April 23, 2006

"We are being played by the lawyers, with leaks and well-chosen sound bites."

Do you think you know which side is telling the truth in the Duke lacrosse team rape case? You shouldn't.

IN THE COMMENTS: I defend Dahlia Lithwick as commenters rage about a line -- "our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots" -- that appears in the essay.

ADDED: A commenter links to the Slate version of Lithwick's essay and makes a persuasive argument that my defense of Lithwick is wrong. [MORE: Actually, several commenters made good arguments.]

124 comments:

Bissage said...

Do I think I know which side is telling the truth in the Duke lacrosse team rape case?

No. But I will. For a price.

Jennifer said...

I don't get this conclusion: This case serves as yet another depressing reminder of all that is wrong with this country: Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots...

Is she saying we think this about our sons or is she actually saying they are?

I've heard people saying that whichever side attempts to try their case in the media probably has a losing hand. What does it mean when both parties are doing it?

ShadyCharacter said...

Tawana Brawley.

Sometimes the truth does out, even with racial hucksters in the mix...

TWM said...

Two things:

1) None of us know the truth of what happened, but my bet is that there was no rape. And, unfortunately, even if there was this looks like a loser of a case for the prosecution.

2) In response to "This case serves as yet another depressing reminder of all that is wrong with this country: Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots..."

I got news for you, Dahlia, I raised three sons who are neither misogynistic nor bigots. Your own bigotry shines through.

Bissage said...

By the way, whoever this Dahlia Lithwick person is, she is to be congratulated for convincing someone to pay her money for a shapeless, hysterical rant that amounts to nothing more than a legalish, case-specific reminder that we ought not rush to judgment.

Bissage said...

Jennifer asked: "Is she saying we think this about our sons or is she actually saying they are?"

I think she is saying everybody is an idiot except her and people who agree with her.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Jennifer: Look at the whole quote, in the context of the essay:

Pick your fact. Each of them can, it seems, be spun both ways. This case serves as yet another depressing reminder of all that is wrong with this country: Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots, and our colleges are hotbeds of polarizing identity politics.

She's saying there are two frames of analysis that different people are using. The first one -- "our sons," etc. -- is adopted by the people who are siding with the prosecution. The second -- "our colleges," etc. -- is adopted by the people who are siding with the defense. She's saying don't do that. Recognize your mindset and get beyond it, so that you can be in a position to see what is true.

A little editing could have helped in this passage, as your puzzlement shows.

But I thought it was a well-done piece. Dahlia Litwick has written many excellent pieces about law over the years on Slate. She has a casual, humorous style in her essays there, and the subject here is not funny, and she's chiding us about not being so free-swinging with our analysis of facts. Seeing the comments here, I can see now that she was not quite properly in control of her writing -- which is ironing since she is scolding us.

Ann Althouse said...

I mean ironic.

(Now let me get to my chores...)

AllenS said...

I read the article and already knew all of those things. I learned nothing new. I hate to say this, but the underlying fact that nobody wants to talk about, is that if you're white, maybe you shouldn't hire black people. If anything goes wrong, you will be called a racist. Those white students should never had let those black strippers inside their house.

twwren said...

Ann:

Why is the sentence written in the conjunctive?

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CB said...

Wow--where to even begin? This reads like a satire of leftist ideology.

First, most crime, especially rape, is intra-racial. Second, most crime is not committed by wealthy people. Third, the perpetrators of most crimes are caught and punished justly.

Unfortunately, these three facts do not square with the leftist view of the world, so when the rare case comes up that does seem to fit within that view, they latch onto it.

This column serves as yet another depressing reminder of much that is wrong with this country.

Tara said...

Wow, so many people who think they can read...

CB said...

Professor,
I have to disagree with your 9:42 comment. I read a hard stop after the first two sentences, which conclude the preceding paragraph. The rest of the final paragraph is leftist boilerplate, clearly presented as the author's view.

Finn Kristiansen said...

CB said...
Wow--where to even begin? This reads like a satire of leftist ideology.

First, most crime, especially rape, is intra-racial. Second, most crime is not committed by wealthy people. Third, the perpetrators of most crimes are caught and punished justly....


Uh yea, CB, if she actually said that. But she didn't. There is nothing inherently leftist about the article, or the opionion expressed in it. All it seems to be saying is that people rush to conclusions, with utter certainty, and without a full set of facts. And, DON'T DO THAT.

AllenS said...
...I hate to say this, but the underlying fact that nobody wants to talk about, is that if you're white, maybe you shouldn't hire black people. If anything goes wrong, you will be called a racist.


Hmmm. See, I reached the exact opposite conclusion. That black people should never let ANY white people hire them, ever, cause if anything goes wrong, (like you clean the house badly) you will be called a "nigger" and a "ho". I am sure both our wise opinions can be harmonized and will prove logical and insightful, and not utterly stupid and pulled half browned from our rear ends.

****

Even if we took part of her statement-"Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots"- as being somewhat literal (and not the presentation of one half of a worldview as Ann suggests), one could argue that 47 white males hiring two black strippers, or anyone hiring strippers, might indeed fall into the misogynistic category. (We won't comment on the bigot part, and whether there is generally a greater supply of white strippers over black, and why black strippers were chosen at all. Uhm, cause nothing seems odd about that part, right? Right!).

However, the usage of the term "our sons" can be thought of as not specifically meaning YOUR charming little innocent boy (who of course does no wrong when away from you at school all day), but rather, a broader reference, like using the word "mankind" to speak of man generally.

Obviously all the idiots in the world come from somewhere, and usually the parents are the last to know whether or not their college age sons are in fact pure saints (and who are all those wild drunken womanizing youths on spring breaks across the nation,...Chinese in whiteface?)

That said, I lean toward the woman being an unreliable source and likely lying, but will save my complete animosity for her when a full (or at least better) set of facts is presented in court.

Gundovald said...

You're right! We don't know which side is telling the truth. It may be that the victim/accuser doesn't even know if she is telling the truth about the two accused, given the police line-up procedures. http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1877707&page=1

Ann Althouse said...

Sippican:"Ann- "and" is not "or.""

