Topic category: Other/General
Big Problem at Duke: Political Correctness
The State of North Carolina finally stopped persecuting members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team last April, but the insidious effects of demonizing them and their teammates have not been undone, especially at Duke, where political correctness still controls and admitting mistakes is not among the goals.
A relative of a 2007 Duke graduate who was NOT fooled by the gang rape tale recently emailed me in part: "In talking to [the graduate] and several of [the graduate's] friends a couple of weeks ago, I was disappointed to see that they all loathed the lacrosse players and believed them capable of rape. Although none had first-hand information, they uniformly described the lacrosse players as bullies and drunks. Of course...they're simply products of a liberal environment, parroting what they've heard rather than thinking independently. Still, it's disturbing."
Imagine paying the high cost of a Duke education and discovering it included brainwashing, pandering to politically correct professors and mistreating classmates.
Take Duke Professor Sheryl Broverman, whose "AIDS and Emerging Diseases" class reportedly is especially attractive to non-biology majors.
Professor Broverman on her course: "A course that's introducing someone to a new disciplinary area and wants to encourage them to pursue it has a different agenda-it's not a weed-out course. It's appropriate for it to present the material in a more approachable manner than an upper-level course that's trying to stimulate students into higher-level thinking."
Professor Braverman on her interdisciplinary approach: "The more relevant it is for students, the harder they're willing to work, because they care about answers. And I really try to make my class interdisciplinary. I think that's one of the most attractive things to students, when they can see connections between biology and economics, political science, women's studies. It's really exciting when students come up to me and say, 'This relates to something we're doing in a different class.' That's what Duke would like education to be, that students are seeing connections, and not treating disciplines like silos."
But, are the students being taught how to think or what to think? Are the prejudices and biases of their professors contaminating students?
After the North Carolina Attorney General's office ended the Duke case, About.com stated in its Race Relations section: "[T]here are some in the NC community for whom the possibility of dropped charges left as many questions as answers -- the feeling that the full truth of what happened that night may never be known because of changing stories, conflicting DNA evidence, and the initial mishandling of the investigation. Duke biology Professor Sheryl Broverman is one such individual: 'Since we haven't gone through a normal legal process, we don't know what really happened. The fact the charges were dropped doesn't mean nothing happened. It just means information wasn't collected appropriately enough to go forward.' Still others in the community, who believed all along in the innocence of the Lacrosse players, feel vindicated."
A poster at the website of The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, blasted Professor Broverman for that comment:
"Way to go Prof. Broverman, you're one classy chick to once again demonstrate in the national press that you hate all of us --
"'Since we haven't gone through a normal legal process, we don't know what really happened,' said Duke biology professor Sheryl Broverman. 'The fact the charges were dropped doesn't mean nothing happened. It just means information wasn't collected appropriately enough to go forward.'
"Yeah, who cares what the Attorney General says after reviewing all of the evidence, you've got that female intuition thing working for you. Why let it go, right? Guilty until proven innocent -- by whom ... you?"
A parent of a Duke student asked me to share the substance of emails between that parent and Professor Broverman, and that parent and Duke Chairman Robert Steel.
"My beef is not with the Duke management but with some of the teachers who don't understand 'innocent'. I believe [Professor Broverman] thinks a gang rape occurred and that the students were guilty but the facts couldn't be proved. Please see the below email chain to Sheryll Broverman, one of my [child's] teachers....
"I am a physics major and have worked in my field for more than 25 years. I can attest that Dr. Broverman's comment: 'if the data doesn't exist because the experiment didn't work, one can't conclude anything' is not only wrong but very bad science. First this prosecution was not a controlled experiment and her conclusion [is] inane. Secondly, on an experimental basis in science, you can certainly conclude much if experiments don't 'work'."
Chairman Steel replied:
"Dear Mr. Porter:
"I have now had the chance to read and consider the many responses to my message of April 11. On behalf of the board of trustees, I understand and respect that you do not agree with all we said and did over the past year. It has been a difficult time, most notably for the three falsely accused students and their families.
