Friday, November 24, 2006

Michael Gustafson Speaks Out

In 1940, the American Association of University Professors published its statement on academic freedom and tenure. A ringing defense of academic freedom that was subsequently endorsed by over 200 organizations, the statement reminded professors that academic freedom “carries with it duties correlative with rights.” In the AAUP’s words:

College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.

Few of the Duke professors who have spoken out about the lacrosse case have fulfilled the obligations laid out by the AAUP statement. The Group of 88 appears to have given little or no thought to how their own rush to judgment would affect how the public would “judge their profession and their institution.” Faculty members such as Thomas Crowley, Peter Wood, and Orin Starn have sacrificed accuracy in pursuit of their personal or ideological prejudices. And few, if any, reasonable observers could contend that Karla Holloway, William Chafe, Houston Baker, Wahneema Lubiano, Thavolia Glymph, or Grant Farred have exercised “appropriate restraint” in what they have said or done about the case.

Academic freedom is not an end to itself: it is supposed to provide a means to the end of free exchange of thought on campus. Perhaps because the Group of 88 and their supporters so flagrantly have failed to respect the “duties correlative with rights” of academic freedom, on the Duke campus over the last several months, few arts and sciences professors have been willing to publicly challenge the vocal minority.

This situation is especially unfortunate in that those professors who have overcome the chilling effects of “groupthink” have had important things to say. The latest example—Engineering professor Michael Gustafson, who has offered a comprehensive critique both of his fellow faculty members and of the media/legal climate currently prevailing in the Triangle.

Most Duke faculty members have either given Mike Nifong a pass or acted as his de facto cheerleaders as he established a “separate-but-equal” system for Duke students and Duke students alone. But Gustafson interpreted the evidence in the only way possible: “The current DA will allow nothing - even the law - to get in the way of securing his tenure as District Attorney, and anyone who wants a public office so much they are willing to undermine the legitimacy of that office to get it, doesn’t deserve it and cannot be allowed to hold it.”

On Election Day, the “minister of justice” jokingly said that he might have “prejudged” a young man wearing a lacrosse T-shirt, to whom he refused to speak. This comment all but passed without notice among Duke’s faculty. (Imagine the appropriate outrage if a district attorney had uttered a similar comment about an African-American student wearing, say, a T-shirt celebrating the African National Congress.) Gustafson, however, was appropriately outraged. After summarizing Nifong’s procedural misdeeds, the professor expressed amazement that “he has the arrogance to make a JOKE about that - about prejudgment? The chasm into which Mr. Nifong’s professionalism continues to sink apparently knows no bounds.”

Gustafson similarly has taken on the poor media coverage and the inappropriate actions of the Duke administration, but he has reserved his most penetrating insights for his colleagues in the faculty. He acknowledges that underlying issues of race, class, and gender exist on the Duke campus (as they do everywhere in the country), but has chastised Group of 88 members’ refusal to devote “critical thought about what is happening to the three men under indictment.”

“One thing the ‘Social Disaster’ poster did early on in the case,” Gustafson astutely noted, “is couple, to some, the ideas of the students’ guilt and the still-pressing problems we have on campus regarding class and gender and color and everything else. Unfortunately, by co-opting the energy of the moment in March, those faculty members and others may have pinned their hopes for a real discussion of important issues, knowingly or unknowingly, on a case that to me is not holding up well at all under the scrutiny that such a case rightly deserves.” And as the case collapses, the Group of 88 and their allies have refused to concede the error, because to do so will require asking some hard questions about their own behavior and beliefs.

Gustafson agrees that Duke has experienced “a social disaster,” but not the one that the Group of 88 has imagined. This disaster

involves three men who have been used by the media and others as a personification of Houston Baker’s “white, male, athlete, privilege” rather than being three men. It involves three men whose civil rights have somehow become far less important because of their color, and gender, and perceived place in society. It involves three men whose due process is apparently not the stuff of “critical thought” but rather secondary to a study of “broad social implications” . . . I must say one of the broadest social implications of this case has been the academy’s abandonment of the defense of civil liberties for these three men based on their social markers . . . We simply cannot allow our students’ civil liberties to be trampled so that we can extract the energy of the events of March 13th to effect change on this campus. To do so would be a violation of the very trust that we have been given to educate the men and women who come to this place seeking to become critical thinkers.

