Banning Guns (and Opinions About Guns) in College

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings in April, Hamline University student Troy Scheffler writes emails (in response to emails from them sent to the student body) to the president and vice-president for student affairs of the Minnesota university, complaining about his school's no-weapons and diversity policies.

He is suspended pending a mental health evaluation. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) comes to his defense. From FIRE's press release:

FIRE wrote to [university] President [Linda] Hanson on May 29, 2007, vehemently opposing the sanctions against Scheffler, since neither of Scheffler’s e-mails even came close to meeting the legal definition of a “threat.” FIRE also pointed out that Hamline maintains a “Freedom of Expression and Inquiry” policy that encourages the public expression of opinions and the freedom to examine and discuss all questions of interest. FIRE wrote that “it is difficult to reconcile these admirable commitments to freedom of expression with Hamline’s hasty actions against Scheffler.”
FIRE also informed Hamline administrators that subjecting Scheffler to a mandatory psychological evaluation poses a grave threat to liberty at Hamline. FIRE wrote, “A psychological evaluation, to be overseen by a Hamline administrator, is one of the most invasive and disturbing intrusions upon Scheffler’s individual right to private conscience imaginable. Because Scheffler has shown no proclivity toward violence and has made no threatening comments, this psychological evaluation seeks to assess his political opinions….”

Some past FIRE blogging. reason contributor Declan McCullagh discusses this case over at C/NET.

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  • New World Dan||

    Hamline is a private university. Do we want to start regulating private universities? The kid has at least a dozen other options within 10 miles of Hamline.

  • ||

    Do we want to start regulating private universities?

    This isn't about attempting to impose regulations. This is about publicly bitch-slapping an unprincipled, hypocritical university administration.

  • ||

    Hamline is a private university. Do we want to start regulating private universities? The kid has at least a dozen other options within 10 miles of Hamline.



    Nope, but if the University's contract with the student assures the student that he or she can raise issues and debate them without fear of reprisal then the University is violating that contract. Assuming that his email was civil and not abusive.

  • ||

    Did you read the emails? You know, the ones FIRE didn't bother to link to?

    Even setting aside the racial stuff, I can't say that this kid talking to a counsellor for a couple sessions is the worst thing in the world.

  • ||

    Yes, for example saying,

    "A strongly oppose your policy and think you guys are idiots for having proposed it."

    is something that would be protected under the contract, whereas saying

    "Because you guys banned my guns and forced me to attend cultural sensitivity training, I am going to rip off your heads and fuck your windpipes"

    would probably indicate an evaluation is a good idea.

  • ||

    That should have read

    "I strongly oppose" not "A strongly oppose"

    The 'A' and 'I' keys are on opposite ends of the keyboard. How the hell did I do that?

  • ||

    the guy defintely sounds like a biggot in his emails, but nothing at all threatening, joe, doubt any amount of 'sessions' would help him rid of a racist attitude, but that has very little to do with this FIRE's complaint

  • Episiarch||

    joe has a point that the kid is obsessed with affirmative action, and comes off sounding a bit kooky. However, that is in no way grounds to send him to "re-education". In fact, it is probably better proof that he is being sent to a psychologist not because he is dangerous but because he is un-PC.

  • ||

    Anybody got a link to the kookier emails, the ones that joe says FIRE fails to link to?

  • ||

    Did you read the emails? You know, the ones FIRE didn't bother to link to?



    ? There are links in FIRE's press release. They're even hosted on FIRE's web site. (1,2)

  • Steven Horwitz||

    Was just about to say what Eric did.

    And yes, this kid is a bigot big time, but that hardly justifies mandated counseling or punishment for his views. He made no threats that I could see.

    No one wants to regulate private universities. FIRE is only asking them to live up to their own professed commitment to free speech and putting some sunshine on their refusal to do so.

  • ||

    val,

    He didn't utter a threat in the First Amendment "Fighting Words" sense, I agree. But remember, that's the standard for taking criminal action, and colleges rightfully have a great deal more lattitude when dealing with their students/clients than police have in dealing with the general public.

