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Student Group Suspended, Faculty Advisor Removed Because Faculty Advisor Expressed Willingness To Defend Himself:

This strikes me as quite a bad reaction on UNC's part, assuming the facts in the News & Observer story are correct:

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp shut down a campus anti-immigration group Friday after an anonymous flier targeted its faculty adviser, who then joked about his skills with a Colt .45.

Activists put out the flier at UNC-Chapel Hill this week revealing the home address of Youth for Western Civilization faculty adviser Elliot Cramer. Protests at speeches sponsored by the group led to seven arrests and a broken classroom window last spring.

On Thursday night, chapter President Nikhil Patel warned Cramer by e-mail that the flier included his name, photograph, home address and telephone number with the caption, "Why is your professor supporting white supremacy?" It encouraged students, faculty and community members to urge Cramer to withdraw from organization.

"I thought I'd let you know so that you can plan for some sort of protection," wrote Patel, an Indian-American who denies the group is white-supremacist. "It seems like an indirect threat to your safety."

"Thanks for your concern," Cramer replied just after midnight, copying Thorp. "I have a Colt .45, and I know how to use it. I used to be able to hit a quarter at 50 feet seven times out of ten."

By Friday afternoon, Thorp asked Cramer to step down as the group's adviser.

"This email is highly inappropriate," Thorp wrote to Cramer. "It is certainly not consistent with the civil discourse we are trying to promote."

Thorp said Youth for Western Civilization is out of business until it can replace Cramer.

"We're trying to come up with a way to have civil discourse and for different points of view to be shared," Thorp said in an interview Friday. "Somebody who's the faculty adviser has to show some restraint."

Cramer said that the flier didn't feel like a real threat and that his response to Patel was "off-hand" and "light-hearted." He complied with Thorp's request to resign.

"I'm sorry that I placed [the chancellor] in an awkward position," said Cramer, who retired from the psychology department 15 years ago....

In April, Students for a Democratic Society and other protesters had shut down a speech by the group's founder, Tom Tancredo, a former Colorado congressman, calling his group racist and white-supremacist.

This week, Thorp, who apologized to Tancredo personally in April, offered up to $3,000 for the group to invite another speaker to campus. Youth for Western Civilization had been planning to sponsor a speech in October by former conservative commentator Bay Buchanan in a reprise of her appearance in March....

Now it may well be that publishing a person's home address is protected speech; I have so argued, and some courts agree, though there's controversy about that. But surely publishing a group advisor's home address -- against a backdrop of criminal thuggery (albeit short of deadly violence) aimed at that group -- is indeed potentially threatening. It seems to me that a professor, no less than anyone else, is entitled to respond by expressing a willingness to defend himself. (Things might be different if there were a statement or implication that he'd defend himself illegally, e.g., "if anyone shows up outside my house, I'll shoot them dead," but I think such an e-mail by a responsible person would normally be seen as an implicit assertion that he'd defend himself legally if seriously threatened.)

Nor is there anything uncivil about responding to the publication of a home address -- not a reasoned argument about why one is mistaken, but a statement that can reasonably be understood as a threat of personal attack -- with such a statement. And even if there were, I would think that a faculty member shouldn't be removed by an administration even from a post as advisor to a student group simply because of a perceived lack of "civility," at least on this level.

On top of this, leaving the group unable to function because of the faculty member's alleged incivility -- an incivility prompted by thuggishness that apparently came from the group's enemies -- seems even more unsound. If the university were really committed to preserving debate, it would make sure that the group could continue to function, rather than giving the thugs a victory. And this is especially so since the anonymous flyer will likely further reduce faculty members' willingness to act as advisers, even if they want to make sure that the group has an opportunity to exist as a recognized group on campus.

More from the Daily Tarheel here and here. Thanks to Chad Stoop for the pointer.

(Note: The story does say, "Patel, a senior biology major, thinks Youth for Western Civilization has 30 days to remain active while seeking another adviser, and he thinks the group will find one," but the story reports that the group is suspended for now.)

einhverfr (mail) (www):
As I said in a previous thread, I have a sword at home and I know how to use it ;-) Anyone who comes into my house with the intention of hurting me or my family will end up crippled or killed.

Honestly, it is hard to know because we can't see the whole email. But it does seem like the school over-reacted. Of course schools and businesses overreacting over these sorts of things is fairly common.
9.21.2009 6:44pm
MCM (mail):
Publishing someone's home address can reasonably be understood as a threat of personal attack? That seems like a bizarre statement. Who's doing the threatening? The personal publishing the address? It seems far more likely that the point is to encourage people to do annoying but civil things like standing outside his house with signs or mailing him letters expressing their outrage at his views. Why do you jump to a threat in the absence of an actual threat?

If the intent is to threaten him... why not threaten him? They already have his address, remember! Or is it a threat that others might threaten him once they have his address? I recognize that Thorp's political positions are much more sympathetic to you, but I really think you're stretching here.
9.21.2009 6:44pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

On Thursday night, chapter President Nikhil Patel warned Cramer by e-mail that the flier included his name, photograph, home address and telephone number with the caption, "Why is your professor supporting white supremacy?" It encouraged students, faculty and community members to urge Cramer to withdraw from organization.


Now it may well be that publishing a person's home address is protected speech; I have so argued, and some courts agree, though there's controversy about that. But surely publishing a group advisor's home address -- against a backdrop of criminal thuggery (albeit short of deadly violence) aimed at that group -- is indeed potentially threatening.


On top of this, leaving the group unable to function because of the faculty member's alleged incivility -- an incivility prompted by thuggishness that apparently came from the group's enemies -- seems even more unsound.

It's very clear from the description that the flier was calling for Cramer to withdraw as advisor. You've shown no relationship between the poster of the flier and the actors in the other incidents.

Why is it then necessary to use inflammatory terms like "thug"? It seems like you go out of your way to look for stories of conservatives being belittled on college campuses and then exaggerate the situation.
9.21.2009 6:44pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ruufles:

Why is it then necessary to use inflammatory terms like "thug"?


Why is this professor supporting "white supremicism?"

(sorry Sarcastro seems to be on vacation so I am going to have to step in for this post)
9.21.2009 6:49pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Why is this professor supporting "white supremicism?"

I thought the whole point of these posts was to make veesee feel superior to the "thugs" so why indulge in the same extreme language?
9.21.2009 6:51pm
Kowalski (mail):
What's shocking is that the idea that a professor might use a gun to defend himself against people who have already proven their proclivity to violence and intimidation is something the Chancellor of UNC would react to by punishing the professor.
9.21.2009 6:53pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

What's shocking is that the idea that a professor might use a gun to defend himself against people who have already proven their proclivity to violence and intimidation is something the Chancellor of UNC would react to by punishing the professor.

Sorry, just like veesee, you haven't connected the persons making the fliers to the persons of any previous incidents.
9.21.2009 6:53pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

If the university were really committed to preserving debate, it would make sure that the group could continue to function, rather than giving the thugs a victory.

