Innocent Duke Lacrosse Players Slimed Once Again

In a failed apparent attempt to provide some balance to the paper's shoddy pro-prosecution coverage of the Duke lacrosse "rape" hoax, Sunday's Sports section featured sports reporter Pete Thamel on the reinvigorated 2007 Duke lacrosse team, which that morning was on the verge of making it to lacrosse's "Final Four" (Duke advanced, winning the match against instate rival North Carolina).

Yet in "This Time, Spotlight Is Kinder To Duke," Thamel managed to locate ubiquitous popular culture commenter Robert Thompson to make the defensive suggestion that while the Duke players may have been innocent of rape, they may have been guilty of...being college students:

"Thompson was quick to point out the complexities in the Duke case, which he predicted could be glossed over if the team were to make a run to the national championship. The Duke players hired strippers for their party and were heard by neighbors making racist remarks that night. Reports later surfaced that 15 team members had been arrested in the three years before the party in March 2006.

Check out the blood-curdling nature of those crimes, which Thamel added in a parenthetical: "(Most were for misdemeanors like public urination, under-age drinking and violating noise ordinances.)"

Either Thompson or Thamel seems to be stuck on Times reporter Duff Wilson's notorious, now-discredited front-page article from August 2006, which temporarily propped up the prosecution's bogus rape case made the same allegation, with the same certitude, about team members shouting "racist remarks."

But the final North Carolina Attorney General report stated that it was the other dancer who made the first racial remark, not a lacrosse player. As for the misdemeanor arrests, not uncommon among the fraternal element of college campuses - that has what to do, exactly,with false allegations of rape? Not to mention credible allegations of discrimination by local cops against Duke students, ashistory professor/case expert K C Johnson has pointed out.

Thamel continued: "Shadee Malaklou, who graduated from Duke last weekend and was a columnist for the campus newspaper, The Chronicle, said she was uncomfortable with the potential of turning the Duke lacrosse players into heroes who had overcome adversity.

"'Everyone thinks since the charges were dropped that they did nothing wrong,' said Malaklou, who majored in cultural anthropology and women's studies. 'They think college kids will be college kids and boys will be boys.'"

Did Thamel even glance at some of the stuff that his out-of-nowhere source, feminist activist-columnist-student Malaklou, has actually written about the "rape" case? Because she's a bizarre choice as a voice of reason, given rants like this from November 2006 - a time long after most of the rest of the media, if not the Times, had backed off disgraced North Carolina District Attorney Michael Nifong (who later had ethics charges leveled against him by the North Carolina State Bar).

Malaklou dismissed all that American innocent-till-proven-guilty-bilge and supported Nifong's rogue harassment in a guest piece for the November 19, 2006 Durham Herald-Sun that read like a parody of feminist extremism: "Much of this emphasis on 'innocence' has ignored the gender and racial prejudice of the March 13 party. If nothing else, Nifong is holding the lacrosse players accountable for that; and as a woman at Duke who knows just how much these men get away with, I'm thankful....A rape may not have occurred on March 13, but as a woman on Duke's campus, as a Woman's Studies major, and as activist for survivors of sexual assault, I assure Mr. Cheshire that these men are not innocent, nor are they upstanding citizens of Duke or Durham law....Nifong might not be in the right legally, but that doesn't mean he's not doing the right thing."

Reporter Thamel eventually got to more positive aspects of the Duke lacrosse team, including its fundraisingfor a local Ronald McDonald House for terminally ill children.