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The Sad State of Debate on University Campuses, Part MMMCDLXXVIII:

1. The Cal State Long Beach Daily 49er reports:

Ripped flyers hung off of the department of women's studies door, . . . and derogatory statements written on those flyers . . . .

An "I Love Feminism" flyer posted on the office door had, "You should be ashamed of yourself" written below it. A flag poster also posted on the door had, "Liberalism is the path to socialism which is the path to communism. Be a good American and think Republican!" written on it. . . .

Other statements like "Support a Democratic Iraq" and "See beyond your ignorance" were written on other flyers posted on the office door. . . .

Gee, you eloquent young conservatives (I assume this is on-the-level vandalism, in part because I'd think that any hoax vandalism would be a titch more aggressive-sounding), any ideas on better ways — both more ethical and more persuasive ways — to express your views than defacing others' views?

2. But wait, it gets better: Here's a response, printed in the same newspaper:

Someone vandalized the women's studies department in the early morning hours of Nov. 15. One example was "You should be ashamed of yourself," written on a feminism poster.

To scribble on the posters of a department that stands for equal rights, free speech and ending discrimination on the basis of sex is misguided and hateful. In the attempt to voice their opinions, the vandals hoped to quiet an entire department. . . .

There are many sides to every argument, but by destroying the property of a liberal department to fill it with messages of freedom and democracy, it ultimately supports the utter removal of our right as citizens to disagree with one another. . . .

Unless you want to live a cookie-cutter, apathetic, lemming-like existence, grow some and spark a real debate instead of acting childish and using a blue Crayola marker to scribble your uninformed, useless hate speech on our posters.

OK, I'm with you on the destruction of property, but if "You should be ashamed of yourself" is "hate speech," haven't we defined "hate speech" down quite a bit? Also, why exactly should it matter whether the department stands for equal rights, free speech, and ending discrimination, or — as other departments do — for sound mathematical knowledge or for more reading of Shakespeare?

Yeah, I know it's just a college, and these are just college students. Still, I've been hoping for something a little better.

JohnAnnArbor:
Don't be surprised if a women's studies student did it. It's common to stage these things to create an incident.
12.2.2005 1:16pm
CEB:
I can't help but wonder if this will turn out to be one of the all-to-common stories about people vandalizing their own posters, property, etc. in an attempt to make those on the other side of the controversy look ridiculous.
12.2.2005 1:17pm
ur_land:
Way to jump to blaming the victim. There's no evidence at all yet about the identities of anyone that did this, but I am unaware that these incidents are "common" as both CEB and JAA state. Any evidence to back that claim up? In what percentage of vandalism cases did "vandalizing their own posters, property, etc. in an attempt to make those on the other side of the controversy look ridiculous?"
12.2.2005 1:20pm
Michael Lopez (mail):
Back when I had my own blog, I saw something like this and called it as an inside job, too. It was.

I'm not so sure about this one... the syntax of the Liberalism-Socialism-Communism thing doesn't sound like it was written even by a lefty trying to sound like a righty. The rest does, particularly the thing about "You should be ashamed of yourself." That's the sort of thing that liberals *think* conservatives write. And the "Be a good American think Republican" riff absolutely SCREAMS of someone who thinks that Republicans believe themselves to be the only true Americans -- and most (though admittedly not all) people who think that are Democrats.

Stil, on the balance I'd put about $25 on its being an inside job.

-Michael
12.2.2005 1:23pm
Michael Lopez (mail):
ur_land,

I missed your post the first time because I was busy typing my own while you posted... but the fact is that *every* incident of "right-on-left" graffiti gets reported in at least the regional media, and in three and a half years of dedicated edu-blogging, I saw about seven stories about such vandalism. Every single one of them turned out to be self-inflicted.

The closest thing I've seen to the real McCoy is based on emails.... right wing students who send uncivilized emails to their professors and the like. But the big difference there is that those are signed.

-Michael
12.2.2005 1:27pm
Brutus:
Oh, I'm sure the feminists and liberals have neeeever tried to silence conservative voices by tearing down or defacing their flyers, disrupting their meetings, stealing their publications, etc.

When socialists actually disrupt a conservative meeting, that's called "free speech" (see students arrested). But when conservatives may have done something disruptive, oh my, that's called a THREAT TO FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY, and we can't have that!
12.2.2005 1:30pm
Jim Hu:
er..."grow some"?!!! The only times I've heard this phrase, it was in reference to an anatomical item that wouldn't really be appropriate for Women's studies.
12.2.2005 1:31pm
DNL (mail):
1) Why does a DEPARTMENT espouse purely ideological viewpoints? I'm not justifying the vandalism, but there was to be no debate here in the first place.

