In an effort to position themselves as the true “victims” of the lacrosse affair, an extremist faction within the Group of 88 has alleged a “concerted” effort or a “conspiracy” targeted against them, characterized chiefly by threatening e-mails or phone calls.
Some Group members have received vile anonymous e-mails. (I have as well.) Such e-mails are a terrible side effect of the anonymity the internet can provide.
The Group’s claim, however, that others are endorsing violence against them is more than a bit ironic coming from the very same professors who signed an April 6, 2006 statement saying “thank you for not waiting and for making yourselves heard” to protesters who had, among other things, carried banners reading “Castrate” and “Measure for Measure” and who had distributed a vigilante poster around campus.
Moreover, the Group’s “evidence” that the e-mails form part of a conspiracy against them has been rather . . . sparse. In Monday’s Chronicle, William Chafe made the preposterous claim that “bloggers who targeted the ‘Group of 88’” had sent threatening e-mails and made threatening phone calls. When asked for evidence to substantiate his allegation—his charge, in effect, that one or more of the dozen or so bloggers who have publicly criticized the Group have engaged in criminal activity—Chafe could supply none.
The Group also has demonstrated what could charitably be termed a flexible conception of what e-mails they receive contain. I learned this first-hand last October, when Group member Alex Rosenberg told the New York Sun that this e-mail accused him of prejudging the case. (He added, “Blogs like yours do little but preach to the converted, and when the converted are largely the selfish rich for whom conservatism is but a rationalization for the maintenance of their unearned advantages, it’s really a waste of your time.”)
The latest example of creatively interpreting what constitutes “harassing” e-mails comes from the newly elected chairwoman of the Academic Council, Paula (“No to Due Process”) McClain. A
The reader continued, “Aside from the fact that petty tyrants like you have turned US college campuses into little ivy covered North Koreas, I suspect that you were seeking to appropriate PC bonus points and obtain instant moral authority by championing the cause of the “other” (marginalized black exotic dancer) against racist male chauvinist members of the privileged white elite. A case of cultural Marxist Class warfare that boomeranged. GOD how I love it so!!!!!”
I would not have sent the e-mail above. It had an unfortunate gloating tone. And while McClain might be a caricature of a race/class/gender “diversity” advocate, terming her a cultural Marxist seems oversimplistic.
That said, the e-mail contained no threats of any kind. Nor did it use racist or sexist language.
Here’s how McClain responded:
Your continued messages have now moved into the realm of harassment and I have reported you to your service provider for using abusive and inappropriate language in your email which was sent through their servers.
The ISP must have wondered what she was talking about.
Can Chafe and McClain seriously contend that any e-mail criticizing their positions on the lacrosse case is indistinguishable from anonymous, threatening e-mails? Theirs is, to put it mildly, a peculiar strategy.