Monday, August 03, 2009

July Events in the Case

All three sets of attorneys provided a forceful rebuttal to the Duke/Durham claim that the recent Iqbal decision justifies dismissal of the civil cases. In one of the briefs' better passages, "In supplemental briefs, the wrongdoers behind the Duke lacrosse case—one of the best-documented episodes of police and prosecutorial civil rights abuses in modern history—contend that their misconduct can never be the subject of a federal action because the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) present an insurmountable barrier. They declare that the well-known facts of the Duke lacrosse case are 'implausible,' and that the Court should simply disbelieve them and dismiss the case before discovery even begins."

The brief filed by disgraced ex-DA Nifong appeared to retract his apology to the falsely accused players, and his previous admission that no evidence existed to justify his procedurally improper prosecution.

The list of signatories to the May 1, 2006 Sociology Department letter revealed some of the biggest names in the department, including the current and former chair. In the comments thread, one (anonymous, of course) commenter expressed outrage that the recently unearthed document would be analyzed at all, since the letter was more than three years old.

Houston Baker--the very same man who was willing to publicly denounce his own school's students based solely on the word of the police--suddenly positioned himself as a sharp critic of trusting the version of events presented by the police.

Duke Magazine interviewed several Group members, offering a combination of extremist thought and unintelligible prose.

Wendy Murphy managed to insert herself into the Gates scandal. No word yet on whether she is claiming that the Cambridge Police has refused to release all secret documents.

ESPN covered a troubling sexual assault case involving a college soccer player in California.

And the winner of the 2009 Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education was announced.


No justice, no peace said...

Congratulations on winning the Merrill award K.C. You are in tall cotton.

Hans Mark, a former chancellor at the Universtiy of Texas is a first-rate scholar, leader, and now selection committee judge.

RighteousThug said...

Congratulations, KC.

Trinity '85 said...

Congratulations, Prof. Johnson! Perhaps there *is* hope for American liberal arts education - just not at my beloved alma mater.

Long time reader, first time commentor, former student of Mansfield. said...

Congratulations. Being on the same list as people of the stature of Himmelfarb, Mansfield, and the other recipients is quite an honor.

Anonymous said...

"the winner of the 2009 Philip Merrill Award"

ACTA's a great organization. Congratulations!

Duke Prof

Anonymous said...

Is Baker a Communist?

a Nice NJ Guy said...

Dr. Johnson,

Congratulations on the award of the 2009 Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education.

While this award, and previous recognition, in addition to your demonstrated achievements in teaching, research and publication are truly extraordinary ... it appears that all this is a major impediment to any potential Group of 88 membership.

Hurrah for the Good Guy.

Jim in San Diego said...


Congratulations on your selection for the 2009 Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contribution to Liberal Arts Education.

An extraordinary honor, and a ray of hope.

Jim Peterson

Debrah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
One Spook said...

KC writes:

And the winner of the 2009 Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education was announced.

Congrats, KC! ^10!

Here is the press release.

I see that you have joined fellow Harvard graduate Harvey C. Mansfield, who I consider to be one of the great scholars of the last half of the 20th Century, as a recipient of this prestigious award.

Excellent company indeed!

One Spook

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson: Congratulations on being selected as the 2009 Phillip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education. Recognition by former Trustees and Alumni of colleges and universities must be especially gratifying in that there is no faculty nepotism involved.

Not only do I admire your intellectual and analytical abilities, but,also, I am amazed at your boundless energy in the persuit of knowledge and truth.

Many thanks for the extraordinary examples you set.

sceptical said...

Congratulations on this honor. I don't know how you find the hours in the day to teach, do scholarly research and writing, and still manage to blog.

Good guys do sometimes finish first!

Gary Packwood said...

KC's Philip Merrill award from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni gives me some hope that university trustees have some degree of understanding of their fiduciary trustees.

Perhaps KC can speak to the issue of trustee oversight during his November 2009 acceptance speech at George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Unknown said...

I recently had the opportunity to speak socially with one of the group of 88, a person who clearly cannot be considered a radical faculty member. When we talked about the lacrosse case I was rather surprised by the narrative at this point in time. The current (and convenient) justification for the group's behavior seems to be that the lacrosse team was a disaster waiting for a place to happen, so the fact that Nifong was completely dishonest is a secondary concern because if this particular incident had not occurred, then supposedly something equally nefarious would have. (This general argument apparently comes from Peter Wood, since I got the impression that the other signatories consider him to be the faculty expert on lacrosse behavior.) I did not argue the point since I was more interested in finding out whether there were any regrets at this point, and I can say that, at least in this case, the professor felt very comfortable with the group's actions. All I can say is that I find this attitude to be quite amazing, but unfortunately not that surprising.

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS, KC! We are delighted for you!!

Loved Tenured Radical's take on the whole thing...back to blaming the 911 caller. Kudos to Mr. Gates for sending the poor woman some flowers.


