Phi Beta Cons

Is Duke Insane?

A few years back, some white Duke lacrosse players were falsely accused of raping a black stripper, and much of the university’s faculty pounced on the players with cries of racism and woman-hating before all the facts came out. One would think that in the aftermath of such horrifying behavior, the university would let the matter rest, learn its lessons, and do what it needs to do to settle any resulting lawsuits out of court.

Nope. The university is fighting lawsuits from players and parents, and in the process is trying to get a Maine court to force K. C. Johnson, the author of a book about the case, to divulge his confidential sources.

Beyond demonstrating a mind-blowing lack of contrition, this move is legally questionable. I happen to not be a fan of journalist-shield laws — the government should neither give journalists privileges that other people don’t have, nor make official determinations about who does and does not qualify as a journalist — but Maine has one.

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