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Monday, 15 October 2007

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Rich Puchalsky

I see that KC Johnson has still not picked up on the fact that an ad can be "about the lacrosse team incident" -- i.e., about the "social disaster" of the reaction to it, fueled by the history of racism -- without presupposing the guilt of the lacrosse team players. I don't think that qualifies as responsible scholarship on KC Johnson's part, especially since it must have been pointed out to him numerous times whenever he ventured away from his claque.

Hiram Hover

But Scott, he did perform a cursory examination. From the DiW post prior to the one you quote:

The journal in which Piot published his piece, Transforming Anthropology, has as its past editor Group of 88 member Lee Baker; its current co-editor is Penn professor Deborah Thomas, who previously taught in Duke’s Cultural Anthropology Department. (Sixty percent of the 2006 cultural anthropology department members signed the Group statement.) The journal describes itself as “the chief publication of the Association of Black Anthropologists.”

It's all there -- guilt by tenuous association (a "past" editor, someone who "previously taught" in the same department); the damning statistic (60%!); and the race-baiting punch-line (it's the "chief publication of the Association of Black Anthropologists"--which broadens/shifts the indictment from cultural anthropology as a field to black anthropologists ).

Sisyphus

(shakes head) Dude, there wasn't enough drama in the great Kotsko-Holbo matchup? You want to open this can of hornets again?

For me, I stopped even following that thread when it came out that unknown commenters on that site impersonated a professor and left incendiary comments under her name, and when she contacted KC and demanded that these comments and all instances of her name be removed, he wanted to leave up the comments he had made substantive replies to. That reflects badly on the ethics of the commenters and KC both.

Timothy Burke

I'm pretty worn out on this stuff, and I don't feel like tracking down the article in question. I can only say that Piot's book Remotely Global is a very fine book that I've used in classes. So I'm kind of sick of this bullshit all around--if someone's going to talk about Piot and try to sum him up as a scholar, I recommend they respond to his book, based on some actual reading of it in relationship to the actual discipline and area of speciality to which that book relates.

Ahistoricality

Tim,

Piot's book may be excellent, but the article (Ralph Luker had a link to it a day or two back; it's a PDF) is a whiny, slapdash, glorified blog-post on paper. I have trouble believing that something as blatantly self-serving and unsourced was published. Piot's not wrong about a lot of things, but he's not helping, either.

I've been slowing myself down, insisting on having sources, serious analysis, good writing, that sort of thing. Apparently I should find myself a nice friendly journal and spew.

Ralph Luker

Tim, If an academic article by Piot, KC, you or me is a direct attack on a particular academic person, I see nothing wrong with that academic person responding to it. I understand that you think that KC ought to read work that he attacks in broadscale fashion, but I see no reason at all why he must necessarily read Piot's corpus in order to respond to an article that is a direct attack on him. I've read both Piot's article and KC's response. It's curious that Scott and others here acknowledge that Piot's article is a shoddy piece of work, but the attack has to be on KC. Truthfully, it has to be on KC because he's "politically incorrect." "Horowitzian" is the favored euphemism here. Scott and Rich stoop to a kind of McCarthyist guilt by association to make that label stick. Is Mark Bauerlein also "Horowitzian"? They pull the same fast one they accuse KC of doing. They acknowledge up front that a) KC got the lacrosse case right -- almost from the beginning; and b) Piot's article is shoddy, but they won't let that be the end of it. KC's no more dismissed the whole field of anthropology because of Piot than I've dismissed the whole field of history because of Bellesiles. We'd better be listening to what Stanley Fish said in his NYT blog and attend to cleaning up our act. To continue to insist that the ad had nothing to do with the lacrosse party and accusations of rape, as Piot and others at Duke have done, is denial, pure and simple. It's a lie.

Rich Puchalsky

Ralph: "To continue to insist that the ad had nothing to do with the lacrosse party and accusations of rape, as Piot and others at Duke have done, is denial, pure and simple. It's a lie."