I agree, but in context, I think it needed to be "or." The essay doesn't make sense if she's siding with the pro-prosecution position. It's totally incoherent to end like that. And the phrase itself -- " Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots" -- is blatantly over-the-top, so it's obviously not her own assertion. If she'd meant to say it herself, she'd have made it more superficially palatable. The crudeness of the assertion is the proof that it's a characterization of the thinking of the people she's disapproving of.

Michael Farris said...

Do I think I know what happened? No, of course not. If I knew some of the people involved I'd probably have some idea but I don't and I put almost no faith in the press's relations one way or the other.

And I think the press is probably being really ethical as opposed to the lawyers who I trust far less.

Gerry said...

I think I know which side is telling the truth.

But then, my God-daughter dates a junior on the now-evaporated team.

The boys are getting absolutely screwed here.

Bissage said...

And I have learned a valuable lesson about the risks of making the first comment. Now that everything is getting all serious, my first comment seems way too flippant.

The Drill SGT said...

I'll avoid commenting on the tone of the article other than to say that I was offended by the "Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots" section. Some are.. Most aren't.

The players may be rapists... I don't know... We certainly don't have all the facts, however the theory is that they are innocent until proven guilty.

These young men have been tried and convicted in the press already and I think that is completely beyond the pale. Earlier this week my local paper the WaPo had color photo's of both boys on the front page.. The front page, my god! The article talks about their background, wealth, etc. Nicely structured around the meme's of white, rich, pampered, bigoted, etc...

What I do think is the the indictments are some level a gift to the prosecutor. I think he has already lost the ultimate case with his rush to score election points. The best example was the victim's photo lineup of the alleged attackers.

1. she said she was attacked by 2 lacrosse players.
2. Police/DA present her with photos of the 46 players, AND NOBODY ELSE and ask her to ID her attackers.
3. Surprise! She IDs 2 players she recognizes...

The defense is going to move that the ID and any subsequent ID testimony from the victim was tainted by that sloppy process.

Without a good ID, with a poor crime time line, no other useful defense witnesses, no DNA or physical evidence linking the victim to attackers, and some level of alibi for the 2 defendants, this botched process is going to degenerate. His only hope is to turn a player. The result:

1. 3 lives destroyed.
2. a community polarized.
3. no justice for anyone.

Aspasia M. said...

For people getting upset, y'all aren't reading this paragraph correctly:

Pick your fact. Each of them can, it seems, be spun both ways. This case serves as yet another depressing reminder of all that is wrong with this country: Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots, and our colleges are hotbeds of polarizing identity politics.


See: "it (the fact)...can...be spun both ways...(the misogynistic biogots line) AND (identity pol. line).

She clearly writes "spun" both ways. She used the word "spun" for a reason.

The sentence construction is a bit confusing, but break down the subjects and objects and match them to the verbs.

twwren said...

Ann:

I guess we can all agree she is a lousy writer and (or?) she is writing lousy stuff.

Aaron Blackshear said...

Gerry wrote:
"I think I know which side is telling the truth.
But then, my God-daughter dates a junior on the now-evaporated team.
The boys are getting absolutely screwed here."

Is she dating the one who said he wanted to skin a stripper for sexual gratification, or the one who is facing charges for beating up a gay man in DC?

I don't believe a rape occured either, but I don't think we should pretend these are choir boys we're talking about here.

The Drill SGT said...

geoduck2 said...
For people getting upset, y'all aren't reading this paragraph correctly:


One of the rare times when I agree fully with geoduck2

The Drill SGT said...

Ann updated her pitch on the front to drive up comments on a slow Sunday :)

IN THE COMMENTS: I defend Dahlia Lithwick as commenters rage about a line -- "our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots" -- that appears in the essay.

WTG Ann

Art said...

I am reminded of Sam the Lion's comment in The Last Picture Show involving a similar incident.

"I've been around that kind of trashy behavior all my life and I'm sick of it."

CB said...

A slightly different version of this essay appears on Slate.com. An excerpt:

Pick your fact, any fact. Each of them can, it seems, be spun both ways. This scandal has become yet another exercise in fiction-writing as opposed to truth-seeking; we can use the same evidence to confirm what we already know in our bones to be true.

This case serves as yet another depressing reminder of all that is wrong with this country: Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots, and our colleges are hotbeds of polarizing identity politics. Race and gender and poverty still tear us apart. But this case may also serve as a sober reminder that courts are not laboratories and jurors are not scientists. Facts are, more often than not, just our own subjective opinions, dressed up to look like incontrovertible truths. There are, in the end, objective truths to be found here. But the jurors must work hard to look past their prejudices, and the lawyers' spin, to find them.


Note the paragraph break between the "spun both ways" statement and the "Our sons" statement. This supports my reading that the "spun both ways" statement refers to the preceding paragraph, and the "Our sons" statement is her overall conclusion.

BTW, in the original, the "Our sons" sentence is a hyperlink to The Smoking Gun's page on the sick email written by one of the athletes. Whether this clarifies things, I don't know.

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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PatCA said...

First, I think her editors juiced this essay up to conform to the template. Happens all the time. And "America" is not obsessed with cases such as this--the chattering class is. Most people teach their daughters that getting drunk with strangers is dangerous, and teach their boys that "if you lie down with strippers, you'll wake up with pleas" as Ann Coulter aptly put it.

There is no reason why the public should know or care what the facts are because they will not be sitting on the jury, and so most of hope it will turn all right, nothing more. The case does make for titillating, though by now formulaic, TV, and that's why it's on continuously. It's cheaper than sending a camera to say, Kabul.

As for the "rich white" kids--I question how she knows this; did she check the financial records to make sure they're not graduating with $100,000 in student loans?--they are well on their way to being convicted of being evil white males, the last permissible racial epithet in America.

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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Joe said...

"Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project says, 'There's an old saying that the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.'"
Unless of course, Neufeld's client is involved, because if the DNA evidence does not implicate his client, other evidence of guilt is without significance to him.
Pet peeve of mine, I have dealt with Neufeld and the Innocence Project in the past.
That said, in date rape cases and other situations similar to this case, where the parties are known to each other and alcohol or other substances are involved, it is extremely difficult to get at the truth.

TWM said...

