Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ESPN's Jones Mocks Celebration of Return of Lacrosse to Duke

For many, the return of lacrosse to Duke this past weekend was a healing moment, a new beginning, and a vindication of sorts for the team's perseverance through trial and tribulation during the dying, but still continuing Hoax. For others, the triumph of spirit and hope that the new season represents is, conversely, unwelcome. Exemplifying the latter is a petty offering by ESPN contributing writer Bomani Jones, who mocks the celebration that accompanied this weekend’s Duke lacrosse season opener. In a column for ESPN’s Page 2 entitled "Duke Lacrosse Celebrated for Wrong Reasons," Mr. Jones writes:
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"Around here, we believe the guys [former players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans] are innocent," Antonacci said, "and that [last] season should not have been canceled."
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“Perhaps that's true, but that's no reason to celebrate the team. After all, none of the three players charged with crimes surrounding a March 9 [sic], 2006, house party are still on the team.”
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For nearly a year, the three randomly indicted players and their teammates have been assailed repeatedly by many Hoax apologists and enablers, not only for the crime that did not occur at the party last March 13, but also for everything and anything else that could be used to smear them individually and collectively. As a team, their names and faces appeared on vigilante wanted posters. As a team, they were paraded before waiting media as they complied with an overreaching non-testimonial DNA order, believing DA Nifong's false promise that the testing would allow them to demonstrate their innocence. As a team, they were reviled and protested against by certain Duke faculty and students, despite their innocence. As a team, they’ve incurred legal expenses totaling millions of dollars to defend themselves against a crime that never occurred. As a team, they fled the campus when the new Black Panther Party visited with a threat to conduct their own investigation. As a team, their season was precipitously cancelled. Most importantly, however, as a team they have shared their trust in truth, and their hope for justice.
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For the duration of the Hoax, it has been convenient for their detractors to use each and every instance of misbehavior by any one of the team to condemn the indicted players and to fuel the Hoax. Now that a bit of joy is shared by the team and their supporters, it appears that it becomes convenient for their detractors to separate the indicted and the not indicted. While now it may be helpful to those who desire to continue heaping hurt on the lacrosse team to separate them from the three primary victims of the Hoax, one thing hasn’t changed. Misrepresentation of petty misbehavior by some will continue to be used to smear them all.
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Jones continues:

“While the cancellation of the season may have been premature, plenty came to light when they left the field. Too much to be ignored.

“The ad hoc committee commissioned by Duke president Richard Brodhead and Academic Council Chair Paul Haagen found that lacrosse players were involved in 36 separate disciplinary incidents in the last three academic years, including destruction of property on campus, public urination and numerous alcohol-related incidents.”

While the ad hoc committee that Jones refers to did find that the lacrosse team was involved in numerous alcohol related incidents (including the conveniently omitted suspicion of throwing water, playing of a drinking game, and multiple instances of making noise), they characterized such mischief as:

“… their conduct has not been different in character than the conduct of the typical Duke student who abuses alcohol. Their reported conduct has not involved fighting, sexual assault or harassment, or racist behavior. Moreover, even the people who have complained about their alcohol-related misconduct often add that the students are respectful…”

Further, the committee Jones selectively refers to in his attempt to paint the team as a collection of sinful thugs also found:
“The members of the Duke Lacrosse team have been academically and athletically responsible students. In general, faculty who have had lacrosse players in their classes have not experienced disciplinary problems with the players. Over the last five years, however, many lacrosse players increasingly have been socially irresponsible consumers of alcohol. Their extensive record of repetitive misconduct should have alarmed administrators responsible for student discipline.”

