K C Johnson, the blogger who relentlessly covered the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, reports on an interesting collision between that scandal and one that's been written about a number of times here: the JuicyCampus Anonymous Libel Hubbub. (Ken, think up a better name please.)
Per Dr. Johnson:
In a recent radio interview, Duke’s Larry Moneta criticized a website called juicycampus.com. Moneta pointed to the site’s anonymous rumor-mongering to describe it (correctly) as worthy of condemnation.
Moneta’s outrage about the site prompted an understandable question from panelist Christopher Anderson, who wondered why Moneta hadn’t seemed concerned in spring 2006, when Duke professors and some students embarked on a rumor-mongering campaign against the lacrosse players. “I don’t see any correlation between the two incidents,” responded Moneta.
By way of background, Moneta is the Vice President of Student Affairs at Duke, and in 2006 would have been the official with the most direct interest in protecting students from baseless libel and slander, anonymous or not. His responsibilities certainly would have extended to protecting students from libel and slander by their own professors, as well as from retaliatory grading, all of which was visited on Duke lacrosse players.
Could it be that one reason Moneta wasn’t too concerned with the rumor-mongering of Holloway, Farred, and Wood was that he shared their basic approach to the case? This was, after all, the same Larry Moneta who—when the case first broke—dismissed attorney Samantha Ekstrand’s request that the administration protect the lacrosse players against the local mob and against Duke professors intent on retaliation. Why no concern with the lacrosse players? As Moneta told Ekstrand, “Frankly, Samantha, I don’t believe them.”
When pressed on the lacrosse case by Anderson, Moneta responded bluntly: “Not really a topic I’m interested in talking about.”
Translation: Not really a topic the University's lawyers are interested in allowing me to talk about.
Yet it seems to me that Moneta, by agreeing to cast stones for Duke on the JuicyCampus Anonymous Libel Hubbub, certainly opens the door to a wide-ranging and interesting discussion of defamation and the moral responsibility of those who are in a position to stop it but stand idly by. More than anyone except Duke President Richard Brodhead, it would seem Moneta had the power and the responsibility to step in and stop the faculty who dragged their students' names through the mud. He's the Matt Ivester of Durham.
Speaking of mud, Duke's lacrosse team will be playing for the national championship this weekend. While none of the three accused players still attends Duke, the team includes members who were around at the time of the hoax and who were among those attacked by their faculty.
As a UNC alumnus, I make it a rule, always, always, always to pull against Duke. If some kid is shooting free throws for a scholarship at halftime I hope he misses both. But this one time, I will maintain a polite neutrality, and not care whether Duke loses. That's the best I can do.