Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seigel’s Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed Smeared Laxers

Mike Seigel is a professor of law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and editor of an about to be released book – Race to Injustice: Lessons Learned from the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. It's preface and table of contents can be viewed here.

On April 17, 2007, a week after the NC attorney general said there never was any credible evidence of a rape and declared the three Duke students indicted in a malicious frame-up attempt innocent, Seigel published an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel.

Seigel said some important things about alcohol abuse and other repugnant and harmful behaviors by college students, including ones that reach the criminal level. He also said Duke and other college administrators need to do more to reduce, if not eliminate, those unacceptable behaviors.

I commend him for all of that.

But he also singled out the Duke lacrosse players as the poster students for the behaviors he was condemning. In doing that, he was sloppy with facts and smeared the students on the lacrosse team.

Seigel said:

By itself, excessive and underage drinking is bad enough — but it is much worse because of its consequences. According to Duke, drunkenness is a factor in incidents involving assault, property damage, injury and unwanted sex.

The behavior of the Duke lacrosse team provides ample evidence to support this claim. (emphasis added)

Keeping in mind that the team was composed of about 45 players, 22 team members were disciplined in 2003-04 for misconduct involving underage possession of alcohol, public urination, providing false identification, and violation of the school’s noise policy. In 2005-06, 18 players were cited, with the offenses this time including open containers of alcohol in a car, destruction of property and holding a drinking party in a dorm room. ....

Look what Seigel did there.

He first cited drunkenness as “a factor in incidents involving assault, property damage, injury and unwanted sex.” That's reasonable. But then Seigel asserted, “The behavior of the Duke lacrosse team provides ample evidence to support this claim.”

That's smearing the students on the lacrosse team.

None of the lacrosse players’ behaviors Seigel listed involved assault, injury or unwanted sex; and only one involved property destruction.

In Spring ’06 the now disbarred Mike Nifong, certain Duke faculty, the Raleigh N&O and the Durham H-S all smeared the lacrosse players.

But Seigel smeared the students on the lacrosse team just a week after the NC attorney general had irrefutably shown them to be the victims of a malicious public trashing by many, and a vicious frame-up attempt led by a man the attorney general called a “rogue” prosecutor.

You’d think a law professor would know better and do better.

Let's hope Seigel's op-ed is not a foretaste of what the book he's just edited is like.

A person extremely familiar with Duke and the lacrosse case sent me offline a response to Seigel’s slimming. It follows in full:

Michael Seigel's article misused statistics to defame the lacrosse players.

I had previously reviewed student misconduct statistics ( 2005-2006 academic year ) prepared by Duke's Judicial Affairs dept. and presented on their website. The following information is relevant:

1) In the six most recent academic years ending in 2006, there were a total of 377 incidents of academic dishonesty (cheating, plagiarism, etc.) by all students. None were lacrosse players.

2) In the six years ending in 2006, there were a total of 46 incidents of physical abuse, fighting and endangerment. None were lacrosse players.

3) In the six years ending in 2006, there were 20 incidents of sexual misconduct. None were lacrosse players.

4) In the six years ending in 2006 there were 96 incidents of drug related misconduct .Only one was a lacrosse player (smoking marijuana in his room in 2001) and he was not a member of the 2006 team.

5) In the three years ending in 2006 (not sure earlier years are available) there were 171 alcohol related medical calls to DUPD/EMS. None were lacrosse players. It's likely that these are the most serious, and dangerous alcohol related violations.

6) About 60% of the lacrosse players, based on the 2006 team, had GPA's of 3.0 or higher.

7) The lacrosse players have a 100% graduation rate.

8) Per the Coleman Report, the lacrosse players" conduct has not involved fighting, sexual assault or harassment, or racist behavior."..." By all accounts, the lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined and respectful athletic team."

The great majority of the lacrosse players' incidents of misconduct involved underage and/ or public drinking; and not involved assault, injury or unwanted sex.

Their behavior, while in certain instances lamentable and deserving of criticism, was typical of a high percentage of college students.

Seigel needs to explain why, in talking about the lacrosse players, he ignored the evidence of their outstanding scholarship, academic honesty and other praiseworthy achievements as listed above and as reported by many op-ed writers and bloggers.

It was all available to him in April 2007.


Anonymous said...


"Mike Seigel is a professor of law at the University of Florida "

I took a few minutes to peruse the titles of the various chapters in Seigel's book. I am afraid this will be another class/race/gender lesson in political correctness...facts be damned.

