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How was departmental support for the Group of 88's letter obtained?--

I was reading through KC Johnson's blog last night and something absolutely floored me.

A reader asks:

Take a look at the mini-script at the bottom of the Group of 88 ad. It states in part: "We thank the following departments and programs for signing onto this ad with African & African American Studies: Romance Studies; Psychology; Social and Health Sciences; Franklin Humanities Institute; Critical U.S. Studies; Art, Art History, and Visual Studies; Classical Studies; Asian & African Languages & Literature; Women's Studies; Latino/a Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Medieval and Renaissance Studies; European Studies; Program in Education; and the Center for Documentary Studies. Because of space limitations, the names of additional faculty and staff who signed on in support may be read at the AAAS website…"

Does this mean these departments and programs approved of the ad? Was it the head of each department or program that gave assent? Was a vote taken among the faculty of each of these departments or programs approving of their support? Is the list simply reflective of the departments and programs of the 88 signatories? Have this ever been addressed? Let's say I'm a member of the Post-Raphaelite Studies Department and strongly disapproved of a certain position. If I later saw an ad supporting that position and thanking the Post-Raphaelite Studies Department for signing onto it, I would have a thing or two to say about that.

KC Johnson responds:

In response to this question, I looked into the issue, and was deeply troubled at what I discovered.

I e-mailed all the professors in the Romance Studies; Psychology: Social and Health Sciences; Art, Art History, and Visual Studies; and Asian & African Languages & Literature departments who did not sign the Group of 88's ad, and asked when their department formally endorsed the Group of 88's statement. Many did not respond. Those who did, however, could not recall any formal departmental mechanism through which their department approved the ad.

For those outside of the academy, it is hard to overstate the significance of this point. Departments rarely speak as corporate bodies: in my 13 years as a professor at ASU, Williams, Brooklyn, and (as a visitor) Harvard, I have never been part of a department that formally "endorsed" any public statement. At a minimum, for such an endorsement to have been made, the department would have needed to have voted, either by e-mail or in person.

When did the votes in these four departments occur? Why is there no record of the votes? . . .

This makes absolutely no sense to me. As a former associate dean at two universities, I have trouble understanding how this state of affairs could be true.

The first two possibilities are that those professors who responded to KC Johnson are simply wrong, that there were official departmental votes, but (1) that they were unaware of them or (2) that they are lying to Johnson to try to get him to embarrass himself by publishing false information. That no one confirmed their faculty's vote to join the Group of 88's letter would seem to make these possibilities less likely than other possibilities.

So now one must consider the other possibilities, in which at least some departments and programs did not have a meeting and vote on joining the Group of 88.

Could any of 15 departmental and program chairs have so abused their powers that they unilaterally committed their programs officialy to a public political position in opposition to a group of Duke students without a full departmental meeting, deliberation, and vote? My guess is that this is probably what happened in at least some departments or programs, but then I am just speculatiing. Most chairs that I've dealt with would never have done such a thing. Duke's trustees should consider policy changes to prevent future abuses of this type.

The next possibility is even more disturbing, even if less likely to be true than the others. Could it be that one or more of the approximately 15 departments or programs that supposedly endorsed the letter did not do so? Did the letter writers fabricate departmental or programmatic support that did not exist, either intentionally or out of confusion?

That is a truly frightening possibility, even if less likely to have happened than some of the others. After the Group of 88's letter was published with departments and programs at Duke presented as official signatories, the President or the administration would likely have talked to at least a few chairs to determine the circumstances of their departments' signing on. Is it possible that the President or another member of his administration had discovered that the authors of the Group of 88 were falsely claiming official Duke departmental endorsements that were fraudulent--and kept silent about it?

Leading a university is like herding cats, and faculty members can be expected to make many irresponsible statements for which the administration can't reasonably be held responsible. But claiming departmental support (if there were none) is a claim that an administration would have a moral (and perhaps a legal) obligation to correct. Publishing the Group of 88's letter certainly damaged the reputation of the Duke students accused of rape, and encouraged those who were harassing them. If a professor lied about whether departments or programs at Duke joined in the denunciation of the accused Duke students, that lie would have damaged the reputation of those students. Because of its somewhat odd posture, I don't know whether such a lie (if it occurred) is actionable (defamation not being an area of my expertise).

