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Reed College vs. The Dude Who Wouldn't Shut Up About Rape

Now I know how Joan of Arc felt
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt

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Last week, a news story out of Portland Oregon sent the right-wing “anti-PC” brigade into a state of gleeful fury: A student at Reed College was alleging that he’d been banned from class for challenging some commonly cited rape statistics.

“Dissent forbidden at liberal arts college,” a headline at Truth Revolt declared. “Apparently, feelings are more important than facts,” sniffed the National Review.

The New York Post devoted an entire editorial to this alleged outrage, declaring that the “real mistake” of the student in question, freshman Jeremiah True, “was to think Reed College is dedicated to the search for truth,” adding that

it’s time for Congress to start hearings on withholding federal funds from colleges that deny not just basic free-speech rights, but any semblance of intellectual freedom.

These bold defenders of “intellectual freedom” probably should have looked a little closer at True before hoisting him aloft as a free-speech martyr.

Because what he really seems to be is a troll — a real-world equivalent of the garrulous, irritating MRAs who fill any online discussion forum that will have them with bad-faith questions, personal attacks, and endless cut-and-pasted screeds, all the while doing their best to derail any discussion that doesn’t involve them and their pet issues.

As Mary Emily O’Hara reported yesterday in The Daily Beast,

True said he was booted from class because he questioned the concept of “rape culture” as well as the commonly cited “1 in 5” campus rape statistic. But Professor Pancho Savery, who asked True to leave his class, said that True had been disruptive in several ways that were making it hard for other students to continue their studies.

The disruptive behavior escalated, according to the college administration and reports from fellow students, to include yelling loudly in hallways to draw attention to himself, calling everyone who crossed his path a “n**ger” (True himself is biracial and identifies as black), posting inflammatory comments and name-calling online, and writing that he would “stake my life on this” and “I do not want to be a martyr, but I will do that if that is what is necessary to make a statement.”

Meanwhile, Robby Soave at Reason.com — a libertarian publication that’s generally happy to pass along stories of alleged academic intolerance — also reported that True was a bit, well, off.

He declined to answer any of my questions unless I agreed to write the n-word as the first word in my article about him. (I rejected this demand.)

And in a recent interview, as Soave notes, True confessed that he’s deliberately stirring the shit, admitting that he was

disrupting some events on campus, and just walking through the halls and calling people nigger. Because if they are actually going to accuse me of being sexist and racist, then I might as well act as an actual sexist or racist might. To date, I believe I’ve gotten 22 no-contact orders.

We’ve had plenty of these sorts of trolls here. I used to give them fairly free rein in the comments here, but after 5 years the novelty has worn off just a little bit. These days, I ban them when they start to get even a little bit tiresome. It’s really the only way that the commenters here who aren’t trolls can have any kind of real discussion of anything.

In the age of the internet, it’s basically impossible to shut anyone up. True may be banned from the discussion section in one of his classes, but he’s free to rant all he wants online.

And he does, posting long screeds on his Facebook page and on a Change.org petition calling on Reed College to allow him back into the discussion section he’s been booted from. He argues his case on Change.org with a bizarre and often histrionic 3500-word manifesto in which, among other things, he compares himself to Martin Luther King. Though he claims not to be an MRA, he declares his love for an assortment of antifeminist heroines beloved by MRAs:

I am a Freedom Feminist, and I believe in Dr. Christina Hoff Sommer’s message. I believe Karen Straughan. I believe Janice Fiamengo.

He wraps up his petition on a melodramatic note:

I may be a radical, but I prefer to think that I’m radical in the way that Martin believed Jesus was a radical for love. I believe so strongly in equality that I will put my entire life on the line to stop something that I am convinced endangers that equality.

No matter what happens. I love you, mom. I love you, dad I love you my dear, dear sisters. I love you my dearest friends. I love you all, and I will sacrifice everything for you. … I do not think I will make it out of this unscathed and I am sitting here writing this, sobbing uncontrollably. … I do not want to be a martyr, but I will do that if that is what is necessary to make a statement.

The problem isn’t that True is demanding free speech — he’s got plenty of freedom to say what he wants. It’s that he’s demanding a captive audience for his speech. Discussion sections in college classes are supposed give everyone in them a chance to make themselves heard. That can’t happen when one person in the room takes up all the oxygen.

I’ve been in discussion sections as a student and as a teacher. Part of the job of the instructor is to gently encourage those who are quiet to talk — and, as diplomatically as possible, to get those who talk too much to shut their trap once in a while.