2) The vandals should be expelled.
12.2.2005 1:39pm
M (mail):
I've not read the full response you've quoted from, but the quote you have doesn't use the term "hate speech", which makes it funny to put it in quotes below. Is it used in the full article? If not it's a bit misleading, at least, to put it in quotes below. It is, of course, quite possible to think this was a "hateful" act without thinking this was a case of "hate speech". Unless there is more in the full article I think you're off base here.
12.2.2005 1:41pm
The Original TS (mail):
With respect to your technical legal point, you are, of course, correct. It isn't hate speech. But the term frequently get misused and these are college students, not attorneys.

Frankly, I'm more concerned about the painful syntax.

Also, why exactly should it matter whether the department stands for equal rights, free speech, and ending discrimination, or -- as other departments do -- for sound mathematical knowledge or for more reading of Shakespeare?

It's just a rhetorical device. The writer's trying to point out the absurdity of attempting to stifle democracy and free speech in America in order to support it in Iraq. The person defacing the posters was engaging in a version of the "Why do you hate America?" argument.

I pretty much agree with the person writing the letter to the editor, syntax aside. I'm becoming a radical moderate. Extremism on the right is just as obnoxious as extremism on the left
12.2.2005 1:41pm
Wintermute (www):
I should live long enough to see the end of gender and ethnic politics; but I think there is now at least a perception that these new academic departments can exceed their usefulness and become paychecks for ideological extremism. Vandalism sucks as a weapon agianst excess, though. It seems these new departments have to wither from declining enrollment.
12.2.2005 1:42pm
Per Son:
This is crazy. I thought the post was about whether the vandalism was hate speech as well as whether it is somehow worse to damage politically sensitive stuff versus say mathmatics related stuff.

For a bunch of conservatives, I thought you would be up in arms about property damage -NOT LIVE SPEECH DISRUPTION, BUT PROPERTY DAMAGE - there is indeed a difference.

Lastly, liberals and conservatives have both at times made stuff up (see e.g. Bellsailles and John Lott). Just as people have made false accusations of assualt, robbery, and fingers in food. (see e.g. Morton Downey, Jr., the Guardian angel guy, and the finger in the chili lady).

The attitude presented here is the assumption that liberals are all bullshit artists when it comes to property damage. What evidence do you have to support even a notion that these incidents were perpetrated by liberals? In your answers please use real evidence that pertains to the situation - not other instances by liberal groups that would of course be irrelevant.
12.2.2005 1:44pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
M: You might want to reread my post; the quote that I give does use the term "hate speech."

The Original TS: I should note, for whatever it's worth, that the term "hate speech" means little to attorneys; it's not a legal term of art. It's true that attorneys tend to be more careful in using words than college students -- but college is supposed to teach college students such care.
12.2.2005 1:44pm
Jim Hu:
I can't even find the response...what's the link?
12.2.2005 1:45pm
Humble Law Student:
If Republicans were the real vandals, they only showed their own ineptitude. They need to learn from liberals.

From my undergrad institution, ripping down posters from the entire 30,000+ student campus. Students caught on video camera urinating on signs promoting Bush, etc.

I could go on...
12.2.2005 1:46pm
Humble Law Student:
Not that I advocate it of course.
12.2.2005 1:47pm
Paul Gowder (mail) (www):
Yes, John (et al.). Us evil liberals have realized that we can't win a debate with you on things like conquest, torture, fiscal irresponsibility, or civil liberties. So we write graffiti in your name instead. We're hoping it'll permit us to have at least one seat or two left in Congress in 2006, even if only from places like Massachusetts.

You're far too smart for us.
12.2.2005 1:47pm
Houston Lawyer:
Talk about blown out of proportion, when I was in college any flier posted within reach of a pen was subject to editorial reply, regardless of its political content. The comments would inevitably be snarky, and usually made for more interesting reading than the poster itself.
12.2.2005 1:50pm
Humble Law Student:
Paul,

I'm glad you've finally admitted it. There's hope for you yet!

;)
12.2.2005 1:51pm
Fishbane:
In your answers please use real evidence that pertains to the situation - not other instances by liberal groups that would of course be irrelevant.

Ah, but doing so would require work, and it is much more fun to casually dismiss entire classes viewpoints one doesn't like by vaguely waving at a half-remembered example of a fruitcake. Because, of course, making up (Maryland) victim (oreo) stories (Michael Steele) never happens among grownups.