Could a departmental chair, dean, or university president have been so craven that he or she would not have taken steps to correct a false endorsement of a damaging political ad. Was the climate of fear so bad or the administration so weak that even this simple correction was deemed too much?

Ultimately, I don't believe that President Brodhead could have been so frightened of his own faculty as this possibility would suggest. While it seems in retrospect that Brodhead was not a good leader, I have no reason to think that he is not at least a competent and honest follower.

WHAT TO DO:

DUKE CHRONICLE: Now that the issue whether any of the 15 departments or programs did not endorse the letter has been raised, the Duke Chronicle, which published the ad, is (in my opinion) obliged to examine the matter. To avoid criticisms of "reckless disregard for the truth," the Chronicle should investigate and correct any significantly false information it has published in the ad.

TRUSTEES AND UNIVERSITY COUNSEL: It is not clear what the trustees' obligations in this matter are, but if I were a trustee, I would try to get the University Counsel to look into whether anyone has falsely claimed to have departmental or programmatic support for the Group of 88's letter. If I were University Counsel, I would make the inquiry on my own initiative. If Counsel were to determine that someone did make such a false claim (which, as I said, I think is less likely than other possibilities), then Counsel should be asked to give an opinion about the liability of the university, the administration, or any departmental chair for failing to correct that falsehood. If (as I hope and think did not happen) President Brodhead did know that some departments or programs had not endorsed the letter, and concealed that fact from the Duke community, I wonder how he can look his students or faculty in the eye anymore--let alone face himself in the mirror.

anonVCfan:

DUKE CHRONICLE: Now that the issue whether any of the 15 departments or programs did not endorse the letter has been raised, the Duke Chronicle, which published the ad, is (in my opinion) obliged to examine the matter. To avoid criticisms of "reckless disregard for the truth," the Chronicle should investigate and correct any significantly false information it has published in the ad.


To state the obvious, it was an ad. Why should a newspaper investigate "misstatements" in ads it published? I've never heard such a call for an investigation where a store advertised a "big sale" and it turned out to be a bait-and-switch operation. Why should this be any different?

I'm interested in how this happened, too, but I don't think the paper bears any special responsibility to look into it.
2.22.2007 4:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
JL. If you've been following D-i-W, you may have gotten the impression that the folks involved in leading the 88ers were perfectly capable of doing that which no fellow can do.
To presume they would act with honor and integrity to their own inconvenience is to presume against what looks like pretty solid evidence.
2.22.2007 4:38pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
anonVC fan, I dunno if the Chronicle (or any other paper) is obliged to investigate dubious ads. As a reporter, specializing in business, I do it from time to time, when I sniff expired fish.

People have gone to prison as a result.
2.22.2007 5:02pm
Crunchy Frog:
Without doing any fact-checking at all, I will merely speculate that there were no official departmental enorsements at all (excepting possibly A&AAS), but the list is the sum total of departments that were represented by the Gang of 88 members themselves.

"What department do you belong to?"
"Butt sniffing studies, why?"
"We'll be sure to mention them in the ad."
2.22.2007 5:09pm
Federal Dog:
I completely believe that at least some department chairs would unilaterally endorse a position on behalf of the whole department. It likely never even occurred to them that anyone would object: No right-thinking person would, right?

It's just one risk of reducing universities to political echo-chambers.
2.22.2007 5:09pm
Pantapon Rose (mail):
'Was the climate of fear so bad or the administration so weak that even this simple correction was deemed too much?'

Yes.

Everyone was tripping over themselves to show their outrage at the students.

For example:
The New Black Panther Party (a hate group) made some noise that they were going to demonstrate on campus.
There was some talk that these people often carryed weapons with them, and might pose a threat. At first, the administration did not respond, so students were faced with the absurd prospect of having to go to class during exam week while a possibly armed hate group was rallying against them. Finally, the administration stated they couldn't demonstrate on campus, so they held a rally right off school ground, joined by many of the university's top administrators.
2.22.2007 5:10pm
Richard Riley (mail):
Much as I admire Prof Lindgren's posts at the VC, his rhetoric here is over the top. I think Richard Aubrey is right - the Group of 88 folks themselves, not to put too fine a point on it, may or may not have been accurate in claiming the institutional department/program support listed in their fine print, and may or may not have cared about procedural niceties in making those claims. But in the end, if my supposition is correct, this is yet another mark against the Group of 88. Hauling the Chronicle, or Brodhead, or university counsel, or the Board of Trustees into it seems excessive.

