Acts of Unkindness

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Bush Administration

Now that the Duke University rape case involving members of the lacrosse team has been dismissed for lack of evidence, the Right has formed a howling virtual mob and targeted the plaintiff complainant. In the New York Post, John Podhoretz writes “Let the liar be named and shamed,” and a number of rightie blogs have picked up on this, posting photos of the young woman who had made the charges and repeating her name several times in boldface letters.

When the allegations of rape first became public I made a decision not to write about the case until there was a conviction. Hence, I didn’t write about it. I’ve seen innocent people convicted in media and by public opinion many times before — Richard Jewell and Wen Ho Lee come to mind. It can be particularly tempting to assume guilt when a situation seems so familiar — rich white boys abusing a poor black girl. But isn’t that the essence of bigotry — making assumptions about an individual based on what you think “his type” is like?

On the other hand — “innocence” is not necessarily innocent.

In 2005 many bloggers took up the cause of a 17-year-old Oregon girl who accused three men of raping her. I’ll let Shakespeare’s Sister explain

A 17-year-old girl went to police at the urging of her friends after she was allegedly gang-raped by three men, including her boyfriend. The men testified that the act was consensual. After reviewing all the information and statements, prosecutors decided they didn’t think they could prove a rape allegation, and so declined to prosecute the case.

Instead, they prosecuted the victim for filing a false police report. Yesterday, she was found guilty.

The victim has never recanted her story. Instead, the decision was based on the judge’s opinion that the three men were more credible, in part because a police detective and the victim’s friends testified she did not “act traumatized” in the days after the incident. …

… Let me give you some more information—something that is only a possibility because The American Street’s Kevin Hayden has known the victim nearly her whole life. He attended the trial. He noticed that the prosecutor repeatedly referred to the attackers as “boys,” even though they were grown men and the victim was 17. He noticed that the judge acknowledged he had found inconsistencies in all of their stories, but, inexplicably, decided that the same reasonable doubt that kept prosecutors from pursuing charges against the attackers wasn’t enough to keep him from finding the victim guilty.

It was a sickening case. But the moral is that just because a rape charge is dismissed doesn’t necessarily mean the plaintiff lied or made the whole thing up. In the Duke case perhaps the young woman did make up the story for malicious reasons, or perhaps something happened that evening that genuinely distressed her. We don’t know. Neither does John Podhoretz or any of the several rightie bloggers who are making the Duke plaintiff a target of scorn, derision … or worse.

In our justice system people are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. That goes both ways, righties. What some of you are doing today is no less heinous than making assumptions of guilt about the defendants. In particular, by exposing her identity and making her the object of ridicule you could be setting up the young woman to be a target of genuine violence or abuse. The world is full of sick puppies who might feel they are justified to “punish” — in the form of assault or homicide — a young black woman for daring to file charges against white men.

Just leave it alone, all of you. Even if the worst of the assumptions about her actions and character are true, it’s not up to a mob to hand out “justice.”

Along these lines — let me second what Natasha at Pacific Views said of this Kos post. Yes, we all get “idiotic” emails. I’m sure Kos gets ’em by the bucketload. But I can say from my own experiences that being the target of a hate swarm can be, at the very least, unnerving. This is especially true if the swarmers don’t limit themselves to insulting emails but proceed to threatening and obscene phone calls, which has happened to me a couple of times. The swarmers were trying to intimidate me into shutting up, obviously, and it’s more than unnerving to realize that some of them knew where I lived.

There’s a reason it’s always bad form for a blogger to publish the street address and phone number of someone he doesn’t like and then sic his readers on ’em.

In my case the swarms died down in three or four days. The only action I took beyond filtering out their comments on the blog was to ignore them, and the creeps lost interest and went away.

Kathy Sierra was so upset by the tsunami of hate against her that she canceled travel plans and locked herself in her home. The threats against her went on for weeks, she said. Threats — and her home address — were posted on other blogs.

This is not to be shrugged off. Misogyny, like racism, is pervasive in our culture, and there are plenty of violent men who need very little encouragement to take their rage out on a woman who has been singled out as worthy of punishment.

