Documentarian Ken Burns is doing a film about how in 1989 five New York City teens were falsely charged with rape and served between 6 and 13 years each in prison. “‘The Central Park Five,’ . . . lets the five victims recall that tumultuous time in their lives and documents just how much the false charges crushed their youth.” It’s a tragic story that needed to be told.
This tragedy should not have been used by Burns to dismiss other incidents of false charges.
As we’ll see, Burns has a blind spot. He is a longtime financial supporter of the Democratic Party. He produced the introductory video for Senator Edward Kennedy 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention. Politico described it as “Burns-crafted tribute casting [Kennedy] as the modern Ulysses bringing his party home to port.”
Lionizing Kennedy is the height of hypocrisy. Kennedy was a notorious womanizer. The Chappaquiddick incident, where Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in the backseat of Kennedy’s car, would have destroyed any other politician.
Kennedy was a liberal and politically influential, so he had to be protected.
The same can’t be said for the false rape charges that were leveled against the Duke University Lacrosse players. Burns described them as “three rich white boys who were mildly inconvenienced by rape charges that proved to be false.” Burns went on to say, “In no time the prosecutor of that case was fired, disbarred, and put in jail, and the three ended up getting a huge settlement.”
Ted Kennedy was only “mildly inconvenienced,” and he was involved with the death of a young woman under suspicious circumstances and real evidence of a coverup.
In 2006, three members of the men’s lacrosse team at Duke University were accused of raping Crystal Gail Mangum, an African American student who attended North Carolina Central University. Players were suspended, the coach was forced to resign by the athletic director, and Duke President Richard Brodhead canceled the rest of the 2006 season. The accusation proved to be false.
Jesse Jackson supported the false accuser to such an extent that his non-profit Rainbow/Push Coalition organization offered to pay her tuition whether she fabricated the story or not. “A poster that ‘looked like a wanted poster’ was distributed on campus and in nearby neighborhoods shortly after the allegations surfaced in March 2006 showing pictures and names of 40 members of the lacrosse team, urging them to ‘come forward’ with information on the alleged rape.”
“In no time,” as Burns puts their plight, was actually 15 months. The story was front-page news in every news outlet around the world. A group of 88 Duke University professors added their names to an advertisement that was published in the Duke Chronicle “implying that the charges were true.”
Even after it was learned that the accusations were false, Duke Faculty member Wahneema Lubiano declared that the players could never be cleared, no matter what the evidence. Lubiano considered the team members to be “‘almost perfect offenders,’ since they are ‘the exemplars of the upper end of the class hierarchy, the politically dominant race and ethnicity, the dominant gender, the dominant sexuality, and the dominant social group on campus.’” Lubiano promised to continue to pursue justice regardless of the “truth.”
Perjury is a serious crime. Mosaic Law prohibited false swearing (Lev. 19:12; Ex. 20:7) and giving false testimony as a witness (Ex. 20:16). Giving false testimony was punishable with the sentence which would have gone to the one falsely accused of guilt (Deut. 19:16–21).
These types of incidents could be curtailed if this law were applied today. That way, all the political correctness could be removed and people’s lives would not be destroyed.