I hope it's understood that I vigorously oppose what the Group of 88 appears to have done here, and if it's true I hope they are called to account for it. I just question Prof Lindgren's treatment of it in this post.
2.22.2007 5:10pm
Witness (mail):
Who cares?
2.22.2007 5:11pm
Pantapon Rose (mail):
I wish there was an edit function...(carried, not carryed...)
2.22.2007 5:12pm
great unknown (mail):
There might be a difference between a "big sale" ad and a defamatory ad, as far as what the publication's obligations are.

I used to think that this case was another "the end justifies the means" situation. Following the story, however, I realize that for the post-modern deconstructionist, there are no means. History can always be rewritten, reinterpreted, and just supressed.
2.22.2007 5:15pm
ed o:
well, given the normal reaction here amongst the academics, can't they just cry "academic freedom", at which point any lies or despicable conduct become beyond reproach?
2.22.2007 5:27pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't know that the Duke Chronicle should investigate it because they published the ad, but the Duke Chronicle should investigate it because it's part of the biggest story at Duke in quite some time.
2.22.2007 5:33pm
Eli Rabett (www):
This all seems remarkably fact free.
2.22.2007 5:42pm
Loki13 (mail):
Other than seconding the "who cares," I'll quickly make my own (not very) pithy observation-

Most of the fun of Volokh (as opposed to pure hackery like Instapundit) is that there are often either legal or libertarian hooks hanging on to the issues. Even if I don't find the subject matter interesting, I can enjoy the legal (or libertarian) angle.

Couldn't you have at least hung on a "What are the defamation tort issues here? Who can be can held liable? Who has standing to bring the suit?" I dunno.... this is getting a little weird and vendetta-ish (kind of like the simulatenous spittle posts, but that's a feud between a Volokh poster and another poster, concerning research being conducted by the Volokh poster, so I can at least somewhat understand that)...
2.22.2007 5:45pm
Jim Lindgren (mail):
anonVCfan,

NY Times v. Sullivan was a suit over an ad. I wrote that the Chronicle should investigate "To avoid criticism."

Eli wrote: "This all seems remarkably fact free."

Yep! That's why I was calling for an investigation into both the facts and the legal issues.

Richard Riley,

Yes, the rhetoric is a bit over the top.

Jim Lindgren
2.22.2007 6:11pm
Steve:
It seems to me that Barack Obama should be called upon to denounce this ad.
2.22.2007 6:29pm
SeaMercenary (mail):
One other thing to consider amid the dust-up about the gang of 88 : the three principals in this--the accused defendants--are STILL facing 30-year prison sentences, and the two Special Prosecutors looking at their case have, in the opinion of many, a history of putting the state's interests ahead of justice (think of the Gell and Malloy cases).

They are about the LAST two people anyone would have ordered to review the lacrosse case, if you were looking for a fair and unbiased result. (Coman, one of the SPs, is said to harbor a special animus towards Cheshire and Cooney, whom he faced in the second Gell trial; and Wade Smith--all now lacrosse defense attorneys).

The Duke case is now (as it ever has been) a political trial; and in political trials, noise counts. If you want to make some noise and maybe help three innocent defendants,
aim your mouse at
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/208340697
and sign the Petition for Justice in the Duke Lacrosse case.
It may be the most useful thing you do today, and it CAN
help make a difference.
(Here's your chance to be part of an 'army of Davids' that
overcomes entrenched and corrupt bureaucracies.)
2.22.2007 6:29pm
Locomotive Breath (mail):
I attended a recent "Shut Up and Teach" "Town Hall Meeting" at Duke where, of the six panelists, five were signatories including Prof. Wahneema Lubiano who was one of the principle actors in producing the "Listening Statement".