If you're really committed to preserving debate, why not blog about the new "education" standards being proposed in Texas? Hrmmm?
9.21.2009 6:54pm
Kowalski (mail):
No, I haven't and the article doesn't either. It calls them: "activists." Which activists?

Still, if I was a professor who took a controversial stand like this at a University and found his name and address placed on fliers I see nothing wrong with the idea of saying that you have a gun and are willing to defend yourself. He didn't threaten any person or group, either. He simply made a comment that he knew how to shoot a gun, and if I was in his position I'd be saying the same thing.
9.21.2009 6:58pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Publishing a person's home address might be legal, even constitutionally protected. But especially against a backdrop of attacks against the group that the person advises, it strikes me as an implicit threat of vandalism or worse, and not just of peaceful residential picketing. That strikes me as not "belittl[ing]" but as thuggishness -- an attempt to influence people through physical menace, even if falling short of legally punishable threats. I would hope that if you wanted to persuade someone to withdraw as a faculty advisor to a university political group, you would do so by making an argument that does not include the person's home address.

Nor is the thuggishnesses lost if the anonymous leafleter is unconnnected with the people who engaged in the attacks at the previous incident. The thuggishness lies in the implicit threat present in publishing a person's home address -- especially against the backdrop of past attacks, even if the leafleter is unrelated to the attackers.
9.21.2009 6:59pm
ShelbyC:

Why is it then necessary to use inflammatory terms like "thug"?


Accuracy?
9.21.2009 7:01pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

The thuggishness lies in the implicit threat present in publishing a person's home address -- especially against the backdrop of past attacks, even if the leafleter is unrelated to the attackers.

So if the home address was protected speech, acts by others can make it unprotected? You're trying really hard to connect two unrelated dots, just to use the word "thug."

Also, I'm not aware of the specifics of UNC, but the professor has been retired for 15 years (per article) so if an office address were not available, I don't see why a home address isn't a substitute.
9.21.2009 7:02pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Accuracy?

Again, you're grasping at straws. There's no connection established between those making the fliers and those involved in the previous incidents.
9.21.2009 7:03pm
MCM (mail):
Why is it then necessary to use inflammatory terms like "thug"?
Accuracy?


Actually, given Patel's ethnicity, it's rather inappropriate to use "thug". Just sayin'. :p
9.21.2009 7:07pm
gasman (mail):

Publishing someone's home address can reasonably be understood as a threat of personal attack? .... It seems far more likely that the point is to encourage people to do annoying but civil things like standing outside his house with signs or mailing him letters expressing their outrage at his views. Why do you jump to a threat in the absence of an actual threat?

Perhaps it is indeed as benign MCM suggests.
But similarly the professor's statement about his firearm prowess is benign on the face of it.
If the activists felt threatened, it would only because they were in such a frame of mind, having made a threat first.
9.21.2009 7:09pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Eugene Volokh:

The thuggishness lies in the implicit threat present in publishing a person's home address -- especially against the backdrop of past attacks, even if the leafleter is unrelated to the attackers.

Agreed, because we have long since entered an era when organized movements can intimidate by enabling violence while maintaining personal deniability. They are sending a signal to unknown persons that it is okay to attack the person at his home.

I won't disclose my physical address to any but a few close friends for just that reason, and because I don't want to make it easy for burglars to fill their "shopping lists" at my expense. Any person who discloses his physical home address today is being reckless unless he is surrounded by armed guards manning a defensive perimeter. The age of innocence is over. We are all living in a state of siege now. Some just don't know it yet.
9.21.2009 7:09pm
Sara:
Let's assume the flier was a threat of violence, let's also assume the professor's e-mail was a threat of counter-violence. I don't see why UNC cannot remove the professor from the situation. Seems like a good idea to me.
9.21.2009 7:11pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ruufles:

Sorry, just like veesee, you haven't connected the persons making the fliers to the persons of any previous incidents.


Well, the question is whether the intent is there to silence the professor by putting his info out to people connected tothe previous incidents. Certainly that would seem thuggish.
9.21.2009 7:12pm
Guest14:
Are people seriously arguing that "I know where you live" can't be threatening, in certain contexts? Come on.
9.21.2009 7:12pm
one of many:
Well there must be more to the e-mail since the published portions are in no way incivil, and I am curious as to how they can be inappropriate. maybe I'm just dense but since when is mentioning firearms prowess inappropriate when responding to talk about a threat. I can see suspending Patel if opening a conversation about threats (even if talking about threats made by others) is inappropriate but once the subject was broached by Patel then Cramer's response seems perfectly appropriate to me. What am I missing?
9.21.2009 7:19pm
MCM (mail):
I won't disclose my physical address to any but a few close friends for just that reason, and because I don't want to make it easy for burglars to fill their "shopping lists" at my expense. Any person who discloses his physical home address today is being reckless unless he is surrounded by armed guards manning a defensive perimeter. The age of innocence is over. We are all living in a state of siege now. Some just don't know it yet.


I really hate to break this to you but I was able to look up your home address on whitepages.com. Took about 15 seconds. I also found various pictures of you with just a google search.

So forgive me if I take nothing you say seriously.
9.21.2009 7:21pm
Sara:
Professor: I know you love langauge. How is a threat of violence, even in defense, not "uncivil" (incivil?)
9.21.2009 7:21pm
Matt_T:
So one should be civil to one's attackers / potential threats or face reprimand for offending standards of civil discourse? Hang on, I think Reality is calling on the other line...
9.21.2009 7:24pm
sbron:

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp shut down a campus anti-immigration group


The phrase "anti-immigration" shows how degraded discussion of immigration has become. The speakers invited by YWC, Tom Tancredo and Virgil Goode support high levels of legal immigration, but maybe closer to the 700,000 per year originally recommended by the Jordan Commission (headed by Barbara Jordan, a Democratic congresswoman). Tancredo, Goode and YWC are solidly opposed to _illegal_ immigration. It is perhaps fair to call limiting immigration to 700,000 or even 300,000 (pre-65 levels) an immigration restrictionist policy, but it is highly unfair to call such measures anti-immigration. Even 300,000 a year is a huge number of people.
9.21.2009 7:26pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Sara: The difference between the messages is that the anonymous flier seems to imply a threat of illegal violence, while the response seems to imply a willingness to use legally defensive violence. Nor do I see anything "uncivil" about expressing your willingness to exercise your legal rights of self-defense.

Also, even if it is proper for universities to remove faculty members from advisory roles simply to try to defuse what might be a dangerous situation -- something I don't think is right -- it's hard to see why this should justify suspending the group. The university could surely let such groups function, at least temporarily, without an advisor, especially when some advisors might be scared off by anonymous leaflets containing their home addresses. Yet it doesn't seem willing to do that, even when the group's lack of an advisor is the result of the university's own decision to remove the advisor.

