Friday, April 28, 2006

Titles Are So Passe

So! I have been studiously been avoiding commenting on this whole "Duke in the national news media" thingie. It's hard work to think about this stuff, you know that? I mean, I'm not a total rube and have been near the epicenter of Big Deals before - Barnett Slepian lived not so far away from me - but this is different. As a member of a self-selecting group of individuals who choose to ally their identity with a particular institution, it is - let's say "difficult" - to then see the entirety of that institution slagged all up and down everywhere. I have a hard enough time controlling myself when people start to hate on JJ Redick, and they're just jealous.

It is not lost on me that I have done a fair amount of slagging myself, and I do not pretend to agree wholeheartedly with certain of the school's policies regarding personal responsibility. That said, I love this school and I love the people I know here, and I vehemently defend the administrative response to this crisis. It is my fervent hope that this terribleness will cause the school to think about the issues brought up in my slagfest and, you know, start doing something about them. Because although people are enjoying their ability to hate on the Duke student body for their richness and elitism (which, did you know that Duke guarantees to meet the financial need of every student accepted?), it is just stupid to accuse the administrators and professors taking part in the fallout of same.

At any rate, in an email exchange that took place last week between me and another blogger, some of whose viewpoints differ from mine, it became clear to me that I have a responsibility to re-talk about this stuff. After all, it's been a month since I really posted last, and a lot has happened in that month. So here's my statement:

I no longer believe anything I have heard from anyone.

I was originally swayed to believe that someone was raped that evening. Through an extensive analysis of my own viewpoints, I have come to realize that I held to that belief not because of any intrinsic hatred toward the lacrosse team or Duke, but because I have this nasty habit of trusting authority figures, especially those older than myself. So when Mike Nifong came out and said "there was a rape", I believed that there was a rape.

Now it's become glaringly obvious that Mike Nifong cannot be trusted. He talked too fast about too much and boxed himself into a corner he cannot get out of. If he finds his previous statements to be erroneous, he cannot take them back. He can whine about "wanting back his anonymity", but that just makes him look like a bigger hypocrite. In short, he has no credibility whatsoever. So everything I believed about this case is now moot. I, and everyone else in the country, are left with the following pieces of evidence:

  • A history of abusive and homophobic behavior on the part of one of the accused
  • Timestamped photographs that indicate the goings-on at various points during the evening, but seem to have a great big gap right around the time that the rape allegedly happened
  • Victim IDs that may or may not be reliable (I hang around Aaron enough to know that picking people out of a lineup doesn't always work out, but I don't buy the arguments of the people who say using a Powerpoint to ID, as did the DPD, is inherently flawed)
Bottom line? That's not enough, guys. Until we get a forensic report detailing a doctor's judgement of whether or not she was raped (also, all you people crowing about how "CONSISTENT WITH RAPE DOESN'T MEAN SHE WAS RAPED"? shut up), an indication of what, if any, potentially DNA-bearing evidence was recovered on her body, what happened with the results of that DNA evidence, and some other stuff that I haven't thought about, it's not good enough for me. I am not convinced.

Now, this stuff about the New Black Panthers coming to visit. Let's talk about that. I have gotten an email warning me to be vigilant in the residence halls. Please weigh in, my newfound community of respectfully-disagreeing people whom I appreciate and who can call me Allison, because that is my name, rather than Allistan, which is a sitename.

8 Comments:

Blogger fortyquestions said...

In my search for a little humanity and compassion in the world of blogging on the Duke scandal, I've generally come up empty handed. But I'm reading it here. Thanks.

4/29/2006 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if the doctor's report comes back negative, that doesn't mean rape didn't happen. It just means there wasn't evidence to support it.

Not all rapists leave DNA.

4/29/2006 2:13 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

If a doctor's report comes back saying that not only was no DNA left but that there was no physical evidence of trauma on the part of the victim, it'll be hard for me to believe that she was raped.

I default to believing the woman, and I know that not all rapes leave DNA evidence (especially in this case), so the negative DNA test alone is not enough for me to judge. It's the physical trauma or lack thereof that will probably convince me either way.

And again, not all sexual assault cases would lead to physical trauma, necessarily - but given the acts the woman claims were performed on her, it seems like there would be some physical evidence left.

I'm sure there is evidence that would lead me to believe her even should the DNA AND physical tests come back negative. I'm just not sure what that evidence would be, short of a confession or two. Guess I'd know it if I saw it.

4/29/2006 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Science Person said...

The additional problem, of course, is that there can be evidence which isn't admissible in court. Evidence you will never learn anything about, or if you do, it will come from untraceable and therefore untrustable sources.

Inadmissible evidence sometimes happens when someone wants the trial to go a certain way. Oops, lost the chain of custody of evidence. Oops, couldn't get enough of a sample. Oops, the sample was contaminated and is now useless.

None of that information generally gets out, or is understood by the mass media, who just want a "he said, she said" to fire us up and help us forget the president wants to start a nuclear war in Iran, because that's a bummer that doesn't sell refrigerators and cell phones.

You will never know the whole story, and therefore you probably can't ever have a totally informed opinion. So keep that in mind -- you want to be fair, but you're not a court of law, so you can consider things they can't.

More on the plus side, you can have an informed opinion on what other people are saying about the issue, and how they are saying it. One of the icky little facts of life is that a lot of "liberal" men are "liberal" except when it comes to women. They may talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.

It can be hard to detect the difference between "innocent until proven guilty in a court of law" and "innocent because she's probably lying like all those dirty girls do." So you have to look for patterns, for parallel situations.

4/30/2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Science Person,

It's an ugly little point, that thing about inadmissible evidence, and one I've not overlooked. As far as I'm concerned, unless I can see with my eyes a forensic report (or a transcription of one) that says "yes, we did an examination, no, there was no bruising, no, there was no DNA to be found", something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And I am cognizant of the fact that rottenness would be characteristic of this case as a whole.

I do NOT expect this to happen. I do not expect to see reliable evidence that there was no rape. I'm just putting it out there, that it's possible.

And I'm with you on your second point, too - I've been embarrassed by the responses of some of my supposedly more liberal friends to this whole case, as I keep getting notes and messages about "raping strippers, huh? Wish I went to Duke, sounds awesome!". Then they get offended when I get offended. It's really just a lovely situation all around.

4/30/2006 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely wrong
on one count there Allison:
One of the "accused does not have a history of violence and homophobic beahvior!" It was a barroom brawl between 3 college guys and 3 "other" college guys-- talking "trash". as some college guys unfortunately do. All were thowing punches but Finnerty was the one caught, as in CAUGHT. period.
It doesn't make him a racist.
You can't have it both ways. The Accuser (who btw
IS a stripper)has had quite a background herself. The other report 10 years ago and not to mention a claim that her
husband tried to beat the
crap out of her in the woods? Not a credible witness.
I have heard and read enough, too much really on a daily basis
So if one of the accused is
a homophobic violent then
she is a lying woman who
can't keep her stories straight...and has a history of being a psycho.
hey maybe she was raped by
her ex-husband, no i really got it! she was actually raped by finnert
and seligman when these guys were juvenile deliquents at ages 8 and 9.

5/01/2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Chris Clarke said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/04/2006 1:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Clarke said...

Allison, I think you should get about two feet of one-inch dowel rod. Pine would work well. Drill a hole in the door frame outside your blog at about four feet six inches off the ground and mount the dowel rod in the hole. Use Elmer's glue.

Then make a sign to post next to the stick. The sign should read: "You must be smarter than this stick to comment here."

I'm just saying, is all. (Eyes the guy one comment up)

5/04/2006 1:02 AM  

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