One questioner asked her how the statement was put together and why were there no representatives of the sciences included. She said that the statement was put together in 48 hours using whoever they could round up on short notice.

It seems clear to me that there was no time for a faculty meeting and those signatories from certain departments simply claimed to speak for those departments.

An unanswered question is who paid for the ad? Many of us have been wondering if departmental resources were used. That would have been highly inappropriate. Duke University President Brodhead learned the lesson of Larry Summers at Harvard and will not cross his radical faculty so expect to see nothing on that.

The tenured and highly paid faculty panelists are claiming that they are being silenced because people are criticizing their actions.

CF: Shut Up and Teach:
http://www.jhfc.duke.edu/icuss/pdfs/shutup4.pdf

They prohibited any recording or photographs during the meeting and they have a video recording that they made that they are refusing to release. Odd to say the least.
2.22.2007 6:32pm
A.S.:
public political position in opposition to a group of Duke students

Prof. Lindgren has it wrong, I think. The persons in question here were not a "group of Duke Students". They were white male athletes who raped a black woman. Therefore, anything that is done to them is OK, because we must fight the racist, sexist patriarchy in this country that makes it OK for white male athletes to rape black women with impunity. By questioning the proprity of the signatures, Prof Lindgren is merely serving to perpetuate the racist white male patriarchy; this post must thus be opposed.
2.22.2007 6:43pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
A.S.

Preach it brother/sister.
2.22.2007 7:04pm
John Fee (mail):
Okay, so either department chairs acted too hastily or the ad publishers mistated the nature of departmental support for their cause. This strikes me as a relatively minor thing, even if it was error. If the departments whose views were supposedly misrepresented don't feel strongly enough to make a fuss of this, why should anyone else?
2.22.2007 7:10pm
B D McCullough (mail):
Jim,

Are you forgetting what happened to Larry Summers?

Regards,

Bruce McCullough

Jim Lindgren wrote:
Ultimately, I don't believe that President Brodhead could have been so frightened of his own faculty as this possibility would suggest. While it seems in retrospect that Brodhead was not a good leader, I have no reason to think that he is not at least a competent and honest follower.
2.22.2007 7:13pm
33yearprof (mail):
[quote]Is it possible that the President or another member of his administration had discovered that the authors of the Group of 88 were falsely claiming official Duke departmental endorsements that were fraudulent--and kept silent about it?[/quote]

Yes. Given the spineless conduct of the Duke President through most of this controversy (until last month, IIRC), wimping out to the forces of political correctness is only to be expected.

I'm an honor graduate of Duke. I've changed my estate plan. I'm sure others have or are doing so as well. President Broadhead should think about the future losses his conduct is costing the University. Certainly, the Board should (but won't) consider it. I guarantee the "88" won't make up the losses.
2.22.2007 7:22pm
Mho (mail):
I'd like to think that Brodhead is simply afraid of these intellectually dishonest, politically motivated professors, and might possibly have the balls to go after them for some genuinely actionable, academic breach if he thought he could prevail. But I think that part of Blue Devil's bargain to gain elite status has been to pander to the national academic (i.e., leftist) elite by introducing programs like A&AAS, and even elevating them from a master's program to a department that could grant PhDs, as they did just this winter, even when there is so little demand for such degrees. So, given that Duke wants a department led by politicized professors, they may figure that these particular professors are the best they can do.
2.22.2007 7:32pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I wonder if all this means I can use the Duke logo on whatever I choose with impunity? How long it would take the Duke lawyers to send off a cease and desist?
2.22.2007 8:18pm
mattpic42:
Is it possible that the language in the letter is supposed to describe the breadth of departments that the 88 themselves come from? On it's face, it certainly implies support of the entire departments, but the structure seems similar to a common element in these papers that would state that support came from within a wide variety of organizations, instead of implying that all organizations entirely support this position.

Again, this is just a guess, and it is not what the actual letter says. I'm just more willing to chalk it up to an overzealous wording of an imprecise writer rather than a) a deliberate attempt to trick Johnson or b) many department heads going against their departments.
2.22.2007 9:03pm
G:
"For those outside of the academy, it is hard to overstate the significance of this point."

