Farewell to the most important blog ever for the wrongly accused

Durham-in-Wonderland, Professor KC Johnson’s hugely influential blog that chronicled the Duke lacrosse false rape case starting more than eight years ago, has completed its mission, and Professor Johnson has posted his “closing comments.” At its height, the blog had in excess of 100,000 readers per day. For me, KC Johnson is the greatest blogger ever.

How influential was this blog in helping to draw attention to the injustices in Durham? After the three young lacrosse players were declared “innocent” by the state’s attorney general amid a media circus usually reserved for the rich and the famous, one of the young men, Reade Seligmann, issued a statement in which, among other things, he thanked Professor Johnson for his efforts.

It was Durham-in-Wonderland that inspired me to start my blog, COTWA.

Ground zero in the Duke cesspool that Johnson chronicled were, of course, ex-district attorney Mike Nifong and Duke’s infamous “Group of 88,” the Duke faculty activists who exploited the young men’s distress to advance their extremist ideologies. For those not familiar with the Group of 88, Johnson gives us a summary in his closing post:

… for dozens of Duke faculty, [the] evidence appeared irrelevant. Eighty-eight of them rushed to judgment, signing a statement (whose production violated Duke regulations in multiple ways) affirming that something had “happened” to false accuser Crystal Mangum, and thanking protesters (“for not waiting”) who had, among other things, urged the castration of the lacrosse captains and blanketed the campus with “wanted” posters. As the case to which they attached their public reputations imploded, Group members doubled down, with most issuing a second statement promising they would never apologize for their actions. (Only three Group members ever said they were sorry for signing the statement, and two of that number subsequently retracted those apologies.) For months, the Duke administration was either in agreement with the faculty extremists or cowed by them—or some combination of both.

Johnson’s blog was as distressing as it was illuminating. It ripped off a scab to reveal an ugly, progressive pus that animates policy-making on campus, especially on issues of gender and race. It also exposed the news media’s fealty to political correctness in its largely biased reporting of the incident.

Professor Johnson is a frequent contributor to Minding the Campus, and readers are urged to follow him there.

We must pause to add a chilling footnote. Despite the atrocity of the Duke lacrosse and many, many other cases in the years since, the academy has grown ever more hostile to due process and fairness when it comes to presumptively innocent young men accused of sexual assault. Professor Dan Subotnik, for one, openly wondered if the Duke players would “have had any chance of justice” after the Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague” letter? The persons who drafted that letter should have been required to read Durham-in-Wonderland.

On behalf of the community of the wrongly accused, we salute KC Johnson for his unstinting work to advance the cause of justice.

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