“By all accounts, the lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined, and respectful athletic team. Their behavior on trips is described as exemplary. Players clean the team bus before disembarking. Airline personnel have complimented them for their behavior. They observe curfews. They obey the team’s no alcohol rule before games.11 They are respectful of people who serve the team, including bus drivers, airline personnel, trainers, the equipment manager, the team manager, and the groundskeeper.”
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“Finally, the lacrosse program has a 100% graduation rate. Alumni of the program apparently contribute to the community after college. We received letters of support for the team from two recently graduated former players who are presently serving in Iraq. A remarkable number of alumni are volunteer coaches for their local lacrosse teams. Many are employed in prestigious positions in business, law, and medicine. As evidenced by their support of the current team, alumni of the lacrosse program and their families are fiercely loyal to each other, to the lacrosse program, and to Duke.”
Certainly inclusion of a more accurate or complete description of the findings of the Coleman committee would not have helped Jones support his conclusion that the return of lacrosse to Duke was no cause for celebration. Doing so would also have made it more difficult for Jones to launch the remaining barbs he uses to continue his piece.
“In reference to the alleged racist behavior, Antonacci said he believes "the whole team shouldn't suffer for the actions of a few."

“Even if that's true -- and it's definitely debatable -- the overall body of misbehavior of this team wasn't the reflection of a few people. That track record was built by several players over a span of years -- too many sins over too much time to be written off as anything isolated.
“That made Saturday's outpouring public support part of a disturbing trend. Duke lacrosse is more popular now than ever. The campus bookstore has begun selling lacrosse jerseys.
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“Most of the lacrosse T-shirts worn by the crowd appeared to be brand new.
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“Many of those shirts were purchased at the game. "Business has been great," said Jimmy "Zeke" Zechini, who sold T-shirts at a table near the concession stand.
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“But how much better was business compared to last year's lacrosse opener?
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"We usually don't set up for lacrosse," he said.
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“They didn't set up for last year's opener, when Duke was coming off its second Final Four in school history. So why now? Just because rape charges were dropped against three former players?
“It's highly possible that Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong overzealously pursued allegations that lacrosse players sexually assaulted an exotic dancer.
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“But Nifong's actions don't make the lacrosse players heroes, nor do they make the program a collection of martyrs. At best, they are a group of young men with a documented penchant for bad behavior.
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“That's not something to proudly represent with a T-shirt. It's surely not something more worthy of celebration than a trip to the Final Four."
Bomani Jones concludes his column with echoes of Chan Hall's "whether it happened or not. [False prosecution] would be justice for things that happened in the past."
“Even if the accusations against Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans are false, so many transgressions have been confirmed, while others have not been denied. Those mistakes should not be praised.

“Neither should this team.”
For his part, Jones appears to have anticipated that his piece would not be well received. On his blog, he goes out of his way to ensure readers that his opinions are objective and fair.

“Business…here’s the scene from the first Duke lacrosse game. Bring the hate mail on.

“Speaking of that, my editors and I made the decision to disclose the fact that I have had affiliations with both Duke and North Carolina in my four years living in Durham. Their concern was with people digging through my archives or this site, finding out some things about me, and assuming I was operating with bias when I wrote the piece.
“Allow me to assure you that any opinion I offer on anything is from an objective position. That isn’t to say I don’t hate Duke basketball. I do.

“But I also wrote what might be the most glowing piece on J.J. Redick on record (even though I had a blast taking shots at Duke, the piece is fair to Redick). I also wrote a reverential look at Duke’s run of ACC tournament dominance since the late ’90s. I also have written on the Duke lacrosse situation in an unbiased manner.

“What I like and what I don’t like have nothing to do with what I think. And, for the most part, I write from what I think. Emotions are irrational, and I’m not irrational when I write. I might be wrong, but never irrational.

“As it relates to this piece, I wrote what I saw and what I was told. Based on that, I wrote what I thought and noticed.
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“That’s the job. And nothing is more important to my job performance than integrity.
“So say what you want about me, or call me what you will. But never, for a second, question whether I’m fair. I’m passionate and imperfect, but I’m not a fool. Neither are my editors. They never would have sent me to the game if they didn’t think I’d do the job right.