Ralph, will you stop already? Here is the exact quote from Piot's article (as written in the PDF online; I don't know whether that's in some way different than the paper version):

"And yet the ad in question was neither about the
lacrosse players nor about the party they hosted in spring
2006. It quoted eleven students, all African American,
in an attempt to give voice to their experiences of racism
and sexism at Duke—around the time of the case itself,
and beyond. The ad grew out of a teach-in organized by
faculty in Duke’s (then) Program in African and African
American Studies during which students of color told
stories about their experiences of racism and sexism at
Duke—and this at a time of heightened racial tensions on
campus and significant backlash against students of
color.2 Certainly the lacrosse incident was the trigger for
the ad (and a few of the students quoted in the ad referred
to the event), but the ad was never about that incident or
about the guilt of the players. The ad’s title—“What Does
a Social Disaster Sound Like?”—drew on analyses of the
events surrounding Hurricane Katrina to suggest that
events such as these have social roots and ramifications
beyond the events themselves."

Ralph, you can not sum up "Certainly the lacrosse incident was the trigger for the ad" as "To continue to insist that the ad had nothing to do with the lacrosse party and accusations of rape, as Piot and others at Duke have done, is denial, pure and simple. It's a lie." In fact, you are the one whose statement is wrong. I don't know what your problem is, but whatever it is has made you incapable of reading sources.

The interpretation that Piot presents is the same as the one that just about anyone who reads the Group of 88 statement has to come up with, if they are intellectually honest -- that the lacrosse incident was the trigger for the ad, but not really what it was about. It's not surprising that people point this out whenever they read KC Johnson, because it's true, and Johnson's interpretation is a race-baiting lie.

Rich Puchalsky

I guess that I should address this too:

"Scott and Rich stoop to a kind of McCarthyist guilt by association to make that label stick. Is Mark Bauerlein also "Horowitzian"?"

Ralph, do you remember what historical facts are? Citations to written sources, that kind of thing? I've cited six articles plus one sympathetic interview on Horowitz' site. That's not guilt by association. That's factual support of Horowitz' enterprise. If KC Johnson wants to say that Horowitz used those articles without permission, he can, but to my knowledge he hasn't done so, or taken action to have them removed.

Now against this we have your assurances that KC Johnson doesn't support Horowitz. Why? Because in a bit of political Kabuki, KC Johnson, along with you and another historian, tried to derail the AHA's resolution by insisting that it had to be against speech codes as well, as if there were an easy equivalence between Horowitz' attack on the academy and the speech codes which (rightly or wrongly) seem to be pretty much a product of the academy itself. That's exactly the kind of thing I'd expect of Horowitz, given how he likes to do politics.

And in most respects, Horowitz' agenda and KC Johnson's are the same. They may have had a minor falling out over ABOR or they may not, but it hasn't stopped Horowitz from pushing Johnson's book.

And as for Bauerlein, he's said that he supports Horowitz. So, sure, I'd call him Horowitzian in this context.

Timothy Burke

Look, I'm perfectly willing to take Scott, Ahistoricality and Ralph's word for it that the article in question is crappy and doesn't belong in a journal (though Scott is right that Transforming Anthropology isn't anywhere close to being the standard or major journal in the discipline.) I'm just weary at the thought of what's happening in the DiW commentariat, based on previous readings of similar KC posts. I'm sure various commenters are pronouncing all of Piot's scholarly work worthless, all of cultural anthropology worthless, wondering how much federal money was used to publish Piot's scholarly work, and so on, without knowing jack about any of that beyond having KC tell them that Piot wrote a bad article. KC may not say any of that, but Marc Antony didn't directly tell the Roman mob to kill Brutus, either.

The Duke faculty who made some bad choices on the lacrosse case aren't helping themselves at all, and this looks like another bad choice. That also wearies me, particularly when it comes from someone whose previous scholarship seems pretty good to me. So at this point, maybe they and DiW's commentariat deserve each other, I suppose.

Rich Puchalsky

Tim: "So at this point, maybe they and DiW's commentariat deserve each other, I suppose."

Another even-handed triumph from the judicious paragon.

1. A decision by Piot, bad or good, does not translate into "The Duke faculty who made some bad choices on the lacrosse case aren't helping themselves at all".

2. The fact that your weariness with an actual political dispute has made you unwilling to read any of the sources involved doesn't really mean that you should be calling down curses on both their houses. Especially with noxious constructions that compare the Duke faculty to DiW's commentariat.

