Acton Institute Powerblog

The Duke Case in Review: Justice Prevails, Virtue Interprets

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Anthony Bradley revisits the case of the Duke lacrosse team, and finds that most everyone involved — including op-ed pundits — had something to learn from the scandal. “This case reminds us that broken, weak-willed women can easily be taken advantage of and can easily deceive,” he writes. “America was ‘called out’ as a culture more concerned about its kids’ achievements than their moral formation.”

Read the full commentary here.

Jonathan Spalink


  • Linda Malcak

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I hope that the young men of the Lacrosse team have learned their lesson…but I wouldn’t bet on it. And, why doesn’t Duke crack down on underage drinking. If, after one warning, there was a second incident…that student should be expelled, no questions asked or answered. It would only take a couple for the rest to get the message.

  • Esquire

    Anthony: Thanks for the laugh. What a bunck of crap.

    The accuser, who is a mental case, has been charged with crimes, has numerous children out of wedlock, who’s job is as a "stripper," and who created a story that caused three innocent men to be charged with felonies, is someohow comparable with the three falsely accused in your eyes? Do you feel well?

  • J Lodman

    Yawn. Just another attempt to press your own morality onto others as “truth”

  • Marc

    J Lodman:

    so… exactly whose morality would you prefer to be pressed onto us? Or is there no such thing as “truth”?

  • Ben

    Mr. Bradley,

    I’m with the others here, what morality are you trying to force upon us?

    And please, sir, read the Coleman report.

    Finally, I see you’re at a religious institution. Do you consider yourself a Christian?

    If you do, I hope that you reevaluate your bigoted, hateful and deceiving views.

  • Schmoe

    Where to begin??

    "What if the Duke Lacrosse team had lived such admirable lives on Duke’s campus that, when they were accused of doing wrong, it would have been immediately assumed to be ridiculous?"

    Except plenty of people with agendas had the long knives out, didn’t they Mr. Bradley? The kind of Faculty and Activists who couldn’t wait for a case of a black woman accusing white men of rape. How do I know this? Their subsequent inability to note that Magnum’s allegations are all false.

    Quick hint, if the foundation you built your argument on crumbles, doesn’t matter how high you built it. The argument still crumbles as well.

    "Crystal Gail Mangum, the accuser, and the three players were all in the same moral boat."

    So let me get this straight: Drinking alcohol and hiring strippers (both legal in that state) is equivalent to charging rape, continuing the allegations when the evidence proves you wrong, and slandering to attempt to get three men convicted for a decade or two for a crime they didn’t commit.

    Interesting moral structure there.

    "Our justice system works."

    Last I checked, its not our system for the justice system to include the state bar submitting charges against a DA while a case is ongoing. Both has never happened before, and is against the State Bar’s own guidelines.

    Its also unheard of for a DA to tout the innocence of the accused. Furthermore, the ‘working system’ had hid DNA evidence, manufactured lineups, and pressured a likely defense witness. Those outside the system (i.e., KC Johnson, 60 minutes) did far more to expose the light on this fraud then the system did.

    "patients from upper-middle class backgrounds are “indulged, coddled, pressured, and micromanaged on the outside, [they] appeared to be inadvertently deprived of the opportunity of develop” on the inside"

    The implied ‘underdeveloped’ players apologized for even being at the party. Refused to sue the accuser (well within their rights) and were contrite in trying to reach out to the community in their statements. In fact, Seligmann even referred to less fortunate people who could suffer such injustice.

    Sounds more developed than the host of journalists than assumed guilt and refused to admit their wrong.

    "While many of the details of the Duke University rape case may never be resolved, "

    Can you cite those details, or is this an attempt to minimize and confuse AG Roy Cooper’s statement that they are innocent?

    All in all, a sloppy article that attempts to write off any mistake on your part by implying it was justified to assume their guilt based on drinking, and hiring strippers, standard fare on Universities these days.

    Or maybe this article by you:

    "Wanted: A Duke Lacrosse Team Hero"

    "There must be at least one man on the team whose conscience is ablaze at the flammable injustice of what he saw, heard, or knows and wants to stand up and shout, “ENOUGH!! Here’s what really happened.”

    Maybe he fears the rejection or possible retaliation the truth will bring? Maybe he fears the label “traitor?” What this man needs to know is that “selling out” a few teammates for the sake of justice and neighbor love is one of the most valiant, honorable, and costly actions a man could ever take. America should expect real men to have the character to stand up and fight for the good because doing so honors the dignity of the human person, builds community, and liberates the soul. On the foundation of such courage is erected the culture that can sustain free and economically vibrant communities."

    Trying taking you own advice, be a man, and apologize yourself. Lead by example.

