Not saying it as we speak...

My unsaid thoughts.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Duke Lacrosse Scandal Case Study

A study of the Duke lacrosse scandal; which method is really at play, Utilitarian or Communitarian?

On Monday, March 13, 2006 the Duke University lacrosse team held a party at the rented home of the team’s three captains. The members of the team hired two strippers and requested that these females be either White or Hispanic. Two exotic dancers were sent over. They were black. The next series of events not only come into serious conflict but emerge as completely different versions of a party gone out of control. In the end, one of the dancers, 27-year-old Crystal Mangum tells authorities that she was taunted with racial slurs, beaten, choked, sodomized and raped inside the bathroom of the rented house. Allegations, arrests and community turmoil erupt as officials attempt to figure out exactly what happened. To no-ones surprise, the role of public relations becomes a key focal point and the country watches closely as the details of this case unfold. As future practitioners we are not only concerned with the details of the case but must pay attention to the approach being employed as this information is vital to our profession. The question presented to us is whether or not the Duke case supports the use utilitarianism or communitarinism, but before we attempt to answer that a closer look at the facts must be taken.

According to official reports, below is a detailed time-line of the events surrounding the Duke lacrosse case:

March 13, 2006
Duke University's lacrosse players throw a team party at an off-campus house, hiring two strippers to perform.

March 14, 2006
One of the dancers tells Durham police that three members of the lacrosse team forced her into a bathroom, where they beat, raped, and sodomized her.

March 23, 2006
Forty-six of the team's 47 members comply with a judge's order to provide DNA samples and be photographed. The team's sole black member is not tested because the victim said her attackers were white

March 25, 2006
School announces lacrosse team will not play two scheduled games, citing the team's decision to hire "private party dancers" and underage drinking at the party.

March 28, 2006
Duke suspends lacrosse team from play until it has a "clearer resolution of the legal situation" of involving team members.

April 3, 2006
District Attorney Mike Nifong stops granting interviews about the case.

April 5, 2006
Coach Mike Pressler resigns and Duke President Richard Brodhead cancels the team's season after authorities unseal a search warrant containing an e-mail from player Ryan McFadyen in which he says he wants to kill and skin strippers. McFadyen is suspended from school.

April 10, 2006
Defense attorneys announce that DNA test results find no match between the players tested and the woman accusing the players of rape.

April 11, 2006
District Attorney Mike Nifong says he will continue investigating the rape allegations

April 17, 2006
A Durham County grand jury returns sealed indictments against two Duke lacrosse players.

April 18, 2006
Duke lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty are taken into custody on charges of rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. Each is released after posting bond of $400,000. Nifong says authorities continue to try to identify a third possible assailant.

April 25, 2006
Granville County authorities confirm the accuser told police 10 years ago she was raped by three men when she was 14. None of the men were charged.

May 1, 2006
A Duke University committee recommends the school's lacrosse team resume play next season, but adds the team needs strict monitoring because of a history of problems tied to alcohol.

May 2, 2006
D.A. Nifong fends off two challengers to win the Democratic primary for district attorney. Because he has no Republican challenger in the fall election, he is all but assured of remaining in office.

May 8, 2006
A university report concludes Duke Administrators were slow to react to the scandal in part because of initial doubts about the accuser's credibility.

May 15, 2006
A grand jury indicts a third member of Duke University's lacrosse team on charges tied to a woman's allegations she was raped and beaten at a team party. David Evans, a senior and team captain from Bethesda, Md., was indicted on charges of first-degree forcible rape, sexual offense and kidnapping.

June 5, 2006
Duke University President Richard Brodhead announced the men's lacrosse team will resume play next season, but under strict rules and close monitoring. Brodhead said he and the school's athletics administrators would rethink their decision if they see any repeat of "patterns of irresponsible, individual or team behaviors familiar from the past."

June 29, 2006
A Duke University lacrosse player suspended for sending a vulgar e-mail about killing strippers was reinstated and can rejoin the team in the fall. The school had suspended Ryan McFadyen, 20, of Mendham, N.J., after authorities investigating rape allegations by a dancer at a team party released a search warrant for his dorm room that included the graphic e-mail sent from his Duke account.