Hmm, I wasn't "raging." No one here has ever seen me rage about or against anything. Believe me when I rage folks will know it.

The sons comment was just stupid, wrong, and bigoted.

And I believe I read it correctly.

Cousin Don said...

"A Duke English professor has called for the university to expel the whole lacrosse team to stop the 'drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us.'"

I think they forgot to mention he was reading a copy of "I am Charlotte Simmons," and paused to say this.

Bissage said...

Kudos to Jennifer for firing the starter's pistol!

Bissage said...

And to Prof. Althouse for teeing that puppy up.

Mixed metaphor? I don't think so!

John Jenkins said...

I too am impressed that someone gets paid to write like this. You'd think there was some federal reporter subsidy program that would pay Lithwick NOT to write for the betterment of the market in journalism. Hey, it works for farmers.

It's quite impressive to extrapolate the behavior of the Duke lacrosse team (and a subset of that no less!) to the entiretly of maledom in America.

The total lack of DNA evidence in a "brutal gang rape" should be almost entirely dispositive of the case. If I'm on a jury and you try to tell me that three men raped a woman and left behind no DNA evidence (no hair, no skin, no semen, etc.), unless you've got video of the rape itself, I'm voting to acquit (though admittedly I am almost always on the defendants' side, the legacy of time at the P.D.'s office and how imbalanced the criminal justice system is: even if they didn't do it, each of these guys has had his life ruined).

By the way, there is no way this case lasts much past May 2.

MrsWhatsit said...

I've been reading Dahlia Lithwick's columns about the law in Slate for years, and I agree with Ann. If Ms. Lithwick meant that comment about misogynistic sons as a statement of her own opinion, I'll eat my hat. She is a smart, witty, fair-minded woman who knows a lot about the law and who also, usually at least, knows a lot about constructing clear sentences.

Nothing she has ever written in Slate suggests that she is capable of either believing or expressing such a silly generalization. I think this is an issue of clear writing. The sentence is so poorly constructed that it's no wonder people are reading it the way they are. Either she slipped badly in writing that paragraph, or a New York Times editor got hold of her piece and made changes that messed it up. But please go look her up on Slate and read some of her stuff before assuming that she meant this the way so many of you are reading it. I really think if you read a few of her pieces, you'll see why those of us who are familiar with her work are trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

reader_iam said...

My two cents: The "boys" part reads substantially different between the two different articles, precisely because of where that sentence falls and the removal of the "fiction-writing/truth seeking" one.

I'd be interested in knowing why and by whom that edit was made.

I would think (or at least would hope) that there would have been some sort of discussion about that. That's precisely the sort of change I'd discuss with a writer, because, as an editor, I'd know that there was a strong likelihood that I could be changing the emphasis, if not the entire meaning.

(In either case, I think this part could have been written/edited better.)

The point of the overall article is well taken, IMHO.

Jennifer said...

My initial reaction when I read that line was all of our sons? Even if this was kneejerk lefty claptrap, it wouldn't make sense to sweep poor sons, black sons and gay sons into the same pile of spoiled misogynistic bigotry.

But, the way it is written does make it seem that this is her statement.

That's why it confused me.

I'm inclined to believe it was written clumsily.

While her sentiments may not be new or even readily understandable, don't rush to judgment sure seems to be a timely message.

reader_iam said...

Actually, more to the point, I'd be interesting in knowing which was the original version. (Just because it appeared in Slate first doesn't necessarily mean that was the first version.)

Now THAT would be telling.

J said...

"Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots, and our colleges are hotbeds of polarizing identity politics. Race and gender and poverty still tear us apart."

Sorry Ann, but you're wrong on this one. The bigot here is Lithwick. I'm not even sure our colleges are hotbeds of polarizing politics and such (outside of various humanities departments, and even there the polarization is with external things like the real world). I had professors who made goofy political statements all the time - we rolled our eyes, made sure it wasn't on the test, and pressed on.

"Facts are, more often than not, just our own subjective opinions, dressed up to look like incontrovertible truths."

Well, maybe in the Washington Post, but for the rest of us facts are things that are actually true. What she's describing is a strongly held opinion and sadly, I'm not surprised someone in the press industry doesn't know the difference. This might be the stupidest remark I've ever seen in a newspaper - including quotes.

John R Henry said...

Is she dating the one who said he wanted to skin a stripper for sexual gratification

Seems to me that the note said nothing about sexual gratification. In fact, it said "no nudity".

It is a pretty trashy note and sentiment. However,I think it tends to exonerate, not incriminate.

Look at the circumstances. This note was written after (allegedly)the boys hired some strippers and then after collecting the money the stripers failed to strip. Not only that, one then (allegedly)cried rape and racial epithets.

I would be pretty pissed off myself and might express some pretty vile sentiments (though perhaps not that vile) about the women.

Also, what is with the "exotic dancers" that many in the mainstream media seem to use to portray these women. The essence of what these women get paid for is not their dancing ability. It is their ability or willingness to strip their clothes off.

Why not call a spade a spade?

Oops. I mean why not call a shovel a shovel?

John Henry

John R Henry said...

Sorry,

I meant to note that I was quoting Aaron in my note where he had said

Is she dating the one who said he wanted to skin a stripper for sexual gratification,

John Henry

John R Henry said...

I would also note that you can get screwed without having sex.

I think that is what is happening to the young men.

Even if 2 (or 3?) did have sex, the rest are certainly getting screwed.

John Henry

37383938393839383938383 said...

Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots

Whoa, this is over the line. And, really, why are all her examples of black defendants? Robert Blake shot his wife in the head; that is misogynistic! It seems odd to choose all black defendants in your examples. I do not think it was an accident. And, no, I don't think such "balancing" is appropriate, nor do I think Dahlia is racist. I just think it was tacky as the line: "Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots." Can we note that "our daughters are tacky cynical man-haters"?

Gerry said...

Neither of them. Her boyfriend of many years is a junior.

If your point is that you can make either of the two charged sound like bad kids, that's not one that I would take on. After all, we are all sinners, and there are tons of kids who could have their failings used to paint them as monsters. And it would not make them rapists.

The rush to judgement here has been deplorable. Absolutely deplorable.