Ruuffles: I surely did not say that the publishing of the home address is unprotected, even against the backdrop of violence. My view is that it is protected speech but thuggish.
9.21.2009 7:28pm
ShelbyC:

Professor: I know you love langauge. How is a threat of violence, even in defense, not "uncivil" (incivil?)


I'd be interested to hear how a threat of violence in defense is uncivil? Is it even properly called a threat?
9.21.2009 7:28pm
Sara:
Should one be civil to ones attackers? It probably depends on the lesson you are trying to teach (if your're a University). (Not to mention the whole concept of civil disobediance.)
9.21.2009 7:30pm
armchairpunter:
ruufles, so what is your point? Why don't you address the argument made, not the one you've conjured up. There needn't be any connection between the publishers of the flier and the perpetrators of past violence.

The point is that, given previous violence, regardless of who instigated it, and given the Chancellor's own words ("It seems like an indirect threat to your safety"), it was sensible for the professor to assure the Chancellor that he had taken sound precautions. (It seems likely that, if had he said he had hired a bodyguard or persuaded the police to camp outside his home, that would have passed without notice. That he is unashamed of his ability to defend himself is scandalous within the academy.)

It is daft, also, to suggest that publication of a faculty member's home address under the circumstances falls within the bounds of civil debate. I assume, of course, that ruufles is your real name. I note that you did not furnish any other contact information.
9.21.2009 7:30pm
Sara:
I've found these definitions for uncivil.

•lacking civility or good manners; "want nothing from you but to get away from your uncivil tongue"- Willa Cather
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

•Not civilized; savage; barbarous; uncivilized; Not civil; not complaisant; discourteous; impolite; rude; unpolished; as, uncivil behavior
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/uncivil
9.21.2009 7:39pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"I have a Colt .45, and I know how to use it. I used to be able to hit a quarter at 50 feet seven times out of ten."

Nothing about this statement warrants any sort of administrative action.
9.21.2009 7:50pm
Sara:
"The difference between the messages is that the anonymous flier seems to imply a threat of illegal violence, while the response seems to imply a willingness to use legally defensive violence."

Except, haven't youe already conceeded that the flyer is legal and therfore not a true threat?
9.21.2009 7:57pm
DangerMouse:
ruufles, so what is your point?

His point is that liberals are angels and incapable of moral wrongdoing. Duh.

If I were the chancellor, I'd have congratulated his accuracy with a gun and maybe offered to go shooting together.
9.21.2009 8:00pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I thought I was pretty clear: The flyer is probably not a legally punishable threat, but it does seem to implicitly threaten illegal violence.

That means the author of the mailer probably can't be prosecuted for it. But it is reasonable for the rest of us to view it as thuggery -- and certainly reasonable for the target of the mailer to warn people that he is going to defend himself if attacked.
9.21.2009 8:05pm
subpatre (mail):
Eugene - the pamphleteers distributed Professor Cramer's home address. Of course they also published it, but there is a real and practical difference between publishing —like the phone book probably did— and causing people to look at something, or drawing attention to a particular piece of information.

Don't ask me where the line is, but the standard of 'publication' is largely moot in a world of 20 million blogs. What the pamphleteers clearly did was to force readers of the distributed literature to be aware of Cramer's home address in connection with anonymous allegations of "white supremacy".
9.21.2009 8:09pm
CDR D (mail):
>>"I have a Colt .45, and I know how to use it. I used to be able to hit a quarter at 50 feet seven times out of ten."<<


I wonder if it's a Colt .45 ACP, or the old original Colt .45 for the Single Action Army.

I could match his accuracy with the latter, but the ACP... not so much.
9.21.2009 8:13pm
pintler:
When Patel said "I thought I'd let you know so that you can plan for some sort of protection", it seems odd to object when Cramer says that he has planned for exactly that.
9.21.2009 8:15pm
Sara:
Accepting this: "But it is reasonable for the rest of us to view it as thuggery."

Then it's reasonable, perhaps even the duty of the Chancellor, to remove the professor from the threat of thuggery.
9.21.2009 8:15pm
Antinome (mail) (www):
Reading over this I wondered how the Chancellor even got involved. It started out as an email from a student to an advisor letting the advisor know about a flier that the student perceived as a implied threat. Advisor jokes back in email that he can take care of himself. Does not really strike me as a big deal.

How does the Chancellor even find out about the exchange? According to the article its because the advisor CC'd the chancellor on the email. Why? Who else was CC'd. It strikes me that the chancellor getting the advisor's email cold, especially if it was a top reply and if it was cc'd to others might not have taken it in the original spirit and may have seen it as an escalation of the overall controversy around the group.
9.21.2009 8:25pm
Forrest Chump (mail):
Ruufles,

I haven't read all the posts, so forgive me if someone has already said this, but Volokh did not say it was actionable, only that "It strikes me . . ." or something like that. You are arguing against a post that doesn't exist. Am I missing something? Someone help me out here.
9.21.2009 8:44pm
BGates:
given Patel's ethnicity, it's rather inappropriate to use "thug"

Right. Because Gujarat and Bengal are less than a thousand miles from each other.

So forgive me if I take nothing you say seriously.

What's your home address, MCM?
9.21.2009 8:45pm
Sara:
Antiome: After hearing those facts, it seems obvious the Chancellor had to do something. What if someone got hurt after the Chancellor received that?
9.21.2009 8:46pm
rc:
pintler: "When Patel said "I thought I'd let you know so that you can plan for some sort of protection", it seems odd to object when Cramer says that he has planned for exactly that."

This.

It's very uncouth to bring up guns if you're just being verbally harassed or opposed, even by crazies. But if you're responding directly to someone who is issuing a warning or concern or threat (you better get ready...)

Plus, the professor was busted because he copied the school's chancellor. He was bringing sunlight to the issue, and making the authority aware of the concern of a third party. At no time, according to the article, did the professor say to those who opposed him, 'I have a gun, and I know how to use it.'

His behavior shows restraint, but unfortunately it's foolish in terms of academic politics.
9.21.2009 9:03pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
If someone got hurt breaking into Cramer's home, then I doubt there would be an issue. If Cramer went on a shooting spree, I think it would take more evidence than that message to put the university on the hook.
9.21.2009 9:12pm
BT:
"So forgive me if I take nothing you say seriously.

What's your home address, MCM?"


Here is MCM's email address: mm5@duke.edu.

My guess is that MCM was one of the idiots in the Group of 88.
9.21.2009 9:13pm
Guest056 (mail):
Is this conversation actually happening? Inexplicable. But I think it has something to do with the gun culture at the VC, which usually I think is all right.

This professor wrote to one student at his university about the possibility of shooting other students at the university, or other members of what you might call the campus community. Even if you interpret his statements as a basic assertion of legitimate self-defense, it was inappropriate to say to another student.

