A perfunctory Duke lacrosse legal update

Remember April 2011, when I took a peek at the latest developments in the Duke lacrosse players’ legal action (filed by the players who were NOT wrongly accused of rape) against the school? And then a bunch of people flooded my comments and insisted that the ruling at the time was a Really Bad Thing for Duke because everyone from a possibly crooked nurse to the guy who plays the carillon would have to step up in court and be grilled under oath?

This week, the major remaining lawsuit was quietly settled. Another one remains. Says KC Johnson, the professor/blogger who turned a quest for justice into a crusade against all things Duke: “The McFadyen lawsuit, for the three plaintiffs represented by Bob Ekstrand, remains alive. This news nonetheless means that chances of Duke being held accountable in court for its mistreatment of its students are very slim indeed.”

You may recall that I’ve always seen a certain irony in Johnson’s blog and his followers. It started as a just response to “groupthink,” which was leading angry mobs to judge the players prematurely. Then it became “groupthink,” with people buying into every wacky conspiracy theory about Duke’s actions in the case.

Johnson has moved on to “Minding the Campus,” another effort at fighting academic “groupthink” excesses (a legitimate cause) that links to Instapundit and the National Review (but not, say, The Washington Post’s education coverage) in the name of “intellectual pluralism.”

But this is too harsh on Johnson, who has written some thoughtful pieces on Penn State. And he has been criticized on his blog for it.

The lesson: Groupthink is a bad thing. Rushes to judgment are bad. Angry mobs are bad.

And at some point, you have to say enough’s enough and move on. I hope the three wrongly accused men are faring well in their careers. Meanwhile, the truly evil actors in this case (the accuser, the prosecutor) are the only ones who haven’t carried on with their lives. And that’s how it should be.

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