Friday, November 30, 2007

Sheehan on Gell

In her column this morning, Ruth Sheehan makes a compelling case that selective prosecution occurred in the recent Alan Gell case. For some background on the case, see Wednesday's article by Joe Neff.

Metro on UPI

“The potbangers’ noise and the professors’ proclamation played well in Durham, a former mill town rife with race and class resentments that energized its 'progressive’ agitators.” Read the entire review here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Now on UPI

"Until Proven Innocent is a seething indictment of the individuals and institutions in Durham, North Carolina that conspired to put three demonstrably innocent young men in jail for 30 years." Read the entire review here.


From the comment thread, regarding Claire Potter's disturbing tendency to delete comments that challenge her factual inaccuracies:
Yesterday, November 28, at approximately 3:20 PM, I left the following comment on Potter's "turkeys" post. I reproduce it here in its entirety.


If Professor Potter wishes it to seem that it is she who has academic credibility, and Professor Johnson who is a "turkey", she would be well-advised to start by publicly retracting and hopefully apologizing for the false statements she has made about the falsely accused Duke lacrosse players. To note just the most egregious example, Professor Potter has never retracted her statement that "the dancers were, it is clear, physically if perhaps not sexually assaulted", despite the investigation performed by the office of the Attorney General of North Carolina determining that there was "no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night".

Now, it is not as if it was so clearly false at that time to think that such a thing had happened, because the mainstream media had published many lurid claims regarding the supposed injuries of the accuser. However, by this time the true contents of the medical records are well-known and they do not, of course, support the allegations of physical assault. Professor Potter, I would think that an academic of integrity would, if they learned that a conclusion they had previously pronounced and described as "clear" was based on evidence now known to be false, would make a public retraction of that declaration. It is therefore quite troubling to see you make instead what looks like a determined refusal to make such a correction. It is especially troubling because your reason for not making such a correction seems to be, in essence, "because KC Johnson said I should and KC Johnson is a jerk." Well, it is your right to hold that opinion. It is your right to think that, if KC Johnson is a jerk, you don't owe him anything. However, that is a distraction from the real question. You owe a correction to all those who thought you were an academic of integrity. And to those who were falsely maligned by your claims.

I don't think there's anything further I can say that will sum up the position you are in better than the words of F. Lane Williamson, chairman of the disciplinary panel that disbarred Michael Nifong for his ethical violations, including making false statements about the evidence:

"This is also a case where due to the initial strong statements, unequivocal statements, made by Mr. Nifong, there was a deception perpetrated upon the public. And many people were made to look foolish because they simply accepted that if this prosecutor said it was true, it must be true.

... those who made a rush to judgment based upon an unquestioning faith in what a prosecutor had told them were made to look foolish and many still do look foolish."


I challenge anyone to read Potter's accusations against KC and find anything in my post which could be judged "out of line" by the standard of civility that Potter herself chose. In short, there was no legitimate reason for Potter to delete the post without trace.

By 6:00 that night it was gone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Update: Good News from Brown

Stu Woo details the efforts of Brown's lacrosse team to raise money for the Innocence Project. Meanwhile, Reade Seligmann dropped by Alan Dershowitz's class at Harvard Law School.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Claire Potter Replies

As expected: Via e-mail, Potter produced no evidence, nor does she retract or apologize. She also makes the bizarre claim that linking to her official webpage is the same thing as posting, on this blog, her e-mail address:

No, I am not going to respond to your hysterical nonsense, or that of your so-called followers (who do send hate mail: read that sentence again, ok?) by spending hours combing through your blog or mine. And by the way, by posting a link to my departmental information you just posted my email address again, just like you did the last time.

It is not clear why it would have required Potter to spend hours combing through blogs to produce evidence for her allegations: wouldn't she have had such evidence before making the allegations?

Potter also has an unusual conception of blogs. It's my sense--and, indeed, the sense of most who blog--that those who read blogs are "readers." Potter, however, seems to consider people who read blogs to be "followers"--unintentionally, perhaps, revealing her closed-mindedness.

Indeed, it appears, being a “tenured radical” means never having to say you’re sorry.

Checking in with . . . Claire Potter

Professor Claire Potter, host of the blog “Tenured Radical,” has compiled quite a record on the lacrosse case.

First, in April, she published a post in which she:
    • stated, in direct contradiction to the evidence, that “the dancers were, it is clear, physically if perhaps not sexually assaulted”;
    • mused, without producing any evidence, “Do we think that women have not been raped at Duke lacrosse team parties?”
    • stated, in direct contradiction to the evidence, “The ethical culture of this lacrosse team was so out of touch that many players who were not involved in this incident, and who did not do anything wrong, still refused to speak about what had happened, in the misplaced belief that loyalty to one’s friends is a higher virtue than treating people who aren’t on your team with respect”;
    • criticized “those nitwits down at Duke who have been wearing the ‘Innocent’ bracelets” for defending “profoundly screwed up young men”;
    • described the lacrosse team as “a semi-criminal youth gang.”
    After her post, myriad commenters on her blog pointed out Potter’s factual errors. Some might think that an academic, a person whose profession is devoted to pursuing the truth, would have been ashamed at having published an item filled with such reckless and demonstrably false allegations—and about college students, no less.
Not Potter. Instead, in June—after having neither produced any evidence for her extraordinarily serious charges nor having retracted them with an apology—the Wesleyan professor returned to the issue, in a post that:
  • accused me, in direct contradiction to the evidence, of “posting my [Potter’s] email address on his blog [DIW]”;
  • claimed that her April comments, quoted above, “did not spread or make false charges about the students under indictment”;
  • cited “multiple anonymous comments and the accounts opened under pseudonyms” to suggest that it might have been “just the blogger himself[!] in a fit of paranoid rage and grandiosity” that sent her allegedly harassing e-mails;
  • asserted (after complaining that she had been subjected to a “public, personal and vicious verbal assault” in this post, which did almost nothing apart from reproducing her April comments and pointing out that she offered no evidence), “As far as I can tell, he has one identity as a historian and another as the convener of a bizarre, right wing conspiracy group. And the two identities cannot help but overlap because they belong to the same person.”
As in her April post, Potter never produced any evidence to substantiate her claims or insinuations.
Potter is back, having recently listed DIW as one of the ten worst education-related events of the 2007 year. Coming from someone like Potter, I take my inclusion on such a list as high praise indeed. That she placed me alongside Alan Dershowitz only enhances the honor.
Potter, alas, still appears inclined to make reckless, unsubstantiated allegations, writing of my “persistence in harassing members of the Duke University faculty.” (Note the use of “and” in her introductory mention.)
I take a charge of “harassing” other professors quite seriously—indeed, it could be interpreted as an accusation that I engaged in a criminal act. Therefore, I invite Professor Potter (I have sent her a link to this post) to produce evidence to substantiate her claim of my “harassing” Duke faculty.
I also invite Professor Potter to produce evidence for her April 2007 assertion that “the dancers were, it is clear, physically . . . assaulted.”
I further invite Professor Potter to produce evidence for her April 2007 statement that “many players who were not involved in this incident, and who did not do anything wrong, still refused to speak about what had happened, in the misplaced belief that loyalty to one’s friends is a higher virtue than treating people who aren’t on your team with respect.”
And I invite Professor Potter to produce the link where, as she claimed, I posted her e-mail address on DIW.
If Professor Potter cannot produce evidence to substantiate her claims, I call on her to retract them, and to issue a public apology.
I expect Potter neither to produce evidence to substantiate her allegations nor to apologize for making reckless and unsubstantiated assertions. After all, as we have learned from the conduct 
of the Group of 88, being a “tenured radical” means never having to say you’re sorry.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nifong & Prosecutorial Misconduct

Two serious studies of Mike Nifong and prosecutorial ethics have recently appeared. The first, a quite extraordinary CQ Researcher issue with a feature article by Kenneth Jost, positions the Nifong affair as part of a broader national debate about how extensive prosecutorial misconduct is and what can be done to prevent it. The second, a forthcoming article by Boston College Law School associate dean Michael Cassidy, builds off Cassidy’s presentation at Duke Law School, contending that some of Nifong’s statements ought not to have been considered ethical violations.