I mean, again, think about this. Imagine the following being said in a campus rec area: "So I sent an e-mail to my professor about the fliers, and he said, it's okay, he knows how to use a gun, and he's a great shot." Can any of you imagine how that comes across? It's ridiculous to say that to a student. Eye-poppingly ridiculous. The professor can't have the expectation that such a statement won't be repeated. I'd also say, based upon the contents of the flier, that the professor's statement can be construed as escalating the situation. It's obviously his responsibility to avoid that. Students were making fliers that could be seen as threatening toward a professor, and rather than a measured, professional response, he says that he knows where he keeps his guns. Subsequently he's removed as advisor on the group.

Jesus. We're HAVING this conversation? I've read some odd things at the VC, but this is the strangest. A professor cannot, in conversation with one student, affirm his willingness and his ability to shoot at other students. I can't believe I just had to write that sentence.

But again, it may all come down to the gun culture at the VC, whereby, for some, talking up your skill on a Colt .45 in reference to a dispute between you and others isn't actually seen as intimidating talk outside the bounds of polite and professional conversation. I suppose that's one set of values. But it's just bizarre to assume it ought to be the primary set.
9.21.2009 10:06pm
Rhymes With Right (mail) (www):
ruuffles said:

If you're really committed to preserving debate, why not blog about the new "education" standards being proposed in Texas? Hrmmm?

Well, if you would like to have some insight from a Texas teacher on the subject of those standards, you might want to look here.
9.21.2009 10:07pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
This wasn't "a dispute between [him] and others." It was a response to a warning that he might be in danger.
9.21.2009 10:09pm
Ricardo (mail):
This professor wrote to one student at his university about the possibility of shooting other students at the university, or other members of what you might call the campus community. Even if you interpret his statements as a basic assertion of legitimate self-defense, it was inappropriate to say to another student.

He was stating a hypothetical about what may happen if anyone (student or not) took it upon himself to break into the professor's house or attempt to physically harm either the professor or a member of his family. The statement was not directed at anyone in particular (Patel was the head of the organization for which the professor was faculty adviser -- some seem confused and think Patel may have had some relationship with the pamphleteers).

As far as the First Amendment is concerned, it is a slam dunk (see Watts v. United States). Moreover, the statement was made in a private email and did not contain any explicit threat so I don't see how it is inappropriate.
9.21.2009 10:27pm
Rhymes With Right (mail) (www):
It does seem rather interesting that a government entity is punishing the legal exercise of an individual's First Amendment rights to speak about the legal exercise of that individual's Second Amendment rights.
9.21.2009 10:32pm
Guest056 (mail):
Chapman:

Actually, it was a dispute between him and others. The warning that he might be in danger came from a senior at the school, which means that the professor was required to exercise restraint in responding to the stiudent. Additionally, if the professor is the thoughtful type, he'd realize that, without having seen the flier for himself, the word of a college senior is sometimes suspect, and that copying an administartor on the e-mail in particular places the burden of professionalism and restraint on him. Professional don't engage in disvussion that could be viewed as needlessly fanning the flames of a conflict. I simple, "Thank you, I take this seriously," would have sufficed.

Instead -- and this bears repeating -- he chose to write to a student at his school about the facility with which he could shoot other students at the school, if need be. All because the student wrote him about a potential, indirect threat to his safety. This behavior clearly warrants a removal from his advisory position.

It's critical to realize that when talking to a student, a professor needs to speak like a professional. This one failed spectacularly.
9.21.2009 10:34pm
Order of the Coif:
This is why I have a large target with 50 bullet holes in a ragged 3" circle on the back of my office door with the Constitutionally protected statement that "THIS is gun control." It's been there for 20 years and everyone, just everyone, in the law school knows about it.

;-)
9.21.2009 10:55pm
one of many:
nstead -- and this bears repeating -- he chose to write to a student at his school about the facility with which he could shoot other students at the school, if need be. All because the student wrote him about a potential, indirect threat to his safety. This behavior clearly warrants a removal from his advisory position.


Huh? He said he could shoot students at the school? Where do you get that? If he had said something along the lines of "I am a good marksman, I own a .45 and I can shoot anyone at the school who threatens me" we might have that, but where do you get that final part? Is there an implied threat there I am missing? If Cramer had instead said "I have an excellent alarm system and the police response time to my house is under 2 minutes" would that have also constituted a threat? Or does merely mentioning a gun change this into a threat? Maybe it's just my background, but I don't see how mere mention of firearms automatically makes a statement a threat.
9.21.2009 11:02pm
Perseus (mail):
Professional don't engage in disvussion that could be viewed as needlessly fanning the flames of a conflict.

So professors should behave like "professionals," i.e., the gutless wonders known as administrators.
9.21.2009 11:17pm
Careless:

Jesus. We're HAVING this conversation? I've read some odd things at the VC, but this is the strangest. A professor cannot, in conversation with one student, affirm his willingness and his ability to shoot at other students. I can't believe I just had to write that sentence.

Leaving aside my disagreement with this, this is not any sort of justification for suspending a student group
9.21.2009 11:18pm
Guest056 (mail):
Careless,

Let me make this clear: I don't think the group should be punished here and I hope that a replacement advisor is found quickly. But a lot of schools have a policy that official groups need faculty advisors, so the suspension is possibly less of a putative measure and more about the general policies of the school. In any case, I hope it isn't punative.

Ricardo and One of Many,

If it is reasonable to infer a threat from the contents of the flier, it is reasonable to infer that the professor's response implicitly referred to the authors of the flier as people from whom he'd be willing to defend himself. Therefore, he was speaking implicitly of students. This is completely inappropriate. I don't know why Ricardo is talking about Watts. Watts concerned a potential threat to the POTUS and the constitutionality of the applicable statute in a particular context. I fail to see how this relates, unless you can show me what statute Cramer is held to have violated, or what statutory authority the university would need to request that Cramer resign, or toforce him to if he failed to comply?

A reread of the story above confirms my suspicion that Cramer, when he went to verify the student's warning, did not find the material as threatening as the student feared it might be. This speaks exactly to my point: in conversing with a student, a professor has the obligation to realize that he's a student. As such, it's unwise to take all of what he says at face value and it's unbelievable to speak to him without the most basic restraint. His comment was glib and, frankly, strange to me.

Especially for One Of Many, as I said above, I think my respnosse to this thread is about a bit of culture gap. I fully respect that saying you have an alarm system and saying you'll shoot in self-defense are both examples of legal speech. Wen eed to keep it that way -- nobody needs to be in legal trouble for saying he's a good shot. But in terms of the tone and shades of what's said, yes, there's a difference between saying you can handle matters by referring them to the police and that you can handle matters because you're an accurate shot. In one case, you're saying you'll defer to the expertise of law enforcement; in the other, that you'll do it all yourself. People need the right to both. But one version is plainly deferntial to a third party's judgment, and one is saying you'll defend -- and judge -- for yourself. saying that vis-a-vis students to another student, in e-mail, is just unprofessional and inappropriate.