Rich Puchalsky

Tim: "I'm sure various commenters are pronouncing all of Piot's scholarly work worthless, all of cultural anthropology worthless, wondering how much federal money was used to publish Piot's scholarly work, and so on, without knowing jack about any of that beyond having KC tell them that Piot wrote a bad article."

Well, no need to assume. Let's see some actual quotes:

Commenter #1 (anonymous): "How anyone with half a brain who spends any time investigating, could think that "cultural anthropology" and several other "fields" with standouts like this nasty clown, is anything other than total BS, is beyond me."

Anonymous: "KC - I think you have them on the run. glad to see their class attendence - Duke might look at that. "

I'll skip several comments that attack Piot more-or-less directly; I see nothing wrong with that in the context of a reply to Piot's article.

af: "Boardhead should be proud that he has filled the Duke faculty with a large number of faculty members with little or no reasoning skills--just vitriole and anger."

mac: "It's clear that Piot is speaking for the "88," and that he is likewise a voice for the Duke administration, since they are unable to comment further about the students (lest the students do a Pressler immitation.)"

austin: "You probably made your issue of “Transforming Anthropology” the most widely-read in the journal’s history. But if you want also to do something so transforming as to increase its subscriptions you will have to try even harder."

shouting thomas: "I'll bet that any number of schools will engage in a bidding war for Piot's services if he decides to leave Duke. Any takers?

Why do you suppose this is the case? How many thoroughly qualified white hetero men are working as adjuncts or have left academia to make a place for people like Piot?"

topher: "Shoddy academics like the Group are bullies - they hide behind tenure and the bully pulpit of the classroom, but when drawn into the open they can be hit from all sides, and forced to abdicate easily."

anonymous: "I think you could view Piot's little paper as primarily a defensive piece; in defense of himself and his Gang of 88, and in particular in defense of his latest squeeze, the lovely Head of the Cultural Anthropology Department at Duke, Ms. Anne Allison (nice catch, Proffessor!)"

Let's see, I'll skip the rest from "anonymous" since they could all be one guy.

locomotive breath: "The School of the Environment may be just as ideologically based as Cultural Anthropology. If you question the basis for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) or any of a number of other articles of faith, you'll find out just how quickly you're shunned. As an exercise, see if you can find any AGW skeptics on that faculty."

RRH: "Neither Duke University nor American higher education as a whole can long endure half by the principles of scholastic merit and half by the principles of diversity-racism. A house divided against itself cannot stand. It must in the end become wholly one thing or wholly the other."

AMac

Charles Piot, "KC's World," page 160:

And yet the ad in question was neither about the lacrosse players nor about the party they hosted in spring 2006... Certainly the lacrosse incident was the trigger for the ad (and a few of the students quoted in the ad referred to the event), but the ad was never about that incident or about the guilt of the players.

Wahneema Lubiano authored the Listening Statement. Her email soliciting signatures to the ad:
African & African-American Studies is placing an ad in The Chronicle about the lacrosse team incident. We’re trying for Thursday (04/05) if we can do it; if not, then next Monday (04/10). I’ve attached a draft of the ad to this email. The attachment is just a draft of the text; we’re still working on design elements. The ad is built around student articulations.

Emphasis added.

Lubiano's cover email was sent in early April 2006. "KC's World" was submitted for publication about May 2007. The text of the email became publicly known in September 2007.

Piot's article makes no mention of this email. Perhaps it never came up in his research into the origins of the Listening Statement, or perhaps he forgot about it when preparing for the "Shut Up And Teach?" event of 2/12/07, where he presented an oral version of this paper.

A thorough line-by-line analysis of the Listening Statement is here. It is a revised version of comments originally posted by 'Tortmaster' at one of the earlier Acephalous threads on DiW.

Piot's essay did add one novel piece of information to the story of the Listening Statement. Page 169:

As to the charge that Wahneema Lubiano made up the student quotes published in the ad, Johnson has apparently never thought to ask the Chronicle whether they have a policy of publishing such quotes without first checking their sources. In fact they do, and the Chronicle received prior e-mail notification from each student stating that they had been correctly quoted and agreeing to publication (albeit with their names removed).

