Duke Case: If Joan Foster's finished, LieStoppers's diminished
Brilliant, beautiful "Joan" IS the best. Not because she is brilliant, or beautiful, or both. Because she is genuinely GOOD.
Winston Churchill was a wise and witty man. In addition to appreciating the twin dangers of Hitler and appeasement when others were deluding themselves, Churchill wittily described his rival, Clement Attlee, as "[a] modest man" with "so much to be modest about" and wisely found a few good words to say about Joseph Stalin when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and Great Britain and the Soviet Union suddenly found thenselves allies in a war against a dangerous common enemy.
Churchill was not modest, however. He explained: "We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm."
"Joan Foster," LieStoppers' "Attack Poet," is wise, witty AND modest. She also glows.
Tragically, "Joan Foster" left LieStoppers.
One poster defensively announced: "I'm assuming she left because she had better things to do."
Plenty of people assumed that rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong really had a case against the Duke Three, because they wanted to believe it.
Some people just conveniently assume what makes them comfortable.
Hero of the Hoax Bill Anderson explained both the significance of the loss of "Joan" and the reason for it:
"...Liestoppers has lost a real champion of justice. Her writing was sentimental, but often went to the heart, but everything that she did was reduced on this board to 'bloviating.' Yet, she was NOT engaged in self-aggrandizing behavior, as some on this board have stated.
"Indeed, the posters who drove her off are still here, still making their snide and sarcastic comments, not showing a morsel of decency and respect to someone who was on the front lines of this case.
"Don't kid yourselves. In 2006, until things fell apart, first with the '60 Minutes' broadcast and then with the events surrounding the December 15 hearing and the subsequent NC Bar charges against Nifong, this case was heading to trial and a likely conviction. Had the trial been held in Durham, I have no doubt that local residents there would have given Nifong something, and those young men would be in prison as we speak.
"The other families suffered as well. I ask all of you how you would like to be receiving death threats on a regular basis, have the news media camped out on your front lawn, and your good name being associated with 'rapists.' The lacrosse players and their families were the targets of unrelenting hostility, and we see that today in the evil columns by Barry Saunders and the statements even now coming from Duke faculty members.
"THAT was the atmosphere those families faced, and I will tell you that they felt abandoned by nearly everyone they trusted. Having someone like Joan Foster who would re-rout much of her life to be outspoken in defense of those families was greatly appreciated, more than any of us will know. I cannot imagine being in the shoes of those parents, and to have someone who wrote eloquently and forcefully and, yes, sentimentally, about the truth of this case was something onto which they latched tightly.
"Those parents and children read these blogs on a regular basis. Those blogs were all that they had. This notion that 'they had good lawyers' was true, but any 'good' lawyer will tell you that their skills are limited, especially when you have a community like Durham that was anxious to convict no matter what the truth might have been.
"So, I can tell people firsthand that Joan Foster was greatly appreciated by those families, and especially the mothers of the players. And for this board to permit people who did NOTHING but make a few snide posts here and there to attack someone like Joan simply was not right.
"I understand the issues of free speech and it is true that we do not want a board that simply is a Greek chorus or an Amen corner. Yet, I only wish that people had been considerate of someone who really poured out her heart in the defense of these families. If the readers of this blog realized just how much those families appreciated her, perhaps they would understand what has occurred, and why Joan has felt absolutely betrayed.
"When she and others who defended the players were driven off the Court TV blog, they ultimately went elsewhere. She and the others did not give up, even though those young men already were convicted in the press. I remember last year reading Joan's comments on Melanie Sill's blog at the N&O, and I was blown away by them. Here is a person who 'gets it,' I thought. In the end, she and others came to Liestoppers, and helped to form a truly great blog.
"So, I shall miss Joan terribly. I wish that all of the posters on this board respected and appreciated Joan as much as the families have respected and appreciated her. Here was someone who made a difference in a way that few of us have done, and I will say that I respect and admire her.
"So, farewell, Joan. You really are the best."
Brilliant, beautiful "Joan" IS the best. Not because she is brilliant, or beautiful, or both. Because she is genuinely GOOD. I thought so from reading her poetry and prose. Speaking to her on the telephone confirmed her. And, without the benefit of a photograph, I knew it was "The Attack Poet" walking down the street from some distance away. I made sure to sit directly opposite "Joan" (Mike McCusker sat next to her), to better appreciate the cheerful countenance of a truly beneficent soul.
