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I think that Taylor Doherty handled this sensitive story very well. But he should have gone further.
FC is impelled to put this into a sleazier context, which is the continuing, concerted effort by certain members of the Duke community to see this story in print.
To see it in print with the hope it would destroy a fellow Dukie.
We begin last spring, with Justin Robinette, chair of the Duke Republican Club, struggling with his sexual identity. As e-mails and other documents presented during student Judiciary proceedings show, he handled this very intelligently, even discussing with LGBT center counselors over a months-long period his concern that being gay would impact his role at the club.
Indeed, he was right.
Because step by step, as more and more friends and others on the Duke campus got to know Robinette, leaders of the GOP reacted. First, they reacted with great immaturity, snickles. Then they reacted with hate, taunts, obscene gestures during their political meetings. Simulated masturbation.
And finally the GOP leaders created a specious list of reasons Robinette had to go -- not one of those reasons holding water. They also held a night-time meeting without notice of the agenda, changed their by-laws, awarded themselves the authority, and ousted Robinette.
And yes they revealed their true inner selves in continuing harassment, as when a GOP stalwart told Robinette he had a hickey -- and wanted to know if it were planted by a male or female. Not to mention the proclivity of Republicans to refer to gay men as "Shit on Dicks."
(These same Republicans are racists, and FC has given VP Moneta the name of a witness to certain acts. While responding immediately to thank FC for the information, Moneta has not followed up with the witness.)
The vice chair of the GOP, Cliff Satell, went to Robinette's defense -- and stood with him in repeated appearances before the student Senate and judiciary. He was brave to do this -- for e-mails presented to the Judiciary show he was the subject of blackmail from the moment he first spoke up.
As Chronicle coverage showed, quoting Satell as saying Robinette would still be chair were he not gay, he was making the position of other Republicans very untenable.
The harassment / intimidation continued right on up to President Brodhead's Homecoming Dance this fall.
Shut up, he was told, let us do what we want to Robinette, or we're going to reveal your arrest. The threat to him became more pointed at one Senate session where two people stood to advise Senators to forget the debate over sanctions on the GOP club, adjourn and go down to the court house and find out about Satell. The Chronicle did not report this; I am told but have not confirmed it is in the Senate minutes.
The reprehensible person or persons who tried to blackmail Satell -- I know their names, have traced their emails -- did not give up. Repeatedly, FC has received "tips" from "A Concerned Dukie" and others, with very specific information, right on down to the court docket number to make our tracing of this matter easier.
The last of the e-mails came in last week, even going beyond Satell, and making statements that FC considers libelous per se about others.
I would assume the Chronicle got the same barrage. And in that sense, it is sad to see the Chronicle responding to this low life conduct with today's story.
With publication of today's article, the Chronicle might want to turn to a more introspective story. Indeed the administration may want to examine the e-mails to see if the blackmail -- or attempted blackmail -- violated any law or university policy. Or if they constitute harassment.
In the face of all this, Satell did not back down on his support of Robinette, and for this courage he deserves our commendation. A person of lesser inner strength would have buckled to blackmail.
The child porn charges of course are most serious; Duke's administration has had a full review, and Satell's continued presence on this campus is evidence of the university conclusion.
It is my understanding the facts of the case are by no means clear, and that Satell expects a favorable outcome.
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