On Parents Weekend, he met us in the lobby of his dorm. He looked uneasy. As we approached the door to his room, he faced me full on and warned, "Mom, promise me you won't say anything! Promise!" The door swung open.
He was living with a boa constrictor.
Oh, yes. This private dorm that I insisted on ... allowed his roommate to keep a pet. My son, the focus of eighteen years of close maternal oversight, was now sleeping in a room with his head inches away from a very big and powerful snake.
You cannot make this stuff up.
For weeks after our visit, ... out to lunch with friends, cooking dinner, drifting off to sleep ... I'd be jolted by the memory of The Snake in the Dorm Room. At one point, I did a little research, and I called my son and asked him the dimensions of the fish tank the creature was living in. He hung up.
So, I've been thinking about the Moms again. No, not Rae, Mary Ellen, and Kathy... though I still think of them often. No, I've been thinking about the Moms who are about to send their children off to school for the first time this fall... to Duke, to Durham. My Snake in the Dorm Room scenario is small potatoes compared to what they must be feeling if they've followed this Nifong-Mangum Hoax. The Herald Sun has this quote today from a George Washington University law professor:
"It's all very, very damning [to Nifong]," (Professor) Banzhaf said of the report. "He should be forced to step down, and there should be civil action. I think he presents a clear and present danger to students at Duke. He has clearly demonstrated a desire to violate their constitutional rights. I'd be a little frightened if I were a parent looking at my kid's acceptance letter from Duke."So would I, Mr. Banzhof.
In Durham, although violent crime was up a stunning 32% in 2006, enormous resources were used to engage in a false prosecution of three Duke students. In Durham, gang violence is escalating out of control, but Durham police have been told to target Duke student partygoers. To add to the local atmosphere, Duke students can breathe in the pollution from the frequent waste dump fires (two in the last two years), drink the lead infused Durham tap water, and dodge the life threatening rock-droppers on the freeway.
Yes, all this, Duke parents, can be yours for around $45,000 a year! Why it's like sending your child on a four-year action adventure vacation! Consider the thrilling uncertainties! My child, can you achieve your Duke degree and still survive the toxic situation in the town outside the gate? Can you navigate the streets without a Gottlieb-grab? Can you complete four years without our family being nifonged into financial ruin? Can you pass classes taught by professors who despise you? Perfect for those seeking the "high" of extreme sports, matriculating at Duke also offers the survivors the thrill of a real life video game and the possibility of a prestigious degree to boot!
For that $45,000 price tag, just what "customer service" is the leadership of Duke University promising all the Moms and Dads who write the checks? Well, for insight, here is Duke's latest statement from John Burness:
"Duke senior vice president John F. Burness issued the following statement after the N.C. Attorney General's Office on Friday released its Summary of Conclusions in the Duke lacrosse caseGot that, Duke freshmen parents? The current leadership of Duke University's response to Cooper's astounding findings is to meekly "now await" what might happen to the Snake in the Prosecutor's Office. I'm amused by that phrase "now await." Gee, last year, 88 Duke faculty members were lauding activists, who were publicly demanding castration, for "not waiting." Why the hesitancy and hand-wringing now? How about a little consistency? How about actually stepping out to make the very environment your students are paying $45,000 for you to provide, a reasonably safe place for them to reside? How about you, Mr. Brodhead, or you, Mr. Burness, or some member of the Law faculty, how about SOMEONE finally publicly recognizing the enormous wrong done to the Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans' families this past year? Now that it's safe to come out from hiding, how about the leadership of Duke University filing a 7A-66 affidavit to remove the viperous Mike Nifong, as the courageous Beth Brewer has done at great personal risk?
Friday, April 27, 2007
Durham, NC -- “Attorney General Cooper’s Summary of Conclusions that was released today documents the absence of any credible evidence that would justify any conclusion in this case other than the one Mr. Cooper announced a few weeks ago -- that David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are innocent of all charges brought against them last spring by District Attorney Nifong. We welcome this report as we welcomed the Attorney General’s announcement on April 11.
“We now await the N.C. State Bar’s review of the charges against Mr. Nifong for his conduct in this case.”
How about putting Judge "Not acting is acting" Hudson under some pressure from the largest employer in the area? How about publicly making it clear that Duke will not abide a corrupt prosecutor who targets its students without a scintilla of evidence? The state's attorney has laid out the scenario for you, Mr. Brodhead. Some presume you summarily fired Mike Pressler for "appearances" sake. Then, what explains your boundless tolerance of rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong ... faculty appeasement? You know, Dick... you don't have to wait for the Bar hearing. North Carolina's Attorney General has told you whatever Nifong did "was bad enough."
I also think about another group of ravaged Moms (and Dads) I read about recently... the Durham chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. I think of how it must feel to those families, who love their children no less than you or I, to have observed last year's legal farce play out. To see through their eyes the manpower and money squandered by Mike Nifong's self-interested pursuit of false rape charges against three Duke students! I invite any of these parents to contact LieStoppers and tell us if their children's murders were given that same zeal, that same expenditure of effort and intensity Nifong lavished on the Hoax. Not that any of them would sanction, nor do we, Nifong's illegal line-up lotteries, witness intimidations, invented or non-existent notes, and numerous lies both in and out of the courtroom ... but it does speak to the exceptional effort that Inspecteur D.A. put into this shameful debacle.
But what about these murdered children of Durham? Could it be that their cases fell into no fortuitous political "meta narrative" for Nifong to exploit? Could it be that these murdered children, these anguished families, these little known cases received minimal attention or respect? Could it be that these families are not "privileged" enough to be worthy of the excessive devotion Nifong gave to pushing a case HE KNEW HAD NO MERIT before he sought indictments? Though some of these cases involve Durham's gang violence, each victim is still someone's much loved child. Perhaps the tragedies of these Durham families, personally useless to Defendant Nifong, are simply deemed expendable.
There is a Snake in the Prosecutor's Office in Durham. His name is Michael B. Nifong. Nifong, the 27 yr. assistant DA, "shed his skin" as soon as he was given the reins of power. Like all snakes, Nifong depended on his sense of smell, and he immediately smelled the race-pandering opportunity in the Hoax. He cannot shed his scales at this late date and ask a nation to forget or these families to forgive. City Manager Baker could have been Saint Patrick and acted to rid Durham of this poisonous snake. Instead, Baker currently seems to have chosen to play Cleopatra and clutch the venomous asp to his city's bosom. This is unacceptable to decent people everywhere. We need, Mr. Brodhead, to "await" NOTHING. We demand some leadership.
Indeed, the Durham power structure is stalling, hoping to keep Nifong coiled at their collective feet, ready to rise to their music and strike at their will. We understand now, that's how the game works. In the days ahead, we will see who is most invested in retaining Durham's Snake in the Prosecutor's Office. We must watch and listen carefully. The official cover-up is about to begin. The leadership of Durham and Duke must again be judged by what they DO and do Not do in the weeks ahead. It will be a road map pointing to who is guilty... and who is fork-tongued, and who is exceedingly, institutionally gutless.