NYT and other media fall for a hoax because it matched their ideology

September 16, 2022 • 9:20 am

I read about this incident (or rather, non-incident) the other day, but Jesse Singal, in a post on Bari Weiss’s site, tells the whole story in detail. The lesson is that when a story appeals to the ideological bias of a newspaper, even if it doesn’t check out, they sometimes print it as if were true, or at least don’t check it out especially thoroughly.  It’s especially galling when America’s premier newspaper, The New York Times, falls prey to this confirmation bias, as it did in this story.

Click to read; it’s free and short (but do subscribe if you read often):

The story is one indicting Brigham Young University (BYU) students as racists, supposedly evinced during a volleyball game against Duke University on August 26:

Last month, Rachel Richardson—the only black starter on the women’s volleyball team at Duke University—leveled a shocking accusation. She said that during her team’s August 26 match against Brigham Young University, fans inside the BYU arena in Provo, Utah inundated her with racist abuse and threats.

After the match, 19-year-old Richardson told her godmother, Lesa Pamplin, about the incident. Pamplin is a criminal defense attorney running for a county judgeship in Texas, and was not at the game—but the next day, she published a tweet that rocketed the story to national attention: “My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Dukes [sic] volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a [n-word] every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.”

The tweet is no longer available, but it racked up 185,000 likes before it was archived. LeBron James himself responded: “you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood!  We have her back. This is not sports.”

The story was reported widely, most prominently by the New York Times in this story by Vima Patel (click to read):

One student, said to have led the racist insults, was banned from all University athletic venues. The story then spread widely:

The national response to this heinous allegation was swift and righteous. Utah’s governor, Spencer Cox, issued a statement on Twitter (now deleted) expressing his shock and disappointment. “I’m disgusted that this behavior is happening and deeply saddened if others didn’t step up to stop it,” he wrote. “As a society we have to do more to create an atmosphere where racist a**holes like this never feel comfortable attacking others.” For its part, BYU quickly acknowledged that something horrible had happened in the fieldhouse. The day after the game, it published an apologetic statement, saying that the fan deemed responsible for shouting the epithets—who was not a BYU student—had been banned from all university athletic venues.

Unsurprisingly, major media outlets were all over this story. The Times’ coverage set the tone, with the Washington Post and CNN and Sports Illustrated and NPR all publishing similar articles, alongside the predictable think pieces. The incident also had consequences for BYU sports more generally. The head coach of women’s basketball at the University of South Carolina canceled its home opener against BYU. A match between Duke and Rider University’s women’s volleyball teams—scheduled to be played at the BYU arena—was moved to a nearby high school gym in order to provide both teams “the safest atmosphere,” according to Duke’s Director of Athletics, Nina King.

For millions of people watching this story unfold, this was yet another example of the ineradicable stain of American racism, of just how little progress we’ve really made.

Singal, whose reporting I like quite a bit, then adds the four-word kicker.

Except it didn’t happen.

Yes, this was all made up. Completely made up. There is no evidence that any slurs were emitted, that the n-word was used when Rachel Richardson was serving, that there was a cop assigned to sit by the Duke bench, and so on. And it’s not as if there weren’t potential witnesses, either: there were cameras recording the game, cellphones doing the same, and thousands of witnesses. Not a single bit of film documented the assertions, and no witnesses came forward, even with requests to do so by the cops and the newspapers.

It was either a hoax or a massive lie, however you want to characterize it. How was it discovered, then?

Not by any major paper. The Salt Lake Tribune did question whether the right student had been banned, but the whole truth came out via—you guessed it—”a conservative campus newspaper at BYU”, the Cougar Chronicle  (BYU is a Mormon school, quite conservative, and has few black students.)  Here’s their attempt to get at the truth, done the old-fashioned way: using the phone and shoe leather.

Click to read:


BYU then did its own investigation, and on September 9 issued this statement (click to read):

An except:

From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event. As we stated earlier, we would not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation.

