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The Resonance of Duke Lacrosse
David Shribman ‘76, a Trustee from 1993-2003, has written a fine review for the Wall Street Journal of William D. Cohan’s book, “The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities.” His observation below holds an echo for anyone who follows the current life of Dartmouth College:
But this book is also about the power of narrative. The narrative in Durham and across the country growing out of this episode was simply too delicious for its own good: Snotty, privileged boys at an elite school playing an elite sport hold a private party where their worst impulses were played out in a drama involving a woman who was a member of both a racial minority and the economic underclass. The story satisfied every politically correct assumption. The only obstacle was that, while the snotty/privileged/elite part was true, and also the loutish behavior, the boys didn’t rape the woman. The rush to judgment on the part of the campus community—well ahead of due process—was a travesty of its own.
Mr. Cohan captures brilliantly the theater of the absurd that is played out on campuses every year over one controversy or another: the predictable groups behaving predictably, the loudest advocates for social justice often too impatient to let legal justice take its course, the voices of reason drowned out by the clatter of cliché…
That said, it is clear in these pages that, while the members of the Duke lacrosse team were not guilty of the crimes for which they were arraigned, they also were not innocents.
Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Press.
Addendum: An alumnus points us towards some of the aspects of the Duke situation that did not come up in Shribman’s book review:
Interesting WSJ review from Shribman. However, he passes lightly over some of the most egregious misconduct from the prosecutor, and the Duke administration and faculty. The prosecutor didn’t just “have a taste for hype and hyperbole,” he had political ambitions that he thought would be served by inflaming black voters’ paranoia, and was willing to wreck people’s lives to further them.
Shribman does not mention the faculty statement signed by over 80 members condemning the defendants, at least not directly. The fact that the faculty had no knowledge of what had in fact happened did not slow them down in the least.
The authority on what happened at Duke and the aftermath is K.C. Johnson, who has followed this nearly from the inception on his Durham-In-Wonderland blog. Johnson demolishes author Cohan here:
Shribman’s review appears in a very different light after one reads Johnson.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…