See? Fun for everyone!
12.2.2005 1:53pm
guest2:
I think Professor Volokh's statement regarding a higher expectation in regards to the response from the Women's Studies students demonstrates the "sad state of debate on university campuses." I believe, as a graduating senior from a small undergraduate institution that in many cases, at least at our institution that many of the "best and brightest" do not speak their mind for this reason. Too many of our fellow students are living in a naive immature world created in their own mind that allows them to make blanket statements such as the ones in response to the vandalism. It makes it difficult for the intelligent well-reasoned response because all too often the response has already been "destroyed" by a ludicrous statement. It is also apparent to me, at least at our institution, that students are willing to bash other groups including the administration in the quad or the student newspaper yet are unwilling to actually try to advance change. Our institution attempted to have a forum on "the state of debate and dissent at the institution," the panel was to be made up of a few professors and a few students. The purpose was for the institution and the students to give their views on the nature of debate on campus, interestingly when time came for the discussion; it was cancelled because the only people who showed up were those of us who were to be on the panel. Perhaps more interestingly, upon leaving the auditorium, we walked passed a group of students yelling about some decision about the administration. That I believe is, if representative of other institutions (especially smaller ones) indicative of the problem. Students like to complain; many students, in my experiences anyway, do not like to do that which may bring about change...that would require the student actually put some thought into the issue rather than curse someone out.
12.2.2005 1:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

1) Why does a DEPARTMENT espouse purely ideological viewpoints? I'm not justifying the vandalism, but there was to be no debate here in the first place.

2) The vandals should be expelled.
I'm going to be very cynical and point out that what started universities down the purely ideological viewpoint departments road was that at a few schools, it was the only way to get the administration building back in one piece.

Thomas Sowell makes the argument that universities, like many other non-profits, were terribly slow in getting past the old boy network, and bringing blacks into the academy. One side effect of this was that blacks were greatly underrepresented--and I wonder if the development of Black Studies programs was a quick way to hire a bunch of professors who might not have been able to work their way through the liberal, but still terribly white academic departments.

There might have been an argument for some of these ideological departments at a time when minority and feminist perspectives were seriously lacking in the social sciences. Does anyone seriously think that this is still the case today? I would argue that the ideological departments need to be folded back into the appropriate traditional department--assuming that the members of the ideological departments actually qualify for those traditional departments.

I say that because my experience suggests that the ideological departments are sorely lacking in academic rigor. A friend took a class in Native American Studies at Sonoma State University; the professor bragged about the fact that when he went off to grad school, he had the lowest GRE scores of anyone ever accepted by that school.

Another friend took an ethnic studies class at SSU where the "professor" didn't even have a bachelor's degree; his only credential was that he had been Minister of Culture at one time for the Black Panther Party. The "professor" seldom actually showed up for the classes he was supposed to teach, and eventually this turned into a lawsuit about the racism of expecting him to do his job.

My wife's experience with the chair (and only full-time professor) of the Gender Studies Department was almost as absurd. The professor handed out some articles that the students were supposed to critically evaluate. My wife did so, pointing out that the claim that women are smaller than men because they are systematically starved is absurd; hadn't this author ever heard of sexual dimorphism? From then on, my wife was invisible--in a class of twenty students. The professor would say, "Any questions?" My wife's hand would go up. "Good. Now..."

My experience with the American Multicultural Studies class was just about as ridiculous. Here's a guy who is a full professor, an elected member of the school board in a largely white city, who tells us that nothing has changed since the 1950s with respect to race relations in America. This professor even told us that he and a white gal used to respond to "for rent" signs just for the look on the landlord's face--and they stopped after one had a heart attack. Nothing has changed? He had us take a test that purported to show that IQ tests were culturally biased--but even the inner city black kids didn't know that "a stable of lace" was a pimp's employees, or any of the rest of the criminal subculture references that this professor assured us were part of being black.
12.2.2005 1:56pm
DK:
Eugene wrote "It's true that attorneys tend to be more careful in using words than college students -- but college is supposed to teach college students such care."

if colleges teach attorney-level care about using words, then what will be left for the law schools to do?

;-)
12.2.2005 2:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Concerning fraudulent "hate crimes": I blogged here about a very large number of incidents where the hate crimes turned out to be self-inflicted. I've seen coverage of many others that were too far back to find live links.
12.2.2005 2:22pm
DNL (mail):
The door that was vandalized:

image


Apparently, the online version of the newspaper article left out one line:

"Also missing was a sign reading 'Abandon All Hope, Ye Conservatives Who Enter Here."
12.2.2005 2:26pm
JohnAnnArbor:
It is interesting how often people will resort to such juvenile garbage. At least be creative about it.

I remember when someone posted a long (4 pages, typwritten, sheets connected end-to-end) accusation in a dormitory at the University of Michigan accusing a dorm advisor of being a racist. Rather than take them down, I took out a red pen and corrected the bad grammar on one copy. (Of course, that alone could easily gotten me my very own accusation of racism, given how low the threshold is for such accusations on campus.)