For the past six months, Duke’s faculty has claimed to be conducting a comprehensive examination of “campus culture” while avoiding the most breathtaking cultural flaw the lacrosse case has revealed: the willingness of a vocal minority of the faculty to effectively endorse a prosecutor’s corrupt campaign against their own university’s students because of those students’ race, class, gender, and athletic status.

There seems to be little hope that the Campus Culture Initiative will address the questions that Gustafson has posed. But I hope his writings force other, more reasoned, members of the Duke faculty to consider what the reaction to the lacrosse case says about the institution at which they teach.


Anonymous said...

Good for Gustafson. Now let us hear from hundreds of other Duke professors who have remained silent in the face of massive misconduct by the prosecutor, Durham police and Durham city officials.

Anonymous said...

Gustafson's remarks are a very good start. Something tells me this man will not knuckle under to the Evil Gang of 88 as others have done.

His comments are insightful and really address the issue on campus. I can only hope that others will follow.

Anonymous said...

And he is an engineer! How else can you explain the clarity of expression, as opposed to the twisted verbiage of the GROUP OF 88?

dixydel EE 61

Anonymous said...

This Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for Professor Gustafson. My alma mater is not hopeless. We do indeed have some great individuals teaching us. It just happens that none of them are in phony departments, and few of them have the courage to fight the inevitable accusation of racism. Three cheers for Professor Gustafson. I sure hope that the faculty continue to open their eyes and speak up.

Needless to say, I am also everyday thankful for Professor Johnson's efforts. Thank you, sir, for caring. As they say in that TV commercial, you might think that it's strange that some of us think that it's strange that you care, but it really matters to those of us who are close to losing giving up on humanity and retreating into the mountains to study our interests in isolation. Not that I care personally about the lacrosse players, but I do care about people who believe in the pursuit of truth. It's good to know that you're out there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I have read more of Prof. Gustafson's posts, and have concluded that if someone wishes to learn to write with clarity and passion, perhaps that person needs to go to the Engineering Department at Duke instead of English. Prof. Gustafson definitely could teach some people there how to write!

Anonymous said...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

How can Nifong or the Gang of 88 justify their actions when held to the standard our country was founded under.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if each of these 88 would have run that ad if they were the only signatory. I wonder how many read it. It can be easy to lend your name when 88 of your colleagues pronpt you. It just depends on what your name means to you.

Anonymous said...

bill anderson surmised:"...if someone wishes to learn to write with clarity and passion, perhaps that person needs to go to ... Prof. Gustafson ..."

If one wished to learn to write with clarity at Duke, one should go to the Law School and learn from George Gopen.

Anonymous said...

Dr. G is the best!!!!!!! We are thrilled that our son is at Duke, and in Engineering--he has had Dr. G and loves him!!!! We have met him, and know him to be not only brilliant, but funny and personable. Thank God for professors like him who have the courage to speak out against the outrageous comments and attitudes for which his colleagues are responsible.

Anonymous said...

I applaud Dr. Gustafson's courage in speaking out, and I continue to hope other Duke professors will follow his lead. My son is a third-year Duke engineering student, and he has great respect for Dr. G, both as a class instructor and as a man of exemplary character and leadership.

Anonymous said...

Gustafon's comments are important. Not only to the Professors of the left prejudge the students, they also prejudge the source of the outrage of the alumns while also revealing shocking ignorance about important legal trends. I am a Duke graduate (as it my brother and other members of my family). Long before this case arose, as an attorney I was well aware of the difficulties of the legal system and the mistreatment of multiple defendants. Despite being a white corporate lawyer,I volunteered my time to assist many minority defendants who I believed had been mistreated or overcharged. In my own state of Illinois, we had an epidemic of prosecutorial and police misconduct that resulted both in the conviction of the innocent and, by definition, the failure to find and incarcerate the. As in North Carolina, (Project Innoncence) all walks of society worked to remedy these issues and the prosecutors are far more open to consideration of error.

