Friday, March 16, 2007

Duke's silence on “Vigilante” and “Wanted” posters

“The facts kept changing. Every day we learned new things that no one knew the day before. Every day we were being urged to speak with certainty about facts that were full of great uncertainty at that point. Our policy all along was to act on the basis of the things we knew for sure and to withhold action and decision on the things we didn’t know for sure.”

Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead speaking to the late CBS newsman Ed Bradley during a 60 Minutes interview aired Oct. 15, 2006.

Of course, facts don’t keep changing.

A few facts Brodhead knew by March 29:

The players had cooperated with police. But when Nifong, the N&O and others attacked the players with false charges of cover-up and stonewalling, Brodhead said nothing to correct the false charges.

The “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters were false, inflammatory and endangered the players and other students who might be the unintended victims of acts by unstable people and hate groups targeting the players

But Duke's never said that during the past year.

So for example, when faculty-members, students and others swarmed about the West Campus lawn in front of Brodhead's office and on the Chapel steps the night of March 29 waving “Wanted” and “Vigilante” posters and targeting the players with threats, Brodhead and apparently no other Duke administrator said said anything condemning those targeting the players and endangering their safety and that of others.

Brodhead and other members of “the Brodhead team” had an duty to speak out.

That wouldn’t have been hard to do. Here’s part of a letter (subscription reg.)that appeared in the Apr. 2 Raleigh N&O condemning specifically those who circulated “Vigilante” posters and targeted the players on Mar. 29:

As one of the organizers of the March 29 Take Back the Night (TBTN) march and speak-out at Duke University, I want to clarify that we did not plan, nor do we endorse, the distribution of names and pictures of members of the Duke men's lacrosse team.

The distribution of the pictures, the targeting of the lacrosse team, and the violence implicit in the defacement of the pictures are nothing less than violations of the space that TBTN exists to create.

The event is neither a protest of the kind we've witnessed recently, a forum for accusation nor a place to target and defame. That some attendees tried to make it so is saddening and not at all in the spirit of the event.
Thank you Geoffrey Lorenz for writing your letter.

I hope Duke trustees are asking themselves why President Brodhead or one of his senior “team members” didn’t write a similar letter.


Cedarford said...

Geoffrey Lorenz was a stand up guy. If others in positions of responsibility still shrug and say, "Well, what could have we said until we knew more, and what could we possibly say?"

The letter from the Take Back the Night organizer was showing them all how a real leader with a moral compass and ability to articulate well - does it right.

eric said...

Broadhead acted throughout as if students were presumed guilty until proven innocent.

Broadhead was as bad as Nifong. He refused to look at the exculpatory evidence.

Imagine the students and parents.

They try to show the evidence to Nifong. He turns them down.

Then they think - At least we will get support from our president.

They take the evidence to Broadhead. He turns them down too.

Imagine how alone they must have felt.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting Lorenz'letter. The contrast between his comments and Brodhead's response is striking.

Anonymous said...

In what is a sacred time for some of us, the more I read of Brodhead's traitorous treatment of his own students in this barbaric hoax, the more I struggle to identify who I think he reminds me more of: Judas Iscariot or Pontius Pilate.

His spineless approach has been to cautiously wait until all the dust has settled before taking any stand for the wrongfully accused, e.g when he invited Finnerty and Seligman back to Duke.

He also used the Hoax as his springboard for the "Counter Culture Initiative", a big first step in dismantling the perceived "white male privilege" running rampant in the minds of some at Duke.