WRAL has an interview with Ed Bradley preview tonight’s 60 Minutes episode. The best line: when asked by the interviewer what most surprised him about this case, Bradley responded as follows:
The biggest surprise for us was the presumption of guilt. I mean, I think our criminal justice system presumes you are innocent until you’re proven guilty. I think almost immediately, at
Duke University, in , and in the rest of the country, there was a presumption of guilt. Durham
You can watch the entire video here.
The presumption of guilt, it’s worth reiterating, remains: more than seven months after they produced their statement, not a single member of the Group of 88 has retracted their signature from the “we’re listening” document. And, of course, not a single member of the Group, as with the nearly 420 other members of Duke’s arts and sciences faculty, has spoken out publicly against the district attorney’s myriad procedural irregularities.
The Herald-Sun always can be counted for a heavy-handed pro-Nifong line, but its attempts to repair the damage from Kim Roberts’ publicly reiterating her March 22 police statement have tested the imagination of even what Liestoppers terms the “Snooze Room.”
First, the Herald-Sun obtained an interview with Durham City Manager Patrick Baker, who hypothesized that Roberts’ interview with Ed Bradley suggested that she “says one thing to our officers and another to 60 Minutes, which raises questions about her credibility.”
Baker has been under fire recently after he claimed to have misunderstood a series of memoranda outlining license and environmental problems at
Then, Bob Ashley’s crew turned to the accuser’s father, who revealed that he hasn’t spoken to his daughter in months. He has maintained the faith, however, telling the Herald-Sun: “I still believe my daughter because I saw her when she came here from the hospital.” Her face “was all bruised and swollen, and then she couldn't hardly walk.” Befitting its “We Conceal, You Decide” motto, the Herald-Sun never mentioned that photographs of the accuser taken on the 14th, before she went home to her father’s, and on the 16th, after she went home to her father’s, showed no bruises or swelling in her face.
In the words of Liestoppers, at the Herald-Sun, “the truth is but a minor inconvenience.”
Duke graduate Greg Kidder has a must-read letter in Friday’s Chronicle, suggesting that the suppression of the Duke Students for an Ethical Durham voter registration drive outside the Duke-Virginia football game isn’t going away anytime soon. Kidder argues:
To date, Duke faculty and administrators have taken a very passive approach to the questionable course of the lacrosse investigation. Whereas a large group of faculty members thanked protesters for making themselves heard in response to the allegations, no similar support has been expressed for students raising questions about the conduct of
authorities. This policy of passivity, right or wrong, should not be extended to students by force. It is certainly not a justification to stop voter registration activities. Durham
I couldn’t agree more.
The incident outside the football stadium also has attracted the attention of Walter Abbott, who has formally complained to the Justice Department. The issue clearly is one of federal concern: according to this title and chapter of the U.S. Code, any person who “knowingly and willfully intimidates, threatens, or coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any person for . . . urging or aiding any person to register to vote, to vote, or to attempt to register or vote” can be fined and face up to a 5-year prison term.
JinC especially challenged Wells’ insinuation that those who have condemned Duke’s timid response to Nifong’s misconduct are engaged in a “nostalgia fest” for a Duke dominated by “privilege.” Wells responded by claiming, in part, to have been misinterpreted, but mostly avoids answering JinC’s questions.
This is not the first time Wells has made seemingly inflammatory remarks about the case. On April 9, the Herald-Sun published an April 2 sermon from Wells in which he:
- referenced “the subculture of reckless ‘entitlement’, sexual acquisitiveness and aggressive arrogance” at Duke;
- stated that “the last week [i.e., March 26-April 2] has exposed the reality that sexual practices are an area where some male students are accustomed to manipulating, exploiting and terrorizing women all the time—and that this has been accepted by many as a given.”
- expressed a hope that “the lifting of the veil of sexual violence in the last week may provoke each of us to ask ourselves, what do we desire?”
This spring, I wrote Wells to ask about these comments; he responded that he wasn’t specifically referring to the lacrosse case, but only the general horror of sexual assault. In light of his remarks to the CCI and his response to JinC, that response no longer seems tenable.
Surely the fact that dozens of arts and sciences professors rushed to condemn the lacrosse players while not one has, to date, publicly defended their character or criticized the district attorney’s procedural irregularities is an appropriate subject for a “campus culture” initiative to consider. Wells thinks not. But I suppose that’s unsurprising for a figure who has appeared stubbornly resistant to any facts that have emerged about the case since Mike Nifong’s publicity barrage in late March.
In the social sciences, any test of a hypothesis must allow room for what we call a "negative finding." In a medical drug trial, the negative finding would be that patients given the test drug did no better -- or less well -- than those who received a sugar pill. This may not be the answer the drug company had hoped for, but it has value in its own right because it is the truth. In the Duke lacrosse lineup there was no room for a negative finding -- the deck was stacked against the team members. It was thus worse than useless -- it was a blown opportunity to find out a bit of the truth.
If this were simply incompetence on the part of the investigators it would be bad enough. But the context in which these violations occurred suggests that the rights of both the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrators may have been placed secondary to other considerations by those conducting the investigation. District Attorney Mike Nifong's pre-election public declarations could easily have set the tone for an investigative process that looked only for positive results and disallowed negative findings. If so, this would truly be an outrage.
Said Milo Payne, the co-cordinator of the People's Alliance: "We just want to send him a message that there are citizens who don't agree with his views on marriage."
Payne offered no explanation as to why the group didn't apply that standard to Nifong--who, after all, indicated he was "very pleased" to have a citizens' committee co-chair who opposed health care for partners or gays and lesbians on the grounds that all gay and lesbian people get diseases and die young; or opposed adding gays and lesbians to a statewide anti-discrimination statute on the grounds that all gay and lesbian people are cross-dressers.
I guess the commitment of the People's Alliance to GLBT rights is selective, depending on whether the issue conflicts with other, more important, aspects of the group's agenda.
The last clause brough back memories of Chan Hall, the NCCU junior who proclaimed that he wanted the Duke players prosecuted “whether it happened or not. It would be justice for things that happened in the past.”
Hall’s remark, to my knowledge, was never publicly condemned by any leader of
Thanks to readers who attended my talk today the Pope Center conference. The specifics for my talk with ACLU@DUKE aren't yet finalized; when they are, I'll announce time and place, etc.