Just today, for example, an inmate incarcerated in 1992 is having his case re-opened because of a DNA match.

So, when those of us who (as lawyers and law professors) apply these well known and decade old issues to an obvious misjudgment to have profoundly ignorant and unqualified english professors examine the issues through their "rubric" of gender and race it is laughable.

The prejudice is assuming that people who are upset and outraged by Nifong's treatment never cared about these issues before, never thought about these issues before, and only care because they are lacrosse players is a window into their own limited mind.

In my own case, I brought no predisposition to the matter. I know full well that the Duke Campus, as with all campuses nationally, has some people capable of criminal acts and that alcohol abuse is a serious issue at Duke and elsewhere. Anyone who has studied and worked in the legal system knows full well what is happening based on no more than Nifong's own statements.

So, to those people who claim that the outrage is a lens into the prejudice of the people upset at the treatment of the lacrosse players, you could not be more wrong.



Anonymous said...

This post made my day. I hope Prof. Gustafson's remarks encourage other faculty members who share his views to join the fray. It will take some considerable effort on the part of the administration and faculty to rehabilitate Duke's reputation among those of us carefully following published faculty response after the damage done by Houston Baker and his crowd. I am happy to see that not everyone is completely cowed and confused by the Group of 88, worries about town gown relations, local media bias or whatever else is keeping faculty and administration from using their remarkable gifts to advocate for fairness and constitutional protections on behalf of their own students.

AMac said...

streetwise 10:19am pointed out that "prosecutorial and police misconduct [results] both in the conviction of the innocent and, by definition, [in] the failure to find and incarcerate the [guilty].

A point that probably hasn't been adequately discussed.

One humorous aspect of the Hoax -- if such a train wreck could be seen as funny -- is the studied indifference of the Hoax's enablers to D.A. Nifong's narrative. Recall, he claims that the three rapists were aided by three additional lacrosse team members, who pulled apart the alleged victim and exotic dancer Kim Roberts, hustling Roberts into a bedroom so that the rapists could attend to the A.V. in the bathroom.

Thus, if the rape happened, there are three unindicted co-conspirators at large. Who are they? Why haven't they been arrested? Did yet other teammates enable their actions?

The Group of 88 and their fellow-travelers have no interest in this issue. Of course: bringing up the unindicted three players only highlights the absurdity of the felony charges as an account of events that actually transpired, rather than as a signifier of resentments based on class, race, and social status.

Yet this side issue shows that evaluating the quality of police work becomes impossible once law enforcement becomes the standard-bearer for Social-Justice-based vengefulness. If this were a real case, there would be tremendous (and justified) pressure to indict the Other Three. Once we accept that this is kabuki, there's no need for additional witches to try--Seligmann, Evans, and Finnerty will do.

How many other cases has the DPD "cleared" as ably as they have solved the Lacrosse Rape? Not a question I would be comfortable asking if I was a Durham resident.

kcjohnson9 said...

This is an excellent point thats has received nowhere near the attention that it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Prof. Gustafson's comments demonstrate that he has a foot in what we might call a "reality-based" world. You see, an engineer really must hold to a set of standards.

Does anyone want to drive on a bridge built on "post-modern" foundations? Prof. Gustafson understands innately the issues of truth, proof, and the like.

However, the Evil Gang of 88 does not have to be concerned with any of those things, as the version of the truth presented can be whatever people want at any time, or whatever fits the current political agenda. Just don't drive on any bridges built by these frauds.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, KC, but I have to disagree that this point deserves any attention at all. You and the original poster are still hung up on treating this as a case about the facts.

Its not about the facts. There are no facts to support the charge period. This case is about diversity propaganda.

