Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Group Apologist, in Action

Several days ago, the most aggressive apologist for the Group of 88, Duke Music professor Robert Zimmerman, published a post leveling against me a serious allegation: that I had exercised a “moderator’s veto” against him, refusing to clear a comment he had offered at DIW, which he interpreted as a disinclination to debate him. (Prof. Zimmerman admitted that I had cleared at least six comments he made at DIW—not exactly the behavior of someone out to silence his views.)

I responded in his comment thread, stating that I had never exercised a “moderator’s veto” against his comments. Indeed, I have noted on several occasions that Prof. Zimmerman plays an important role in communicating the basic mindset of Group members, since Group members themselves have largely refused to defend their actions. (At this stage, I can understand their disinclination to do so, since Duke has made clear it will no longer protect any slanderous statements they make from civil litigation.)

Prof. Zimmerman responded to those comments by eliminating his allegation against me from his post, without indicating that he has altered his post—an . . . unusual . . . approach to blogging.* In place of the insinuation against my ethics, he has inserted: “Q: Did Johnson end our exchange of comments on DIW with a moderator’s veto? A: He doesn’t know, but the Group of 88 hasn’t defended anything they did, and Zimmerman is a public apologist for them.”

There are five explanations for the scenario that Prof. Zimmerman described in his now-deleted section of the post: (1) I exercised a “moderator’s veto” against his comment, presumably because I did not want to any longer debate him; (2) I accidentally rejected his comment; (3) His comment was accepted, but a glitch in blogger prevented it from appearing; (4) He accidentally made an error in submitting the comment; or (5) He never wrote the comment, and is now presenting himself as the victim.

In the comment thread at Prof. Zimmerman’s blog, I never said that I didn’t “know” whether I had exercised a “moderator’s veto”—I repeatedly stated that I did not do so. It is not clear how Prof. Zimmerman translated a denial into a statement that I didn’t “know” whether I had exercised a moderator’s veto.

It is also unclear to me why Prof. Zimmerman altered his original post—removing his allegation against me—without indicating anywhere in the post that he had done so.

Prof. Zimmerman also suggests that I unfairly expected Prof. Coleman “to translate the criticism into chapter and verse in DIW or UPI.” Again, I never said such a thing in the comment thread—just one specific criticism would have sufficed. Prof. Coleman didn’t supply it in any of the 21 conversations or e-mail exchanges I had with him before Sept. 2007, and he didn’t supply it in the e-mail exchange with him at the time.

As I noted in my comment, I did respond to the Coleman attack—by urging a Coleman Committee-like inquiry into the response to the case of the Duke faculty. Prof. Coleman elected not to endorse my suggestion. (To my knowledge, Prof. Zimmerman hasn’t done so, either.) Such an inquiry, of course, could have proven that I was totally wrong in my portrayal of the Duke faculty’s response to the case. The urging of an impartial investigation—an approach used, for instance, after serious allegations of classroom misconduct emerged at Columbia—doesn’t strike me as the response of someone unwilling to engage in “critical self-reflection.”

(Prof. Zimmerman’s charge came in response to my having pointed out that no public evidence exists that even one member of the Group of 88 has engaged in critical self-reflection regarding their behavior in the case. Prof. Zimmerman didn’t deny the point.)

Finally, Prof. Zimmerman’s new material in the post faults me for engaging in ad hominem attacks against him and the Group of 88, by writing that the DA was trying to “railroad three innocent students at Prof. Zimmerman’s own institution. During the time those students were in harm’s way, Prof. Zimmerman… was silent about their fate, while 88 of his colleagues signed a public statement which… thanked protesters who had presumed the students’ guilt.”

I note that Prof. Zimmerman—while labeling my statement “lazy and cowardly,” an approach that “is especially effective with the thoughtless and bigoted,” part of a seeming tendency to write “bullshit” (some people might consider that an ad hominem attack!)—doesn’t in any way challenge the factual accuracy of what I said: that while a rogue DA railroaded three innocent students at Prof. Zimmerman’s own institution, Prof. Zimmerman was silent about their fate, while 88 of his colleagues signed a public statement which thanked protesters who had presumed the students’ guilt.

Somehow, Prof. Zimmerman’s disinclination to challenge that assertion doesn’t surprise me.