Alas, some students, like True, don’t really respond to diplomacy; their instructors then have to resort to sanctions.

I never had a class with anyone as disruptive as True evidently is. But my time at Cornell University overlapped with that of a certain Ann Coulter — you may have heard of her — and one semester I ended up in an American history discussion section with her. And, as you might imagine, she would not shut up.

The professor, a gentle liberal fellow, was too diplomatic to really rein her in. So we ended up devoting a considerable amount of the semester to listening her drone on about her hobbyhorses — like her belief, which as far as I know she still holds, that Martin Luther King was essentially a Communist puppet.

But if she was blabby she wasn’t completely disruptive, and the experience for me was as amusing as it was irritating. That doesn’t seem to have been the case with True, who evidently went out of his way to antagonize virtually everyone in his class. That’s not free speech. That’s being an asshole.

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Delphi Ote
Delphi Ote
5 years ago

This kind of behavior is using free speech to undermine the principle of free speech, taking the rhetoric and trappings of free thought and use it to silence others. This is happening a lot lately. The Internet makes it easy to spread disinformation and shout down people engaged in honest discussion.

We need to build the rhetorical tools to shut this bullshit trolling down. It’s doing a lot of damage.

Tanya Nguyen
5 years ago

Also, unlike Ann, he wasn’t talking about general, outside the room topics like politics and history, but deeply personal and oft-times too traumatic to want to discuss topics like rape.

Lam
Lam
5 years ago

I’m tired of even bother to pretend I care about assholes being able to speak anywhere anytime they want.

What about victims right not to be forced to be subjected to BS like this? Free speech comes with the freedom to walk away.

opium4themasses
5 years ago

Freeze peach strikes again.

Hilarious that he pulls the “I’m not an MRA, but…” argument. I was president of a group where WD had one of these types being hugely disrespectful. He was also the vice pres. When I eventually asked him to tone it down, he pulled a half-baked “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you…” exit. So surreal. He was of course a huge homophobe too obsessed with anal rape. It all made sense when his ex revealed shit he would try to pull in bed. I imagine he is an MRA out there somewhere.

bodycrimes
5 years ago

Too often when people argue about freedom of speech, they’re just arguing for their right to be an arsehole. Which is funny, because they’re more free to be a complete arsehole right now than at any time in recent Western history.

It wasn’t that long ago when public swearing would get people fined or arrested under public decency laws.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

Last week, a news story out of Portland Oregon sent the right-wing “anti-PC” brigade into a state of gleeful fury: A student at Reed College was alleging that he’d been banned from class for challenging

Stop, I’ve heard this one before.

Seriously, how many times have I heard stories of a student claiming to be banned for XYZ (usually challenging some belief or wanting to pray or something), the right-wing media pouncing on it with joy, and then it turning out that the student was really just being disruptive?

Many times.

Doesn’t help that this is nearly a pet peeve of mine; someone claiming to be criticized for some innocuous thing when that innocuous thing was buried in a heap of other shit, and that shit is what they’re actually being criticized for.

Mitchel
5 years ago

Dave, I just noticed the blob known as “Matt Forney” included you in his latest podcast

Lea
Lea
5 years ago

Mitchel,
Did you mean blight? I think he’s more of a blight.

Mitchel
5 years ago

Haha, either or. I don’t know what men see in Roosh or Forney. The only thing I find weird about this site is that he lists “sluthate” as a bad site. I find the “bash the scene” section is hilarious lol.

scalyllama
5 years ago

So basically, he’s a bully. He wants the college to reinstate him and then he’s going to drop out. And he’s using threats to do it.

Paradoxical Intention
5 years ago

Wasn’t he also asked by the students themselves to stop bringing up the rape stuff and going on and on and on about it because it made them uncomfortable?

But then he continued to do it anyways because now he knew it bothered people? Not to mention his Facebook page says he’s studying “how to annoy people” or some such sophomoric bullshit. The guy’s a walking example of “PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEE!” syndrome.

Also, the phrase “Freedom Feminist” really raises my hackles. I wonder why.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

I am a Freedom Feminist, and I believe in Dr. Christina Hoff Sommer’s message. I believe Karen Straughan. I believe Janice Fiamengo.

