Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mike Nifong, pedophile priests, and what I wonder about

Thomas Sowell has written several columns on District Attorney Mike Nifong and his prosecution of the three Duke University lacrosse players accused of raping a stripper. You can find the latest here at the Creators Syndicate site.


For those of you who were recently rescued from desert islands, this is increasingly looking like the biggest case of prosecutorial misconduct since the days when "Guilty by reason of being Black" was an acceptable argument. Except now the shoe is on the other foot - dumb white jocks are guilty until proven innocent beyond what even the idiot academics at Duke can stomach.

The high points so far:

- The alleged victim told a story that kept changing. Not to worry, the DA didn't interview her or any of the accused.

- It turned out the victim had made a previous false rape accusation, and it seemed that not even her own family believes her.

- Her co-worker at the party told a different and contradictory story.

- The alleged victim was shown a photo lineup of all the members of the Duke lacrosse team - with no "ringers" in the lineup at all, contrary to long-established police procedure.

- One of the accused had a rock-solid allibi. A cab driver (African-American in fact and a stand up guy it seems, he's taken a lot of flack for this) told police that he was in his cab at an ATM at the time of the alleged rape - and the ATM obligingly took a timed video.

- And now, Ta-da! It turns out that Nifong was in possession from the very beginning of DNA evidence that indicated that the stripper was a veritable sperm bank of DNA samples - not a damn bit of which belonged to ANY of the Duke Lacrosse team, AND which he had conspired to supress in spite of rules that require him to share any potentially exculpatory evidence.

What Dr. Sowell pointed out in his latest column on the subject was that Nifong at the time of the alleged incident was interim appointed DA, running for the office for the first time, against a woman he had previously fired.

Are we beginning to see a pattern here?

Those idiot jocks are innocent and Mike Nifong has known it all along. He deliberately undertook to prosecute people he knew were not guilty, knew in fact that there had been no rape, for personal advantage - to keep a job.

Lessons learned:

1) Injustice is blind too. This kind of thing used to happen too often in the South to Black people - look up the Scottsboro Boys http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotsborough_boys . Evidently some Black people in Durham feel that it's payback time, abetted by idiot Whites who need to feel good about themselves in a way that doesn't cost them anything. They're not getting the point; any gaming of the justice system to screw people you don't like will turn around and bite you in the ass the next time you're the unpopular ones.

2) What those boys and their families probably don't appreciate right now, is that the system is working. Some at least. The case didn't after all stand, the facts were revealed, and Nifong looks more and more like he may be the one who faces jail time. The media has turned a local injustice into a national concern, and this just may provoke some really serious discussion on how to protect and recompense the innocent from malicious prosecution (given that even proving one's innocence can leave you bankrupt).

And what's realy cool is, the academics at Duke who supported the prosecution are revealed for the ideologues they are and their concern for "justice" as the sham that it is.

But (after that long-winded introduction) here's my point and the thing I wonder about: what was going through Mike Nifong's head during all of this? How in God's name does he justify this to himself? How can he live with himself? What does he say to himself, knowing that he is imposing terrible pain and financial loss on innocent men and their families?

I've written before http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/10/amish-tragedy.html how I can imagine the motives of some pretty horrible people. This however, is beyond me. I mean, it's a job for God's sake! A man with a law degree can always get another one in this litiginous country.

Now I get to make a really invidious, but not inappropriate comparison. This strikes me as being in the same league as pedophile priests, men charged with service to a community who betray their trust and their communicants to gratify their personal desires. What goes through their heads? What do they say to themselves about what they're doing?

Well, it could be that Nifong doesn't like college jocks, and the impression from their pictures, and the circumstances of the party make them out to be a somewhat unlovely bunch. Anybody living on or around a college campus with a strong athletic program can tell you stories about the behavior of the privileged athletes. Maybe Nifong got sand kicked in his face when he was a kid or something, and now he's kicking the law in their faces.

However I wonder if I didn't see the process of self-justification expressed in the oddest place several years ago.

There was a movie made from a Stephen King short story 'Silver Bullet' in 1985 http://imdb.com/title/tt0090021/ with Corey Haim and Garry Busey. Basic plot outline: a series of grisly murders terrifies a small New England town. Kid in a wheelchair suspects that it's really a werewolf. Turns out the werewolf is the local pastor.

At any rate, there is a scene where the pastor confronts the boy, knowing that he's found him out. He justifies himself, "Surely all the good I do... (when I'm not a werewolf) makes up for...(horribly murdering people on a monthly basis)."

Is that what goes through Mike Nifong and the pedophile priests' heads? I do X amount of good, so I get to indulge myself in Y amount of behavior I know is wrong? And of course, I have to get elected to do good...

Now one last question: What does it say about our culture that this is meaningfully discussed only in an obscure Grade B horror movie?


