Thursday, April 28, 2011
Silence: One Way Truth Loses
The Duke Lacrosse case is still not over
What can be said about a criminal case in which the mainstream media became a lynch mob, the district attorney’s maneuvering led to disbarment, the left screamed “racism!,” political candidates ran on the promise of justice, and dozens of faculty members at an elite college publicly demanded the conviction of its own students before trial?
In 2006 three Duke University students and lacrosse players were accused of rape by a black stripper named Crystal Mangum. Even though two of the students had rock-solid alibis for when the assault supposedly occurred, they were all indicted. After months of travesty, the accusations were revealed as outrageous lies. What then did the lynch-itchy crowd say? Next to nothing.
Lawsuits have surrounded the Duke lacrosse rape case since 2007. Three of them, taken collectively, constitute one of the most significant political and legal battles of our time. What have you heard of them? Next to nothing.
The Original Duke Case
Three young men were pitted against the entrenched corruption of a court system, an ambitious district attorney, a police department, and the left-biased academia to whom they had entrusted their futures. While DA Michael Nifong hid evidence and Duke University paid for an ad in which 88 faculty members denounced the accused, self-proclaimed civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson played the race card whenever Mangum’s shifting story was questioned.
All the students had on their side was truth, the support of family and friends, and the unflagging analysis of a handful of bloggers. Truth won.
But the win is being reversed by silence. Despite the three-ring circus that has ensued since charges were dropped, the normally scandal-hungry media remains mute. Those who cried, “Hang them now; try them later!” have moved on without apology.
If the current struggle to procure justice were allotted one-tenth the attention given to the false charges, the Duke case would shine a badly needed spotlight on some of the worst institutional wrongs in our society.
When the criminal case crumbled spectacularly, most people assumed the matter was over; after all, there was little in the media to suggest otherwise. Those few who still followed the case probably assumed that Nifong’s disbarment was the final chapter.
But from the moment all charges were dropped on April 11, 2007, those victimized by Duke University and the Durham police department have been seeking remedies for the burlesque of justice they endured. The victims include more than the three indicted students. For example, in 2010 ex-lacrosse coach Mike Presser settled a slander suit against Duke. Presser, who led the Duke team to national renown, was pushed out by the administration shortly after the accusations arose.
The media silence continued, even regarding the slow-motion train wreck that became Crystal Mangum’s life. She has been arrested on charges ranging from arson to child abuse, but the coverage generally has been either brief and matter-of-fact or sympathetic.
Now the silence may be breaking. Mangum’s current indictment on a murder charge has caused some commentators to revisit the parody of justice called the “Duke case.” The Atlantic, for example, is to be applauded for leading the discussion.
As for the rest of the media and the left, they have another chance to act with decency.
Law Suits Proceed
As for the three lawsuits wending their way through the courts since 2007, last month a federal judge gave them the green light. Two were brought by most members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team, who seek redress from Duke and the city of Durham. Among the charges: Police violated their constitutional rights by requiring the submission of DNA evidence based on false information provided by Duke.
The remaining suit was brought by the three indicted players. Because they settled with Duke earlier, the suit focuses on the misconduct of specific police officers in the department. For example, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb is being sued for violating Fourth Amendment rights, obstructing justice, and making false public statements.
The suits are a rare opportunity to lift the veils that protect academic, police, and court misconduct from public view. Any media outlet that considers police corruption and the ability of ambitious district attorneys to destroy the innocent to be newsworthy will follow the suits closely.
Or will journalism be left to the bloggers again?
Britain a world leader in working mothers: And it's harming children's development, warns global report
Half of British mothers now go out to work before their child’s first birthday – despite clear evidence it can harm their development, an authoritative international report has found.
Mothers in the UK are more likely to rush out to work than those in other Western countries, ignoring research that those who stay at home tend to bring up children who are better behaved and do well at school.
The report quotes studies which found that children of working mothers fare worse in reading and maths tests, tend to be more badly behaved and are more likely to have attention problems.
Critics say the report lays bare the extent to which successive governments have harmed a generation of youngsters by encouraging women to put their children into care and go out to work.
Only Denmark has a higher proportion of mothers in paid work when the child is a year old. The 279-page study paints a depressing picture of family life in Britain, with single parenthood, cohabitation and illegitimacy all on the rise. Called Doing Better For Families, it was compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents 34 industrialised nations.
Just a day before the Royal Wedding which will celebrate the institution of marriage, the study shows that just 64.5 per cent of British children grow up with two married parents.
The report shows that in most of the world, maternal employment does not harm child development – but this is not the case in the UK and the U.S..
More than a quarter of mothers in the UK – 28 per cent – are in paid work before their child is six months old. But the children of mothers who go to work before they are six months old end up performing worse at vocabulary tests at the age of five, and significantly worse at reading and maths at seven compared to the children of stay-at-home mums.
The correlation is the same, but less marked, for children whose mothers waited until they were between six months and a year to go to work.
In both cases, the OECD says that attainment and behaviour are even more affected if the working mother is educated to degree-level. Around a third of British women with degrees are back at work within six months.
The report says: ‘In the UK, early maternal employment (full-time and part-time) appeared to have a very small negative association with vocabulary test scores for children aged four to five.
Maternal employment also has a serious effect on behaviour and attention spans by the time the child is seven, again with the situation more marked if the mother went to work before the child was six months.
The OECD suggests that this may be to do with the quality of childcare in the UK. Good childcare is the most expensive in the Western world.
Norman Wells of pressure group Family and Youth Concern, said children were losing out because mothers were under such pressure to go back to work earlier. ‘Too often the needs of children take second place to the desires of a minority of women to impose their feminist agenda on every family,’ he said.