  • gak

    Mr. Bradley, Why do you insist on pushing lies. Lets start with the "drunken party". There was drinking there as reported, but it was the accuser that was falling down. The rest of this is just jibberish as well. Guess has an agenda, huh?

  • Ken

    I’d like to echo much of what Schmoe stated. You are right that when you hire a stripper you are asking for trouble. After that, though, your argument falls a part. Hiring a stripper, as morally degrading as that is, does not come close to being as serious as falsely accusing someone for rape and being raked over the coals on a national level for over a year without a shred of evidence. There’s no moral equivalence here. The justice system "worked" only because of tremendous public pressure and the aggressiveness of some dedicated defense lawyers. Otherwise, these innocent men would be spending many years in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.

  • Andy

    I see that writing for the Acton Institute doesn’t produce moral virtue either.

  • Dr. Fred Darnley

    As a formerly-proud Duke alum, I must say that I am as disturbed by your two commentaries on this needless brouhaha as I am by the response of the Duke administration. Had the Presidents during my 4 years there done what this president did, there would, in all probability, be no Duke University today. One thing is certain: due to their stellar leadership, none of the cheap shots were fired that have been an everyday occurence for the past year.

    My time there encompassed the four most turbulent in the university’s history, (1967-71). My classmates and college mates were at the forefront of the civil rights movement and were rewarded as one might suspect. Rather than condemming us, as this president has done with these three students, the experience was used by the two presidents during that time to build both the Duke community and the Durham community in toto.

    Fractious? Confrontational? Divisive? Try two events with Durham police running students all over campus. Try students blockading the main entrance to the campus. Try student strikes and various other forms of civil disobeience. Net result, due to actual leadership: a tighter community than ever.

    This president was not prepared to deal with two serious issues facing Duke in Durham, (it rhymes with "germ", in the local vernacular):

    1. The sheer hatred that people in North Carolina have for the university based upon misleading, stereotypical data of the worst sort. And data that Mr. Brodhead did nothing to refute – namely that the student body is comprised of nothing but rich, elitist white people. From the North, no less. Need I mention Virginia Tech to point out where that sort of thinking leads? Not only did he reinforce that view of the student body, he embellished it with his strategic periods of silence: "monsters"; "elitist creeps"; and so forth, went without response. Stereotype confirmed in the absence of reproach, (after all, how could the president actually defend three "white" guys who had been with two "black" women, offense or no offense. Actually, that thinking is a throwback to the days in which I was in school.); and,

    2. The need for leadership in times of crisis. If it were easy being a college president, to quote a good friend, everyone would be doing it. Presidents of prestigious institutions, such as Duke University, (and Princeton before Duke), are chosen for that position based upon their ability to assess all pertinent data in a given situation and to come up with a solution that fits both the here and now of those circumstances, as well as the long-term effects of that decision. By nullifying both the principle of in loco parentis and the American system of jurisprudence, (namely, that an American is innocent until proven guilty), Mr. Brodhead put the futures of both the students and the University at risk for no apparent reason. One need drive only 8 miles west of Durham to experience such acts on a daily basis. To destroy the lives and careers of three solid young men, as well as the institution in which they were enrolled, at least for the time being, gives life to a new term: to brodhead = to throw under the bus.

    The prosecutor was a runaway due to lack of leadership, the faculty reared their seriously ugly, free heads as a result of vacuous leadership, and the media had a free shot for some twelve months, (you included), as a result of the leadership void shown by Mr. Brodhead.

    As a concerned alum and friend of the University, I can only hope that a new administration can restore most, if not all, that was lost. It has certainly broken my heart.

    As to Ms. Malcak’s comments, they brought to mind a conversation that I had with a freshman during freshman orientation week my junior year, (I was a volunteer to help during that week). The freshman, who was a confessed drug dealer, ironically from a most prominent family, said:
    "There ought to be a law against selling drugs to kids in high school"

    My response: "There already is a law against that. In fact, there is a law against selling drugs to anyone."

    His answer: "Oh, yeah."

    Ms. Malcak – underage drinking is already against the rules and there are already penalties in place to deal with such.

  • Craig Hunter

    Who does your research, fellow? As mentioned by another poster, read the Coleman Report.

    I’ll give you a pass on the harsh judgements of previous posters. Have you been so misinformed? Some reading for you, obviously you would like to find out the truth: the blog Durham-in-Wonderland, by KC Johnson. A real eye-opener. I can guarantee that everything you see there has been double-checked for accuracy and has been shown to be true as the facts of the case were revealed. It almost sounds as if the NCNAACP has been your source for info on the case. Bad choice, fellow. They are just a good place to find out how poor the leadership is at that level. A close look at their statements throughout the year only shows that hypocrits come in all colors. I’m sure you will see the harm they have done to the cause of civil rights. Their credibility is near zero.