But I remember more incidents like small groups of students sweeping through buildings, removing all conservative campaign posters for student government with military precision. I also remember seeing neatly stacked piles of the "Michigan Review" thrown in the trash. Even the liberal "Michigan Daily" was attacked like this, with an entire press run being thrown away for some perceived racial slight.
12.2.2005 2:28pm
M (mail):
Prof. Volokh,
You're right- I missed that at the end despite having read it a couple of time. I apologize for the mistake. They did use the term "hate speech" and that's clearly wrong as both a legal and moral argument. (It does still seem reasonable to call it a "hateful" display, though.)
12.2.2005 2:31pm
Per Son:
Clayton:

If we are playing that game, I'll dig up a "few" instances of black men being arrested and even lynched for false accusations (or non crimes such as looking at white women). That people lie about instances of victimization or lie as a way to bolster their viewpoint is ages old, and hardly new. Heck, look at Bellsailes and Lott!
12.2.2005 2:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

If we are playing that game, I'll dig up a "few" instances of black men being arrested and even lynched for false accusations (or non crimes such as looking at white women).
And your point is?

False accusations reflect badly on those who make those false accusations--and render true accusations all the more difficult to believe when they happen.

Be very careful about your outrage when a story conforms to what you already want to believe. Take a look at this blog entry of mine where I ask if anyone can confirm a story that casts the ACLU in an evil light--and as much as it conforms to my viewpoint (the ACLU is evil), I don't believe it.
12.2.2005 2:44pm
CEB:
As others have noted, what is most suspicious about this is the wording. "Be a good American and think Republican!" just seems too good to be true. Perhaps it was written by a clever conservative in an effort to make it look like it was written by a liberal in an effort to make conservatives look ridiculous, in an effort to make liberals look ridiculous.
12.2.2005 2:47pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

But I remember more incidents like small groups of students sweeping through buildings, removing all conservative campaign posters for student government with military precision. I also remember seeing neatly stacked piles of the "Michigan Review" thrown in the trash. Even the liberal "Michigan Daily" was attacked like this, with an entire press run being thrown away for some perceived racial slight.
I had the same experience when I was running for Santa Monica City Council, in 1981--the same fanaticism that justifies all bad actions.

Fanaticism is a pretty common character trait. Religious fanaticism is usually restrained by being a member of a religious body that corrals individual members, reminding them that they are going off the deep end. But what happens when a bunch of fanatics join together in a single religious entity--or a political entity? Nien Cheng's Life and Death in Shanghai really captures the way in which religious fanaticism was effectively rechanneled into political fanaticism--even to the point that the Red Guards were using traditional Chinese religious terminology, such as referring to Mao Zedong as "The Great Helmsman." (Those capitals are there for a reason.)
12.2.2005 2:49pm
KyDerby (mail):
It's amazing to me that the initial reactions to Eugene's post are to jump to the conclusion that this was an "inside job". I wonder if they'd say the same thing about the recent incidents at the JESUIT University in my community, where, by the way, conservatives make up the vast majority of both the faculty and student body: racial slurs were written on the white boards of minority students in one of the freshman dorms; racial epithets were yelled from a second story window at a maintenece worker passing by; nazi swastika's accompanied by homophobic slurs were written on the stairwell in a different dorm. The state of intolerance is so bad that the University President felt the need to apologize for the University in his inaugural address.

Michael Lopez-- I guess you've already heard about these incidents since you write, "the fact is that *every* incident of "right-on-left" graffiti gets reported in at least the regional media, and in three and a half years of dedicated edu-blogging, I saw about seven stories about such vandalism. Every single one of them turned out to be self-inflicted."

Should I pen the University President and tell him not to worry, these incidents were probably staged by the "victims" because you say so...
12.2.2005 2:51pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It's amazing to me that the initial reactions to Eugene's post are to jump to the conclusion that this was an "inside job". I wonder if they'd say the same thing about the recent incidents at the JESUIT University in my community, where, by the way, conservatives make up the vast majority of both the faculty and student body: racial slurs were written on the white boards of minority students in one of the freshman dorms; racial epithets were yelled from a second story window at a maintenece worker passing by; nazi swastika's accompanied by homophobic slurs were written on the stairwell in a different dorm. The state of intolerance is so bad that the University President felt the need to apologize for the University in his inaugural address.
There have been quite a few incidents like you describe where it turned out to be a minority member who did it. One was a woman who wanted an excuse to go home, and figured that when her parents found out about this horrifying set of racial slurs aimed at her at college, they would figure that she wasn't safe there.

Are there people that write racial slurs on college campuses for the purpose of intimidation? I'm sure that there are. The only place that I have ever seen neo-Nazi literature lying around visible is on a college campus--and a very liberal one at that. College students are notoriously prone to proselytizing by ideas that are "out there."