I agree with Kos that the inane “blogger code of conduct” is not going to stop what happened to Kathy Sierra. But that doesn’t mean we should shrug it off. Very often men who assault women — and whites who assault blacks — feel they are justified in doing so. And they interpret expressions of misogyny and racism in our culture and among their peers to be permission. But “boys will be boys” is no excuse, and neither is “idiots will be idiots.”

That’s why I’m glad to see the recent backlash against Don Imus. About time. Racist and sexist rhetoric does real damage and can sometimes escalate into something worse. Hatemongers will push their hostility further and further, rhetorically and physically, until they are stopped. And in my experience the one thing that really does make them pause is overwhelming public disapproval. If they get a clue that the society they live in is not, in fact, winking and nodding at them that their bigotry is acceptable, the bigots will at least be more circumspect about their bigotry.

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. terry  •  Apr 13, 2007 @12:13 pm

    The woman in the Duke case is not a plaintiff unless she brings a civil suit–she is the complainant. You are right that none of us knows exactly what happened (if anything), but we can be pretty sure that no rape occurred given the lack of any evidence in that regard except the contradictory story of the complainant about a time when the men involved had apparantly airtight alibis. That being said why don’t you refer to it as the Duke stripper case rather than the Duke rape case. It seems to me that the young men involved are at least as much victims as you seem to feel the young woman in Oregon is. Again we do not know what happened but if the limited record of what happened at her trial is accurate, it certainly seems like there is potential for an overzealous prosecutor like that in the Duke stripper case.I suspect that the reason the Duke students are not being viewed with more sympathy is that they are the children of well to do parents who admittedly attended a party where strippers had been hired to entertain them. I am not suggesting that it is unfair to be critical of them for that or that any level of mob justice against the complainant is warranted, but to infer that these young men may well have been guilty of something other than being rich and attending a party where strippers were performing is not IMHO appropriate.

  2. maha  •  Apr 13, 2007 @1:22 pm

    terry — thank you for correcting me on the “plaintiff/complainant” thing. I knew that plaintiff probably was the wrong word, but I wasn’t sure what the right word was.

    we can be pretty sure that no rape occurred given the lack of any evidence in that regard except the contradictory story of the complainant about a time when the men involved had apparantly airtight alibis.

    Well, yes, we’re pretty sure no rape occurred, and the young men officially are innocent of committing one, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t treat the young woman in a hostile and abusive manner short of rape, which pissed her off and caused her to bring rape allegations. Or maybe they treated her very kindly, and she made the rape accusations only because she thought she could get some money out of it, which is the charge her accusers are making today. I’m just saying we don’t know what happened or what her motives were, and its reckless to make assumptions.

    My point is that just because an alleged hypothetical perpetrator is found not guilty does not automatically mean the charges brought against him were lies. In rape cases in particular, if women were automatically punished for bringing charges that don’t lead to conviction, it would rather discourage women from taking rapists to court, wouldn’t it?

    I recently sat on a jury in a drug possession case. In court, it was revealed that some of the evidence against the defendant had been fabricated by a detective. It so happens we had a hung jury; eleven of us had enough reasonable doubt to drive a truck through, and one guy insisted that the defendant must have been guilty because the detectives said he was.

    Even though I believed strongly that “not guilty” was a correct verdict, neither would I have sworn a blood oath that the defendant could not possibly have been in possession of the drugs. Nor would I have tossed all the detectives who testified to the defendants’ guilt into jail for perjury, even though at least one of them must have been lying if the drugs were not the defendants’.

    I’m not saying anybody is guilty; I’m saying we don’t know what happened, and nobody should assume they do know what happened.

  3. sniflheim  •  Apr 13, 2007 @1:44 pm

    I’m sure most of us remember the Kobe Bryant case? Bryant came out and said something like, I had fun, I’m sorry if she didn’t. The accuser meanwhile was running for her life from hideout to hideout trying to escape the hate mobs. Weird. Further commentary can be supplied by more coherent thinkers.

