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Pressler's Revenge?

The basic facts of the lacrosse case are now firmly established as Attorney General Roy Cooper publicly declared the three accused players innocent and said that D.A. Mike Nifong had ignored evidence and made a rush to judgment. But the fallout is a long way from over. Next up: former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler's book about the case. If anyone hoped the case would fade away quickly, that seems unlikely, and the Pressler book is likely to raise a lot of questions.

And while we missed it when it came out, here's Shadee Malaklou's final column for the Chronicle, which dealt with the case and features some amazing comments. Here you go:

  • "What has been at stake for our campus, since the beginning, is not whether or not the lacrosse team raped, kidnapped and/or assaulted a Durham stripper, but rather that a racially motivated gang bang is entirely possible on Duke's campus, and that it can be perpetrated by Duke men. This has been the argument heralded by both student activists and concerned faculty."
  • "It makes me wonder: If media attention, pots and pans, concerned faculty and student fear don't prompt the administration to reconsider its race and gender relations, what will?"
  • "Indeed, the lacrosse case has been hijacked by a number of non-affiliated parties, all of whom seem to think they know what really happened: A black stripper lied about rape in an attempt to up her finances, and the University's administration abandoned the wrongly accused men in their moment of need. In truth, even though the case has now been dropped, the events (and potential culprit) are still unclear."

So to sum it up:

What's important isn't that these guys were falsely accused of a racially motivated gang rape, but that a racially motivated gang rape could happen at Duke. Well, not to trivialize it at all, but duh. There are bad people at every level of society, and that includes Duke.

Malaklou apparently suggests that Duke's administration should be intimidated by media attention and people banging pots and pans. Administrators are frequently wrong, and not just at Duke. But what Malaklou suggests as corrective action is low level fascism, beer hall politics, really. One hopes that Duke has more courage than to be intimidated by that sort of thing, but apparently Pressler is going to argue precisely the opposite point.

Finally, she is willfully ignoring facts when she suggests that what happened is still a mystery. Who knows about Crystal Mangum's motivation? Cooper suggested she wasn't the most stable person, and she was on meds for bipolar disorder. Whether or not she was after money is something only she can answer.

But what is clear, and beyond dispute, is this: there was no DNA from anyone at the party and that, combined with Mangum's own insistence that no condoms were used, effectively destroys her case. And it's also clear that Nifong and Brian Meehan of the DNA lab conspired to keep exculpatory evidence away from the defendants.

This is like Bizarro World. What kind of mind would suggest that a rape case isn't about rape but about that it underscores the theoretical possibility of a racially motivated gang bang? Then again, this is the writer who previously said that "Nifong might not be in the right, legally, but that doesn't mean he's not doing the right thing." (This is precisely the same sentiment expressed by the N.C. Central student who suggested earlier that it would be okay to punish the lacrosse players as a way to make up for past injustices.)

She also said that "it is...unethical for Cheshire to present his defendant...or his lacrosse friends as innocent victims." Her understanding of the legal system is more than a bit shaky.

Innocent people's lives were devastated by this case, and it's not right. Nor is it right for her to make such insinuations (and it's not the first time she's made cryptic comments about the lacrosse team).

For us, in this case, there's no left or right, only right or wrong. Do we endorse the behavior of the lacrosse players? Do we like racial slurs being tossed about (and lest we forget, Kim Roberts started that and tossed in sexual insults as well) and paying women to take their clothes off? No. It was ugly and unacceptable. As Malaklou said it was racist and misogynistic. It was not, however, a violation of the law.

The power of the state was brought to bear on these private citizens, and despite an appallingly weak, trumped up case, the state, through Nifong, was prepared to ruthlessly crush them and send them to prison for the rest of their lives when it could not prove that a crime was committed, and when the great mass of evidence argued against it as well.

People who are so blinded by ideological commitments have no place in a university, but perhaps the idea of the university has changed to accommodate them and the old idea of pursuing truth and reason is obsolete. The truly sad thing is there's no more flexibility among many at Duke than there is for many at Bob Jones University.