(First posted 6/10/09)
If you’re above New Orleans standing on a levee beside “the mighty river,” and you say you’re looking at the Mississippi, no one will dispute you.
But if you say, “Imagine all this water coming from one lake in Minnesota,” most people will dispute you.
Sure, the Mississippi’s source is Minnesota’s Lake Itasca, but the Ohio joins it at Cairo, Illinois and the Missouri at St. Louis.
They’re just two of the Mississippi’s many great tributary rivers whose waters all pass the levees above New Orleans and flow on to the Gulf of Mexico.
I offer the foregoing, folks, because the Mississippi and its tributaries can serve us as a very useful metaphor when we think about and discuss the motivations or driving force behind what we’ve come to call the Duke lacrosse case.
Some people say the motivation or driving force for the trashing, endangerment and lying about the lacrosse team and the attempt to frame three of its members came from Mike Nifong, a rogue DA who had help from two rogue cops, DPD officers Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Inv. Ben Himan.
That’s too simple.
Other people agree the motivation or driving force for the frame-up attempt – which required so much lying and violating of procedures and laws for which the framers knew they could be punished, as Nifong’s been somewhat - - came primarily from Nifong, Gottlieb and Himan.
But then they quickly add something like: “Of course, there were lots more helping them.”
Well, OK, but who? And when and why did they provide motivational force for the trashing and frame-up attempt?
For the most part I’m with those who say a great many contributed to the force for the trashing and frame-up attempt.
But just offering a list of names and saying, “Here, these,” doesn’t contribute much to our understanding of how and why certain individuals, acting for themselves, and in some circumstances acting on behalf of institutions of government, media and education, took part in a vicious trashing and frame-up attempt.
The metaphor of the Mississippi and its tributaries can help us avoid the overly simple “Nifong did it all” explanation and the overly broad “all of the above”
Think in your mind’s eye of the Mississippi River basin and consider where it’s many tributary rivers have their sources.
Examine where and how some of those rivers contribute to “the mighty river” which flows by the levees above New Orleans.
Then think about the Duke lacrosse case.
We know Nifong was a mighty contributor to it. But was he it’s source as Lake Itaska is the Mississippi’s?
Or did Nifong perhaps not begin making his contribution until the trashing and frame-up attempt were “down river?”
A “yes” answer to that question will tempt many people to think the source of the frame-up must then be DPD.
Perhaps it is; perhaps it’s not.
If you buy Joe Neff and the Raleigh N&O’s Apr. 2007 story that Nifong only learned of the lacrosse case on Mar. 23, 2006 after the NTO was signed;
and you agree that a reading of the NTO leaves no doubt a frame-up attempt was underway by Mar. 23– something I believe;
then you have to say Nifong isn’t the source of the frame-up attempt;
and that he is instead a very powerful tributary to it.
If not Nifong as the frame-up source, then who?
Here once more the Mississippi River metaphor is useful.
Waters that have their sources in both the Rockies and the Appalachians flow into the Mississippi.
Thinking about that helps me keep in mind that the force for the trashing and frame-up could have come simultaneously from different individuals and organizations.
I won’t say more because I’m confident the great majority of you see the usefulness of a metaphor like the Mississippi and its tributaries for considering how individuals and organizations came to engage in investigative travesties and, I believe, a good deal of criminal conduct in the Duke lacrosse case.
Hat tips to all the recent commenters whose informed and questioning commentaries were "the source" of my motivation for writing this post.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
(First posted 6/10/09)
Posted by JWM at 2:20 PM