What triggered the decision of "Joan" to leave LieStoppers was NOT a belief that all that could be accomplished had been accomplished, or a desire to stop being self-sacrificing, or a need to deal with a higher personal priority. It was the way the Liestoppers Board had deteriorated, as exemplified by attacks on Jackie Brown that "Joan" deemed both unfair and foolish.
Jackie Brown was acknowledged by Stuart Taylor, Jr. and KC Johnson in Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and was very helpful to the persecuted lacrosse players.
Churchill was able to ally with Stalin, but some posters could not refrain from attacking Jackie.
"Joan" posted in defense of Jackie for the sakes of Jackie and the players. (There was nothing in it personally for "Joan.")
Set forth below is the essence of the post by "Joan" that another poster purported to find stifling, posted by "Joan" after several long time posters had PMed her about their concerns about the sweeping generalizations of Durham.
"I agree. Let's remember a few things.
"J has contributed in many ways. She has done a great deal for these boys. That is a fact. It's easy for the rest of us to arm-chair quarterback from cities far away. I am no fan of Bell. I have posted as much. But I am a fan of Jackie's.
"Secondly, some of our Durham Hooligans are hurt and dismayed by the sweeping generalizations sometimes posted here. They want us to remember that this is their home city and they know many good people of all races who did not support the Hoax.
"We are rightfully angry. But let's not drive away our friends. This is not an anti-Durham blog.
"Can we post in a way that we might even change a few minds in Durham if some of those folks should read here? Isn't that a goal of ours too?"
Some poster essentially answered, "NO!!!," and one posted that she felt stifled and would go instead of going quietly.
"Tony Soprano" tried to keep the focus on Jackie:
"Joan isn't the issue, Emmy's not the issue.
"The issue revolves around ~J~'s posting and reception on this board."
But "Joan" politely explained:
"No, Tony. I'm as much the issue now as J.
"Duke faculty could not have done better."
"Baldo," LieStopper's clever cartoonist (the "Nifong the Polecat" poem by "Joan" as illustrated by "Baldo" is unforgettable), did his best to calm the troublemakers:
"We have tried to explain, both privately in pms first, and publicly that J has a right to speak as do all of you. We tried to explain that to posters. All we ask is politeness & manners. That is all we have ever asked. I would do the same for you. A few weeks ago it started with a poster saying J was a spy and threatening to leave the board and take other posters with them if I let J post. I tried to explain, but the barbs continued. I suspended that poster for three days last week after an incident. I suspect this upset comes in part from that.
"LieStoppers has been as critical as anyone about Baker, Bell, DPD, Duke and Durham's leadership. But we also realize that Durham is filled with many good people trying hard to make it a better city. Some are at City Hall, some in the DPD, some are at Duke, and some in Trinity park. They are from all races & creeds. We built on that goodwill with the RNVC campaign. You don't know the number of people including policemen, who smiled and gave a thumbs up when the recall posters went up. The ordinary citizens who worked with Beth and other members. Some of you were part of that effort.
"I don't like the way Joan Foster was treated. She deserves better. I won't stand for it. Frankly the tone of the board is getting nasty. I have left this thread open long enough for everyone to state out their opinions. I suggest that everyone take a deep breath and step back. I am closing this thread."
At my request, "Baldo" then added this post of mine:
"Greg: 'If "someone" wants to participate in the discussion, the cards should be on the table. If "someone" doesn't want to lay the cards out, that's fine but then don't be surprised when others won't simply accept "take my word for it" as a legitimate answer. Ya can't have it both ways (generic "ya") and that's what it seems to me "someone' is attempting to do.'
"First, 'Joan' has poetic license!
"Second, 'take my word for it' is a frustrating, but not illegitimate, answer. Sometimes secrets and sources need to be protected.
"I found my NC sources reliable, yet unwilling to identify themselves (like lots of LieStoppers).
"Should I not have reported '60' was on the case, or Crystal was carrying multiple male DNA on that night, or asked loaded questions of Ashley Cannon to which I had the answers, or reported that Nifong ordered the arrest in the quadruple murder case to deflect local attention from the '60' expose, because my sources insisted on not being identified?