Really? It actually seems quite easy to overstate the significance. In fact, it seems to me to be quite difficult to understate the significance.
2.22.2007 9:49pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Jim Lindgren, all one need do is wait. I think G. has it right, at least as demonstrated here.
2.22.2007 10:26pm
Mho (mail):
One of the more peculiar arguments consistently made by these English and Literature PhDs who drafted the letter is that they have been widely misunderstood.
2.22.2007 11:04pm
John (mail):
Jim:

I'm surprised you did not thank the following departments and programs for agreeing with your column: Duke's African &African American Studies: Romance Studies; Psychology; Social and Health Sciences; Franklin Humanities Institute; Critical U.S. Studies; Art, Art History, and Visual Studies; Classical Studies; Asian &African Languages &Literature; Women's Studies; Latino/a Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Medieval and Renaissance Studies; European Studies; Program in Education; and the Center for Documentary Studies.
2.22.2007 11:18pm
hey (mail):
It's just more fodder for the civil suits, evidence taht Duke recklessly and with malice destroyed the players' reputations and that the Administration did nothing to attempt to reverse unauthorised statements made by faculty.

Hopefully the LAX players will destroy Duke with their suits and provide an abject example for the oppositionalist professors that read here and the lkeftist cabal that dominates the academy in the country. Take their pensions, take their houses, and take their departments! Academia delenda est.
2.22.2007 11:22pm
josh:
Does anyone note the irnoy here of this post in light of EV's recent post about the Reynolds/Campos dustup? I think it proves the ultimate point of the hypocrisy between right/left right now. I am amazed by the up-in-arms attitude over the Group of 88, while the apology for Reynolds' advocacy of lawless foreign policy. I wonder which is more hamrful to the state?

Also, I marvel at the focus on this case -- a case of what appears to be wrongful prosecution -- in light of the myriad cases of same throughout the country that receive no such attention. Why this case? Why the rare time a white defendant(s) is wrongfully charged does it warrant daily posts on such blogs as this?

I know that some of the posters teach law in Illinois, yet never demonstrate the same vigor for the history of wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct that have plagued the state until only recently.

I guess this was the post of Campos' column in the Denver paper. There seems no rational or coherent thread between what conservatives choose to focus on in terms of misconduct, academic or otherwise, and what they choose to defend. Clearly, people are angry about these Duke profs and want something done. But please don't touch our dear InstaPundit for his ivory tower musings.

I'mmsure David N will give me some rationalizations distinguishing it all, explaining what the definition of "is" is, but I'm just not getting it. I fail to see anything other than a double standard at work here.
2.22.2007 11:33pm
Ken Arromdee:
Also, I marvel at the focus on this case -- a case of what appears to be wrongful prosecution -- in light of the myriad cases of same throughout the country that receive no such attention. Why this case? Why the rare time a white defendant(s) is wrongfully charged does it warrant daily posts on such blogs as this?

Because a black defendant would simply not be prosecuted like this. In fact, there *is* another Duke rape case, involving a black defendant and a white victim. The black defendant is being treated with kid gloves; no public denunciations, no 88 signatories, no feminists proclaiming the guy must be guilty.

I fail to see anything other than a double standard at work here.

It's a double standard all right, but not the kind you're thinking of.
2.23.2007 12:35am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Was anyone else bothered by the response where KC agrees with the commentator who says that obviously 40 nicely raised college kids wouldn't stand around and do nothing while such a horrible act occurred? I mean the actions of Nifong in this case and the academic community are horribly to a large extent because they are allowing their prejudices and expectations about the way certain groups behave to override evidence.

While I have no doubt these particular kids are innocent there are piles of evidence demonstrating how even good upstanding citizens can behave badly in the right circumstances and certainly it isn't beyond them not to stop bad acts. Look at the Milgram experiment, the famous stabbing case in New York or even the Nazi regime where many Germans raised in good upstanding homes stayed quiet on Kristallnacht or at other critical points.

If we are going to blame the other side for bringing their prejudices about what people of certain classes or races are like we shouldn't do the same ourselves.
2.23.2007 2:22am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Josh,

Umm no. I'm fairly liberal, very liberal by VC standards, and I get pretty annoyed by some of the ridiculous liberal bashing that goes on here (like the cherry picked stories about leftist college students suppressing free speech which commenters spin into some left wing conspiracy) but Eugene's posts in this situation aren't one of them.