As a result of our investigation, we have lifted the ban on the fan who was identified as having uttered racial slurs during the match. We have not found any evidence that that individual engaged in such an activity. BYU sincerely apologizes to that fan for any hardship the ban has caused.

Yet, as often happens during these hoaxes, institutions who were deceived nevertheless must say something that affirms their virtue, so the statement adds this:

Despite being unable to find supporting evidence of racial slurs in the many recordings and interviews, we hope that all those involved will understand our sincere efforts to ensure that all student-athletes competing at BYU feel safe. As stated by Athletics Director Tom Holmoe, BYU and BYU Athletics are committed to zero-tolerance of racism, and we strive to provide a positive experience for everyone who attends our athletic events, including student-athletes, coaches and fans, where they are valued and respected.

This is typical of what happens when a campus “hate crime” is revealed as a hoax—as a substantial proportion of them are. I suggest having a look at Wilfred Reilly’s book, Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War. (Reilly, by the way, is black.) I’ve read it, and the stories he tells are dire. I can’t remember the proportion of campus hate crimes or hate “incidents” that turn out to be fake (usually perpetuated by a member of the minority group that was a victim of the fabricated “hate”), but it’s substantial.

What’s telling is what these incidents have in common after they’re revealed as hoaxes. The perpetrators are often not punished, even when they’re caught; the fact that the hate crime or incident was a hoax is not revealed to the college community (this is bad, because it perpetrates the idea that racism is prevalent on campus); these hoaxes happen everywhere, and, after the “crime” is revealed as a hoax, the schools nevertheless continue to insist that it could have been real because racism is everywhere. Finally, the colleges even put in place new antiracist initiatives—simply to show that they’re doing something, even in the face of a hoax. These colleges, like the newspapers, have a substantial ideological investment in perpetrating the idea that racism is ubiquitous.

At any rate, the New York Times also responded with a retraction (below), but also some tut-tutting about the prevalence of racism at BYU. Here’s the retraction:

And Singal’s take on the NYT’s most recent story, which still maintains that the “hate” against the black player happened as described.

By this point, between the original New York Times story and a tepid followup, a combined five reporters and researchers had been pantsed by a small student paper. If all this provoked any soul-searching on the part of the Times, it was unclear from its report on BYU’s findings.

Remarkably, their most recent story treated the events as unresolved: “B.Y.U. did not directly address why its findings contradicted the account by Richardson, and the statements by both universities left questions unanswered.” It also included a statement from Duke’s athletic director saying the university stood by the volleyball team. The story ends with a reminder that at the overwhelmingly Mormon school, less than 1 percent of students are black, and that a recent report highlighted the university’s diversity issues. It’s unclear exactly why this is relevant; the point seems to be for the Times to advertise that it understands racism is a serious problem at BYU, and that even if the school were not guilty of it this time, everyone knows the university’s soul is not entirely spotless.

The lessons are several. People were all too willing to believe a story that comported with their ideological views, especially the view racism is everywhere and “systemic”. But the press bought into it too, abjuring their traditional role in news stories to state the facts and omit anything that isn’t supported by the facts. Further, this shoddy reporting damages people, as well as the public, who are misled by biases. Singal mentions, as examples of similar hoaxes taken seriously by the public and the media without proper vetting, the Covington Catholic High School issue (three media settled with the supposedly “smirking racist” for a substantial amount of money), and the Jussie Smollett case, immediately believed as an incident of racism though Smollett’s claims were ridiculous.  And of course the fact that a “hate crime” or a “hate incident” was a hoax is never publicized as widely as the original “transgression” itself, so the public never learns the truth.

Here’s Singal’s conclusion:

. . . there’s an established pattern of journalists being far too credulous when these incidents first burst onto the scene.