*--In the comment thread below, Prof. Zimmerman states that he did not change the post, but rather, "The update that you believe I replaced it with was added on April 23, in response to your first comment. The post hasn't changed since then. I probably should have put a note at the top indicating that I'd added a second update." I'm sure that Prof. Zimmerman will now update his "update" so that it no longer incorrectly characterizes my response to his allegation of a "moderator's veto."

His comment (which, I should note, was cleared by me--as has been, to my knowledge, every comment Prof. Zimmerman has made at DIW) does not respond to any other item in the post.


Anonymous said...

One of the continuing puzzles of this case is the incredibly weak response of the G88 and their supporters. Some have adopted the timid but (relatively) wise course of following the First Rule of Holes: "When you're in one, stop digging." They have had little or nothing to say, beyond "Let's move on" (which translates as "Let's end this uncomfortable practice of attempting to hold people responsible for their actions.")

But others have not been silent. And pretty much without exception, their statements have made them look foolish. Prof. Zimmerman labels as ad hominem KC's statement "During the time those students were in harm’s way, Prof. Zimmerman… was silent about their fate, while 88 of his colleagues signed a public statement which… thanked protesters who had presumed the students’ guilt." This is beyond foolish - silence would serve his agenda far better than a public demonstration that he doesn't have a clue what ad hominem means or implies.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Anonymous said...

Another Group of 88 "straw man" argument and attack designed to lure KC into a defensive position thus deflecting the true facts of the case.

At this point KC, I suggest you formally offer to debate Professor Zimmerman regarding the role of the Duke faculty and Administration in the Lax case. The debate would take place in a neutral spot, allowing questions and answers from the audience after the debate. Further, I suggest the debate be moderated and video taped.

Lets see if Prof. Zimmerman is foolish enough to accept your challenge.

Anonymous said...

What the heck is a moderator's veto?

Anonymous said...

Didn't you know that Robert Zimmerman is really Bob Dylan?

wayne fontes said...

KC, what course of action should professors at Duke have engaged in other than silence? I've got hundred that says a number of the G88 wish they had been silent.

It's a low blow to say that Zimmerman should have stepped forward to defend the players. Absent the indiscretions of the G88 no professor should have said bupkis. It simply would have focused more attention on the players. To single out one professor out of the more than a thousand who did spring to the players defense isn't right.

Will we soon see a list of the group of 1288 who didn't step forward in defense of the players.

Anonymous said...

"At this point KC, I suggest you formally offer to debate Professor Zimmerman regarding the role of the Duke faculty and Administration in the Lax case. The debate would take place in a neutral spot, allowing questions and answers from the audience after the debate. Further, I suggest the debate be moderated and video taped".

The debate would be so unevenly matched because Professor Zimmerman has integrity, honesty and sound judgement. The other participant thoroughly lacks all those qualities.

Robert Zimmerman said...

That's quite a barrage! You're wrong, though, about the supposed alterations to my post. The first mention of a "moderators veto" is in the first comment, where it's always been. The update that you believe I replaced it with was added on April 23, in response to your first comment. The post hasn't changed since then. I probably should have put a note at the top indicating that I'd added a second update.

Sorry for the confusion.

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 6.24:

Many thanks for the kind words--although it appears as if your comment offers the type of ad hominem attacks of which Prof. Zimmerman disapproves (except, of course, when he levels them himself).

To the 6.07:

The appropriate response of Duke faculty, of course, would have been to publicly demand that Duke students be treated according to the same due process rights as all other Durham residents (an action that would have been consistent with the academy's longstanding celebration of due process).

In the case of Prof. Zimmerman: to my knowledge, he is the only member of the Duke faculty who elected to remain silent as a local DA was violating myriad procedures to railroad his own institution's students--only to then speak up about events surrounding the case, repeatedly and forcefully, once all charges were dropped. He's perfectly within his rights to have pursued this unusual course, but it does shine some light on his priorities.

To the 6.27:

I have updated my post with Prof. Zimmerman's clarification. I'm sure that he will now update his "update" so that it no longer incorrectly characterizes my response to his allegation of a "moderator's veto."

sceptical said...

I believe that a more precise definition of the Group of 88 would be useful. This was and is not an organization with membership cards and regular meetings. It was a disparate group (ranging from graduate students to former deans) who signed a politically correct ad in the middle of the lacrosse crisis. As many, including KC Johnson and Tortmaster, have proven by textual analysis, there is no doubt the "Listening" ad was talking about the lacrosse incident and assuming the guilt of the lacrosse players.