37383938393839383938383 said...

She clearly writes "spun" both ways. She used the word "spun" for a reason.

The she must have meant: Our sons are hotbeds of polarizing identity politics, and our colleges are spoiled misogynistic bigots.

Thou maketh no sense.

SippicanCottage said...

mrswhatsit- I like your name.

I'm sort of at a loss to understand the point you're trying to make. You think she's swell. I get that part. All the rest of us have to go by is what's written down in front of us. And neither version works out in any form or fashion to anything but assigning collective guilt to innocents.

It's tiresome having people use every damn thing in the news to club persons they see as their political opponents.

I never gave the whole circus much attention. But if anyone has anything in common with the these rich, spoiled, undereducated but credentialed fauntleroys she doesn't like, it's her, not my or anyone else's kids.

There's a lot of talk on in all media channels about the rise of internet writing and what it means to the dead tree media. This is a wonderful example of the most overlooked part of the equation: (Please note colon! I'm referring to what follows!) It's not news gathering that's in jeopardy from the blogosphere--yet; it's opinion writing for old media that's dead man walking right now.

Lithwick apparently can't write well enough to make herself understood (the kindest version)or she hold a most puerile and crabby worldview. Either way, she's of no use to me. And papers like the Times and the Post can't subsidize bad writing and inane thinking indefinitely. I can come here to Althouse, or over to Amba's or read Reader, or go to any one of ten million places and get good, solid, interesting, well written analysis. There are commenters here that write better than Lithwick.

Lithwick's thing is a joke, or worse, today. You choose.

37383938393839383938383 said...

I hate to say this, but the underlying fact that nobody wants to talk about, is that if you're white, maybe you shouldn't hire black people. If anything goes wrong, you will be called a racist. Those white students should never had let those black strippers inside their house.

Unfortunately, Allen, you are right. That's the main reason my family no longer owns slaves.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Second, most crime is not committed by wealthy people.

Most convictions are not secured against wealthy people. Wealthy commit crimes that cost more and aren't convicted because they can afford lawyers.

AJ Lynch said...

Lithwick is just another America hater like Nina Burleigh who recently wrote about her dreaded life in the hinterland an hour outside of NY city.

And I suspect something did happen at the lacrosse party but that's no reason to smear all Duke students or lacrosse players as "privileged'. Lithwick would never use that term to describe herself or her nerdy peers at Yale.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Ah, so many of us with perfect sons, as though we can mind read our college age children.

I would assume that if we are offended at the possibility that the article's author called all of our sons misogynists and bigots, that we are also saying that each of us has never in our lives had a misogynistic or bigoted thought, action or moment. I would seriously doubt that. We are all capable of moments of indiscretion that do not necessarily define us as a whole.

And I like the commenter who suggested that lack of DNA in a gang rape suggests no rape. Well it's possible that the "gang" of 2 or three could have done quite a bit of spermless damage. Try a broom. Or a condom. Or a bottle. Or try out the fact that rape cases are tried all the time lacking DNA evidence.

The theoretical rapists could have been quite smart enough NOT to actually pump sperm into someone they are raping. They are Duke students after all, and not dim bulbs.

I do agree that the team as a whole should not have been put under such a spotlight, but then again, a good third of the team had previous campus violations and not entire spotless in lesser matters.

Old Dad said...

Ann thinks that Ms. Lithwick is usually pretty good. I'll accept that. But the article under discussion is not so hot--it's based on too many tired lefty pieties and cliches. Race, gender, sex, don't rush to judgment, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Well sure. So what? She brings nothing new to the table and manages to be insulting, too. We've got lives and reputations at stake. There's sex and violence and intrigue. Incompetence in high places. I think she could have done a little more with the material than to preach at us, but that's me.

I have great respect and some compassion for those who have to write often and write well. The Duke piece is not so hot. Not terrible either. Maybe her next will be better.

MrsWhatsit said...

sippican wrote: mrswhatsit- I like your name.

Thanks! I liked the book, too.

Then sippican wrote: I'm sort of at a loss to understand the point you're trying to make.

That seems to be going around today. Summed up, I guess, my point is that Lithwick is way too smart to write an article with the central theme that it's a mistake to rush to judgment when you don't have all the facts, and then include in it an over-the-top non-fact-based judgment like "Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots" and mean it as a statement of her own views. (Talk about a badly-written sentence! I should get some kind of a prize for that one.) Anyway, I believe she intended that phrase, and the one that follows it about universities as polarizing hotbeds of whatever-it-says, as examples of the foolish judgments she is criticizing.

We'll probably have to continue to disagree about it, though, because the paragraph is so poorly written that it allows both your reading and mine. This is how legislatures get into trouble . . .

Ann Althouse said...

Joe said...""Peter Neufeld of the Innocence Project says, 'There's an old saying that the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.'" Unless of course, Neufeld's client is involved, because if the DNA evidence does not implicate his client, other evidence of guilt is without significance to him. Pet peeve of mine, I have dealt with Neufeld and the Innocence Project in the past."

The Innocence Project deals with people who have been convicted using real evidence that was not tested using the DNA tests we now have. If a DNA test shows that something that was presented as coming from the defendant could not have come from the defendant, that is quite different from going to trial today without DNA evidence. In the former situation, you have probably shown that the wrong person is in prison. In the latter, you have a trial on whatever evidence the prosecution has, and both sides can argue about what the lack of DNA evidence means. The prosecution must meet the burden of proof or the defendant is acquitted.

Sean said...

Well, I think we have to read Lithwick's line about "our sons" in context. Lithwick is a wholly conventional left/liberal/feminist without any demonstrated capacity for independent thought. This sort of line, with its phony acceptance of responsibility ("our" sons) is just the sort of thing that is very popular at left/liberal/feminist gatherings. It's a way of attacking others (young men, in this case) while paying lip service to one's own complicity in evil. But it never convinces, because the listener always knows that the speaker is tacitly exempting himself or herself from the seeming import of the words. So clearly Lithwick is speaking the words in question in propria persona: it's standard fare in her circles.

MrsWhatsit said...

I had to post another comment solely because of the word verification word:

sfnxy

37383938393839383938383 said...