Dude, please. If you believe any of those people, you’re not into freedom, much less feminism. You’re an idiot, and no one is under any obligation to keep their ears (and classroom) open to your incessant drivel. Sit down, shut up, and maybe you’ll learn something.

ktrantingredhead
5 years ago

While I fully agree that left-wing, PC, multi-culty wankers have done a LOT to stifle dialogue in higher education, and in life in general, fuck this guy. It’s one thing when people complain their talks were shut down because they refused to say, “Trigger warning: stuff happens here,” or kick entire organizations out of school for saying something horrible including members of that organization who never participated in the awful stuff, or debates being completely cancelled because some people didn’t like the subject matter or banning words including banning important historical documents and works of literature containing those words. It’s quite another when you get kicked out for actively and admittedly running around harassing people and actually trying to disrupt classes just to make people mad and ruin the very expensive learning experience that everyone else is likely going to be paying for the rest of their lives. You nailed it in saying this is a real world manifestaion of a typical troll.

Also, need I question how if people te someone to stop harassing them, it’s an attempt to silence them and take away their free speech but trying to threaten, harass, and shame someone into silence is ok? Oh, I forgot….in ALL cases man right, woman wrong.

Make no mistake, freedom of speech IS under attack at universities. This is NOT an example of thise artacks!

Greyskye
Greyskye
5 years ago

You know, I’m smelling some serious mental health issues here. Under the obnoxious behavior seems to be a young man who doesn’t see a future for himself and in his desperation to make his mark on the world around him and anger at the perceived opportunities denied to him, decides the only way to do this is to die for a cause so his name is remembered.

If I was an adult in his life, I would be pretty concerned about him. This is implosion talk. And when someone displaying this kind of histrionics implodes, they either just take out themselves or worse still, take others out before themselves.

This kid is one to watch, and if possible, get help for.

katz
5 years ago

You know, I’m smelling some serious mental health issues here.

Seriously? Didn’t we just have this conversation, like, five seconds ago?

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

@ktrantingredhead:

While I fully agree that left-wing, PC, multi-culty wankers have done a LOT to stifle dialogue in higher education, and in life in general, fuck this guy.

Uhh… what now?

or kick entire organizations out of school for saying something horrible including members of that organization who never participated in the awful stuff

You mean the SAE frat chapter that was shut down by SAE, not the college? The one where only two students were actually expelled from the university over the incident?

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

@katz:

Seriously? Didn’t we just have this conversation, like, five seconds ago?

And we’ll be having it again five seconds from now, apparently.

greyskye
greyskye
5 years ago

@Katz – huh? What am I missing?

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

@greyskye:

Don’t diagnose over the internet. Mental illness is not the only explanation for bad behavior in the universe, and it doesn’t lie on some 1-dimensional spectrum of explanations that can be brought out whenever the behavior is bad enough.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Also, the phrase “Freedom Feminist” really raises my hackles. I wonder why.

Maybe because it’s just some made-up bullshit? That would be my educated guess.

Lea
Lea
5 years ago

Your ableism, greyskye. That’s what you missed. Don’t be that way. If you don’t know what you did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ableism

People are fatigued from this conversation and I am one of them.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

Also, the phrase “Freedom Feminist” really raises my hackles. I wonder why.

Judging by the list of names, it’s probably part of CHS’s whole thing with calling feminists “gender feminists,” and introducing arbitrary classifications so she can co-opt the work of past feminists while holding retrograde views.

greyskye
greyskye
5 years ago

Oh good grief.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

@greyskye:

If you’ve been here for any length of time, you should know by now that that’s the way this community operates, especially for the frequency this shit comes up. Just don’t do it, ok? I’m sure you’re clever enough to come up with some commentary better than “he must be crazy.”

freemage
5 years ago

Greyskye | March 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm

You know, I’m smelling some serious mental health issues here. Under the obnoxious behavior seems to be a young man who doesn’t see a future for himself and in his desperation to make his mark on the world around him and anger at the perceived opportunities denied to him, decides the only way to do this is to die for a cause so his name is remembered.

If I was an adult in his life, I would be pretty concerned about him. This is implosion talk. And when someone displaying this kind of histrionics implodes, they either just take out themselves or worse still, take others out before themselves.

This kid is one to watch, and if possible, get help for.

The problem is that, whether you mean to or not, you’re excusing their bad conduct. There’s a massive tendency, especially in internet stories about awful people, to immediately reach for the explanation that the person is suffering from some sort of diagnosable mental illness. Doing so suggests that they can’t help it, that their conduct is beyond their ability to control.

While this is doubtlessly true in some cases, in others it’s just as patently wrong. And in the vast, vast majority of situations, you’re not going to get enough information about the person from a news story or a single blog post to be able to come up with any sort of certain diagnosis.

I do think many of these asshats would benefit from counseling. Much of their behavior is definitely self-harming, even if they can’t see it. Their thinking, in general, is borked. But this is due to a willful embrace of bad ideas, not because of any sort of specific ailment.

