Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Group of 88 & Wikipedia

Some interesting comments in a Wikipedia discussion thread regarding efforts to remove mention of their membership in the Group from Wikipedia bios of Group of 88 members. The evidence regarding Cathy Davidson, author of the infamous N&O apologia for the Group, is particularly troubling, in that the editor/whitewasher was traced to a CUNY IP on the same day that Davidson began her CUNY service.

I welcome insights from any Wikipedia editors in the comment thread.


skwilli said...

As a historian, you must be really dismayed to see history being rewritten in this fashion. Since the very last person involved wins the "history game", I hope you and others persist into hounding these bastards to the gates of Hell.

Anonymous said...

Is Davidson a Communist?

Anonymous said...

It is not hard to speculate that Ms. Davidson is attempting to re-write her own history. This may be taken as a positive in that if she feels the need to do so, she must receiving negative comments regarding the episode.

John Pack Lambert said...

I have been one of the most focal enemies of the attempts to delete the group of 88 category. I have to admit that part of me thinks that I have hurt the cause more then helped, by saying things like that G88 are "racist", and that they are "enemies of due process". However, I really can't see how my statements about them have ever been anything other than accurate.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia sure would benefit from contributions from people with expertise in this subject. The only real way to combat this whitewashing is to go overboard with sourcing and find articles or quotes concerning each specific 88er.

Jim In San Diego said...

The successes of this incredible blog run wide and deep.

1. An extremely well informed and motivated cadre which has responded magnificently on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and elsewhere.

2. This informed and motivated group has seen to it that the Wikipedia article on "Price of Silence" contains enough of the informed criticisms of the book to be a scathing indictment of the book, its author, and its publishers. All future researchers will see this.

3. At least some members of the "Group of 88" have found their membership, whether they like it or not, to be an embarrassing impediment to their careers which, of course, it should be.

These and other successes of this blog belong to its author, KC Johnson.

Once here, when I reported I could think of no other example of a public issue addressed with so much persistence, passion and skill, some anonymous responder suggested, "Zola".

This blog is certainly in that league. It has been successful in its own right, and is a template for the future, for those with the skill to manage it.

Jim Peterson

Jim In San Diego said...

@John Pack Lambert:

It is usually best, when arguing highly controversial issues, to avoid labels, like "racist".

Instead, list the verifiable facts which would lead readers to conclude, in their own mind, that someone is "racist", or whatever.

This is harder work than relying on labels. But, it is effective; avoids automatic rejection of your argument; and, is the intellectually proper way to address an issue.

Jim Peterson

William L. Anderson said...

If members of the 88 really were ashamed of their participation in what was nothing less than an attempt to frame innocent people in the name of a twisted ideology, then they would seek to rectify their wrongdoing. That none have done so tells us volumes about their character.

Jim In San Diego said...

@ Bill Anderson

You are correct. Expunging a factual record is not the same as being ashamed of what you did.

Those convicted of a felony, or designated as sexual predators, or who frame innocent students, or who wear any Scarlet Letter, need not be remorseful at all.

However, it is interesting some of those within the Group of 88 feel the need to expunge the record.

Jim Peterson

John Pack Lambert said...

I have to agree with Jim in San Diego that my initial reactions were unwise.

Things have since spiraled out of control. I have been topic banned from any contribution to articles on the Group of 88, the Duke Lacrosse Case, or various related subjects.

Even more odd, I was told that the Group of 88 article reflected the bias against them by "extreme-conservatives".

The general view seems to be those who feel strongly on this issue should not contribute. This is a bizarre view, and would never work if widely implemented in Wikipedia. By their very nature, most contributors feel some connection to the subjects they contribute on.

The attempt to ban me from contributions turned at one point into an attempt to claim I was a racist based solely on what my religion was, with no knowledge of even what my race was. I have to say such presumptions of guilt show that the Spirit of prejudice as shown by the Group of 88 lives on.

Lois Turner said...

If Davidson is ashamed of her conduct as an 88er, she should apologize.

If she isn't, then she shouldn't mind that it's included in her Wikipedi entry -- if fact, she should be pleased.

Jim In San Diego said...

@ Lois:

Unfortunately, that is not the way it works.

Child molesters seem to mind being called "child molesters".

Convicted felons wish they did not have to put "convicted felon" on their employment applications.

It is a good thing that, at least somewhere (CUNY?) "Group of 88" is pejorative. Because it is.

Jim Peterson

Jim In San Diego said...

The situation on Wikipedia is bizarre.

There is a concerted effort underway to (1) remove the article on the "Group of 88" on a number of grounds, including "weight", "relevance", and "sourcing" and (2) remove information about Cathy Davidson's participation in the Group of 88.

I saw one contributor argue Ms. Davidson's participation should be removed because there was no sourcing that she was a member of the Group of 88(!). Another contributor has fortunately responded.

However, that some partisan parties are trying to use obviously spurious arguments to remove or reduce the content of the Wikipedia article is actually rather ominous.

The effort is apparently being led by two contributors whose IP's come from Duke University, and two other IP's which come from CUNY, where Ms. Davidson and her husband now work.

Since these partisans have an intense interest in erasing historic knowledge of their participation in this sordid event, these efforts are likely to continue.

Jim Peterson

Mary said...

Whatcha hiding, Davidson? Why aren't you just all puffed up and proud of your participation in the celebration of protestors who advocated "lynching" and "castrating" the LAX guys? I lost all respect for every single one of these pseudointellectual blowhards when they refused to apologize.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted Davidson to ask for her side of the story? Could just as easily be her husband doing this.