It won’t take some radical revolution for journalists to better cover fast-developing, controversial incidents involving race and other hot-button issues. All they have to do is rediscover norms that are already there, embedded in journalistic tradition. The best, oldest-school newspaper editors—a truly dying breed—constantly pester cub reporters to make that one extra call, ask that one extra question, follow that one extra unlikely lead. They do this all in the service of making sure their organization prints the best, most accurate version of the news (and doesn’t get sued). They can adhere to these norms without becoming a shill for the powerful. It’s simply a matter of approaching a story with curiosity and skepticism, of not believing they are the advocate for one side in a conflict—no matter how righteous and obvious the battle lines may seem at first glance.

It’s getting so that one has to turn to Substack instead of the “MSM” to get the real news!

The lesson, then, is one that scientists have long had drilled into them. If a result tends to jibe with your innate biases—with what you want to be true—then that is the time you have to exercise the most doubt and give the results the highest scrutiny.

62 thoughts on “NYT and other media fall for a hoax because it matched their ideology

  1. This sort of jest if it was, is hugely damaging & ends up sowing total mistrust of media, pushing people towards the lunatic fringe. Or so it appears to me.

    Similarly, as they say in the radio 4 More or Less, ask is it a bug number – or in this case, is it playsible (yes) what are the sources? But really, if we all have to spend time checking everyvimplausible story, we will never achieve anything. Responsible journalists however SHOULD do that – check!

    1. Not only mistrust of the media, but also of the increasingly “woke-ified” academic world, nor should one forget the far worse scandal involving Duke Lacrosse fifteen years ago, which involved egregious misbehavior by the faculty (Duke’s Group of 88) as well as egregious misreporting by the NYT.

      1. People tried to get multiple innocent t people put in prison and destroy their lives forever in that Duke case. The people who knew they were innocent and pushes ahead anyway should have been given the sentences the men themselves would have received if found guilty. What happened is still so horrifying to this day.

    2. Actually, More or Less asks if it is a big number. I wouldn’t normally pick up on a typo like that but “bug number” could conceivably have a meaning as a wrong number (I work with computers and we have bugs).

      Is it plausible that a black member of the Duke team was subject to racist abuse at the level she claimed? I’d say no. I find it impossible to believe that nobody would have done anything about it. If it was as bad as described and officials did nothing about it, I would have expected the Duke team to walk out or, at the very least, raise an official complaint.

  2. Oh, I remember a Tw1773r summary a while back that had that in it – an athlete called … you know … and her mom sorta supporting her. I was just depressed that such things happen… I mean, of course, they still DO, but that one did not…. if I recall correctly.

    1. Found it – retw3373d by Lesa Pamplin

      “Lesa Pamplin for County Criminal Court #5
      @LesaPamplin My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Dukes volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a nigger every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.”

  3. But it COULD have happened. After all, in at least one of all possible worlds (for instance in the gaze of the person reporting the abuse), it ‘did’ happen, since all worlds have equal validity — and to privilege any one as being valorized with the label “objective reality” over another is, if not fully, at least semi-fascist.

  4. The hoaxer or conman always needs a receptive audience. As Homer Simpson said, “Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie, and one to listen.”

    1. Homer does make some surprisingly, if comically, wise statements. My probably favorite (and utterly unrelated to this post, but pertinent to the website in general) must be “I’m normally not a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman.”

      1. My other favorite Homerism: “Facts!? Anybody can prove anything that’s even remotely true with facts. Facts, schmacts.”

        Also: “When will people finally learn? Democracy just doesn’t work!”

  5. Reminds me of that Covington saga, where the common narrative didn’t match up to the facts. I remember Hemant Mehta’s blog going all in on the false narrative, and its commentators getting all abusive and shouty if anybody plainly stated the facts. A few did backtrack to the usual fall-back argument of, “well, this might not have quite happened, but racism ‘like this’ is still a thing”.

    Well, there’s plenty of real racism out there to focus on, rather than banging the drum on false stories.