Piot suggests that Johnson charged Lubiano with making up student quotes. While Piot cited no source, he presumably is referring to what Johnson wrote here:
The Bartlett/Lipka article [in The Chronicle of Higher Education] solved one of the many mysteries of the Group of 88’s ad: why the alleged quotes from students were anonymous. I had—quite erroneously—assumed that at least these quotes were legitimate, taken from a transcript of the session.

In fact, these “quotes” came from “notes” of the event taken by Lubiano. It does not appear that she verified their accuracy with the speakers. Indeed, we have no way of knowing whether the speakers were even Duke students, or were potbangers or other habitual protesters who happened to show up for the event.

This revelation yields some intriguing questions:

* What steps, if any, did Group of 88 members other than Holloway or Lubiano take to ensure the accuracy of the student quotes to which faculty allegedly were “listening”?

* Did other Group of 88 members ask Lubiano how she obtained the quotes, and whether she had received students' permission to use their words in such a fashion?

* Did they even read the final text of the ad, with the 11 “quotes” ultimately selected, before signing?


Raising questions about a claim can be distinguished from charging the claimant with fabrication.

In discussing the Chronicle's policy on the use of anonymous quotes in ads, Piot mistakenly wrote that "[the Chronicle[has] a policy of publishing such quotes without (sic) first checking their sources." He clearly meant the opposite--that the Chronicle's policy requires that such quotes be vetted. Piot continued, "the Chronicle received prior e-mail notification from each student stating that they had been correctly quoted and agreeing to publication (albeit with their names removed)."

This is new: (1) the quotes were vetted by the Chronicle, but (2) the Chronicle never learned the names of the quoted students.

Presumably, the Chronicle's staff were not in a position to determine whether the quoted individuals were current students, or whether they were Duke students. It should be a straightforward matter for Lubiano and Piot to clarify this point. An answer to this question would also help establish the context of the Listening Statement: were the 2005/06 editors of the Chronicle given to understand that understood the quotes transcribed by Prof. Lubiano were made by current Duke students? (The Chronicle is the Duke student newspaper.)


On peer review -- Transforming Anthropology's editors say:

We invite the submission of research articles for peer review, as well as short commentaries, research reports, review essays, interviews, and other innovative formats.

The PDF of "KC's World" doesn't state whether it was published as a "research article," or as a short commentary, research report, review essay, interview, or other innovative format. The journal's blurb is ambiguous on whether submissions in formats other than "research article" are refereed, or not.

I hope for the sake of the reputation of Transforming Anthropology's editors and the U.C. Press that "KC's World" isn't an example of the outcome of their peer review process.

Rich Puchalsky

Amac, it's probably a lost cause to try to teach you people to read from context, but I'll try. There are at least two senses in which the phrase "lacrosse team incident" can be used.

1. The purported rape and its legal surroundings.

2. The media storm and heated campus reaction to the purported rape and its legal surroundings, involving the history and current felt effects of racism.

Every statement by anyone connected with the "listening statement" that I've seen has used sense (2). Sense (1) is *explicitly denied* by the text of the "listening statement" in more than one place.

KC Johnson's reading, Tortmaster's, etc. are just wrong. They can't even interpret what Piot is saying about e.g. Hurricane Katrina. What Piot wrote was this: "The ad’s title—“What Does a Social Disaster Sound Like?”—drew on analyses of the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina to suggest that events such as these have social roots and ramifications beyond the events themselves." KC Johnson glosses this as: "He cited instead—incredibly—Hurricane Katrina as a possible motivation." That's just wrong, and incredibly dishonest.

AMac

In the 6:44am comment, I presented relevant portions of Piot's text and Lubiano's text; Acephalous readers can click links and judge context for themselves.

If Piot thought that Lubiano's use of the phrase "African & African-American Studies is placing an ad in The Chronicle about the lacrosse team incident" was in some way consistent with his claim that "And yet the ad in question was neither about the lacrosse players nor about the party they hosted in spring 2006... the ad was never about that incident," he could have discussed Lubiano's email and tried to make that case.

He can still do so, though to my knowledge he has not.

