April 13, 2007

Not Quite Innocent

Terry Moran is sure to be creamed for this contrarian opinion, but I tend to think he's right:

So as we rightly cover the vindication of these young men and focus on the genuine ordeal they have endured, let us also remember a few other things:

They were part of a team that collected $800 to purchase the time of two strippers.

Their team specifically requested at least one white stripper.

During the incident, racial epithets were hurled at the strippers.

Colin Finnerty was charged with assault in Washington, DC, in 2005.

The "Duke Three" are without a doubt innocent of the crimes of rape and kidnapping levied by a mentally-disturbed stripper and a dishonest district attorney, but they are not innocents. There is a huge distinction between being innocent of a crime, and some of the comments made during the defense lawyer's press conference that painted these three young men as almost being ripe for canonization.

They are part of a group that deserves criticism for their actions. These three young men are not criminals, but nor should they or their teammates be made into heroes. We should be able to redress the travesty of justice committed against them without making them into idols or figureheads of purity, when they clearly are not.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 13, 2007 09:34 AM

Hmmmm.... Not so sure I agree. While it's true they are not pictures of purity, there aren't many young men in college who are. Moran's piece comes across as snarky and seems to try and justify the treatment they received because they're white and privileged. Podhoretz does a good job of taking apart the Moran post at The Corner, here:

Posted by: mindnumbrobot at April 13, 2007 11:30 AM

Main point to entire story is not students’ behavior. Definitely they are not heroes, idols or saints. They did not choose get into a spot light and never claimed sainthood. Main point of the story is that our legal system is corrupt from street cop and up. Unless there is no price to pay for those who falsely accuse and even worse covered and/or fabricate evidence we are all in a grave danger. I have been there. I know. I wish no one would have to learn that “the students way”.

Posted by: Martimon at April 13, 2007 11:36 AM

Whoa, wait just a minute. There's no evidence that these three guys hired the strippers, or that they were in any way involved in name-calling or whatever else led up to the false accusations. In fact, there's solid evidence that at least one of them (Seligmann) and perhaps another (Finnerty) left the party before the strippers got down to business. It's certainly reasonable to assume, based on those actions, that they did not want any part of the strip show, thought it was inappropriate and took steps to remove themselves from the situation. That's behavior we should be applauding, not, as Moran does, ignore it and continue to smear these guys as sleaze bags.

To leap from being at a college party to being charged with forcible rape and sodomy--and kidnapping!--isn't just unfair, it's insane! These guys did NOTHING illegal (since there's no evidence that I'm aware of that they were drinking alcohol, even if it was at the party). Even if one of these three was guilty of underage drinking, to say that this action makes it okay to in essence say that they got what they deserved is grotesque.

Posted by: Martian Man at April 13, 2007 11:42 AM

I'm missing something ... What, exactly, does their prior behavior have to do with the case against them? They could be misogynist racists of the worst kind and that would have WHAT to do with being dragged through the courts on demonstrably false charges?

Posted by: DoorHold at April 13, 2007 12:02 PM

Perhaps I should clarify that I'm not agreeing with all of Moran's blog entry (I most certainly don't). I just agree with the sentiment that they are innocent, but not innocents.

As I listened to the lawyer's press conference (local radio here) after the case was dropped, the lawyers swung the pendulum too far in the other direction, attempting to paint the lacrosse players as near saints.
I don't think these guys are bad kids (well, Finnerty in questionable), but absolutely normal college kids.

Trying to portray them as wronged saints or superbly moral young men as the lawyers laid it on thick during their press conference is just as stupid as trying to pin on them a crime they didn't commit.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 13, 2007 12:37 PM

As pointed out above, two of the defendants cleared out as soon as they had a chance. It's been known about Reade Seligman for a while. Colin Finnerty's just spoken for the first time on his whereabouts that night,0,5792628.story?coll=ny-linews-print

Dave Evans lived in the house.

As far as Colin Finnerty's DC incident, the judge set aside the verdict some time ago saying, in effect, "What the hell was I thinking?"

The lacrosse team made a dumb decision one night. They let the two liars into the house. Young people can make dumb mistakes from time to time. Any parent knows this. They've been telling the truth ever since.

Compare this to the long-term behavior of the so-called adults

1) A 27-yo woman lies about rape and continues to lie for a year and is lying about it to this day. She could have stopped any time.

2) The DA, a sworn officer of the court, uses this lie to exploit a racial divide for his own personal gain. He knew it was a lie and could have stopped any time. Any one of his ADAs or the DPD could have blown the whistle on the lie at any time. They were silent and are still silent.

3) Half the voting citizens of Durham buy into the lie even after it was clear the DA was trying to railroad three men. They had plenty of time and information to consider their vote.