Well it's possible that the "gang" of 2 or three could have done quite a bit of spermless damage. Try a broom. Or a condom. Or a bottle.

I would, but I'm not a msiogynistic bigot. Speak for yourself.

The Drill SGT said...

Sean said...
This sort of line, with its phony acceptance of responsibility ("our" sons) is just the sort of thing that is very popular at left/liberal/feminist gatherings.


Nicely put. I always gag on the same label, "our troops" or "our sons and daughters in harms way" used by some left wing elitist SOB who would never ever allow his/her son or daughter to even talk with a recruiter, much less serve their country. Those types often don't even know anyone who served. We really should bring back the flags in windows with blue stars.

http://www.bluestarmothers.org/images/bd_twostarservicestarbanner.jpg

paulfrommpls said...

I think I agree with Ann on the passage in dispute.

It's unbelievably bad writing/editing; absolutely no doubt about that.

But I also can't quite believe this idea about "our sons" is actually hers and agree that if it were she would not state it that baldly. And I agree that it doesn't really make sense with the entire piece for that to be her thought; and it is paired with an idea about identity politics that could be seen as the opposite pole.

Plus, there is enough of a hint in the entire passage that she meant it as a description of the two poles that I'm willing to assume that's what she was going for. Maybe she did a bong while she was writing. And passed it to the editor.

The Slate version is basically the same horrible writing and confusion, long form.

I'm not totally sure of this, by the way. 60%-70%. I'd have to ask Dahlia.

paulfrommpls said...

Sean -

Very, very good point about the phony shared responsibility for "our" failings. You see that a lot in left writing. And if she is as you say, a member in good standing of that approach (I don't know her well enough; she's a skirt and I tend not to pay much attention to their mental aspects, I'm more of a breast guy) that does provide some circumstantial evidence.

SippicanCottage said...
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Wade_Garrett said...

I don't really think the rape is the big issue here. Jesse Jackson didn't go to Durham because this woman was raped, he came to Durham because she was black and there were a lot of microphones around. Anybody who thinks the prosecutor in this case would let the suspects off easy simply because he's the same race as them clearly hasn't spent much time in a prosecutor's office -- the is the sort of case that makes or breaks your career.

Just a couple of years ago, there was a big labor strike at Yale University, which, as a student, I followed closely. The dining hall and clerical workers went on strike, demanding more pay and better benefits. The University thought its employees were sufficiently compensated. New Haven, like Durham, is mostly black and Yale, like Duke, is less "white" than the national population at large, but it seen as a bastion of privilege. It didn't take long for this exact same cast of characters -- Jesse Jackson, etc -- to descend upon Yale to rail against the injustice that privileged white people inflict upon everybody who isn't white and privileged.

None of it had anything to do with whether a dining hall employee ought to earn $15, $17, or $20 an hour. It was simply an excuse to talk, a stage from which Jackson and others knew that they would be heard.

By the way, Duke's President, Richard Brodhead, was the beloved Dean of Yale College when I was an undergraduate.

SarahWeddington said...

John Jenkins obviously cannot read.

The line in question refers to a link to the email sent by one of the players. The email in question clearly states that the player speaks to ejaculating on his uniform at the thought of harming the women. Perhaps John Jenkins doesn't know what "cumming" means and therefore didn't understand the reference to sexual gratification.

Also, I think the "our sons" swept a bit too broad. She clearly ment to refer to the player in question and the team, not all American sons. It was an unfortunate choice of words.

SarahWeddington said...

sorry, above should read john r henry, not john jenkins.

bearbee said...

"This case serves as yet another depressing reminder of all that is wrong with this country:"

Is this her personal view as the Canadian citizen that she is?

Jonathan said...

The article was more complicated than some people are giving it credit for. Dahlia Lithwick is not just someone who repeats the left-wing take on things. Her link in the misogynistic sons comment was to the email in which anon-accused lax player said he was going to have some strippers in his dorm room whom he would kill and skin while cumming in his duke issue spandex. That is about as misogynistic as you can get. As for the "our sons" comment, I think her point is that the guy who wrote the email is the son of some people who probably were recently very proud of their Duke lacrosse-playing son. She said that the whole email revelation was separate from the case, where she took the non-knee jerk liberal position that we don't know that just because these kids are privileged, white, and connected to ppl w/ poor judgment that they committed rape.

katiebakes said...

Terry:

It seems we were at Yale at the same time.

I remember during the dining strike, everyone would say "Yale has an 11 billion dollar endowment and they won't even give the union workers a 5 dollar raise." It struck me as absurdly ignorant thinking which, unfortunately, worked well as a sound bite.

I hope Brodhead continues to handle this case with the thoughtfulness that he was loved for in New Haven.

MrsWhatsit said...

Sippican, it's a really good book. If you enjoy fantasy or science fiction at all, you might want to try it. The book in question is "A Wrinkle in Time," by Madeleine L'Engle, a children's novel that won the Newbery Award in 1962. It tells the story of some children who are trying to rescue their father and find themselves fighting a dark force trying to take over the universe.

I just discovered that the passage Sippican mentioned is actually online. The children have been traveling through space with three mystical eccentrics named Mrs Who, Mrs Whatsit, and Mrs Which. They've just landed with the three Mrs. W's on the planet of the Happy Medium, who shows them, in her crystal ball, the dark cloud that covers Earth:

"But what is it?" Calvin demanded. "We know that it's evil, but what is it?"

"Yyouu hhave ssaidd itt!" Mrs. Which's voice rang out. "Itt iss Eevill. Itt iss thee Ppowers of Ddarrkknesss!"

"But what's going to happen?" Meg's voice trembled. "Oh, please, Mrs. Which, tell us what's going to happen!"

"Wee wwill cconnttinnue tto ffightt!"

Something in Mrs. Which's voice made all three of the children stand straighter, throwing back their shoulders with determination, looking at the glimmer that was Mrs. Which with pride and confidence.

"And we're not alone, you know, children," came Mrs. Whatsit, the comforter. "All through the universe it's being fought, all through the cosmos, and my, but it's a grand and exciting battle. I know it's hard for you to understand about size, how there's very little difference in the size of the tiniest microbe and the greatest galaxy. You think about that, and maybe it won't seem strange to you that some of our very best fighters have come right from your own planet, and it's a little planet, dears, out on the edge of a little galaxy. You can be proud that it's done so well."