  4. tontocal  •  Apr 13, 2007 @1:51 pm

    I used to work as a driver for an escort agency (I transported the gals to and from their ‘dates’) While the rape allegations have been found baseless, I have no doubt that the complainant was probably abused (and probably misguidedly made the rape allegations to exact some sort of revenge)

    I once took one of the woman on just such a stripper call for a bachelor party (and she was there only to strip, nothing else). While I would usually leave to allow the customer and the lady to , ahem, ‘enjoy’ their date, I knew from the outset of this call would probably call for some sort of supervision. The guys seemed respectful enough at first, but I’m no fool; I’m well aware what the combination of horny young guys, booze and drugs can amount too. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes, things started to get a bit ugly (ie, the guys started to get lecherous), and I spirited the girl out of there right quick.

    I thank Christ I was there; I can’t imagine (or rather, I probaby can imagine) what would have happened if I hadn’t been there. I have no doubt that something similar occured in this case.

  5. Sachem  •  Apr 13, 2007 @2:50 pm

    It was an enormous step for the DA to declare them ‘innocent’, and it really let’s them return to their lives. I happened to see Charlie Rose the other day when Susannah Meadows Senior Writer, Newsweekwas discussing the case. I haven’t really followed it and this was very insightful. But in the browsing that followed, I landed on Malkin guest hosting O’Reilly interviewing Malik Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party (via Raw Story and BradBlog) giving us this train wreck.

  6. Paul L.  •  Apr 13, 2007 @2:52 pm

    On the other hand — “innocence” is not necessarily innocent.
    B.S.
    To quote the North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8OEIRA80&show_article=1

    “Our investigation shows that:

    The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser’s story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we’ll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.”

  7. Sachem  •  Apr 13, 2007 @3:02 pm

    Link to Malkin Shabazz train wreck

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9vadcdgzjI

    So now that “ho” is unuseable speech, I guess “whore” is okay.

  8. justme  •  Apr 13, 2007 @3:33 pm

    Terry,, something in your comment really bugs me.Why on earth should it be called the “Duke stripper case”? The charge brought was rape, therefore calling it a rape case seems fair.Calling it the duke stripper case doesn’t make any sense to me.What difference does it make what the occupation of the of the woman was?My recycle bin was stolen once.. no one called it the housewife case, but then SOME people find the word stripper useful to degrade the person they are referring to and to therefore indicate they are somehow superior to the person about who they are speaking..I am sure others could have used the term housewife to degrade me also, but they would have thought twice about doing it again with my foot lodged up their ass…
    By calling it the stripper case it conjours the notion that somehow “one of those people” might not deserve the same justice as you are I …and I hope it wasn’t to suggest a stripper could not be raped,abused,mistreated and otherwise violated…it brings back the memory of a rape case where a would be rapist was freed after it was revealed the victim was wearing no panties and she somehow “had it coming”…I don’t give a rats red behind what a womans occupation is , status has squat to do with justice IMHO.
    Keep in mind these comments come from a person who was the victim of a brutally violent crime and I do not take a false allegation lightly at all .. it is a disgrace to those of us who will carry the scars of true abuse for life… so if anyone has a right to be pissed it is other victims of violent crime such as myself..but my panties are not in a bunch…you don’t seem a million victims hunting this woman down with torches…just a bunch of idiot loud mouth righties who don’t want you to think about missing e mails throwing crap at a wall in hopes some will stick…
    The thing is, the “moral” stripper hating right(you know the party who has the male escort business thriving in D.C) has whipped up an angry mob into a frenzy and the thing with a mob like that, I image once you get their torches lit you gotta keep em busy…lest they turn on you.If there really is no one…what the hell make something up…lets get the stripper…easy prey…Oh how the “almighty ” have fallen.
    Maha was right on point when she said “It is not up to the mob to hand out”Justice”..I also believe in the case of the right justice should start at home..They need to worry about the mess and the criminal activity in their own party before they go out seeking “justice” mob style
    Also something maybe the right didn’t consider…one day perhaps they will turn loose their angry mob and a person who is mentally unbalanced may someday be there to meet THEM at the door.Either way if this behavior keeps up SOMEBODY is gonna get hurt.
    I think the rightie blogs shall be referred to by me as the dead horse blogs,, boy they sure love to beat em!Next perhaps they will claim she is a dem.. won’t that be special.
    I have known many strippers in my several went to school or put their own children thru school that way. Others just wanted a better life for their family.They are honest, hard working women.I have not known them at their jobs,but I have known them in their lives..degrading them by use of their job title just isn’t fair..and if we decide who is worthy of justice by job title who will be left to receive it?..and if strippers are so bad by title then why isn’t their the same standard for those who would hire a stripper???Equal justice?

