Sunday, March 11, 2007

Perfect Storm

I got a barrage of comments greeting me this morning on my Duke lax case posting from last week. As a good blogger, I figured it must have spread out in cyberland somehow beyond my usual readership.

I exchanged emails in the last few days with a professor here, who copied a KC Johnson. I hit "reply all" to this professor whom I don't know. He took me to task for my apparent lack of sensitivity to the “facts” of the Duke case (even though I was commenting on another issue entirely, to wit, the culture of violence and privilege.)

Turns out that KC Johnson is a history professor at Brooklyn College who devotes a blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, to this case. I now appear in a posting, and his (or her?) acolytes have rained down on my head in comments to my original post.

I find it interesting that defenders of the Duke situation focus upon the miscarriage of justice by Nifong and others, rather than on the culture that spawned this situation in the first place. There is much to criticize in Nifong and the way the legal battle has been waged, I will grant that. Furthermore, the Purdue professor who took me to task does bring up some good points, in particular, by suggesting that the fallout from the case has more than tarnished a few lives. I probably didn't give that enough thought in my original posting.

*UPDATE 3/14: I have decided that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, Nifong appears to be mostly at fault with that, and some lives are already scarred and we are not at the end of it. I don't know enough about the gang of 88 or the potbangers or whatever but it appears from my scant knowledge that excess occurred with these groups, and I don't condone some of their tactics. But I do support their efforts to bring the wider issues to the fore. To wit... contrast to the trolls I expunged from this blog, I stand by my views on a culture of violence, privilege and so forth, manifest at Duke and many other places in an increasingly violent, stratified, and uncaring America. In my mind, the trolls who spewed their anonymous venom here made the point without me having to do so.

This is not particularly controversial but self-evident to anyone who looks around America with an inquiring mind. Obviously there are wonderful people and wonderful things happening all over the country, ideas and movements that give me hope. The Duke lacrosse situation of last year is not one of them.

These ideas, not original to me, appear to be hard to convey, at least in this blog. I probably will post one more "essai" (French for "attempt," from Montaigne, that great skeptic I admire, well before pomo). I won't clarify or elaborate further on these ideas, as I have done so already.

The Duke lacrosse trolls focus upon the "no rape occurred" item as zealots. Okay, in examining the evidence available to me I believe no rape occurred. The prosecution appears to have withheld exculpatory evidence. But the trolls haven't addressed the probablility of sexual assault, demeaning behavior, racism, and execrable conduct reported upon that evening. That isn't what nice boys do, they shout in horror, we all know they are wonderful, even sons of a policeman and firefighters. It is that low life stripper (hired by the nice boys) who is to blame for whatever happened.

As a fraternity member and alumnus of the college whose notorious fraternity scene inspired "Animal House," I never witnessed or heard of behavior as extreme as the Duke lax house (lots came extremely close, however). It is patently evident to me from accounts from many sources (and I read widely, and watched right-wing oriented Fox News mostly on this, as Fox covers such cases ad nauseam, and I wanted to get the complete, ad nauseam look at it a year ago), the culture of violence and privilege conspired to create an atmosphere of simmering gang rape.

SIMMERING. As in it is already cooking along. Be careful to not turn up the heat too much, as a boil-over could occur. The boil-over didn't occur. But plenty of hands got scalded and some badly burned, and the healing will go on for a long time, and perhaps healing will never fully occur for some.

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