As the Jost article points out, “formal statistics showing the extent of prosecutorial misconduct or the frequency of discipline are all but nonexistent.” In general, the defense attorneys Jost interviewed see the Nifong affair as illustrative of a broader problem; most prosecutors consulted for the article contend that Nifong was an anomaly. The answer is probably in between—since, as Jost also notes, the line between ethical and unethical conduct can sometimes (not, of course, for Nifong) be murky.

His article is organized around three questions:

1) Should courts make it easier to reverse convictions resulting from prosecutors’ mistakes?

2) Should state bars increase penalties and sanctions for mistakes by prosecutors?

3) Should prosecutors be subject to civil lawsuits for misconduct?

Of the above issues, Jost discovered the most consensus on the third question, with the danger of frivolous suits seeming to guard against changing current law, which gives prosecutors all but total immunity. Commented Oregon district attorney Josh Marquis, one of Nifong’s leading prosecutorial critics, “If every prosecutor thought that every defendant with a grudge could bring a civil action against them, a lot of crimes would go unprosecuted.”

(It’s worth remembering that Nifong is being sued not for actions that he took as DA but for his behavior in his role as supervisor of the police investigation, a position he assumed on March 24, 2006, eight days into the case.)

On the second point, former Maine attorney general James Tierney doubts the power of State Bar Associations to regulate prosecutors. In the end, prosecutors themselves need to do the work: “The most important mechanism is the prosecutorial world itself. Prosecutors should not join ranks behind a fellow prosecutor without thinking about it. There should be increased debate within the prosecutorial community about these issues.”

(On that point, the Duke case leaves a mixed legacy: while the North Carolina Conference of DA’s issued a critical late December letter demanding that Nifong recuse himself from the case, the organization also offered, privately, to assist Nifong as late as September 2006, well after much of his ethical misconduct already was in the public record.)

It would seem that the most effective way to limit prosecutorial misconduct would be for judges to toss out convictions in cases where the prosecutor had misbehaved. A precedent for such behavior exists: the exclusionary rule, one of the hallmarks of the Warren Court’s civil liberties jurisprudence. The principle: even though guilty people might go free as a result of such rulings, it’s more important to preserve the integrity of the system and to provide a deterrent effect against police breaking the rules in how they obtain evidence.

Yet, as Jost uncovers, tough-on-crime judges have proven very reluctant to overturn verdicts based on prosecutorial misconduct. In this respect, it might be not prosecutors themselves or even state bar organizations but judges who can do the most to redress the problem exposed by the Nifong case.

Jost also ties the Nifong case into broader debates—such as former AG Alberto Gonzales’ decision to force the midterm resignations of nine U.S. attorneys—about prosecutorial discretion. As the article observes, prosecutors possess enormous power. The Nifong affair provide a case study of how the system can break down entirely when prosecutors abuse their discretionary authority.


Jost’s work is worth reading for anyone with access to CQ Researcher. Cassidy’s, on the other hand, is no more persuasive than when he presented it in abridged form at the September conference.

Cassidy cites Minnesota Republican Party v. White to suggest that the North Carolina Bar’s ethics rules limiting a prosecutor’s ability to publicly comment on a case are too broad.

Minnesota Republican Party invalidated a state law limiting what judicial candidates (Minnesota elects its judges) could say about issues upon which they might have to rule as judges. The principle behind the law was to preserve judicial integrity: we like to think that judges base their decisions on the facts and the law, not on their political beliefs. In oral arguments, however, Justice Antonin Scalia foreshadowed the Court’s eventual ruling, essentially saying that if states were foolish enough to have elected judges, they’d have to live with the consequences, rather than expect the Supreme Court to alter the First Amendment on their behalf.

Cassidy argues that, as Nifong was a candidate for election during the time of the lacrosse case, the Minnesota Republican Party precedent suggested that some of his remarks constituted protected speech. Minnesota Republican Party forbade judges from commenting on issues that might appear before the bench, a much broader restriction on speech than that limiting a prosecutor from commenting on a specific case that he himself plans to try. That said, I could have imagined a Scalia-like critique of the Bar’s ethics code, suggesting that if North Carolina is foolish enough to elect its DA’s, it has to live with the consequences of a DA who politicizes a case to advance his own electoral interests.

Cassidy, however, doesn’t make that argument. His first problem is a difficulty in concealing a bias about the case itself. For instance, he criticizes the “Disciplinary Commission’s rush to disbar Mike Nifong for very badly mishandling a high profile criminal case.”

Yet his article presents no evidence that the DHC “rushed” its process. More important, the charges against Nifong went well beyond his “very badly mishandling a high profile criminal case”—which could suggest that Nifong was merely an incompetent, perhaps North Carolina’s version of Inspector Clouseau, not a poster child for unethical behavior.

Meanwhile, as he did at the September conference at Duke, Cassidy peculiarly refers to Crystal Mangum as “the victim.” He never explains how—if a crime did not occur—an accuser can be “the victim.” In this case, of course, the description is particularly outrageous, since the Attorney General publicly declared the players innocent, even as “the victim” offered myriad contradictory and wildly implausible tales. Indeed, his willingness to label Mangum “the victim” makes it hard to take seriously anything else Cassidy says.

Cassidy’s article raises objections to the ethics code that might be reasonable—but had no bearing on the ethics case against Nifong.

For instance, he detects “ample room to argue that no compelling government interest supports some of the presumptively ‘off limits’ topics set forth” in the ethics code, such as the identity of witnesses. “What compelling government interest,” Cassidy asks, “justifies precluding a prosecutor from identifying the witnesses to criminal proceedings?”

Perhaps none—but the matter is irrelevant to this case. Nifong was never charged with improperly identifying prospective witnesses.

Likewise, he disagrees with the ethics code’s probation on a prosecutor publicly commenting on the “identity or nature of physical evidence expected to be presented.” “This too,” concludes Cassidy, “may be overbroad.”

Indeed it might. But, again, this issue wasn’t raised in the Nifong case.

When moving to the case itself, Cassidy has a disturbing tendency to offer hypothetical comparisons or to shade the facts of the lacrosse case to make Nifong’s conduct appear more benign than it was.

For instance, he contends that the ethics code harbors a lurking vagueness problem,” in that it restricts prosecutors from making a public statement that “(1) refers to the character, reputation, or criminal record of a party, suspect or witness, and subparagraph (2) refers to the ‘existence or contents of any confession… or statement’ given by a defendant or suspect, or their failure to give such a statement.” [emphasis in original]

To illuminate the rule’s vagueness, Cassidy sets out the following hypothetical:

Imagine the case of an armed bank robbery committed by three perpetrators. One of the suspects is shot and killed by police as he flees the bank and dies at the scene. Could the prosecutor, consistent with Rule 3.6, talk to the media about the prior criminal record or deathbed confession of that deceased accomplice?