Those that signed the ad did so for various reasons, but what united them was a poltical viewpoint. They saw an opportunity to use the lacrosse crisis to further their own political objectives.

When the facts did not bear out their assumptions, the signers did not recant or apologize (with one exception). Indeed they dug in their heels. "The narrative was right even if the facts were wrong," as Evan Thomas of Newsweek noted a while ago.

Their actions reflect an attitude of some in academia that they should use their professorships to promote a political viewpoint and to indoctrinate their students.

Prof. Zimmerman appears to be of this ilk. Like so many of the Duke defenders, he uses ad hominem attacks and facuses on small matters, instead of looking at the big questions:

1) Was it proper for 88 Duke faculty to sign an ad which tried to capitalize on the false charges against their own students?

2) Was it proper for Duke departmental funds to pay for an ad with political purposes?

3) When the facts came out, should the ad signers have admitted their mistake and apologized?

4) Why were actions by the Duke faculty sufficiently egregious to be named in a change of venue motion?

5) What steps are being taken by the Duke administration to prevent faculty from injecting their own political views in the classroom and, in some cases, grading accordingly?

6) Why have the Duke faculty not spoken out about other cases, including the actual rape of a girl at a black fraternity?

There are many other questions for Duke faculty members, especially those in the Law School-- most of whom stood by silently while gross prosecutorial misconduct was going on right under their noses.

There needs to be some introspection on the part of those Duke faculty who were so quick to sign the "Listening" ad.

I am not holding my breath for that to happen.

wayne fontes said...

Zimmerman's priority is to criticize you KC. If you want to give your impressions of where his priorities lie I expect more than simply noting he was one of over a thousand professors who remained silent. What I take away from your response is that you are trying to say Zimmerman supports the initial statements and actions of the G88. I don't recall that. Show me I'm wrong KC.

Anonymous said...

Re: 6:24's comment:

Exactly what we've come to expect: no facts, no evidence, no discussion, no argument, no debate, no logic, no reason, but simply "My guy is good and yours isn't."

Surely, surely the "other side" in this matter isn't as abjectly bereft of validity as they make themselves out to be.

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 7.46:

Since Prof. Zimmerman did not sign the Group of 88's statement, I have no grounds to assert that "Zimmerman supports the initial statements and actions of the G88." I certainly have never made such a statement.

I have suggested that Prof. Zimmerman elected to emerge as an apologist for the Group of 88 well after the criminal case ended. In fall 2007, he made a series of posts operating under the premise that I had deliberately ignored “efforts when the [Group of 88’s] ad was written to make much different points in a much different way than the protestors.” (He has also attacked other blogs and bloggers, such as Liestoppers and Bill Anderson; it is unclear whether he also rejects the arguments of figures such as Dan Abrams, Stuart Taylor, and Jim Cooney on the Duke faculty.)

At the time, he did not reveal the evidence that would prove his claim (given the unequivocal nature of his assertion, I can only assume that he possesses either Group members' e-mails, or written affidavits from Group members), and he has not revealed that evidence to this day. I continue to hope, however, that he elects to share his evidence with the public at some point in the future.

Anonymous said...

I simply do not understand Professor Zimmerman's continued defense of the group of 88. Whether or not KC had engaged in ad hominen attacks; whether he is prone to ridicule individual members of the group for their lack of scholarship; whether or not he is wont to take a somewhat sanctimonius tone; his defense of the Duke kids was incredibly persuasive and yes, noble. When everyone was saying guilty, he was saying wait a minute, let's look at the facts. I am not sure what KC did took a great deal of courage but, it took some; and, we are apparently somewhat short of that in academia. Professor Zimmerman's arrogant tone and his lockstep defense of his colloeagues show no such respect for the facts of this case and confers no benefit to the reputation of Duke or its faculty. How much better would it be if he admitted there was an injustice and tried to explain why (perhaps) decent people were led to such a mindless prejudgement (as well as suggestions that would avoid its repetition) Lest, Professor Zimmerman think I am a right winger, I am proud to say I gave money to both Hillary and Obama, excitedly voted for Obama, and consider myself a liberal democrat.

Chris Halkides said...

September 1, 2006

Faculty’s silence is sickening

Members of the Duke Faculty: You know. We know you know. Whoever the journalists who were responsible for putting your students’ pictures on a national magazine cover and the story on page one of the NYT after being indicted on the basis of flimsy evidence—the journalists are not “good.” But I can see loyal faculty members sitting around convincing themselves that it would be unnecessary to speak up—why, the reporters were just a little over the top. And the students? They were … lacrosse players for Pete’s sake.