Shorter form: “Asshole” is not a diagnosis.

maghavan
maghavan
5 years ago

@katz:

Seriously? Didn’t we just have this conversation, like, five seconds ago?

And we’ll be having it again five seconds from now, apparently.

Must resist urge to sea-lion/devils’advocate the hell out of this just to keep it going ….

Must resist ….

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ Kirbywarp

“Seriously, how many times have I heard stories of a student claiming to be banned for XYZ (usually challenging some belief or wanting to pray or something), the right-wing media pouncing on it with joy, and then it turning out that the student was really just being disruptive?”

It’s similar to that specie of story where someone says something along the lines of “Humph! Sooooorrrrreeeeee, I didn’t realise it was a crime to be kind to animals!”

Then you find out they’ve been feeding kids to alligators.

This Handle is a Test
This Handle is a Test
5 years ago

What about warning signs? Would warning signs be wrong? Because I can think of far too many people who’ve done terrible things that have put out messages like True has.

On the free speech angle, I’m generally a lot further on this issue than many people here (I don’t get in a big argument about it because why pick a fight when it won’t get anywhere). However, the right to free speech ends when it impacts someone’s else’s right (in this case the rights of the other students in the class to get something out of the class that they/their parents are paying for). You can make arguments about free speech vs. the educational establishment but this sure isn’t one of them.

Moggie
Moggie
5 years ago

Wow. I’m used to right-wingers comparing themselves to MLK or Rosa Parks, but it’s not every day you see someone compare himself to Jesus.

I hope that martyrdom stuff is just immature posturing, but if I were at the college I’d be worried that he’s preparing for a killing spree.

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
5 years ago

I am a Freedom Feminist, and I believe in Dr. Christina Hoff Sommer’s message. I believe Karen Straughan. I believe Janice Fiamengo.

Not buying it, Mr. True. Unless you’re a reader here or an MRA, I can’t imagine you’d be able to pick Karen Straughan out of a lineup.

And now I’m going to toddle off and find my copy of The Queen Is Dead.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ M

I like that cartoon and it’s a pretty good summary of the *general* principles. Just to be nerdy lawyer there are some issues around the ‘horizontal’ effect of the 1st Amendment as opposed to the ‘vertical’ effect (we have a similar thing with the ECHR) so it’s not quite that straightforward but I do enough barrister rambling so unless a anyone wants to be bored with the details I’ll just say matey boy may well fall foul of the ‘time, manner and place’ exemption to the 1st Amendment and leave it there.

Scarlettathena
5 years ago

One of the issues I have with many topics is the refusal on the part of individuals to accept data or statistics. I have heard people say they don’t believe the rape statistic, the unemployment rate report, the data on climate change and other topics that bother their worldview. I’ve asked some people to tell me what statistics or data they do accept. You have to find some foothold in reality if you are to discuss these topics. Usually, they have no data of their own. They just refuse to believe the data in question because they don’t like it and they form some conspiracy theory around people making up numbers.

Here, I guess all the femicommunazis are making out like bandits because of rape statistics!

A Mighty Teapot
A Mighty Teapot
5 years ago

That xkcd cartoon several thousand times over.
Same way that freedom of association doesn’t mean you can force people to hang out with you.

childrenofthebroccoli
childrenofthebroccoli
5 years ago

@mitchel: the reason sluthate (formerly PUAhate) is under the misogyny central banner is because despite them being against PUAs, they’re still a bunch of misogynists. They hate PUAs because pickup artistry didn’t get them laid, not because it’s rapey and demeaning to women. I mean for god’s sake, their name is sluthate.

Flying Mouse
Flying Mouse
5 years ago

@Scarlettathena

Here, I guess all the femicommunazis are making out like bandits because of rape statistics!

According to RoK, we’re making out like false burglars in the night.

suffrajitsu
suffrajitsu
5 years ago

Hey, Chuck C. Johnson (the shitheel “journalist” who doxxed the wrong person as Jackie and once pissed on the floor in college) recently promised a “live interview” with a “19-year-old student kicked out of class for challenging feminist myths.” This wouldn’t happen to be the same student, would he? I was already gonna bet 10 to 1 he wasn’t kicked out for being a “dissenter” so much as being an asshole, but if he really “declined to answer any of my questions unless I agreed to write the n-word as the first word in my article about him”, that’s even more cartoonishly OTT than I’d have thought.

http:///cbsmancave.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/not-all-mens-health-642.jpg?w=1240&h=1916

seraph4377
5 years ago

*Sigh*

And as usual, the lie is halfway around the world before the truth even gets its boots on.