However, so many of these "hate crimes" over the last few years have been self-inflicted that many of us are just a little skeptical. Some years back, a lesbian minister at one of the very liberal San Francisco churches reported being attacked and slurs written on her face. The police started to get skeptical when they noticed that all the slurs were mirror-image--almost like someone had drawn them in a mirror! She finally admitted to having made up the story to get sympathy for homosexuals. I've read plenty of other similiar news accounts over the last few years, where the initial coverage (because the news media are overwhelming liberal or leftist) is, "Oh, poor victim of an oppressive society!" Within a few weeks, it becomes a fresh news story, as inconsistencies and eyewitnesses come forward (for example, the professor who vandalized her own car at Claremont--and didn't know anyone saw it).

You would think if these horrible hate crimes were really widespread that there wouldn't be any need for self-inflicted victimization.
12.2.2005 3:02pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I love how good, old-fashioned racism is "right on left" vandalism. Did the minority students in question have a particularly negative view of capitalism?

It's been my experience that homophobic slurs (alone) rarely have any political message behind them... they end up in bathroom stalls across the country, and you'd have a tough time establishing a conservative conspiracy behind them. It's juvenile, not political.

I'm also curious to know where this vast conservative majority jesuit school is... it sure isn't Marquette :)
12.2.2005 3:08pm
dk35 (mail):
Ironically, the majority of comments to this post seem to show that maybe we shouldn't think the letter to the editor misapplied the use of the term "hate speech" after all, despite Volokh's arrogant attempt to provide his own interpretation of terms to be normative.

Clearly, many seem to have a vitriolic attitude toward liberals and women's studies department. Thus, it seems perfectly reasonable to me (though obviously someone else could take another point of view) that the comments on the fliers were hate speech.

I'm sorry Prof. Volokh, but you are not the final arbiter of language. Perhaps if you showed some recognition of this, you wouldn't undermine the credibility of your argument so much.
12.2.2005 3:10pm
BoaltGrad:
When I was at Boalt in 2001-2002 as a 3L, someone had posted fliers around campus to the effect that feminist ought to support the war in Afghanistan. I was astounded, but should not have been, to watch two female law students walk by one such flier and one of them, casually, without breaking stride or turning her attention from the conversation, tore down the flier and threw it in the garbage.
12.2.2005 3:20pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Here's the example of a false charge that I was thinking of earlier (although I remember originally reading the news stories about it, not the Malkin column). Given Ole Miss's racial history, this charge really stirred things up on campus.
12.2.2005 3:28pm
JohnAnnArbor:
dk35, a clue: just because you disagree with someone doesn't mean that person's engaging in "hate speech."
12.2.2005 3:30pm
dk35 (mail):
Ok BoaltGrad, I have one for you...

When I was at Yale in 1991, we learned with short notice that George Bush (the father) was going to receive an honory degree at commencement. Some students decided to meet to discuss how we wished to protest. We put up fliers advertising an organization meeting. "I was astounded, but should not have been, to watch" a conservative classmate "walk by one such flier and . . . casually, without breaking stride . . . [tear] down the flier and [throw] it in the garbage."

Do we really need to engage in this silly tit-for-tat war of anecdotes?
12.2.2005 3:31pm
dk35 (mail):
JohnAnnArbor: A clue: How do you know that this is a case of someone just disagreeing? Do you know the people who scribbled on the fliers personally?
12.2.2005 3:34pm
Per Son:
DK:

I am sad to say, but conservatives think the answer is yes.
12.2.2005 3:34pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
So the default rule is that disagreement is "hate speech" until proven otherwise?
12.2.2005 3:36pm
Per Son:
No, the consensus is that liberals, women, and minorities are never ever targeted for property damage.
12.2.2005 3:41pm
KyDerby (mail):
Clayton Cramer wrote: I've read plenty of other similiar news accounts over the last few years, where the initial coverage (because the news media are overwhelming liberal or leftist) is, "Oh, poor victim of an oppressive society!"

The incidents I described were *not* covered by the media and that's exactly my point. How many times do these types of things occur at small, relatively unknown universities and we don't hear about it? It seems that the frame of reference for the majority of people who comment here is mid-size or large universities. My point os that there are many more small schools out there that do not get "covered" in the same way.

That Michael Lopez claims, "*every* incident of "right-on-left" graffiti gets reported in at least the regional media" is naive at best and absurdly arrogant at worst.

Daniel Chapman: "I love how good, old-fashioned racism is "right on left" vandalism"
Point well taken...
12.2.2005 3:42pm
David Berke:
Much of this thread is depressing and predictable. Although Prof. Volokh was clearly hoping to avoid the issue of self-sabotage, the thread immediately fixed upon it.

