WEBCommentary Contributor

Author: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  January 7, 2007

Topic category:  Other/General

Duke Case: Can Professor Davidson Learn?

Cathy N. Davidson is Ruth F. DeVarney professor of English and interim director, professor of interdisciplinary studies, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University and an unapologetic member of the infamous Group of 88.

In 2003, in a paper titled "Crises and Opportunities: The Future(s) of Scholarly Publishing," Professor Davidson opined: "Innocence is not bliss--it is professional suicide."

When it comes to the sliming of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans (aka the Duke Three) and their fellow members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team, those players, their families and friends, and those who have followed the case and focused on the facts, are likely NOT to think of Professor Davidson as innocent.

On October 15, 2006 (the same day that the "60 Minutes" expose of the Duke case was broadcast), Spotlight posted a brief article by Professor Davidson titled "Who is really preying on our children?"

When it comes to the Duke Three and their fellow members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team, those players, their families and friends, and those who have followed the case and focused on the facts are likely to think that Professor Davidson and her fellow Group of 88ers were preying on the team members (albeit not sexually) instead of praying for them.  [Note: "Prey" means "to have an injurious, destructive, or wasting effect".]

On January 5, 2006, The News & Observer published Professor Davidson's current "point of view."

Repentant, Professor Davidson is not.

Apparently Professor Davidson was impelled to explain why she signed THE AD along with 87 colleagues.last April.

The repulsive ad that inspired Brooklyn College Professor Robert K.C. Johnson to write way back on April 23, 2006 a scathing criticism valid then and obviously valid now.

Professor Johnson:

"88 members of the Duke faculty... recently signed a public statement saying they were 'listening' regarding allegations against the Duke lacrosse team. The statement spoke of 'what happened to this young woman' (which at that point consisted of nothing more than uncorroborated allegations) and gave a message to campus protesters: 'Thank you for not waiting' until the police completed their investigation. Activities of these campus protesters, as we now all know, included such items as the 'wanted' poster and branding the team 'rapists.'"

By this time, Reade Seligmann's ironclad alibi was not a secret and fair-minded people, especially Duke faculty, should have been outraged that Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong had refused to consider evidence of his innocence and instead had him indicted.

What does it take to make Professor Davidson realize that Mr. Seligmann's indictment on rape, kidnapping and sexual assault charges was a travesty of justice?

Professor Johnson's concise summary of the pertinent facts set forth in the then current issue of Newsweek:  "According to the magazine, during or within the 16 minutes after the time of the alleged rape, Seligmann placed eight calls on his cell phone, was waiting on a curb a block away from the site of the alleged rape, where he was picked up by a cab; and he then went to an ATM machine, a fast-food restaurant, and card-swiped his way into his dorm. The cab driver has given a statement, cell-phone records exist of the eight calls, the ATM withdrawal slip was saved, and the card-swipe was timed by Duke’s security system."

Professor Johnson's opinion then: "At this stage, we don’t know whether a crime was committed in this case. But unless Seligmann had contact with the accuser before the alleged crime (which no one is claiming) or his defense team has engaged in a massive doctoring of evidence that fooled both Newsweek and ABC, it seems unlikely that Seligmann (who has no prior record of any misconduct, and who has received an outpouring of support in recent days from those who know him) committed any crime. In the words of Newsweek—hardly known as a bastion of overstatements—Selgimann’s 'lawyer was able to produce evidence that would seem to indicate it was virtually impossible that Seligmann committed the crime.'"

Professor Johnson's musing: "How many of the Duke 88 would affix their signatures to a public affirmation that they are 'listening' to the exculpatory evidence of a student at their own institution, and expressing concern that local authorities could be veering toward a miscarriage of justice regarding Seligmann? Or do they 'listen' only to versions of events that conform to their preconceived worldview, like the student at North Carolina Central, seeking 'justice for things that happened in the past'?"

Professor Davidson's characterization of THE AD: "The ad said that we faculty were listening to the anguish of students who felt demeaned by racist and sexist remarks swirling around in the media and on the campus quad in the aftermath of what happened on March 13 in the lacrosse house."

The students with good reason to be anguished were the members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team! 

The Duke Three's joint defense team described the AD in their December 15, 2006 motion to change venue much more completely:

"On April 6, 2006, 88 members of the Duke University faculty endorsed a public statement denouncing the Defendants.  The statement asserted unequivocally that something must have 'happened' to the accuser, that these members of the faculty had committed themselves to 'turning up the volume,' and said 'thank you' to the protesters who had participated in the protests noted above and who were distributing 'wanted' posters of the Duke Lacrosse team throughout the community.  The faculty members endorsing this public statement included some of the most well-known members of the Duke faculty and even department heads: three academic departments and thirteen of the university's academic programs formally endorsed the statement."

Had these faculty members lost their faculties?

How many of them have any shame?

Professor Davidson insists signing the statement was an act of courage: "The insults, at that time, were rampant. It was as if defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann necessitated reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women. Many black students at Duke disappeared into humiliation and rage as the lacrosse players were being elevated to the status of martyrs, innocent victims of reverse racism."

They ARE "victims of reverse racism," Professor Davidson.

Fortunately,  they are alive. 

Professor Davidson is adamant: "I am positive I am not the only professor who was and continues to be adamant about the necessity for fair and impartial legal proceedings for David, Collin and Reade while also being dismayed by the glaring social disparities implicit in what we know happened on March 13."

Signing on to THE AD did NOT encourage "fair and impartial legal proceedings," as the joint defense motion for a change of venue demonstrated.

Professor Davidson finds stripper parties "sleazy, to say the least."

