson said...

To the 4.37:

I'm pleased to see that you have abandoned your assertion that "of course he allows only those comments which complement his opinions."

Your comments, however, come across as quite angry. In future, I'd recommend that you type up draft comments and then wait 15 minutes or so before submitting them. Such a procedure would give you a chance to cool down and avoid intemperate rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

KC,
Silly man that you've become.
Nothing has been abandoned.
Angry? Me? You must be joking.
I'm an adult not some child in one one your classes.
Your argument is just another tactic of the despicably wrong.
Anon @ 4;37.

KC Johnson said...

To the 5.08:

You proceeded from an assertion that "of course he allows only those comments which complement his opinions" to an assertion that, in fact, negative comments were present, but not in a percentage that met your taste. The second claim, of course, contradicts the first.

Once again, I'd urge you to take a "time-out" by writing up a draft of your comments and waiting 15 or 30 minutes to review it, and only then actually submitting the comment. Such an approach might allow you to avoid further intemperate comments and participate in a manner that uplifts the discussion thread. Give this strategy a try!

Anonymous said...

KC,
Your comments remain condescending tripe. You answer none of the issues raised.
Just how many comments have gone into KC cyber trash?
Let's deal facts and numbers here lad.
Or have you deleted so many you just can't count them all. Here's another proposition.
Allow all comments and then delete those which are obviously offensive. Are you man enough for that? I think not.
Interesting........... 33 comments and not a single one disagreeing with KC's commentary.

Anonymous said...

1:51 PM:

Of course he only allows those comments which complement his opinions.

But if that’s the case (I think not), then using the term “groupthink” to label the solitary censorial activity of one person, and not the willful conformity of a group, is a misapplication of the term. As you describe it, the Greek chorus echoing through these threads is not of the group’s doing– it’s one person making them sound like that. Which may all be that "despicably wrong" redactionary KC’s fault, but it's not “groupthink” recognizable to anyone familiar with the term's classic formulation.

Perhaps another label may be found to fling about.

dave in l.a.

Debrah said...

Anonymous (4:37 PM) tendentiously asserts:

"You promised to go away....."


You're funny!

No one said anything about going anywhere.

KC isn't going to stray too far from Wonderland. There's too much work to be done.

By now, his fully tattooed passport reveals evidence of a globetrotting lecturer in demand; however, he is never "going away".

You must have been dreaming.

So many of the seasoned culprits who participated---overtly or not---in this Hoax have been hoping for everything to "go away".

Which disgruntled anonymous one might you be?

BTW, I get so excited just thinking about UPI's upcoming paperback version.

Pure Diva ecstasy!

KC Johnson said...

To the 6.20:

You asked, "Just how many comments have gone into KC cyber trash? Let's deal facts and numbers here lad."

In this thread, I didn't delete any pro-Perkinson comments; indeed, I was hoping to see what Perkinson apologists would offer. I can't help but notice that while you have engaged in ad hominem attacks, you haven't offered any substantive critique of the post. I would invite you to formulate a pro-Perkinson argument and contribute to the discussion.

You add, "Here's another proposition. Allow all comments and then delete those which are obviously offensive. Are you man enough for that? I think not."

This, in fact, was the blog's policy for its first 10 months, abandoned only reluctantly to neutralize what I considered absurd criticism from Group members and their allies. If you encounter any Group members on campus, you might want to ask them why they oppose the comment policy that you recommend.

KC Johnson said...

A note:

This comment thread should be about the Perkinson review; I've indulged several comments about the blog's comment policy, but additional comments along this line will be deemed off topic.

That said, I'm happy to respond to any and all questions about the blog's comment policy via email. I should note that anonymous emails go into my spam filter.