To recap the news out of Durham this year: In April, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans – the Duke University lacrosse players accused by “exotic dancer” Crystal Gail Mangum of rape and sexual assault – “innocent of these charges.”
In June, rogue district attorney Mike Nifong was disbarred and removed from office after being caught in dozens of instances of professional misconduct in his management of the case.
And the “Gang of 88” at Duke continue to act as if they did nothing untoward when they used Mangum’s lies as their point of departure for damning the university and community for supposedly making racist gang rape (which didn’t happen) possible. On their Web site, concerneddukefaculty.org, they have a statement defending themselves. A salient portion:
In April, a group of Duke faculty members published an advertisement in The Chronicle. The ad, titled “What does a Social Disaster Sound Like?” was mostly a compilation of statements made by Duke students in response to the incident and its immediate aftermath. This ad has figured in many discussions of the event and of the University’s response. It has been broadly, and often intentionally, misread. … The ad has been read as a comment on the alleged rape, the team party, or the specific students accused. Worse, it has been read as rendering a judgment in the case.
It was “misread” that way because it was so politically opportunistic and gratuitously offensive. It was a spleen-venting nonpareil in which they lashed out not just at the Duke lacrosse team, but at the campus community and society at large. They accused untold numbers of students and community members of racism and sexual violence the level of which was creating a climate in which “every day” was just like gang rape and sexual battery for lots of students.
The ad was chockablock with such hysterical fare as “illuminated in this moment’s extraordinary spotlight [is] what [students] live with every day“; “These students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves“; “This is not a different experience for us here at Duke … We go to class with racist classmates, we go to the gym with people who are racists”; “students know that the disaster didn’t begin on March 13th.”
In their defense, the group soft-pedals that reality:
We understand the ad instead as a call to action on important, longstanding issues on and around our campus, an attempt to channel the attention generated by the incident to addressing these. … As a statement about campus culture, the ad deplores a “Social Disaster,” as described in the student statements, which feature racism, segregation, isolation, and sexism as ongoing problems before the scandal broke, exacerbated by the heightened tensions in its immediate aftermath. The disaster is the atmosphere that allows sexism, racism, and sexual violence to be so prevalent on campus.
It is true, yes, that the group never flat-out said that the lacrosse team members are guilty of gang rape. They made the requisite qualifications: “Regardless of the results of the police investigation,” “If it turns out that these students are guilty,” “the disaster didn’t begin on March 13th and won’t end with what the police say or the court decides.” See?
Instead, what they did was try to hijack what would have been the most shocking crime in Duke history bar none, pretend that it was normal, and use that perversion to justify endless, tedious harangues about how bad Duke, Durham and society at large have always been.
And they’re surprised that the surrounding community is awaiting their apology (calls for which they “reject”). Why, they’ve harbored those sentiments for years and no one’s ever objected before! Then again, they don’t normally take those sentiments outside the Gothic halls into what people in the university and out of it call “the real world.”