Incredibly, to Cassidy, this comparison is “more than a rhetorical question.” He explains,

Mike Nifong made several statements to the media that were disparaging of the Duke Lacrosse team generally, including criticizing them for being “hooligans” and for failing to come forward with information. Yet only three of these players were indicted. When one reads the disciplinary opinion and the transcript of the hearing order, one cannot help but be left with the impression that the panel believed Mike Nifong had impermissibly tainted the reputation of the entire Duke Lacrosse program. Is it permissible to discipline Nifong for comments related to suspects who were never indicted, and therefore could not have had their adjudicatory proceedings tainted? What “compelling” interest does the state have in preventing a prosecutor from discussing alleged “hooliganism” of varsity athletes at an elite university, or their tendency to stick together in the face of adversity?

But, of course, Nifong didn’t discuss the “alleged ‘hooliganism’ of varsity athletes at an elite university.” He never used the word “alleged” in any of the statements cited by the Bar in its complaint. Instead, he stated, “I would like to think that somebody [not involved in the attack] has the human decency to call up and say, ‘What am I doing covering up for a bunch of hooligans?’”

Moreover, Nifong’s repeated statements that the players had failed to come forward with information was not a generic discussion of the tendency of “varsity athletes at an elite university . . . to stick together in the face of adversity”—it was an outright lie. The captains had come forward, voluntarily, as Nifong knew before making his statements. The attorney representing most of the other players (Bob Ekstrand) had offered to share information, as Nifong knew before making his statements.

The public comments relating to this matter for which Nifong was disciplined were remarks in which Nifong had lied about the facts of a case in which he had assumed the lead investigator’s role. Cassidy’s wording, on the other hand, makes it appear as if Nifong was sanctioned for comments that might have appeared on a PBS roundtable about athletes’ sociology.

Cassidy also suggests that two other statements for which Nifong was sanctioned—“What happened here was one of the worst things that's happened since I have become district attorney” and “When I look at what happened, I was appalled. I think that most of the people in the community are appalled”—would not have survived “strict scrutiny if challenged on First Amendment grounds.”

Why? These statements “were simply expressions by a sitting district attorney, running for re-election [sic], about why he viewed the allegations in the case as serious, why the public should be equally concerned about them, and why he had chosen to prosecute the case personally rather than assign the case to a staff member.” [emphasis added]

But, of course, in neither of the statements cited by Cassidy did Nifong speak of “allegations.” In both remarks, the ex-DA definitively stated that something happened. Why, then, did Cassidy pretend otherwise? Moreover, by the time he made these statements, Nifong’s office had announced to the world that there 46 and only 46 suspects in the case—the white members of the Duke lacrosse team.

Finally, Cassidy faults the DHC for sanctioning Nifong for merely repeating items in the public record. “For example, the disciplinary complaint alleged that Nifong violated Rule 3.6 by revealing to Newsweek in April 2006 that the examining nurse on the morning after the alleged attack concluded that the victim [sic, Crystal Mangum] had suffered injuries consistent with sexual assault.” The matter, notes Cassidy, was in the public record, courtesy of the March 23 NTO prepared by Nifong’s assistant, Tracey Cline, and signed by Ben Himan.

But, of course, the description was untrue. Nothing in SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy’s report “on the morning after the alleged attack” concluded that Mangum “had suffered injuries consistent with sexual assault.” Levicy, of course, would subsequently make such a claim, just as she would subsequently and repeatedly shift her story about what “the victim” did or did not tell her during the SANE exam. Cassidy’s position appears to be that because the police and one of his chief deputies falsely described a key piece of evidence, Nifong should have been ethically cleared to publicly repeat this false description.

There is, in short, nothing in the Cassidy article to suggest the DHC misjudged the Nifong case. For those with access to CQ Researcher, however, the article provides an excellent jumping-off point for a discussion about how the Nifong affair can illuminate broader issues.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Students who wish to join Mike Nifong and some in the Group of 88 as paragons of unethical behavior now can do so. Today I received an e-mail informing me--for only $12.99--I could purchase a pre-done term paper on the lacrosse case. The title? "Ethical Analysis: 2006 Duke Lacrosse Case."

The irony, of course: any student who submitted this "ethical analysis" as a paper would be committing plagiarism, the most serious ethical impropriety in the academic universe.

One course for which such a paper probably would not be topical is Group of 88 stalwart Karla Holloway's fall 2007 law school offering, “Race, Gender, and Privacy: Law & Literature.” According to Holloway’s CV, it’s the same class as:
  • (arts & sciences) Women’s Studies 300.02;
  • (arts & sciences) English 381.02;
  • (arts & sciences)* African-American Studies 391.02.

The class “is aimed at students interested in the intersections between literary and legal studies, with a particular focus on race and gender. The subject of the class is ‘privacy,’ and we will read extensively in cultural and legal studies that have considered the matters of privacy-both in social histories and in case law, and we will devote some time to theorizing race and gender in literary studies.”

Race and gender as the dominant themes in a Group of 88-taught course. Who could have guessed it?


Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The Chronicle reports that Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki has named a special committee to look into the due process-unfriendly student judicial system. The committee membership suggests that the group could produce meaningful change--it includes Jim Coleman, Craig Henriquez, and Thomas Nechyba. No member of the Group of 88--professors who, if nothing else, distinguished themselves for their disdain for due process--was appointed to the committee.

Remarkably, another publication (Sports Illustrated) has hired Selena Roberts, who embarrassed her profession with her performance on the Duke case.

On the Liestoppers board, Michael Gaynor continues his peculiar defense of Dr. Brian Meehan, whose failure to produce a report that listed all his test results (as he was required to do under both North Carolina law and his own lab's protocols) was concealed for seven months. Writes Gaynor, "I see a scientist who had not been prepared by a lawyer or a legal team to testify being precise and a lawyer proceeding with his questions in a clever, but hardly straightforward, way." What I saw, in the courtroom on Dec. 15, was an arrogant scientist (at least for the first 15 minutes or so of the questioning, after which he increasingly slumped forward and desperately looked at Nifong to object) attempting to bluff his way through an examination without revealing what he had done; and a defense team that--even though they had not expected Meehan to appear for the hearing--eventually obtaining from the lab director an admission of the full scope of the results and of what he had agreed with Nifong not to report.

Meanwhile, Liestoppers has "discovered" the Gottlieb dry eraser board from April 10, 2006.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Academic "Street"

In her peculiar January 2007 N&O essay, Group of 88 member Cathy Davidson invented a past that never existed—she claimed rampant racist defenses of the lacrosse players on the “campus quad” in the days after the story first broke—to rationalize the Group’s ad. The Davidson essay, for the most part, took its appropriate place in the “Group of 88 Rehab Tour” as an initiative that only made the Group look more foolish.

One claim in the essay, however, had staying power—at least among the beleaguered defenders of the Group. Consciously imitating the most outrageous Nifong slime against the lacrosse team, Davidson denounced the Group’s internet critics as “right-wing blog hooligans.” This line of attack was later taken up by Duke administrators, and by Jim Coleman and other Group defenders among the faculty.

It’s undeniable that there have been vile and sometimes racist comments about the case posted on various blogs, including this one (although I have deleted any such comment brought to my attention).

The critique of Group defenders, however, suggests ignorance of how blogs function. The anonymity of the internet permits angry or vile comments, items whose authors doubtless would say them differently if forced to do so in their own name. This is, of course, a drawback of the internet.