4) A university faculty that rushed to start an on-campus cultural war using the lie as an exemplar aided and abetted by a (best you can say about him) passive university president. They are still unwilling to take responsibility for their acting on the lie. In fact, most of them continue to act as if the lie is true. "Fake but true".

5) A press, with a very few notable exceptions, that so bought into the lie that they promoted the lie as the truth. What happened to a skeptical treatment of the claims of the government?

Compared to the cold, calculating, craven, cowardly and malicious people who used one dumb mistake for their own self gain, the members of the lacrosse team ARE innocents. But after the behavior of the supposedly responsible people around them they are innocents no more.

With all that, anyone continuing to jump up and down on the remains of last year's lacrosse team has climbed into the same sinking ship with Nifong and the rest. The sharks are circling. Enjoy your swim.

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at April 13, 2007 01:45 PM

Locomotive Breath, perhaps you need to realize that the "with us or or against" construct you're advocating is precisely the flip-side of the same overheated, illogical rush to judgement of those you claim to revile.

As I said in the main post, in the comment directly above yours, and now this one, these young men made some mistakes. Trying to portray them as wronged saints or superbly moral young (as theri lawyers have done) men is a lie as well. They're just normal college guys.


Trying to say that those of us who aren't lining up to sing their praises as being in the same league as the strippers, Nifong, the press, and the "Gang of 88" is disingenuous, and more than a little craven.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 13, 2007 02:11 PM

Confederate Yankee, I think that you've gotten yourself off on the wrong track. You say you wanted simply to say that Reade, Dave and Collin were "just normal college guys" instead of saints. Why didn't you simply say that if that was your intent? I watched the entire news conference of both Roy Cooper and later that of the attorneys of the three young Duke students who were exonerated. I recall not one statement implying that the three were saints or angels. I do recall statements that they were decent, hard working and yes normal young men. And that's about as good as it gets. Do you know any saints or angels? I don't. You took a gratuitous shot at their characters? What would make you want to do such a thing. I think that your words have said more about YOUR character than about the character of these three young men.

Posted by: Whippersnapper at April 13, 2007 02:33 PM

Just wow.

I said they were "just normal college guys," said that they should not be made into heroes, and said that we should "be able to redress the travesty of justice committed against them without making them into idols or figureheads of purity."

To you, saying such obvious truths is "gratuitous shot at their characters"?

I hope you've got a good grip on that saddle; I'd hate for you to fall off such a high horse.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 13, 2007 02:40 PM

"Locomotive Breath, perhaps you need to realize that the "with us or or against" construct you're advocating is precisely the flip-side of the same overheated, illogical rush to judgement of those you claim to revile."

Not so. In contrast to a year ago, the facts are now known and the balance can be weighed in its proper perspective.

The lacrosse team immediately admitted what they did do and have apologized for it profusely for over a year. They also told the truth about what they did NOT do and were called liers and far worse.

Ever had your photo on the cover of Newsweek with the word RAPE next to it?

Ever had a "wanted poster" spread all over your campus and had people hunt you down and harass you on a daily basis and call you a liar?

Ever had anyone stand outside your house banging pots and holding a banner that says "Castrate"?

Ever had a portion of the faculty of your school calling you a bigot and liar and leading the witch hunt?

Ever had the administration of your school stand by and do nothing while that was going on and meanwhile the President launches into long soliloquies about the seriousness of the crime with which you're charged?

Ever had the administration, initially, at least, tell the New Black Panther Party that they believe in free speech so an on campus march would be just fine? (The admin finally came to their senses and halted the NBPP at the edge of campus.)

Ever been ordered to flee your dorm room during finals week in fear for your life because the NBPP was coming to town promising justice?

Ever had a member of the NBPP shout "Dead man walking" to you in a court of law and had the judge blithely ignore it?

Ever had to put your life on hold for 13 months because someone told an obvious lie about you?

Ever had to spend $3,000,000 to keep from going to jail for 20-30 years?

There's much more. Want me to go on?

In short, whatever their faults and mistakes, they've put PAID, PAID and PAID again to any debt they might have.

On the day of their complete and historic exoneration (yes historic - ever heard an AG say "completely innocent" before?), for anyone to even BRING UP their many-times acknowledged and paid-off mistakes is a small-minded and petty attempt to tarnish a completely one-sided vindication and does, in fact, put them in the same boat with the people who tried to railroad them because that's EXACTLY what those people are saying. There is no nuance or moral equivalency today.