A Brief Look at Utilitarian Ethics at Work
Dallas Cowboy case study (by Jacqueline J. Lambiase and John Mark Dempsey)
Back in 1998, a locker room horseplay incident, which would later be described as a fight, left one player, Everett Mclver, with a serious injury (a deep cut on the neck). In the days following the fight, both the new head coach of the team, and the team owner defined the incident as a “scuffle” and “family matter”. After pursuing the story, print and broadcast journalists learned that Michael Irvin, a star player and also a player with a turbulent legal history, was involved in the fight. For one week, the media struggled with the Cowboys’ organization in an attempt to gain more information and the truth. Accused of stonewalling the press, the Cowboys were faced with the question of whether or not using a “no comment” strategy was the best approach. In the end the Cowboys were able to separate and elevate themselves from the community and managed to keep their key player on the team.

Evidence of Communitarianism amidst the Duke Scandal
When reviewing some of the efforts made by Duke to restore their image as a leading university in the United States, some communitarian attempts were recognized in their course of action. Duke has intentions of launching a Campus Culture Initiative, self-examination of the behaviors of not only the athletes, but all students of the university. These behaviors include those that are thoughtless of others, among them their off-campus neighbors; disrespectful behavior across lines of race, gender, and other forms of difference; and the abuse of alcohol.

This effort displays Duke as taking a look at the outside community and acknowledging their characteristics and differences. By taking a look at what is outside of the isolated Duke population, the faculty and students are more aware of the entire Durham community. This will hopefully diversify the minds of the Durham people and promote a more cosmopolitan state of mind throughout their society. This step will help Duke "evaluate and suggest improvements in the ways Duke educates students in the values of personal responsibility".

Duke will also create a Presidential Council, made up of people from the Durham community, national higher education circles and Duke that will scrutinize Duke's responses to the incident and advise the president on whether the responses are appropriate and effective. The council is headed by Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, a member of the first cohort of African American undergraduates admitted to Duke and now Provost of the University of the District of Columbia, and Roy Bostock, a former Duke Trustee and director of the Duke University Health System, and he now chairs the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

By including diverse members in the council Duke will have the opportunity to receive different views and perspectives of each action taken. Obtaining all critiques and suggestions from each of these members, who represent various parts of the community, will offset an awareness of the cultural diversity in Durham and incorporate the idea of Cosmopolitanism. Duke is taking steps toward acknowledging its lack of social integration by encompassing attributes from many others outside of their own close knit community.

A More Familiar Road
While there is evidence to support that communitarian ethics were applied, the Duke case will most likely go down in history as yet another case that employed the utilitarian approach.

We know that utilitarianism stresses the importance in trying to bring about the greatest good to the greatest number while valuing the rights of individual freedoms over collective responsibilities. This theory has been widely accepted and almost exclusively applied in the field of public relations. The problem with utilitarianism is that it gives little or no attention to the benefits for the minority. Furthermore, the byproduct of utilitarianism often produces an “us against them” attitude. We found this to be true with the Duke lacrosse team, a band of bothers, who found themselves in the middle of a controversy involving heated racial debates, community outrage, privilege in educational institutions, and more. And much like the Dallas Cowboys they aren’t talking. In fact, on Duke’s official web page the names, faces and hometowns of the men on the lacrosse team have been removed. Further proof of utilitarianism is seen when reports, by a Duke committee assigned to review the facts of the case, was released in May. The committee recommended the school's lacrosse team resume play next season, but added that the team needed to be strictly monitored because of a history of problems tied to alcohol. The same report also revealed findings that university administrators learned of the team's "extensive disciplinary record" in 2004, but except for Coach Mike Pressler and the school's dean of judicial affairs, no one else at Duke "appears to have treated the lacrosse team's disciplinary record as a matter of serious concern."

End Results
It is therefore our conclusion that the primary stakeholders in this case ( the lacrosse team, and Duke Officials) have elected to accept the greatest good for the greatest number to mean what is best for the team, while we are left to ask the question-what about everyone else.

An attempt to receive information form Duke’s public relations person, John Burness, was made but he did not respond to our request for information.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Smoke vs. Fire

This was an interesting chapter.

I would like to start with this question: Does the idea of communitarianism suggest that we provide the greatest good to the greatest number without doing any harm to any other parties/individuals that may be affected by the actions taken???