"Who have our fighters been?" Calvin asked.

"Oh, you must know them, dear," Mrs. Whatsit said.

Mrs. Who's spectacles shown out at them triumphantly. "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."

"Jesus!" Charles Wallace said. "Why of course, Jesus!"

"Of course!" Mrs. Whatsit said. "Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They've been lights for us to see by."

"Leonardo da Vinci?" Calvin suggested tentatively. "And Michelangelo?"

"And Shakespeare," Charles Wallace called out, "and Bach! And Pasteur and Madame Curie and Einstein!"

Now Calvin's voice rang with confidence. "And Schweitzer and Ghandi and Buddha and Beethoven and Rembrandt and St. Francis!"

"Now you, Meg," Mrs. Whatsit ordered.

"Oh, Euclid, I suppose." Meg was in such an agony of impatience that her voice grated irritably. "And Copernicus. But what about Father? Please, what about Father?"

"Wee aarre ggoingg tto your ffatherr," Mrs. Which said.

"But where is he?" Meg went over to Mrs. Which and stamped as though she were as young as Charles Wallace.

Mrs. Whatsit answered in a voice that was low but quite firm. "On a planet that has given in. So you must prepare to be very strong."

Aspasia M. said...

Well, the Slate edition confuses me, as to the meaning of Lithwick's paragraph.

In any case, the people on the team are men, not boys.
-------

My two cents:

Most of the evidence is behind a wall, so I can't evaluate it personally.

However, we do know that:

1) a neighbor (a chef) said that somebody at that party shouted "thank your grandpa for my cotton shirt." (What's that about?!?)

2) One of the men was recently arrested for assaulting a man. (He and his friends were also yelling gay epithets at the same man in Washington DC.) What's up with the gay-bashing?

3) A man sent a e-mail talking about using a knife on a woman. Wierd.

4) She went to the hospital that night and there were bruises and injuries. A nurse performed a rape kit, and said there were injuries consistent with rape.

(And, if she showed up to the house injured, why didn't they get help for her? That's odd.)

Anyways, it sounds like something real nasty happened that night.

Aspasia M. said...

Mrs. Whatsit,

I loved that book as a kid. And Charles Wallace is one of my favorite characters.

Aaron Blackshear said...

John Henry wrote:

"Seems to me that the note said nothing about sexual gratification. In fact, it said "no nudity".

It is a pretty trashy note and sentiment. However,I think it tends to exonerate, not incriminate."


What part of "cumming in my duke issue spandex" leads you to believe the note said nothing about sexual gratification?
And you'll notice I said I did not think a rape occured, but that it was silly for gerry to suggest that these guys are such fine, upstanding young gentlemen. They may not be rapists, but it sounds like many of them are not someone you'd want your daughter to date.

Sean said...
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reader_iam said...

I still love that book and still have a copy.

L'Engle rocks.

Mrs. Whatsis: This conversation sounds familiar to me; didn't we talk about this book before at Althouse at some point?

I know we both are fond of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," too.

MrsWhatsit said...

I do believe you're right, reader_iam (and that's a great name!) You have a better memory than I do, but now that you mention it I do remember our conversation about this and about "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."

They are both great books.

Ann Althouse said...

Sean wrote:
Aaron, that may be true, but I wouldn't want my daughter to be a stripper either. More generally, it doesn't make sense to me to condemn young men for sexual crudity while valorizing those who supply them with the raw material.

But I admit, I am not very politically correct. The politically correct line is that [name deleted] is an admirable, empowered woman but the men who masturbate to her pictures are not only losers (which is true), but patriarchal sexist pigs responsible for women's suffering everywhere


Let's not gratuitously reprint the name here.

Ann Althouse said...

geoduck2 said...
The politically correct line is that [name deleted] is an admirable, empowered woman but the men who masturbate to her pictures are not only losers (which is true), but patriarchal sexist pigs responsible for women's suffering everywhere.

Huh? There's a big difference between 1)masturbating to porn and 2)telling your teamates that you want to skin and kill women while you're jacking off.

The latter sounds very Jeffery Dahmer-esque.
----

If there were over 40 people in a small house (with drinking, music and noise) -- I think it's possible that an assault (or rape, or something nasty) happened without a lot of people knowing what was going on.

4:05 PM, April 23, 2006

Ann Althouse said...
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Aspasia M. said...

Ann,

I thought that name (written by Sean) was a well known porn star? (Who's also had specials made about her on other cable channels like E.)

Aaron Blackshear said...

Sean, I'm not trying to defend the woman (or strippers in general) at all, my comment was merely a reponse to gerry, who seemed to be implying that the team was filled with admirable young gentlemen.

And I'd have to agree with Ann that's it quite a stretch to compare masturbating to porn with killing and skinning a stripper to get your rocks off.

Ann Althouse said...

Geoduck: Oh, yes, you're right. I thought he was reprinting the victim's name. Sorry, I don't know the big porn star names! But now that you mention it, I do know it from the David Foster Wallace essay about the porn movie awards (in "Consider the Lobster").

CB said...

I just came back after running some errands--I'm glad some people paid attention to the Slate version of the essay. I think you really have to bend over backward to try to explain away what she wrote. It was not confusing or poorly written--it was as clear as could be. The sentiment expressed is not even particularly shocking; like I said earlier, it's pretty much liberal boilerplate. Ms. Lithwicks defenders seem to know more about her and her writings than I do, so I'll take their word that this is uncharacteristic. Maybe she was being deliberately provocative.

That said, some commenters here are doing one thing the column rightly warned against: (see, there's that colon again!) debating the merits of the case and the credibility of the parties based on shaky, third-hand information.

Scippican Cottage,
Interesting that you knew to call me "sir."

Johnny Nucleo said...

What was the porn star's name, dammit!

And what the hell does this mean?:

"Facts are, more often than not, just our own subjective opinions, dressed up to look like incontrovertible truths."

More often than not? Really? So why not teach intelligent design in schools?

I'm currently wearing my underpants on my head. That's no opinion.

