Topic category: Other/General
Duke Case: The Perils of PC Exposers
Stuart Taylor, Jr. and KC Johnson are political correctness exposers. That's bad for book sales. That’s why Stuart Rojstaczer's caustic review of their masterpiece, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, is titled "A Book in Need of an Editor." An editor should have put put rape in quotation marks, but the most important things that the book lacked were a publisher that promoted the book properly, especially when it was released, and book sellers who sold instead of shunned it.
Mr. Rojstaczer pompously began his repulsive review by telling us about himself: “I'm very picky about the books that I like. Many times I'll read a glowing review of a book somewhere and after I'm finished reading the book myself will wonder, ‘What the hell was the reviewer thinking?” Sometimes the book has a good kernel of an idea and there is obviously a lot of work that has been done, but no one bothered to shape the book. If only there had been a decent editor, I think.”
Too much personal information, Mr. Rojstaczer. A reader wants to know about the book, not your personal preferences and quirks.
Mr. Rojstaczer continued: “There's a good book in here somewhere. That's my impression of Until Proven Innocent, the much talked about and somewhat widely read book about the Duke Lacrosse Affair written by Taylor and Johnson.”
Innocent young people were falsely accused of heinous crimes by an ex-convict stripper, betrayed by their university and persecuted by a rogue prosecutor intent on winning a Democrat primary so that the former female co-worker he had sent packing when he was appointed district attorney would not return the favor and he could maximize his pension.
Mr. Rojstaczer said the book was about “the Duke Lacrosse Affair” and the members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men’s Lacrosse Team were “not angels” and did not wear “halos.”
As the subtitle states, the book is about “Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.”
The Duke case was about a false gang rape claim and the victimization of the players resulting from that false claim and the reaction to it by the local authorities, the national and local media and the Duke administration and a significant segment of the Duke faculty driven by the demands of political correctness running wild.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “I am very sympathetic to the contents of this book and very familiar with the places and people mentioned. I taught at Duke for fifteen years. I'm well aware of and have been very public about its flaws. I've lived in Durham and in the neighborhood where the lacrosse players lived, Trinity Park. While I'm a critic of college athletics, the only lacrosse player I knew in a class of mine was a great kid and an asset to the classroom. I know many of the people mentioned in this book and like Taylor and Johnson think that a few of the humanities faculty are so far out on the political left that they are embarrassments. I'm quoted twice in this book and my quotes are used to reinforce the authors' opinions.”
More of Mr. Rojstaczer telling us about himself. No claim that those quotes were MISused!
Mr. Rojstaczer: “That said, I just don't think that the book Until Proven Innocent is very good. The authors are often successful at describing in detail the actions of a rogue District Attorney and a gossip hungry press. But what is good about this book frequently gets muddied by hyperbole, demagoguery, tangents that reflect the authors' political agenda, and an occasional tin ear.”
How much evidence does Mr. Rojstaczer present to support his ludicrous charges?
The authors did have a political purpose: to warn the liberals about the danger posed by the Far Left and political correctness trumping truth and perverting justice. That’s a NOBLE purpose, not a selfish one.
The demagoguery was done by rogue prosecutor Nifong and other Hoax backers and sympathizers, including The New York Times as well as the local newspapers, the North Carolina NAACP, Duke University President Richard Brodhead and scores of demagogic members of the Duke faculty, NOT Messrs. Taylor and Johnson.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “The authors have assembled a tremendous amount of information and many interviews about the Lacrosse Affair. What's particularly unique and valuable is that they apparently had open access to interview just about everyone on the side of the lacrosse team, players, coaches, lawyers, and parents. In contrast, their access to Duke was limited. And their access to the DA's office and the Durham Police Department was tiny.”
But, Mr. Nifong and Duke University issued public statements, particularly Mr. Nifong prior to the May 2006 primary, and Messrs. Taylor and Johnson apparently had access to documents produced by the prosecution in discovery. Thus, they had a suitable basis for their sound judgments with respect to Mr. Nifong and his office, the Durham Police Department, Duke University and the out-of-control media. In addition, Mr. Rojstaczer’s assumptions about the extent of the co-authors’ sources at Duke, the DA's office and the Durham Police Department in may be mistaken.
“Given that the information obtained is weighted heavily toward lacrosse team sources, the authors had two viable choices in constructing this book. They could have focused on the human drama associated with this case. What is it like for parents and families to have their children falsely accused? Such a book could have made a compelling and emotionally riveting story. But clearly that wasn't the interest of Taylor and Johnson in writing this book.”