The idea, however, that such angry or vile remarks were confined to anonymous defenders of the lacrosse team is absurd. Anyone who followed the case through the TalkLeft discussion forums would be familiar with the daily character assassinations against the lacrosse players made by a handful of pseudonymous commenters. Similar comments appeared on pro-Mangum blogs, such as the one maintained by the North Carolina NAACP or the CourtTV forum, which for months was wildly slanted against the lacrosse players.

This blog, as well, has featured its share of sneering, angry comments—although, in the case of DIW, these comments almost always have been directed at critics of the Group of 88 rather than the lacrosse players.

It would be presumptuous of me to suggest that any of these comments reflected the beliefs of Group members (although some of these statements, which were always anonymous, purported to come from people at Duke)—just as it would be preposterous of Group defenders, such as Charlie Piot, to suggest that scattered vile comments on DIW reflected my beliefs.

In the end, as Daily Kos' Markos Moulistas pointed out, occasional vile trolls are part of doing business on the internet, and their significance is dwarfed by the democratic promise that the blogosphere holds. (Both Group defenders like Piot and likeminded anti-intellectual figures on the other side of the ideological spectrum, such as Bill O'Reilly, disagree with Moulistas, and argue instead that anything posted by anyone on a blog necessarily reflects the viewpoint of the blog author.)

A couple of additional items are worth noting.

1.) Critics of the Group of 88 and other faculty excesses have offered lengthy critiques (over 900,000 words, in my case) in their own voice. So the idea that a reviewer would need to turn to anonymous comments to determine the views of Group critics is a stretch.

2.) Just as it’s hard to miss the ill-concealed anger in the anonymous comments left by Group defenders, so too has it been hard to miss the anger in statements offered by Group defenders in their own name—such as Charlie Piot; or Prasad Kasibhatla (who urged people to read the Piot piece, and then boasted he would not even look at a critique of the Piot article).

In this respect, the anger of which Davidson claimed to be so concerned is far more characteristic of the Group and its defenders than of critics of the Group. Indeed, a level of fury appears to be a consistent element of the Group and its defenders.

Last December, Liestoppers did a frightening post that compiled the voices of the “Durham street,” solely in the form of comments left on the Liestoppers blog. With that as a model, I decided to reproduce some comments offered by Group defenders on this blog. That many of these comments purported to have come from intellectuals is depressing. But at least they give the lie to the Davidson/Piot argument that “anger” in this case is largely a problem of defenders of the lacrosse team. If nothing else can be said of the comments below, it’s that their authors appear to be deeply angry individuals.

All spelling errors are unchanged from the original comments. I added only three [bracketed] items to provide context to three of the comments.


You know, the real question is why are you so obsessed with some of these Duke faculty. It seems a bit envious to have spent this much time and attention on them.... Your motives begin to emerge as the more interesting topic the more you harp on the 88. Is it institutional envy? I mean I love Brooklyn College, but NYU and Columbia are also in New York. Maybe you could go on the market with this book and find a way to feel better about yourself so that you don’t have to go looking over the publication histories of those who have done some better than you, professionally speaking that is.


My son goes to a well-regarded private school. Duke is still one of the popular places to apply. Ditto U. of Chicago, Cornell, and Stanford, and probably many of the other places you and your luncheon-mates are planning to have your kids give a miss. I say, keep it up! Makes it easier for the rest of the kids to get in!!! Please, send your kids to Brooklyn College. Pretty please.


Indeed, if you have the less prestigious teaching fellowships (the research fellowships are generally considered more prestitigous, requiring as they do, knowledge of languages of research) [in fact, this year I am the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, which is “generally considered more prestigious” than a regular fellowship, of either the teaching or research variety], but I wonder how it looks for future Fulbrighters--especially teaching Fulbrights--to see that one of their own spends his time obsessing about Duke. If I were the Israelis, I’d feel like you weren’t such a good Fulbright choice, since you’re mind is pretty obviously on Durham...


Nice to see what a high-quality readership you have, KC. To Duke’s great credit, they have not -- and will not -- limit the ability of their faculty to express their opinion. Or do you readers agree with your National Socialist (Nazi) buddies, who believe that Duke’s black faculty should be lynched?


Folks, plan to be discouraged, outraged, blah blah blah. Your ire will go exactly as far as this blog. Sure some of you will write irate emails to the 88. And poor pitiful KC will continue his pathologic obsession with Duke faculty members so you folks can be disgusted and have a safe space to share.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as somebody copied from another site, the Duke faculty you love to hate will continue their patterns of reward, speech, high salaries and other perks of academe. But do not completely despair, you always have this site to talk among yourselves. That is exactly how far your outrage extends, except to those of us who check in to collect our bets on how long KC will be unable to disentangle himself from his obsession. It’s really getting quite pitiful, if not borderline hilarious. He can’t let go. even from Israel. This has become his identity, and he obviously needs all your praise cause he’s not getting it from the academy where he has become a laughingstock. I won money today. Keep it up y’all.


When are you going to stop “big brothering” the Duke faculty, KC Johnson? I fail to see why John Thompson’s name is on your hit list today, Prof! And what, pray tell, is “going off syllabus”? Is correct “going off syllabus” allowed? And are you up there somewhere at good old Brooklyn College to tell faculty when they may or may not “go off syllabus”?


Get a life, KC Johnson. What business is it of yours what kinds of fellowships/programs Duke has? In short: it’s not your business. If you’re on your Fulbright, I’d’ve thought you should be doing work connected with that, not sticking your nose in Duke’s business.

I’m sure all of your right-wing blog buddies will think you’re just great, but I think you should be ashamed. You’ve gone from defending the LAX to an on-going attack on a university, indeed, perhaps, attacking intellectual diversity, by going after that which you don’t like. For shame.


KC has a LONG career harrassing anything at Duke that doens’t match his vision of what a university should be. Lord knows he has little influence at Brooklyn College, and what inifluence he has doesn’t much matter since it’s Brooklyn College. And he is overseas on a fellowship made possible by his Republican and rightwing buddies--academic graf if there ever was such a thing--which means that he can blow off working on whatever project he said he was going to work on and instead blog about Duke! Way to go KC!

This stopped being about the Lacrosse accusations a long, long, long time ago, and has been the ‘KC the righteous and aggrieved academic Show’ for quite some time. It’s all about KC! Why on earth do you think he spent so much time writing about Piot’s article? Because it gets to be about him! (And by the way KC, just how long *did* you spend on that blog entry! It’s gi-normous!)

Now we know the trutth! The Duke Lacrosse Scandal is about KC Johnson! He will be the Blog Decider of the World and say what is good and bad about anything at Duke! All Hail Wingnut KC! Yay!! LOLOLOL!!


So show me how KC Johnson is a workaholic? Prodigious schoarlship? I don’t think so. Where are his sources? In the US, true? In English, true? Many published, true? Not so difficult to produce a narrative, is it? Or do you know? What are you comparing his output with?

Now, if KC had a life, maybe he’d spend time on that rather than this blog.


13,000 copies?! No wonder this appeared on the Reader’s Digest List. Of course, you may have noted that yesterday’s USA Today’s top sellers mentions NO lacrosse related book at all. OMIGOSH! But, then, after all, that’s a wider reading audience survey than that accomplished by the esteemed Reader’s Digest. By the way, the Harvard Coop, has no Stuart Johnson/KC book either. (Lots of 88 publications on the shelves though). Seems there’s a standard being applied someplace. But we must all be thankful for the dependable Reader’s Digest. The publication that edits the text down to the most readable for the common reader...and leaves all that other stuff that might challenge out. Good location. And let’s hope the next 13000 are similarly snapped up. I stand by my October surprise prediction. A Halloween night bargain on the remainders shelves.


