Bloggers unanimously welcome the end of the Duke rape case and think the prosecutor was both vicious and incompetent. They also welcome a new Google Earth campaign that allows you to monitor the humanitarian horrors in Darfur.
Innocent: The three former Duke lacrosse players charged with kidnapping and sexual assault of a black stripper have been cleared almost a year after their initial arrest on rape charges. Lacking physical evidence to press ahead, the state attorney general's office halted the investigation, months after prosecutor Mike Nifong was removed from the case for what many thought was a self-aggrandizing crusade masquerading as jurisprudence.
K.C. Johnson, a history prof at Brooklyn College who launched Durham-in-Wonderland in response to the case, calls the attorney general's announcement "astonishing," while law prof Glenn Reynolds says it's "better late than never" at InstaPundit. Bloggers largely agree on both counts.
Betsy, a teacher in Raleigh, N.C., writes at Betsy's Page: "At the time, one of my first reactions was that the story sounded like the plot of a TV movie with the Duke players filling in as the stereotypical wealthy and good-lucking athletes - those stock players who have figured as the bad guys in movies from Animal House to all the Revenge of the Nerds movies. Those types are always the bad guys which says something about how our culture views wealthy and popular teenagers. It seemed to me that this was one of those movies turned into a drama of the week. Well, it soon turned out that this case was just as fictional as those movies of the week."
Conservative McCain at RightPundits seconds that sentiment: "So the obvious has finally happened. But how much financial cost and emotional duress was inflicted upon these young men needlessly by a renegade DA? And will Mike Nifong be held accountable by the State Bar, which is considering disciplinary action now?"
Responding to the players' families' request that Duke University foot the estimated $3 million legal bill, Matt Johnston at law, politics, and education blog Going to the Mat comments: "Several members (the so called Group of 88) publicly and repeated ridiculed these players and all but called them guilty even as evidence started to mount about the veracity of the so-called victim's claims. Make no mistake, the University failed these young men and paying their legal fees, would in some small way, put the University back on the road to redemption."
Conservative Roger Kimball, editor of the New Criterion, called the statement "not bad," but before the press conference had hoped for the players' exoneration: "[E]ven … that does nothing to compensate the three lacrosse players for the humiliation and obloquy they have unfairly suffered at the hands of a media, and an academy, too full of the sour milk of self-righteousness to practice anything so antique as the presumption of innocence. As the French poet and polemicist Charles Péguy once observed, 'It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.' "
Doug Mataconis at The Liberty Papers is just a bit more phlegmatic in his good riddance to the case: "Prosecutors are different from other attorneys in that the ethical rules that bind them require them to seek the truth even if that results in a dismissal of the case. In this case, it's clear that Nifong forgot that duty and the only good thing is that he was stopped before this went any further. One wonders how many men and women are sitting in prisons today because their Michael Nifong wasn't caught in time."
And righty Daily Pundit offers the following prediction: "during coming days we will hear calls for a 'time for healing' … Better, though, for it to be a time for the blood and fire of investigations. Of truncated careers in North Carolina's legal establishment and Durham's 'law' enforcement agency. A time for Duke president Richard Brodhead to resign in disgrace. A time for the New York Times to hide as it chokes on its own vomit."
Genocide.com: Google and the U.S. Holocaust Museum have unveiled a new Earth-mapping programmed called Crisis in Darfur, designed to allow viewers to see up close the damaged and destroyed villages in Sudan.
David Blair at the foreign affairs blog for the conservative British Daily Telegraph, lauds Google for the service, if not for its characterization of the crisis: "As someone who has reported from Darfur and Eastern Chad, I think that Google has performed a great public service by choosing to highlight this catastrophe. But I'm slightly uneasy about the way they have gone about it. First of all, Google appears to be uncritically accepting the proposition that Darfur's war amounts to 'genocide'. This is a highly controversial view. A United Nations investigation back in 2005 concluded that genocide was not taking place in Darfur. As someone who has reported on the conflict, my own opinion (for what it's worth) is that 'genocide' is the wrong word to use for the mass killings in Darfur."
Glynnis MacNicol and Rachel Sklar at HuffPo's Eat the Press note: "This initiative highlights the genuis and heart of Google in two ways: First, it is fitting that the initiative comes from a company that with the motto 'Don't Be Evil,' a corporate citizen leading by example (well, mostly, cf censorship in China). The goodwill built up by initiatives like this can't be overstated. Second, this is yet another example of great ideas springing from Google's policy of allowing employees to spend 20% of their time on projects of their choice, and that's when former Google employee Andria Ruben McCool developed the project. McCool, whose family includes Holocaust Survivors, took the idea to the Holocaust Museum for its Genocide Prevention Initiative. That's one way of standing behind another motto: 'Never again.' "
Read more about the Crisis in Darfur program.