Thursday, November 16, 2006
He used her.
I read your opinion , Amanda. Here's mine.
Not long ago, most of us innocently placed great faith in the integrity of prosecutors, in the assumption of thorough police investigations, in the fairness of news media, and in the sincerity of folks like you, Amanda.
The Duke lacrosse Hoax has rocked all that for many of us. No matter the motives of the troubled woman involved here, in the heat of his political season, many believe Nifong used her. And now, we will never again be sheep led to simple acceptance. Nifong's selfish use of this woman, his seeming abuse of the legal system, and all that has followed, have left the general public stunned, dismayed, and sadly, disbelieving. Because he used her, Amanda, your life's work for true victims is lessened, and our level of trust in our justice system and in our purveyors of information has eroded significantly.
Because he used her, when the NEXT prosecutor steps before the cameras, we'll wonder if he, too, never SPOKE to the accuser, never tried to reconcile her story against the stories of those who were accused, or other witnesses in the case. We'll wonder if he too refused to listen to alibis from the other side. We'll wonder if the line-up was once again a deal with no wrong answers, and how many times it took for the woman to make any identification at all. We'll wonder if he's also running for re-election or what's in this case for HIM. We'll wonder if he just wants his face on TV or his name in the press. We'll remember how Nifong ignored complaints of alleged sexual harassment in his own office, when the son of an important political ally was implicated, all the time pushing a prosecution that had political benefits for him. We'll wonder if this next DA is playing us too. Because Nifong used her, our first thought will NOT be if a woman has been victimized, but if we are about to be manipulated...once again. Because he used her, we'll be wary.
Because Nifong used her, alleged victims are now accusers and media panels speak of the expectation of returning to the practice of naming accusers publicly.
Because Nifong used her, we'll wonder about the dynamics in the community. We'll remember politicians like Patrick Baker assuring us the Accuser told only one story when facts would not bear that out. We'll remember what we read now...of the convergence of professional protestors...and racial hate groups eager to saddle this agenda to a certain one of their own. We'll remember the manipulation of "FACTS" and the rush to judgment in Durham. We'll remember how revered groups like the NAACP seemed to suspend many standards of justice they have nobly stood for over generations...to demand a show trial for the Durham "community." We will fear that agenda will trump truth and fairness once again, even, sadly, among those whom we had long believed WERE the FRONT LINES of the forces of truth and fairness. Because he used her, no such naiveté exists anymore. or will ever again. Because he used her, we have seen the underside of many activist groups.
Because Nifong used her, we now understand some glaring examples of media manipulation. We know now that editors at the N&O omitted part of the accuser's statement about that night, statements "about the other dancer" that they did not deem necessary for the public to know. Because he used her, we know that the reporter from NCCU, also edited her report...to omit troubling comments about the accuser that she also had uncovered. We know that across the board, the media built a false story for us of a shy young woman, soft-voiced, and "new to dancing." They stretched language to call what she did at the house that night...a "performance obligation" to give it a sheen of respectability. They presented a story with clear villains...the "swaggering out-of-control" Lacrosse team, pictured and named on a Wanted poster versus the "Victim", sanitized in every way possible. Her criminal record, her pole dancing, her trolling strip clubs and motels, her erratic behavior...might all come out later, but, because Nifong used her...we are now aware how the media used us, especially in the important early days when outrage was peaking in Durham. How they exploited our trust and shaped the story will not easily be forgotten. Because he used her, Amanda, we won't trust press descriptions of "Victim" or "Accused" ever again. We'll remember we were duped.
Those lobbyists you challenged....who feared False Accusation...now have three faces in front of them. We will never forget. Because Nifong used her, Collin, Reade, and Dave, will be at the forefront of many minds. The "stigma" they have borne and will bear...will affect how we will look at rape cases going forward. False accusation is now center stage in a case that has drawn national and international attention. Your life's work of having a woman "believed" will now be offset by the indignities and inequities of this Hoax. We now see that false accusation with a prosecutor like Nifong is a very real possibility. We now understand that we cannot rely on the accuracy of media, the sincerity of activists or the integrity of prosecutors. Because he used her, the pendulum, Amanda has swung back the other way. We see "out-of control" behavior among all of these entities as well. Frankly, that concerns us as much as, if not more, than "out of control" behavior of college boys.
In summation, Amanda, because Nifong used her...every accuser going forward will bear a new and cumbersome burden. Every true rape victim going forward will, in her own way, be another victim of this Hoax. You may not hold Nifong's actions against him now, but when the backlash begins...remember who was the creator, the promoter of the Hoax. Every real rape victim will pay a price for Nifong's political needs, his pandering, his public statements that sadly...didn't pan out. His legacy will be an atmosphere where False Accusation and flagrant prosecutorial abuse are now in the forefront of possibilities.
The story told to us now seems to be a sham, and that is a shame, a travesty for all true rape victims struggling to tell their story. Every one of them will bear the stigma of a certain scenario, now seared in our collective minds. The memory of that Spring evening, in front of the house on Buchanan street, where good folks (who felt a woman must ALWAYS be believed) gathered to chant and pray while across town, in a seedy strip club, the wily dancer told colleagues she was going to get cash from some white boys, and "worked" The Pole to full effect.
Welcome back to the "good old days," Amanda. Those of you who feel sorry for the presumption of good faith you have lost for true victims, must remember your silence and/or approval of Nifong enabled the Hoax to wreak its havoc here in the present and in the future as well. Nifong used her and because folks like you looked the other way, or gave approval, False Accusation and its ugly implications are front and center. We will never forget the falsehoods. We will always remember the Hoax.