I’m not marginalized. Why would I be? And certainly not by you. Not a chance our paths would cross. I don’t have any reason to be around your sort. Bottom feeders who talk baby talk. Such an adult behavior. I’m impressed.

Why would you think I’m scared? Of you, not hardly. Indeed, not of much.

Fine, if it’s an observation. I guess your observations are just sort of useless.


It doesn’t matter to me very much that KC Johnson is--in my opinion--right wing. Nor does it matter much to me that many of the people who comment here are.

What bothers me is that he provides a blog spot for racist comment. Oh, yes, I know many of you think you’re not racist--and some of you may not be, BUT some of you say things that reasonable people can construe that way. I understand that. I understand some of you think white men are on the defensive in the US, however unlikely this may be. You are entitled to your opinions . . .

You seem to think only KC can argue cogently. I’m not overwhelmed by his forensics abilities. He’s ok, but he’s a bit self-impressed & doesn’t always write well.

Sign me: Yep! I’m a professor and I don’t support the 88, but I think that KC should just shut up. Please.


Sorry, KC -- he’s got you on this one. You can splutter, but fair minded people see you as a one sided, unfair crank -- shalom and you won’t be missed...


You are not the only one who has noticed KCs tone, a bit petty, a bit braggadocio, a bit over the top. He’s lost major academic credibility, so the effort is to try to create blog credibility. Well,if that’s his audience of choice, so be it. I guess we all need some place where people ‘know our name’.


Your hope that you matter to someone other than yourselves is so sorry to watch (but not without its own humor). News flash. You don’t. And we write because you guys are sooooo easy. And there are bets about how many comments we can get. And then a lot of lunch time laughter. So here’s bait people. Go for it. But geesh, can’t you make it a little more difficult? Thin skinned, wishful thinking, failures that you are. How many comments can I get for that?


Trust me. If KC were such a hot scholar, he’d be at a better school.

He makes errors of omission all of the time in his blog & he frames arguments to back his right-wing, in my opinion, racist, assumptions. And he provides a safe home for racist commenters in the blogosphere. That’s his business, but, old son, it ain’t scholarship.

Meanie? No, I don’t think I’d say that. He’s more whiney. The Eddie Haskell type crossed with one of the kiddie show hosts. I mean, in look/style.


What a burn, KC -- Coleman calls your position “destructive,” “biased and inaccurate.” He specifically rebuts your contention that “the Lacrosse Committee report... is a ‘stunning vindication” of the team.’ Any authentically impartial reader would find that it ‘very carefully details a pattern of behavior that the committee characterized as ‘socially irresponsible’ that should ‘have been a cause for alarm.’” But wait -- the knife goes a lot deeper -- “Dismissing this finding as trivial is a biased and unjustified misrepresentation of the facts.”

“Biased and unjustified” -- wow, if the shoe fits...

And as for your ranting on the faculty? “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Coleman ACCURATELY says that faculty -- including the 88 -- “care deeply about students and are passionately committed to their personal and intellectual growth. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the daily life of a faculty member will quickly appreciate the time, effort and energy that faculty put into teaching, advising and mentoring students.”


But wait -- there is a cherry on this cake: “To suggest otherwise, on the basis of isolated and selective incidents that occur over the course of complex events and are taken out of context, is nothing more than a tragic rush to judgment.”

Tragic rush to judgment -- sound familiar? Maybe you and Nifong are soul mates...


KC, darling, I’m not worried at all. I’m laughing at you. You’re so pompous. You tactic is so cute. Someone disagrees with you, so you call them angry. But when folks agree with you, angry is just great.

I can imagine why you don’t go off syllabus. You’d get your knickers in a twist just like you are over this.

I was laughing as I typed the first post, because I thought you were so silly. Now I am laughing even harder. AT YOU.


KC has a long history of engaging in pointless disputes with people, in which he harasses people endlessly, claiming to have the “facts.” It’s a shuck.

Why don’t *you* stop beating a dead horse? The lacrosse case is over. Leave these people alone. Who cares what happens at Duke? How about giving a shit what happens to all those nice white -- as well as black and brown -- kids over in Iraq who are getting their legs and heads blown off at the rate of twenty or thirty a week?

KC Johnson is a fictional character that used o be a real person who did real scholarship. Now he’s just an athletic supporter with a large fan club.


Scary, isn’t it, KC, when folks get to *your* dirty little secrets.


I must say, however, I do wish that Brooklyn had managed not to tenure you. You seem really difficult to be around: you’re somewhat thick when you choose to be. You put words into people’s mouths and onto their comments. A bad idea. I’d think you’d be a better historian if you didn’t do that.


KC, you have some, perhaps conscious, version of multiple personality, in which you write respectably in respectabel publications and then choose other personae for your more lunatic remarks?


Does anyone but me think that mac is just KC comenting under another identity? I think he does that a lot -- including, I am pretty sure, a lot of the trashy, harassing emails people get from the supposed “supporters” of KC are actually him operating under other email accounts. I keep getting snail-mail letters from someone who mysteriously has no return address, and yet keeps demanding replies.


KC, you have a long history of mysogynist behavior, words and deeds, which is part of what got you into trouble at Brooklyn when your scholarship should have allowed you to sail through your promotion review with no problems. You were a polarizer in that department, to the extent that conservatives wanted you gone too. [In fact, the only two members of the department who in any way could be considered "conservative," Margaret King and David Berger, publicly and repeatedly supported my tenure candidacy.] Any google search picks up on it immediately, even in stories that are very sympathetic to how you were wronged in your tenure case: you have a penchant for taking absolute stands, judging others relentlessly, and harassing them in contemptuous, unprofessional ways when they don’t give in to you.


Ah! So that’s what this is about! They [Duke] didn’t hire you!


I don’t do psychoanalytic criticism, but this entry is screaming for a therapist to help it sort out a whole lot of emotional and professional baggage.


Oh, goody! Another hard-hitting expose on ... someone nobody reads [Tim Tyson], no one cares about, and who is non-tenure track, who makes no decisions about anything besides his reading list, at the far periphery of his department. Way to go, KC! Next up, detailed write-ups of pot-sellers and housewares employees at Sears who fuel this angry mob!


I am not horrible for stating the obvious: in attacking the G88, KC plays the data. There is no “truth,” capital T about their work. You aren’t horrible either for assuming there is one “TRUTH” about the G88. Mostly, you are STUPID. You know, STOOO POD. KC plays data in his attacks on the G88. DATA. What is the “truth” about these people’s research? You are much safer in talking about data.

KC is indulging in academic politics. Oh, yes, he could have stayed at Williams. It’s a good school as he is so fond to tell us. A small, good, rich kids school FOR UNDERGRADUATES. A research power house? Not hardly. And, I’m so glad he had a commitment that brought him to Brooklyn. It ain’t Columbia. It ain’t NYU. It ain’t even Fordham or Hunter. And this is the man you let explain the research of people well outside his field...can he read the languages of all of their research? And that’s just a first question.


Saying that your summaries are badly done is not an argument but rather an assertion.

It happens to be an assertion that is true. It is also true that it needs an argument, but others have started to do that work in comments below (for example, pointing out how you smear and obfuscate non-tenure and tenure stream faculty and only focus on the small fry instead of assessments of the big folk).

No college that I can think of would in their right mind put you on an APT committee--not because you hold certain cultural or political beliefs but rather because you so badly and baldly misrepresent the work of scholars who you’re gunning for . . . Do you treat your colleagues at BC this way? I hope not.


