Thursday, June 04, 2009

Response To Sceptical (Post 1)

Readers Note: Liestoppers Meeting blogger skeptical has criticized me for posting KC Johnson Now as I was attempting to close down JinC.

Sceptical and others say I shouldn't have waited until the last minute to criticize Johnson.

In that, they are wrong.

A fair reading of KC Johnson Now leaves no doubt much of the post documents questions I asked KC and criticisms I made of his work as early as Dec. 2007.

I’ve ignored most of the "last minute" criticisms based on the wise adage: “Consider the source.”

But sceptical and a few others making that criticism are people whose past thoughtful Duke lacrosse commentary entitles them to considered responses.

I told sceptical that on the thread of KC Johnson Now.

My first response begins now. There’ll be other responses in subsequent posts.


Dear Sceptical,

There should be no misunderstanding between us that I waited until "the last minute" before calling attention to some of the important errors and omissions KC Johnson’s Duke lacrosse work.

The KC Johnson Now post includes extensive paste-ins from a Dec. 2007 post to which I twice link and which I cite once by month and year.

As for those who say I tried to have “the ‘last word’ and run,” I ask that you please gently remind them there’s no “last word” in the blogosphere.

KC and anyone else is free to comment and attack as they choose “‘til Kingdom come.” They started doing that as soon as the post went up.

My being “shut down” simply means I’m less likely to see what they put out or care about it.

Mind you, I’m not saying I wouldn’t respond in certain circumstances.

In your first comment you said in part:

I believe [KC Johnson Now] was a petty choice on your part, when there are so many others still in power who promoted the hoax: Ron Hodge, David Addison, Kammie Michael, Patrick Baker, Bill Bell, Dick Brodhead, Sue Wasiolek, Theresa Arico, most of the Group of 88, and many others.
In a subsequent comment you said in part:
In my quick list, I left out the initial cause-- Crystal Mangum. She should not get a pass despite her history of mental illness.

I also left out the N&O hierarchy, who you have so rightly criticized, including Linda Williams, Ted Vaden, Melanie Sill, etc.

They poured gasoline on a fire and then refused to take responsibility for their mistakes.

Furthermore, they reined in Joe Neff after Nifong was ousted, not allowing him to investigate the police misconduct and malfeasance.
Those parts of your comments helped me realize I should have, in the closing weeks, made at least a few “summing up” comments about those you mentioned, among whom are some of those who did the greatest harm to the individual victims and to Duke and Durham.

I’ll begin with false accuser Gail Crystal Mangum.

I said often in Spring 2006 that she was entitled to a full, fair investigation of her charges.

In hindsight it appears she got that or most of that even before the Raleigh N&O “broke” the case on Mar. 24 in a shamelessly biased story which repeatedly called her “the victim,” thereby casting the innocent lacrosse players as her victimizers.

I’m very glad I supported full, fair treatment of her claims. If that had been all that happened, it would have been “case closed” and no Duke lacrosse frame-up attempt.

I knew who she was from day one but didn’t name her until late December 2006 after Professor Coleman’s comment that it seemed she and Nifong were almost “mooning the system” after she “revised” her story yet again.

This time it was so that her story would comport at least somewhat with the latest revelations in a Dec. 15 court hearing that Nifong and DSI’s Brian Meehan had conspired to withhold DNA evidence exculpatory for the players.

Right after Mangum’s “revision” and Coleman’s comment I named her.

I don’t regret not naming her at the outset because, while I knew the story of the 30 minutes of beating, chocking and rape in the bathroom was absurd, I couldn’t be sure in Mar. and early Apr. that something didn’t happen at the party that sexaully victimized her.

But I do regret not naming Mangum by no later than the beginning of May.

Had I done that, I’d have better served JinC readers and made a contribution to those struggling at the time to defend the victims.

The Johnsville News was right to criticize me in Spring ’06 for not naming Mangum. I thanked TJN for the criticism when I finally named Mangum; I repeat that thanks here.

As to what should happen now to Mangum, given the current circumstances, I think this:

NC attorney general Roy Cooper is someone I grew to respect while watching him as a young, new member of our state legislature.

I respect the full, fair investigation his office conducted of all the case evidence which led to the only honest conclusion possible: “Innocent.”

Cooper thought it best not to prosecute Mangum.