At last, a point of agreement, Professor Davidson. Hopefully, you also agree that it's "sleazy, to the say the least," when a female Duke sports team does the same, and concede, as I do, that it's legal in North Carolina.

Professor Davidson: "That those women were women of color underscores the appalling power dynamics of the situation."

"Women of color" were not ordered, Professor Davidson.  If they had been rejected on the basis of color, you'd be complaining about that.  The problem was having a stripper party, not a desire to humiliate any "woman of color," so please don't overstate the problem. 

Professor Davidson: "The ad we signed explicitly was not addressed to the police investigation or the rape allegations. The ad focused on racial and gender attitudes all too evident in the weeks after March 13. It decried prejudice and inequality in the society at large. 'It isn't just Duke, it isn't everybody, and it isn't just individuals making this disaster,' the ad insisted."

No sale, Professor Davidson.  The 88 HAD to realize that by issuing the statement they were supporting false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum's claim that felonious things happened, not just condemning racism and sexist.

Professor Davidson: "The lacrosse incident is a textbook example of what Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson calls 'social disaster' (a phrase used in the ad). 'Social disaster' refers to complex power arrangements that underpin even minor events and give those events symbolic (and disturbing) meaning for society as a whole."

The Duke case is a textbook example of an opportunistic black stripper lying to avoid incarceration and then cooperating with an even more opportunistic prosecutor who saw his chance to win an election against a rival (a female rival, Professor Davidson) by treating her lies as truths and manipulating manipulable black voters in Durham County, North Carolina, his duty as a prosecutor and the code of conduct for a prosecutor and the Constitutions of the United States and North Carolina and the statutes of North Carolina and the guidelines for identification be damned!

Professor Davidson: "The lacrosse incident became one of the top news stories of 2006 because Americans saw the case as symbolic of many of their deepest social concerns. Race, gender, sexuality, class, athletics, the South, poverty, privilege, the younger generation: those are some features of the brew that captured the world's attention and fed its moral voyeurism."

The Duke case became a huge story because the mainstream media treated lies as truths, because those lies suit their agenda.

Professor Davidson on why she stands firm and affirming that she is caring:

"Like the other faculty members who signed the ad, I constantly receive e-mails asking me to rescind my signature. Some people write out of real misery for their children, Duke students who are distraught that their friends may have been falsely accused and unfairly treated. They believe professors have sided against the lacrosse players, and they are outraged. If we had written what they suppose, we would deserve their anger. But we didn't.

"I empathize deeply with these parents and friends. I regret the additional pain they felt when they heard about this ad. However, when I send them the actual ad, they are often surprised that it does not condemn the lacrosse players but focuses on larger campus and national concerns. I was touched, recently, when one mother concluded our thoughtful exchange by noting that she still didn't like the ad, but hoped that her daughter would have the opportunity to take a class with me someday."

Sometimes graciousness can be taken too far.

Professor Davidson: " On the other hand, most of my e-mail comes from right-wing 'blog hooligans.' These hateful, ranting and sometimes even threatening folks don't care about Duke or the lacrosse players. Their aim is to make academics and liberals look ridiculous and uncaring. They deliberately misrepresent the faculty and manipulate the feelings of those who care about the lacrosse players in order to foster their own demagogic political agenda. They contribute to the problem, not to the solution."

I disdain the hater mongers on both sides, but please be advised that others get hateful mail from the Left and you are contributing to the problem, not the solution," "Hooligan" is an anti-Irish epithet.  Would you use the expression "blog niggers"?  Are anti-Irish epithets fine with you?  Looking to Mr. Nifong for inspiration on word choices is dicey.

Professor Davidson's word choices speak volumes about her lack of objectivity.

Example: "Who is that exotic dancer? A single mother who takes off her clothes for hire partly to pay for tuition at a distinguished historically black college."

Ms. Mangum is an ex-convict stripper/pole dancer whose lies caused enormous pain, suffering and expense and who just gave birth to her third out-of-wedlock child.

Professor Davidson: "Of course the lacrosse story makes Americans of conscience cringe."

We agree again, Professor Davidson, but for different reasons. 

Fortunately, Professor Davidson is not completely disconnected from reality: "There is also a different kind of social disaster in this incident, one that we didn't know about in April. I refer to a prosecutor who may well have acted unprofessionally, irresponsibly and unethically, possibly from the most cynical political motives. If it turns out that Mike Nifong has no evidence (as he insisted he did back in the spring), he will have betrayed the trust of an entire community and caused torment to these young men and their families. He will have added greater skepticism at every imaginable level to an already shaky legal system."

"[M]ay well have" and "If."  At least Professor Davidson at last acknowledged the possibility! 

Professor Davidson appreciates that there will be unfortunate consequences from the prosecution that was a persecution: "Nor is it only the lacrosse players who will be marked forever by this case. Will future rape victims dare to step forward after such a spectacle? Will African-Americans with legitimate grievances be willing to demand justice in the wake of this public debacle? On every level, this has been a social disaster."

Yes, there was a downside to a persecution based on bogus charges for society too.   

Unsurprisingly, Professor Davidson sees herself as part of the solution instead of part of the problem (like Mr. Nifong!): "It is an educator's job to bring the lessons of history to bear as we try to understand the full and on-going social implications of what happened long before March 13, 2006, and will continue long after. Studying this social disaster must be on the lesson plan for our future, no matter what happens next in this miserable incident."

Unless and until Professor Davidson accepts that she is part of the problem, she won't be part of the solution.

Keep studying, Professor.

Michael J. Gaynor

Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is gaynormike@aol.com.

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