open mouth, remove doubt



This is Set-The-Record-Straight Monday┬«, and I’d like to begin with the grotesquely botched case against the Dook lacrosse players. Now, if some of you don’t know, I have not always been a fan of that school in Durham. I admit a long, lengthy bias, probably due to deep-set psychological wounds from childhood, then crystallizing in my experiences with the school from 1985 onwards.

There is also a certain genre of lacrosse players from the northern climes of the United States who take a certain meathead solace in their racism, their sexism, and their skill at beating the shit out of each other with a stick. Mixing Dook and lacrosse together was like Pop Rocks and Coke, as far as I was concerned. If that mixture didn’t kill Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials, my feeling is that a drunk-driving lacrosse player from Bernardsville, NJ probably would.

When the story came out, I wrote a li’l blog in which I said “I’ve held off talking about the Duke Lacrosse Scandal for a while, because blogs are always the ‘zero draft’ of history, and you can look pretty foolish if you blather and end up being wrong.” Well, it turns out we have most likely been utterly wrong on this one.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe worse things than this happen in elite sports programs every day, and judging from my friends who currently live across the street from a Dook fraternity, a lot of these guys need a month of sensitivity training and a primer on civil rights. But this was a big fuck-up, and I can mea some culpa and say that I was truly predisposed to believe the worst. And there’s a word for that kind of behavior.

Speaking of fuck-ups, many of you have forwarded to me the retraction of the Consumer Reports study on the safety of infant car seats. So it looks like my impassioned, overwritten, hyper-emotional screed from last week was also a waste of your time. For this, I must mea more culpa.

Turns out the tests were done not at speeds of 30-40mph as reported, but more like 74mph. I’d still like an infant car seat that doesn’t throw your kid 30 feet even at 90 miles per hour, but pending a retest, I’d say we can all go about our business. Apparently Consumer Reports outsourced the test to some other company. Lesson to learn: do everything yourself, because other people are totally incompetent.

Here at we’ve prided ourselves in rants and self-righteous diatribes about a myriad of subjects before the facts were in. We’re proud of our spotty batting average, and hope you keep returning for more vaguely-misinformed sermons on subjects theoretical. See you soon for more histrionic geysers of unmitigated crap!*

* except for global warming, which really is happening

0 thoughts on “open mouth, remove doubt

  1. LFMD

    I am the Queen of “Shoot From the Hip, Don’t Got All the Facts Yet” Blabbering! What else are blogs for? Blogs are like a snapshot in time — unedited and “of the moment.”
    The important thing is being able to admit when you are wrong. And you have. And I do.
    But you are right about Bernardsville, NJ. Nothing good can come from that little town (near my hometown — see! I am an informed ranter!). . . except Meryl Streep.

  2. Chris M

    While we’re on the subject of humility and contrition: I’ve lately noticed that our military intervention in Iraq has not yet succeeded in establishing democracy, peace, and justice in that fair land. I was pretty sure that we’d rap things up in a year or so and come home. I thought “everything changed” after 9/11. I was wrong. My bad.
    I’ve been skeptical about CO2 emissions causing Global Warming (which is clearly happening) and remain so. But I agree strongly that we should cut our use of oil and other fossil fuels for a variety of good reasons. I have been reading about green architecture and design in magazines like Dwell. I like the idea of having new construction use less energy and generate the energy it does use. As a consumer I’d look hard at trying spending the money to make that happen. Also, if you check out autoweek magazine/website, they have been previewing the next generation of green machines that will be available in the next five years. Plug-in hybrids (larger battery, very small engine) and even fuel cell vehicles. It looks like the auto industry is really committed this time.

  3. ls

    Ian, have you read the fascinating and brillinat book “Freakonomics”? It has a section on car seats and their “safety” that you would find interesting. I actually respect Consumer Reprts mroe for immediately ‘fessing up and coming clean.

  4. Salem's little sister

    I rarely drive less than 35 miles an hour in my car. Why don’t they test the seats at 45, 55, 65 mph? Those are my average speeds.

  5. Rebecca

    The fact that you will actually say, “Oh shit, sorry I was wrong” is what makes me think you’re one of the good guys. If only more people could (or would) do that, the world would be a better place.

  6. emma

    I’m surprised at the lack of comments to this. It seems you actually stated that you knew you were wary of talking about the Lacrosse incident for this very reason, yet went ahead and stated what you thought based on the information given to you at the time. Who knew that the DA was disregarding the rules of ethics and proceeding in a case with a waivering witness he had never spoken to? He is one of the reasons that there are so many attorneys jokes. You don’t hear people praising Joe Cheshire and Brad Bannon for the great job they are doing as defense attorneys for these guys – something that could actually give attorneys a source of pride.
    Same true of Consumers Reports. You were commenting on what Consumer Reports, a reputable and unbiased magazine said there study said. The magazine correctly made a retraction and so have you. Bravo.
    I freely admit when I am wrong – you know, once every five or six years.

  7. Beth

    It takes real courage not just to put your opinions out there but to retract them when other information surfaces that causes you to rethink.
    Also, I love your coinage of “mea some culpa.” I’m going to have to borrow that.

  8. Neva

    Maybe it’s my bias against Duke but despite Nifong’s incompetent handling of this I can’t help but think something bad went on there that night. I will admit that it may not qualify as rape though. Obviously, I wouldn’t make a good juror.

  9. wyatt

    There is still something to be learned from the 70mph tests; they also represent the effect of two cars colliding head-on at 35 mph (or various other speed combinations), which might be more likely.
    Like Ian suggesed, it’s mighty disappointing that the infant seats separate from their bases. We used them, loved the “easy in, easy out” convenience, but now I’m thinking how nuts it was to trust our kids to the red plastic spring-loaded latch that holds the seat to the base. We don’t make deadbolt locks out of plastic, or climbing gear, or adult seatbelts for that matter. Our mid-90s cars weren’t LATCH compatible, but that could be a step in the right direction if done right. In an extreme, tragic, and timely example, this happened in SC last week:
    Another point about the CR tests: they used the maximum sized baby crash test dummies, and many kids will reach the height limit of the seat (and move to a front-facing seat) before they reach the weight limit. So the seat failure will be somewhat less likely with a smaller infant.

  10. Ian

    wyatt makes good points about the combined speeds of cars…
    LS, I started “Freakonomics” but haven’t got to the car seat section yet. I was fascinated by the “broken windows” theory of crime, however.

  11. tar heel at duke

    Neva, I’m with you. There are a few things I’ve kept in mind:
    Only the defense lawyers have been commenting on this case for the past few months. They are doing a great job, obviously, as people have changed their minds completely based on one side of the story.
    These men are still charged with sexual assault, which carries the same penalties as rape (rape has a very specific definition in NC), and kidnapping.
    Duke alums and their parents have tons of money, resources, and connections. Whose to say that’s not why Nifong was called up on charges?
    Read the Duke student newspaper, which still insists on referring to the alleged victim as an “exotic dance,” and you might just puke at their categorization of the lax players as innocent young man.
    These were not nice boys. I suspect people who live in that neighborhood, who were accustomed to being harassed by these guys (when asking them, for example, not to piss drunkenly all over neighborhood lawns), are still not feeling a lot of sympathy for them.


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