Response to a column in the Chronicle this morning:
In discussing the media, this column is right. In discussing our lacrosse team and the hoax, it is just plain wrong.
From the column: "None of this is to say that the team, as has been explained on countless occasions, was entirely innocent in its conduct...."
What do you mean by that? What are you referring to? Not entirely innocent.
There's nothing illegal about watching strippers at a party; two weeks before the lacrosse party, our men's basketball team employed one or more young ladies for a similar event. Sororities have employed young men. Have you ever been to the Durham County fair?
Not innocent. Are you referring to underage drinking? Give me a break.
You say the lack of innocence has been explained on "countless occasions." What is that about? Where? When?
You sound like Brodhead with a wishy washy concession that there may not have been a rape or any other sexual misconduct, "but what they did was bad enough." Whatever that was, Dick.
The column continues to indicate the divisive nature of the case derives from framing it as Duke vs. Durham. That is historically inaccurate.
The ink was barely dry on the police report summarizing Crystal Gail Mangum's first account of the "rape" -- the first of seven accounts by my tally -- when the Group of 88 faculty swung into action. With incessant pot banging, with a sign saying "Castrate," and with calls for team members to "come clean" and turn in their teammates who were rapists, these faculty members disgraced themselves with a rush to judgment and also with their pursuit of their own agenda.
That agenda included removal of big time athletics from Duke, some fuzzy notions about women's rights, and inflammation of conflict based upon class and color, power and privilege. Yes there was tension with Durham -- but most people realized a lot was generated by imported groups like the Black Panthers.
The response of our administration to this crisis -- this hoax -- eclipsed any concern over Duke-Durham relations. It was so bad, that even President Brodhead felt impelled after the players were declared "innocent" to stand on this campus and apologize for the way he had responded. His apology was partial -- never mentioning Coach Pressler for example -- and he never explained why he took positions he did.
Forget Duke vs. Durham. The chair of the Trustees was also highly divisive and to this day leaves a historical gap in our knowledge. But maybe Bob Steel has gotten religion. On Founder's Day, the man who closed Trustee meetings that had been open for a generation just three years earlier, the man who refused to meet reporters afterward, the man who had no comment during most of the hoax, said Duke should be more transparent! When Bob Steel comes clean, the issue will rest.
The column states, "It’s best to remember things like the Duke lacrosse case for their lessons..." Well I have just outlined what I consider the lessons of lacrosse.
And for the administrators who have said "it's over" for three years, hear this plea: settle the lawsuits.
In addition to the fight with team members, Duke is currently in a legal three-way with two insurance companies principally over the cost of defense lawyers -- and let us remember that when this fight began there was evidence that Duke's costs exceeded $25 million for legal fees. Legal fees alone. That was more than two years ago. That was before the $2 million bill from hot-shot Washington lawyer Jamie Gorelick for one year of part-time work revealed by FC.
As the column states, no one is at each other's throat anymore over the lacrosse hoax. The reason for that is that the sense of outrage on this campus .... on many issues ... is muted. The reason is not because "it's over."
As for scavengers like the Today Show, I agree the media is pushing it.
Not long ago I gave some FC advice personally to a former editorial page editor of the Chronicle who wrote a Newsweek column. She took a three year old cheating scandal that embraced -- among others -- lacrosse players at a high school, added it to the Duke lacrosse hoax, and then factored in the shooting in Virginia -- and reached conclusions about what this sport must be doing to young men.
Shame on that editor. How a rape that did not occur becomes part of the chain of events that supports conclusions about a sport.... only the Group of 88 could explain that.