Menckens Ghost

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To Kill a Duke Lacrosse Team

To Kill a Duke Lacrosse Team

A review of Until Proven Innocent:  Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, by Stuart Taylor, Jr. and K C Johnson

By Mencken’s Ghost

March 7, 2012

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960 and set in the Deep South of the 1930s, dramatized the ugly history of the Jim Crow era, when innocent blacks were railroaded by corrupt cops and courts and sometimes hanged by white lynch-mobs for alleged rapes of white women and other alleged crimes. In the novel, the protagonist is a decent, hard-working black man, Tim Robinson, who is falsely accused of rape by a lying, white-trash of a woman, Mayella Ewell. 

In 2005, or 45 years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, stereotypes about race had swung so far in the opposite direction that the novel’s theme was repeated in real life, but with a complete role reversal for the races.  As Until Proven Innocent masterfully and chillingly details, the white men of the Duke Lacrosse team became the new Tim Robinson.  Victims of racism and a lynch-mob mentality, the players were falsely accused in 2005 of raping a woman, but the woman in their case was a trashy black woman, not a trashy white woman. 

It is difficult to pick the worst villain in the book, because there are so many to choose from, including the following:

§         the dishonest and subsequently disbarred prosecuting attorney Michael Nifong, who withheld and manipulated evidence, violated legal and ethical standards, and played racial politics to get local black support for his upcoming election;

§         the cowardly Duke University President Richard Brodhead, who, caving to the lynch-mob mentality within the Durham community and within the Duke faculty and student body, treated the players as pariahs, suspended the rest of the lacrosse season and fired the upstanding and outstanding Duke Lacrosse coach;

§         the 88 Duke professors who demonized the lacrosse players in a public letter before knowing the facts;

§         such race hustlers as Jesse Jackson and such racists as the Black Panthers, who descended on Durham to engage in uncivil discourse and threaten the players; and

§          the black female accuser who changed her story multiple times and lied each time, who had a substance abuse problem, who worked in the sex trade, and who had a criminal record of stealing a taxi, taking police on a car chase, and trying to run down a policeman. (Ironically, amidst her demands for justice against the lacrosse players, it was overlooked that her own felonies had been reduced to misdemeanors in a plea agreement).


As bad as these villains are, my nomination for the worst villain is none of the above.  Rather, it is the mainstream media, including respected sources that, as Until Proven Innocent makes clear, are totally undeserving of respect, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and CNBC.  With very few exceptions (Sean Hannity being one of the notable ones), the media did one hatchet job after another for months on the lacrosse players, by presuming their guilt, repeating lies about them, displaying negatives about them on the front page and burying positives in the back pages, and otherwise failing to do basic journalism.  One of the bloodiest hatchets was wielded by big-time “reporter” Paula Zahn, who, in a testament to the low standards of the journalism profession and the mainstream media, was never scorned and shunned by her peers.

Most of these villains acted the way they did because they were steeped in the sophomoric and anti-intellectual propaganda about race, gender and class that pervades the K-12 public education monolith, higher education, the media, the popular culture, and even the White House and Congress.  Stuck in a time warp, they believe that Jim Crow still exists in America, that the white male establishment discriminates en masse against blacks and women, and that all whites come from privilege and engage in economic injustice, especially white lacrosse players who attended Northeastern prep schools.

Eager recipients of massive and effective brainwashing, these educationally impaired opinion makers fell for the false accusations in the Duke case because it matched their grossly distorted and racist belief system--namely, that whites are predators who commit crimes against blacks, not vice versa.  As such, they completely ignored the fact that black-on-white crimes, including rapes, happen exponentially more often than white-on-black crimes.  And even if the opinion makers were to admit such statistics, they would excuse the crimes as a striking out against white oppression and not as the result of their failed social-welfare policies.   

Until Proven Innocent is ostensibly about the injustices in the Duke Lacrosse case.  Actually, it is about the ease in which the intelligentsia and the masses can be brainwashed into believing groundless stereotypes.  In that sense, Americans are just as unenlightened as they were during Jim Crow.



Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at or

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