William L. Anderson said...

Well, K.C., you are NOT going to get appointed to the Duke faculty if you keep winning these awards. Obviously, you are unqualified to work alongside giants such as Peter "Those Students Were Hostile" Wood and Wahneema "I Ain't Got No CV" Lubiano.

And don't expect Houston Baker to write you a letter of recommendation, and William Chafe will not return your phone calls. Nope. They have more important things to do, like make false accusations against the student who pay their exorbitant salaries.

Hieronymus Braintree said...

According to Bob Somerby over at today's Daily Howler "Whalen's lawyer" "said that Whalen 'does not believe the police acted inappropriately' in making the arrest."

If that's Murphy, I'm surprised. I'd figured she wouldn't be interested unless she could get Whalen to back up Gates. It's also a version from someone who, if she has any interest in the situation at all, it would seem to be to make the whole imbroglio to go away as soon as possible. Stoking yet another round of being called a racist would seem to be against her direct interest, no?

Anonymous said...

Public interest law prof at GW Law argues for Mr. Gates to sue...believing that (1) it is not illegal to yell at the police, (2) Mr. Gates words were not "fighting words," (3) the public who heard the words were not incited to riot, and (4) Mr. Gates behavior was not actually "tumultuous." According to this prof, these kinds of arrests happen all the time, they are illegal in his view, and Mr. Gates has the wherewithal to put a stop to them with a lawsuit. And furthermore shame on Mr. Gates for sipping beer when he should have been filing a suit!


Kathmandu2011 said...

Congratulations, Professor Johnson!

We missed you.

Gary Packwood said...

Ricardo 8/3/09 3:18 PM said...

...I recently had the opportunity to speak socially with one of the group of 88, a person who clearly cannot be considered a radical faculty member. When we talked about the lacrosse case I was rather surprised by the narrative at this point in time. The current (and convenient) justification for the group's behavior seems to be that the lacrosse team was a disaster waiting for a place to happen, so the fact that Nifong was completely dishonest is a secondary concern because if this particular incident had not occurred, then supposedly something equally nefarious would have.
And those sentiments applied also to fraternities, the basketball team and the lacrosse team.

They needed to take out a group of privileged white males and they didn't much care which group or how they enabled it to happen.

Closing out Division 1 sports and fraternities at Duke would have given Anger Studies professors enough fuel for their research to last a decade or more and place Duke at the forefront of the modern university 'model' written by the Group of 88, of course. With annual conferences at Duke for the uninitiated to sit at the feet of the masters.

That is why we need the discovery process to begin so as to learn which groups on campus were working together to make this happen and who was coordinating with the City of Durham.

Expect more outrage that unearthed document, files and conversations will be analyzed, since they are more than three years old.

Anonymous said...


I think the mentality is:

The narrative was right, but the facts were wrong (this time)


77Devil said...

Congrats KC. Well deserved no doubt. I'm thankful the PC movement was largely non existent at Duke in the 70's. My history professors actually taught history. Imagine that.

Anonymous said...

I live in Durham, in mixed feelings of joy and fear of what the Lacrosse young men's victory in the law suits will do to my taxes. So happy for them, sad for me in this case. But so happy for them. To cope with my financial loss, I will be happy that the circle of Karma came around so fast.

The people who believe in the Nifong-Precious-88'ers (hopefully not members of the juries in these cases) are like the birthers! No amount of facts will convince and any spurious sidebar takes on mystical meaning. Did you see a forgery of a Kenyan Obama "birth certificate," is all the proof they need?

I work at Duke Hospital and would love to have KC on the university faculty! He needs to be recruited to work at Duke IMHO. He came and did a talk here and it was very well received. Don't judge Duke by the 88, there are many good people who would love to have KC in the History Department! He is a man for our time.

Congrats on your award!
Thanks too for continuing your service here on the blog please keep going till the legal stuff is done anyways. I wonder how long it could take, do you have a guess? The Duke Chronicle carried great stories about the case. Hope this year they will too.

QA said...

Congratulations, KC; you inspired us all!

Anonymous said...

I worked closely with the late Phillip Merrill when he owned, among other publications, the Washingtonian Magazine. Phillip Merrill was a principled businessman who knew that his publications' long-term integrity was far more important than any cost-saving measure of the moment. I feel confident he would be exceptionally proud that his namesake award is going this year to a man of KC's achievement.

Wallace Boston said...


Congratulations on winning the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education! I couldn't imagine anyone more deserving of this award.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Found at Minding The Campus:

Link to article at FIRE

'Harvard Law Review' Gets Lazy: Prestigious Journal Publishes Article Ignoring Case Law, Defending Speech Codes


Anonymous said...

Found at Minding The Campus.