Here Twitter is @CathyNDavidson

Duke Alum said...

This blog has done a wonderful job of refuting the lies of those who would alter the disgraceful facts of the Duke lacrosse case. I hope you keep it going so that the whole sordid episode doesn't just disappear down the memeory hole.

BTW, here's a link to a story to a woman who has just recanted her charge that her father raped her when she was eleven years old. The poor guy spent ten years in the slammer before she confessed her lies and he was released. The local prosecutor doesn't want to charge her because it might discourage others from making charges of sexual assault! Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

It might not be Davidson herself. Her husband, Ken Wissoker, Editorial Director of Duke Press (home of humanities silliness), was a behind the scenes major provocateur in the False Rape mess. He was more rabid than Davidson by far, and more out of control. He was also very protective of Davidson. I speculate that it is Wissoker who is doing the Wikipedia cleaning.

Lois Turner said...

Hold on -- let's not make Mr. Wissoker the victim of a Pap smear.

Chris Halkides said...

In the Amanda Knox/Raffaele Sollecito case, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales had to step in because people were getting banned for making neutral edits. link to Candace Dempsey's blog It would seem that whoever controls the Wikipedia page on a subject has gone a long way toward influencing public opinion on a subject.

Jim In San Diego said...


Thanks for the reference to the Amanda Knox page.

Those who wish to white-wash the Group of 88 article rely on some of the same arguments. For example, they are challenging sourcing from "blogs".

However, increasingly, blogs are doing the best reporting on controversial issues.

For example, which has done the most complete, accurate, and credible reporting of the Rape Hoax: (a) The New York Times; (b) Newsweek Magazine; (c) Durham-In-Wonderland [blog].

The answer is laughingly obvious.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Perhaps KC could take the contents of the blog, print it all out and sell a few copies and the people on Wikipedia could cite that instead?

Anonymous said...

Not really since KC deletes any post that guestions the narrative he publishes and promotes through the blog, so it's not really balanced reporting in that regards.

Anonymous said...

3:21 Anonymous: I haven't seen evidence of that but any post that misstates the facts should be removed from a blog that is devoted to setting forth the truth and protecting the innocent from slander.

Anonymous said...

There is probably a famous quote about truth that excludes or distorts part of the truth not being the absolute truth, but in all truth, that is neither here nor there, depending on who's truth 'wins' in the end ... but in the long run ... it's all bs anyway

Jim In San Diego said...

@ (cynical) anonymous:

It is not the (often anonymous) blog comments that make DIW such a force, and which are cited as an authoritative history of so many aspects of the rape hoax.

It is the blog writing itself, by KC Johnson. It is a running history unlike any seen before.

The letters of Pliny, or the Diary of Samuel Pepys come to mind, but they are of a different age and suited a different purpose.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

". . . so it's not really balanced reporting in that regards."

"Balanced" meaning what -- dressing a pig in a tux and claiming it can dance?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 4:13. Truth as a construction vs. the truth No matter how we spin it, the young lacrosse players were innocent of any crime, Nifong was guilty is specific, identifiable ways, the 88 professors did turn on their students, violating bedrock principles of higher education, the Duke administration did aid and abet Nifong and abandon students during their time of need. Magnum did fabricate and she did kill her boyfriend of two weeks, after trying to murder the reputations of the innocent Duke students. "Tried to murder the reputations..." and similar statements are my constructions. The truth is in the facts.


Anonymous said...

Maria - the death of Mr. Daye, Ms. Mangums friend, was assisted by the medical malpractice at the hands of Duke. That is a truth that is a fact, and that truth and the facts in the case are still subject to the Appeals Court judgement and possibly more trials. Just so you have more of the truth that is not a construction of denial and continued lax case type persecution and corrupt injustice that negatively affects ALL.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 3:15, I can see how that could be true since Mr. Daye died after 10 days in the hospital. Though Ms. Magnum did stab Mr. Daye multiple times and if these had been superficial wounds Mr. Daye would not have been hospitalized. I regard Ms. Magnum's claims that the lacrosse players did something that night as assaultive and reflective of yet more intent to harm.

Anonymous said...

Actually she only stabbed him once with a non-lethal self-defensive wound as a result. Duke however killed Mr. Daye's brain due to their avoidable medical malpractice three days after successful treatment of the one non-lethal self-defensive stab wound, and Mr. Daye was removed from the life support equipment required after Duke killed the patients brain by his immediate family after one week.

Anonymous said...

I read on Wikipedia of allegations that she repeatedly stabbed and seriously injured Mr. Daye. It changes the picture if there was only one stab wound. I see your point.

Is the Daye family suing the hospital for malpractice?

Anonymous said...

Good question - one that was never answered in the sham of a corrupt trial that has been conducted so far.

John Pack Lambert said...

Technically Wikipedia rules do not ban blogs, only blogs that are not reliable. This is especially important when considering the main content of the Blogs. Considering how controlling the New York Times is of the content of its articles (per Bill Keller's admission it always takes a liberal slant in cultural issues), it is hard to claim it is anything but biased. Many of the editors of Wikipedia would love nothing more than to be able to recreate NYT biases in it, and they have made some progress, but with the large number of contributors, are not able to fully reach that goal. They are trying though, and their attempt to rewrite the whole Group of 88 story is just one of many examples.