"Sometimes info itself has to be kept confidential, even though it would refute personal attacks.
"That's bad enough.
"I wanted to report before Election Day 2006 what Cash Michaels had said off the record about Nifong's 'evidence,' but off the record is off the record until put on the record or somehow waived.
"There was plenty that I wanted to say in defense of my call for Susan Lucci to vouch for Collin, but did not, even though critics misstated facts.
"If the info does not have to be kept confidential. but the source does, that's a big improvement and the reporter/writer has the duty to investigate and vouches for the source or sources requiring anonymity.
"People then have to judge based on the credibility of the reporter/writer.
"Others may express doubt or even suspicion, but the reporter/writer does the best she/he can.
"I have concerns about Jackie Brown, but if 'Joan' states as a fact that Jackie did some good things that can't be specified, count me among the believers.
"Which doesn't necessarily make me a Jackie Brown admirer in all respects or even overall."
On another thread "Joan" later explained:
"I did not try to defer to 'celebrity posters', or dangle my 'knowledge' to frustrate any here. I did not mention Emmy. I said what I know is a fact. J did a great deal. Those of you can say I am a liar, it's allowed. I cannot give out what isn't mine to give. You can question my integrity. No one needs to make dramatic claims of being silenced when you are in the majority here.
"I apologize for asking for anything to be taken on good faith. I accept the plethora of rebuke. This is the Internet after all.
"I'm glad I had a chance to contribute what I could to the boys. For me, that's enough."
More wise "Joan":
"...step out and defend here.... the reception is much the same. Do we see it in others and not ourselves?
"Some of these things are not mine to tell. But am I 'baiting' if I don't betray a confidence?
"Some of these things are not over yet? Should I put ME first and perhaps jeopardize something that might have real meaning later? Should I share info with my Board friends at the expense of issues I care about? Should the game of being proven credible here trump the reality of what we all claim to be our goal?
"Is this Board more important than the reality out there?
"Personally I despise Bell and Baker. But there are few politicians of any party that don't appall me these days. I'm not defending him or even agreeing with J's assessment of him. But she was a hero in what I KNOW in regard to these boys. I cannot let posts that demean her just stand without questioning what kind of person I am. It's what I railed at others about on the main blog. Some of you did too.
"How frustrated I was that no Professor said..'Stop! That's not the young man I know? That metanarrative does not fit him!' How sad that no one said, 'Let me tell you about the Collin, Reade or Dave that I know.' But it's easier, isn't it, not to buck the crowd. To just stay on the sidelines and watch.
"Most of us just post or comment anonymously on a message Board. We did not hold these boys lives in our hands like the Defense team. We did not have to cross our friends and neighbors and step up in our real lives. How easy for us to tear them down!
"I did not post to bait any of you. I'm a bit stunned to realize that in your collective anger, that would be your charge. Or that I am defending 'celebrity posters.' Oh, how less hurtful to tow the party line. It is no different here than in the D.A.'s office, the police dept, or the faculty lounges.
"I posted because I cannot in good conscience let J be subjected to snipes when I possess the knowledge I have. Baldo has said the same.
"Should I stand on the sidelines and allow posts like Emmy's...go unanswered? Then why do we criticize the silent Duke faculty? They did much the same. It's easy and popular. Perhaps I should realize that defending someone the rest of you have marshaled against.... may mean 'my words won't be worth much around here.'
"That's the lesson I see here. Duly noted."
"Dream Weaver, I have no great personal relationship with j. I hardly know the woman. But I know what SHE DID..in this case that we all care so much about. And I can't let her stand undefended. Even though doing so as it made it clear I am now persona non grata for speaking. It's what I slammed others for not doing. So now I should make new rules for myself to be popular here now?
"I believe Emmy's post crossed a line. You do not. We see it differently. I did not ask her to stop posting. I posted MY position which was met with her dramatic offer to stay silent or leave.
"I got involved in this because of words. They matter. It's very easy to ignore words when you like the person uttering them. WE saw it EVERYWHERE in this case. I won't be a Melanie Sill.
"Here's a question, what are the chances you, Emmy or I might have information that could help the families in the trials? What's the chance we might be called?
"Do you think any of the Moms would, even with their generosity of spirit, equate my Internet posts or yours or Emmy's with an ability to really assist in this case and whatever lies ahead?