Oh, sure. Get rid of tenure, Ralph and company. KC would be fired so fast his head would spin. Personally, that would make me happy.


I’m always amused when my students tell me what I think because they are more often than not incorrect. I’ve never felt it my job to let them know. I assume others feel that way as well.

You strike me as a bit of a know-it-all. You know, the kind of person who tells others what they think. An Ugly American sort.


I was simply identifying your politics as fascist. It’s fine. You can be a fascist. And, of course, fascist thought is studied and respected. May not be liked. What’s the problem?


It really is tiresome at this point to read your empty-headed exhortations. You wonder why none of the people you excoriate and few others will engage with your “arguments”? Because your reasoning, like your prose, is facile, depressingly jejune, and means only to incite emotion rather than offer serious critique.


This is it? This is the great expose that we waited so breathlessly for? This is the routing of the PC forces? Where are the hot-and-heavy quotations from the scholarship on race/gender in modern society that prove that this sort of work leads to Stalin-like oppression and Soviet-like ideological dogma? Where are the careful tools of the historian, where you show that the cultural, social, and political conditions of the writing of Chafe’s books lead to Nifong? . . .

OMG, it’s too rich. Thanks for all the laughs, KC. I thought this was gonna be the piece de resistance, but it turned out to be a piece of something else entirely. LOL

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Coleman, Then and Now

In a September 12 N&O article, Jim Coleman explained,

how much the lacrosse players suffered is just one factor in determining an appropriate amount to seek. Coleman said he thinks Durham police failed to adequately explore evidence that could have exonerated the players, a charge the city denies. He said other falsely accused people have suffered more, but they often were the victims of negligence rather than an intentional effort to bring charges without evidence.

The question of intent—whether police willfully railroaded the lacrosse players—will be a key factor if the civil case goes to trial, Coleman and Largess said. If police and city officials are found to have maliciously pursued the case knowing the evidence wasn’t there, they should pay until it hurts, Coleman said. “There’s an element of punitive action involved in lawsuits like this,” he said.

On September 13, Coleman added that deterrence can be a critical action of such suits: “When the city acts in ways that are so totally outrageous and could have been prevented, I think the damages ought to be sufficient to deter that kind of behavior in the future and also to send a message to other cities and prosecutors across the state. I have no idea the damage they suffered. There’s no way for us to say $30 million is low or high.”

Here's Coleman, in yesterday's Chronicle, expressing a different opinion, and a far different tone: "There's going to be something of a backlash against the audacity of the litigation against the city and against the University. I think most people believe that the students were harmed by what happened to them but not to the extent that the lawsuits suggest." He didn't explain what caused his shift in opinion from Sept. 12 until Nov. 14.

Meanwhile, anti-lacrosse extremists continue to offer their . . . unique . . . brand of reasoning. Group of 88'er Paula McClain: "Every incumbent who ran has been re-elected. Therefore, there appears to have been little or no political fallout from the situation. In fact, the citizens of Durham have given their leaders a vote of confidence."

I wonder if this is the type of reasoning McClain applies in her political science classes. One of the incumbents re-elected was Councilman Eugene Brown, a vehement critic of the DPD's mishandling of the case. Another re-elected figure was Mayor Bell, who had strongly called for an outside committee to investigate the DPD. Is McClain suggesting that the citizens of Durham gave a "vote of confidence" to Brown's critique of the DPD? That, of course, wouldn't fit into her preconceived ideological agenda, but she seems to have conceded it was so.

And Kerry Haynie was more loquacious for the Chronicle than for this blog, when asked why he signed the clarifying statement (Get a freaking life! Quote me!”). Said he to the Chronicle, ""It will be an issue that will get some news coverage, but the actual effect on the politics of Durham will be very little. I think it's an issue that will come and go."

Again, I wonder if this is the type of reasoning Haynie applies in his political science classes. It is true, of course, that all issues "come and go." But one hardly needs a Ph.D. in political science to make such an observation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Butler Awarded

A richly deserved journalism award for the incomparable Kristin Butler.

Blythe: Meehan Is Out

Anne Blythe confirms that "Mr. Obfuscation," Dr. Brian Meehan, is no longer employed by DNA Security.

Still More NAACP Hypocrisy

In a move that could define gall, the North Carolina NAACP has started a website devoted to exposing prosecutorial misconduct in the state.

That would be the same North Carolina NAACP whose legal redress committee chair, Al McSurely, penned a guilt-presuming, error-ridden memorandum of law defending Mike Nifong's case.

And it would be the same North Carolina NAACP whose lacrosse case monitor, Irving Joyner, preposterously asserted that Nifong dropping the rape charges in December 2006 would help Nifong's case.

And it would be the same North Carolina NAACP that raised not a peep of protest at Nifong's ordering the DPD to run a rigged lineup.

Despite its record of enabling prosecutorial misconduct, the state organization professes amazement that only one newspaper (the Herald-Sun) reported on its new venture. The organization is discovering that credibility, once lost, can be hard to regain.

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Reviews

Cary Clack, in San Antonio Express-News:
There is no longer any mystery about what happened between a stripper and the Duke lacrosse players at a party in Durham, N.C., at a house rented by some of the players. Nothing happened . . . All that's left is a comprehensive investigation and summing up of how this became such a racially charged miscarriage of justice. Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson provide this in superb, exhaustive and disturbing detail in "Until Proven Guilty: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case."
Read the entire review here.

Scott Fontaine in the Tacoma News-Tribune:
How could something like this happen? That’s what “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustice of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case” set out to explain – and the answer isn’t pretty. The authors, Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson, use painstaking detail to prove that a mentally unstable stripper, an opportunistic district attorney, bitter cops and crusading faculty members used an unquestioning media and a town split by racial and economic divides to destroy the lives of three innocent students.
Read the entire review here.

Taylor on the State of the Academy

My colleague Stuart Taylor, in this week’s National Journal:

“A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. ‘The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists.’”

Such stuff has long been a staple of the totalitarian “diversity” obsessives who pollute -- and often dominate -- political discourse at almost all of our universities, from coast to coast. The University of Delaware recently got a step ahead of its peers by including the all-whites-are-racists dogma in training those who administered a systematic thought-reform program for incoming (and other) students.

The quoted language appears in an August 2007 “diversity facilitation training” program for resident assistants. The RAs were, in turn, assigned to use far-left propaganda such as this in what university documents called the mandatory “treatment” of freshmen and the rest of the 7,000 students in university residence halls . . .

Another hyperbolic, conservative rant about liberals in academia? Perhaps I should confess my biases. I do dislike extremism of the Left and of the Right. But I have never been conservative enough to vote for a Republican presidential nominee. And the academics whose growing power and abuses of power concern me are far to the left of almost all congressional Democrats . . . But although especially egregious, the Delaware program is hardly an isolated example.

“In a nation whose future depends upon an education in freedom, colleges and universities are teaching the values of censorship, self-censorship, and self-righteous abuse of power,” FIRE founders Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate asserted, with copious documentation, in their 1998 book, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses.

They went on: “Our students are being educated in ... double standards to redress partisan definitions of historical wrongs.... [The norm is] intolerance of dissent from regnant political orthodoxy [and] the belief that universities not only may but should suspend the rights of some in order to transform students, the culture, and the nation according to their ideological vision and desire.” . . .

An organizer and representative member of the Duke 88, Wahneema Lubiano, has labeled herself a “post-structuralist teacher-critic-leftist.” Her meager scholarly output includes railing against “Western rationality’s hegemony” while making the inconsistent (and racist) claim that “many whites might not ever be persuaded by appeals to reason.”