For the reasons that 'Tortmaster' describes, I think that the Listening Ad's author and signers were reckless, and that they implicitly issued a strong condemnation of the lacrosse players for their presumed felonious sexual assault on the alleged victim. Would those claims hold up to criminal-court standards? We'll never know. Would they hold up to civil-court standards? Apparently, Duke's legal team thinks that there is a good chance that they would. Perhaps we will yet find out. Those charges would require a consideration of "context." That the ad was specifically and explicitly intended to be "about the lacrosse team incident" does not.

Ralph Luker
The interpretation that Piot presents is the same as the one that just about anyone who reads the Group of 88 statement has to come up with, if they are intellectually honest -- that the lacrosse incident was the trigger for the ad, but not really what it was about. It's not surprising that people point this out whenever they read KC Johnson, because it's true, and Johnson's interpretation is a race-baiting lie.
No, Rich. The only people who believe that are you and some members of the Duke faculty who prefer to cover their asses than to apologize for a statement made in haste that calls their good judgment into question. The pretense that the interpretation you put on that is the only "intellectually honest" one is laughable.
Rich Puchalsky

I've explained the listening statement to people before, but in response to Ralph, I'm fine with cutting-and-pasting that explanation again.

The "Group of 88" "listening statement"

1. After a couple of sentences about listening, the third sentence is "Regardless of the result of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see in this moment's extraordinary spotlight what they live with every day." This is what the statement is about.

2. The fourth sentence, "[...] it isn't just individuals making this disaster."

3. Now here is the critical sentence that people are hanging their entire reading on, having found nothing in the rest of the statement. "The students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves." Please read that full sentence. If "what happened to this young woman" is supposed to be a veiled accusation of rape, why would it also have happened to the students themselves? That makes no sense. Clearly the authors of the statement are talking about the social effects of racism and sexism -- what they said they were talking about.

4. Then there's a number of quotes from students. I've already pointed out "If it turns out that students are guilty, they should be expelled." Why would this quote have been included if the authors thought that guilt wasn't in doubt?

5. Why would some of the quotes be things like "Being a big, black man, it is hard to walk anywhere at night [...]"? What does that have to do with rape?

6. Then there's the central rhetorical question in bold, "What Does a Social Disaster Sound Like?" I think it's quite obvious that this can be read as "This incident is a social disaster." Which it was.

7. Then there's more quotes, with a complaint about Duke not responding leading up to a reinforcement of the "social disaster" trope.

8. Then the paragraph at the end. It starts with "The students know that the disaster didn't begin on March 13th and won't end with what the police say or the court decides."

9. Then there are various attributional statements, and the final two sentences: "We're turning up the volume in a moment when some of the most vulnerable among us are being asked to quiet down while we wait. To the students speaking individually and the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourself heard." Why would the statement refer to "the most vulnerable among us" if it was primarily concerned with three individual accused students, who presumably weren't going to be hurting anyone while the case was going on?

And that's it. Other than quoting the whole statement, I really think that I've gone through everything pertinant. People criticize the statement for two things, when they have to confront its text at all; the support of protestors, and the "what happened to this woman" fragment. But that is a sentence fragment. Quoting it as a claim that the statement prejudged the guilt of the lacrosse players is deceptive, and a misrepresentation of the historical record.

In fact, the statement is bracketed between two clear sentences: "Regardless of the result of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see in this moment's extraordinary spotlight what they live with every day." and "The students know that the disaster didn't begin on March 13th and won't end with what the police say or the court decides." that make it clear that the statement is about the social reaction to the incident, not the guilt of the students.

Anyone who says otherwise is either lying, or can't read.

AMac

Rich (9:03am), you have presented the best case that anyone has made as to the innocuousness of the Listening Statement. Your parting remark--"Anyone who says otherwise is either lying, or can't read"--is ambiguous. If "otherwise" means "claiming that the quotes you have taken from the text are incorrect," I think you have a reasonable case. If "otherwise" refers to the immediate antecedent--"[Two clear bracketing sentences] make it clear that the statement is about the social reaction to the incident, not the guilt of the students"--then the remark is unpersuasive.