  6. I don’t know how many of my fellow left-of-center compatriots have abandoned the NYT as their primary source of news, but I have. Growing up and into my early adulthood, I read and relied on the Times every day. I almost never access it any more.

  7. Even if the alleged slurs had actually been made, would the speech act have constituted a hate crime? What law was (allegedly) broken? I hope the NYT (and every other media outlet) is careful not to label an event as a ‘crime’ until the court system has made a conviction. Until that has occurred, it is only an alleged crime.

    As I’m reading through the post again, did the NYT refer to the alleged incident as a ‘hate crime’?

    1. No, I am characterizing “hate crime” as what some people think should be a hate crime. Sorry for the confusion. I don’t remember the NYT referring to it as a “hate crime”. I’ll go back and change it ti “hate incident”.

  8. My guess is that the Duke player misheard some chants and, since all the faces she could see in the stands were white, assumed the worst.

    Once, in Gradual School, late one night some (very likely drunk) students on my campus were stumbling along singing Monty Python’s philosopher’s song. When they got to the line about Heidegger they were over(mis)heard by members of a black fraternity who were out (I’m not making this up) marching around campus. Of course many tons of shit hit the fan the next day; in the student newspaper and around campus. However, this was 1980.. or so… anyway it back in the Before Times when people could actually talk to one another about this kind of thing with very few freaking out. Once the fraternity and the group of undergrads sorted it out something odd happened. Something we would not see today.

    Everyone accepted it. There was just a big; “OH! Just a misunderstanding” and then everyone went on their way. No shrieks of parasitic Whiteness, no marches, no screaming twatter wars, no University admins tripping over their own asses trying to be the most virtuous.

    Times they are achanging.

    1. Yes indeed, the achanging times represent “progress” as defined by Progressives. My hunch (a speculation) is that the change in University admins is the prime mover of this “progress”.

  9. I read this at the time and believed it. I read it from several sources, which further reinforced the story. Of course, reading the same story in multiple sources shouldn’t reinforce it, because the sources are surely not independent, but it does. I’m human.

    I hope this fraud gets further attention, but I doubt it will get much more than what we read from Jesse Singal’s report and what we read here. The Times is trying to wash the egg of its face by being vague, but they are surely aware that they screwed up royally. Perhaps the Times will learn not to be so gullible about these claims in the future. We’ll see. If they were truly honest, the Times would do a prominent story admitting that they screwed up, outlining how it happened, and detailing how they intend to correct the problem so that it doesn’t happen again. I’m not holding my breath.

    And what about the liars who perpetrated this hoax in the first place? Will they get off the hook without penalty? I don’t know if there are legal remedies to pursue against this fraud, but there should be social sanctions. Cancellation anyone? Or are people who identify as aggrieved entitled to lie without consequence?

    1. Although you cite no source, that story appears to have originated with The Washington Times, which relies upon nothing but information purportedly related to it by anonymous current and former FBI field agents. However far the credibility of the New York Times may have fallen, it will always tower above the credibility of that Moonie-owned rag.

      You do realize that the current Director of the FBI is Trump appointee Christopher Wray, don’t you? And that Director Wray identified white-supremacist groups as the biggest homegrown domestic terrorist threat in congressional testimony back when yer boy The Donald was still in the Oval Office?

      You also realize that Geoffrey Berman — a life-long Republican who contributed to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and who was hand-picked by Trump to serve as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (the federal prosecutor’s office with jurisdiction over Trump Inc.’s business dealings in Manhattan) — has just published a book, Holding the Line, in which he discloses the extent to which Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, repeatedly interfered with federal prosecutions to benefit Donald Trump politically?

  10. “If a result tends to jibe with your innate biases—with what you want to be true—then that is the time you have to exercise the most doubt and give the results the highest scrutiny.”

    This is one of the most nicely put summaries of this incredibly important precept. It should be on coffee mugs and tee-shirts and carved in stone in universities and newspaper buildings and courthouses and government offices. If students recited this instead of the Pledge of Allegiance, we would, I predict, be generally better off.

