Blame the victims

Thanks to all the crooks and liars for visiting yesterday.

In other matters, in a rare moment of accountability, the prosecutor of the Duke rape case, Mike Nifong, both lost his job and was disbarred for exaggerating evidence in a rape case. Kathleen Parker, however, is not satisfied–and she has found the real culprit:

>It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fellow, but the case doesn’t end here. Nifong’s legacy, which ultimately may hurt women more than it does the falsely accused men, will be long-lived. And the politically correct culture that allowed his charade to persist remains securely in place, while those who enabled Nifong walk scot-free.

>Which is to say, before we applaud the tragedy’s finale, we might ask Lady Macbeth if she can recommend a good soap.

>It is tempting to convince oneself that Nifong’s banishment means that all is right in Dukedom. Doubtless, many among Duke’s faculty and administration, as well as random race-baiters, campus feminists, various reporters, commentators and assorted armchair prosecutors would prefer that no one remember their roles in advancing the Nifong farce. (KC Johnson, Brooklyn College history professor, has it all on his Durham-in-Wonderland blog,

>But they shouldn’t get off so easily. All were participants in the scurrilous witch hunt that unfolded during the last year. All were congregants in the PC Church that sanctifies certain groups as unassailable victims (all minorities and females) and others as condemnable perps (all males, but especially descendants of history’s white oppressors).

>From the beginning, when an African-American stripper — alternately known as a “working mother” and “college student” — claimed that three lacrosse players had raped her, few questioned whether she might be lying or that the men might be telling the truth. A spirit of retributive justice prevailed while feminist law professor Wendy Murphy summarized the zeitgeist on CNN’s “The Situation”: “I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way. My own statistics speak to the truth.”

Someone is justly punished for perpetrating a fraud (topic of disucssion: can anyone think of some other recent frauds, perhaps broader in scope and with more victims?), by playing on their plainly legitimate racial and class sensitivities, and Parker concludes that their racial sensitivities are to blame. The real upshot of the case is this:

>Thanks to these activists and Nifong — and the dancer who cried wolf — real rape victims may be reluctant to come forward. Others may not get their day in court as intimidated prosecutors anticipate defeat with jurors jaded by the Duke spectacle.

In other words, because of the skepticism Parker advocates about the honesty and motivations of rape victims, their supporters, and legal advocates, real rape victims might not come forward–because Parker might not believe them. And Parker thinks that’s the real crime.

2 thoughts on “Blame the victims”

  1. Parker writes that few people presumed the defendants to be innocent. I argue that at the very least, the legal system, the jurors, and the defense attorneys presumed them to be innocent, which is (I think) what our system requires. The person whose job it was to evaluate the merit of a potential case (that would be Mike Nifong) exerted sufficient effort in order to bring about a trial. Evidently he did his job very poorly, but there was no way to know this a priori. In any event, he now is being punished (perhaps insufficiently…who knows). At the same time, the system appears to have exonerated the accused. I wonder what exactly it is that Parker wishes would have happened differently.

    Incidentally, this parallels slightly the run-up to the Iraq War: a person of considerable influence plays on certain public sensitivities to bolster support for a case that, in hindsight (and to many, in foresight), turns out not to have had much merit. One difference between the cases of Nifong and Bush is that in the former, disaster was averted and it appears the villain is being punished.


  2. Excellent points. It’s hard to see how the actions of one particularly dishonest prosecutor in one part of the country ought to affect legal procedures in another part of the country involving different people. And you’re certainly right to stress that the charges against the deeply lawyered individuals were dropped. That certain people, such as Parker, will make grossly unsupported generalizations about the nature of rape prosecutions, race, class and strippers only misses the more obvious conclusion: make sure our elected officials act ethically. When they don’t, fire them or vote them out of office.

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