In another sign of Broken Britain, the OECD report demonstrates that we have one of the highest rates in the world for divorces involving children. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of our divorces are among couples with children. In Italy the figure is a third.
The report also shows how the benefits system creates an incentive for parents to live apart. Single parents get the sixth best deal in the West, while couples get the tenth worst.
Our young people are more likely to cohabit than almost anywhere else in the world. Some 24 per cent of 20 to 34-year-olds are living with a partner – a proportion only exceeded in the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
The report also shows that Britain has seen one of the sharpest rises in illegitimate births. Some 45 per cent of births now take place outside marriage.
British safety madness again: Butlins bans bumping on the bumper cars
When Sir Billy Butlin introduced bumper cars to Britain more than 80 years ago, it can be assumed he expected holiday makers to have fun on the fairground ride bumping into each other. But what Sir Billy did not foresee was the modern culture of health and safety that has not only introduced seat belts and insisted everyone drives in the same direction, but banned bumping.
Staff at all three Butlin resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness are instructed to ban anyone found guilty of bumping into each other in the electric cars equipped with huge bumpers.
Bemused customers who assume that the ‘no bumping sign’ is in jest are told to drive around slowly in circles rather than crash into anyone else for fear of an injury that could result in the resort being sued.
Telegraph columnist Michaal Deacon, who has just returned from a holiday at the Bognor Regis resort, said the experience was like “trundling round an exitless roundabout”.
“I’m not convinced that the dangers were great, given that the bumper cars were equipped with bumpers,” he said. “Seat belts, too. There were no airbags for the drivers, but it can be only a matter of time.”
Butlins confirmed that people are not allowed to bump the bumper cars for “health and safety reasons”. In fact the resorts insist on calling the experience Dodgems rather than bumper cars.
Jeremy Pardey, resort director at Bognor Regis, said there have been injuries in the past including broken bones, due to people bumping into each other. He said the rules are “pretty vigilant” to avoid anyone being hurt, although customers are not asked to wear crash helmets.
But he insisted people have “great fun” dodging one another by crossing the circle of traffic and over taking. “The point of our Dodgems is to dodge people, not to run into people,” he said.
Sir Billy Butlin was the first person to introduce the concept of driving electric cars, equipped with large bumpers, around a flat ride. He brought the UK franchise for Dodgem Cars, a brand of bumper cars manufactured in the US, and introduced them at his holiday camps in 1923.
The ride is now common on most fairgrounds and it is generally accepted that the point is to try and get around as fast as possible by dodging other people and even bumping off rivals.
Although many fairgrounds do have signs saying ‘no bumping’ for health and safety reasons or even for fear of litigation, few fairgrounds ban people for breaking the rules.
Anecdotal evidence suggest people have tried to get compensation for whiplash or other injuries sustained on the Dodgems, but there has not been a single successful case. In fact, more than one firm of solicitors uses the level of impact one would receive from a dodgem crash as an example of where a neck injury compensation claim would not succeed. It would also be difficult to prove some fault on the part of another dodgem driver.
David Cameron has pledged to tear up "mad health and safety rules" that have prevented firemen and police doing their jobs properly.
British police hunt joker who drew Hitler moustache
A rural police force has been criticised for starting an investigation after a poster making a local councillor look like Hitler was put up on a village notice board. At least four officers are said to have visited residents in the hamlet of Pitcombe, Somerset, after a poster of the Conservative councillor Mike Beech had a Hitler-like moustache drawn on it.
After seeing the poster, Mr Beech reported it to the police. Officers began an inquiry under the Public Order Act, saying that the poster could be deemed to cause “harassment, alarm and distress” to the councillor.
Officers even conducted house-to-house inquiries, visiting homeowners at each of the hamlet’s 20 houses. Villagers said the investigation was “an outrageous waste of police and taxpayers’ money”.
David Issitt, a 58-year-old carpenter who lives in Pitcombe, said: “Everyone I have spoken to thinks it is completely over the top. Even the constable who visited me told me he had better things to do.
“The police came to the village three times - it was a complete waste of time by the police. They have far better things to do than following up complaints like that.
“The police even came knocking on people’s doors in the evening. If my shed was broken into would I have received such a tenacious response?
“If Mr Beech is involved in politics, I’d suggest he grows a thicker skin. It was simple lampooning and he needs to learn to laugh at himself.” Mr Beech, a Conservative member of South Somerset district council and former chairman of Pitcombe Parish Council, admitted he had called in the police because he was a “bit offended” by the picture which made him look like the former Nazi leader.
“This is something I am trying to forget. Basically the picture was put on the noticeboard and I took advice from the political hierarchy and they said it was probably best to report it.”
Pitcombe is home to an estimated 40 people and only 13 crimes have been reported in the hamlet and surrounding villages all year.
Avon and Somerset Police confirmed a complaint had been made about posters put up on the village noticeboard, which is not lockable.
A spokesman said: “Police started an inquiry under the Public Order Act that the posters could be deemed to cause 'harassment, alarm or distress’ to an individual. “There is no CCTV in the village, although house-to-house enquires have been undertaken. Officers are duty bound to investigate formal complaints of criminal damage.”
Earlier this month, neighbouring Gloucestershire police were criticised after spending £20,000 on an operation to arrest suspected scrap metal thieves after they took 47p worth of scrap from a skip.
Last year, it was claimed that a police force sent a van full of officers to oversee a calendar model posing in the street in her underwear. Thames Valley Police said that they were acting on a tip-off that Rebecca Hill planned to walk naked down the street.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.