When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 December 2006

Duke's recovery from a rush to judgment

Nine months later, the vigilante posters have come down, the candlelight vigils have gone dark and little has been heard from the New Black Panther Party or the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Even among the aspiring activists who banged pots and pans last spring in solidarity with the alleged victim, there is the disquieting sense that maybe she wasn't one after all — that this time the story might not be reducible to the all-purpose epistemology of race, gender and class.

Duke University and historically black North Carolina Central University are once again cross-town neighbors with nothing much to say to one another. The cause celebre who brought them together in the spring — a part-time N.C. Central student who moonlighted as a stripper and alleged that she was sexually assaulted and raped by three Duke lacrosse players — has long since ceased to be a sympathetic figure.

Privately, people who rallied to her defense tell you that they were snookered. As they do, a different posse prowls the airwaves and Internet. This one wants not the Duke lacrosse players brought to heel but Durham County Dist. Atty. Mike Nifong — and along with him, the highest stratum of Duke's administrative hierarchy, including university President Richard Brodhead. It was the university, these critics argue, that failed to stand up for its students and let it be cast as the original "Animal House."


Few of the candle holders or pot bangers of last spring are taking phone calls. Jennifer Minnelli, who attended a candlelight vigil in March and lambasted the lacrosse team for a "wall of silence," said last week, "I have no comment. Good luck with your research," and hung up. The husband of a woman who organized the candlelight vigil in March said last week, "Your chances of getting a comment from her or from anyone in this house are exactly zero."
I wouldn't hold my breath for an apology, either.

Duke's recovery from a rush to judgment (Michael Skube, Los Angeles Times, December 31, 2006)

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