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at April 13, 2007 03:05 PM

Confederate Yankee, have you read Terry Moran's article in its entirety? I'm assuming you have since you stated that you "tend to think he's right". By saying that you've laid your blessing on the thinking that he has espoused. And I believe that he's grounding much of his apparent belief in the intrinsic badness of "priviledged white males". You may think that's a wonderful bandwaggon to jump on, but I don't and I don't respect any one who jumps on such beliefs. I guess you're feeling your way toward the mainstream media. Well, I'm off to get on my high horse and ride away.

Posted by: Whippersnapper at April 13, 2007 03:20 PM

So what you are saying, LB, is that the horrors they have been exposed to for things they didn't do, completely exonerates them for any of the things that they did do.

Gotta go.

John McCain was tortured in a Vietnamese prison camp, so I own him an apology for opposing his campaign finance reform bill.


Just like those you say you are not emulating, you're attempting to whip up an emotional response, and you give in to that emotional response on your own, whipping yourself into an indignant lather, convinced above all that those who disagree with you in any way are the scum of the earth.

I have made the profoundly profane statement that these young men should not be canonized or made into idols. I furthered the blasphemy by stating they were "absolutely normal college kids."


What harsh, unforgivable language I used.

Perhaps I should be beheaded with a lacrosse stick, and my skull nailed to the front door of Duke Chapel as a warning to others who dare not bow to the feet of three otherwise ordinary men.

Ever had your photo on the cover of Newsweek with the word RAPE next to it?

No. the closest I ever got was the opinion section of the Washington Post beside Charles Krauthammer.

The words next to my headshot? Not Rape.

Toodles. Gotta write that letter asking forgiveness from St. John of Arizona.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 13, 2007 03:37 PM

I think the offending graph in his piece wsd where he compared the Duke lax players as with the Rutgers team and said their lives won't be so bad now that they've been exonerated.

It smacked of haughty left-wing elitism:

As students of Duke University or other elite institutions, these young men will get on with their privileged lives. There is a very large cushion under them--the one that softens the blows of life for most of those who go to Duke or similar places, and have connections through family, friends and school to all kinds of prospects for success. They are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Posted by: Ken Shepherd at April 13, 2007 04:25 PM

Confederate Yankee: Perhaps I should be beheaded with a lacrosse stick, and my skull nailed to the front door of Duke Chapel"

No you just need a good kick up the backside.

These kids have suffered for well over a year now and any gracious person would allow them their day in the sun.

It takes a vicious small-minded fool to throw trivial and irrelevant allegations at them.

The racists in this saga have uniformly been on the side attacking the boys.

Posted by: Blue at April 14, 2007 04:06 AM

Confederate Yankee,

I think we all realize these college kids are just that. Certainly they are no saints, and you have subsequently made clear in the comments you agree with this point.

I just think your initial post did not do an effective job of conveying that. At all.

Further, I suppose I see you point, and find it has some merit. But -- and don't attack me, this is just my very subjective personal opinion -- your focus is a bit off. I know that bloggers need to "differentiate" themselves, especially if they want to post on topics de jure that other bloggers are posting on. But, in trying to do so, I think you've missed the forest for the trees.

You come off as a sympathizer with all those who play the victim and the rest of those towing the line of the liberal mindset. I have read some of your other posts when they are linked on Memeorandum. This is fairly sub-par by standards you have previously displayed.

Not your best work. Hope your skin is thick enough to take some constructive criticism.

Posted by: mjs1_23 at April 14, 2007 05:33 AM

I must say this has given me a whole new opinion of you and believe me, it's not favorable. Whether they're innocent or not has nothing to do with the fact that their life has been hell this past year. They've been falsely accused and declared guilty of a heinous crime and both you and Moran are guilty of reverse bigotry.

Posted by: CajunKate at April 14, 2007 01:00 PM

Well of course if they were mysongist racists than there would be a higher likelyhood of guilt. Mysoginst racts are more likely to do the things that they were accused of doing.

Posted by: John Ryan at April 14, 2007 04:25 PM

and the Black Panthers called them white devils and threatened their lives, please do not get into moral equivalence, those strippers mocked those boy with comments such as "small di**ed crackers, you get what you give and just because you get angry and give it back does not mean you go to jail for 30 years, give me a break.

Posted by: Rightmom at April 16, 2007 10:08 AM

I'd expect a comment like this from the Duke administration not from someone with any insight. Exactly what is the crime of these men that caused them to have their reputations destroyed and have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees? How much more noble they seem than the prosecutor, the accuser and the Duke staff, along with the MSM that judged them guilty based on their race.

They fought against incredible odds. They didn't give in. That goes along way with me. In contrast we have those who painted them as tainted corrupt people. I know who I'd pick. Its easy if you think.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at April 16, 2007 11:54 PM