For starters it should be obvious that the standard is not which behavior does more harm for the country. Frankly I think there are people in florida whose choice to campaign and support GW Bush was more harmful to the country than if they had gone out and murdered someone. Yet, it hardly follows that those politicians in florida who supported him ought to be spending their life in jail.

It is the essence of a free society that one may express one's political opinions without fear of punishment just because they turn out to cause harm. Similar rules govern academic speech, merely advocating harmful positions is not grounds to fire someone. Eugene rightly criticizes someone who is calling for just such a policy.

On the other hand we acknowledge that even if less harmful certain sorts of false representations, libel and slander deserve criminal punishment. Similarly in the academic world we fire professors guilty of fabricating evidence or otherwise engaging in similar deliberate falsification even if the harm is minor.

As far as story choice goes you should be well aware that NO ONE ever chooses to talk about stories in direct proportion to the level of badness the subjects engage in. I mean should we criticize Eugene for not filling this blog entirely with criticisms of murderers as they have surely done worse than most of the academicians he does call down? Obviously not, murder and other run of the mill crimes are neither particularly interesting nor controversial. What is attractive about blogging about the Duke case is the same thing that made the national media report on it (or do you believe them to have bad motives too?), namely the fact that it is both controversial and novel.
2.23.2007 2:39am
Viscus (mail) (www):
"That is a truly frightening possibility..."

Give me a break. Perhaps some sort of protocol was not followed here. But really, it is obvious that Lindgren has not had anything more than trivial experiences in his life if he considers this "frightening."

I stopped reading as soon as I got to that adjective. This is over the top. Please. Grow up. There are real problems out there that really are frightening.
2.23.2007 3:26am
Jim Lindgren (mail):
logicnazi,

The Duke LAX players did behave badly. They hired strippers and several of them made viciously racist comments.

As for 40 standing by, I had a different interpretation of the effect of the numbers, based on my handling of a few discipline cases as associate dean.

If, as the search police warrant alleged, the purported victim were really shoved into the bathroom in the full view of lots of guys in the room, and then raped by 2 to 5 of them, IMO there is no way that all 30 ambitious young witnesses who did not rape the woman would have kept silent about what they saw for more than a few days, if that long. At least one would have cooperated with police or told their friends of the rape. Word would have gotten out.
2.23.2007 4:14am
dearieme:
Diuke seems very fond of "Studies".
2.23.2007 4:33am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
It may go beyond civil liability for the Group of 88. According to the 60 Minutes interview some family members of the defendants were being threatened both inside and outside the courtroom. I'm not familiar with the federal or NC criminal law addressing the incitement of violence, hate speech, etc. but it sounds like a distinct possibility that they crossed the line. Anyone have a link to the original statement?
2.23.2007 5:02am
Anon. E. Mouse (mail):
logicnazi wrote:

Frankly I think there are people in florida whose choice to campaign and support GW Bush was more harmful to the country than if they had gone out and murdered someone.

Wow. I having a hard time taking any of your other comments seriously.
2.23.2007 8:47am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

I'm an honor graduate of Duke. I've changed my estate plan. I'm sure others have or are doing so as well. President Broadhead should think about the future losses his conduct is costing the University. Certainly, the Board should (but won't) consider it. I guarantee the "88" won't make up the losses.


There speaks the true Duke grad --- do0n't hit them wikth controversy, they're immune. (In fact, remember that pretty much every TV appearance, newspaper article, etc becomes part of the CV. In many of these areas, CV's are weighed as much as read; they may be doling themselves professional good, not harm.)

Hit Duke in the endowment, though, and you'll get their attention.

(MS Duke '88 btw)
2.23.2007 9:48am
rarango (mail):
"The battles among academic faculty are so fierce because the stakes are so small," or something like that.
2.23.2007 10:04am
WHOI Jacket:

"Frankly I think there are people in florida whose choice to campaign and support GW Bush was more harmful to the country than if they had gone out and murdered someone."

