Stare Decisis

Sometimes a reader comes upon a story that reveals more of themself than the subject being examined. And after reflecting on the link referenced below, one of my own failings was made apparent. That is no matter the length of exposure, I am simply unable to acclimate to the thin air above a certain altitude of hypocrisy. That the West’s open-bordered canopy now consistently hovers over Everest is thus a matter of some inconvenience.

This realization was prompted by a piece in USA Today by a Doug Maceachern. He being a writer either too naive or obtuse to realize that the absolute last profession where one may make overt displays of curiosity is journalism. So before Mr. Maceachern commences his career in landscaping, here is the question he posed.

Where has the Duke “noose” story gone?

In the middle of last week, the story of a yellow-rope noose found hanging from a tree in a commons area of the Durham, N.C., university’s campus was roiling from coast to coast. And across the coast. It was an enormous story. And considering the how racial nerves continue to be frayed, post-Ferguson, the news interest was obvious.

In terms of coverage, the media at first let no one down. It was everywhere, including follow-up stories to the original reporting describing efforts to address the seemingly pervasive problem of campus racism. The story was depressing in its familiarity and coverage was everywhere, on every angle.

Until it wasn’t any more. The noose was discovered about 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. By Thursday afternoon, the university had collected enough evidence about who did it that officials were able to announce that a student had been identified and had admitted to the act.

Citing confidentiality issues, the university refused to identify who the student was, other than to say the student was no longer on campus. Not everyone is buying that “confidentiality” line. But, notably, every major national news outlet that is no longer publishing “Duke noose” stories — which includes, basically, every national news outlet — seems to be accepting the university’s rationale for silence.

The burst of news and commentary came to an end by Friday. Interest in the story has fallen off a cliff. A Nexis search of stories with the words Duke” and “noose” published between April 3 and today turns up little more than news briefs parenthetically mentioning what we already knew.

Now, it may be that one of the news organizations that have blanketed the Duke noose story is digging feverishly into a story about who the confessed perp is. They may be crossing the “ts” at this moment, laboring to get a sensitive story right while anxiously looking over their shoulders to see if their competitors have beaten them to the punch. That’s the news business. The race to break a big story.

Only that doesn’t seem to be happening. Since before the weekend, the churn of outraged commentary has flattened, pond-still. That doesn’t happen with a story that news organizations are excited about telling before their competitors do.

The identity of the person who hung a noose in the middle of the night on the Duke University campus is of obvious and undeniable interest. If it is, in fact, a White student — especially one who may have left a trail of racism prior to hanging the noose — then that conceivably would validate much of the concern raised about the Black experience on campuses like Duke.

From the day the noose was discovered, Duke administrators made it clear they were determined to track down the perpetrator, whose intent they knew to be creating racial strife on campus. Said vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta: “To whomever committed this hateful and stupid act, I just want to say that if your intent was to create fear, it will have the opposite effect.”
Until the perpetrator is identified, all that fear remains. The administration, the news media — both local and national — all have a compelling interest in identifying who this person is. But they are showing no interest in doing so any more. Why?

Why indeed? I’m afraid that’s a question that can only be answered by every cat, canary, and senile grandmother. So, by established precedent, when a matter of racial incitement occurs on an American campus the acknowledged perpetrator is permitted to quietly decamp under a cloak of anonymity. I mean, students have rights and universities have responsibilities. A president can’t simply ignore due process for his own preening photo ops.

But that’s not entirely true, is it? My God, this was an act of pure HATE, as described explicitly by the administration. So we patiently await the now regimented series of events:

Identification of the civil rights assailant

Sententious public denunciations

Candlelight vigils

University presidents and football coaches linking arms in marches of courageous solidarity

Legally waivered death threats and private residence encampments

Abject mea culpas and ritualized self-abasement

Finally, we proceed to the criminal penalties. Which, I will note, we just goddamn clearly established you fruit flies. Mr. Holder, please describe your view of nooses on campus:

“This shameful and ignorant act is an insult to all Americans and a violation of our most strongly-held values.”

Exactly. And who else is more aligned with “our” values than Eric Holder? So what is the Justice Department’s (sic) response to this heinous crime against the inanimate?

The FBI and the University of Mississippi are continuing the investigation, while the Department of Justice’s civil rights branch will be prosecuting those involved.

He will be charged with conspiracy to violate civil rights in a “flagrant” move to intimidate students of color.

My lawn jockey feels safer already. So please keep the country advised of your department’s investigation into the Duke noose hanging. We must allow this bigot no respite. Our values depend on it.

13 thoughts on “Stare Decisis

  1. “To whomever committed this hateful and stupid act”

    Lol at people trying to sound smart/authoritative by using whom in reference to the subject of a sentence

    • Oxford.

      In recent years, people have started to use themself to correspond to this singular use of they and them: it’s seen as the logical singular form of themselves. For example:

      This is the first step in helping someone to help themself.

      This form is not yet accepted by everyone, though, and you should avoid using it in formal written contexts.

      “Striving for acceptance by everyone” hasn’t yet made the tagline here.

      I like themself better in the singular context. Though you’re right, it’s not proper usage.

  2. Reading MacEachern’s piece is like watching a child nonchalantly playing with a piece of gelignite. The funny thing is, he’s an oldish guy. Maybe he’s so close to retirement that he thinks it doesn’t matter what he writes.

    I suppose there’s a good chance the hoaxer will be quietly readmitted at some stage. Nowhere does it say that he was permanently expelled.

  3. Search-engine “News” results from the query “Duke noose” are illuminating. I have been following the story closely since April 1.

    The aftershock built to a crescendo on April 2nd, when the “shaken” and “outraged” “community” was informed that the perpetrator of this illegal and Reprehensible act of HATE had confessed to Duke’s administrative officials.

    Over the next day or so, pre-planned demonstrations, whose cancellations would have prompted uncomfortable questions, were held as scheduled, and the community sang out with a unified voice of righteousness. This was followed by four days of silence, naturally. On April 6th, the Doug MacEachern opinion piece was published.

    The first comment on the article reads:

    “Wow. A whole (and long) column over something that isn’t being reported on anymore. (yawn) Apparently, some columnists have a difficult time coming up with interesting topics…”

    The Same commenter, later in the thread wrote:
    “What difference does it make? Is this really so important as to warrent this fuss? Is this the right and their polical correctness?”

    And that is apparently the end of the story.

  4. With the quiet and hasty disappearance of the story, we all know full well who the perpetrator isn’t. Which of course is the motivating reason behind it going away. Because God knows nobody would manufacture a racial discrimination story at “all too White Duke”. Would they?

  5. This story is dead. A cold wind, howling through an empty canyon kind of dead. It’s not sleeping…it wouldn’t pine if you put million volts through it. It is…an EX-story.

    It has been fascinating to witness. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Lord knows the Lie Masters are taking measurements, writing algorithms, or whatever.

    And so tomorrow is Monday, and I will re-engage with my fellows, and will think, repeatedly, without saying it, “you are asking the wrong questions”.

    It’s a buyer’s market for sailboats.

  6. Well said. Can you hear insolence over the silent din? The sound of a forming sneer? Events outside The Narrative simply cease. They are not, were not, will not. And they are expunged without trepidation. With no concern that bovine media consumers might peer up from their cud to notice. And what if they did? More impotent grumbling on the Internet? I believe that’s sibilant laughter we’re hearing now. Strange how no one ever laughs walking up the steps.

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