The political correctness extremists would have preferred that to being exposed.
“Instead, Taylor and Johnson have legal and political interests. These interests combined with all of the data and interviews could have made an interesting book as well. Taylor and Johnson could have played it straight. They had a lot of facts at their disposal. Cool recitation of those facts would have produced a far more devastating portrait of justice gone wrong than the approach used here: write a screed loaded with airbrushing, cheap shots, childish asides, and speculation on the motives of those Taylor and Johnson don't like. Taylor and Johnson have ruined a perfectly good story.”
Ridiculous! Mr. Rojstaczer doesn’t like the co-authors’ focus on political injustices and the shameful injustices of the Duke case. The truth is that the co-authors strove to avoid appearing to be conservative or pro-conservative and Mr. Rojstaczer’s real problem with the book is that it STILL appealing to conservatives because the story it tells is the story of a horrific political correctness scandal. The authors praised liberals like MSNBC’s Dan Abrams and TalkLeft’s Jeralynn Merritt for getting it right, while ignoring conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and La Shawn Barber and merely mentioning Sean Hannity. Ironically, the co-authors under-credited conservatives in covering the story. Mr. Rojstaczer’s disappointment really is with the ugly truth instead of an overstated case. Put otherwise, the whole truth is even worse for the political correctness extremists, Mr. Rojstaczer.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “It's really a shame because it's obvious that the authors have the intelligence and material to write one hell of a book. Maybe that's why I'm so disappointed with the end product.”
Damning with faint praise! I think Mr. Rojstaczer is “so disappointed with the end product” because of the effective way it connects political correctness with shameful injustices.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “Let’s talk about airbrushing. Yes, three young men were both wrongfully arrested by a corrupt and delusional DA and abandoned and vilified by their university. If they hadn't spent somewhere around five million dollars defending themselves, these men might well be in prison. But they aren't angels. They have no halos over their heads. And that is what Taylor and Johnson would lead you to believe. The lacrosse team consists of wonderful human beings and great students.”
Human beings are not angels, of course. So what? The co-authors did not claim otherwise, nor did the team members. They did not have to be angels wearing halos to deserve decent treatment and due process, which the media generally and the prosecution particularly denied them. The “Scottsboro boys” were not angels with halos either. Their mistreatment still was inexcusable.
Mr. Rojstaczer proceeded to disparage the team members: “… they didn't work hard. But they sure did play hard. Actually they didn't play hard. They played stupid repeatedly. They drank and were cited for their drinking. And one of them was arrested - someone who according to Taylor and Johnson has no temper - for getting involved in a fight outside of a bar in Washington, DC.”
It is Mr. Rojstaczer who is painting with a very broad brush. Instead of white washing, he’s out to make all the team members look bad (black washing?). If he’s familiar with the Coleman Committee report and the individual records of the team members, he’s a contemptible liar. Since the conviction that resulted from the arrest to which Mr. Rojstaczer referred was expunged, perhaps he felt it best to refer only to the arrest, as though being arrested is proof of bad behavior, and to omit that the player really was a victim in the fight who was sucker punched and never hit anyone.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “The lacrosse players in this book are imbued with warm smiles, affability, and offbeat senses of humor. They are charming, strong, and honest individuals. While I'm sure they have many positive attributes and their parents and girlfriends love them, they undoubtedly have a less than savory side. Everybody does. With their consistent fawning, the authors lose credibility.”
Will Mr. Rojstaczer be doing a book on his less than savory side and the less than savory sides of the real villains of the Duke case? If so, it should be monumental.
In addition, all Mr. Rojstaczer is really saying is that no one is an angel and then he’s hoping his readers will imagine the worst about the team members. But in this instance the absence of evidence is not evidence and Mr. Rojstaczer has not shown any of the players to be “bad” persons.
”In contrast, no one on the opposite side gets any airbrushing. Instead, the authors decide to pile on gratuitous insults and black marks. One of the first pieces of extensive information we get on Durham's DA Nifong is that he cheated on his first wife many years ago. Now tell me, how does this bear on the subject at hand? What the authors are doing is dime-store novel foreshadowing. A good editor would have had the sense to throw this and other cheap tricks out.”