August 4, 2009

It Was Just Blather

By Mark Bauerlein

First paragraph:
"In the Critical Theory Archives at UC-Irvine, deep in a file of the Stanley Fish Papers, is a statement on Duke University letterhead by Fish when he was Executive Director of Duke University Press. The statement isn't dated, but we can assign it to the year 1996, appearing as it does in response to the infamous Sokal Hoax."

Fish' statement, which provides prima facie proof of his mealy-mouther weaselhood. and Bauerlein's dissection of it are exquisite.

Anonymous said...

This link will take you to the letter of Harvard professor Wisse regarding the Gates incident. She is quite critical of Mr. Gates who may have hated Duke but probably would not have had to read any letters like this from his fellow faculty members there. Prof Wisse was bold to publish this. Google the Harvard Crimson for other letters from professors regarding this episode that are quite supportive. The comments are very interesting, too.

Mr. Gates looks worse and worse as time goes on and more information becomes available.


Locomotive Breath said...

The current (and convenient) justification for the group's behavior seems to be that the lacrosse team was a disaster waiting for a place to happen...

That could quite accurately be said of Duke's faculty.

OT: As far as "birthers" are concerned, the man who has promised us the most transparent administration evah is spending money on lawyers to close off to public view his entire historical past. I don't give a fig, necessarily, for where he was born, but I don't like an obvious obfuscation by the highest official in the land. I wonder who Obama's "plumbers" are.

jim2 said...

Congrats, KC!

Considerable time has passed since the offenses committed by those involved in the actions against the Duke LAX team. For example, it's been over three years since some of the deeds, and the three year clock is currently passing on others.

Have any statutes of limitations already expired? Are any imminent?

One Spook said...

A Few Comments on the Comments:

At 11:09 PM commentator Wallace Boston's site is, imho, a must read article on a great American hero, Virginian SSgt Darrell "Shifty" Powers here, whose death passed almost unnoticed by the mainstream media.

To the 11:26 PM whose Caps Lock key is stuck, the answer can only be, "Yes We CAN!"

To the Anon @ 1:40 AM who mentions an absolutely terrific essay by Mark Bauerlein; that must-read piece is located here: It Was Just Blather.

If you read nothing else, please read both of those links.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your award, KC.

Debrah said...

TO "Observer" (4:16 PM)--

I deleted my comment here with the link to TR's blog simply because she removed a comment of mine making the same point as yours, among other ones, in blaming Whalen and propping up Gates.

As with the Lombard case, the academy has a very difficult time with such subject matter.

Both are very much related to the Duke Gang of 88 environment and the underlying culture which produces excuses for them.

If Lombard had been a conservative zealot, he would have been slaughtered by the same people who are now so silent.

Debrah said...

I certainly will not support Obama for a second term if he doesn't begin showing a bit more of the "post-racial" sensibilities he touted to get elected.

I still marvel how self-indulgent and retro it was for him to inject himself into his "personal friend" Gates' whipped-up controversy.

Is this how he really thinks?

Is this how he is indoctrinating his children?

Was I a fool to have voted for someone so artificial?

Debrah said...

These letters from the N&O express the sentiments of many:

Esteem eroded

Drink up

This episode and how it was handled are a bit more significant than some wish to admit.

W. R. Chambers said...

The list of Philip Merrill Award recipients is very impressive. Congratulations to K.C.

river rat said...


That is one huge "atta-boy"...

In fact, it's big enough to trump at least 100 "aw shits"....

Debrah said...

Talk about La La Land.

This obviously means that no one should ever call the police for help with a possible crime taking place unless the people in question are not black.

This is wading into very bizarre territory.

Now I am scared!

Debrah said...

There are some excellent comments under this post.

Kenny is some sort of minister in Durham who used to write a Sunday column for the old Herald-Sun.

Though this post is predictable fare and terribly reminiscent of his H-S days, the comments are great ones.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, KC, on this well-deserved honor.

I was reminded as I read your name, Robert David "KC" Johnson, how many people miswrite it. Even the usually careful write Ann Coulter called you "K.C. Johnson" in her last book. Even regular commenters here do it.

Anyway, I wanted to make sure I have the story of your name right: I understand that as a youngster you were a big Boston Celtics fan; that the Celtics at the time had a player (later coach) named "K.C. Jones"; so that your friends began tagging you with the name "K.C. Johnson" which eventually mutated to "KC". Is that right?


P.S. Does anyone still call you "Robert"? It's a fine name as well. :)

Anonymous said...


Brilliant and well-deserved award. Kagan is brilliant company. We are very proud of you. Kevin is now a US Marine Corps 2nd Lt. with very high marks at Quantico. Thanks for everything and always,

Maureen and Dr. Thom Mayer

hetherfly said...

I have followed your blog from the day I read about it in Vanity Fair several years ago. You are the voice of reason in the chaos of this story, and an inspiration to all who read along. Congratulations on your award.