    Your writing style and grammar reveal the intelligence you have. Don’t let the misinformation bug become your trademark. Find out the facts before you give opinions on subjects. It really is all about the credibility. Giving people what you think they want to hear, in the end, is a very poor substitute.

    Thanks for reading.

    Craig Hunter
    Greensboro, NC

  • GaryB

    "Crystal Gail Mangum, the accuser, and the three players were all in the same moral boat."

    Muddle-headed upside down morality. Thinking requires making distinctions. Let me try to help here:

    Attempting to imprison young adults for most of their productive lives in order to obtain money or revenge even at the cost of hurting other women who may actually have been raped and at the cost of causing needless racial hatred. Pretty bad in my way of thinking.

    Contrast this to:

    Attending a somewhat dubious college party, having a beer or beers, leaving early when bored and/or attempting to pay those hired even though the "product" wasn’t delivered. I’m not ready to cast the first stone on this one, I don’t even see any evidence in all of this to call them "louts". Especially when one factors in good grades, good athletics and charitable work thereafter.

    Take the mote out of your eye and try to see the facts for what they are. I see very different moral boats here.

  • DMcG

    Was it unreasonable, however, to believe that the type of men who would hire a stripper would also be capable of sexual assault? The answer is yes.

    Was it unreasonable to imagine that a woman who takes her clothes off and dances for cash is also the type of woman who would lie about being raped?

    The answer again, is yes.

    The ‘type’ing of people is stereotyping.

    The fact remains that these men ordered ‘adult entertainment’ that is legal in NC.

    If it was a group of women ordering a stripper-gram, it woul dbe viewed as female empowerment.
    Get off the moral high horse. Since the three falsely accused were declared innocent of the charges, you must continue to pillory them. It seems you are disappointed that a crime was not committed.

    Kim Roberts used vulgarity attacking a man’s sexuality, and she is the first that used a derogotory racist comment "white boy", but I see and hear no moralizing about that convicted embezzler. . .

    If you want to be a moral crusader, then use you r power to shut these outcall businesses down.

  • Cliff Washington

    Anthony there is clearly NO Winners in this case or issue. I have been waiting for this article and as expected I see you have many to oppose your thoughts. At least one wrote: "Your writing style and grammar reveal the intelligence you have". I guess that means: "YOU Are Articulate". I thank God our justice system does work -sometime, and it is my prayer that the four victums will find peace at some point!

    Peace & Love!

  • Tim

    I’m guessing this article is a joke, right?

    It was written by Don Imus when he starting getting drunk again after being fired…


  • Brad Petersen

    Wow! Because of one immature — and much apologized for — misstep, Mr. Bradley concludes that these boys are lacking in "virtue, character, and integrity" and enjoy "misogyny."

    Nothing else they’ve done in their lives matters. Their apologies don’t matter. Anything good they’ve done in their lives doesn’t matter. The fact that they took full responsibility, apologized for their actions, and cooperated with the police doesn’t matter. They are bad boys and we must judge and condemn them with all the venom we can muster.

    Also note the curious lack of moral indignation at the fact that the Mike Nifong and the Durham Police Department tried to frame Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann, and send them to prison for 30 years for something that never happened. Yet he finds plenty of space to get indignant about their underage drinking and urinating in public, crimes not even worth mentioning compared to those committed by the police and the DA.

    The full-grown adults in this case — including Nifong and his allies, along with Duke’s despicable President and numerous faculty members — behaved in a far more reprehensible manner than the lacrosse players, but Mr. Bradley gives them all a pass. Mr. Bradley, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • A. Wright

    I simply amazing how the majority of these comments are all about the mistreatment of these "rich" white college males. Fact of the matter is, this case is a wake up call for those who have been systemically deprived of worthy legal counsel—ie. BLACK PEOPLE.

    Whether the young lady was stripping or bagging groceries, the way she was treated was wrong. Dehumanization seem only to be acceptable when the victims are black and the perpentraters are WHITE. Oh sure, there isn’t anything wrong with white males requesting a black woman to parade around nake and they made the same lude and degrading remarks and jesters their fathers and grandfathers made. They are in North Carolina so why not treat her like a disposal or a piece of meat? She’s a black woman stripping for a living. She has no self worth.

    Anthony Bradley, you are joke. If this was a black athlete and a white woman (Kobe Bryant) his ass would be in jail or playing out of his nose to stay out. Justice is afforded to the highest bidder. The one who can pay and whose family has the political power will stay out of jail. That’s the American morals and virtue.