Mary Katharine Ham

It's official. "Nifong" is now a verb. The journey from mere person to Urban Dictionary verb is always an ignominious one, and Durham D.A. Mike Nifong's lexical fall from grace was shameful indeed.

Nifonged is a verb that describes the railroading or harming of a person with no justifiable cause to do so, except for one's own gain. It can be used as a substitute for "screwed" and many other similar words.

The Duke lacrosse case fiasco was an unsurprising one. Disappointing, but unsurprising. I was unsurprised when the facts of the Duke lacrosse rape case began to point to the players' innocence. I was unsurprised that the case moved so far based on so little evidence. I am unsurprised that local faculty and students, activists, and media are learning all the wrong lessons from their mistakes.

You see, I'm from Durham. I know Duke's magnolia-carpeted campus and gray, gothic towers. I know the sound of the fireworks at a Durham Bulls game floating over the city on a wind thick and sweet with the smell of pipe tobacco. I know where you can get great sushi and great barbecue on the same city block. I know many good things about Durham.

I also know that Durham is full of liberal white people who love to get yelled at by minorities and liberal minorities who are happy to oblige them. It's an activist town that couldn't be happier than when it has something for which to flagellate itself. When you go to a dinner party in Durham, you bring your moral outrage instead of wine.

The Duke lacrosse story -- hardworking, black, single mother and student allegedly raped by a group of privileged, white rich Duke boys -- provided enough outrage to last the dinner party crowd until the next millennium. As a result, many lives, seasons, careers and a successful sports program have been forever tainted by a district attorney who declined to back off the narrative lest he feel the wrath at the ballot box from those whom he denied their white guilt orgy.

Even now that Colin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann have been invited back to campus as students in "good standing," and rape charges against the all three players have been dropped, the narrative lives on.

This spring, 88 Duke faculty members published an ad in the Duke campus paper, which made reference to "what happened to this young woman" without qualification, and thanked students and protestors for "not waiting" to make their voices heard. Not waiting, presumably, for something as silly as due process.

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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