No, public shaming of students is out of bounds. The country should not have to wait for a trial for the faculty to defend its students against that. Until the faculty members say that public ridicule is no way to treat our students, shut down their research programs.

(offered in jest but also to make a point)

Anonymous said...


WHO is this False Accuser?


This Outside Agitator

This Dishonest Purveyor

of Fraudulent History.


History is Judging you

and found you unfit

to hold the trusted


as Guardian of

Mankind's Immortal Legacy.


Stricken from the bookshelves

yea shall be.


Bill Anderson said...

It seems to me that Prof. Zimmerman wants it both ways. He is smart enough to openly recognize that the actual criminal case was a lie, but he really does not want to admit it fully, as that would seem to be giving into the "white racists" that supposedly this case was exposing.

To be honest, it should not be that difficult to say simply that the Karla Holloways and the Wahneema Lubianos and Houston Bakers in this case were wrong. Furthermore, it absolutely is true that black Americans are more likely to be screwed by our (in)justice system than are whites, and especially wealthy whites.

These two propositions are NOT mutually exclusive. One does not need to attack the lacrosse players as an antidote for the real injustices that blacks face every day in the courts and from the police. One can both condemn Nifong and what he did AND stand up for wrongly-accused black Americans.

Yet, for some reason, it seems that a goodly number of people in Durham simply cannot do that. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. And for that matter, why can't I both condemn the bogus criminal case against Reade Seligmann AND condemn the wrongful conviction of Cory Maye in Mississippi?

I would tell Prof. Zimmerman that condemning both cases is NOT mutually-exclusive. Justice really is color-blind, even if Karla Holloway insists that it is not.

Debrah said...

Yes, Professor Zimmerman has been a stand-out apologist for the Gang of 88 for a long time.

And what intellectual nuance we have Carly Simon would say......."From a long time keeps you running.....oh, it keeps you running...." ******************

Reharmonizer Man opines from that post in 2007:

"Meanwhile back at the ranch (DIW, that is), reading the comments is like listening to a roomfull of drunks who are feeling very clever. Not a surprise—self-righteousness in a crowd is intoxicating.*******************

Rhapsodic to the core!

becket03 said...

I just spent some time reading Zimmerman's blog, a very unpleasant task. I hadn't been there in probably two years.

Visitors to DIW were referred to several times there as "bigots" and once as "ignorants." Zimmerman and his commenters don't seem to care that KC was right about the case from the beginning --- as were many of us here at DIW.

What can it mean that they were proven so completely wrong about a criminal case and still they parade a sense of unshakable moral and intellectual superiority?

The truth matters not, only the metatext of current academic fads, and their opinions of one another. The conversation never ends, and no resolutions are ever found, because a reply or a rebuttal is always close at hand, available to muddy the waters anew.

That's academia for you. For me, it would be a living hell, a prison of the mind.


Anonymous said...

to 10:10
"Outside agitator" is exactly what southern segregationists called those who were committed to the Civil Rights movement. It's usually a waste of time getting people like you to take off your mask since you will usually do it yourself if we can just wait for a angry, Saturday night.
More unsupported attacks and threats. No facts. No real arguments. I suppose this is your A game, right?

Anonymous said...

Is Zimmerman a Communist?

Anonymous said...

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

AMac said...

Moderator's VetoPresumptions about the motives behind comments being deleted or not appearing have been the spark that set off a number of nasty blog spats.

The intellectually correct approach is to first explore explanations such as "[the] comment was accepted, but a glitch in blogger prevented it from appearing" and "[the commenter] accidentally made an error in submitting the comment" before moving on to explanations that involve dishonest behavior. This is more not less important when there is preexisting ill will between the parties to the (potential) dispute.

I am one of the DIW readers who repeatedly urged KC Johnson to enact comment moderation at the height of the Hoax/Frame controversy. A number of people were submitting large numbers of fact-challenged comments seething with animosity, in aid of Johnson's position. The sincerity of some of that support could be questioned. Still, any tool that's right for the job--a number of the Hoax/Frame enablers seized on DIW's viler comments to conflate Johnsons opinions and those of his most rabid supporters ("supporters").