    1. That was quite an isolated incident at a time when race wasn’t an utter obsession that it is now. Today’s disasters (Covington, Smolett and this) are all larger and more frequent.

      1. The Brawley incident may have been isolated, but it was a very big deal, much bigger than Smollett, as the accused’s livelihoods and reputations were threatened– I lived in NY at the time. Since then, I’ve never understood why national media take Al Sharpton, the hoax’s most prominent supporter, seriously. (He’s sort of like Trump– a joke to to everyone in NY, but somehow taken seriously elsewhere in the country.)


  11. This is a pattern, not an isolated case. I wait for other news sources to confirm before I believe anything the NYT prints.

    And by confirm I mean actually confirm, not simply talk to the same anonymous source.

  12. [ begin quote ]
    “Black American folk singer-songwriter Huddie Ledbetter, a.k.a. Lead Belly, uses the phrase near the end of the recording of his 1938 song “Scottsboro Boys”, which tells the story of nine black teenagers accused of raping two white women, saying: “I advise everybody, be a little careful when they go along through there – best stay woke, keep their eyes open.” ”

    “Woke (/ˈwoʊk/ WOHK) is an English adjective meaning “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination” that originated in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE).”
    [ end quote]


    Were individuals “alert”? Did they “keep their eyes open”? I think yes. I apparently did as well (vide supra).

    That thought process appears to jump right to what I think John Donohue above put best :

    “But it COULD have happened.”

    They say, in childrens’ books, “stay woke”. Well, you can try to be “woke” all you want, but still :

    “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

    -George Orwell
    “In Front of Your Nose”, Tribune, 22 March 1946


  13. The Apex Players (those above Presidents and billionaires) are trying to turn everyone into the worst version of themselves. They are trying to make us dislike, distrust, and distance each other, so that we are looking at each other instead of looking at them, and so that we cannot unite against them.

    1. Apex Players? “Above Presidents and Billionaires”? They can levitate?

      So many questions….Who are they? Are they in the ones in the black helicopters? ….making chem-trails? Oh wait! I know, they used to called the Illuminati!

      One thing I bet, they’re behind every bush, right?

            1. Meh. I don’t argue with creationists, flat earthers, bigfoot hunters, or psychics either. It like playing chess with pigeons. Besides, it would be much too hard, what with all the laughing.

              Not all ideas deserve respect, Jim. Some warrant derision.

              1. I just go where the facts take me.

                Please don’t make a habit of killing the messenger.

                Don’t be jealous that others are free to challenge the establishment narrative.

                Please don’t be jealous that others are free to do synthesis outside of a single discipline.

                Also, don’t be jealous that some of us don’t seek approval from others.

                You are not a bad person. You are just in a bad place. This is temporary. It is not who you really are or who you really want to be.

                The light in me is allied with the light in you. The light in one is allied with the light in all.

        1. I really don’t mean to mock your convictions. But if 9/11 was an inside job, why would The Cabal have destroyed WTC 7 which indeed had not been hit by an aircraft? If they had allowed it to stand, they would have avoided triggering the suspicions of people such as yourself. You correctly point out that people who ridicule you aren’t offering arguments. So here is one.

          1. We don’t need to know the details of how or why they did it to know that they did it. Speculation about how or why does not change the fact that WTC 7 was some kind of controlled demolition, and that the reality thus contradicts the establishment narrative, and that someone was able to keep the entire global mainstream silent about WTC 7. They have gotten away with it thus far, and thus were correct not to worry about triggering the suspicions of independent thinkers.

            We could speculate endlessly about the how and why. Just one of many possibilities is that the plane that went down over Pennsylvania, and which was obviously intended to hit a building on the East coast, was intended to hit WTC 7. When it failed to reach its target, they decided to pull it anyway.