  • At 8:43 PM, Blogger Evanston said…

    The scary part is that these behaviors do not pop up out of the blue. I doubt that Mr. Nifong just thought "I think I'll help myself at the expense of others." No, I expect he has seen this sort of behavior modeled by others in many situations in his life, including his government service. He has just been more idiotic than most abusers.

  • At 5:50 AM, Blogger dissidenten said…

    Steve Brown: "the thing I wonder about: what was going through Mike Nifong's head during all of this? How in God's name does he justify this to himself? How can he live with himself? What does he say to himself, knowing that he is imposing terrible pain and financial loss on innocent men and their families?"

    Do you ask such questions about e.g. serial killers? I don't think that you do.

    Some people are ruthless - literally without any "ruth". Such a person feels no nead to justify his actions to himself.

    ("The word ruth is a Middle English word, first found in the twelfth century. Its meanings include 'pity; compassion; sorrow; grief; remorse'. In this bare form it's now becoming rare and archaic, but it's quite common in English literature. A few examples from the not-too-distant past: "Have ruth on me, and let me go!" (Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe (1819) (that archaic thing, of course); "His inexperience moved her gentle ruth/And (as her junior by six weeks) his youth" (Byron, Don Juan (1821)); "His own heart melted with ruth as he thought, while riding home, of the cruelty to which she had been and was subjected" (Anthony Trollope, Dr. Wortle's School (1881); "Methinks that I should have ruth upon you" (Arthur Conan Doyle, White Company (1890).")

    Put in a different way such a person was born with an empathy-bypass (and/or did not develop the capacity for empathy as very young child - the jury seems to be out on whether absence of empathy is present at birth in certain people or can fail to develop at a very young age <1 year old).

    Whether a ruthless person becomes a criminal, a District Attorney, a CEO or something else is probably largely a matter of chance and circumstance.

  • At 8:01 AM, Blogger Black Sea said…

    The film "The Thin Blue Line" is, among other things, a chilling exploration of prosecutorial misconduct.

    The DA responsible for wrongly convicting a man in the murder of a Dallas police officer refuses to be interviewed in the film, but it is reported by others that he was sometimes known to say, "Any DA can convict a guilty man, but it takes a GREAT DA to convict an innocent man."

    No doubt, people like this may last out an entire career. I believe the individual mentioned above was never formally investigated nor sanctioned, though the man wrongly convicted was ultimately cleared of the crime and released from prison.

  • At 8:44 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Actually, I have speculated on serial killers and have a few notions about what goes on in their heads. Killing at will may give something of the feeling of being God. Or even having power over God, seeing as how you can undo what only God can do.

    However, you raise an interesting point. Maybe these power-loving s.o.b.s are psychicly similar to serial killers, but just don't have the juevos to do it except under cover of law?

    I've never knowingly interacted with a serial killer but I have known a few sociopaths. My reading and experience suggests that it's congenital, they're born that way. Without what we call a conscience.

    What they seem to lack is the capability of visualizing the future as real. For example what would you say about a person of above-average intelligence, who writes a bad check to cover another bad check, telling a lie that is certain to be found out within 24 hours?

    Raises the point made by a friend on how to identify a sociopath, seeing as how they can be very charming. He said, look for someone who has no old friends. (Because he/ she burns them and has to keep making new friends.)

    A cop who'd been to the FBI crime school told me that sociopaths appear to grow a conscience in middle age. Unfortunately by that time they're often doing hard time somewhere. Which raises the question of whether they have grown a conscience - or learned to fool the shrink.

    And a social worker who was interested in the subject told me that what they call the 'well-adjusted sociopath' often wind up in either of two professions.

    One of them is (surprise! surprise!) lawyer. The other is high-pressure salesman. The kind who can pour on the charm to sell you something you don't need at a price you can't afford.

  • At 2:45 PM, Blogger dchamil said…

    What were they thinking? To some degree, those of us with a conscience don't know our fellow man. For some people, others are no more than furniture, standing in the way of their getting whatever they want.

  • At 2:21 PM, Blogger JOSHUA S BLACK said…

    The reason that people think in terms of a scale system (good outweighing bad, etc.), is that they don't recognize what Jesus said in Matthew 12:36: "Every idle word that a man shall speak, he shall give an account thereof on the Day of Judgment." People don't like to think of things this way, but God is the One who gives us every breath we take, and He therefore has the right to demand of us that we honor Him with every breath--or He has the right to take it from us. People ignore this very important truth at their own peril.

  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Bob said…

    Mike Nifong and other lawyers like him need to start to be accountable. They need to feel the extent of the law that they impart on others. The lacrosse players and their families ought to sue the pants off him to the point of making him homeless.

    Enough said......


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