The players and their families seem resigned, at this point at least, to leave matters where Cooper left them, even as they carry heavy scares Mangum inflicted and has never had the sense or decency to ask forgiveness for.

To the extent I think of punishment for Mangum, Cooper and the victims’ actions weigh heavy with me.

Any mention of Mangum always brings Nifong to mind.

Was there ever a false accuser and DA more suited for each other?

There are many DA’s in America who I’ve no doubt are fine upholders of justice, just as there are many who aren’t what they should be.

From among all of America’s venal DA’s, it was geography that brought together the irresponsible, disingenuous, at least episodically addled, and always money-seeking accuser Crystal Mangum and Durham County DA Mike Nifong, an ethic-less, conceited, corruptible and blindly-ambitious man.

Nifong may have been the only one among all of America’s venal DAs dumb enough to seize on her wildly improbable, self- contradicting stories and attempt to turn them into a credible felony frame-up and his ticket to election to a full term as DA.

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost; and from a geographical coincidence the tragedies and injustices of the Duke lacrosse case were born.

Sceptical, as I look back over my work regarding Nifong I think it all stands up pretty well; and I see no place where I treated him unfairly.

I continue to believe he knew of the case well before what Joe Neff reported in Apr. 2007 without a hint of skepticism and which account Nifong related in June 2007 at the State Bar trial which resulted in his disbarment: that Nifong first learned about the case late on the afternoon of Mar. 23 when he allegedly “discovered” a signed copy of the NTO sitting on his office copier and exclaimed: “Holy crap! What is going on?”

That story is baloney.

I’ve no doubt Nifong knew about the case well before Mar. 23 and strong reason to believe he knew of it on Mar. 14.

I've no doubt discovery will confirm what I've just said.

Ruth Sheehan’s statements in
It’s Not About The Truth naming Nifong as the anonymous source for her May 27 column will stand up during discovery as well.

I want to end this post because it’s gotten awfully long.

So I’ll just say this about Nifong and come back in a day or so saying more about the others you said I should have commented on.

Nifong has lost a lot already: his office, his law license, considerable income and the respect of most decent people.

He has been found in open court to be a liar and served a day in jail.

He must now arrange for his own defense in suits I believe will go forward and cost him greatly in time and money to defend himself.

But for all of that I believe he should be tried for the very serious crimes he has committed.

Those crimes targeted three young men Nifong knew were innocent but indicted anyway to serve his and others’ malicious purposes.

In doing that he committed wrongs of the most grievous and dangerous kind.

He struck at the Constitutional foundation stones of America criminal law. His actions were those common in every police state that’s every inflicted itself on honest citizens.

He should go to prison for all of that and as a lesson to others.

If in the passage of time during a lengthy prison sentence he genuinely begins a process of redeeming himself, he’ll have my admiration and support for that if I'm still around.




sceptical said...


Thank you for you excellent summary insights about Crystal and Nifong. I find it important that you believe Nifong know about the case as early March 14-- do you have any source(s) for that? I look forward to your next post.

I acknowledge that you were critical of KC Johnson in the past, but I still believe the type of summary post you are putting up now would have been the appropriate way to "close down" your blog.

In any case, I hope you will have the time in the future to comment once in a while at other venues, whether that be Liestoppers or elsewhere, about the case.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

JinC -
I second the comments of skeptical above.

I too believe that Nifong deserves much more than a day in jail for the abuse of the justice system that he perpetrated. However, I am not as sanguine as you about how much Nifong has really suffered. While he was forced to declare bankruptcy and he (hopefully) will have to expend sums of money in (hoepfully) the upcoming civil suits, the fact is that he still has a large number of supporters who are more than willing to claim, and claim loudly that he was a "victim". I can forsee a day, particularly if the civil suits do not go forward, in which his license will be restored and his supporters will claim a victory. The fact that he still believes that "something happened" that night - and it is not that Crystal Mangum made up a story - means that he has learned nothing at all.

You have provided thoughtful commentary and a forum for all those who have been concerned about the system of justice that prevails in Durham. Additionally your many posts on various subjects and the commentary of your various readers has always been illuminating. Most of all, despite the claims of others at verious other blogs, you have always maintained and insisted upon a high level of civility. Your willingness to politely engage those who have taken umbrage at your comments demonstrates that civil discourse is possible even when people hold very strong views.

