Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 402, January 21, 2007

"Justice is simply not the State's top priority and it never will be."


Why She Cried Rape At Duke
by Scott Kauzlarich

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Mike Nifong has dropped the rape charges against the Duke lacrosse players and excused himself from the case. 60 Minutes shoveled more dirt on the prosecution's case this week by turning its cameras on Nifong's attempt to conceal DNA evidence. With Nifong exposed and humiliated in front of a national audience, it would be easy to say that the case is now all but over.

But the O.J. Simpson case springs immediately to mind. For all that has happened recently, the three young men still face felony charges of kidnapping and sexual assault and if we have learned anything about American jurisprudence, it is that nothing is ever certain. Justice is simply not the State's top priority and it never will be.

The three Dukies still face one daunting hurdle: Why did Crystal Gail Mangum cry rape? For some people, an accusation of such a heinous crime is evidence enough that something happened that night. Lesley Stahl briefly touched on this point in her story for 60 Minutes. Stahl's explanation was that the accuser has "a troubled past," complete with prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs.

That's a good clue but the real reason for the charge lies elsewhere. We know that Mangum and fellow dancer Kim Roberts showed up that night and were unable to perform the striptease they were paid for. We know that there were sore feelings over this and heated words exchanged. But no matter how crazy Mangum allegedly is, none of that prompted her to make up her wild rape story.

No, what touched this whole mess off was when someone said "nigger."

It's all about the n-word

The word nigger set O.J. Simpson free in 1995 and it threatens to imprison the three Duke students today—the power of that one word cannot be understated. Let's go back to that night in Durham to refresh our memories for a moment: As the two strippers were leaving, having given up on performing, sharp words were exchanged. Kim Roberts admits to insulting the players' manhood and injecting race into the exchange. The players responded in kind, using the n-word, one yelling "Thank your grandfather for my cotton shirt." Typical juvenile fare and nothing to get too excited over given the situation.

Except that this is America and when race is involved all bets are off. The reality is that blacks have certain social privileges, such as the right to determine the appropriate response to racial insults, regardless of how excessive that response might be. Those who don't think that someone would concoct all of this over the word nigger is naive; overreaction to a perceived racial slight is a daily event in our country. Check the transcripts of interviews with Kim Roberts. She all but excuses the accusation because they were called niggers.

It is not a stretch to wonder if the rape accusation was in retaliation for being called niggers. Blacks have meted out worse punishments recently, as in the case of Treye Blythe.

Blythe was a local high school kid here in Iowa who was getting ready to start college when he decided to attend a party in Cedar Falls, a college town about 30 miles away. There were some black guys at the party and when they left someone used the n-word.

The young men returned later, armed, seeking revenge for the insult. According to all published accounts, Blythe had not been involved in the earlier incident but stood up to the small group of blacks who were going around the party looking for the voice that said nigger. Blythe, 18, was stabbed to death. His assailant awaits trial for murder.

If a black man's response to a racial barb is to pick up a knife, return to the site of the insult and stab the first white that challenges them, it isn't too hard to imagine Crystal Gail Magnum crying rape at Duke. I would go so far as to say that when one examines the known facts of the case, it's the only thing that could have reasonably provoked such a severe response.

Modern-day lynching

Events like the Treye Blythe murder and the Duke rape case are modern versions of lynching. Sometimes the lynch mob is just vigilantism in the absence of more established legal forms. But lynching can also serve as a method of enforcing social domination, which is exactly what is going on in those cases today. Knowing that insulting a black person may result in severe social or physical retaliation is a form of domination and it reflects the level of social power held by American blacks.

Racial slights will not be taken lightly by any group, but when blacks are involved, the normal rules blur. They have been given a free hand on issues of race because the notion that whites are inherently racist has been firmly embedded for some time, despite the fact that modern US society screams out the opposite conclusion. From O.J. Simpson to Duke University, the rampant racism of blacks, not whites, is what is on display. This is a result of creating a special class of people with a separate sovereignty and a separate set of norms apart from the rest of society.

As Ward Connerly wrote recently, "Liberty flourishes best when Americans view themselves as individuals." Encouraging people to see themselves as members of a race first will result in racial paranoia; tragedies like Duke and Treye Blythe are the inevitable conclusion.

Scott Kauzlarich teaches history at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. He can be reached at:


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