  9. maha  •  Apr 13, 2007 @3:42 pm

    Paul L — Had you bothered to read my post more carefully, you might have noticed that I was talking about criminal justice in general, not the Duke rape case specifically. At no time did I claim the Duke defendants raped the young woman, and I began the post by specifically saying it was wrong to assume they had raped anybody.

    Any more dimbulbs who misread what I wrote and want to argue about the case will be banned, and their comments will be deleted.

  10. terry  •  Apr 13, 2007 @5:07 pm

    Justme: My point was, as Maha seemed to confirm, that it is extraordinarily unlikely that any rape occurred. The young men have spent a little over a year being the accused in the “Duke rape case” or some variation thereof. It seems inappropriate given current circumstances to continue labeling the case that way. On the other hand the young men certainly were looking for a night of entertainment that involved strippers. I am not taking a moral stance one way or another on the propriety of paying women to take off their clothes, but I am sure some do and suspect that none of those young men will list watching strippers under hobbies when they prepare their resumes.( I did list sex, drugs and rock and roll as hobbies years ago but I did not want the job and did not get it.) I certainly am not suggesting that strippers can not be raped or otherwise abused anymore than I would suggest that a spouse, date or prostitute can not be raped or otherwise abused. The issue as in the Oregon case is always consent–sometimes there is enough physical evidence to make that unlikely, and no I do not think that a woman has to risk being murdered for resisting to make it rape- and that has lead to so called rape shield laws which I believe exist in every jurisdiction, whereby a woman’s prior sexual conduct is simply not admissable. Unfortunately, that does not solve all problems because the alleged victim’s dress, state of sobriety etc is sometimes admitted and there have been cases where an alleged victim’s past false accusations of rape have been excluded. I do not practice criminal law, but I suspect that rape cases are just about the most difficult to prosecute and defend, at least where some sexual contact took place. As best I can tell in the Duke “Party” case at least the State prosecutor did not think there was sexual contact.

  11. maha  •  Apr 13, 2007 @5:38 pm

    It seems inappropriate given current circumstances to continue labeling the case that way.

    The court case was still about rape, even though the defendants were exonerated. The case on which I served as a juror was still a drug possession case even though eleven of us thought the allegations were fabricated. The verdict doesn’t change what the case was about.

  12. Tom Maguire  •  Apr 13, 2007 @6:19 pm

    Misogyny, like racism, is pervasive in our culture, and there are plenty of violent men who need very little encouragement to take their rage out on a woman who has been singled out as worthy of punishment.

    … Very often men who assault women — and whites who assault blacks — feel they are justified in doing so.

    Any thoughts on the motives of black who assault whites, or is that so rare as to not merit comment?

    For that matter, I can’t even imagine how one might verify that “very often” whites who assault blacks feel justified. Justified by what – racism, self-defense, something else? Is there a credible database for that?

    As to bashing the accuser – I broadly concur with your point. The DA certainly suggested that she may sincerely believe all of her stories, and alluded to a mental health history that might explain that.

    As to why she may have invented a story – the obvious explanation is that on the night in question, she only realized she had been raped when the cops told her that given her disorientation and evident drunkenness, they were taking her to the drunk tank. At that point, she offered the rape story, and away we went.

    As to why she stuck with it through her many variations, who knows?

    I don’t have any trouble labeling Nifong as the villain in this piece – his motive was clear and misbehavior obvious.

  13. John Palmer/LongHairedWeirdo  •  Apr 13, 2007 @7:17 pm

    Tried to post this earlier, but it didn’t seem to take.

    There’s an additional twist to this case. The woman in question had (years before the Duke case) reported being gang raped a long time previous to the report. (Got that? Two time periods, both long. She said she was raped at time A, a long time after it, time B, she reported it to the police; a long time after time B, she was a dancer at the lacrosse team party.)

    If we assume her first report was true, then it is relatively easy to assume that she may have had a traumatic flashback to that original rape, and been unable to accurately describe what, exactly, happened at the Duke party.