A thought experiment: suppose somebody pens a statement you don't like, say, advocating draconian and seemingly irrational measures against undocumented immigrants from Africa and the Carribean. Suppose further that the author prefaces this paper with "I stand foursquare against racism," and ends it with "I steadfastly oppose racial discrimination." Should this bracketing immunize the author against any charges that his screed was malign in intent?

Of course not.

I know of nobody who disputes that the Listening Statement was concerned with the social reaction to the incident. Piot, and you, discuss parts of the Statement to make the case that its author and signers therefore did not presume the truthfulness of the then-current charges of rape and sexual assault and thus the guilt of the lacrosse players, as a vehicle to make its points on the pervasiveness of racism and sexism at Duke. Unfortunately, Not-B does not follow from the demonstration of A, in the general case, or in in this particular instance. It does turns out to have been prescient of Lubiano to salt the Statement with some rote disclaimers--it would have been even worse, otherwise.

Tortmaster's deconstruction and yours should be read side-by-side to get a sense of the range of meanings of the misbegotten Statement. In my opinion, his interpretation is considerably more compelling. I doubt very much that almost everyone except those few who share your minority view on this subject are either lying or illiterate. And, again, every sealed settlement related to the Statement makes it appear that Duke's corporate counsel reluctantly agrees.

Rich Puchalsky

Amac, I don't find your example persuasive. First, I didn't claim that the statement was "innocuous" -- I disagree with parts of the statement, specifically the blanket encouragement of protest, and people may find that part of the statement to be either innocuous or not. But before people can disagree with the statement, they have to actually get right what it's saying. My original claim was that the statement does not prejudge the guilt of the students. I am willing to also claim that the statement is "about" the lacrosse team incident in the sense of the incident as focus for societal racism, not the incident as criminal case.

My first claim is indeed of the Not-B sort. People said that statement prejudges the guilt of the students; I quoted many sentences in the statement that make no sense if the guilt of the students is prejudged.

My second claim relies on a positive reading of what the signers of the statement were trying to do. This reading matches all of their explanations that I've seen so far: the post-statement group explanation, Piot's paper, Lubiano's Email, and so on. It is not contradicted by any of the things that e.g. KC Johnson present as contradicting it, such as "the statement is about the lacrosse team incident".

That's because the statement includes sentences like: "Regardless of the result of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see in this moment's extraordinary spotlight what they live with every day." The statement refers to "this moment's extraordinary spotlight", and "this moment" clearly refers to the moment of societal reaction around the lacrosse team incident. But I don't see how one can be clearer than "Regardless of the result of the police investigation" that the statement isn't about the individual guilt of the students.

I don't find Tortmaster's analysis convincing at all. Frankly, a lot of it is very, very bad. First he goes through the "context" of many people saying unexceptional and true things, such as "An anger is surfacing against aspects of everyday life at Duke, an anger that is playing out in the aftermath of the accusations against the lacrosse team and responses to those accusations."

Then he goes through weird objections that don't object. For instance, "At the top of this 'PAID ADVERTISEMENT,' it provides: 'Regardless of the results of the police investigation ...." This is stated without previous mention of any event deserving of a "police investigation.' The author was obviously referring to the Duke hoax investigation." Of course the author was. Every interpretation of the statement, including those of the people who wrote it, agree that the lacrosse team incident was the spark for the societal reaction.

Then he goes through interpretations that even he doesn't believe. For instance, for "The students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves.", he replies:

"The author is apparently conveying that rape (or is it just the generic perceived racism) is as abundant as ipods about campus. Since I am an American, I read the ad left to right and top to bottom, the context leads me to believe that rape may be as prevalent as fast food at Duke."

No, no one is saying that rape is as prevalent as fast food at Duke. That makes no sense. People are indeed saying that racism is prevalent at Duke. But that undercuts Tortmaster's entire interpretation -- if the authors of the statement are saying that racism is prevalent at Duke, then they aren't prejudging the students.

If you want to believe Tortmaster's twisted piece of text -- which I hesitate to say is his, since KC Johnson is really the one promulgating it -- you can. But that says something about what you want to believe, not about what the statement actually says.

History Geek

For one brief confusing moment I thought you were talking about KT Tunstall. Even thought the names are nothing alike.