Those who are predisposed to believe the left is deceitful firmly believe that this is no more than the misdirected energy of some left-leaning student or professor. Those who are predisposed to believe that the right are unthinking troglodytes are similarly disposed to believe that this was the result of their misplaced energy.

What is the evidence offered? The worst kind of evidence; anecdotal evidence. This sort of evidence is widely distrusted for at least two outstanding reasons. The first is that, as a basic matter of cognitive psychology, we remember those events which fit within our preconceptions, and forget those which do not. Accordingly, one's memory is unlikely to accurately reflect how often self-sabotage occurs. The second is that outside reports of single events are biased in favor of exciting events; What is more exciting, yet another case of people marking up posters, or those nefarious liberals/conservatives who marked their own posters to gain attention? What story would YOU be more likely to print, tell to another, or even recall?

I have no doubt that on numerous occasions, liberals have defaced their own property and cried foul. I have similarly little doubt that conservatives have done the same. However, the truth is, we don't know what happened here, and all this speculation is no more than another attempt to confirm our prejudices.

For what its worth, I think the whole thing is overblown. I wholeheartedly agree with those who have noted that this is simply something that happens on a college campus, and the offended parties should get over it.
12.2.2005 3:44pm
DNL (mail):
At my dear, dear alma mater, about four years before I matriculated, a student beat himself up and claimed he was jumped, for, if I recall correctly, a (left of center) political op-ed. He made it to a campus safety phone and the police showed up rather quickly. True enough, at the site of the incident, there were signs of a struggle including blood laying in the snow. This was consistant with the fact that the kid was or had recently bled.

The university police, however, did the school a grave disservice -- they failed to publish the report for about two weeks. During this time, the school -- left and right -- moblized against such acts. How could this happen here, at an idyllic Northeastern liberal arts college? If here, anywhere! That kind of stuff.

When the report finally came out, the student admitted to faking the incident. How'd the police find out?

The snowy "crime" scene had only one set of footprints.
12.2.2005 3:45pm
corngrower:
Per Son;

Want to play? Wow!

You mean like Twany Brawley and The Most Reverend Al Sharpton?
12.2.2005 3:45pm
Per Son:
corngrower:

Please read David Berke's post.
12.2.2005 3:47pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Ironically, the majority of comments to this post seem to show that maybe we shouldn't think the letter to the editor misapplied the use of the term "hate speech" after all, despite Volokh's arrogant attempt to provide his own interpretation of terms to be normative. Clearly, many seem to have a vitriolic attitude toward liberals and women's studies department. Thus, it seems perfectly reasonable to me (though obviously someone else could take another point of view) that the comments on the fliers were hate speech.

I interpreted that as a roundabout way of saying that some comments on this post were "hate speech." My only opinion on the writing on the fliers is that we don't know, but it could be anyone, and that we shouldn't discount a hoax. And any conservative that WOULD do something like that is a grade-A jerk that I wouldn't want to be around.
12.2.2005 3:53pm
BoaltGrad:
DK - I didn't mean it to be a tit-for-tat. I really was astounded. I went to a tiny (400 total students) college that was very insulated from politics, pop culutre, etc, and it just surprised me - the casual rudeness of it, more than anything else. It wasn't an anecdote about liberals or conservatives.
12.2.2005 3:58pm
KevinM:
Anemic and juvenile as argument, yes, but that wasn't what struck me. Whatever happened to the fine art of verbal abuse? This is pathetic.
12.2.2005 4:01pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Anything that doesn't perfectly align with the liberal worldview is hate speech. C'mon, haven't you realized that yet?
12.2.2005 4:31pm
Justin (mail):
::gives up reading through the missives halfway through:;

::pouts::

No, you're icky!!!

::deadpans::
12.2.2005 4:43pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
The most interesting part of the response is: destroying the property of a liberal department...

I had always assumed that the WQomen's Studies Department was an academic entity dedicated to the pursuit of truth not a dedicated group of left-wing ideolouges.

The original slonganeering does strike me as a bit fake. Even in the 60's we right wingers wouldn't have written stuff like that.
12.2.2005 4:51pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Homo Sapiens' nearest relative is the Bonobo; Homo Academis's is the Howler Monkey. 'Nuf said.
12.2.2005 5:00pm
YAFfer:
As someone who went after the far left as an undergrad, I can state that I, as well as others working with me, never stole or vandalized others property...though we were always accused of it. It was the left that stole our property, defaced our flyers/signs, and otherwise interupted and tried to shut down our meetings.