Jim in San Diego said...


We already miss you.

I will end this short letter with a final thank you.

But, in the middle of this, I vote with those who think it was a mistake to choose a critique of KC Johnson as the subject of virtually your last publication.

There are so many others more worthy of your sharp attention.

I am reminded of Winston Churchill's comment when one of his few allies during the "Locust Years", Brendan Behan I believe, spoke critically of Winston in Parliament.

The criticism was probably justified, although what it was escapes my mind (See, if I were a scholar, I would stop and find my sources - but, alas, I have a family and job and do not have time!). Nevertheless, Winston was angry, and wrote privately to Brendan.

Winston wrote to his friend in words to the effect (I do not have the exact quote at hand):

"Brendan, we are so few. We must stick together. Your words, justified or not, will be used against me and against our cause by those who would oppose us".

You and KC, and some of the rest of us, share a cause in which we are still in the "locust years". We do not yet know what the end result will be, but we know you are in the minority and face a long, long struggle.

Now, let me close by thanking you again for your public service.

That is exactly what it is. As valuable to all of us as elected office, or military service - perhaps more so, since it is so rare and selfless.

I hold the hope you will eventually relent, and return from your well-deserved "retirement"!.

Jim Peterson

Jim in San Diego said...

Edit to previous post:

You of course realize by now my memory was faulty - the erring friend was not, of course, Brendan Behan.


But the essence of the story, and the sentiments I express, are accurate.

Jim Peterson

JWM said...

To cks and Jim,

I'll respond to both of you tomorrow.



joan foster said...

Jim, While I understand your sentiment, I must respectfully disagree. I think it’s that kind of thinking that has generated much of the lack of outrage and moral inertia that allowed this terrible Frame to move forward.

Over and over in this case, we saw that so few people were willing to “call out their own.” I’m sure they felt they had many good “reasons” and they wrapped themselves in their own cherished “causes” to comfort themselves. There were so many “excuses” for silence, weren’t there? . Certainly, there must have been some ADAs who disapproved of Nifong’s tactics, but no doubt they felt they owed “The Boss” their loyalty or owed the “office” their loyalty; someone at DUMC must have realized Levicy was off the tracks, but perhaps the larger goal of “wanting victims to be believed” shut them up; some prominent members of Durham’s Black community did indeed know the truth…but opted for the comforting excuse of racial solidarity and sympathy with Sister Survivor; and certainly some of Duke’s faculty were appalled at the Listening Statement and the public denunciation of their own students by their fellow faculty members…but elected to be “collegial” with fellow faculty members with whom they work and socialize regularly.

Silence is the easy thing. What John did..calling the so-called Hoax Hero to task ..that is an act of courage.

"Brendan, we are so few. We must stick together. Your words, justified or not, will be used against me and against our cause by those who would oppose us".

These are beautiful words…but they imply that some “solidarity” is more important than personal integrity. I don’t think you’ll ever convince JinC of that. .” No, because this “Loyal Silence” philosophy weakens our arguments and enables our enemies. When we treat ANYONE as “too valuable” to even face the few small criticisms originally leveled, you are asking we adhere to the same tactics we condemned in others. We never criticize or call out our own. We tolerate any “tactics” and justify any means if it works toward our larger goal. . If we allow ourselves to say that someone is TOO important to be accountable for his own words and actions …then we must allow others to use that excuse too.

We didn’t , did we?

There are lots of “causes” out there and lots of “good” excuses. Read John’s original post again: are all of you saying KC Johnson is SO important he cannot even face four minor criticisms? If so, you are undermining one of our strongest arguments against what these kids and families endured….that we have a duty to our own integrity that demands we occasionally support our enemies …even if we must confront our friends. Do you think that those of you who want to shield KC do him a service? Well, I believe John does him the greater service. Because those “who would oppose us” have no better weapon to destroy all the good that KC has done (which is plentiful) …than for us to indulge KC when he betrays his own avowed , clearly stated philosophy and ethics and indulges in the same types of behaviors he berates constantly in others. Why arm them with our hypocrisy when…PLEASE…we have truth on our side?

I think our society in general was a better place when we had a standard of civility and decency that did not change or waver…depending on whether the guy was wearing OUR tee-shirt or not.