The good news is that the book will likely be reviewed by KC Johnson.

I'll get the popcorn.


No justice, no peace said...

Of interest is Chapter Six • Black Venus Hottentot Revisited: Gratuitous Use of Women of Color’s Bodies and the Role of Race and Gender in Campus and Academic Reactions.


The author is the 44st President elect's choice as innaugural poet.

Change indeed...

"In Chapter Six, Michèle Alexandre analyzes the race and gender implications of the Duke and Durham communities’ reactions to the rape allegations. In particular, Alexandre explores issues involving the historical and ongoing objectification
and subjugation of black women in Western society. She also examines
existing legal protections for women working in the sex industry and makes proposals for reform."

“Perception of Women of Color’s Bodies, Both Historically and
in the Era of Flavor of Love and I Love New York”

“Sexual Profiling and the Erotic-Labor Force”

“Class-, Race-, and Gender-Based Dynamics in Events and
Narratives Relating to the Rape Allegations”

“The Accountability and Ethical Responsibilities of University

“Possible Equitable or Contractual Claims for Added Protections
for Erotic Workers

Anonymous said...

'It was all available to him in April 2007.'

But only if he actually wanted to know about it, which it seems he doesn't.

Scott S.

No justice, no peace said...

My apologies, it appears Michele Alexandre the writer of Chapter 6 in "Race to Injustice" and Elizabeth Alexander the inaugural poet are not the same person.

One is revisting the writings of another.

Both have or do work at Yale.

And the inauguration poet did indeed write "The Venus Hottentot". Wouldn't it be interesting if she read excepts?

While certainly cut from the same cloth they are indeed two different, though similarly minded people.

My apologies for confusing the two.

The good news is that my error was not egregious. The bad news is instead of two muddle-headed thinker, we have two.

JWM said...


You're "on the money" as always.

But will you save the popcorn so we can "share" at discovery?

It will be much better show.

I'm especially looking forward to "the scenes" in which Dick Brodhead, Robert Dean, Tracey Cline, David Addison and Ben Himan "star."

Scott S.,



It take's a quality person to move quickly to publicly correct his or her mistakes.

My hat's off to you.

I saw at DiW you included this: "My apologies for confusing the two.

The good news is that my error was not egregious. The bad news is instead of one muddle-headed thinker, we have two."

Are you OK with my using both your comments here, including "the one" which you obviously intended, on the main page?

I want to use your comments as examples of how the best of citizen journalists acknowledge and correct their mistakes.

I'd then use your actions to call attention to some of the most important errors of inclusion as well as the news suppression the N&O engaged in during the weeks following the public hyping of the hoax and the attempted frame-up.

Please let me hear from you.

I thank all three of you for your comments.


Anonymous said...

"I expect that the reader will agree with some of the chapters in this volume
and disagree—perhaps vehemently—with others. That, at least, is my intention,
because that is the nature of the academic enterprise."

Looks like he is getting what he expected. Thanks for pointing this book out, if nothing else it will be a change from the previous books on this case. A variety of views and perspectives from people with different views and perspectives. What a great concept for an open discussion of the various issues this case has exposed.
The book is rather pricey but the few reviews thus far seem to be very positive.

No justice, no peace said...

Sure John, thanks for asking. I consider myself a very, very concerned citizen and not a citizen journalist.

The following excerpts from Elizabeth Alexander's "The Venus Hottentot" provide some background on why I confused the two.

"Her genitalia will float inside a labeled pickling jar . . . "

"Monsieur Cuvier investigates between my legs, poking, prodding . . . "

"Since my own genitals are public I have made other parts private."

It is worth noting that the inaugural poet Alexander has won a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship.

Anonymous said...

"A variety of views and perspectives from people with different views and perspectives. What a great concept for an open discussion of the various issues this case has exposed."

What issues has this case exposed? The problem of North Carolina's roughshod legal system (no grand jury transcripts, no right to a probable cause hearing, no speedy trial, no effective right to a bill of particulars, etc.)?

the problem of women who make false accusations (and the lack of commensurate punishment)?

the problem of the stereotyping of white male, and especially white male athletes; and their demonizing by much of academia?

the problem of a media which will swallow everything handed it by authority, without questioning it (no matter how absurd--such as the continuation of Nifong's prosecution after the DNA results came back negative)?

the reverse racism (actually, it's the same old racism under a new cover) which turned this into "Scottsboro II"?

Somehow, I don't think those issues, which are the real ones exposed by this case, are going to be discussed in this book...