Friday, December 01, 2006

Note to Prof Crowley

As many of you know Duke University Professor Thomas J. Crowley recently published an op-ed in the Durham Herald Sun which contained a number of significant errors of both the factual and attributional type.

Bloggers and others contacted Crowley concerning the errors. I posted on some of them here and here.

Today the following letter appeared in the Herald Sun:


On Nov. 13, The Herald-Sun published an "Other Voices" piece by me concerning the Duke lacrosse case. I have subsequently been informed of errors in that letter. In particular my blanket statement about behavior of the lacrosse team was neither fair in general nor applicable to the particular case now in dispute. I apologize for this and any other errors.

The response to my letter has made me more aware of the intense emotions that are associated with this case. These tensions can only be bad for campus-community relations, and I strongly support any efforts to reduce them. Finally, I sincerely hope that lessons learned from the lacrosse case will be applied to future cases in order to lift the standards of justice for all in Durham County.

December 1, 2006

The writer is a professor at Duke University.

I've just sent Professor Crowley the following email:

Dear Professor Crowley:

I hold two degrees from the University and blog here as John in Carolina.

I've recently posted on your Herald Sun op-ed "Don't be too quick to toss lacrosse case." I noted and spoofed some of its errors here and here. I stand by what I wrote.

I've also read today your Herald Sun letter. It is about your letter that I'm writing now.

I'm sure you'll agree that the "Make Mistakes" club has a universal membership; the "Recognize One's Mistakes" club has a much smaller membership; and the "Admit One's Mistakes Publicly and Make Amends as One Can" club sometimes seems to have few, if any, members.

But with your letter today, you placed yourself in that small but most honorable club.

My hat is off to you.

I hope you write back.

I'd look forward to further correspondence concerning how we can make the current situation better than it is at Duke, in Durham and, particularly, as regards what you call attention to at the close of your letter: lifting "the standards of justice for all in Durham County."


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...

Bravo Professor Crowley! Thank you for your courage.
Texas Mom

GPrestonian said...

Good letter, John. I've seen some posts elsewhere that imply that Prof Crowley's retraction was 'too little / too late'.

I disagree - he did the right thing, and as you said, did it publicly and made amends as best as he could.

I'm grateful for that.

bill anderson said...


Prof. Crowley and I have done a little emailing back and forth. He is a straight-up guy, and he was willing to try to make things right. Any time a person of some stature does something like that -- and it is a humbling experience, and in Crowley's case, he chose to go through it -- we must honor that person for it.

Again, Prof. Crowley's mistakes were honest mistakes. He is not to be confused with the Gang of 88.

Keep the dialog open with Cash Michaels. The best way always is to appeal to Cash the journalist, as the guy is a serious writer.

Yes, John, I am an official junkie on this, given it is 10:55 on a Friday night. Proud of it, too.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate how sincere Professor Crowley's letter sounds. I agree that anything that leads to the lessening of tension is beneficial. The Herald Sun increased the tension by knowingly and willingly offering the errors in the original piece on its editorial page. Oh well, it was about as accurate and fair as most of their other editorials on this case. The paper should be ashamed.
Anyone who submits information for publication should know that the editorial board will let you put anything in it; including errors that will come back to embarass you! Beware!

Jerry M said...

From my point of view, the "right thing" would have been for the good professor to have taken a few minutes to learn the basic facts of the case BEFORE he published such a hurtful op-ed piece in the first instance. Its bad enough when someone who is not a PhD-college professor type who gets caught up in the moment and expresses an opinion which, on further investigation, is based upon erroneous facts. In this instance, however, Professor Crowley had ample time to get his facts straight and a duty to the Universtity and its students to to do before publically embarassing all involved. Between the gang of 88 and Professor Crowley, one has to wonder just how easy it must be to become a member of the faculty at Duke.

Anonymous said...

the only thing about lessening tension that Crowley is interested in is lessening the tension and pressure you guys have put on him. I am sure he has been flooded with calls, emails, letters that are full of hate in response to his letter and he is trying to make it stop. it is that simple.

Anonymous said...

Nice letter, John. And a nod of respect to Dr. Crowley. sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...


Your response to Professor Crowley's apology could not have been much better.

I remain amazed this case is allowed to continue based on the illegal photo identification and lack of DNA. Furthermore the fact that the DA has not bothered to interview the alleged victim, and has refused to consider Reade Seligman's proof of alibi I find incomprehensible. It could not be more clear to me that Mr. Nifong is not the least bit interested in justice and has other motives. Why else would he make the decisions he has up to this point?