Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Lessons of the Duke lacrosse case 

Those who remember the humble beginnings of the Scholars (back when there were multiple SCSU professors here) will see something vaguely familar in K.C. Johnson's summation of the Duke lacrosse story. The Left on American campuses decries any conservative critique of its behavior as McCarthyism but engages in that behavior when it suits them, as it did in this case. Those faculty took out an ad in the campus newspaper that said something must have happened, but as the case has now unraveled have instead turned on the majority of students who have heard the evidence against the lacrosse players and found that evidence lacking.

Johnson links to a post by Duke engineering professor Michael Gustafson describing the tragic result of an immoral prosecution cheered by a politically correct mob:
We have removed any safeguards we've learned against stereotyping, against judging people by the color of their skin or the (perceived) content of their wallet, against acting on hearsay and innuendo and misdirection and falsehoods. We have formed a dark blue wall of institutional silence; we have closed Pandora's box now that all the evils have made it into the universe; we have transformed students from individual men to archetypes - to "perfect offenders" and "hooligans" - and refused to keep their personhood as a central component of all this. We have taken Reade, and Collin, and Dave, and posterized them into "White Male Athlete Privilege," and we have sought to punish that accordingly.

We have demanded proof of innocence; we have stated that even if innocent of the alleged crimes, "whatever they did is bad enough;" we have established false dilemmas and presented them as deductive enthymemes - "White innocence means black guilt." "Men's innocence means women's guilt." In so doing, we have heaped all that is and has ever been White and Male on the backs of these three men, and all that is and has ever been Black and Female on the back of this woman. We have given to them all the responsibilities of being representational caricatures and stripped away any sense of their being individuals, making it ever so easy to sidestep the individual liberties and responsibilities in pursuit of some representational good.
What of this could apply to the charges of anti-Semitism, the silence of our faculty, or the use of a student as an assault on traditional values at a homecoming? We can hope that the Duke case makes plain the use of these students and this woman as tokens in an ideological fight. But I'm not hopeful.