If so, then I would like to definitely agree with the communitarian approach to this situation. In this chapter a PR agency had an ethical dilemma with whether or not they should take on a controversial tobacco company. In the end the agency chose to deny the tobacco company. As I see it the agency provided the greatest good to the greatest number (the consumers) by not spinning the truth about tobacco and its relation to illnesses and death. By not representing this company, the agency doesn't contribute to the contamination of its community and possibly helps provide a reality check to the tobacco industry and its affect on the community.

On the other hand one might argue that by not taking on this company the agency is harmed by the lack of revenue it will receive from this client. However, it's not like the agency sought out and pursued this company. They did not lose any effort nor man hours by not taking this client, therefore if the tobacco company would have never given them a call, there would be no harm, no foul, and in the end everyone is happy except for the tobacco company.

The tobacco company will either have to continue their search by looking for another agency, or produce an internal public relations department. The only problem I'm faced with is: Is the Tobacco company a part of the community? Should we approach them communitarianistically ( I'm sure it's not a word) even though they aren't concerned with the well being of the community?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hmmmm..... Community

This Duke case is getting more and more interesting. Although it has taken Duke a lengthy time to produce comments and sincerity about the community issues that are at hand, I must say that I am happy that the underlying issue of race and class are being taken seriously.

Reading different articles about this case I came across the word "community" a lot. In most cases it's referring to this rich white community in the center of a poor black community. So now that a black woman has been allegedly raped by these white men, it seems that the university wants to take a communitarian aprroach in handling this case. They now want to look at the differences that surround them and incorporate them into an unfortunate incident.

My question is why does something awful have to happen, in order for this realization to take place?

Brodhead, in his reunion remarks, said a conversation that had touched him most profoundly was with the head of the North Carolina NAACP, who told him, "If you ever want someone to come and stand by you and talk about the damage that can be done by prejudging, by judging people because of a group they belong to and some theory you have of that group rather than actual evidence, you come to me.'" Brodhead added. "And actually, there has been so much prejudgment in this case. It has been a powerful lesson in how deep the passions of prejudice run, all kinds of prejudice--prejudices against athletes, prejudices against the South, have been very, very visible in the Northern media all through this."

It seems to me that what the head of that chapter of NAACP was trying to infer to Brodhead is that the Black community goes through prejudice everyday, nonstop. If the communitarian approach to life itself in this Duke/Durham community had been used prior to this incident I believe that the troubles and hardships of the media and this case could have been avoided.

Basketball Coach Defends Silence

"I think it's important for me to remember my place," he said during his annual summer meeting with reporters at Cameron Indoor Stadium. "I am the basketball coach. I'm not the president." - Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Lacrosse Coach.

No, he's not the president of Duke University, but he is the closest person to his players. If he doesn't know what is going on with his team, how is the president of the university to know? It doesn't seem like Duke University has publicity coaches for their faculty and staff. I understand that he may feel as though he may not have the authority to speak to the public about this situation, but he is the most relatable source in this incident (well besides the players). It seems as though he should be one of the main representatives in this situation.

Complete Article

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Communitarian Ethics

When reading this chapter I came to the conclusion that in order for a journalist to take the communitarian approach he must review, acknowledge, and embrace all characteristics of his community. He must report the story so it will be relative to all members of his community, not only the greatest majority.

One idea that I didn't understand when reading this chapter is:
"Community is a possible aim but not an ingredient of our human identity."
I'm thinking that it means - just because we strive to be in a community, that community does not make us who we are - I'm really not for sure.

However, the idea that "Fulfillment is never achieved in isolation, but only through human bonding." is interesting. I'm guessing it's saying that we can't fully make ourselves happy without the interaction of others. We need a sense of community to feel whole as one person.

This chapter was more interesting than chapter three, I hope that my understanding of this chapter is better than the last.

Quick Question

I'm a tad bit confused. Now, since a journalist's goal is to give voice to the voiceless, is it possible to produce the greatest good for the greatest number? Since they are the greatest number can they be voiceless?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Utilitarian vs. Communitarian Ethics

Let me see if I can get this together.

Okay, Communitarians do what's good for the community as a whole. They seek group harmony, social stability and security. Utilitarianis seeks happiness or good for the majority. Although they seem similar they are quite different.