(In the case of Watts, FWIW, while his speech was considered not a true threat, it was past the point of basic restraint. And that's a fine standard to use in this case.)
9.21.2009 11:34pm
Rhymes With Right (mail) (www):
But can we also recognize one little detail about the students we are all discussing here -- THEY ARE ADULTS.

It isn;t like we are talking about protecting 10 year olds.
9.21.2009 11:37pm
rc:
Guest056 "Even if you interpret his statements as a basic assertion of legitimate self-defense, it was inappropriate to say to another student."

Even a student who said 'you better defend yourself?' Do you seriously think that the murder-line respects the 18-year-old, or still-in-school divide?

"The professor can't have the expectation that such a statement won't be repeated"

Which explains why he copied the university chancellor. His statement brought sunlight, not secrecy....

"I'd also say, based upon the contents of the flier, that the professor's statement can be construed as escalating the situation"

He escalated by replying only the warning author and the chancellor? No.

"A professor cannot, in conversation with one student, affirm his willingness and his ability to shoot at other students."

Even if the student in question warns that the professor is in danger? Even if he copies the chancellor, in hopes of bringing sunlight on the entire issue?

"Therefore, he was speaking implicitly of students. This is completely inappropriate."

While copying the chancellor. Yeah right. No implicit threat was implied. I can tell by the recipients of the message. Try again. The professor's enemies broadcast his information andan implied threat to any freakshow ever on the ever-huge internet. The professor responded with a targeted email to his superiors and those who contacted him. There is no comparison.
9.22.2009 12:04am
Careless:

Especially for One Of Many, as I said above, I think my respnosse to this thread is about a bit of culture gap

So be more culturally sensitive.
9.22.2009 12:23am
Nebuchadnezzar (mail):
For the record, Guest056 scares the crap out of me.

Sara:
Accepting this: "But it is reasonable for the rest of us to view it as thuggery."

Then it's reasonable, perhaps even the duty of the Chancellor, to remove the professor from the threat of thuggery.


Wow -- heckler's veto much?
9.22.2009 12:26am
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
MCM:

I really hate to break this to you but I was able to look up your home address on whitepages.com. Took about 15 seconds. I also found various pictures of you with just a google search.

My photos are public. The street addresses are either not current or are private mail boxes, or are for another person with the same name. Its not that easy.
9.22.2009 12:59am
MCM (mail):
given Patel's ethnicity, it's rather inappropriate to use "thug"

Right. Because Gujarat and Bengal are less than a thousand miles from each other.


Wow. Besides the fact that it was a joke (hence the :p), there are plenty of Patels in Uttar Pradesh, which borders Bengal. Don't be a jackass for no reason.

So forgive me if I take nothing you say seriously.

What's your home address, MCM?



1 E. Delaware Place Apt. 32B, Chicago, IL, 60611. I guess by EV's logic I should take it as an implied threat that you asked for it?

Regardless, the point was that Mr. Jon Roland, (apparently) formerly of 7793 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX, 78757-1276, seemed to be claiming that "I don't want to make it easy for burglars to fill their "shopping lists" at my expense. Any person who discloses his physical home address today is being reckless unless he is surrounded by armed guards manning a defensive perimeter" which is absolute idiocy. I guess every person in the phonebook is living in some kind of fog thinking the world is a kind, gentle place.

Here is MCM's email address: mm5@duke.edu.

My guess is that MCM was one of the idiots in the Group of 88.


My guess is that you are a moron, which is better supported by the fact that your guess is wrong, than is your idea that my one email address is among a particular 88 out of tens of thousands issued by Duke.
9.22.2009 2:24am
neurodoc:
Senior Morehead-Cain scholar Haley Koch was among those who had her charges dismissed. Cramer apologized earlier in the week for another "off-hand" comment calling the 22-year-old a "girl" in a newspaper story about her court case.
Oh my gawd, "in another 'off-hand' comment" he called a "22-year-old a 'girl' in a newspaper story about her court case"! I am at a loss for words sufficient to condemn such outrageously sexist, demeaning, insensitive and inflammatory expression, by a professor no less.

(In which Philip Roth novel does a professor find himself in deep trouble for an "off-hand" characterization of a student who fails to show up for class?)
9.22.2009 2:38am
one of many:

Oh my gawd, "in another 'off-hand' comment" he called a "22-year-old a 'girl' in a newspaper story about her court case"! I am at a loss for words sufficient to condemn such outrageously sexist, demeaning, insensitive and inflammatory expression, by a professor no less.

Considering Cramer's publication list indicates he was published back in 1962, I am willing to entertain the possibility that a 22 year old is a girl or boy to him. At a certain point everyone under 30 looks like a child. I would guess Professor of Desire I started it, I never finished it, Roth just hasn't been able to hold my interest after his 1970's burst of creativity, so I'm not inclined to go beyond a guess.
9.22.2009 4:12am
one of many:
Guest 056

Especially for One Of Many, as I said above, I think my respnosse to this thread is about a bit of culture gap. I fully respect that saying you have an alarm system and saying you'll shoot in self-defense are both examples of legal speech. Wen eed to keep it that way -- nobody needs to be in legal trouble for saying he's a good shot. But in terms of the tone and shades of what's said, yes, there's a difference between saying you can handle matters by referring them to the police and that you can handle matters because you're an accurate shot. In one case, you're saying you'll defer to the expertise of law enforcement; in the other, that you'll do it all yourself. People need the right to both. But one version is plainly deferntial to a third party's judgment, and one is saying you'll defend -- and judge -- for yourself. saying that vis-a-vis students to another student, in e-mail, is just unprofessional and inappropriate.

I agree it just puzzles me. The only way to get from what I read Cramer as saying to what you (and apparently Chancellor Thorp) read, is if there is threat caused just by the mention of firearms. I know I'm missing something but surely it cannot be that simple. I keep plugging in equivalent statements without firearms and still don't see a threat. Closer than the alarm example is "I have 2 Rottweilers and they are very territorial" which doesn't seem to be at all equivalent to how you read Cramer's e-mail. There is no difference in tone that I read, they all 3 say 'don't worry about the threats, I'm protected" in tone to me. I don't see anything which says to me Cramer intends to gun down students. I just don't see a threat by Cramer, and I certainly don't see anything which could be considered incivil or uncivil.
9.22.2009 4:38am
BT:
MCM it is obvious you are too stupid to even know what the Group of 88 actually refers to. It is a shame that the building you live in is a rental, as I would genuinely have enjoyed dropping by and throwing your sad ass out on the street when you failed to pay your mortgage. Something I just did at 233 E. Erie. Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go....
9.22.2009 7:40am
neurodoc:
one of many: I am willing to entertain the possibility that a 22 year old is a girl or boy to him. At a certain point everyone under 30 looks like a child. I would guess Professor of Desire I started it, I never finished it, Roth just hasn't been able to hold my interest after his 1970's burst of creativity, so I'm not inclined to go beyond a guess.
Am I showing my age when I say I just don't get why an apology should be owed for referring to a 22-year-old as a "girl." It seems to me that our children would refer to "girls" and "boys" in their classes, even when the classes were graduate level ones several years beyond college. Is it OK for young people to refer to one another as "girls" and "boys," but somehow improper, even offensive for older people to do so? (BTW, do recognize that there are exceptional circumstances when "girl," e.g., "her cleaning girl" to refer to an adult woman, or "boy," e.g., "listen boy" to address an adult male with intentional disrespect. Not the case here, however.)