Aspasia M. said...

I'm currently wearing my underpants on my head. That's no opinion.

First of all...take your underpants off your head young man!

What was the porn star's name

Initials: J.J. (very well known)

She went kind of mainstream with a book and I saw an interview with her. I think it was Channel E.

Man, now I sound like a porn connoisseur.
----------

1) Adult people looking at legal porn doesn't bother me at all.

2) People being rude, or yelling racial or homophobic epithets, or writing a violent e-mail about a real person, or beating up a stranger after calling him a homophobic name: all of those things bother me.

It seems to me there is a qualitative difference in the two categories.

CB said...

"Facts are, more often than not, just our own subjective opinions, dressed up to look like incontrovertible truths."

Is that a fact? Ha!

"I do know it from the David Foster Wallace essay."

Suure. ;) (Funny, though, how everyone seems to know who Jenna Jameson is, even though they'll never admit to having seen any of her oeuvre)

brylin said...

Sippican, I agree with you.

Ann, Lithwick may have written many excellent pieces, but this one sucks.

I, for one, will wait to hear the evidence as it is presented. I think Lithwick should wait to hear the whole story before she condemns "sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots."

Of course it is true that there are some cases where the truth cannot be revealed beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lithwick forgot the basic rule taught to all first year law students that in criminal law we cast a loose net, and in the process some of the guilty may slip through, so that none of the innocent are ensnared.

With Lithwick, if you are a male you are guilty until proven innocent. Some analyst!

BTW, Ann Coulter has it right: Lie Down with Strippers Wake Up with Pleas.

Jim said...

My concern is that I read that the District Attorney acknowledged that there is no DNA evidence that implicates a Duke lacrosse player. I had thought that the whole point of the innocence project was using the lack of DNA evidence to free someone who had been convicted of a crime where it was relevant. Perhaps it only works for poor black men from the inner city, while white college students who play lacrosse are not exonerated by the lack of DNA evidence (if this is true). We presume that the white lacrosse player is guilty until he can prove himself innocent.

The Drill SGT said...

Jim,

while I agree about your general position, I think that the innocence folks are primarily focused on cases where there WAS DNA evidence, but because no DNA tests existed it could not be tested. e.g. They got an attacker blood sample or semen and it matched the defendant, but after DNA testing, it was proven that it wasn't him.

The Drill SGT said...

ShadyCharacter said...
Tawana Brawley.

Sometimes the truth does out, even with racial hucksters in the mix...


There are 3 problems of course.

1. Some folks in the black community still believe the fraud.

2. Black demagogues still use the case

3. The accused, ends up the real victim, with a ruined reputation.

brylin said...

If, as some commenters think, Wapo editors changed Lithwick's piece, it's up to her to publicly refute the wording as it appears in the article.

Since there is no Lithwick protest, the assumption must be that she stands by what was published.

brylin said...

Here's the link to the Lithwick article in Slate. If you notice, she has a link to The Smoking Gun embedded where the words "spoiled misogynist bigots" appears. The link is to a reference to a Ryan McFadyen email.

So, according to Lithwick, McFadyen extrapolates to all males.

Some fine analysis for a girl who went to Yale and Stanford Law.

Ann, you are defending this? Seriously?

Sissy Willis said...

"The" truth?

CB said...

Hey, no fair! I brought up the Slate version hours ago, and now "brylin" copies my work and gets a concession from Ann--on the main page, no less!!

Link or perish, I suppose.

just kidding--I don't mind...no really.

Dawn said...

The one thing that keeps jumping out at me during this whole sordid mess is this:

Noted race-baiter Al Sharpton hasn't made an appearence. Not a one.

Tawana Brawley, anyone?

Ann Althouse said...

I added an update to the post, linking to the Slate article. I think the piece is miswritten, but she really does make the stupid generalization I defended her against.

CB "I do know it from the David Foster Wallace essay." Suure. ;) (Funny, though, how everyone seems to know who Jenna Jameson is, even though they'll never admit to having seen any of her oeuvre)

Read this old post, #6. It's true!

The Drill SGT said...

LOL, Bunkergurl

I googled "al sharpton duke rake" and came up with 99,000+ hits including this first one on Fox cable.

Al can save air fare and reach more folks via cable now.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,192277,00.html

brylin said...

CB, You may have referred to the Slate version first, but I was the first to provide the link. ;)

And Ann gave neither of us credit on the main page - to her we're just "commenters."

Ann Althouse said...

I did the post update before I read Brylin's comment, so it was the foregoing argument and my own decision to go find the Slate article, but it is true that doing a link makes a difference.

The Drill SGT said...

LOL Ann,

I've done all of them except 6 and 10. Though 5 was around 40 years ago. I wonder if that makes be a better or worse person. Though 5 was around 40 years ago. :)

reader_iam said...

CB, I don't know why, but I've assumed you're male, too. No specific reason, and just a neutral observation.

I wonder how we decide these things, unconsciously.

brylin said...

Ann, get rid of #4: join my daughter and me in four weeks for a week in Egypt!

The Drill SGT said...

I looked again.

4 and 7 were job related. And I saw the orginal 9 on the job as well.

Now I'm rolling I guess. Beats the heck out of talking about strippers and jocks

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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Jennifer said...

I've done them all except 4 & 10!

I have not watched porn in federal court, though. That's gotta kill the mood!

Aspasia M. said...

I added an update to the post, linking to the Slate article. I think the piece is miswritten, but she really does make the stupid generalization I defended her against.

That must have been some forteiture proceeding!

I've only done 1-3 and 6-7. (and I went to India for a conference; but I forget which number that is.)
---

I suppose Lithwick was linking to the e-mail as a specific example?

While the specific example makes sense, the generalization certainly doesn't work within the context of her article, and it takes away from her overall thesis.

CB said...

I'll start on my list:

I've never:

1. Read anything as bizarre as "I've never [...w]atched a pornographic movie -- other than in federal court, as part of a forfeiture proceeding."

BTW, it was nice to see the old Blogger portrait of Ann--I always preferred that one.

Ann Althouse said...

"That must have been some forteiture proceeding!"

