Archive for February, 2008

KC JOHNSON’S AND STUART TAYLOR’S LIE AND DISTORTION NUMBER…

February 2, 2008

In the Fall of 2007 a friend informed me that KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor had written in their book, Until Proven Innocent, that I threatened chemistry professor Steven Baldwin with physical violence in response to his guest column on Duke’s administration’s handling of the lacrosse matter, that appeared in the Duke Chronicle on October 24, 2006. I was surprised to hear of the allegation, but given the numerous lies, distortions, and character assassinations that Johnson had published on his blog, I was not surprised that Johnson and Taylor would promulgate such a lie in their book.

The lie about me is found on page 284 of their book. Johnson and Taylor write: “Baldwin’s column ignited a faculty firestorm. Political science professor Kerry L. Haynie, codirector of the Center for Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences [sic], sent a nasty email implicitly challenging Baldwin to settle their disagreement by violence.”

Here is Professor Baldwin’s Chronicle column mentioned by Johnson and Taylor, and to which I responded by email to Professor Baldwin directly.

The administration’s mismanagement of lacrosse

Guest column

By:Steven Baldwin

Issue date: 10/24/06
Last update:10/24/06 at 7:55 AM EST

Last April I wrote to The Chronicle in support of Mike Pressler, former coach of men’s lacrosse at Duke. At that time I was concerned that the decision to fire him had been premature, coming only a few weeks after the fateful Buchanan Street party, and certainly long before all of the facts were known. Now, six months later, it is quite clear that my concerns were justified.

I do not ascribe to President Brodhead’s position that someone had to fall on his sword to atone for the March 13 lacrosse party. But even if one does buy into that silly notion, why was it coach Pressler? Certainly the several reports emanating from President Brodhead’s committee’s looking into the lacrosse incident identified a number of individuals more culpable than Pressler. If the goal were to send a message, wouldn’t firing Executive Vice President Tallman Trask, Athletics Director Joe Alleva, Vice President Larry Moneta or Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek-or all of them-have been more appropriate?

As displeased as I am with Pressler’s firing, my biggest concern has always been with Duke’s treatment of the student athletes at the center of the storm. These kids were abandoned by their university. At least one of the indicted students, perhaps all three, was trespassed from Duke property. They were denied the presumption of innocence, despite the mounting evidence that the case against them is made of smoke and mirrors and is fatally flawed procedurally. They have been pilloried by their faculty and scorned by the administration. They are pariahs.

As a Duke faculty member I regard my students in much the same way I regard my children. When my kids do something wrong, I demand accountability. When they break the rules they pay the price, whatever that might be.

With that accountability, however, comes support. My kids know I love them and that I will do everything I can to help them through the rough times. That is what families do. I treat my students the same way.

Duke students should expect nothing less from their university. The day they set foot on the Duke Campus for the first time they became members of the Duke family. For most this was the beginning of a life-long relationship that generates intense loyalties and deep love. The assumption is that the relationship is reciprocal, that Duke holds all of its students in high esteem-loves them-and will support them through the rough times as well as the good. Instead, Duke has disowned its lacrosse-playing student athletes. Their treatment has been shameful.

Over the past six to eight years, I can recall having only a single men’s lacrosse player in one of my undergraduate classes. That young man was bright, focused, respectful and engaged. He earned one of the highest grades in a large, difficult and very competitive class. He is now in medical school, well on his way to a career as an orthopedic surgeon.

I mention this because I believe the young man would not mind my describing him in these terms. On the other hand I do not believe that a faculty member publicly describing any student in pejorative terms is ever justified. To do so is mean-spirited, petty and unprofessional, at the very least. The faculty who publicly savaged the character and reputations of specific men’s lacrosse players last spring should be ashamed of themselves.

They should be tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail and removed from the academy. Their comments were despicable. I suspect they were also slanderous, but we’ll hear more about that later.

Finally, I urge the Duke community to take a reality check. Speak your minds. Do what you think is right. Tell the administration that you are not satisfied with the way they have handled the lacrosse affair. Demand better.

Steven Baldwin is a professor in the Chemistry department.

[This column can be found in the Chronicle’s archives at: http://media.www.dukechronicle.com/
media/storage/paper884 /news/2006/10/24/Columns/The-Administrations.Mismanagement.
Of.Lacrosse-2384801.shtml]

Here is the email I sent to Professor Baldwin on the same day that his column appeared in print. This is the email that Johnson and Taylor characterize as an implicit threat of physical violence.

Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2006 11:55 AM -0400
From: klhaynie@duke.edu
To: steven.baldwin@duke.edu
Subject: Chronicle Editorial

Dear Steven,

I read with amusement your opinion column in today’s Chronicle. Frankly, I found it to be insulting and out of the normal bounds of both civil and academic discourse. I hope the students that you say you love so much don’t take this lesson in hypocrisy from you. They deserve a better model than this. On the one hand you criticize some unnamed faculty for characterizing students in a pejorative manner, and then you speak of tarring and feathering and running folk out of town on a rail. You ask the faculty to speak their minds and to do what they think is right, but what you seem to really want is for us to do these things only if and when we agree with you. It is this attitude that has no place in the academy, where the free expression of ideas, thoughts and beliefs should be cherished and protected. And you even had the nerve to include a thinly veiled threat of legal action in response to some alleged slander. Steven, it is you who should be ashamed.

Are you the one with the tar and feathers? I can be found at the address below and I am usually on campus everyday. And you should know that if I ever leave Duke it will be on my terms and not because you or anybody else wants to see me go on a rail.

Kerry

Kerry L. Haynie
Associate Professor and
Associate Chair

Co-Director
Center for the Study of Race,
Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences
Department of Political Science
Duke University
303A Perkins Library
Durham, NC 27707

That’s it folks. According to KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, on page 284 of their book, this email can be interpreted as an invitation to physical violence sent by me to Professor Baldwin. If Professor Baldwin took my email as a threat, it is news to me. He has never once indicated to me that he felt threatened by me. Moreover, to my knowledge, Professor Baldwin never filed a complaint with the police, he never filed a grievance against me using official university channels, and he never complained about my email to my department chair, my dean, or the provost. One thing he did do was to email me an apology about two and a half hours after receiving the email from me. Since Professor Baldwin’s apology is a private communication, I will not reprint it here. However, I will seek Professor Baldwin’s permission to forward his apology to anyone who requests to see it for him or herself. Please understand that the authority to release this email resides with Professor Baldwin.

In addition to sending me an apology, Professor Baldwin published the following letter to the editor in the Duke Chronicle on the very next day:

Insensitive’ language unintentional

By:Steven Baldwin

Issue date: 10/25/06 Section: Letters
Last update: 10/25/06 at 8:35 AM EST

An editorial that I wrote appeared in The Chronicle Tuesday that was critical of the way the lacrosse incident has been handled by the Duke administration. Although my position is unchanged, I now realize that some of the language I used in the editorial was insensitive and inappropriate. I truly regret that my words have caused pain for some members of our community.

In particular, in the next-to-last paragraph of the editorial I used some terms that I have now learned have racial connotations for some. I certainly did not intend them that way. I grew up in the western U.S. and, quite frankly, associate the terms I used with the western frontier of the late 1800s. I saw a lot of cowboy movies as a kid.

I deeply regret that what for me is a totally non-racial issue has assumed that character. I wish I had used other language; I wish I had bounced a draft of the document off someone who might have steered me straight. While there is room for disagreement on the lacrosse issue, there is no disagreement on the importance of providing a welcoming environment for all people who study, learn and work at Duke. I have spent much of my career advocating for diversity at Duke by supporting the hiring of minority faculty and the recruitment of minority students.

I am very sorry that my naivety has offended any members of the Duke community. That was entirely unintentional and I should have been more careful in my selection of words.

Steven Baldwin

Professor, chemistry department

[This letter can be found in the Chronicle’s archives at http://www.dukechronicle.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&uStory_id=
c51cbf8d-88b4-4ea8-bc65-dbe335a8f005]

I have had no other exchanges with Professor Baldwin on this or any other matter. To allege, suggest, imply, or even hint that I threatened him with physical violence, as Johnson and Taylor do in their book, is a lie. Johnson and Taylor don’t reveal how they came to see or to be informed about my emai. I find it hard to believe that Professor Baldwin would have forwarded my email to them or characterized it as a threat of physical violence, given that he and I had already had an exchange about this matter in which he apologized. If he did forward that email, then that is a matter that I and perhaps others will discuss with him in due time. And even if Professor Baldwin is responsible for getting that email to them, it does not at all change the way that KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor distorted our conversation and printed lies about me and my exchange with him.

Kerry L. Haynie