The people who espouse the diversity propaganda would note that you and the OP are stuck in a white/western european world where you analyze what happened that evening to determine whether someone is guilty. But, as Kara Holloway (I think it was her), pointed out that justice is a social construct. And the construct of justice that you and the OP harp on is about one discreet incident.

This case is about the broader social justice that teaches that blacks are victims of whites everyday and have been for 400 years. And the only way to break down the white european male patriarchy is to break it down using its own systems.

Thus, the jury system has become the soft underbelly that the diversity team will attack. They'l use it to realease black criminals who victimize whites (OJ Simpson) and they use it to incarcerate innocent white (Duke LAX 3).

The discussion needs to move on to the braoder social implications of this case. The facts are clear. Nothing happened. But can whites and minorities live together with systems that depend on fairness when minorities will use them to even historical scores?

There are many other social questions that should be explored here. But I really don't think anyone, even the group of 88 believes anything happened that night. That's why they don't press the issue of the conspirators. This is about historical/social justice.


Anonymous said...

As many have noted, the word-craft skills of the Professors of "English" at Duke are awful and the writings of Professor G, an engineer, turn out to be excellent.
It should not take anyone very long to quess why that would be true these days: PC ideology is dirt simple - some groups are always deemed good and others are always bad - so to be taken seriously the simplicity and hatefullness at its core needs to be hidden behind a smoke-screen of impenetrable verbiage, the denser the better. And if reading it is painful, that is even better still because the more insightful readers (who are more dangerous, afterall) will throw the papers into the trash before even finishing. Which is another layer of protection, if you think about it.
Real scientists, however, have to make genuinely subtle ideas conceivable to other people. To have a shot at succeeding, language must be transparent.
And, there is no getting around this, the job of a PC promotor is very very easy compared to that of an engineering professor. A reasonably alert 11 year old could keep straight which groups were favored and which groups were not and then pull random fog-phrases out of a bin, when challenged, to keep the masses confused and to repel the discerning.
Taking on the PC crowd in trench warfare would undoubtly be unpleasant and a good shower afterwards mandatory but they are bluffing when they pretend to be smart and, capable adults.

Anonymous said...

First, I would like to respond to Windbag's 12:29 PM post. He is correct, in that the diversity crowd at Duke, not to mention Nifong and the others, no longer try to argue facts. I will have an article on Lew Rockwell's page tomorrow that calls this a "post-modern prosecution." In it, I lay out how post-modern thought turns courtrooms into "Wonderland." (Thus ends the shameless hype for my stuff.)

People on the outside often ask me something like this: "You mean this case still is alive? I thought it had been debunked on '60 Minutes'." They cannot understand how a case without facts continues to move ahead, and why judges swallow this crap whole.

Those of us on the other side have seen just how the Duke faculty (or at least some elements of the faculty)has approached this: No, there was no rape, but they are white males, so they are guilty, anyway. The rape crisis centers around the country also are counting on gaining a conviction with no evidence, because it empowers them, too. So, yes, it is about brute power, and in the end, that is where post-modernism holds forth. It is the ideology of brute force, or thuggishness, with an academic veneer.

As a faculty member, I can say that it is very hard to deal with these types. First, they primarily are activists. I am not. I teach my classes, do my "service" work, and do research and write. That pretty much takes up my day.

For these faculty members, however, activism IS their work. Their classes are re-education camps, and they aggressively take over the various organizations, help make policy, and shout down anyone who might disagree. Thus, many of us just stay in our offices and try to shut our ears. It might be seen as a coward's way out, but people like me are not equipped to be street fighters, especially when we got into this work to pursue teaching and writing.

I will tell you that since I started writing on the Duke case, my productivity has taken a huge nosedive. I have not written one new paper, and a lot of other work is stacked up or just being postponed.

I'm not saying this to strike a martyr's pose; instead, I point this out because for someone like me, this kind of thing is extracurricular. For the Karla Holloways of the world, however, the main thrust of their work IS activism.

