But even that public demonstration of self-pity couldn’t have prepared anyone for Holloway’s latest—an article in an obscure journal, The Scholar and Feminist Online. Written in a style suggesting a parody of academic jargon, Holloway’s article dismisses the significance of the legal process; denounces all men’s sports; and assaults women athletes whose behavior has been beyond reproach. That such a document comes from a professor charged with shaping “campus culture” is beyond belief.
Holloway advances four basic arguments:
1.) The courts will not reach the desired outcome to advance her on-campus aims, and so their results must be preemptively dismissed.
“Justice,” claims Holloway, “inevitably has an attendant social construction. And this parallelism means that despite what may be our desire, the seriousness of the matter cannot be finally or fully adjudicated in the courts.” Therefore, since the presumption of innocence “is neither the critical social indicator of the event, nor the final measure of its cultural facts,” judgments about the case “cannot be left to the courtroom.” In a sentence that captures Holloway’s obtuse writing style, she asserts, “Despite the damaging logic that associates the credibility of a socio-cultural context to the outcome of the legal process, we will find that even as the accusations that might be legally processed are confined to a courtroom, the cultural and social issues excavated in this upheaval linger.”
Coming from a professor who is teaching a course called “Language of Constitutional Law,” this viewpoint is chilling. But those who have such a dismissive attitude toward events “confined to a courtroom” are unlikely to champion due process and standard procedures. In this respect, the article helps explains why Holloway had no trouble signing the Group of 88's statement, despite its blatant dismissal of principles of due process.
2.) The culture of male athletics is inherently immoral.
“The ‘culture’ of sports,” explains Holloway, “seems for some a reasonable displacement for the cultures of moral conduct, ethical citizenship and personal integrity.” Who exalts immoral and unethical behavior through sports she never reveals, though they’re usually males (she frets about “the culture of men’s sports in particular, with its elevations and hierarchies, with its often brutal physical contact, and with its body-intense loyalties”) or those who disagree with her ideologically (who she claims define “the ethic of sportsmanship” as tolerating “aberrant behavior”). Holloway contends that Duke must exploit the lacrosse affair to “recognize that sports reinforces exactly those behaviors of entitlement which have been and can be so abusive to women and girls and those ‘othered’ by their sports’ history of membership.”
At least Orin Starn was willing to allow the New Duke to retain club sports. CCI subgroup chair Holloway, it appears, wants to see all (male, at least) athletics banished from the Duke campus.
3.) Women athletes are effectively traitors to their gender.
Ironically for a journal issue that ostensibly celebrates Title IX, Holloway’s article provides an equally bleak view of women’s athletics. Her target? The women’s lacrosse team. As they advanced to the Final Four last spring, women’s lacrosse players wore armbands expressing sympathy with the players targeted by D.A. Mike Nifong, while Coach Kerstin Kimel spoke out on behalf of the character of the men’s players.
Holloway confessed that upon hearing of the players’ actions, “I wanted to write to them to ask if they might, instead, consider writing the word ‘justice’ onto their gear, a word whose connotations run deeper than the team-inspired and morally slender protestations of loyalty that brought the ethic from the field of play onto the field of legal and cultural and gendered battle as well.”
Had Holloway made such a request, the women’s lacrosse players might have asked why she and her 87 cohorts, relying solely on the version of events presented by Nifong, felt entitled to sign the April 6 statement defending not justice but the campus protesters who had publicly branded the lacrosse players rapists. Moreover, Holloway’s reaction seemed out of character for a figure who had previously rationalized her membership in the Group of 88 as that of a professor determined to “understand and encourage the free speech rights” of her students. As far as I know, the members of the women’s lacrosse team are Duke students–but it seems as if Holloway isn’t too interested in understanding and encouraging their ideas.
4.) The “victim” in this affair is . . . Karla Holloway.
Most college professors perform three tasks: teaching, research, and service. At Duke, Holloway teaches two courses per semester, while she has produced such scholarly publications as “Cruel Enough to Stop the Blood: Global Feminisms and the U.S. Body Politic, or: ‘They Done Taken My Blues and Gone’.”
With a likely salary in the low six-figures, she probably would be considered well compensated, even if she, like other faculty members all over the country, also has to perform some committee service. Holloway, however, believes otherwise. Regarding her service with the CCI, she explains,
My decision has vacillated between the guilt over my worry that if not me, which other body like mine will be pulled into this service? Who do I render vulnerable if I lose my courage to stay this course? On the other side is my increasingly desperate need to run for cover, to vacate the battlefield, and to seek personal shelter. It does feel like a battle. So when asked to provide the labor, once again, for the aftermath of a conduct that visibly associates me, in terms of race and gender, with the imbalance of power, especially without an appreciable notice of this as the contestatory space that women and black folk are asked to inhabit, I find myself preoccupied with a decision on whether or not to demur from this association in an effort, however feeble, to protect the vulnerability that is inherent to this assigned and necessary meditative role.Cutting through the jargon: Holloway doesn’t like the time and effort associated with committee service. Who does? That belief entitles her to no more self-pity than any other college professor in the country, of any race, ethnicity, or gender.
Holloway’s essay contains what might be the single most incredible passage to come from a Duke professor during the last six months. Innocence and guilt, she maintains, must be “assessed through a metric of race and gender. White innocence means black guilt. Men’s innocence means women’s guilt.”
This statement is transparently absurd. The inevitable dismissal of charges against the accused players will expose not the “guilt” of their accuser, a black woman, but the ethical and possibly criminal misconduct by two white males, Mike Nifong and Sgt. Mark Gottlieb. Holloway’s reflexive interpretation of events renders her no more able to comprehend Nifong’s behavior than she could understand the willingness of the women’s lacrosse players to celebrate due process.
Describing herself as among the “weary bodies of black and women faculty and students at Duke,” Holloway suggests that the burden of her committee service leaves her barely able to make it through the day. For her own good, then, Duke should relieve Holloway of her service on the CCI. That such an outcome will also benefit the institution shows that good deeds are sometimes rewarded.