"Now that the North Carolina Attorney General has declared the players innocent, I hope we can all find ways to bring this matter to a resolution so that we can move forward together.
"Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts with me."
The parent also wrote to Professor Broverman, as follows:
"My [child] is... at Duke. The below statement is attributed to you. Is this accurate and is this your sincere belief?"
To which Professor Broverman responded:
"I was contacted by the reporter initially to talk about DukeEngage. He then asked me for my opinion about the expected dropping of all charges against the students. I was unaware that this was about to happen. I made the mistake of trying to provide a nuanced commentary on the difficulty of prosecuting rape in general. Many cases, some of which likely to be valid accusations, are dismissed for lack of evidence. I think all of us would also agree that 'normal legal procedures' did not happen under Nifong's leadership, which certainly muddied the waters. Do I want the students to be guilty? Of course not. Do I accept that there is not sufficient evidence to go forward? Sure. Do I wish the lack of evidence had been acknowledged last spring? Absolutely! Who doesn't? However, I still maintain that rape is hard to prosecute, and that IN GENERAL lack of evidence does not mean a crime was not committed. However, I did not mean to suggest that I thought these students should be prosecuted.
"In science, if the data doesn't support the hypothesis, you drop or modify the hypothesis. However, if the data doesn't exist because the experiment didn't work, one can't conclude anything. Looking at how Nifong handled the case, 'the experiment didn't work' and one can't conclude anything. Listening to AG Cooper later that afternoon, I accept that the data does not support the hypothesis, which in real life means that charges should be dropped.
"I hope this clarifies my position."
Brooklyn College History Professor Robert K.C. Johnson received the same message from Professor Broverman and publicly commented: "People of good faith, it seems to me, can disagree over whether this case shows that rape law has bent too far in favor of prosecutors, and I suspect I would be more inclined to take that position than Prof. Broverman. About the Duke case itself, however, I agree with everything she says in the statement above."
But three commenters on Professor Johnson's Durham-on-Wonderland blog were not so tolerant, as blogger John in Carolina pointed out on his blog:
"Comment One ---
"Broverman's rationalization is so nuanced, that it is twisted!
"She wrote: 'However, if the data doesn't exist because the experiment didn't work, one can't conclude anything.'
"I take great pride in being a scientist myself.
"This is not a case of the data failing to support the hypothesis. This is a case of the data totally disproving the hypothesis!!
"The fact that the DNA came back totally negative PROVED that the hypothesis was wrong!!
"If a woman showed up in the hospital weeks after being raped, a reasonable person would not expect to find DNA, so the absence of DNA would prove nothing. This case is RATHER DIFFERENT, however.
"Comment two ---
"In science, if one forms a hypothesis and the experiment yields overwhelming indication that the hypothesis is false, it must be discarded. The hypothesis in this case was, 'A rape occurred.'
"At this moment in time, ALL evidence (and there is a great deal) points to the negative of that hypothesis. Ipso facto, one must conclude, as the state AG did, there was no rape and therefore there cannot be any rapists. Recall the use of the term 'innocent?'
"This biology type must have a dual major in race/class/gender studies. Her 'logic' is unsound.
"Comment three ---
"Is it just me, or is Broverman STILL saying the players could very well have raped Mangum, but she's generously accepting that it can't be proved? This is a far, far cry from saying there is no evidence a crime occurred."
The lacrosse players apologized for poor judgment in entertainment and beverage choices at an off-campus spring break party.
Good for them!
But, Duke as an institution, all but one of the Group of 88 and others (like Professor Broverman) who served as fellow travelers to the 88 have not apologized, much lest tried to atone, for demonizing players without justification as racists who either participated in a gang rape or protected those who participated. (I consider Duke's decision to petition the NCAA to allow those team members who did not graduate in 2006 to have an extra year of eligibility simply part of a legal strategy to mitigate damages, since Duke has not admitted it was wrong in the way it dealt with the Hoax.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.