    Not because she invented a story, and not because nothing happened (though I grant that it’s possible nothing *illegal* happened – she and her partner were spoken to in a threatening manner, and that, alone, is not “nothing”, though the words used probably did not constitute a criminal act), but because a flashback can confuse a person, to the point that he or she can’t be sure that what s/he’s remembering isn’t really happening.

    This also makes Nifong’s motives (NOT his actions!) a bit nicer; if she was reporting a heinous crime, he would be angry about it, and furious that no witnesses are willing to come forward.

    That she had a flashback ties together a lot of things that would otherwise be puzzling inconsistencies. I obviously don’t know if she did or didn’t, and I don’t know her mental state. It just seems like an awfully reasonable possibility.

  14. maha  •  Apr 13, 2007 @7:47 pm

    John Palmer et al. — There are all kinds of possible explanations for why the young woman made the charges she made. Maybe it was malicious, and maybe it wasn’t. There’s no way to know. That’s why it’s important for people not to make assumptions and take it upon themselves to get vengeance outside of the criminal justice system.

  15. maha  •  Apr 13, 2007 @8:16 pm

    Tom Maguire — It’s well documented that the nature of violence against women differs from violence against men.The Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics has all kinds of data that shows males are most likely to be murdered or assaulted by a stranger, whereas women are far more likely to be murdered or assaulted by an “intimate” (current or former husband or boyfriend) or someone else she knows. And male-on-female violence is way more common than female-on-female or female-on-male violence.

    Violent crime against women is personal. It’s usually about rage and control. That’s why targeting a woman for retribution amounts to putting a sign on her back that says “assault me.” The world is full of creeps who look for excuses to act out their sick hatred of women, and more often than not they don’t choose victims who are strangers. They target particular women for their own reasons.

    Racial statistics are more confusing. Blacks are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than whites, except for sexual assault. “Black, white, and other races experienced about the same rates of rape/sexual assault,” it says here. But the nation has a long and bloody history of whites committing violence (often homicides) because they are black, and I can’t imagine that tendency has disappeared entirely.

  16. The Truffle  •  Apr 13, 2007 @9:28 pm

    I’m think that perhaps we should withhold the names of the accused as well as the accuser in rape cases. In fact, I wonder why nobody else has suggested just that. I’m reminded of the Tawana Brawley case, where innocent people were named and accused of committing a rape that never happened. Regardless, there’s no way to really live down a rape accusation, which is why I think the names on both sides should be withheld.

  17. bob's your uncle  •  Apr 13, 2007 @9:32 pm

    There’s not an instrument known to humankind that can measure my complete lack of interest in this story. I’m probably the only one in the country who didn’t follow its every detail, which is why I’m a bit mystified by the way the right rallied behind these athletes from the very beginning. I’m wondering if conservatives would have gotten so emotionally involved if these students had been, say, black basketball players.

  18. maha  •  Apr 13, 2007 @9:45 pm

    I’m think that perhaps we should withhold the names of the accused as well as the accuser in rape cases.

    Y’know, that might be a good idea, and not just in rape cases.The names of people who are under indictment are on public record, of course, but if the accused is a private citizen and not a public official, why would the name need to be splashed all over news media? Discussion?

  19. CTD  •  Apr 13, 2007 @10:23 pm

    But the nation has a long and bloody history of whites committing violence (often homicides) because they are black, and I can’t imagine that tendency has disappeared entirely.

    Well, not entirely. But, for the last 30-odd years, white-on-black homicide is so rare as to be almost statistically insignificant.In other words, a white person is far more likely to be killed by a black person than vice-versa. Of course, intra-racial homicide is far more common than interracial homicide period.

  20. moonbat  •  Apr 13, 2007 @10:32 pm

    I know this isn’t quite the forum for this, but Katie Couric of ABC News spent most of her broadcast a night or two ago on the Duke rape case. What bugged me about it was how one sided it was. She spent a great deal of time interviewing one of the young men’s parents, and of course they only had nasty things to say about the woman who accused the young men. Of course, the broadcast highlighted how this particular set of high achieving young men had their lives ruined because of this case. I knew nothing about this case going into this broadcast, but I became extremely suspicious about how Couric seemingly took one side and one side only, and of how she dedicated an inordinate amount of time to this particular newsitem.