Wow, please tell me that's sarcasm.
2.23.2007 10:13am
anonVCfan:
Prof. Lindgren, thanks for the response. I think there's a meaningful difference between being sued for printing profanity and being sued for printing an ad that makes a false statement, but I suppose that's beside the point.

I know you did say that Duke should investigate "to avoid criticism," but my point is that any criticism would be unwarranted. I think a school newspaper is entitled to take the word of 88 professors at the school w/r/t who approved the ad they seek to post.

I do hope they investigate, though.
2.23.2007 10:20am
Loki13 (mail):
I think the main thrust for Mr. Lindgren should be to make sure that Duke is tarnished forevermore in the eyes of the world. The alums back out of funding. They lose their status as a top-tier University. Then (and this is most important) basketball recruits (both white and black) see all the problems at the University and all the divisiveness and stop going. Coach K quits to work full-time for Amex. Eventually, Duke becomes an also-ran in the ACC, battling it out with the other cellar-dwellers.

Why? Duke sucks.

Go Tarheels!

(is Lindgren related to Roy Williams? just asking)
2.23.2007 10:23am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Logicnazi.
The situations, including structured studies, which show good people standing by do not include something like the Duke Lax party.
For example, one study I read years ago showed a clear correlation between the size of the group and the likelihood that somebody would say something. The actual experiment was to introduce smoke gradually into a classroom. The smaller the group, the sooner somebody would speak up. I believe there was also a correlation between the time the class had been together--first week vs. last week of semester--and the time before somebody would speak up, holding the class size steady.
I would suggest that this dynamic rather than the New York stabbing case is relevant.
2.23.2007 10:48am
RedHisp:
I'm guessing that the list of departments may have been those where a majority of the faculty were among the signatories. If the majority of the deparment signed the letter, then was it really necessary to have a vote?
2.23.2007 10:52am
David Walser:
I find more interesting the question of who paid for the ad. The language about the departments that signed on to the ad may mean that those departments gave financial support rather than a formal endorsement that (in theory) would have required a vote. Do department chairs have discretionary funds that they can spend without getting approval? I don't know how Duke operates, but I'd be surprised to learn that department chairs do not have discretionary funds and even more surprised if those funds are supposed to b used for things like the ad.

Assuming the university paid for the ad (through use of its departments funds), does that change the potential liability associated with any defemation claim?
2.23.2007 11:04am
Ken Arromdee:
I would suggest that this dynamic rather than the New York stabbing case is relevant.

I would suggest that bringing up Kitty Genovese shows the tendency of bystanders to ignore evil as much as bringing up Love Canal shows the tendency of evil corporations to dump chemicals on people.

In fact, the Kitty Genovese case is a good example of the media distorting issues to sensationalize.

http://www.oldkewgardens.com/ss-nytimes-3.html
2.23.2007 1:00pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Jim,

Ohh, I agree that 30 witnesses of any social class would be very unlikely to keep quite after the fact. What I was objecting to was the claim that they would have stood up and stopped it. Are you claiming that in fact it was meant in the sense of just being witnesses after the fact? If so I'll accept it as reasonable.

--

Aubrey,

I submit that the difference in these situations is which way social pressure blows. In situations with smoke people normally assume that bringing it to the group's attention will bring them favor while conversely in situations like milgram and similar situations. The question is what people do when standing up would put them in an unpleasant social situation? Just the examples from riots and racial/religious insults/attacks shows that even good people will sometimes keep quiet. By the way the Genovese case still supports my point, I don't need the sensationalized story just that many (not all) people heard the woman screaming and did not call.

To be clear I agree that the greater number of people makes it less likely that no one would have done anything. That isn't my objection. My objection is to the assumption that because they were good upper class kids someone would certainly have spoken out. The point of the examples was to show that social pressure to do bad things (or not to do good ones) is just as strong (maybe stronger?) among good upper class folk.
2.23.2007 2:20pm
Siona Sthrunch (mail):
Several of the posters above have stated that there were no scientific departments represented in the Group of 88 ad.