I thought, and think, that Johnson's open-comment policy was motivated by his committment to "free speech." This was misguided; IMO; speech isn't restricted by any policy as long as Blogger et al. offers free and uncensored accounts. The failure of "censorship" can be seen by reading the eloquent comments submitted to DIW by Joan Foster that Johnson failed to pass, here ("Although he has called me out by name, sadly my comments no longer survive KC's "lightest of touches.").

The flip side to moderation is that conflicts such as this one will arise. The right thing for the blogger to do is address controversies when they arise. Johnson did this, denying the vetoing of any Zimmerman comments at Reharmonizer and at DIW. Zimmerman describes this disagreement with this Update Q&A --

"Q: Did Johnson end our exchange of comments on DIW with a moderator’s veto? A: He doesn’t know..." [Emphasis added.]

In my opinion, this characterization is not presented in good faith.

[Cross-posted as comment #36 at DIW as a rumor mill.]

AMac said...

On the matter of Group Apologist Robert ZimmermanJohnson has the often-unwelcome habit of attaching labels to people he doesn't like. Sometimes this shorthand usefully focuses attention, when applied to the dramatis personae of the case. The best example may be "The Group of 88" itself -- a Johnson invention. The label highlights the action of the eighty-eight Duke-affiliated people, the majority faculty, who signed the Listening Statement. This advertisement had the effect and--most people believe--the intention of furthering the rush to judgement being orchestrated by DA Nifong and being cheered by Durham city government employees, the Herald-Standard, the N&O, and the potbangers.

One charming hallmark of the LS signers has been their arrogant failure to engage in any public reflection of the damage done by their public rush to judgment in the case. That arrogance has of course been amply justified by the events of the intervening years--neither the instigators nor the signers have been held to account for their actions, least of all by their employer.

"The Group of 88" is a fair label for this collection of individuals, useful shorthand for those who know the facts of the case. It's arguably helpful to those unfamiliar with the Hoax/Frame as well. The question "what was this 'group' and what did they do?" is an easy entry into the aspects of the case as it relates to the Culture of the University.

Ironically, one of the essential places for such an inquiry to lead is Zimmerman's blog. Because the actions of the Listening Statement signers were so opportunistic and tainted with groupthink, it's very hard for most observers to gain insight into their states of mind. These weren't cardboard Bad Guys, but actual people with actual ideas--intellectuals, in fact. Zimmerman paints a portrait of the G88 that is often sympathetic, and sometimes negative. Given Johnson's (and my) lack of empathy for the signers, the points raised by Zimmerman (and by SEK's at Acephalous) are well worth reflecting on. Even if one ends up rejecting the balance implied by this "on the one hand/on the other hand" approach.

"Group apologist" is a groupthink-friendly rally-the-troops catcall that ought to be beneath Johnson's dignity. Johnson's disdain for Zimmerman's person and positions comes through quite clearly, and vice versa. No need for the simplistic and unfair moniker.

[Cross-posted at DIW as a rumor mill.]

Yvonne's daughter said...

Anon @ 8:07am re: the 10:10:

I suppose this is your A game, right?The 10:10 is my favorite pet over at the cave. And yes, that is his A game. That's the best he's got, unfortunately.

kcjohnson9 said...

To AMac:

M-Webster defines apologist as "one who speaks or writes in defense of someone or something." That strikes me as an eminently fair description of Zimmerman's many writings on the Group and members of the Group--just as it would be fair to describe me as a critic, even a severe critic, of the Group.

I could have used a pejorative term--say, "Group propagandist" or "Group sympathizer"--but those phrases struck me as needlessly confrontational and, more important, less accurate.

I should note that I have praised Prof. Zimmerman on the rare occasions when he distanced himself from the Group, as when he publicly condemned the potbangers, something no Group member has, to this date, done.

On comment moderation: I recall your recommendation at the time, and believe, in retrospect, your advice was correct.

skwilli said...

Despite my recent mild criticism of KC for a "method" in one post, I will defend him to the hilt here. A head to head debate of him and Prof. Zimmerman would undoubtedly result in Zimmerman's total embarrassment on all these points. Defending the 88's egregious actions is a losing proposition in every case. That's why it hasn't been done on any significant scale. However,with the race/class/gender mind-set in academia today, they win every battle by default just by keeping silent, despite having absolutely no ammunition.

Anonymous said...

To Brother AMac @ 10:30 --

I disagree with your comment that " 'Group apologist' is a groupthink-friendly rally-the-troops catcall that ought to be beneath Johnson's dignity" for many of the same reasons with which you defend the term "Group of 88." (For one, it is accurate.). In fact, and to the contrary, I was astonished by the restraint shown by Professor Johnson.