    It was very interesting to me how this broadcast event just happened to coincide with the Imus firing. It’s as though the broadcast gods were trying to find some sort of sick balance to the stories that were in the national conscience this week. It’s as though they had to find a bone to throw to the right to keep them fed.

  21. Longhairedweirdo  •  Apr 13, 2007 @10:42 pm

    If you hide the names of the accused, and they can’t make bail, you have a perfect recipe for vanishing your undesirables.

  22. Longhairedweirdo  •  Apr 13, 2007 @10:48 pm

    John Palmer et al. — There are all kinds of possible explanations for why the young woman made the charges she made. Maybe it was malicious, and maybe it wasn’t.

    Do we have any evidence, any at all, that it was malicious? That’s my point. The prosecutor said that he believes she believes the story she gave. So why speculate about how she might have been a malicious liar, hoping to score some money, or get revenge? It feeds right into the hands of those who want revenge against her.

    Folks who hear you sa

  23. Longhairedweirdo  •  Apr 13, 2007 @10:51 pm

    (Sorry, cat on the keyboard)

    Folks who hear you say “maybe malicious, maybe not” will translate it as “probably malicious, but we don’t have positive proof, so I’m being fair minded.”

  24. MikeShatzkin  •  Apr 13, 2007 @11:16 pm

    While I agree wholeheartedly that there is no justification (or point) to blaming the complainant in the Duke case, it appeared pretty clear from the beginning that the story was bogus. Certainly in the case of at least one of the defendants, there was transparent evidence that he was at a cash machine when the alleged incident occurred. With Nifong in a political race, it looked like what it turned out to be to me, at least, from Day One.

    What distresses ME is that three young lives have been, at least temporarily, derailed, and the COACH of this team — who by all accounts was great — paid with his Duke career. And several politicians — I remember Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, particularly — stirred up the media against the Duke kids even when much of the exculpatory evidence had appeared in the press and the reasons for bias from the prosecutor were pretty damn clear. Unfortunately for the Reverend Sharpton, this case from the beginning was reminiscent of Tawana Brawley, a case he would like us all to forget (and for which, if I am not mistaken, he still owes damages to the innocent State Trooper he CONSCIOUSLY defamed.

    The racism and misogyny of Imus’s remarks was disgusting and what ultimately happened to him was not unjust. But it sure is a bit ironic that he was acclerated in his downfall by a debate with the Reverend Sharpton, who has a lot more to apologize for than Imus does.

  25. Doug Hughes  •  Apr 13, 2007 @11:21 pm

    Good post and lively discussion. A few things come to mind.

    There seems to be a tendanies for righties to defend the Duke players because they are superior on 3 counts; they are white, male and affluent (or from affluent families).

    There sems to be a tendancey from the righties to assume the guilt of the accuser for 3 reasons; she is black, female and a stripper.

    On the other hand the reverse assumptions by some lefties is just as irrational. The only thing we know is that we don’t know. The assumption that stripper = hooker makes one ponder the lack of any physical evidence of intercourse, voluntary or forced. On the other side, the fact that the Duke team hired a stripper proves they are not choir boys; but it does not prove intent to rape.

    The situation with Don Imus is different from the Duke ‘alleged’ rape case in one important regard. We know what Don said – exactly, and in context. We KNOW. I don’t think his statements were criminal, but they violated a standard of conduct, and for that violation, there is a penalty. (Had he not been fired, the penalty would have been higher, because he would have been shunned by everyone, except perhaps Ann Coulter.)

  26. Laughin  •  Apr 14, 2007 @3:52 am

    I just can’t stop laughing because all of teh same people who (rightly) pointed out that it was wrong of Nifong to make comments about the defendants’ guilt or innocensee are now going, “But Cooper said these men are innocent–case closed!” Funny how the comments about how it’s inapproriate and almost unpresedented for an AG to make such statements are nowhere to be found. Last time I checked, we had judges and juried. An AG can refuse to procede with a case and drop it for lack of ecidence, but he can’t declare anyone not guilt, forget innocent. This looks like a big pissing contest between the two men and they’ve both way overstepped their bounds. Nifong did a disservice to the accused, Cooper’s doing a disservice to the victim, both men’s behavior is completely inappropriate.

  27. maha  •  Apr 14, 2007 @7:07 am

    So why speculate about how she might have been a malicious liar, hoping to score some money, or get revenge? It feeds right into the hands of those who want revenge against her.