These posters are wrong. In fact, three of the Group of 88 were employed by scientifically-oriented departments: Ronen Plesser, from physics; Dan Lee, from mathematics; and Arlie Petters, from mathematics and physics. A second group ad was also promulgated, but only Plesser signed that one from the original three.
2.23.2007 3:34pm
josh:
Ken Arromdee and Logicnzai

If it's the novelty of the Duke case that has led to the ourcry on the blogs, then I stand corrected. But I'm not sure that's the case.

I don't begrudge any blogger the right to comment on whatever he or she wants to comment on, but I also don't think it's unfair to note the prevalence of commentary on one news story, in light of the myriad others on the same topic, which go unnoticed for whatever reason. I raise this not to cast some invective on the posters, but to note my confusion as to why one story gets so much play and the others get so little.

Ken says, "a black defendant would simply not be prosecuted like this." That simply demonstrates ignorance of about 200 years of criminal law jurisprudence. Really, you should go to the Cook County Criminal Courthouse in Chicago to see otherwise. Or, for a historical perspective, read the archives of the Chicago Tribuneon wrongful prosecutions.
2.23.2007 4:43pm
Ken Arromdee:
Ken says, "a black defendant would simply not be prosecuted like this." That simply demonstrates ignorance of about 200 years of criminal law jurisprudence.

And you're demonstrating ignorance of the fact that there *is* a black defendant in a rape case at Duke and he's *not* being prosecuted like this.

It's certainly true that blacks historically got railroaded, but they don't get railroaded in the same way, nor do they (nowadays) get public proclamations of their guilt to the extent that the Duke defendants did. Do any of your 200 years include, oh, feminists proclaiming that the black defendant is guilty because of male privilege?
2.23.2007 5:47pm
Al (mail):
>>I don't begrudge any blogger the right to comment on whatever he or she wants to comment on, but I also don't think it's unfair to note the prevalence of commentary on one news story, in light of the myriad others on the same topic, which go unnoticed for whatever reason.

Josh, if "the bloggers" had been the ones who jumped all over this story from the very beginning, you might have a point. However, you ignore the fact that bloggers, for the most part, were reacting to the inflammatory and outrageous conduct of the potbangers, the Gang of 88 and others at Duke and in Durham who used this case to promote their own personal, ideological, and racial agendas.

Also, can you cite another case where, in response to a rape allegation against some of their own students, you had dozens of professors, and even entire academic departments, respond as the Gang of 88 did in this case? If not, then perhaps this case is not as typical as you would like to believe.
2.23.2007 7:06pm
Well Armed Koward:
Richard Aubrey,

Why are you humoring the (ahem)...alleged "LOGIC"nazi? The guy is a pathetic soup-peddler, raving and throwing around all kinds of ridiculous, irrelevant accusations....Kitty Genovese, for crying out loud! This guy is like a ten year old trying to explain Russell's Paradox or the Principa Mathematica with a carpenter's square (that's actually not a bad place to start, say in the second grade, but as an adult?...jeez!). Logic indeed, the guy is a real zero, hard as that is to describe. I can, however, see a ball-less clown like his crampus, er, campus heros storming a knife wielding murderer. I'm sure the whole gang of 88 are cut from the same cloth, not just staring from the windows and pulling the shades down, but actively encouraging the thugs. Gutless, yet strangely imperious in their stupid-fying rationalizations and corruption. On the other hand, the news yesterday carried a story about a 70 year old marine who killed some mutt sticking up up a bunch of senior citizens on vacation. What a guy! and he probably played lacrosse!
I got in a bar fight one time in Minenapolis, took the battle to the enemy, who fell back. Then I looked around and realized my fellow professors and a couple of grad students were just standing there. What I got of that learning experience, i.e. the ensuing beating and a righteous one at that, was that academics are generally full of swagger and piss until its money time. It was one of the other guys from the warehouse district who helped me to my feet, not my gutless (ahem!) academic colleagues who split entirely. But like Logicnazi, they have a lot to say about others when uncomfortable questions are asked, as if they have a spinal column that doesn't taper at both ends, and come up with enough playground rationalization to choke a chancellor. So all we can hope that these 88 virulent scum at Duke will go through the wringer, get screwed by lawsuits (if there is any justice in the world), and as they try to find other employment down the years, they will encounter equally timorous, gutless posers who will be afraid to engage them "on the team".
2.23.2007 8:14pm