“And that’s all I have to say about that.”
In fairness, Jones has, as he claims, at times, written about the lacrosse situation relatively objectively (one imperfect example can be found here: "Voters to weigh in on Duke lacrosse case") making this offering and the misrepresentations noted above only more disappointing.
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He’s also correct in suggesting that a peek through his previous work might lead one to assume that he brings a bit of bias to his current column. Comments such as:
certainly don’t lend credence to the suggestion that “any opinion I offer on anything is from an objective position.”

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those who continue to remain critical of the underage drinking of the LAX team, probably were the worst offenders at that age. There are those who WANT a rape to have occurred, despite the fact Crystal recanted her story.
Instead of attacking the LAX players for legally hiring strippers, why not attack the morality of the strippers?

Anonymous said...

Has there ever been an ad hoc committee set up to look into the basketball team? what is their graduation rate? how many times have they been cited for petty crimes, such as noise violation? Setting the LAX team to a higher standard than not only other athletic teams but also the average college student drives me insane!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully some Duke alum with some clout at ESPN will have the management fire this sorry excuse for a journalist. Jones is nothing more than a racist.

madder than a hornet said...

Is this guy related to CGM? I see some of Cousin Jakki in Jones!

There seems to be some gender confusion dressing going on once again. The fur coat is a nice touch.

duke09parent said...

The student body reacted to the disproportionate punishment, formally and informally, of the team. If the team had returned to the field last spring after a two-game suspension, the Group of 88 backed off its Listening Statement position, and the prosecution had been dropped after the independent lab reports came back, there would not have been an extraordinary crowd. Two forfeits might be an appropriate sanction for the level of misconduct (higher than other teams according to the Coleman report) that the scandal revealed.

The level of injustice against the team as a whole and the three defendants, as well as the fact that the injustice continues, is what brought out the crowd of supporters.

Anonymous said...

Who really cares what Mr.? Jones has to say? Real men don't wear furs.

scott said...

Jones said:

“What I like and what I don’t like have nothing to do with what I think. And, for the most part, I write from what I think. Emotions are irrational, and I’m not irrational when I write. I might be wrong, but never irrational."

Ok, Jones. I will stipulate that in this article you were not irrational. But you were wrong. Live with that.

Howard said...

That this has been about race from day one is once again made obvious by Jones. A word about ESPN: The lead the league in libel. Not only was their "reporting" slanted, they ran a program with Tony Kornheiser interviewing John Feinstein that was so accusatory, so prsumptive of guilt, and so incendiary that I hope the parents sue. The tape was removed from UTube but you can bet it is still around somewhere. ESPN is PC from top to bottom.

Anonymous said...

"they ran a program with Tony Kornheiser interviewing John Feinstein that was so accusatory"

I saw that and Kornheiser was horrible. I hear him on another radio and he was saying the same crap. Kornheiser shouldn't be allowed near Duke. He was putting the knife in deep.

ESPN has been one of the worst.

Anonymous said...

I left a post with this guy Jones on his web site. My question to him was "why is he wasting his time on the hoax?" The black community is falling apart. Whyis he not trying to help lead his people into a better life?" I think it is easier to hassle white boys than fo into the ghetto. Like Cash, he missed his chance to be Emile Zola. That opportunity won't come again. Shame on Jones and ESPN. I am boycotting the station, They are not that good anyway. Whats their dog in this fight?

Anonymous said...

sorry but lets get this straight: the basketball team is included in the statment that the LaX team had more disciplinary infractions at Duke AND more criminal complaints than any other sports team at Duke in the last three years.

the team had underage drinking, young women of color were subjected to racial epithets and threats of sodomy and an alleged crime happened; the punishment of suspension was appropriate as the team's previous bad behavior was also taken into account; they were already on some sort of probation prior to the party as it was reported the coach warned them before the party. They definiely deserved the suspension.

As to a lot of the white Duke students coming out to support the team, that is to be expected as Duke is known for its poor race relations; it is not called the plantation locally for nothing.