Please, hear me out. In the beginning Zimmerman was what I would call a "concern troll." That is, he pretended to be fair to both sides -- he just had many, many more concerns with our side. This can be measured empirically if you care. In his first few posts, he would write something like, "The Duke faculty no doubt took things a little too far," but, after that initial sentence, he would then complete the post with 5 paragraphs about how D-i-W posters were "ignorant" and other instances of name-calling.


Very quickly, Zimmerman devolved into an apologist. The fraud that he had initially perpetrated was, after just a couple of posts, exposed. If you don't read his blog and see classic Greek apologies for the actions of the Group of 88, then I don't know what to tell you. Moreover, when you think about it, what other tack could he have taken in order to write reams and reams of nonsense about D-i-W and Professor Johnson? The physics and math require it!


Finally, the transformation became complete, though, and he fledged into a "Group Denier." He now denies that a "Group" of "88" professors banded together to sign onto a document that -- against all logic, reason and any semblance of Due Process -- prejudged innocent Duke students.

On top of all that, Zimmerman, without warning or apology, removed most if not all of my comments from his blog and stored them in some type of cyber warehouse accesible only by link, and only after one is forced to read a nasty, Sean Hannnity-esque comment he wrote about each post.

Thus, I believe Professor Johnson showed restraint in not entitling this post, "The Group Denier-cum-Disingenuous Weasel, in Action." MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

Thank you, skwilli @ 2:15, you reminded me of something I wanted to share.

I would be described as somewhat liberal in various aspects of my worldview by some commentators on this blog, and one day I was capering about the liberal blogosphere harmlessly minding my own business when I ran across Zimmerman attempting to peddle his "Group of 88 Apologia" to a couple of the more well-known blogs.

He did this in the form of comments in the blogs, and in at least one instance, I recall him leaving a link to his own particular brand of cyber Hell.

Needless to say, there were no comments about his comments, and I assume he left pathetically ashamed and unfulfilled. The reason -- I believe -- is that these individuals were smart enough to realize that Duke Lax was toxic and an argument that could not be won.

I would ask Zimmerman to please refresh my recollection about which blogs they were. Do you still have links to your posts? I want to read them again! MOO! Gregory

One Spook said...

First, it's great to see AMac return to this Blog. IMHO, AMac ranks as one of the most erudite and reasonable commenters DIW has seen. But I don't agree with your comment about Zimmerman's "Group of 88 Apologist" moniker, AMac --- I believe it is both apt and fair.

And MOO Gregory's 2:18 PM description of the "Stages" of Zimmerman's Blog metamorphosis is absolutely on the money.

Early on, I read Zimmerman's Blog and found it fairly reasonable, only to see it evolve into snarky, bitter assaults on KC Johnson personally and other DIW commenters that are characterized largely by ad hominem attacks and devoid of any semblance of either logical or even "collegial" discourse.

And that is both sad and telling; sad because Zimmerman squandered an opportunity, and telling because his failure over all of this time to provide any cogent defense of the Group of 88 essentially proves that the 88's actions and statements are indefensible --- a premise that KC Johnson and many of the commenters here have successfully argued many times over.

But, even believing that I held out "hope," (that's cool these days) and so ”I recently commented at Zimmerman's blog” suggesting that he invite Karla Holloway, from whom he recently received an e-mail that he quoted on his blog, to comment at DIW. KC Johnson has pledged to post any comment of Holloway's in its entirety here, as he has done for others of the 88 and their supporters.

You can read my comment in full and Zimmerman's succinct two-sentence reply, ending with, "I wouldn’t encourage anyone interested in presenting their views for public discussion to do it on DIW."

Fine, OK.

Then "Group of 88 Apologist" Zimmerman should encourage any or all of his colleagues in the Group of 88 to comment on any public forum and engage "Group of 88 Critic" Johnson and anyone else who might disagree, or agree, with them.

That they have failed to do so represent intellectual cowardice in the extreme, not to mention evidence of a deep pathological fear that their words and actions just might have been wrong from the very moment their "Listening Statement" appeared in The Chronicle.

One Spook

kcjohnson9 said...

A quick note re two earlier comments (6.07, 7.46):

The commenter asked a series of questions; I answered them. The commenter then submitted a third comment effectively re-asking the questions.

That comment wasn't cleared.