No, it was perfectly ordinary. The government seized videotapes that were obscene and a judicial proceeding was needed to deprive individuals of their property. These were ordinary videotapes that ordinary people wanted to watch, and the goverenment intercepted them. The judge had to watch them to determine that they were, in fact, obscene. It was quite absurd, really. It happened all the time.

SippicanCottage said...
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Joe said...

Ann wrote,
"The Innocence Project deals with people who have been convicted using real evidence that was not tested using the DNA tests we now have. If a DNA test shows that something that was presented as coming from the defendant could not have come from the defendant, that is quite different from going to trial today without DNA evidence."
If that is all the IP did I would have no problem with it, such evidence would likely be conclusive. But if my memory serves, they would also comb through old cases looking for anything to try and upset a conviction, whether or not the prosecution had previously claimed it was evidence of guilt. It is not pleasant for a rape victim to be called back into court years after she thought the guilty was punished.

Finn Kristiansen said...

I made the comment regarding the lack of DNA evidence:

Well it's possible that the "gang" of 2 or three could have done quite a bit of spermless damage. Try a broom. Or a condom. Or a bottle.

Critical Observer responded:


I would, but I'm not a misogynistic bigot. Speak for yourself.


Oh yea, that really addresses my main point. Critical observer indeed.

In my two posts I simply stated that 1) we should not rush to judgment about anyone without further facts, 2) that if any of us have ever had a misogynistic or bigoted moment, it's more than possible that our offspring might have had such a moment as well, 3) and it is quite possible to have rape cases prosecuted without any DNA evidence at all.

So the comment by Observer hardly address the scope of what I said, as though rudeness counts for wisdom, wit or righteousness.

(And Critical, you can thank me later for cleaning up your spelling of misogynistic. Perhaps more observation, less criticism).

HaloJonesFan said...

Finn: Did you have a Silent Birth?

Sloanasaurus said...

A lot of interesting commentary above.

I think from a defense strategy point of view, going to the media right away is a smart one. It is clear that black leaders, etc.. want this case so that they can go and march! They don't care about truth, they just want to march! They don't care about the victim. They just want to march! They don't care about justice, they just want to march! They want to march for all their other gripes and concerns. What better than to attach themselves to a potential crime comitted by three upper middle class white fraternity men... THE ULTIMATE SYMBOL OF THE WHITE POWER STRUCTURE. In fact I cannot think of a better story in recent times for marching!

Knowing this, the defense has to leak so that the defendants reputations do not get destroyed in the name of marching for black justice.

reader_iam said...

I haven't done 2 of them--net.

(I was taken a ski trip as a toddler and remember the skis, but not the trip, so 1/2 point there; one of my "friends" spontaneously decided to shoplift in my presence, and while I didn't do it, I didn't leave or rat her out either--though we weren't really friends thereafter--so 1/2 point there, just because I felt as guilty as if I had.)

#4 is the one pure, definitely haven't done.

reader_iam said...

Technically, I got "paid" in relation to #6. I had a job in an art movie house which, to stay alive, did midnight showings of pr0n, rock movies, and Rocky Horror. I "monitored" things during the showings and then cleaned up afterwards. Later, I worked in a video store (also specializing non-mainstream movies), which had a "special area." I was supposed to be at least somewhat conversant with the material aimed at women (this was way back when there was a flowering of female directors etc.) so that I could make recommendations if asked.

LOL. The (many) jobs I have had ... well, I suppose there's something to be said for having a variety of life experiences.

ChrisO said...

I find it interesting how many people can't wait to condemn black politicians for latching onto this case, but seem to ignore the Rush Limbaughs of the world who are also exploiting this issue. Lithwick, however, did mention both black and white opportunists.

As for the offending phrase, I can't believe how literally people are taking this. I mean really, I went in and looked at my sleeping sons? I think she was referring to the fact that things are not always as they seem. I'm sure many people are grasping for any thread they can that will determine the boys' innocnce, because they can't comprehend these nice white boys committing this crime. Lithwick was saying that there's often a lot below the surface, as revealed by the e-mail.

I also don't get the whole left/liberal accusation. The point of the article was that no one knows the whole story, yet many people seem to think they know exactly what happened, based on their predisposition. Where's the politics in that? And is it a kneejerk liberal position to say that "our colleges are hotbeds of polarizing identity politics?"

As for people automatically assuming the players were guilty, of course they did. It's a natural reaction to someone being arrested. Do you mean to tell me that if a black guy is arrested for a rape, everyone's reaction is "When the judicial system has done its work, we'll know if he's guilty or innocent. I sincerely hope his life hasn't been ruined erroneously." Instead, the public thinks "They caught the guy that raped that girl the other day." Let's be real here. The fact that these players are going through it may be regrettable, but I firmly believe that so many people are outraged at their treatment precisely because they are white and privileged. Somehow having their lives ruined is worse than a poor black guy's life being ruined. When a black guy imprisoned for rape is freed after 20 years because of DNA evidence, where's the outrage from Limbaugh and Coulter then?

Revenant said...

I think the "our sons" swept a bit too broad. She clearly ment to refer to the player in question and the team, not all American sons. It was an unfortunate choice of words.

What's her basis for saying it about the team? There's good evidence that one member of the team is misgynistic, but that doesn't mean the whole team is. Gender views are neither a qualification for, nor a disqualification from, playing lacrosse.

Uncle Mikey said...

The email everyone's unhappy about, while disgusting and indicative of terrible judgment on the author's part, is hardly evidence of an incubating Jeffrey Dahmer, or even a bigoted mysoginist. When some people get together their conversation becomes a gross-out contest between them, and the topics touched upon are less indicative of actual desires and habits than they are of the limits of the participants' imagination.

In other words, get over it. The kid was making a terrible, offensive joke, but that makes him neither a killer nor a mysoginist. Just a jerk.

Jennifer said...

Ann - or any lawyer still reading this thread - can you help me understand why Collin Finnerty, still just indicted for this rape, is in violation of the don't-commit-any-crimes provision of his diversion program (stemming from the gay assault). Isn't he presumed innocent of the crime? And what happens if he is found not guilty of the rape, or the charges are dismissed? Would that negate the decision to go to trial on the gay assault?

SippicanCottage said...
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