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Checking in with… KC Johnson

Me: There is no reference to the behavior of the lacrosse players in the section you quoted. KC: I am pleased to see that you are no longer denying that Matherly’s post referenced the lacrosse players’ behavior. [Update below] There’s the essence of my latest exchange with KC Johnson in the Durham-in-Wonderland comments — as […]

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When justice fails: Make sure to get the defense a rich person gets

Above: Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade SeligmannBelow: Cameron Todd Willingham In the year-old editorial I was writing about last time, Duke Law professor Jim Coleman argues that the aborted cases against the Duke lacrosse players and Alaska Senator Ted Stevens were not failures of the justice system. In those two instances, “some parts of […]

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Chutzpah and the honeypot

I’ve come to think of the Duke lacrosse case as kind of like a honeypot for would-be critics. In the world of network security and spam detection, a honeypot is a resource that invites abuse — an open mail relay or an unprotected comment box begging to be spammed, for instance. The idea is that […]



I dropped off the edge of the blogosphere pretty suddenly last summer. I owe apologies to several people for leaving unfinished business when I vanished — those I’ll try to email. Basically what happened is that things I had been putting off started to catch up to me, then a family situation arose that complicated […]

Me and my big mouth

A couple of months ago, 76 entries into the longest comment thread I’ve ever hosted, we were debating the “other Duke rape,” the one that happened at a frat party on Gattis St. on Feb. 11, 2007. Joan Foster mentioned that the father of the victim wanted to talk to President Brodhead but was rebuffed […]

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Weasel-wording in Wonderland

The funny thing about the broadside KC Johnson fired in my direction about two months ago (yes, I’m finally getting around to it) is how noncommittal it is. Sometimes his defense is solid, other times not so much. For instance, urging Duke to conduct an “impartial investigation” may not “strike [him] as the response of […]

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The ongoing and most peculiar inadequacy of the English language

A quick note about one of the “… intriguing … items” that KC Johnson recently scrutinized, a “‘report’ produced by an entity called ‘Trinity Heights Action Committee’” and then faxed by Durham mayor Bill Bell to Duke president Richard Brodhead. I’ll admit it, I would have accepted that the document is an actual report written […]

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Durham in Wonderland as a rumor mill

As I’ve watched things appear on Durham-in-Wonderland lately I’ve been thinking that KC Johnson must finally be running out of material. Tonight’s post seemed to be more of the same, another episode in his recent fixation with Wahneema Lubiano, apropos of nothing. But then he totally outdoes himself by tacking on an impressive bit of […]

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The commonplace campus radical and the tragic tale of decline and fall

There’s another rhetorical crutch at work in the conservative critiques of academia that I’ve been going over—the golden age. KC Johnson’s commentary (see the last post—this one is a close offshoot of that one) refers to “the alarming decline in intellectual pluralism,” and—here’s a coincidence—the site that ran it, Minding the Campus is “a project […]

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The commonplace campus radical and the cure that’s worse than the disease

There’s a simple question behind the things I’ve written over the past six months or so about the intersection between the Duke lacrosse case and the conservative critique of higher education. How can anyone who’s worried about the academic world’s low intellectual standards, who’s pushing to raise those standards, even, how can they not only […]

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