Friday, June 05, 2009

A Letter To Sarah

Readers Note: After publishing KC Johnson Slimed Prof. Lubiano I received in letter form a comment from Sarah which I posted on the Lubiano thread.

While Sarah’s comment was critical of me for my Lubiano post, she closed saying her letter was written with “respect and regret.”

Its quality left no doubt of that.

We subsequently had useful exchanges on the thread which you can read here.

Sarah’s comments revealed her to be a person of grace and generous instincts.

I asked her to read
Senator Taft’s Lesson For Us All, which contains a JinC post published Apr. 8, 2006.

I’ve used that 2006 post as a guide and standard for my Duke lacrosse postings.

I promised Sarah I’d post her letter on the main page and reply to it there.

I said I wanted my reply to be a thoughtful, detailed and respectful one which, if it didn’t change her opinions, would at least give Sarah and others like her a better understanding of why I wrote the Lubiano post

Before reading further, I urge any of you not familiar with the posts I’ve just mentioned and their comment threads as well as
KC Johnson Now and its comment thread to please give them all a look before reading Sarah’s letter and my response.

Now to the letters.



Hi John

You have been a valiant fighter for the victims of the Duke lacrosse travesty, and I respect you a lot for that.

I am also sure you feel you have your reasons for writing what you did.

However I know how these divisions and squabbles are used by those who still seek every possible opportunity to hurt the victims, in order to mock and undermine them and their supporters.

You, KC Johnson and Liestoppers did great things in exposing the hatred, dishonesty and duplicity behind the hoax. By now turning on each other over what amounts to trivia, you are giving weapons and a great deal of comfort to deeply unsavory and twisted people.

To do so in support of someone as vile, dishonest and devoid of humanity as Lubiano, defies comprehension.

You are worth far more than those who are exploiting your words, but you are wrong over this issue.

Written with regret and respect,



Dear Sarah,

I hope you’ve seen A Brief Note To Sarah in which I explained my delay responding to you and expressed my appreciation for your comment on
Tribute To My Wife thread.

Before going further, and for the benefit of those who may not have read the Lubiano post thread, I to repeat a few of the things I said on the thread in response to you:

I was never valiant; the players and their families were.

During 2006 and into 2007 KC, LS and The Johnsville News all did great DL blogging.

That’s why back then I’d often urge people to read those blogs before deciding whether they’d time to also read JinC.

My DL blogging represented my best effort so I’m proud of it. But it was never great.

Your comments just noted reflect your generous instincts, remarkable for appearing in a letter in which you take me to task for a post you believe has done and will continue to do more harm to innocent people who’ve already endured grave harm, including many great injustices.

My goals in this letter are to:

1) - - state why the Lubiano post was necessary;

2) - - explain to you and others like you why the Lubiano post might also be in the interests of those whose well-being are your primary concern.

With those goals in mind we can agree, Sarah, that all and everything I said in
KC Johnson Now about Lubiano and KC is this:

I wish KC hadn't made that remark about what he termed Professor Lubiano's "drinking habits." It wasn't fair to her and reflected very poorly on him.
At that point KC could’ve said he was sorry he’d carelessly used the “drinking habits” term. He could have updated at the start of the post in which he made his "drinking habits" remark.

If that had happened, I'm sure most fair-minded people would have said something like: “Good for KC.”

Instead, in his response on the thread of KC Johnson Now, he elaborated on his initial slime which was based solely on an innocent remark of the kind most adults over 40 have made.

Lubiano simply said she couldn’t recall specific stories from evenings 20 years past in which she shared “food and drink” with colleagues while discussing academic issues.

Such evenings occur at every university and at academic conferences. Lubiano’s mention of “food and drink” in that context tells us nothing about her “drinking habits.”

When good parents teach their children not to slime people they often illustrate what they mean by telling their children the old joke about the politician who promised “a high road campaign in which I won’t mention my opponents drinking habits.”

I had a friend whose professional colleagues always told me she was an outstanding surgical nurse. But it was only in the last weeks of her life and a losing battle with breast cancer that she disclosed to me she’d been a recovering alcoholic for 28 years.

She disclosed because she was proud of her years recovering and wanted that mentioned at her funeral.

She had previously disclosed to very few because she feared people might use her early active alcoholism to slime with innuendo about her “drinking habits” the surgical teams on which she served.

Lubiano’s conduct has certainly been vile and dishonest. Among many awful things she's done, her lead role in publishing the “listening statement” helped make an already dangerous situation more dangerous not just for the lacrosse players, but for anyone else who might have been unintended victims of physical attacks meant to target the players.

Her educational and socio-political philosophies are inimical to America’s ideals of fair treatment and equal justice for all.

It’s those ideals which require we treat Lubiano fairly, just as they required the authorities to treat Crystal Mangum and the Duke students fairly.

Sarah, I doubt my Lubiano post will be much help to “. . . those who still seek every possible opportunity to hurt the victims[.]”

I think those odious people would have preferred I endorsed what KC did.

That way they could say: “See, here’s JinC agreeing with what KC did. That’s more material we can use.”

I’ve only a very limited understanding of the hard journey the players and their families have traveled; and only a very limited understanding of what lies ahead for them.

But of this I feel certain: sometime years from now there'll come to the victims an opportunity resulting from the suits.

The opportunity will come in the form of one or very possibly more than one settlement offers from the defendants.

The settlement(s) offered might be one(s) the victims would turn down now; but which at some future time they’ll view as acceptable for the settlement(s) granting some admission of wrong and apology, proper compensation for injuries and the unfair stigma and attendant risks the players will always bear, and other considerations.

Those who would make the offer(s) will be likely to do so sooner rather than later, and more full than otherwise, if they believe certain things.