Utilitarians focus on the greatest good for the greatest number. This theory, however, leaves out the minority. Utilitarians aren't necessarily concerned with this small number of people who don't benefit from the actions. Communitarians on the other hand focus on the entire community (which community they refer to is still up in the air to me, but still community). Communitarians on the other hand have more of a cosmopolitansim perspective. Everyone in the community is just as important/equal as the other.

The Utilitarian Journalist is conflicted when reporting the news because there is no way in determing if the greatest number is receiving the greatest happiness/good. These journalists seem as though they become evasive by broadening the act and claim that reporting the news is creating the greatest good for the greatest number.

The Communitarian Journalist if forced to lose it's individuality and conform to benefit the community/common good. But with a world filled with different communities how is it possible to generate a common good? (This is where the two theories are similar) How does a journalist choose which community to satisfy? Why should one have to lose himself in order to please others?

This chapter was pretty confusing to me, but I hope I understood the basics of it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I loved this class...

Wow... what a quick three weeks. I can't beleive it's over. I dont want it to be over. I want to learn more, become more media literate. I learned more in the last three weeks than I learned last Spring semester.

To Jacque: you are definately the best teahcer for this class. You brought so many enlightening topics everyday, and you gave everyone a chance to state their opinion. What a great display of cosmopolitanism!!!.

To my class: I know we had a few heated debates, but I want you all to know that I appreciate you giving me an oppurtunity to see things in your perspective. I respect your opinions even though we may have disagreed at times. I'm glad we all had a chance to be enlightened and hopefully changed in this short period of time. I hope everyone leaves this class with as much as I did.

To Theima: I couldn't have done this without you and you're smart mouth. Okay, maybe I could've, but it wouldn't have been this much fun nor insightful. I'm really going to miss you when you leave.

Awww.... those were my thank yous and final goodbyes, I promise this posting didnt start off like this but what can I say, I got carried away. I wish you all the best!!!

Acting White?

Acting White? What does that mean to Film makers? Do their interpretations perpetuate stereotypes?

In this study I will take a look at the stereotypes that are shown when two black actors take on the roles of two white women. The images portrayed in this include the blue-eyed, blonde-haired, All American girl stereotype. I will take a look at the movie White Chicks and other mainstream media movies, television shows, and images, that portray the stereotype of “acting white.”

In the movie White Chicks, Marcus and Kevin Copeland, played by Shawn and Marlon Wayans, are two young, black FBI agents that transform into white women to protect two “All-American,” spoiled, rich socialites. Marcus and Kevin portray these two white women and encounter many trials and tribulations in maintaining their undercover status and protecting these two young girls. Maintaining these images allowed Marcus and Kevin to reinforce many stereotypes that are displayed throughout today’s media about young blondes.
The image of the dumb blonde (associated with characteristics such as seductive behavior, strong make-up, sexy dresses, naivety, giggling, and illogical thinking) has been propagated through movies, and although women are increasingly being featured as tough, independent individuals, commercials still tend to portray female characters in decorative and domestic roles (O'Sullivan, et al., 1998).

It’s no secret that the “dumb blonde” image is displayed over and over again in mainstream America. For example Suzanne Sommers (Three’s Company, 1977-1984), Lisa Kudrow ( Friends 1994-2004), Marilyn Monroe, Jessica Simpson, and Paris Hilton, all display the image of an All-American girl as well as dumb blondes. It is not surprising that the Wayans brothers use these images to make their performance effective as acting white. Still one must wonder if this is art imitating life, or vice versa.
In order to produce an effective content analysis of White Chicks the codes used to analyze this movie include appearances, voices/accents, clothing/accessories , and behavior/ demeanor.

Marcus an Kevin are completely transformed into white women. The characteristics of these characters’ appearances dramatically change. Their skin become white (of course), colored contacts are used give them blue eyes, blonde wigs, big breasts, and prosthetics are used to make the noses of Marcus and Kevin more narrow. The image of the beauty of the All-American girl is created. The blonde hair tops the cake for both Marcus and Kevin making them official “White Chicks.” A study by Dr. Tony Cassidy and Georgina Harris, of the University of Coventry, asked 120 people - 60 males and 60 females - to look at pictures of a female model wearing four different coloured wigs, platinum blonde, natural blonde, brown and red. The 'platinum' blonde model was rated as popular by both male and female, but as less intelligent by male raters only. This suggests that the 'dumb blonde' stereotype may be a male construction. Dr Cassidy thought the dumb blonde stereotype probably emerged with the development of films, television and glossy magazines. These images are shown throughout the media everyday. Celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton all possess these characteristics and are considered women of beauty. These images are idolized everyday by today’s youth, which is also shown in a youth radio article:

