Tuesday, March 25, 2014
A Turn of Season
For the politically correct, the lacrosse case proceeded through three stages. The first came in spring 2006, when figures like Selena Roberts and factions like the Group of 88 not merely presumed guilt, but drew broad moral lessons from the crime they were certain occurred. The second came in winter 2006 and spring 2007, when many of these same figures denied they their previous comments had referred to the criminal case at all, and instead launched a biting cultural critique against the lacrosse players. The third came in summer 2007, when the politically correct rushed to move on.
A few recent signs, however, suggest we might be moving back toward that second phase. The most obvious comes from cnn.com, which found time to break away from its round-the-clock coverage of the Malaysian Airlines disaster to run a column on the . . . cutting-edge . . . topic of lowering the drinking age (to 19, rather than 18, suggesting that the author believes it’s OK to prevent some people who can vote and die for their country from drinking alcohol).
The argument of the column, by William Cohan—that the lacrosse players were drunken louts, that we’ll never know if something happened to Crystal Mangum, that despite their innocence the players should have faced a trial—is little more than a warmed-over version of the Herald-Sun editorial pages from winter 2006. But given the column’s ill-concealed status as a promotion for Cohan’s forthcoming book, presumably this thesis will reappear in Cohan’s April publication as well. So I assume we’ll be hearing lots more about how college students should be judged on how the worst of their group behaved at a spring break party—a standard that the paragons of political correctness rarely apply to all college students.
A second sign came in Jim Coleman’s comments to Radley Balko. The Duke law professor wildly claimed that the three falsely accused students failed to have used their experience “as an opportunity to subject the criminal justice system to a searing review. It’s as if they believe the only bias in the system is against wealthy white college students.”
Less than a minute on Google proves the falsity of Coleman’s statement: Reade Seligmann, for one, has been extremely active with the Innocence Project, to such an extent that his work received extensive press coverage and an “Advocate for Justice” award from an Innocence Project committee. (Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans likewise have worked with Innocence Project events.) Would Coleman be willing to compare Seligmann’s record on this issue with that of any member of the Group of 88? Why does Coleman consider a law student repeatedly working with the Innocence Project to constitute a failure “to subject the criminal justice system to a searing review”?
As with Cohan, it appears that Coleman has retreated into a factually-challenged cultural critique. To date, he has not retracted his statement about Seligmann.
Finally, this tweet from the left-leaning journalist Howard Fineman
recalls what might have passed for humor on the Upper West Side in summer 2006.
Expect more of this sort of cultural “critique” to coincide with the Cohan book.