If the commenter wishes to offer something original, he is, of course, welcome to do so; but it has not been my habit to clear repeated utterances of the same questions. There is, for instance, a commenter who repeatedly submits items asking about the evidence through which Dave Evans was indicted. I answered that question (twice); I have declined to clear the same question when the commenter has (over & over again) resubmitted it.

It's not clear to me whether the 6.07/7.46 is the same person as the commenter who repeatedly submitted the Evans question; perhaps so. In any case, my approach has been the same in both instances.

Bill Anderson said...


Here is a comment I sent to Zimmerman, but he did not clear it. (He cleared comments critical of you that were sent later, but apparently mine did not pass muster.) At any rate, here it is:

K.C. Johnson did not spread a rumor. He permitted me to post the contents of a direct conversation I had with someone who had spoken with Karla Holloway and who told me that Holloway said that the players were “guilty” as “guilty in the eyes of the law” because “guilt is a social construct.” That would be in line with her “Bodies of Evidence” article that appeared in a feminist journal in 2006.

If you want to differentiate between that and passing a rumor, then why are you not willing to deal with the rumor that Holloway passed on to Cash Michaels in 2007 just before Roy Cooper made his announcement? John Burness had told Holloway about a quote that supposedly the police had heard come from someone else that the lacrosse players allegedly had made when the strippers arrived. Now, there was nothing in any of the police reports about the alleged quote, and no one who was interviewed had said it.

Yet, we have this very questionable quote passed from the police to Burness to Holloway to Michaels and finally published in the Wilmington Journal as gospel truth and “proof” that those mean, nasty lacrosse players had raped Crystal Mangum. So, who is engaging in passing rumors here?

There is a difference between passing rumors and passing on a quote in a direct conversation. The only thing I have not done is to name the person who gave the quote to me, and that I will not do. Holloway is free to deny she said it, and she is free to do that, but I don’t consider her as someone who is trustworthy, given her slippery comments and actions earlier in the lacrosse case. Anyone who still insists that Tawana Brawley was telling the truth in her claims that a New York prosecutor raped her is not a credible person, in my book. You are free to believe her if you like and to say that I am making up the contents of the conversation I had with the faculty member, and that, too, is your privilege.

By the way, in your slam against Harvey Silverglate in another blog post you linked, you attack one of the most honorable people in this country, an attorney who truly has represented people who have been marginalized and railroaded by the law. Silverglate is a true hero, a man who has defended people, black and white, who have been wrongly charged by prosecutors and who have been railroaded in the courts.

We need more people like Silverglate who are decent, honorable, and who care deeply about the same people you claim to care about. The difference between Silverglate and Holloway (both of whom teach courses in law schools) is like the difference between cheese and chalk. But, then, Silverglate cares about people being wrongly charged, and does not declare that “guilt is a social construct.”

Anonymous said...

I found that Zimmerman's two main problems were proportion and hypocrisy. In fact, I don't visit that site any longer. The stink finally got to me.

Debrah said...

Reharmonizer couldn't quite make his case---even with the aggressive assistance of "AMac".

So now he and his harmonizing posse are going full-force after Anderson.

Anonymous said...

I think, buried in his nearly unreadable explanations (why are so many academics so fond of passive sentence structure, jargon and Latin? It sucks the vitality from everything they write.) that this reharmonizer fellow says he believes that some of his colleagues were unfair to the lacrosse players, but he still doesn't like K.C. Johnson for some reason I couldn't decipher.

I find that when someone will not plainly say what they mean, it is usually because s/he is trying to hide something.

I bet I know why this academic dislikes Johnson. He is jealous. Johnson won a lot of fans and sold a lot of books because he is a good writer and makes a strong argument.

I have a feeling that most of Johnson's academic critics despair of ever knowing that sweet success. They publish articles and books that no one reads, unless they have to do it for a class, or in one of those academic pseudo-journals that exist only to provide a venue for folks who must publish in order to fulfill their employment contracts.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who doesn't see that certain Duke faculty members were willing to sacrafice potentially innocent Duke students for their "political" gains is in denial.

Anonymous said...

What kind of priorities does Zimmerman have when he spends so much time and hate going after a professor who did everything he could to free innocent Duke students?

Anonymous said...

Just to be on the safe side, I want to define what I mean by "potentially innocent Duke students."

That phrase is used to describe the lax team at the time the Listening Statement was published.

At that time, they were "potentially innocent Duke studennts." Sorry for the ambiguity.

Anonymous said...

