Monday, November 05, 2007

Won't Get Fooled Again

We are not talking about the famous song by The Who which many of us took as a personal anthem in the early 70's. We are talking about a column in The Nassau Weekly which is a weekly student newspaper of Princeton University. Akil Alleyne is a student at Princeton and posted this article October 11th.

Won't Get Fooled Again
The folly and shame of the Duke lacrosse case

By Akil Alleyne
October 11, 2007

"I was eagerly leafing through a recent issue of the Economist magazine when I stumbled upon an article entitled "Presumed Guilty" that brought me to a full stop. The article concerned a new book, Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson, and its subject, the Duke lacrosse rape case of April 2006, in which African-American exotic dancer Crystal Mangum accused three members of the Duke University lacrosse team of having racially slurred, beaten and gang-raped her at a team party. I was taken aback not at the news that the charges against the lacrosse players were eventually dropped a year later, of which I was already aware. Indeed, upon hearing that news last spring, I had sort of subconsciously assumed that the charges had been dropped not necessarily because the charges were false or the defendants innocent, but simply because neither the available evidence nor the victim's testimony were solid enough to stand up in court. No, what floored me was the discovery that Ms. Mangum's accusation against the lacrosse players, far from being merely vulnerable to the glib sophistry of a slick defense lawyer, was in reality, as the Economist puts it, "a transparent lie from the start.” As Messrs. Taylor and Johnson detail in their book, it seems Ms. Mangum, who was picked up by the police shortly after the incident, never mentioned having been assaulted in any way until it appeared she might have to spend some time in a mental health facility. In the course of her questioning by the authorities, she subsequently recanted her initial claim—then later withdrew that recantation. Her various accounts of the night's events included a number of mutually contradictory claims; at different times, for instance, she described her attackers as numbering anywhere from 2 to 20. The police officers who interrogated her on the first night understandably viewed Ms. Mangum's story with outright incredulity—particularly in light of her admitted history of alcohol and drug addiction and her penchant for "making up far-fetched stories", according to the Economist article. What made the biggest impression on me, however, was the statement made by her fellow stripper. In the latter's view, Ms. Mangum's claims were, in a word, "a crock.” None of this stopped unscrupulous Durham Country D.A. Mike Nifong—then facing a tight campaign for reelection—from charging three Duke lacrosse players with rape several weeks later.

None of it stood in the way of the sordid and in some cases downright illegal tactics to which he resorted, including smearing the defendants in the press and initially withholding contradictory DNA evidence from the defense team, and later simply ignoring it. Nor did it rein in the media circus and political feeding frenzy that predictably ensued. We all remember the public flagellation of the defendants by legions of self-righteous interlopers whose limited knowledge of the facts of the case was tainted by the implicit bias resulting from Nifong's prosecutorial misconduct. The newspaper headlines screaming about "a night of racial slurs, growing fear and finally sexual violence". The students protesting at Duke and on campuses nationwide. The Duke administration's pusillanimous failure to urge that their own students be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The insipid prattle of crusading left-liberal professors who gave lectures and TV interviews denouncing the hapless athletes without laying eyes on a shred of evidence. And this parade of horrors would hardly be complete without the demagoguery of that slick racial warhorse, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and the hordes of media lemmings who have effectively crowned him the de facto Voice of Black America. None of the aforementioned bandwagon-riders would warrant the scorn heaped on them on this page if the charges against the lacrosse players had been true. But they weren't. They were false—utterly, shamefully false—and their falsehood should remind us of what common sense should have told us from the giddy-up. As outsiders, as third parties completely uninvolved in the case, who were not at the scene of the alleged crime nor had any firsthand knowledge of the evidence concerning it, we had no way of knowing whether the lacrosse players were innocent or guilty. The right response to the original allegations, both from the black community and from society at large, would have been to at least wait for the criminal trial to proceed and a verdict to be handed down before making any judgments of the defendants. But alas, too many observers felt the need to immediately roast the defendants in the court of public opinion, without any pretense of dispassionate assessment of the case on its merits..." the full article

It should be noted that some of the better journalism in case has been done by students writing for their college newspaper. The work of Duke University student Kristin Butler has been example of the kind of writing that many professional newspapers have avoided.

As Akil Alleyne says,

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I won't be fooled again.


Anonymous said...

If a student at Princeton, Akil Alleyne, can spot the criminality in this case, then why can't US Attorney Wagoner?

Anonymous said...

Because men are successfully prosecuted without a shred of evidence all the time in America. They don't see anything wrong with it, and are stunned that anybody does.

Anonymous said...

This student can write. I agreed Ms. Butler has always impressed me. What a sad country we are turning into. Political correctness rules the day.

Our founders would be be throughly disgusted with our inability to use common sense.

scott said...

From the story by Alleyne:

The hell of it is that this is not the first time a troubled African-American woman has desperately resorted to bearing false witness of rape .... Almost exactly twenty years ago, young Tawana Brawley accused six white men in a small upstate New York town of abducting and raping her .... Unfortunately, it seems, America has not learned the lesson of Tawana Brawley.

While I appreciate her conclusion, Alleyne still doesn't have a grasp of all the facts of the Hoax (she should actually read UPI, not just an article in a magazine, if she wants to really feel sick about the episode). She didn't have to go back 20 years to Tawana Brawley to find another incident of a troubled African-American woman who desperately resorted to bearing false witness of rape. There's one a lot closer to this case.

Unfortunately, it seems, Durham has not learned the lesson of Crystal Mangum. How many false claims of rape does one women get?

Anonymous said...

They are above the law.

Ethical Duke said...

Duke Students for an Ethical Duke has recently created a blog to go along with their website It can be found at

Duke Students for an Ethical Duke

Crystal's Smelly Snatch said...

Dah honkies done rape me's ovah and ovah.

Anonymous said...

There are many cases of white woman crying a "false rape" charge. It is not about race but about trying to get out of a bad situation, the FA has put herself into. The problem was Nifong and his quest for votes and election.

Anonymous said...

But when the white women cry rape, the black men don't have the resources to fight back. Sharpton and Jackson have turned their backs on these innocent black men.

Wake up, people.

Anonymous said...

Well yeah - my post was about this is not a race but a gender issue. What are Jesse and Al to do??????

Anonymous said...

Instead of paying for Crystal and Tawana to go to college, protest dubious convictions of black men.

AK said...

As the author of the article you cited, let me take this opportunity to sincerely thank you for your encouraging compliments and praise. Just so you know, I recently started my own political commentary blog at on which I've posted both this article and others I've written over the past couple of years. Feel free to read and comment.

Just one correction, though: contrary to the impression one of your readers seems to have gotten, I'm actually a MAN...:)