Posted by lex, on October 17, 2006
KC Johnson saw the 60 Minutes segment on the Duke lacrosse scandal. He’s closer to the issue both physically and emotionally, but from a distance, it seems to me that the more time passes, the more the more the subject of the scandal seems to shift from those players who were indicted – some of whom can’t have been at the scene of the alleged crime, it now appears – to the prosecutor, constabulary, university administration and faculty. Of the latter, one of whom was quoted to say:
“Justice,” Holloway claimed, “inevitably has an attendant social construction. And this parallelism means that despite what may be our desire, the seriousness of the matter cannot be finally or fully adjudicated in the courts.” Therefore, she continued, since the presumption of innocence “is neither the critical social indicator of the event, nor the final measure of its cultural facts,” judgments about the case “cannot be left to the courtroom.”
According to Johnson, Ms. Holloway teaches a course called, “Language of Constitutional Law.” At Duke. Duke University. The Harvard of the south. Which, if you read the foregoing and found yourself running shrieking into the night, you could maybe be forgiven.
Also of interest in this case are certain tribunes of the media, who seem to have felt that the story line was just “too good to fact check.” KC points us to Slate columnist Jack Shafer, who suggests using the NYT’s version of the kerfuffle as a kind of case study on how not to row back from the cataract of a flawed story line.
Johnson has strong feelings on the matter, as do many of his commenters, not all of whom agree with him. Some of whom seem to think that the boys have it coming to them, regardless of actual guilt. On account, you know, of having hired strippers. And drank at a party. In college. Which, after all, is not merely boorish and ungentlemanly but is apparently TANTAMOUNT TO RAPE!
I missed the show, being at sea and all, but if Johnson has it right it’ll be hazardous to your health walking around in Durham when it’s all said and done, what with all the heads rolling around on the deck. A man could turn an ankle.
All foolishness aside, this is in fact a very serious matter to those directly involved: A horrible crime has been alleged, and three young men who had otherwise bright futures stand in the dock for it. If it does come to pass that they were wrongly accused through willful prosecutorial misconduct they will not be the only victims in this sad affair: There may be future assault victims who decline to press their own charges, having seen the circus which develops when justice is seen not as blind, but merely blinkered.