    Well, yes, genius, that was my point. That’s why I argue that people shouldn’t speculate.

    Folks who hear you say “maybe malicious, maybe not” will translate it as “probably malicious, but we don’t have positive proof, so I’m being fair minded.”

    And if I don’t say “maybe malicious, maybe not” they’ll translate it to mean I think it wasn’t malicious, and that’s not what I think.

    People don’t read. I’m getting slammed on some rightie blogs today because (according to them) I claimed the defendants really were guilty. Of course that’s not at all what I wrote, but righties can’t read. There’s no way to write so that some slobbering wingnut won’t take an entirely different meaning from it from what I intended. They see what they want to see.

  28. maha  •  Apr 14, 2007 @7:12 am

    If you hide the names of the accused, and they can’t make bail, you have a perfect recipe for vanishing your undesirables.

    Read what I wrote again. I did not say the names shouldn’t be on the public record, just that maybe they shouldn’t be in the news. As any “police beat” reporter can tell you, the names of people who are arrested for anything are publicly available through whatever court has jurisdiction, and I don’t think that should change.

  29. maha  •  Apr 14, 2007 @7:18 am

    CTD — and the rate of black-on-white violence is not a whole lot higher than the “statistically insignificant” white-on-black violence, yet people still are fixated on black-on-white violence. On the other hand, women are getting assaulted and slaughtered wholesale at the hands of men — nearly always men they know — yet any program to address the problem of violence against women gets attacked from the Right as a Feminazi plot.

  30. Bucky Blue  •  Apr 14, 2007 @12:56 pm

    I think you’ve hit a nerve, maha. As per publicizing names of the accused, I think banning names in the press could go a long way toward helping many people. The boys accused would have a chance to get their ‘good name’ back. The accuser would have a better chance in her life. Even if this thing ever got to trial how could you find a jury who had not heard about this case and would have to claim they had made a judgement. The only people who seem to benefit are the news agencies who routinely splash the names across the tv screen and then set up interviews with people involved, who predictably deny or confirm the charges. It certainly doesn’t portend for the idea of justice, in my book anyway. I’ll continue, since long posts seem to be the order of the day on this thread. With the case itself, what struck me was how quickly people went to the defense of rich white boys attending an exclusive university who had a drunken party where they had a stripper who was black. The fact that it was Duke was the story, of course, and you just wouldn’t see that kind of outrage of the misuse of justice in other ‘situations’. Maybe if they weren’t releasing names and it wasn’t a lurid press frenzy it would have allowed the prosecutor to not feel pressure to bring charges.

  31. CTD  •  Apr 14, 2007 @12:57 pm

    Actually, maha, the rate of black-on-white homicide is a “whole lot higher” than white-on-black in realtive terms. If I’m reading those stats correctly, the former are roughly 3-4 times more common than the latter. Of course, both are relatively rare when compared to intra-racial homicide, which I believe I pointed out.

    “yet people still are fixated on black-on-white violence”

    Argument from assertion. What data do you have to back this up? Could it be, as I’ve shown, that it’s much more common than it’s opposite?

    “on the other hand, women are getting assaulted and slaughtered wholesale”

    Non sequitur, much? I don’t recall mentioning this subject, or contesting the undeniable fact that men kill women more often than women kill men.

  32. maha  •  Apr 14, 2007 @2:11 pm

    Actually, maha, the rate of black-on-white homicide is a “whole lot higher” than white-on-black in realtive terms. If I’m reading those stats correctly, the former are roughly 3-4 times more common than the latter. Of course, both are relatively rare when compared to intra-racial homicide, which I believe I pointed out.

    Relative to what, though? My reading of the chart says that the odds of anyone being attacked by someone of another race is considerably lower than being attacked by someone of the same race, and that’s true for blacks and whites both.

    I am relatively tall when compared to Robert Reich, but at 5’4″ I’m not all that tall compared to the population as a whole. So it’s not a terribly useful comparison. Neither is yours.

    “yet people still are fixated on black-on-white violence”

    Argument from assertion. What data do you have to back this up?

    I don’t need data. I have 55 years of living in the real world and observing human nature. And do keep reading.