Probably the best we can hope for now is that the mainstream rightwingers will drop this asshole like they did Cliven Bundy when he forgot to use his dog whistle, and we’ll be left with a vague strengthening of the impression that many right-wingers share with ktrantingredhead that universities are places that silence and brainwash away conservative thought.

Think we’ll even be that lucky?

proxieme
proxieme
5 years ago

re: this guy’s state of mind & Internet diagnoses:

He does, however, seem to be expressing suicidal thoughts / engaging in suicidal ideation…even if he is being a massive asshole about it.

I don’t like the guy and his actions and this isn’t my attempt at a diagnosis, but I hope that someone around him is paying attention.

M.
M.
5 years ago

The only thing I find weird about this site is that he lists “sluthate” as a bad site.

Yes, why would a feminist blog ever consider a site called SlutHate to be bad… Especially the same SlutHate that nurtured Elliot bloody Rodger… A true mystery for the fucking ages, that one. Dumbass.

While I fully agree that left-wing, PC, multi-culty wankers …

Wait, what? “Multi-culty”?

http://i.imgur.com/7twtbRN.gif

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

@M:

“Multiculturalism,” I guess, possibly even the same dog whistle that white nationalists use to describe allowing the many species of human to be located in the same general viscinity!

branston
branston
5 years ago

regular lurker/delurker/relurker here 🙂 I say pre-emptively that I absolutely do not wish to antagonise or offend but I have an opinion that doesn’t go with the general board – I want to say it. I do not take offence if anyone disagrees, I imagine they might! I am not tying to upset anyone. I speak as someone who has had severe depression and tried to end my life, and diagnosed with psychosis twice (but generally healthy now for several years). I think it is ok to describe terrible thoughts in terms of mental illness. I think it is an illness. I do agree that naming a specific conditions (calling someone pyscho, or aspie etc) stigmatises specific disorders and should be avoided; however, sometimes peoples world view is messed up so much I can not believe they are mentally healthy. I don’t believe people are evil, I believe sometimes they are unwell, and this can be viewed as ‘evil’ (and of course being just an asshole is also possible as many of David’s articles have proved!). I don’t think these terms are always used in a sense of judgement or unkindness – saying someone is mentally unwell is broad and could mean many things to different people.

Spindrift
Spindrift
5 years ago

So, women’s buts are so distracting they flip the “off” switch in men’s minds, but this guy’s disruptive behaviour makes him a champion of honesty and freedom and not at all distracting to the other students?

Doodlojik at it’s finest.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

@branston:

Great, you have an opinion! Other’s disagree, and this community as decided to err on the side of the people who do find it offensive.

Amanda
Amanda
5 years ago

You know its bad when Reason Magazine declares your a nut job…and that’s coming from someone who’s tangentially part of the libertarian movement…

Amanda
Amanda
5 years ago

Also, seriously people like this do more harm for the cause of free speech than. I really don’t get why so many people think free speech = I can be an asshole and people have to listen.

branston
branston
5 years ago

@kirbywarp, that is ok dude, I wasn’t saying otherwise. and its ok to ask people not to do something that upsets you (and collectively ask them not to), i just sometimes think that it is taken as a hateful thing but I think people just might throw terms out without thinking/realising its upsetting to some people

talbotfish
talbotfish
5 years ago

+1 for the Smiths reference.

AltoFronto
AltoFronto
5 years ago

Ugh, this True guy irritates the heck out of me and I’ve only read about his exploits in the news.

Not just an a-hole, but a willfully disruptive a-hole trying to force his stupid ignorant a-holery on everyone else. Why the fuck is he at university if he isn’t there to sit the fuck down and learn a few things?

Can we assume that if he’d been this much of an a-hole during the admissions process, they wouldn’t have let him in? That would mean he knows when to shut his fool mouth and is deliberately trolling everyone.

Let’s see how clever he is when he gets kicked out, and no other university will take him.
He has a bright future ahead of him as a raving hobo.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
5 years ago

@branston:

i just sometimes think that it is taken as a hateful thing

I don’t see that very often here. Any exasperation that comes across is because it feels like we have to remind everyone constantly, not because we’re assuming ill intent. And way too often it turns into some huge conversation when it’s basically just a reminder of comment policy.

As well-meaning as you may have been in sharing your opinion about whether internet-diagnosing is offensive to you in particular, it basically just furthered a conversation that people are tired of having.

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