The "girl" thing may not be immediately relevant to the issues around the reaction to the faculty adviser's email, but perhaps it says something about where the line is drawn there. I'd be curious to know the circumstances surrounding Professor Cramer's apology to the young woman for having been quoted referring to her as a "girl." Did he sua sponte call her up to apologize, realizing what a terrible faux pas he had committed, or did she or someone else complain to the school and the school call upon him to apologize?

[one of many, I understand your lack of interest in Philip Roth after the '70s. My older daughter urged American Pastoral on me, but I can't make my way through a great deal of inner dialogue, which that one and Professor of Desire both have. Loved Portnoy's Complaint as I have loved few other books, but his subsequent work required too much concentration and became effectively inaccessible to me.]
9.22.2009 8:13am
neurodoc:
One more not immediately relevant comment, if I may...

Could all this have happened in the same way, if at all, 25 years ago? I think not because we didn't have email 25 years ago (yeah, Bitnet), and email was key to this, as it is to so much today. 25 years ago, Patel would have called Cramer on the phone to advise him of the flier, and Cramer would have said exactly the same thing that he said recently, but it would have been far less likely to have raised any dust. If Patel had told others what Cramer said to him over the phone and word of it had gotten to Thorp, maybe Thorp would have called Cramer to talk to him about the whole business. Thorp would then have done nothing more, that is unless he was looking for a reason to close down the club and seized upon this thin pretext as his justification for doing so.

Perhaps Cramer would have told a student reporter that he had guns and was always ready, willing and able to use them in self-defense, and this would have made its way into a story in the school paper. It could have happened that way 25 years ago, but email makes these sorts of things and much more so very much more likely to happen.

Finally, it is hard for me to side with Thorp against Cramer. But in the wake of what happened at Virginia Tech when Cho let loose, school adminstrators may have, forgive the pun, hair triggers when anyone says anything about their willingness to use a gun, even in self-defense. Again, I'd much rather defend Cramer than Thorp, but if I had to defend Thorp, that's the line I would argue.

(What is it about these universities in the Raleigh-Durham area? Is Thorp emulating Duke's Brodhead, a school president who doesn't get my respect?)
9.22.2009 8:33am
pintler:
Guest056, if someone is informed there are indications people may come to their house and harm them or their family, which of these responses are you OK with?

1)Ha, my rottweilers will love that!

2)Thanks for the warning, I have hired armed bodyguards.

3)Well, I guess all that time at the dojo was a good thing.

4)I have a cane and know how to use it.

In particular, if I am reading you right, you're OK with #2 - you seem to think that it is important that any use of force decisions be made by someone else (and perhaps, not be made at all if no third party is available?).

I should note, it's one thing to say that someone else is better qualified, but I'm talking about when the attacker takes action A, and the defender takes action D, why does it matter whether action D is taken personally or by a hired gun?

I understand concerns about the circumstances where force is used - that it not be used inappropriately - but I would love to hear the thinking behind the idea that given the same set of facts it matters whether someone uses the force themselves, or hires someone else to use it on their behalf. I don't hear that distinction made for other emergencies - we don't object to someone turning their hose on a fire, or giving CPR, but some people seem to think it is unseemly to use force to resist an assault. Of course you'd rather have the fire department, a trauma doc, or the SWAT team on hand than doing it yourself, but that isn't always an option.

The professor didn't turn down an offer of Secret Service protection because he wanted to carve a notch in his gun handle personally. When he was informed of a threat low level enough that the police weren't likely to offer 24x7 protection, he indicated that he was not completely defenseless.

What if the threat had been that his house was going to be firebombed, and he had said he was glad the house had sprinklers, or the threat had been a bomb in his car and he'd said he'd be careful to use the remote start? Are those inappropriate, too?
9.22.2009 8:40am
Kimberly (mail):
So, if I have this straight, it's perfectly okay for activists to pull the "I know where you live" stunt with the "white supremacy" card, and no one considers producing the flyers or libeling the professor and the YWC to be an actionable offense. But when the professor who has been both threatened and libeled sends an email - not even to his attackers, but to his superior - that essentially says, "I'm not worried, and have the means to defend myself," THAT is the unacceptable action?

Even for Chapel Hill, that's a seriously gutless response to the hysterical tantrums being thrown by the activists. I guess it hasn't been enough for them to disrupt multiple speeches; they've now moved on to campus groups who don't meet their personal standards for political correctness. I can only hope the next person to upset them is the chancellor, so that we can see whether he enjoys having his personal information published.

(NB: I am not exactly a neutral observer on this issue, having attended UNC-CH for six years, where I both attended Dr. Cramer's classes and served as his teaching assistant for two semesters. He is not a person who suffers intimidation, or fools, gladly.)
9.22.2009 9:06am
IANAL (mail):
Can someone please play the switcheroo game? "Well if you replace professor with abortionist..." etc.

What if the prof just wrote, "Don't worry about my protection, Robin Hood ain't got nothing on me"? Would that still be eliciting this sort of nonsense?

The best response would have been to put up his firearms license on a website and post the link to it publicly.
9.22.2009 10:31am
MCM (mail):
MCM it is obvious you are too stupid to even know what the Group of 88 actually refers to.


Yeah, I must have somehow missed the whole lacrosse scandal when I was there for law school.

It is a shame that the building you live in is a rental, as I would genuinely have enjoyed dropping by and throwing your sad ass out on the street when you failed to pay your mortgage. Something I just did at 233 E. Erie. Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go....


Wow, an internet tough guy. I guess you're not man enough to come by without the force of law behind you?
9.22.2009 10:44am
BT:
Very funny MCM. My guess is that most of the others on this thread are not enjoying our little tiff as much as you and I are. Anyway, I call a truce. Peace Out.

BT
9.22.2009 10:58am
George Smith:
In the end, its Thugs 1, Freedom 0. I'd rather NOT be in Chapel Hill.
9.22.2009 11:07am
Fact Checker:
Thugs 1, Freedom 0.

It's amazing that those who object to this band of anti-immigrants (not to mention the supreme irony of someone named Patel belonging to a Group named "Youth for Western Civilization", talk about self-loathing) are labeled thugs when those who use the implied threat of deadly force are noble. How is "I know where you live" more threatening than "oh yeah, I've got a gun and I know how to use it"? They are both childish bravado, the difference is, one was uttered by someone we expect to know better.