Apparently AMac doesn’t believe the reharmonizer’s repeated use of the term “bullshit” is beneath him. Or perhaps AMac has become aware the reharmonizer is simply quite the barnyard aficionado.

A Duke Dad said...

Raucous, Loud, Illogical, Dishonest, Outright Lies, Hooligans.

That seems to be characteristic of the 'opposing view'. Ad hominems prevail.

What these thugs simply do not understand: Volume of barnyard screeching does not constitute cogent argument. "We Be Thugging" is not compelling debate. It is just loud noise.

river rat said...

It's more clear than ever - that Duke's problem goes far deeper than the original "88" black racists and Lynch Mob volunteers who were eager to ignore their academic and fiduciary responsibilities to honor the Law and Common Sense.....

Academia appears to be populated by the same low level miscreants as our State and Federal office buildings.....

Too many of the worst among us in positions of trust they aren't entitled to.....

A POX on their arse....

Anonymous said...

I'm entering this whole debacle way to late in the game to truly understand what is going on (between the major players). So I ask this, why doesn't everyone get together and openly talk about this? Why must everything be done in blog or article form. Wouldn't be nice if the major players sat down with their "evidence" and talked this out. Not worrying about political correctness! And while I'm in la-la land.. how about we enter into this discussion with open minds.

Debrah said...

For anyone who---for whatever bizarre reason---wishes to defend Zimmerman, just check out his comments about KC and Wonderland on this blog from last April.

He's been at this fruitless game a long time.


"Durham-in-Wonderland is an excellent resource, but when it comes to academic matters, Johnson is a demagogue. It’s not a coincidence that he’s gathered that particular crowd of devoted fans–he tells them just what they want to hear, and not because he has any great devotion to the truth.

If you doubt, take a look at my blog. Or, to put his book and the case in perspective, track down the fine review of his book in the Nation online, sometime in early March."


"It turns out there’s no direct tradeoff here–Johnson can be dismissed as a miserable, self-serving analyst and professors and administrators at Duke can still be held responsible for jumping to conclusions and persecuting the players. Among the things that makes Johnson a very successful demagogue is that he’s good at convincing everyone that criticism of him is automatically defense of the 'Group'.

One thing you’re wrong about is that on Johnson’s site 'professors’ own words are quoted at length, and in context.' Sometimes they are, I’m sure, but he has a very poor record when it comes to context. He sees what he wants to see and manipulates facts and quotes to make sure his readers see exactly the same thing. I’ve laid out several cases in detail on my blog.

I don’t have to take your word for the subjective part–I also live at Durham and teach part-time at Duke. It’s absolutely true that many people around here went overboard in their reactions, and reflexively cast the lacrosse team as representatives of all that’s wrong in the world. I’ve been critical of that in my blog, as well. My feeling is that the vibe you’re talking about is mostly generated by extreme voices (people who put flyers on telephone poles, for instance).

For me personally, it’s Johnson’s Duke-in-Wonderland, that gives off a strong vibe. It’s a cartoon world staffed by good guys and bad guys, with nobody in the middle. It’s not a reflection of reality as I know it but of Johnson’s impoverished imagination and agenda-driven analysis. It must be awful for your wife to work at such a depressing institution. I have very mixed feelings about the school where I’ve been teaching for almost 10 years, but it’s a much more interesting place."


"If my comment about the library was obnoxious, I’m sorry–I should have made the point more directly. Of course the library is a fine place, and not all that different from the academic departments it serves. Did you and your wife come in contact with a lot of people at the library who behaved atrociously?

When I first read Duke-in-Wonderland, I thought that, no matter how abrasive and judgmental he was, Johnson must have been fairly close to the mark with his take on many of those he singled out as extremists. But when I scratch the surface what I find is misreading, misrepresentation, cheap shots, and character assasination. If you can point out what I’ve missed or why I should believe a word he writes anyways, please do.

As you probably know, James Coleman–the shining exception to the general rule about Duke faculty–cowrote a letter to the Duke Chronicle last October criticizing Johnson and Taylor for a 'tragic rush to judgment' in their broad condemnation of Duke faculty. Johnson dismissed Coleman and Kasibhatla’s criticism with the same kind of blustery evasions that he’s used to write off every other objection to his crusade. I’ve found no sign that he or any of his loyal readers even paused to consider in light of Coleman’s criticism. If you’re as wedded to the story as they are, nothing that I say is going to change your mind. But I think you’re more flexible than that."