Nifong is a perfect ally for people like this. First, he is power-hungry, second, he is a leftist Democrat, which means they can vote for him, and third, he has no reluctance to pursue this case. (I do add that many leftist and liberal Democrats are horrified at this prosecution and are beating the anti-Nifong drums as loudly as libertarians like me.)

That is why it is significant that someone like Gustafson speak out. He has strong academic credentials, and apparently he is not cowed by these academic loudmouths. More power to this guy.

By the way, an important reason that both K.C. and I got into this case was the conduct of the Duke faculty, or specifically the Evil Gang of 88 and the Brodhead administration. I will say flat out that this is the worst case of faculty misconduct I ever have seen, and I have no intention of letting these people strut their stuff without having to endure some criticism.

Anonymous said...

one the posters earlier this thread writes that people are wrong to assume that the people writing now about the lax case only care about it because it is the lax players. How can we assume otherwise when i do not remember blogs and tv shows recently about some poor black guys charged falsely in durham. I do not remember any of that on abrams report or 60 minutes. nor do i remember people trying to take over a local election to get an unfairly acccused case involving a poor black person or hispanic dismissed. please your hypocrisy and racial bias is showing.

AMac said...

anonymous 10:33am --

The Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax has attracted the attention of people who don't have any connection to Duke or to lacrosse. To say again what's been said before, there are some unusual aspects of this case concerning the remarkable clarity of the facts.

(1) The felony charges rest entirely on the accusations of the alleged victim. The A.V.'s story changed significantly over the first few tellings. In crucial respects, none of the A.V.'s accounts are consistent with anyone else's account--specifically, those of the second exotic dancer, of uncharged party attendees, and of the indicted men.

(2) The A.V.'s account is contradicted by physical evidence, most notably the DNA tests.

(3) The three accused men were chosen in dartboard-style photo sessions. The session that resulted in impossible eyewitness IDs (e.g. of a player who was out of town) was ignored. This corrupt procedure was knowingly selected by the DPD and D.A. Nifong to secure pre-election day indictments.

(4) D.A. Nifong and the DPD engaged in a series of other violations of due process rights of the three accused men.

(5) Law Enforcement's misconduct has been abetted and facilitated by institutions and people that should be associated with the pursuit of truth and justice. These include local newspapers, prominent members of the national media, many Duke University faculty members, the Administration of Pres. Brodhead, some Duke students, the N.C. NAACP, and a plurality of Durham voters.

Anonymous 10:33am, I'm not making this up. You don't even have to stray from KC Johnson's blog to find hyperlinks to substantiate the points I've raised in this comment. And others as well--check Johnson's last dozen or so posts, and you'll discover them.

You wrote, "...i do not remember blogs and tv shows recently about some poor black guys charged falsely in durham... nor do i remember people trying to take over a local election to get an unfairly acccused case involving a poor black person or hispanic dismissed. please your hypocrisy and racial bias is showing."

Well and good. But can you go a step further, and provide hyperlinks to other accounts of false arrest that share the elements of demonstrable innocence and widespread institutional malfeasance and corruption? If you can't or won't--then what is your point? Where, exactly, is the hypocrisy and racial bias that you claim to see?

The irony is that the DPD's handling of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax signals that anon's broadest complaint probably has substantial merit. A police department and D.A.'s office that show reckless disregard for guilt, innocence, established procedures, due process, equal protection, and findings of fact in a high-profile case are overwhelmingly likely to display these traits in routine matters.

Perhaps anonymous 10:33am has listened too intently to those who have used the rape hoax to advance their ideas about the primacy of signifiers of Race and Social Standing. That would be too bad. The natural allies of those in Durham who have suffered from police misconduct are not who anon imagines they are.

Anonymous said...

To 10:33 AM:

Excuse me. I have written many times in my articles on wrongfully-charged and wrongfully-convicted blacks, so don't throw that racism crap at me. Furthermore, your post does not deal with the obvious lack of evidence in this case.

If you approve of this prosecution -- and your post indicates that you do -- then you also have to support wrongful charges against blacks, unless you say that justice matters only when it is to the detriment of blacks.