            You did indeed make an argument, and I appreciate that, but it is a weak argument. If you wanted to try to make a strong argument, you could try to prove that there had actually been much mainstream public discussion and investigation into why WTC 7 looked exactly like a controlled demolition.

      1. They’re hovering on the orbiting platform that supports the Jewish space laser that the brainlessfearless Marjorie Taylor Greene exposed I expect…

  14. It’s stuff like this, and the vast number of race-hoax cases documented by Wilfred Reilly, that convinces me that there is virtually no anti-black racism in US college campuses these days. Why else would there be such a need to invent incidents? (Can anyone point to any actually real incidents?)

    1. Supply rises to meet the demand, surely?

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

      “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” — Voltaire

  15. Perhaps people fall for these hoaxes because they lack a conception of faked hate crimes. It would not seem hard to guess that the insane pay-offs of a successful hate hoax would lead to people making them up, but the thought never occurs.

    Catholics I knew have sometimes stunned me with their gullibility*. Why do they believe in obviously forged relics, the most implausible miracles even in books written for children, or saints whose real-life biographies reveals them as mentally ill or fraudulent?

    Because they lack a concept of a fake miracle. If I had claimed that the Virgin Mary appeared to me, that would at worst lead to a few beatings, but never an outright dismissal. My bold invention would, if found implausible, be ascribed to the devil who labors to pervert a great cause (the veneration of Mary) by twisting my mind. Eventually some fraudster must succeed. Among evangelicals, faith healers exploit a similar mindset. And among progressive liberals, hate hoaxers do just the same.

    * Well-known examples: Holy Lance, Holy Robe, Sun Miracle, Padre Pio, also Lourdes, Shroud of Turin etc.

    1. Because they lack a concept of a fake miracle.

      Don’t Catholics reject the miracles of other religions as fake? And even within the framework of Christianity, how about Joseph Smith’s claim that Peter, John, and James appeared before him? Some of his other claims would do just as well.

      1. Not really, from my experience. E.g. Muhammad may be an immoral man, but his religion is not useless, but devil-worship. Similarly, someone practicing African witchcraft is no fool, but an enemy of God.

        So no, other religions are taken quite seriously even if all their beliefs are rejected out of hand.

      2. At least Smith had a signed witness statement for some of his claims, which makes Mormonism possibly the best-evidenced religion of them all!

  16. Highly recommend Wil Reilly’s conversation with Bari Weiss on her podcast from December last year. They covered all these examples (Covington, Smollett, Brawley etc.).

    1. Sorry – there are TWO graphs here – the first is race relations, the 2nd click down, is the number of times “race” is mentioned in the last 10 years.
      Now… if pretty much all metrics of black life (income, vote participation and registration, mixed marriages, attitudes in surveys, etc) have been IMPROVING, yet the media/academia has this loud clarion call that these are THE MOST RACIST times, the difference as I see it is a moral panic.
      And the 2nd order effects are TERRIBLE.

  17. I have been following this one for a while. A key issue seems to be that some folks really believe that the US, in 2022, is a country where police shoot hundreds of Black people each year just for being Black, that the Klan still roams small town America burning crosses and lynching people. So the idea that someone would repeatedly yell the N word at Duke players during a game in Provo, UT, and not be denounced by everyone there and ejected immediately.
    If the US they imagine exists, I have not been able to find it. It should not be difficult, as we most often frequent areas that the narrative, if true, claims should be just full of racists. As a White guy with a mustache and a big hat, it seems inconceivable that people would hide their racist feelings from me.

    There is a troubling racist in this story. That would be Richardson’s godmother Lesa Pamplin, who has a long history of complaining about “Dumb a** white women”, ” white motherf*ckers”, and “Creepy a** crackers”.

    I really think it is a problem of worldview. People who are strongly superstitious might claim, after an auto accident, that they swerved across the center line because a sorcerer placed an enchantment on them. There are places and eras in the world where the cops might buy that story, but most people are going to be pretty skeptical of it.
    The NYT should not be publishing stories about sorcerers causing accidents or unlikely racist incidents without doing a bunch of investigation prior to publication.

