Yesterday, we announced that we would be exploring more aspects and details of the Duke University lacrosse case as recorded by KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor in their book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case
. As I mentioned, disgraced DA Mike Nifong’s actions were effective largely because a gullible Duke community allowed them to be. Nifong may have never attempted such actions had the academic community vehemently condemned the case’s lack of procedural due process and legal inconsistencies.
Instead of doing so, however, Duke President Richard Brodhead obtusely announced that the university “can’t speak with certainty of matters that only the criminal justice system can resolve.” Actually, Brodhead didn’t believe that. In 2003, while Dean of Yale University, Brodhead signed a letter to the New York Board of Parole on behalf of Kathy Boudin. Boudin had been a member of the Weather Underground and was serving a twenty-years-to-life sentence for murder and robbery. Her son was then a student at Yale. In 2005, as President of Duke, he wrote a letter to the president of Armenia asking for the release of a Duke graduate student who apparently had been arrested on apparently political grounds. These actions have a certain political backing on college campuses and bespeak a concern for justice. But when the Duke lacrosse case arose and was politically unpopular with the campus establishment, Brodhead was perfectly happy to throw his students to the wolves, justice be damned.
One of the perennial problems confronting students’ rights on college campuses is the university president who is simply unwilling to uphold them. We’ve seen this before. FIRE friends will remember the case of Justin Park
at Johns Hopkins University
. Johns Hopkins President William Brody was willing to severely punish student Justin Park for an innocuous party advertisement on Facebook.com just because certain members of the Johns Hopkins community found the advertisement offensive. These actions earned Johns Hopkins a place on FIRE’s notorious Red Alert
Johns Hopkins University is not an institution one would wish to attend if one harbored any hope for due process and legal fairness. Neither is Duke.