Eugene's post accuses the students who oppose Youth for Western Culture thugs yet he doesn't give any examples of their thuggish behavior. Apparently they interrupted some meetings and a window got broken in a classroom (although he offers no details). That hardly constitutes "thuggery". Considering the level of discourse at town meetings and even presidential addresses recently it is apparently what constitutes reasoned political debate nowadays.
9.22.2009 11:32am
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
Won't somebody please think of the discourse?
9.22.2009 11:54am
marky mark mark (mail):
Heavens! You folks are really making it too easy. Oldest trick in the book coming-- imagine for a moment that the group in question was an association of black students meeting to discusss and explore their racial roots (in slavery, say). Then imagine that a group of white students belonging to the college Rebublicans practically started a riot to interupt the first groups meetings, then published the black group's faculty sponsor's home address with the open invitation to have their buddies go over there and "protest."
Kind of a different feel, no? Well, actually, NO, because that's precisely what happened only the racial "good guys" have been switched around.

Like I said-- too frickin' easy.
9.22.2009 11:56am
Sara:
The Chancellor appointed three new advisors for the group yesterday.

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1700509.html


Wow -- heckler's veto much?


There's no heckler's veto. Besides, the claim is that the professor was physically threatened not heckled.
9.22.2009 12:03pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Being missed in this discussion is the obvious motive of the University administrator who made that decision: to avoid personal blame, especially if something happened and the University got sued. We might think that decision out of line, but the legal profession, and especially tort lawyers, need to accept part of the blame for this situation. In the medical field we have rising costs and unnecessary procedures as "defensive medicine", and in the academic field we are now getting "defensive education". How long before that's priced out of the market by lawyers?

I have a modest proposal for this problem: a computer program that generates, files, and pursues lawsuits to the point at which the defendant is willing to make a settlement offer. Then give away the program free until every person on Earth is suing every other person on Earth for something. Wouldn't that just be grand? Abuse of process elevated into an epidemic.
9.22.2009 12:10pm
Bob Dole (mail):
Looks to me like this was a sting. They were trying to trap him saying something objectionable, I wouldn't be surprised if the admin was in on it.
9.22.2009 12:15pm
egd:
Why do people keep addressing Ruufles as if you expect him to respond? Ruufles is basically a cross between a liberal blowhard (take your pick) and this guy.
9.22.2009 12:20pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):

supreme irony of someone named Patel belonging to a Group named "Youth for Western Civilization", talk about self-loathing)


Wow, so geography is destiny. Or geography of one's ancestors is destiny. How dare Patel step out of his geographically-mandated view of how the world should work and have an independent thought based on his own observations, especially at a "university". Self-loathing indeed.
9.22.2009 12:24pm
George Smith:
Well.......here

http://www.popecenter.org/clarion_call/article.html?id=2234
9.22.2009 12:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It's amazing that those who object to this band of anti-immigrants (not to mention the supreme irony of someone named Patel belonging to a Group named "Youth for Western Civilization", talk about self-loathing)
Pat Buchanan would be proud of you; apparently you and he agree that culture is genetic, such that "someone named Patel" can't be part of Western Civilization.
are labeled thugs when those who use the implied threat of deadly force are noble. How is "I know where you live" more threatening than "oh yeah, I've got a gun and I know how to use it"? They are both childish bravado, the difference is, one was uttered by someone we expect to know better.
Well, first, the latter claim wasn't threatening because it wasn't made to the protesters at all, but privately to someone who was telling him he should be worried about his safety. Second, using force in self-defense, which is what we'd be discussing, is noble.
Eugene's post accuses the students who oppose Youth for Western Culture thugs yet he doesn't give any examples of their thuggish behavior. Apparently they interrupted some meetings and a window got broken in a classroom (although he offers no details). That hardly constitutes "thuggery".
I would say that if police have to use pepper spray and (and threaten to use tasers), it isn't quite a Lincoln-Douglas debate they're engaging in.
9.22.2009 12:32pm
Fact Checker:
I would say that if police have to use pepper spray and (and threaten to use tasers), it isn't quite a Lincoln-Douglas debate they're engaging in.

Considering the misuse of both pepper spray and tasers by the police over the last few years against people whose "crimes" were no worse than being assholes (which like it or not, being an asshole, is in most cases, constitutionally protected), I don't consider the use of either by the police to be proof that the those on the receiving end of the pepper spray or tasers were "thugs" who were actually were physically threatening anyone.
9.22.2009 1:01pm
Fact Checker:
Second, using force in self-defense, which is what we'd be discussing, is noble.

Not my interpretation at all. I read it (unlike Eugene) as he was willing to answer peaceful, if loud, boisterous, and even personally insulting protest with the threat of deadly force.

That is the problem with bringing a gun to a protest. Things escalate too quickly. And situations that originally involved only destruction of property suddenly involve the use of deadly force.
9.22.2009 1:08pm
extractor:

Things escalate too quickly. And situations that originally involved only destruction of property suddenly involve the use of deadly force.

Crowds engaged in "only destruction of property", if left unchecked, may get emboldened and escalate to deadly force. Choose pretty much any one of historic riots as an example.


he was willing to answer peaceful, if loud, boisterous, and even personally insulting protest with the threat of deadly force


Funny how you assume the best of protesters (that they will be peaceful), but the worst of the professor - and work from that assumption.
9.22.2009 1:30pm
extractor:

not to mention the supreme irony of someone named Patel belonging to a Group named "Youth for Western Civilization", talk about self-loathing

If you happen to belong to Western Civilization, this will be a supreme example of self-loathing on your part: to believe that it (western civilization) is not worth being "for", that nobody from outside could be drawn to it.
9.22.2009 1:51pm
Brian Garst (www):

We're trying to come up with a way to have civil discourse and for different points of view to be shared.


Unless, of course, that point of view involves the possible exercise of a right found in a certain Amendment that liberal academics pretend doesn't exist.

Anyone who peruses the many cases dealt with by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) knows that there is a consistent pattern across academia of liberals in power doing everything they can to shut down and silence opposing views.
9.22.2009 2:14pm
Sara:

first, the latter claim wasn't threatening because it wasn't made to the protesters at all


Your "because" is incorrect, he specifically forwarded it to a protester.

On another matter, the Judge dismissed the charges against the protesters who were arrested.
9.22.2009 2:49pm
ChrisTS (mail):
I'll just put in another word for professorial discretion. No doubt Mr. Cramer was within his rights to say whatever he wanted to say to Mr. Patel and to copy it to the Chancellor. Nonetheless, it was a stupid and self-indulgent move on his part to mention guns/gun use in any comment concerning campus life.

I suspect the Chancellor was already quite worried about this group and its opponents, as well as consumed by the now-constant fear of campus violence. Maybe he could have just pointed out to Cramer that the 'joke' was a poor one in the context. So, maybe he overreacted -although being removed as advisor to a student group is not much of a penalty. But, I note that Cramer himself is not very upset and has apologized for putting his foot in it.

