It is bad enough to be part of a lynch mob. It is worse to deny that you are part of a lynch mob, while standing there holding the rope in your hands.
What is even more important than clearing the names of the three young men charged with a heinous crime is making sure that the man responsible for this travesty of justice -- District Attorney Michael Nifong -- pays the fullest price for what he did.
The state bar association investigating Nifong needs to understand that this case is much bigger than Nifong.
If prosecutors can drag people through the mud and keep felony charges hanging over their heads, long after all the evidence says the opposite of what they were charged with, then any of us, anywhere, can be put through a living hell whenever it suits the whim or the political agenda of a district attorney.
Much was made of the fact that these Duke students came from affluent families. Lucky for them -- and for all of us. Not everyone has an extra million dollars lying around to fight off false accusations. Their fight is our fight.
This case will send a message, one way or another, to prosecutors across the length and breadth of this country. Either you can get away with dragging people through hell without a speck of evidence -- and in defiance of other evidence -- or you can't.
This case has already sent a message about the kinds of gutless lemmings on our academic campuses, including our most prestigious institutions.