Thursday, May 10, 2007

INNOCENT: Letter to Prof. Chafe

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Readers Note: To understand the letter below, you should be familiar with the following posts:

"An Invitation to Duke's Prof. Chafe"

INNOCENT: "Prof. Chafe Responds"

"Comments Responding to Prof. Chafe"

Dear Professor Chafe:

I want to express my regard for your willingness to respond to my invitation. You surely knew you would not be entering an easy situation.

I appreciate your clarification and apology concerning your blogger remarks.

I’ll make this letter as brief as possible, partly out of consideration for you, but also because with the exception of the two comments noted in "Comments Responding to Prof. Chafe," all other comments on that thread and on the "INNOCENT: Prof. Chafe Responds" thread are civil, thoughtful and, in some instances, quite expert. So I don’t need to say much.

You can choose from among those comments the questions and issues to which you most want to respond.

You mentioned your concern that some see the Group of 88 as a unity when, in fact, its members are a very diverse group.

I agree, but with only a few exceptions, those of you who signed the Apr. 6 “social disaster” statement still stand by it. That gives you all a certain unity.

I try to bear in mind that terms like “Group of 88” and “Duke faculty,” while useful, are not comprehensive descriptors of the individuals they identify. If you see instances where you believe I’ve over generalized regarding Group of 88 signatories, please call them to my attention. I’ll give them a careful “second look.”

The most serious assertion I’ve made concerning the “social disaster” statement is that “it made a dangerous situation even more dangerous.”

I was thinking primarily of the danger to the lacrosse players, but also to anyone else, including all other Duke students, who could have been unintended victims of unstable individuals and hate-groups targeting the players and stirred by the statement and its message of thanks “for not waiting.”

I believe most people aware of the facts and circumstances I cited in my invitation to you would agree the “social disaster” statement “made a dangerous situation even more dangerous.”

If you think I’m wrong, I’ll give every consideration to what you say.

I want to be very clear I don’t believe any statement signatory consciously meant to do something that made the situation last April more dangerous for students and others. But there are unintended consequences.

Many students, parents, alums and, as you know, some of your colleagues find it hard to understand why, thirteen months after the fact, a person of your caliber who many of us recall as one of the University’s most respected leaders, has yet to recognize that the Apr. 6 statement was, at the least, a communications disaster that’s done much harm to innocent individuals and Duke University.

In closing, I want to again express my regard for your willingness to enter into this discussion.




Anonymous said...


What's the point?

If Prof Chafe (or any of the others in the G88) haven't apologized by now to the victims, they're not about to. They are so blinded by their self rightousness that they cannot see. You're not about to heal them.

Time to move on.


Anonymous said...

Chafe will dissemble and blow a lot of smoke, but will never really apologize. John is doing the right thing, though, in holding his feet to the fire and forcing him to go on the record with his "justification." If Chafe responds as I think he will, his answers will reveal him to be just another phony like Fared and Lubiano. Keep stirring thing up, John!

Anonymous said...

The fact that these Professors have failed to even acknowledge their statement was at the very least poorly worded speaks volumes about their credibility.

This issue is the most puzzling of all about the whole case. These are supposed to be smart caring professors. They claim they were misinterpreted, but it's the readers fault??? How is that?

I think I have written this (or a similar) paragraph 100 times in the past 13 months:
I cannot for the life of me understand why these professors refuse to acknowledge that their statement was poorly worded and caused harm to their students. This is a fact and for them to refuse to admit it makes them dishonest and unworthy of their positions.

Individuals (regardless of their position in life) who refuse to admit their mistakes and do not atone for them, are unworthy of respect whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

If these Professors stand by this ad and feel it was the right thing to do why not tell the world who paid for it?

I just find it so sad that Professors can knowingly harm their own students and refuse to apologize for it. Frankly, it makes them look very small.

Anonymous said...

Professor Chafe:

"It would be good to know whether those who do this in fact want their children to go to a university that sanctions student groups hiring strippers or mistreating fellow students."

How about FACULTY groups mistreating students, Professor Chafe? Why don't you believe that deserves mentioning? Could it be because of your amply documented implication in this despicable deed?

Sorry, John, I understand your calls to civility, but I seriously doubt that you will get any sincere or relevant answers from somebody as undeniably guilty - while, nevertheless, posing as an unbiased commentator on the situation - as Professor Chafe is.

Professor Chafe's predictable, weak, illogical regurgitation of the "but they HIRED STRIPPERS!!!" indignation, as a presumed extenuating circumstance for the much more condemnable things he and his colleagues committed speaks for itself.