One of the most important of those things will be the belief of those making the offer(s) that among their primary constituencies – the Duke and Durham communities – there will be sizable numbers of people who will at least accept, if not support, the making of such offer or offers.

To the extent all of us can avoid outright slimes and are willing to call out those advocating for the victims who do, we make a contribution to helping people who don’t agree with us to perhaps become, if not more agreeing, at least less strong in their resistance to what we say and the interests of those we support.

That’s why, Sarah, I think my “Lubiano post might also be in the interests of those whose well-being are your primary concern.”

What do you think?

I look forward to hearing from you.




Sarah said...

Dear John

I am sorry I did not respond to you earlier, I have been busy with other things and only read your latest post earlier today. Having read what you have to say, I would like to publicly apologise to you, as I now believe I have misjudged you. That is not to say that I agree with what you wrote, but that I understand you reasons for what you wrote, and that those reasons were honourable.

I can see both sides of this issue. Whether Lubianos reference to “evenings of food and drink with friends” was a reference to her own consumption of alcohol or not, I believe KC was justified in highlighting Lubiano's hypocrisy and indeed dishonesty in seeking, for her own political and racist reasons, to portray the events of March 13 2006 as somehow different to the behaviour of thousands upon thousands of students, black, white, male female at thousands of Spring break parties across America and beyond.

She is guilty of that hypocrisy, that dishonesty, that sexism and that racism, whether or not she has touched so much as a White wine Spitzer or entirely abstains from strong drink.

However, whether or not she is personally a drinker, that is not, in itself, something I would either personally judge her for or hold against her, drinking is a pleasurable activity in which I have indulged and continue to indulge. Were she shown to be a heavy drinker, that would consolidate the charge of hypocrisy against her, however, as you correctly state the comment she made was not sufficient proof of any such thing.

I agree with you therefore, that KC Johnson requires more than that single statement to substantiate the interpretation he has reached, and that you had legitimate and honourable grounds to question his interpretation. However, I am not sure that you had sufficient grounds to question his honour, which, to my mind, you implied by the use of the word “slimed” . It is more than possible to make an incorrect interpretation in good faith, and I see no justification in accusing KC of anything else.

Furthermore, whether or not KC was incorrect in his interpretation, does not undermine the body of his work, or the good work that he, you and others have done in what I consider to be a very important cause. My fear was that, although that may not have been your intention, what you wrote would be used by others for that very purpose, as proved to be the case.

I am sure I will be accused of a “Same team” mentality, however, the forces ranged against us are so deliberately malign that they will use any crumb we give them in an effort to cause further pain to the victims. I am afraid that is what happened, for, if written words had the ability to shriek and salivate, that is what the words scrawled at the Yuku cave would have done, when both you and Joan at LieStopper expressed your disagreements with KC, and however, justified you or she may or may not have been, that is neither helpful or healthy.

That said, I probably reacted to quickly when I criticised you. Like many people I feel protective towards KC Johnson because of the inestimable value of his work in being the foremost voice in drawing attention to one of the most outrageous acts of prosecutorial misconduct in decades and to the ill motivated pack of malevolent enablers who supported it. Therefore, I took exception to your words because they were being used against him, whereas I should have acknowledged the motives of those using your words, when judging what you said.

I do not necessarily agree with what you said, and I certainly do not believe that KC's motives were dishonourable. However, I accept that yours were not dishonourable either.

I acknowledge that you are a decent and honourable man, who said what you believe to be right, and I apologise for the unfairness of my attack on you.

Yours with respect and an offer of friendship


JWM said...

Dear Sarah,

I was glad to get your response.

I'm rushed now but will respond tonight.



JWM said...

Dear Sarah,

I didn’t post your most recent comment immediately because I wanted to give it a very considered response; and then post both our comments on the main page.

My schedule and other blog obligations didn’t allow me yesterday and don’t allow me today to give you the kind of response I’d like.

I’m sorry for that; here’s my best given my circumstances.

You began your most recent comment with an apology I respected even as I feel you needn’t have made it.

Sure, your first two comments were sharply critical of me, but they were always civil; and in the second one you showed remarkable grace.

It was that which led me to respond to you as I did.

Would that everyone critical of me was as you are.

You might be shocked to read what I delete.

On the matter of “both sides of this issue” I thank you for giving consideration to what I said.

But I pause when you say: “Whether Lubianos reference to ‘evenings of food and drink with friends’ was a reference to her own consumption of alcohol or not, I believe KC was justified in highlighting Lubiano's hypocrisy and indeed dishonesty in seeking, for her own political and racist reasons, to portray the events of March 13 2006 as somehow different to the behaviour of thousands upon thousands of students, black, white, male female at thousands of Spring break parties across America and beyond.”

You’re certainly right when you speak of Lubiano’s “…hypocrisy and indeed dishonesty in seeking, for her own political and racist reasons, to portray the events of March 13 2006 as somehow different to the behaviour of thousands upon thousands of students, black, white, male female at thousands of Spring break parties across America and beyond.”

The hypocrisy and dishonesty of Lubiano and so many at Duke concerning underage drinking at, not only off-campus parties, but at other places as well including on-campus, have yet to receive the kind of “no favorites” scrutiny and public airing they deserve.

You’re also right to scorn Lubiano’s disgraceful conduct which included rank dishonesty about her actions which contributed to making an already dangerous situation on campus and the nearby areas even more dangerous for all.

While you don’t explicitly mention them, I’m confident we agree Lubiano’s educational and socio-political philosophies and her approach to teaching are antithetical to America’s ideals.

But for all of the foregoing, I don’t agree with you when you justify KC’s “drinking habits” slime of Lubiano.

There’s more I’d like to say but I’ve put enough out there to lead you and others to ask for “turns.”

So I’ll end now with the hope I hear again from you and other thoughtful people on these matters.