The real villains surely would have benefited from “airbrushing,” but the truth is the truth. The idea that marital infidelity is not suggestive of “public behavior” is a myth that “public servants” from Mr. Nifong and former President Clinton to Rudy Giuliani may promote. Fortunately, the co-authors did not disregard Mr. Nifong’s adultery, which might explain in part why Mr. Nifong suspected the team members. Psychologists call it projection.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “The chief cop in the investigation gets the slapstick cameo of being stuck in a dorm room ceiling and making it sag. A reporter from the NY Times strangely gets savaged by the authors for living in suburban Connecticut. A professor who criticized the lacrosse players is described as a burn out by the authors. Upon what evidence do they make this claim? These potshots make the authors seem both petulant and childish. They take away from what should be a very naturally compelling story.”
The co-authors apparently struck raw nerves, Mr. Rojstaczer. Read the book to appreciate how weird Mr. Rojstaczer’s perception is.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “Now given that many of the people being slapped around with gratuitous insults are less than admirable, maybe it's all OK in this age of rudeness we live in. But I don't think so. And not everyone subject to Taylor and Johnson's insults is unsavory. For example, the authors lambaste a Duke-commissioned external report by Bowen and Chambers as something akin to an inadvertent Saturday Night Live parody. William Bowen is perhaps the most respected leader, past or present, in higher education over the last forty years. There have been many weasels in positions in leadership in higher education; he is not one of them.”
What a hypocrite! Mr. Rojstaczer suggested that the co-authors are “both petulant and childish” and then laments “this age of rudeness we live in” in his next paragraph. Moreover, those “insults” were earned, NOT gratuitous.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “William Bowen's track record is impeccable. You may not agree with him on an issue, but he does not write inadvertent parodies. And not only do Taylor and Johnson swing wildly in condemning Bowen and Chambers' report but they get it wrong when they say that Duke leadership liked the report's contents; in fact, they disagreed with the report nearly as much as Taylor and Johnson.”
The short answer is to read the report and the book. “Duke leadership” picked the people it wanted to write the report it needed.
Mr. Rojstaczer: ”There are other things that Taylor and Johnson get wrong as well. Most importantly, it's a central thesis of this book that political correctness drove decision making at Duke. Supposedly, the Board of Trustees and Duke's president cowered in the face of the powerful far left faculty. The authors just don't understand the politics of Duke. As someone who sat on many committees and the Academic Council and watched faculty governance at Duke in action, I know first hand that professors have very little power. Duke is very much a top down organization. The opinions of professors - far left in their politics or otherwise - matter very little to the Board of Trustees and President Brodhead.”
The truth is that political correctness poisoned Duke. Mr. Brodhead was politically correct before he went to Duke, but he consulted with faculty early on the matter and must have noticed what happened to Larry Sommers at Harvard.
”Taylor and Johnson choose to make heinous villains out of the ‘Group of 88,’ the eighty-eight professors who signed a student newspaper ad decrying racism and sexism vis a vis the Lacrosse Affair. With regard to the ‘Group of 88,’ Taylor and Johnson are engaging in demagoguery. Certainly there are some left-wing crackpots at Duke (and no doubt some right-wing crackpots). But there are nowhere near eighty-eight of them. These eighty-eight faculty members are not an organized group that thinks in lock step. They are simply signatories to an ad. And that ad - while insulting to the lacrosse players and their families - had no influence on substantive decision making at Duke. It was hardly noticed until Johnson and right wing columnists used it for political fodder.”
The 88ers made heinous villains of themselves. Some sheepishly signed the ad, but they are responsible for their choice. The ad may not have been noticed by Mr. Rojstaczer, but it appeared in the student newspapers and had a devastating impact, as intended.
”Taylor and Johnson have made this molehill into a mountain to promote their political agenda, but there are far more appropriate examples of the corrosive nature of political correctness on the academy. The drama created by Taylor and Johnson related to this ad and the ‘Group of 88’ may be believable to some; but it is fiction.”
The Duke case as “molehill”? That’s really trying to minimize the problem. The Duke case captured the nation’s attention and the book offers much to those who want more.
Tragically, there probably are “far more appropriate examples of the corrosive nature of political correctness on the academy,” such as the Brown University indoctrination program addressed by Mr. Taylor in his latest article.
“…totalitarian ‘diversity’ obsessives…pollute -- and often dominate -- political discourse at almost all of our universities, from coast to coast. The University of Delaware recently got a step ahead of its peers by including the all-whites-are-racists dogma in training those who administered a systematic thought-reform program for incoming (and other) students.