Another 88er, literature professor Grant Farred, has produced such “scholarship” as a monograph styling Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, a native of China, as “the most profound threat to American empire.” In the fall of 2006, Farred accused hundreds of Duke students of “secret racism” against “black female bodies” because they had registered to vote! The students were trying to defeat rogue Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was courting the black vote by pressing rape charges against three white lacrosse players in the face of overwhelming public evidence of innocence.

At no point during or since the rape hoax has Duke President Richard Brodhead or board Chairman Robert Steel even hinted at rebuking Lubiano, Farred, or the other unrepentant faculty persecutors of lacrosse players.

Only in American academia could still another elite university -- Cornell -- proudly hire away and tenure a character such as Farred after he had proved himself a malicious buffoon. “We are very enthusiastic about Professor Farred, whose work everyone in this department has long admired,” remarked Cornell English Department Chairwoman Molly Hite.

In academia today, a professor who falsely smears his university’s students as racists is a hot commodity. And hate means never having to say you’re sorry.

Read the entire column here.

Friday, November 09, 2007


WRAL's Julia Lewis reports,

Several Durham police officers have been placed on leave pending a major internal investigation, and WRAL has learned the probe might center around sexual misconduct.

Meanwhile, Liestoppers reports that Dr. Brian Meehan has been replaced as lab director and general manager of DNA Security.

Another testament to the power of the extraordinary Kristin Butler.

And a strange column from Michael Gaynor suggesting that because Dr. Meehan was not "familiar with the details of Ms. Mangum's story," his failure to record all the test results in his report might be excusable, and might even suggest that DNA Security shouldn't be held liable for its misconduct. (Of course, both his own lab's protocols and state law governing non-testimonial orders required Meehan to report all test results, whatever the details of Mangum's story.) Criticism of Meehan, Gaynor suggests, was caused by "Reade Seligmann attorney Brad Bannon" having "asked a very broad and ambiguous question" to open the cross-examination. It was this question (which few, if any, people in the courtroom on Dec. 15 considered ambiguous) to which Meehan--falsely--answered no, as part of an apparent strategy of bluffing his way through the court appearance without revealing the exculpatory tests.

What should Bannon have done? He should have quoted from a June 2006 column from Gaynor(!), and asked Meehan about that. Gaynor's conclusion: "DNA Security was a Nifong victim too." Based on Meehan's sudden departure from the lab director's position, it seems that even DNA security disagrees with that analysis.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Update: Resounding Vote for Status Quo

Mayor Bill Bell was re-elected, with 58 percent of the vote.

In the City Council race, Diane ("Block the Police Inquiry") Catotti topped the voting. And Farad Ali--who shared with Victoria Peterson the endorsement of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People--was elected to the Council. "Spoiler Steve" Monks failed in his Council bid.

On a more encouraging note, Readers' Digest has named Moez Elmostafa as among its heroes of the year.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 List

UPI made's 2007 Top 10 list for non-fiction books.

From the Comment Thread

This blog has generated more than 90,000 comments. Few have offered a more intriguing perspective than the one below, offered for yesterday's post. The discussion of how universities operate is, in my opinion, absolutely correct:
The ratio of nastiness to illumination in this thread of comments is too high for my taste. I suppose it is inevitable that the comments section of this blog should from time to time dramatize the dialogue of the deaf that passes for “political discourse” at many levels in our land. But it is reduced to its sad essence in the brilliant exchange that begins, in effect, “Your are an idiot,” to which the devastatingly witty response is “No, I am not an idiot. You are an idiot.”

I’d like to return to the subject of the post: namely, the effect of what has happened so far to various people at Duke/

The expectation of Apocalypse Now on the Duke campus is and will remain unrealistic. “Why don’t they fire Brodhead?” “Why don’t they ‘clean house’ in this or that department?” “How can they make an 88-er a dean?” To this list of supremely na├»ve questions I’ll add another one that shows up in various forms: “Why don’t they hire KC Johnson?” Such questions betray a serious lack of understanding of the operations of large and complex educational institutions. They move rather ponderously and within the confines of strict protocols. Our universities have a “business” aspect to them, but it is only one aspect, and the models of business reform or restructuring frequently brought forward are largely irrelevant to them. Duke and many other wealthy institutions are also large charitable entities that view their mission in terms of the redistribution of wealth—first in the relatively paltry manner of handing out scholarships and fellowships, but much more importantly in the creation of lasting “social capital” in their graduates. Most parents are incompetent to judge the actual intellectual quality at a given institution, but they know, rightly, that an average college graduate will have a lifetime income far greater than that of an average non-graduate, and that the average Duke graduate will do considerably better than the average graduate of Western Kentucky State Teachers’ College.

Universities are staffed by faculty members who for the most part enjoy the protection of appointment with continuing tenure. The institution of academic tenure has defensible aims but often-lamentable results. It is nearly impossible to fire a tenured professor, however deep that person sinks into sloth or incompetence. To be fired for “moral turpitude” in today’s climate presupposes a level of sexual athleticism requiring long, arduous Olympic training beyond the capacities of most of us. Hence a university faculty, though highly and self-consciously professionalized, has many of the characteristics of a voluntary organization, like a civic or church committee, or a campaign organization, or a baby-sitting pool. There is seldom a very good match between the need as seen from a center and the competence, willingness, or availability of someone to fill the need. The administration has to cajole people into taking on necessary but perhaps irksome jobs. “Madge, would you be willing to be recording secretary this year? Oh, you’re tied up with the Garden Club?...Well, Tom, how about you? I can teach you to write…” I have not perused a Duke catalogue, but from what has come up incidentally in this blog I get the impression that many Duke faculty (a) teach very little, and (b) teach pretty much what they want to teach, which is (c) two or three variations on an esoteric theme.

A university president may and does have very great power, but is almost guaranteed to fail if he cannot at least achieve a state of uneasy non-belligerence with his faculty. Hence the strange gyrations and even stranger silences of Richard Brodhead. He is a prudent and experienced fellow. If you want to consider what happens when a self-identified political conservative is brought in with powerful board support to “clean up” an institution with a faculty run amok, and is imprudent enough to try to do so, review the sad history of Boston University under the presidency of John Silber. So don’t look for swift actions and dramatic gestures that feature so prominently among the desiderata in these comments. But don’t go to the opposite extreme and suppose that “nothing has changed”. A good deal has changed because of this Rape Hoax.

1. Richard Brodhead’s is a failed presidency. Everybody in higher education knows that, which is why practically nobody in higher education will say it. He will not disappear immediately, but he will disappear. And I mean disappear—not reappear as the president of some other institution. This may not be fair to Brodhead, who is an able person, and his successor is unlikely to be better. But nobody who has presided over such a genuine “social disaster” can recover. And people will in the future reflect on why and how he failed.

2. Another development on the local Duke scene is the “raised consciousness” of sensible alumni and institutional friends. There is a large effort from various sources trying to blunt the effect of this blog and what it has represented. To paint Duke’s critics as neocon, reactionary, racist “blog hooligans” will now work for only a very diminished audience. There now is a very detailed, circumstantial, well researched and well written book that needs to be answered. The one attempt to answer it to date—Piot’s—is so pathetic as actually to amplify the work’s power by giving such a vivid example of the intellectual quality of its opposition. Any intelligent Duke alumnus of whatever age should now realize that he or she probably has more sensible and constructive ideas that many prominent Duke faculty.