Clothing/ Accessories
To dress the part of the two “white chicks” Marcus and Kevin were thrown into extremely short skirts and dresses that accentuate their body parts. As an accessory to the “All-American” girl image Marcus carried a pet dog that is pampered to the tee. This image is mocking the stereotypes in the media today shown by Jessica Simpson and her dog Maggie, Paris Hilton and her infamous Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, and many other Hollywood stars who carry their pets in their purse. The media displays small dogs are the must have these days in this article:

To further create a believable “white” character, the Wayans brothers also changed their voices into a more high-pitched, “Valley-girl” voice. Valley speech is defined more by the use of certain expressions with certain intonations, than by phonological changes. There are also a few phonological characteristics associated with the accent (the spellings I am about to use are not authentic phonetic representations, but rather my own creative interpretation of how the words sound). In general, high back vowels shift to their corresponding rounded front vowels ("y'know"= "y'knü"), low back unrounded vowels become rounded ("oh my God" ="oh my Gawd"), and low front vowels become low unrounded back vowels ("hat" ="hot", or in the song, "Andrea" = "Ondrea"). (Chris Frost,
Another site that also notes so Valley Girlisms is: (
These mannerisms are stereotypically portrayed by white women and Marcus and Kevin uses them to get into character as a white woman.

Blondes have more fun! In White Chicks, Marcus and Kevin embody the stereotypical behaviors of white women. From shopping sprees, to social parties, the two “white chicks” experience life as a socialite in the Hamptons. Marcus and Kevin “dumb down” in order to fit in with their friends, giggles as if it’s contagious, and makes snooty remarks about their rivals. Images like these are portrayed in movies such as Clueless (1995), and Mean Girls (2004). Both of these popular movies contain a predominately white cast that reflects the stereotypes of rich, white kids.

Although this movie is a comedy and it’s intent is to poke fun at rich white girls in the media today, it’s interesting to see what stereotypes are widely accepted, and associated with these girls. The media does play a large part in presenting these images to the public. In order to act white, you must dress a certain way, speak in what can be considered “White Ebonics,” carry a dog in your shoulder bag, dumb down, and shopping and partying must be a priority. At least that is what it seems like the credentials are in films and in the media. Film makers replicate what they see in the media to make an effective and relatable image in their movies.

Acting Black?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Would anyone else like to know what it's like???

While searching endlessly for research/studies for my part of our final project I stumbled upon a transcript of what looks like a seminar on what it feels like to be a person of color in the United States. Take a look:

I'm stuck...

How come all of a sudden, I cant think of how to start actually writing my project. I'm working with Theima and she is absolutely no help. Okay, okay, she's trying, but I'm really stuck. We're supposed to be looking at how different races act in movies when they assimilate/ penetrate other races characters. We decided to look at different movies like Beauty/Barbershop, White Chicks, Malbu's Most Wanted, and MTV's Blowin' Up. It's not that I dont have a focus, I just dont have a train of thought right now. This sucks.

The Original Bad Boy.....

Well at least for my generation...

Who would've known that the Beast from Beauty and the Beast was actually a bad boy? It's amazing how we never really realize where we develop some of these images we have of what we want until it is blatantly pointed out to you. I never wouldve imagined, even after I have seen this movie sooo many times, that the beast was a bad boy. He yells, he bangs on doors, knocks people around, and tears up families ( you know your average modern day bad boy), hmmm... I'm wondering if it wasn't for this being a Disney movie, would he swear, and possibly beat Belle every now and then.

When watching the movie, and seeing the little girls say that as long as you continue to stay nice, your prince will finally come out of this mean, evil person, I was completely mortified. That's what girls think. That we can change a man from being this awful person into a prince charming. And that's not true.

Now I doubt that Disney can take all the credit for turning us girls into what we've become, however, we learn so much at these young ages, I can't help but believe that Disney is probably the catalyst for most of these images.