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The Duke lacrosse racket—postscript

Near the end of yesterday’s post, I described the liestoppers as having to prop up their claim to be crusading for Truth, Fairness, and Justice on the basis of the lacrosse case by engaging in “rhetorical warfare that brings the battle lines into sharp relief” (I’m using the term “liestopper” loosely for the vehement defenders of the lacrosse team that gather on , , etc.). Right on cue there was a flare-up of that today. The main thing it reminded me was how much of it is hypersensitivity on behalf of the team—more overcompensation, I think, for the fact that the lacrosse players are less than compelling as victims of Grand Injustice. A refrain on the message boards of liestopperland is the many more or less libelous insults that left-wing professors, columnists, bloggers, etc. have hurled at the team, and the oh-so-few apologies that have followed. Today it was one of those revisited—Prof. Claire Potter (aka Tenured Radical) insulted the team back in April and never made good, then a few days ago she took a jab at DIW. KC Johnson came back this morning huffing and puffing about her “reckless, unsubstantiated allegations.”

It seems to me that some of Potter’s original comments were in fact excessive, based on a year-old picture of the team’s behavior on the night in question, when it was spun to make them look as bad as possible. But somehow when a few more or less careful and thoughtful people and a bunch of more or less smug and/or self-righteous and/or ignorant and/or hypocritical ones (take your pick, mix and match)—many of whom have deputized themselves to defend the honor of their fine young men—start posting comments, writing emails, and complaining to the University president, no apology is forthcoming. What a surprise, huh?

Part of it is an internet-era problem. There’s nothing new to say on either side, but there’s outrage to be vented and comment boxes to fill, so on and on it goes. The logic of these things is that both sides find something or other to blow out of proportion, and they did. A smallish swarm of liestoppers peppered Potter’s site with biting comments, most of which she deleted. Meanwhile back at the ranch (DIW, that is), reading the comments is like listening to a roomfull of drunks who are feeling very clever. Not a surprise—self-righteousness in a crowd is intoxicating.

[Dropping back into this post to put in a link that I left out, I’ll take the opportunity to say that, while I still think the image of drunks being clever fits much of the comment thread I refer to at the end, there are some who have put in more serious and substantial remarks.]

If you’re reading through my lacrosse-case series, the next one is about potbanging.

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Julian Mannino | December 4, 2007 at 13:50 | Permalink

    Good work.
    You protected your very precarious position at Duke, and got a few more people to read your blog.

    ~   ~   ~

    World domination is almost within my grasp, then!

  2. lynp | December 4, 2007 at 22:35 | Permalink

    My complaint about Claire is she wrote things that are demonstrated to be untrue. She is totally contrdicted by the AG of NC and the evidence. Does no one care that she is outright telling lies? Her University is taking a hit for her comments. Not because she made comments but because what she wrote is a lie.

    ~   ~   ~

    A glance through DIW comments shows a number of someones who care about her “outright telling lies,” so I guess you mean someone on the other side. If you, or anyone else who feels the same, can come back with a sincere and thoughtful effort to describe the situation—especially the beginning of it that was generated by her entry about the Purdue/Imus flap—from her perspective, or want to develop a shoe-on-the-other-foot scenario (you write something that turns out to be factually incorrect and a swarm of ill-tempered liberals comes after you), I’d be happy to give my input.

  3. wayne fontes | December 5, 2007 at 14:01 | Permalink

    I think the central question you are driving at with this series is do people who have received criticism ranging from reasonable to racist to explicitly threatening still owe an apology. My opinion is that if they initiated the exchange and were wrong they still owe an apology. I would put both Claire Potter and the G88 squarley in that category.

    A commenter at DIW posed this question: “Would you apologies if someone was shrieking at you with Ubuntu like rhetoric”? If I was wrong I’d hope I would.

    ~   ~   ~

    It’s not the central question of the series, I don’t think, but it’s a very good question in relation to this post. The whole business of insisting on retractions or apologies on behalf of other people is dicey. I was stupid to do it in my email exchange with Johnson.

  4. Tortmaster | December 8, 2007 at 13:43 | Permalink

    Comments from Tortmaster have been moved to a separate page, which also explains my comment policy. The comments are:

    1. I am hypocritical and unfair and unbalanced in my treatment of DIW/liestoppers vs. Claire Potter.
    2. More criticism of Potter and my unfair-unbalancedness.