Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More from Wonderland (Twice Updated)

In what could only be described as a classic case of chutzpah, false accuser Crystal Mangum gave a press conference this morning claiming that the Durham judicial system--the same Durham judicial system that the disgraced Mike Nifong rigged to prop up Mangum's "fantastic lies"--is . . . out to get her.

That's her explanation for her February arrest on a variety of domestic violence charges. It's troubling to see that Mangum continues to live in a fantasy world. Perhaps her next event will be to serve as character witness for the fired, and recently arrested, Linwood Wilson.

To confirm, however, that Durham isn't the only locale where such bizarre behavior occurs, take a look at New York City, which just appointed Bob Steel(!)--whose stints as Duke BOT chairman and as head of Wachovia could charitably be described as failures--to be deputy mayor.

[Three updates: (1) In a statement released to the media, false accuser Mangum affirms that "my past entanglement with Duke reached out to drastically influence the legal problems that I now face." This would be the same "Duke" who had 88 faculty members who publicly declared that something "happened" to the false accuser; or whose president released multiple public statements condemning the character of the group that she falsely accused. Why Duke--heretofore a major Mangum supporter, if for reasons unrelated to the veracity of her tall tales--suddenly has decided to coopt the DPD to go after Mangum remains a mystery.

(2) The spokesperson for the crank committee demanding restoration of Mike Nifong's law license has filed a complaint with the Justice Department, alleging a federal violation of Mangum's civil rights. Mangum and like-minded figures, the complaint alleges, have experienced discrimination because they reject the "widespread, vitriolic propaganda spread by the media against Mike Nifong and the prosecution team in the Duke Lacrosse case."

Perhaps I'm a cynic, but I rather doubt that the DOJ will consider Nifong apologists to constitute a protected class.

(3) The North Carolina AG's office has taken over all matters relating to Linwood Wilson, after one judge (Ron Stephens) delayed a protective order, thus allowing Wilson to keep his guns, and another judge (David LaBarre) mysteriously lowered Wilson's bail, based on incomplete information provided by Wilson in a phone call to the judge.

According to a court document filed by Wilson's estranged wife, the ex-Nifong investigator told her that "he owned Durham [and] lawyers and judges would do anything he said."]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Linwood Wilson Arrested (Updated)

Wilson booking photo

Linwood Wilson--whose penchant for unethical behavior was outdone only by the unethical behavior of his disgraced former boss--has been arrested, on a Delaware warrant related to domestic violence and cyberstalking his estranged wife.

Reports WTVD-11:
Warrants state on June 1, Wilson allegedly sent his wife an instant message that said in part, "'til death do we part remember your wedding vows.. you never know the day or the time."

Warrants also reveal Wilson later mailed two DVD's to his estranged wife depicting her engaged in a sexual act with him. Before that he allegedly e-mailed nude photos of his wife to her sister.

Warrants describe about a dozen more e-mail encounters, even after authorities issued a protective order . . .

Wilson and his wife separated in April after 18 years of marriage. Before that his wife says Wilson intimidated her numerous times and threatened to kill her with a gun.

She says after the Duke Lacrosse case, his behavior, "..changed for the worse."
Remember: this is the man (who had already lost his PI's license) that Mike Nifong specifically brought on board as his DA's investigator. But, as Brad Bannon noted, Wilson once did have a badge.

In yet another Durham-in-Wonderland moment, WRAL reports "Judge David Q. LaBarre changed Wilson’s bond [to $1000] over the telephone after Wilson called him asking for help. LaBarre said Wilson told him he was being arrested on a domestic violence charge but that he didn't know about the other charges when he set a bond that would allow Wilson out of custody."

Here's a clip of the ex-DA's investigator, from happier times.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Duke Celebrates Tyson

Said David Jarmul, associate vice president for news and communications: “Professor Tyson is highly regarded here at Duke for his work as a faculty member."

That's the same Professor Tyson who:

--in his capacity as a teacher, attended a guilt-presuming protest outside the lacrosse captains' house, at about the same time the supposed "victim" was taped pole-dancing at a strip club;

--publicly asserted about Duke students, based solely on evidence supplied by Mike Nifong, “I think the spirit of the lynch mob lived in that house on Buchanan Street, frankly, and I think that we prefer to think of white supremacists as ignorant, pot-bellied, tobacco-chewing sheriffs and Ku Klux Klan members from Mississippi, but here we have the sons of power and privilege, the wealthy and well-educated among us, who are acting out this history.”

--claimed that Duke students not talking to Sgt. Mark Gottlieb outside the presence of their attorneys “may be illegal” and constituted a “terrible moral miscalculation.”

--falsely stated, "The neighbors who have no ax to grind in this, presumably, seem to confirm the charges of the women that there were a lot of racial insults thrown.” [emphasis added]

--ignored any conception of due process by affirming, “I wouldn’t let this team continue to exist until the police get some cooperation from them.”

And then, asked about his inflammatory statements by the Wilmington Star-News after the case to which he had attached his public reputation collapsed, defiantly proclaimed: "I stand by every word of it."

(This is also the same Tim Tyson whose movie project received between $1 million and $5 million in backing from former BOT chairman Robert Steel.)

Said David Jarmul, associate vice president for news and communications: “Professor Tyson is highly regarded here at Duke for his work as a faculty member."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Professional Protesters' Credibility

[Update, 8.46pm: Joining the Rev. Barber in the protest was none other than Duke's resident professional protester, Tim Tyson--the figure who humiliated himself by participating (as a teacher) in a protest outside the lacrosse captains' house as their false accuser, Crystal Mangum, was caught on videotape pole-dancing at a strip club.]

