Monday, July 27, 2009

Did Hopman Have A “Feminist” Motivation?

Various people at various places have recently offered reasons for why Jill Hopman wrote her Charlie’s Pub hoax story.

From March ’06 when Hopman published it until May 24 of this year, I didn’t think much about her hoax or her motivation(s).

That was largely because her hoax was so quickly and thoroughly discredited that even Mike Nifong didn’t use it to slime the players.

When I did think about it, it was usually in conjunction with recalling how the Raleigh N&O, with no confirming witnesses, used Hopman’s hoax in a hit piece targeting the lacrosse players at a time when they were in great legal and physical peril.

When on May 24 of this year KC Johnson said Hopman’s story “could have been correct,” I thought more about KC’s motivations than Hopman’s.

And on July 6 when Chris Halkides endorsed what KC had said and castigated me for questioning KC’s “could have been correct” claim after which KC promptly linked to Halkides’ post, it was the two professors and not Hopman that I wondered about.

Since then I’ve listened to and read what many people, including many of you, are saying about Hopman, Johnson and Halkides.

I’ve said nothing about what I think Hopman’s motivations were.

When I’ve thought about motivations in connection with the Hopman hoax, it’s mostly been about the two professors’ motivations.

But I’ll offer one thought about Hopman’s "motivation" which I think is important to consider.

But first a few words about “motivation:” We should all get into the habit of using the plural “motivations.” It’s almost always an interacting complex of many factors – some much stronger than others – that lead us to act.

As to Hopman’s motivations, some have offered her “feminism” as one. Perhaps it was. I really don’t know.

But it’s a very safe bet there were many other feminists in Charlie’s the night of Mar. 25, 2006.

Yet only Hopman published a hoax piece. And no feminist in Charlie’s that night has ever come forward to publicly support the hoax.

So while I don’t rule out Hopman’s feminism as a factor, even a strong one, in impelling her to create and publish her hoax, I'm confident other factors contributed to what she did, and may have been more powerful motivators than "feminism."

That no other feminist in Charlie’s that night publicly endorsed the hoax and tried to hype it is to their credit, and a reminder that there are all kinds of feminists just as there are all kinds of bloggers.

I don’t plan to say more about Hopman’s motivations because there are many more important related matters to consider regarding the Charlie's hoax, with the motivations of Johnson and Halkides being two of them.


sceptical said...

Whatever her motivations, Jill Hopman went out of her way to trash the lacrosse team by writing the Chronicle article, by sending in a letter to the Herald-Sun and by giving interviews to several media outlets.

I don't know Ms. Hopman, but her feminist and activist past is the most likley motivation. A number of Duke activists such as Sam Hummel took advantage of the lacrosse situation to promote their political agenda.

I grant it is possible that Hopman had other motivations. She might have been anti-athletic, but this is unlikely because she herself was on a softball team. Or she might have had a negative personal interaction with someone on the lacrosse team (speculation only).

Based on public records and the hysterical atmosphere at Duke at the time, feminist activism is still the most probable explanation for her actions.

(One commenter said that just because Hopman was a feminist doesn't mean she is a liar. I agree-- most feminist radicals I know are IMO misguided but honest.
However, with the evidence available (and I wish there was
more), Ms. Hopman's article about the Cahrlie's incident was such an exaggeration that it reaches the level of a lie.)


Anonymous said...

Tara Levicy was also an active feminist as I recall and definately a major player in the hoax. Steve in New Mexico

sceptical said...

John, you wrote:
"I don’t plan to say more about Hopman’s motivations because there are many more important related matters to consider regarding the Charlie's hoax, with the motivations of Johnson and Halkides being two of them."

I think you are barking up the wrong tree here. I believe Halkides and Johnson may have some different opinions than you or I, but I, for one, do not question their motivations.

I do not think that personal attacks are either helpful to understanding the lacrosse frame or to good dialogue. I am opposed to such attacks no matter what the source.