All in all, now that the student group has new advisors, this is a tempest in a teapot.
9.22.2009 2:56pm
George Smith:
The right of left wing activists to shout down opposing viewpoints shall not be abridged.
9.22.2009 2:58pm
Fact Checker:
Funny how you assume the best of protesters (that they will be peaceful), but the worst of the professor - and work from that assumption.

At least I didn't call the professor a "thug".
9.22.2009 3:02pm
Sara:
Factual amendment Chris, in bold,


No doubt Mr. Cramer was within his rights to say whatever he wanted to say to Mr. Patel and to copy it to the Chancellor and to a student protester.



Although this doesn't change your point, with which I largely agree.
9.22.2009 3:35pm
Martha:
I'm reasonably liberal, yet I am shocked that this professor was disciplined for his comment. Someone says, "Watch out, you may be under threat" and you reply, "Don't worry, I have a gun for self-defense" and that bothers ANYONE? I could imagine saying something that myself, except that I don't have a gun. One of my (much more liberal) colleagues displays a shot-up target in her office next to a picture of herself posing with her gun. Cramer's comment sounds exactly like something she would say, and she wouldn't be "bragging about her ability to shoot other students" any more than he was. Are UNC faculty unionized? My guess is not.
9.22.2009 3:49pm
extractor:

I'll just put in another word for professorial discretion. No doubt Mr. Cramer was within his rights to say whatever he wanted to say to Mr. Patel and to copy it to the Chancellor. Nonetheless, it was a stupid and self-indulgent move on his part to mention guns/gun use in any comment concerning campus life.

I suspect the Chancellor was already quite worried about this group and its opponents, as well as consumed by the now-constant fear of campus violence.

That's right, a fear of violence requires oppression of those who dare to stand up to threats. First you let situation get to the point where one side feels threatened, then you act against that very side - to prevent violence from occurring.

We could picture similar approach unfold in the same North Carolina pre-segregation, with blacks on the receiving end of state-issued oppression: let the opposing side do the intimidation, but slap down the unfavored group as soon as it has temerity to respond.
9.22.2009 4:01pm
one of many:
I'll just put in another word for professorial discretion. No doubt Mr. Cramer was within his rights to say whatever he wanted to say to Mr. Patel and to copy it to the Chancellor. Nonetheless, it was a stupid and self-indulgent move on his part to mention guns/gun use in any comment concerning campus life.


Dang I was wrong, apparently the mere mention of the word "gun" turns an otherwise innocuous statement into a threat for some people. It just seems too simple to me, but apparently I'll have to put "gun" and related terms onto the taboo list.
9.22.2009 5:05pm
ricky:
No question- the university officials who initiated this action, and those who are defending them, are scum. You are volunteer Stasi, and you deserve exactly the kind of totalitarian communist impoverished slave state that you're agitating for.
9.22.2009 5:06pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Sara:

Although this doesn't change your point, with which I largely agree.

Yikes. I would say it makes my judgment even stronger.
9.22.2009 6:02pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Martha:
I'm reasonably liberal, yet I am shocked that this professor was disciplined for his comment.

I doubt that being removed as faculty advisor to a student group is reasonably construed as being 'disciplined.'

extractor:
That's right, a fear of violence requires oppression of those who dare to stand up to threats.

Nooo... I'm sorry, I do think you are overreacting. There was no initial threat of violence, and Dr. Cramer was hardly being 'oppressed.' As I tried to point out in my comment, the situation on college and university campuses, today [alas] is specific to that venue and imposes specific responsibilities on professors. No one is suggesting that ordinary citizens be locked up for responding to threats of violence.

one of many:
Dang I was wrong, apparently the mere mention of the word "gun" turns an otherwise innocuous statement into a threat for some people. It just seems too simple to me, but apparently I'll have to put "gun" and related terms onto the taboo list.

Perhaps I assumed too much by way of open-minded and rational response to my comment. The word 'gun' is not the problem. Saying that one owns a gun and is prepared to use it, in a campus community, is irresponsible on the part of a professor.
9.22.2009 6:09pm
Sara:
"I doubt that being removed as faculty advisor to a student group is reasonably construed as being 'disciplined.'"

Agreeed. He was asked to resign, which he did, and then apologized, to the Chancellor for putting him in that position.
9.22.2009 6:47pm
Glenn Reynolds (mail) (www):
"Saying that one owns a gun and is prepared to use it, in a campus community, is irresponsible on the part of a professor."

Why, pray tell? What makes a "campus community" different? Presumably a campus community is full of people who are smarter and more inclined to critical thinking than most places, meaning that no one should misperceive such a statement as a threat.
9.22.2009 7:12pm
Martha:
I just got around to reading the Daily Tarheel coverage (better late than never), and one fact in their reporting puts Cramer's email in a different light: he didn't just copy Thorpe, he also copied one of the student activists who circulated the flyer with his address on it. That student felt threatened and apparently complained. I do think it's plausible for her to have interpreted his unexpected email as a threat, so I now agree that Cramer used poor judgment.

"I doubt that being removed as faculty advisor to a student group is reasonably construed as being 'disciplined.'"

Here, I disagree. A written reprimand from your highest administrative official instructing you to resign a position (even a small position) is indeed discipline. I'd guess it won't matter to Cramer's future, since he is retired. But (at least on my campus) such a letter would, at minimum, go into an employment file to be considered when future employment decisions are made. Generally, in systems that use progressive discipline, a written reprimand is low-level discipline but it is formal discipline nonetheless.
9.22.2009 8:09pm
neurodoc:
Eugene Volokh: Now it may well be that publishing a person's home address is protected speech; I have so argued, and some courts agree, though there's controversy about that. But surely publishing a group advisor's home address -- against a backdrop of criminal thuggery (albeit short of deadly violence) aimed at that group -- is indeed potentially threatening
What was the point of publishing the professor's home address, if not to intimidate him? No implied threat of harassment, if not actual violence? If the school was a private rather than public one, then I think the administration should have admonished those who produced the flier.
9.22.2009 8:18pm
Elliot Cramer (mail) (www):
This has all been very interesting. For the record, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU (since 1972) and I support their views on free speech. I didn't threaten anyone; I was responding to a student who was concerned for my safety with regard to a anonymous and scurrilous brochure that was distributed on campus. This group is NOT a hate group, but even if it were, I would support their free speech rights. See my website above; I have a lot to add to it with more details.

Feel free to write me at the address I use for ALL correspondence and which is on my website
PO 428 Chapel Hill, NC 27514
9.23.2009 7:17am
Careless:
I've got to return (days too late) to point out that I was serious with my cultural sensitivity remark. The very same people who talk about cultural sensitivity are here advocating for the quashing of a harmless culture
9.26.2009 3:04am

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