Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Duke lacrosse: Until Proven Innocent

I’ve waited for months to read Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson’s Until Proven Innocent. Having finished it, I can say that it is worth the wait. The book is well-written and filled with new details. Even though I read KC’s blog every day, the book was still highly informative. For those who did not follow the case closely, UPI provides a clear, concise narrative of hoax and a thorough analysis of the issues that it raised.

Now that the lax players have been exonerated, it is easy for pundits to minimize the harm done by Nifong, Duke, the Durham police, and the MSM. Brian Loftus, a retired New York fire fighter, puts the lie to such revisionism:

I spent thirty-six hours in the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. I thought that was the worst day of my life. But seeing what is happening to my son and his friends is worse.

The Duke case was, in some ways, a perfect storm. Radical professors, an ambitious and unethical prosecutor, agenda-driven journalists, and tabloid-cable sleaze-merchants exploited the case for their own ends. The Duke administration (with a few notable exceptions like Peter Lange) caved under the pressure. Taylor and Johnson document all of this in detail.

The striking thing about this injustice is that the Left-Right political spectrum was irrelevant in many ways. The Gang of 88 were on the Left and their actions were reprehensible in numerous levels. Yet, the most frightening “totalitarian whiff” from the whole affair came from Bob Steele--Wall Street plutocrat and under secretary of Treasure in the Bush administration:

Bob Steele also defended the firing of Pressler and everything else that Duke had done, while telling Trumpbour (as he had told Peter Boyer of the New Yorker) that 'even though it is not fair, people have to be sacrificed for the good of the organization.'

“People have to be sacrificed for the good of the organization”. At least left-wingers justify their actions in the name of utopian revolution. Bureaucrats like Steele and Burness sacrifice justice and integrity for a little positive PR.

I thought one of the most telling points in the book concerned the dashed hopes of James Coleman. Coleman, one of the genuine heroes of this sorry saga, thought the Duke case

provided a 'chance to engage' groups that ordinarily are little concerned with the rights of defendants and civil liberties, and perhaps create a multiracial coalition across ideological lines to seek fundamental reforms of North Carolina's criminal justice system.
Sadly, the “Right” flunked this test just as much as the “Left”. Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck still use Wendy Murphy as a “legal analyst” on their cable shows. O'Reilly even wrote the forward to her new book. This despite her disgusting performance during the lacrosse case:

In her Duke lacrosse case commentary on Fox, MSNBC, CBS, and CNN, Murphy compiled a record of demonstrably untrue statements, wholly unfounded speculation, and disregard for due process.

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