Guy Fox said...

I can't believe ESPN still employs this racist piece of garbage. They may as well have hired Leni Riefenstahl. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

We are never going to agree on the issue of suspension. Obviously, the team was singled out for harrasment. Public urination, noise violation,underage drinking are not compareable to murder, real rape, child abuse, etc. They do however appear to get your everytime. I am a recovering drunk and have no brief for underage drinking, but it will continue to the end of time. ESPN is putting itself in a postion to lose its white fan base. Well, Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

why are white people supporting ESPN and its white racist agenda? Not me. I have no white guilt - my folks were starving in Ireland when a minimal amount of slave owners were doing their thing. I am boycotting ESPN. BTW, Crystal is not Sally Henning.

Anonymous said...

why are white people supporting ESPN and its white racist agenda? Not me. I have no white guilt - my folks were starving in Ireland when a minimal amount of slave owners were doing their thing. I am boycotting ESPN. BTW, Crystal is not Sally Henning.

Anonymous said...

"Some sort of probation" - Misdemeaners like public drinking, nois violation and underage drinking. The innuendo here, looks like they were Jack the Ripper.

Nicholas Stix said...

Excellent post. I had previously never heard of Bomani Jones; I see now that I hadn’t missed anything. Jones is engaging in a version of what I call Plan B: The attempt to say that even though the Duke Three/Entire Lacrosse Team are legally quote-innocent-unquote, they’re still metaphysically Guilty As Hell, and thus beyond redemption. As far as I can tell, this strategy was introduced a couple of months ago by Duke professor/official Karla Holloway, though the mindset had been around since the previous spring.

Nicholas Stix said...

6:04 AM

“Anonymous said...

“sorry but lets get this straight: the basketball team is included in the statment that the LaX team had more disciplinary infractions at Duke AND more criminal complaints than any other sports team at Duke in the last three years.”

I guess you didn’t read the post, which included the positive statements about the lacrosse team in the Coleman Committee Report that Bomani Jones had left out.

”the team had underage drinking, young women of color were subjected to racial epithets and threats of sodomy and an alleged crime happened”

If underaged drinking is a suspendable offense, you’ll have to suspend about half of Duke’s undergraduates, which would force the closing of Duke (and most other American universities). There were no “young women” (which suggests teenagers) present; the women in question were 27 and 31, respectively. As opposed to being “of color” (English translation: black), one woman was black, the other Asian-black. In any event, the women weren’t “subjected to racial epithets”; Kim Roberts/Pittman had, by her own admission, subjected one of the white players to a racial epithet; the white player merely returned in kind. The players were also subjected to being defrauded out of $800. The “threats of sodomy” charge is a legally dubious allegation. A player’s grumbling about using a broom handle came after it was clear that he and his teammates were getting ripped off, and was not expressed as a serious criminal threat.

As for the phrase, “and an alleged crime happened,” it is an offense against the English language and the American system of law. Crystal Gail Mangum alleged that a crime was committed. You don’t suspend a team based on an unsupported allegation. Either you are illiterate, or in writing “an alleged crime happened,” you are trying to get around the meaning of “alleged,” and put the idea in the reader’s head that a crime indeed happened.

Well, crimes “happened,” alright, but not the ones you’re talking about. The strippers defrauded the players out of $800, and Crystal Gail Mangum swore out a false police statement.

“the punishment of suspension was appropriate as the team's previous bad behavior was also taken into account; they were already on some sort of probation prior to the party as it was reported the coach warned them before the party. They definiely deserved the suspension.

“As to a lot of the white Duke students coming out to support the team, that is to be expected as Duke is known for its poor race relations; it is not called the plantation locally for nothing.”

The cancellation of the team’s season last year was insanely improper. And as Duke is called “the plantation” by the same racist blacks who have supported railroading the white victims, the phrase reflects not on Duke, but on those who use it.