Yes, I have no idea either.

AMac

Rich has presented the case for "not-B." In contrast, I do not think his selection of excerpts from the Listening Statement's is persuasive. Lubiano prudently salted the text of the Statement with occasional qualifiers. (No uses of "alleged" or "allegedly." One "If it turns out that these students are guilty." One (ambiguous) "won’t end with what the police say or the court decides.") At a number of points, her prose is open to differing interpretations. As a whole, the Listening Statement is not.

What follows is an edit of Tortmaster’s points as they relate to the intention of the Listening Statement. For the text of the Statement, see here. For Tortmaster's unabridged, unaltered text, see here.

Some of my [Tortmaster’s] problems with the "Listening ad":
A. Using what was essentially gossip to stir up an already tense situation.
B. Using this gossip to extract demands from the University.
C. Providing negative pre-trial publicity against their own students.
D. Failing to reflect, soberly, on the ramifications of their actions (lynching their own students)(ignoring due process)(the propriety of basing demands on gossip).
E. Implying, in a crafty way, that it was the institutional belief of a large faction in the University that rushing to judgment was condoned.
F. Implying, in a careful way, that it was the institutional belief of a large faction in the University that a rational approach to days-old gossip was "making collective noise" rather than waiting to allow due process protections to attach.
G. The shoddy scholarship involved.
H. Attacking and attempting to alienate 46 of their own students.
I. Painting themselves into such a corner that they could not later apologize and acknowledge their misdeeds.
J. Providing intellectual support to a false prosecution.
K. Prejudging and convicting their innocent students.
L. Compounding their error with a subsequent "Clarifying Statement," editorials, letters to the editor, articles, "Shut Up and Teach" forums, etc.
M. Bringing the University into disrepute.

The text of the Listening Statement

At the top of the Listening Statement, Lubiano describes "this moment's extraordinary spotlight," an obvious reference to the Duke rape case.

The next paragraph claims that "it is a disaster nonetheless." The author appears to be describing both what happened at 610 Buchanan and other perceived acts of racism.

The following paragraph states that "these students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves." That is a prejudgment. The words used were "what happened to this young woman." The author could have used words such as "what was alleged to have happened." It is also instructive to note that the Listening Ad sets an early emphasis on "shouting."

The next paragraph is "...We want the absence of terror... Terror robs you of language and you need language for the healing to begin." The author was obviously discussing the menace of rape as well as generic perceived racism. Which would the Statement’s reader perceive as the likelier cause of actual "terror"?

Following additional quotes, is "...I am only comfortable talking about this event in my room with close friends. I am actually afraid to even bring it up in public. But worse, I wonder now about everything... If something like this happens to me... What would be used against me--my clothing? Where I was?" What can "this event" refer to except the Lacrosse Rape? No other specific event is alluded to in the Listening Statement. Also, consider what the apparent quotation implies: The speaker would have nothing to fear if "this event" is an investigation of students who are presumed innocent, but she does have something to fear "if something like this” was to happen to her. Something like what? A rape.

A further quote reads, "...no one is really talking about how to keep the young woman herself central to this conversation, how to keep her humanity before us... she doesn't seem to be visible in this. Not for the university, not for us."

The next quote seems to egg on the University and the community to strive to achieve greater success in arresting someone. Consider how this quote attempts to elicit action while at the same time prejudging the case and prejudicing the lacrosse players: "I can't help but think about the different attention given to what has happened from what it would have been if the guys had been not just black but participating in a different sport, like football, something that's not so upscale." "What has happened" again refers to the Lacrosse Rape, and the author appears to be saying that he or she wants arrests now! The "different attention" alludes to the lack of arrests or incarceration of the offenders. The "so upscale" language prejudices the lacrosse players in a classist way.

The next quote provides: "And this is what I'm thinking right now - Duke isn't really responding to this. Not really. And this, what has happened, is a disaster. This is a social disaster." Given what has preceded this quote, should the Ad's reader assume that "this" does not refer to the Lacrosse Rape? What about the words "what has happened"? Even a feeble-minded person would conclude that an investigation is not a disaster--but a rape would be. "This" rape "happened." That is a prejudgment.