    Could it be, as I’ve shown, that it’s much more common than it’s opposite?

    My reading of the chart says it’s somewhat more common than its opposite and way less common that violence between people of the same race.

    “on the other hand, women are getting assaulted and slaughtered wholesale”

    Non sequitur, much?

    Not on this planet, since my post is as much if not more directly addressing violence against women than violence against whites or blacks. But, true to form, you brush aside the gender situation and fixate on the racial issue. People do have a tendency to ignore gender issues regarding violence and instead zoom in on racial issues, especially black-on-white violence. Thanks for proving my point.

    I don’t recall mentioning this subject, or contesting the undeniable fact that men kill women more often than women kill men.

    No, you didn’t, but you were commenting on the post I wrote, and I was gently bringing you back to the bleeping topic. And you will stay on topic in the future, buster, or you’ll be deleted.

  33. maha  •  Apr 14, 2007 @2:15 pm

    Bucky Blue — thanks for the backup. Really, unless the accused person is a celebrity or high-level official of some sort, why does knowing the accused person’s name make a difference to news consumers? Would knowing the names of the Duke students (which I don’t know off the top of my head) change my understanding of the news stories about the case, assuming I had been following them all that closely (which I wasn’t)? The news stories could have said “four male university students” or even “four male Duke university students” and I would have been fine with that.

  34. CTD  •  Apr 14, 2007 @3:53 pm

    [After I vanquished CTD in our last exchange, he was reduced to cheap insults and blathering about me being a leftist something-or-other. So he’s outtahere. On my blog, I rule. — maha]

    [BTW, if you are interested, here is the chart I was talking about —

    — maha]

  35. Longhairedweirdo  •  Apr 14, 2007 @6:30 pm

    In reply to my speaking about not speculating about why she might have lied:

    Well, yes, genius, that was my point. That’s why I argue that people shouldn’t speculate.

    You raised the possibility, and discussed different possible scenarios. I saw that as speculation, and that is what triggered what I had to say about this thread about the matter.

    As for the other bit, I did misunderstand you with respect to names being splashed over the media, and I’m sorry for getting snarky there. I see no way to prevent reporting without legislation, and with legislation, an unjustly accused person has lost a valuable potential source of publicity. I can’t judge whether newspaper coverage helped or hindered the defendents in this case, but there was a great deal of anger regarding Nifong’s behavior that would have been avoided had it not been in the news, and the cases might have quietly gone to trial, instead of being dismissed. At the very least, it would have resulted in a much higher financial burden for the defendents.

  36. maha  •  Apr 14, 2007 @8:13 pm

    I see no way to prevent reporting without legislation,

    The practice of not giving the names of rape victims isn’t legislated. It’s just considered best professional practice among journalists.

  37. Longhairedweirdo  •  Apr 14, 2007 @8:33 pm

    Maha:

    I wanted to add something to my last note. I’ve been a bit blinded by how hard this case has been hitting me, and forgetting that it’s hitting other people equally hard in other ways.

    There are so many threads that I believe get tied together neatly by the hypothesis that the accuser reported what she felt happened as best as she could.

    It hits a lot of buttons for me… mental health issues being treated as personal faults, people assuming the worst of rape victims, the impossibility of explaining some possibilities that seem both as clear as day, and really important, to me, etc..

    It’s been frustrating, and I’ve also been having a hard time remembering that it’s just as frustrating for a lot of folks. And I’ve been over-reacting to stuff, and I’m sorry about that.

  38. Barry Porter  •  May 8, 2007 @9:41 am

    Rush to judgment is a key issue in our society today! Please let me introduce myself; my name is Barry Porter and I am the Director of Marketing, Adult Publishing Group at Simon & Schuster.

    I don’t know if you are aware but Pocket Book/Threshold Editions is about to publish It’s Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered by Don Yaeger, with Mike Pressler. I have attached the cover image and the press release of our upcoming publication. I would love to send you copies of the book when it becomes available; I just finished it and still cannot believe what I have read! There is so much more to this case then has been released, that is covered in this book.

    At this time our pub date for It’s Not About the Truth is 6/12. All marketing, online, and publicity efforts will kick off that week. I just thought you would like a “heads up” about our publication. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me back.

    Regards,

    Barry



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