An example of this was during the '96 election. We has put up a large banner that read "The Bruin Republicans thank UCLA for affirming fairness -- YES on 209" (Prop. 209 was the anti-Affirmative Action initiative) the night before the election. Some of us stayed up all night to prevent various attempts to steal the sign. A few days after the election, someone succeeded in stealing it.

I give no credence to the left on campuses, and they deserve every iota of skepticism people have about them.
12.2.2005 5:09pm
pbswatcher (www):
"destroying the property of a liberal department to fill it with messages of freedom and democracy"

A remarkable response to say the least. There is refreshing honesty in admitting that the department is liberal, but perhaps more candor than was intended in noting that "freedom and democracy" is antithetical to the department view.
12.2.2005 6:26pm
pbswatcher (www):
<i>"destroying the property of a liberal department to fill it with messages of freedom and democracy"</i>

A remarkable response to say the least. There is refreshing honesty in admitting that the department is liberal, but perhaps more candor than was intended in noting that "freedom and democracy" is antithetical to the department view.
12.2.2005 6:28pm
NickM (mail) (www):
"You should be ashamed of yourself" does not comport with my experience of how the hyper-Machiavellian left (my newly minted term for those leftwingers who will create fake outrages to smear rightwingers) thinks the right talks or thinks. The "Be a good American" extended screed does, but it also comports with how some of the more embarrassing rightwingers do talk.

I join the people who pitied the entire thing as evidence of the decline of reasoned argument among college students. Snarking right back has always seemed a more productive approach - and the "Be a good American" piece was just asking to have "American" crossed out and "German" written in.

Oh, and if this is hate speech, what would the letter-writer call a racial insult?

Nick
12.2.2005 6:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The reason for the anecdotes is not to prove anything, but to support the idea that skepticism is, if not warranted, not exactly foolish.
It's not made up, in other words.
12.2.2005 7:31pm
David Berke:
Richard,

I disagree. Nobody is saying "It is not sheer madness to suspect that the injuries may be self inflicted." Instead, others having advanced the proposition, these anecdotes are offered as further support.

Were the message as you claim, the posters would indicate such, rather than claiming that the left cannot be trusted, that they would be willing to bet money on that outcome, that most reported incidents are self inflicted, etc.

I wish you were right.
12.2.2005 7:42pm
DavidL (mail) (www):
Off topic, but this is an opportunity to ask a question I've wondered about for some time. The small blue and yellow "equals sign" sticker on the door just below the nameplate. What the heck does that mean? I've seen it in a few places on our campus (office doors, automobile bumpers) and I'm always trying to figure out what the message is.
12.2.2005 8:03pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
It's quite clear 'liberal' student activists are just as guilty of doing things like this and worse. Heck it's not even an equivalancy issue as I'm pretty sure 'liberal' student actvists are responsible for much more of this. But That's not to say such things don't go on at smaller campuses or other non-elite institutions. I recall reading about this incident.

"College Republicans at Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California posted fliers on the doors of ten professors' offices bearing a red star and a warning quoting a 1950s-era state education code forbidding "the advocacy and teaching of communism." One professor's crime was displaying a poster for the film Fahrenheit 9/11 in his office window. Soon after, a press release appeared on the California College Republicans' website identifying the stunt as "Operation Red Scare." "

I think that goes beyond tearing a few flyers down.

I attend a smaller state school located in a very conservative or at least very republican city in a conservative state (Texas). While none of the flyers we've put up for University Democrats meetings have been torn down to my knowledge, there have been incidences of graffiti and defacement like scribbling out the word 'Democrats' and writing 'Marxists' or just adding their own wit to blank areas on the fliers I.E. 'Marxist Semenar' (actual spelling), or my favorite "Special Guest Ward Churchill."

A number of out flyers which just featured the Donkey Logo with 'Since 1794' printed underneath got hit with people writing things in front of 'Since 1794' of varying wit, like 'Raising Taxes' , 'Lieing', 'Spending our money', 'Whining' and most succinctly 'Faggots'. I didn't get huffy faced over this as I figure on reflection, with a flyer like that, we were probably asking for it.

I don't want to make it seem like I'm complaining, none of this bothers me/us too much. I certainly wouldn't compare it to what conservative or even just mainstream students must endure at elite institutions where the Uber-Left runs free, but things do go on and the College Republicans at any campus aren't exactly angels.
12.2.2005 8:21pm
Katherine:
DavidL--it's a gay rights thing. Human Rights Campaign, maybe?

This thread--the comments even more than the post--is reminding me what I don't miss about college.
12.2.2005 8:49pm
Katherine:
yep--see the logo on the top left.
12.2.2005 8:53pm
DK:
What's with all of these answers to "DK"? none related to anything I said? Please note there is someone posting here under "dk35" in lower case and someone posting here under "DK" in caps. We are not the same person, and I am not taking sides in the arguments between "dk35" and his?/her? sparring partners.