The remaining substantive portions of the Listening Ad provide additional clues as to motivation, including use of the date March 13th, which could only reference the date of the alleged Lacrosse gang rape.

At the bottom of the ad, Lubiano goes on to write, "We're turning up the volume in a moment when some of the most vulnerable among us are being asked to quiet down while we wait."
* turning up the volume" is akin to the "shouting" mentioned earlier. This at a time when the local and national media potbangers and 1,000-person domestic violence protest marches had already turned up the volume.
* "turning up the volume" and "shouting" do not seem to be the best way for university professors to achieve a measured response or dialogue.
* "in a moment when some of the most vulnerable among us are being asked to quiet down while we wait" refers to waiting on due process and court hearings. Lubiano and the Gang of 88 are telling their students not to wait for due process.

Next, the text offers praise to the potbangers and protesters, leafleters, wanted poster hangers, castrate banner holders with this: "To the students speaking individually and to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard."

* "thank you for not waiting" is positive reinforcement for judgment rushing and the perceived university-sanctioned elimination of due process.

Events preceding the Listening Statement (speaks to context):

* Protests, including the "castrate" banner, the potbangers marching up Buchanan Boulevard.
* The distribution of the Wanted (Vigilante) Poster.
* The N&O's editorial by Ruth Sheehan presuming guilt and presuming a lacrosse "wall of silence" ("We know you know.")
* Other editorials written by Statement signers, including one by Professor Chafe with the Emmett Till comparison. The week before the Listening Ad, he wrote, "Sex and race have been intertwined since the beginning of American history. They remain so today, throughout America and here at Duke. The events that occurred on Buchanan Boulevard two weeks ago are part of a deep and troubling history."
* The context also includes what the author of the Listening ad thought of the ad herself. As reported in an ESPN feature on the case, "Lubiano knew some would see the ad as a stake through the collective heart of the lacrosse team."
* A number of lacrosse students took to sleeping in cars, staying over at the homes of friends, or leaving the state, out of concerns for their physical safety.
* The N&O reported on 3/30/06 that “The incident has sparked outrage on and off campus about classism, racism and sexual violence. The woman, an N.C. Central University student and employee of an escort service hired for the party, is black; she told authorities that her attackers were white... Wednesday's Take Back the Night rally, planned months ago, drew nearly a thousand people. Students and residents walked nearly a mile from East Campus to the landmark chapel on West Campus, chanting, 'Hey, hey, ho, ho, all rape has got to go.' Ignacio Adriasola, an art history graduate student, had a sign taped to his shirt: 'It isn't what Duke has, but what it lax,' using the shorthand word for lacrosse.”
* A week before the Listening Statement appeared, the students' lawyers were already concerned about prejudicial pretrial publicity.
* On April 1, 2006, the N&O printed “District Attorney Mike Nifong said Friday that no charges will be filed in the investigation of a report of rape at a Duke University lacrosse party until at least the week of April 10. He also said he won't release DNA results that had been expected next week. The tests, which are comparing the DNA of 46 lacrosse players with samples taken from the accuser as well as from towels, rags and rugs in the house where the party was held, could be completed next week, Nifong said." Thus April 10th was an important day. If the DNA came back negative, a dismissal of claims might follow. Lubiano directed her colleagues to review the Listening Statement quickly: "We’re trying for Thursday (04/05) if we can do it; if not, then next Monday (04/10)." Thus, it appears that Lubiano prepared the "Listening ad" quickly, so that it could be run before a possible announcement that no lacrosse players would be charged with a crime.

I (AMac this time) compiled this because I agree with one of Rich's contentions: "before people can disagree [or agree] with the statement, they have to actually get right what it's saying."

Rich's original claim was that the statement does not prejudge the guilt of the students. He is willing to also claim that the statement is "about" the lacrosse team incident in the sense of the incident as focus for societal racism, not the incident as criminal case.

In contrast, I agree with Tortmaster that the Listening Statement does prejudge the guilt of the Lacrosse players. I claim that Lubiano and the signers used the Lacrosse Rape--the criminal case--as the means by which to advance their broader agenda at Duke. The text of the Listening Statement and the context and timing of its publication all lend support to this notion.

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