Again, I am in this case because of the lies and lack of evidence. Period.

Anonymous said...

To 10:33--

how can you assume otherwise? It is your own ignorance. Issues of wrongful convictions have been front and center for a decade. Attorneys, such as myself, have been volunteering time on these issues for years. Also, if you think this is the first time that issues of wrongful convictions have been covered like are truly one ignorant son of a gun. There has been a torrent of media coverage of these issues relating back to the little rascals case (north carolina) texas and illinois death penalty cases, the work of the northwestern law students and various innocence projects. To suggest this issue has not been publicized or thought about is crazy talk.

So, I have been thinking about this for years. Most of the issues, and my volunterred time, has been for minority defendants. Just because you have ignored the plight of minority defendants does not make my intereste in the plight of white duke students invalid.

Does this case have more publicity? Sure. But it has more publicity because the prosecutor has been caught dead to rights doing what others have done. Do these defendants have greater resources than the typical minority defendant to expose the wrongdonig, yes, of course. But so what.

you need to re-think everything you think you know.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is everyone knows these young men have been falsely accused. The DA won't back down because to do so would open himself up to losing his job. The Duke 88 won't admit their mistake to rush to judgement, to do so they would open themselves up to questioning the viability of their agendas. The press that has slanders and lied about these young men will not admit their errors because it would open them up to lawsuits and loss readers.
Three young men in this country went to a party at college, something millions of college students do. They have been falsely accused of a crime and their Constitutional rights have been ignored. They have been slandered in the news and their lives have been put on hold for 8 months. Their families have suffered the stress and finanical burden for these false allegations. That is what this case is about. Imaging for one minute if this was your son, brother or nephew. Being falsely accused of a crime, having proof that you are innocent and the athorities who are supposed to be "ministers of justice" are "ministers of evil" instead. A corrupt DA and DPD is why this case continues, a NC Attorney General and Governor who don't give a damn about the law but their careers is why this case continues. A racist AA community looking for revenge for slavery is why this case continues, but is not what this case is about. 3 innocent young men have been falsely accused of a crime and they have evidence to prove their innocene. The DA will not look for the other 3 supposed players who assisted in the attack because he knows they don't exist, that is the proof that the DA knows this is a hoax, the AA community knows its a hoax as there are not pot bangers looking for the other three. Their inaction looking fo the other 3 is proof of their knowledge of this hoax. The Constitution is a Federal document and each and every citizen in this country should be protected by it. Yet because of their race and financial status these falsely accused, the DA seems to think these young men are not protected by the Constituion. Oh Nifong, I can't wait to see you in an orange jump suit. You are not smarter than the FBI. When they get you they will get you good.

Anonymous said...

you all are full of it. you all are the very same people that would be supporting Le and a Da when a black person was charged. i know full well that there has been the innocence project and marches on injustice for black defendants but they have come primarily from the people you despise the most, the black leadership like al sharpton; i do not remember blogs and news articles from the white community to this extent on a black defendants' behalf and neither can you because it SIMPLY DID NOT HAPPEN and to say that it did is a lie. no, all of you have your panties in a bunch because some rich and white defendants tried to pull a prank that went wrong and the da refused to play ball and charged them. period. you act like the local blacks are not aware of the injustice of the system but we are, that is why we are waiting until a trial JUST LIKE THE WHITE COMMUNITY HERE ALWAYS DOES.

if you check on the blogs right now, those black men in ny were massacred by cops who did not identify themselves and most of the white posters are writing about how the men must have tried to kil the officers deliberately and that the killings may be justified. on liestoppers, some of the people were even disputing that the man was a groom. and some were remarking that no one was complaining because the men were in a strip club as if the situation of 3 grown men who are at a batchelor party and are abiding by the strip club rules is synonamous to a situation where 40 men lie about the number of men at a private party, lie about their team identities and have the strippers and underage drinking in their home, provide x rated entertainment for underage people and then mistreat the sex workers. it is not even in the ballpark. however that is the hypocrisy of the duke supporters at work.

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