  18. If people believe in the theory of net zero carbon emissions, they’ll believe anything.
    Or that nuclear power is safe and cheap. Or that the US is in a proxy war with Russia. Or that ivermectin cures Covid. Or that “God” exists.

    1. Nobody argues today that nuclear power is cheap. However, its levelized cost of electricity is a pretty good deal, considering that it is not weather-dependent (and so requires no extra costs to compensate for a large degree of unreliability), doesn’t produce conventional pollution, and emits CO2 over its lifetime on a scale competitive with windmills*. As for safety, the handful of people who have died from power-plant accidents is dwarfed by the number who die from mining and burning coal. But in the end, I suspect there is more coal in our future than uranium.

      I think you have stated a number of positions you believe in your opinion to be false and believed only by fools but which, with the exception of ivermectin, are not in fact falsifiable the way that the hoax Jerry reports in his post was able to be.

      (I don’t know what the “theory” of net zero carbon emissions refers to.)
      *The emissions of both are due largely to the concrete and other energy-intensive materials used to build them.

  19. The quote that always comes to my mind when I read a story like this is one by CS Lewis, apologist for Christian beliefs. Treating the image of humans slowly progressing to devils as metaphor (of course), the description seems like a perfect fit for today’s subject:

    “Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.”

  20. I grew up in Provo, UT. Both my parents taught at BYU. It is a strange place. My circle called BYU the University of California at Provo because so many students came from CA, presumably because parents wanted to get their children away from worldly influences. My parents were appalled by racism particularly the events in AL, MS, and AR. They loved Bill Cosby in I Spy and the Cosby Show. I graduated from high school in ’64 and was soon on a plane for Ft. Polk, LA. We landed in Shreveport. The airport was segregated. There was a black drinking fountain and rest room outside behind the terminal waiting area. I was appalled and did not think this could be in the US. My best friend during basic training was a black college student from New York. My parents welcomed a teenage Mexican American into their home when his family life fell apart. Overt racism was not part of our lives. When I graduated from high school there was a single young Black woman in the school so there wouldn’t have been much opportunity to practice it. I think there was some racism in our community but it was never overt that I saw.

    BYU is unlike other universities because it requires students to get a recommendation from their local bishop, a lay minister who typically have a ward or congregation of about 300 members. That sets a fairly high bar for good behavior. Students tend to be well behaved. No alcohol is served or permitted at any events on campus which also probably helps keep misbehavior down. I was surprised by the newspaper reporting of the name calling incident but I didn’t think it was impossible, just unlikely. I am pleased that the incident was fiction even though I found growing up in Mormon Provo stultifying and oppressive.

  21. When you tell a lie, there should be consequences. When the lie damages the reputation of a university, the character of a sports team, and specifically pointed a finger of guilt at a fan who was banned from further attendance, you should not simply be able to walk away afterwards. All of the pieces I have read on this simply say Richardson’s story could not be backed up with evidence. No one, until a couple of people in the comments here used the word ‘lie’. She lied. She’s a liar. We will do her no favours if we gloss over that just because she’s black. Equal treatment for equal people.

  22. In the hard copy Thursday 9/22/22 Raleigh News & Observer, the editorial board says they believe the Duke volleyball player. A fair amount of pretzel-twisting, an admirable effort. I’ve made a stab at accessing it online. No joy. I’ve no appetite for persistent “judicious inquiry” this evening. 😉 For those hurting for something to do:

    http://www.newsobserver.com › opinion › article266069831.html
    Duke player’s account of racial taunts rings true | Raleigh News & Observer

    Skeptics dispute Duke volleyball player’s claim of taunts, but her account still rings true. By The Editorial Board. September 21, 2022 11:45 AM. The Duke volleyball team, including Rachel …
    https://www.newsobserver.com › opinion › article265090674.html

    Here’s the Deseret News take:

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