I would mostly agree with Eugene that this should be condemned, without regard to who perpetrated it or to who is theoretically most likely to perpetrate it.

Although I disagree with him that one can or should expect the average college student of any persuasion to use politically-charged language carefully; what we used to expect from high schools we now expect from colleges, and from colleges, now from professional schools.
12.2.2005 9:32pm
A.G. Reed (mail):
Is it just me or did the phrase "grow some" pop out to anybody else??!! Apparently, it's just me and Jim Hu (below) who thought anything of this. I don't know if the writer was telling the vandals to "grow [up] some," but it is far more likely that this was the more common usage of the phrase (especially on a college campus). While I don't disagree with her (I think) argument up to this point, she completely debases her status in the my eyes, at least, at that point. To tell someone to "grow some" and engage in productive debate is an admission that testicles are somehow needed to have an intelligent debate. This seems contrary to most feminist thought that I have read about to say the least. Upon rereading the remarks of the vandals, they only attack feminism and liberalism (broad concepts) without regard to whether the feminists or liberals happen to be male or female.
Ironic that the most pointed attack at either sex is from the responding side. The only equality that I see in her statement is that it could be equally offensive to both sexes.
12.2.2005 9:54pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I'm amazed anyone covets being a victim enough to even report this kind of thing. Someone wrote comments on a poster. Big deal.

OK. I confess. I once added a mustache to a Mona Lisa poster.
12.2.2005 11:13pm
Visitor Again:
Talk about blown out of proportion, when I was in college any flier posted within reach of a pen was subject to editorial reply, regardless of its political content. The comments would inevitably be snarky, and usually made for more interesting reading than the poster itself.

I'm amazed anyone covets being a victim enough to even report this kind of thing. Someone wrote comments on a poster. Big deal.

Exactly. Vandalism for which the offenders should be expelled? Ludicrous. The doors weren't damaged, were they? Posters are property, of course, but of minimal and transient value, and quite a few mischievous young folks are going to reply on the spot to views they don't like. A little more serious is the deprivation of the expressive interests of those who originally put up the posters, but it's still not worth making a federal case out of it. If some sort of punishment has to be levied, I'd give the offenders 500 lines--"I will not deface other people's posters"--and have them write a 1500-word essay on the values of a free exchange of ideas.

Nor should anyone get excited about the rhetorical excess of a hyperventilating college student who calls it hate speech. Students learn this kind of overblown rhetoric from the politicians of both parties on nightly television. Some of us were accused of treason by high-level politicians for our criticism of the War in Viet Nam. Some of us have been accused of hating America and betraying our soldiers because of our opposition to the occupation of Iraq.

If the incident had been faked, I think the fakers probably would have put some real hate speech in there. What was written does remind me of the juvenile stuff I've seen some right-wingers produce.
12.3.2005 12:51am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
David Berke:

I don't see the offer to bet as meaning something dire. If I were sufficiently skeptical, and if the subject interested me, I might bet a couple of bucks or whatever I could afford to lose, just for fun.

That would not prove I thought the thing was made up. It would, however, demonstrate I thought there was a pretty good reason to think so, since I would not offer to bet a couple of bucks when I knew I would lose.

In addition, the discussion brings up something which is a continuing irritation and is not the same thing as a firm accusation that this is another one. Just that, given the kind of people these folks are, it might well be. And I'd bet a couple of bucks on it, especially if the department in question knew I was doing so and why.
12.3.2005 10:26am
Xander (mail):
Late comment:
As an undergraduate at a very old institution I'd like to point out that the real danger here is how pathetically childish and intellectually dishonest that sort of behavior is. The idea that it could be rampant on colleges is heartbreaking. Here our bickering is done on editorial pages and in social and political student journals. Yet, for the most part we keep the debate out of the gutter and let honor and respect remain central to our conduct. Anything else doesn't belong in universities.
12.3.2005 4:23pm
YAFfer:
Dustin R. Ridgeway wrote:

"College Republicans at Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California posted fliers on the doors of ten professors' offices bearing a red star and a warning quoting a 1950s-era state education code forbidding "the advocacy and teaching of communism." One professor's crime was displaying a poster for the film Fahrenheit 9/11 in his office window. Soon after, a press release appeared on the California College Republicans' website identifying the stunt as "Operation Red Scare." "


There's a big difference between posting your own posters and tearing down the posters of others. Quite often, the flyers put up by the far left were worse then the posters mentioned above. Heck, as far as I know, those posters were dead on accurate! Frankly, one can compare some of the far left with the likes of Stalin and other evil persons
12.4.2005 3:20pm