"Do YOU know or Emmy or I... what she CAN and CANNOT answer on the Internet?
"I never want to let myself, my 'need to know', my sleuthing get in the way of the Families.
"Agatha, I am not defending Bell. I can hardly type the man's name without sneering. I am defending someone who did much that I admire.
"I have a right to post an opinion here even if it's unpopular. I have a duty to myself to have some modicum of integrity on an issue I railed at others about in my Blog posts. Where are the ADAs I wrote? Where are the professors who know the boys? Speak!
"Are there some here whose thoughts I may not counter or be accused of baiting or courting 'celebrity posters?'
"Is there a double standard here, when the opinion is not 'popular.' Have we come to that?"
"The line is a personal one of mine. I felt that post denigrated another poster here in a personal way. A poster that I knew to have made a significant contribution.
"That is my opinion.
"I am not a moderator here. But have I no right to say that to me...this went too far?
"Have some the right to say what is 'outrageous' to THEM as Emmy posted, and others not?
"Is the difference to stay within the popular line here?
"Please be clear. We've come this far. I'm very serious about understanding."
Clever Emmy954 had posted on October 12: "I think perhaps it's just best for me to keep my thoughts to myself from now on."
There are more than a thousand registered to post on the Liestoppers Forum.
Some of them are hypocrites and some pose as martyrs.
And not Bill Anderson. (After Bill posted, "Joan threw everything she had into defense of "strangers," people whose paths she never would have crossed otherwise. Her comments were NOT "bloviating," period. They went to the heart, something that apparently some people simply do not understand," "Duke84" snidely responded, "Let's try not to corner the martyrdom market, if that is at all possible.")
The thread on which it was announced that "Joan" was leaving, mostly filled with well deserved tributes, was closed at her request in a message exhorting other to go on productively and including a typically gracious gesture: "I leave here with the greatest admiration for Emmy who was out here on this Board day after day, week after week. WE were friends and are friends. Friends can have dust-ups and disagree. That easily passes. Other things don't. I hope she returns."
Whether Emmy returns is a minor matter.
Whether "Joan" returns (at least to write for the LieStoppers blog) is not.
"Carolyn" explained why:
"I woke up this morning on the West Coast to read the stunning news that Joan Foster is leaving LieStoppers. I am stunned - and devastated.
"I wanted to leave my thoughts on the thread - but it was closed before I could do so. So now I write this new one simply to give my words to her.
"Joan was heart and soul - and in the dark hours last year, both were needed. The mind is a wonderful thing, but without a heart beating and without the soul caring, you may as well hug a computer. Joan wasn't a machine, she was a human and gave humanity. She gave caring. Both of which enabled the most precious thing - hope.
"I am the tricycle of writers next to Joan's Rolls Royce. But such was Joan's heart that when she cruised past in her verbal Silver Cloud, she always stopped, threw open her passenger seat and said 'hop in, kid'. Man, that was a sweet ride.
"Joan - I am not going to attempt the eloquence you did because I haven't the skill. So I will type what words I can to say that you are were my heroine and still are. You made me laugh, you made me cry, and those emotions showed you cared. And by opening the door to your caring, you allowed timid me to open MY door as well - I could do that only because you had to courage to show me it was all right to care. Your humanity was the best of all. You cared. And I apologize for not letting you know until now how much it meant to me."
Kirk Osborn, the best and boldest of the defense lawyers, is dead. A massive heart attack. If you don't think that the rogue district attorney bears blame, you don't know that plea deals for Mr. Osborn's clients were barred and Mr. Osborn was threatened with bogus witness tampering charges in retaliation for Mr. Osborn's bold motion to have Mr. Nifong removed from the case or you "assume" that did not add to his stress (like some assume "Joan" just left to do "better things").
Unlike Mr. Osborn, howeverm "Joan" still lives.
It is a lady's prerogative to change her mind and "Joan" definitely is a lady.
It isn't over, "Joan." There's more "good" that might be done. You know it. That's part of the reason you supported Jackie Brown. YOU should not be the one to "leave town." And posting on the forum is not nearly as important as your posting on the LieStoppers blog.
YOU are irreplaceable, "Joan." Whiners are plentiful. There's only ONE "Attack Poet" (and YOU know it!). Like Mrs. Peel of "The Avengers," you're needed.
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.