The Duke Three Should Be Judged Individually, Not Collectively
I believe that the Duke Three are all innocent of the criminal charges against them--kidnapping, rape and sexual assault, but they are individuals, not identical, and should be judged individually, not collectively.
I believe that the Duke Three are all innocent of the criminal charges against them--kidnapping, rape and sexual assault, but they are individuals, not identical, and should be judged individually, not collectively. Therefore, I am concerned by this post by a Duke under General Topics on the Friends of Duke University website:
Accumulated ill will in Durham was a factor in fueling this case. I read a post from the press release thread which had this link to an article in the N&O in October, 2005. It reported on various rowdy and disrespectful encounters Durham residents and cops had had with off campus Duke students. It also referred to the court hearing on the mass bust for underage drinking at the beginning of the term that fall.
'Some sat in the packed courtroom studying; some agreed to guilty pleas with community service. But a few had top-gun lawyers by their sides, ready to take on the constitutionality of the raids rather than the behavior that led to their court appearances.'
Note the tone critical of anyone who would dare to hire a lawyer (even worse a 'top-gun' lawyer) to raise a constitutional issue in defense.
I have tried to tell my son to be sensitive to the social context of his surroundings in making decisions on behavior. In this I have not always been successful. When I delivered him to Duke for the first time last fall I read about the trouble and complaints the Trinity Park residents had about rowdy Duke parties. I thought I pointed out those articles to my son. Nevertheless, the day after we left he was at a party in Trinity Park, holding a cup of beer, when the cops came in. This is a kid who was never caught drinking in h.s. and when given the opportunity to drink beer legally in Europe the previous summer, didn't like it, so it was likely something he did to be accepted. I don't find drinking moderately from 18-21 morally reprehensible, so I wasn't bothered by the drink as much as I was by his failure to consider that after all the trouble the Durham cops would likely look to raid parties early in the term.
So the social context of Durham's perception of some Duke students was that they were capable of gross behavior. The perception of Duke in Durham as a while haven of privilege is unfair and inaccurate, but don't most people at Duke know the perception is there? The reference to Duke as the 'plantation' cannot have been first noticed after this incident happened. Race is a sensitive issue, so one cannot simply engage in behavior without being conscious of how it might be perceived by others. So, once started in the borderline socially acceptable enterprise of hiring strippers, the boys should have recognized how it might look to others having two black strippers appear to an audience of all white players. I have heard that some players left when the dancers arrived. I guess for them the 'danger will robinson' alarms were not drowned by alcohol.
I guess my point is that we can all take lessons away from this awful saga about awareness of social context and the need to ameliorate some of those conditions of false perceptions in our communities.
These defendants have been sucked into a perfect storm of community resentment, politically ambitious prosecutor, reprehensible (though legal) behavior and sexual and racial politics.
I fully concur with the Duke parent that there is a great need to "take lessons away from this awful saga about awareness of social context and the need to ameliorate some of those conditions of false perceptions in our communities."
In addition, I appreciate her concern about the danger of peer pressure.
However, we part company on what the Duke parent describes as the "borderline socially acceptable enterprise of hiring strippers."
I am aware that college students, both male and female, hire strippers to "entertain" at parties. I applaud the choice of the word "enterprise" ("a project or undertaking that is esp. difficult, complicated, or risky"), since the people who hired the strippers and hosted that Duke men's lacrosse team party back on March 13, 2006 probably would concede that they foolishly ran a grave risk that they now wish they had avoided. But I'm not of the opinion that what is legal is no worse than "borderline socially acceptable" or that "hiring strippers" is "borderline socially acceptable" (even if it is tax deductible).
Much more important, I doubt that the Duke parent was right when she wrote that the Duke Three were "sucked into a perfect storm of community resentment, politically ambitious prosecutor, reprehensible (though legal) behavior and sexual and racial politics" insofar as it implies that the sophomores (Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann) engaged in "reprehensible (though legal) behavior." It's not clear what behavior that is, but it's not underage drinking (that's illegal) and I am not aware that either Collin or Reade used racial epithets (THAT's reprehensible), or knew about the planned "entertainment" and still came or stayed to watch the "dancing" (that would have been reprehensible and sophomoric). Moreover, assuming that they approved of the decision to hire the strippers (apparently by their co-defendant David Evans and the other co-captains), their culpability would not be as great as his, and I am not willing to assume it (even though it is not helpful that they have not to the best of my knowledge, information and belief explained when they knew there would be strippers, how they felt about it and whether they stayed to watch, or did something else at the party, or left before the stripping started. My belief is that the truth will set them free, and they should not stand mute when there are erroneous impressions to dispel and damning falsehoods to refute.
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.