“The quoted language [defining racist as a status for which only whites are eligible] appears in an August 2007 ‘diversity facilitation training’ program for resident assistants. The RAs were, in turn, assigned to use far-left propaganda such as this in what university documents called the mandatory ‘treatment’ of freshmen and the rest of the 7,000 students in university residence halls.
“University President Patrick Harker suspended this particular program two days after an October 30 expose spurred media reports and horrified parents and other citizens. But history suggests that it may well be back in some less obvious form before long. And it provides the latest glimpse into the political correctness rot that infects our universities and a great many secondary schools.”
Mr. Rojstaczer: “To their credit, the authors get quite a bit right. There is a good deal of insight into how the defense lawyers went about their work although the level of fawning over these lawyers rivals that of the fawning over the lacrosse players. For those interested in legal matters, I imagine that the details of how these lawyers fought off the potential disaster of having Durham's DA Nifong continue to serve as prosecutor would prove fascinating.”
A broken clock is right twice a day. Mr. Rojstaczer is correct that the co-authors over-praised the defense lawyers. After all, the truth was on their side, the defendants had the means to battle Mr. Nifong in the Durham court and the courtroom of public opinion and Mr. Nifong is an unethical prosecutor, not a great one.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “Why has this book received positive reviews even though it’s essentially a slapped together affair written on a tight deadline? I think the answer is that if you are sympathetic to the lacrosse players (you’d have to be truly twisted not to be sympathetic) and their ordeal, you look past the flaws of the book because basically the authors’ hearts are in the right place.”
More damning with faint praise! Also, sheer nonsense. The first two books on the Duke case were sympathetic to the players, but they did not receive the “positive reviews” that Until Proven Innocent earned.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “It’s worth noting that this book, despite many positive reviews and the national awareness of the Lacrosse Affair, has not sold particularly well. And I’ll speculate that the reason this is so is not because the book isn’t very good; badly written or edited books frequently make the bestseller lists. Rather, it’s because its subject matter is not the stuff that is in fashion right now. Books critical of higher education have not sold well in over fifteen years. It appears that when you’re a parent paying 50K a year to send your kid to college, you would rather not know about bad news like political correctness. It’s too depressing.”
Too few books were printed and the publisher and the book sellers did not promote the book properly. The co-authors did not even mention Rush Limbaugh and neither of them was invited by Rush to discuss the book. Likewise, Sean Hannity did not promote the book, having received a bare mention. With the forces of political correctness intent on suppressing sales and affronted prominent conservatives not promoting them (not all conservatives have the wiasdom and grace of La Shawn Barber, also ignored in the book), sales will not be what they should be.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “In addition, true crime books went out of fashion about twenty years ago. But I’ll make the claim that if the original story line – privileged rich college athletes rape poor black woman – had turned out to be true (thank god it wasn’t so) a well-researched book that followed that story would have been a top seller. Every good story needs a captivating villain. A tale where the villain is an overweight, middle-aged, small-town, career civil servant just can’t doesn’t command as much attention as one where the villains are rich preppy athletes from New York. I suspect that’s not only why this book has had modest sales, but it’s also why the press made the lacrosse players villains for as long as they did. Taylor and Johnson claim the press was motivated by political correctness. In my view, the motivation was simply to attract more readers and listeners, facts be damned.”
Mr. Rojstaczer is either in denial or a liar.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “It’s through no fault of theirs that Taylor and Johnson narrate a story that, while tragic, lacks broad appeal in today’s marketplace. Ultimately, Until Proven Innocent is a book written primarily for Dukies past and present, Carolinians, lawyers, legal junkies, and the segment of the country’s political right wing obsessed with left-wing bias in the academy.”
It’s a book for anyone interested in the truth about political correctness.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “In 2006, an emotionally troubled stripper and a rogue DA were able to bring national attention and unwarranted shame upon an entire city, a major university, college athletics, and a lacrosse team. Most importantly, they managed to make life a living hell for three innocent people and their families. Until Proven Innocent does provide valuable information about how this tragedy came to be. But it is flawed in its depictions. Had someone judiciously knocked out one hundred or so pages, this book just might shine.”
Many of the people of Durham County, North Carolina and at Duke brought shame upon themselves. If the book had been censored for the sake of political correctness, the co-authors would have prostituted themselves for the sake of book sales. To their eternal credit, they did not.
Mr. Rojstaczer: “And yes, I know this review is too long. It, like the book, could use an editor.”
Your review needed filing in a waste basket instead of publishing, Mr. Rojstaczer.
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 email@example.com.