Few public policy initiatives produced such unfortunate, if unintended, consequences as mandatory school busing to achieve racial diversity.

The idea, on its face, seemed reasonable: Brown dealt only with legalized segregation, but in dozens of northeastern, Midwestern, and Border State cities, de facto racial segregation existed. Policies such as “red-lining” (as well as uglier, more overt instances of hostility in cities like Detroit) had prevented black families from obtaining mortgages in selected neighborhoods, creating overwhelmingly-white or overwhelmingly-black neighborhoods. So assigning students to public schools on the basis of their residences resulted in de facto segregated schools.

Beginning in the 1960s, civil rights groups obtained from sympathetic federal judges rulings that mandated public school busing to achieve racially balanced public schools. The most notorious of these cases occurred in Boston, where federal judge J. Arthur Garrity took control of the city’s public school system, and racist mobs in South Boston greeted the arrival of black children at South Boston High School.

However well-intention in theory, mandatory busing almost always fell short in practice. In policy terms, they precipitated “white flight,” in which most white families either moved from center cities to suburbs (Detroit is a good example of this pattern) or sent their children to private schools rather than busing them out of their neighborhoods. In political terms, these white families—disproportionately middle-class or lower-middle class Catholic ethnics—became ground zero in the backlash against the Democratic Party, opening up the way for their emergence as “Reagan Democrats.”

Busing, then, mostly left behind smaller, though not much more integrated, public school systems; and harmed the political allies of busing advocates. It’s no surprise that most cities (and courts) have abandoned mandatory “diversity” busing in favor of voluntary programs like magnet schools.

In this respect, the decision of North Carolina’s Wake County to move away from mandatory busing is a bit behind the times. But the school board meeting to implement the policy change met with a protest from four “civil rights” activists—led by none other than the Rev. William Barber. Barber and his cohort used a break in the school board’s session to place themselves in board members’ seats before being arrested. The state NAACP head claimed that Wake County’s actions would wipe away “what it took more than a century ‘of tears, sweat and blood to accomplish.’”

That’s the same Rev. Barber whose conception of “justice” in the lacrosse case consisted of abandoning decades’ worth of his organization’s principles on criminal justice matters and posting on his organization’s website a “memorandum of law” riddled with errors that made the defendants appear to be guilty.

That, after such behavior, any politician would consider Rev. Barber credible is beyond belief.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Davidson Does Grading, Ctd.

At the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year, I noted the pedagogical . . . innovations . . . of Group of 88 member Cathy Davidson. Suffering from the travails of a tenured Duke professor—“I loved returning to teaching last year after several years in administration . . . except for the grading”—Davidson developed a scheme to collect her paycheck without doing the work normally expected of a college professor. Students in her classes would “pass judgment” on the work of their peers (the system worked “brilliantly,” she humbly noted), and students would “lead” the class discussion as well. The professor’s job, it seems, is limited to making sure no one’s feelings get hurt.

Other than the obvious (laziness), what was the rationale for Davidson’s scheme? A supporter of the effort, NYU professor Lisa Duggan, explained. Duggan had employed the tactic in her “Race, Gender & Sexuality in US History” course, where, she claimed, it benefited “students without previous educational privilege,” since they didn’t have to be “judged in the usual way” (i.e., writing research papers, taking exams) while turning off “entitled students who try to skate by on a good prose style.” Evidently, college professors shouldn’t be encouraging “good prose style.”

In any event, Davidson’s year of hard work has come to a conclusion, and what was the result? Fifteen of the sixteen students in the class received grades of A. What did the 16th student do wrong—challenge the ideological preconceptions of his or her peers, rather than following along with the groupthink atmosphere?

Davidson isn’t troubled by the grade inflation. In a bizarre analogy, she mused, “If I were training a basketball team to win the NCAA [tournament], let’s say, my bar would be winning that championship. It would not be creating a bell curve of my best and worst players.” Quite true. But, presumably, part of that effort would be distinguishing between the best and worst players, so that the coach made sure to play the best players. In Davidson’s Group of 88 world, everyone is equally “excellent,” and we need not worry about troublesome things like whether students have “good prose style” or study hard enough to do well on tests.

The Chronicle interviewed two students in the class; both had positive things to say. (They got an easy A, after all.) But such “instruction” hardly serves the long-term interests of the students—or the financial interests of their parents, who are paying $50,000 or so for a student-run class in which students grade themselves.

Put yourself in the position of a graduate school admissions committee, or a prospective employer, reading a letter of recommendation from Davidson for a student in the course:

I strongly recommend Student X, who received an A grade in my 2009-2010 class, “Your Brain on the Internet.” The course featured students running discussions and grading themselves, because, as I have noted elsewhere, “grading and assessment were late 19th- and early 20th-century conventions designed to be as efficient as the assembly line.” While it’s true that you might be a little reluctant to recognize the performance of someone graded not by their professor, but by college students, in a course run not by the professor, but by college students; and while you might be inclined to dismiss the evaluation standard of a course where 93.75 percent of the students received the best grade,“It is important for someone like me, at a superb school like Duke and with my experience as a traditional academic, to push the boundaries of education so we can develop a much better system. Right now, we’re training students for our past, not for their future.”

Davidson told the Chronicle that “I heard positive comments from lots of people in engineering” about her grading schemes. She didn’t reveal any of these colleagues’ names, presumably to spare them from embarrassment among their peers.