3. Do not underestimate the power of the derision and opprobrium heaped on various faculty members through various posting and especially the “Group Profiles”. These were particularly effective, because they were not name-calling but intelligently collected anthologies of the individuals’ own written opinions. It is one thing to shout out that “the Emperor has no clothes”. It is another to present the Emperor in the buff before our own horrified eyes. Professor Piot undoubtedly still has his clannish friends at their unread and unreadable academic journal. But for literally thousands of other people, not to mention hundreds of silent colleagues on his own faculty, the man is now a public fool. This is the result not of name-calling but of self-advertisement. There probably will not be immediate professional effects. But I think it very unlikely that even with a deck of fifty-two race cards Professor Baker, for example, will today seems such a hot property to anybody else as he did to Vanderbilt before the publication of his racist diatribe.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Where Are They Now?

Diane Catotti was the top vote-getter in the October City Council primary and is widely expected to be elected to a second term tomorrow. The most prominent political voice of the “something happened” contingent, Catotti was recently endorsed for re-election by the N&O. Only in Durham could a council member who aggressively attempted first to block and then to neuter an independent inquiry into the Police Department’s misconduct be hailed as a “reliably progressive voice.” Catotti appears to have suffered no political consequences for her efforts to cover up police misconduct.

Reeve Huston was the history professor who, in late March 2006, departed from his syllabus to share with his class what he described as his “research” on the lacrosse case. His findings? That not only did a sexual assault take place, but that “ejaculation” occurred. The five men’s lacrosse players in the class walked out; a women’s lacrosse player stayed for the remainder of the class, in which Huston continued in a similar vein. Huston remains a professor in good standing at Duke; no evidence exists that he was disciplined in any way.

Chauncey Nartey is the only 2006 Duke student whose words prompted the filing of a police report for e-mail harassment. Nartey was never formally disciplined for this behavior (he was asked to send a letter of apology/explanation, instead). He also was the only one of the 1,636 members of Duke’s class of 2007 to serve on the Campus Culture Initiative; and be chosen to participate in the “Duke Conversation” events; and receive a Griffith University Service award. Nartey currently is listed as a M.A./Ph.D. candidate in secondary education at the University of Pennsylvania. Despite the traditional belief that Education programs are a hotbed of “anti-harassment” activism, neither Nartey’s record nor the suspension of his fraternity during his term as president (allegedly for a hazing offense) prevented him from gaining admission.

Group of 88 member Sally Deutsch was the History professor who, in late March 2006, departed from her syllabus to share with her class—a survey course in U.S. history that included six members of the lacrosse team—what she considered the historical legacy of white males’ sexual oppression of black females. She resisted several attempts from students to get the class back to the subjects they were supposed to cover. When asked why she did not address the equally significant legacy of race-based prosecutorial misconduct in the American South, Deutsch did not reply. Not only does no evidence exist that she was disciplined in any way, Deutsch was promoted in summer 2006, and currently is dean of social sciences for Trinity College.

Patrick Baker was the Durham city manager who in May 2006 stated, publicly and falsely, that Crystal Mangum told the same story to every police officer she encountered. He is also the figure who issued a May 2007 report describing the police handling of the lacrosse case as “typical.” Baker remains employed by the City of Durham; the City Council never summoned him to explain publicly his actions in the lacrosse case.

Group of 88 member Grant Farred was the Literature professor who accused Duke students who registered to vote in Durham as “secret racists” and charged that unnamed lacrosse players committed “perjury.” Not only was he never disciplined by Duke for these obvious violations of the Faculty Handbook, but he was hired away—with a promotion to full professor—by Cornell. Gushed English Department chair Molly Hite, author of Class Porn, “We are very enthusiastic about Professor Farred, whose work everyone in this department has long admired.”

Mark Gottlieb was the sergeant who supervised the early months’ lacrosse case “investigation.” In that role, he gave (by his own admission) false testimony to the grand jury, when he stated that Crystal Mangum’s stories were consistent from the moment she encountered SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy on March 14th through the April 17th meeting of the grand jury. Several months later, Gottlieb produced his “straight-from-memory” case report. Gottlieb appears to have suffered no consequences for his professional misconduct, and he remains employed by the DPD.

John Thompson was the History professor who, in late March 2006, e-mailed the two lacrosse players in his class, “Whether the alleged rape and assault took place or not, the men in question must step forward and take responsibility for their actions—whatever those actions were. If they are innocent, a court will decide . . . If these ‘men’ are too cowardly to step forward, it is your duty as real men to identify them.” Thompson never explained how his students could “identify” people if the “alleged rape and assault” did not take place. Thompson remains a professor in good standing at Duke; no evidence exists that he was disciplined in any way.

[Update, 3.51pm: A furious retort from the comments section:

When are you going to stop "big brothering" the Duke faculty, KC Johnson? I fail to see why John Thompson's name is on your hit list today, Prof! And what, pray tell, is "going off syllabus"? Is correct "going off syllabus" allowed? And are you up there somewhere at good old Brooklyn College to tell faculty when they may or may not "go off syllabus"?

You and your blogolites are so hot on letting everyone know what is good teaching/content/research (in your case, it looks like all onstitutional/diplomatic/political history all of the time). Doesn't "going off syllabus" permit creative discussion that is necessary for a good classroom/learning experience? Or is "stick to the syllabus," the prof's in control, we discuss only what the prof wants teaching really the way to go?]

David Addison was the DPD official spokesperson who falsely claimed that you are looking at one victim brutally raped”; “all of the members refused to cooperate with the investigation”; there was “really, really strong physical evidence”; “We’re not saying that all 46 were involved. But we do know that some of the players inside that house on that evening knew what transpired and we need them to come forward.” Addison appears to have suffered no consequences for his professional misconduct, and he remains employed by the DPD. He has never explained on what basis he made his statements.

Group of 88 member Houston Baker was author of the racist March 29, 2006 public letter, which ten times mentioned the race of the lacrosse players in a derogatory fashion. He also suggested, in a June 2006 e-mail, that team members might have committed additional rapes. Baker then left Duke for an endowed chair at Vanderbilt. Since his December 2006 e-mail (sent from his official Vanderbilt account) informing a lacrosse parent that she was the mother of a “farm animal,” Baker has refused all comment on the lacrosse case, as he refused comment for this post.

Dinushika Mohottige is the only Duke student to have publicly admitted to distributing the March 2006 “wanted” posters around campus. Not only was she never disciplined for her admission to have violated Duke’s anti-harassment policies, she was invited to share the platform with President Brodhead and Mark Anthony (“thugniggaintellectual”) Neal at Brodhead’s first post-indictment public appearance on campus. She currently is a listed as an MPH candidate and recipient of the Barnhill-Hatch fellowship at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health. Mohottige’s on-line bio recalls how, “throughout her undergraduate years, she facilitated and developed dozens of dialogues on identity and social-marker based oppression.”

Mike Nifong was the district attorney of Durham County—until he was disbarred and convicted of criminal contempt. He was last heard from complaining about how the state failed to do the right thing in refusing to pay his legal expenses in a pending civil suit.

Linwood Wilson was the chief investigator for ex-DA Nifong—until he was fired by interim DA Jim Hardin. He was last heard from with his attorney denouncing the possibility of a federal investigation—which could end with Wilson imprisoned.

Whatever else can be said of them, Nifong and Wilson have suffered some consequences for their misconduct. What’s much more remarkable is how so many people whose behavior in the case was (to put it kindly) dubious not only were not held accountable—but actually prospered.