    Rimfax,

    You can follow links through the Dan McCullagh link. You could also click on the FIRE link to see whether I am "claiming" something truthfully or not.

  • ||

    That was going to be my question as well. I'd like to see the emails.

  • ||

    D'oh! There they are.

  • Episiarch||

    I'd like to see the emails.

    RTFA. There are links to the emails in it. joe, do you have access to other emails besides the links in the FIRE article?

  • ||

    Even setting aside the racial stuff, I can't say that this kid talking to a counsellor for a couple sessions is the worst thing in the world.

    joe, did you really mean that? Seriously, you don't find psycholigical counseling for non threatening E-mails an egregious use of the school's authority. Would you feel the smae if he was a union rep for the custodians? Just asking?

  • ||

    Thoughtcrime!

  • ||

    J sub D,

    Read the emails.

    No, I don't find it egregious to check in and see if this kid is just pissed off vs. a threat to the people around him, based on those emails.

    And yes, I'd feel exactly the same way if the person who wrote them belonged to a union.

  • Cindy||

    The university has a right to have him psychologically evaluated and reeducated if his views do not conform to the norms of political correctness. You have the right to your private views, but you don't have the right to express your views publically if they may be offensive to others.

  • ||

    Ok. Wow. Read the emails.

    I think I'm gonna sit this one out.

  • ||

    This kid sounds kind of dumb, or maybe that is just "youth" I am hearing, but I would not call him a bigot.

    However, objecting to illegal gun "laws" does cross the line; clearly he needs to be reeducated.

  • ||

    Funny how this is breaking down.

    The people who read the emails think it is at least a close call, and recognize that there is the distinct possibility that that boy ain't right.

    And the people who don't read the emails have a wonderful little narrative about "psychological evaluation" meaning "re-education" and "a threat to others" meaning "politically incorrect."

  • Episiarch||

    And the people who don't read the emails have a wonderful little narrative about "psychological evaluation" meaning "re-education" and "a threat to others" meaning "politically incorrect."

    joe, please explain what the kid says that would require him to have a psychological evaluation. Not why he is a douche, but why he should be examined.

  • ||

    He is suspended pending a mental health evaluation.

    How very . . Stalinist of the administration.

    I can't say that this kid talking to a counsellor for a couple sessions is the worst thing in the world.

    So that's the standard now for actions taken to intimidate and silence dissenters? "Not the worst thing in the world"?

  • ||

    Joe,

    I read the emails. As I said, the kid sounds dumb. He makes statements that would generate praise for their courage if he were black and making them about.

    I would like to see the emails from the president of Hamline.

  • ||

    Lets read the emails,

    Email one,

    Considering this university also pushes "diversity" initiatives like VA Tech, maybe its "leadership" will reconsider its ban on conceal carry law abiding gun owners... Ironically, according to a few VA Tech forums, there are plenty of students complaining that this wouldnt have happened if the school wouldnt have banned their permits a few months ago...

    I just dont understand why leftists dont understand that criminals dont care about laws; that is why they're criminals... Maybe this school will reconsider its repression of law abiding citizens rights.

    Considering that accoriding to the university president that there were recently serious "hate crimes" that were committed in the womens bathrooms; there may be people on the edge ready to snap. I cant say I blame them, I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs. On top of that, I am sick of seeing them held to a different standard than the white students (Of course its a lower and more lenient standard).

    Oh by the way, when is your "diversity" department going to include European ancestry?


    Respectfully,
    Troy Scheffler

    Email 2

    was wondering why a swastika painted by some frustrated ladies in their bathroom turned somehow into red flags of a hate crime but you dont consider an asian guy admittedly killing people because he hated them not hate motivated... Anyhow, in response to your most recent email concerning a vigil for people most likely nobody in the school knows; I would like to comment on your claims of upped "security". I attend a MPLS cohort so I dont see any security in the area ever. Infact it seems the dirty bums on the street are the only ones patrolling anything. I would suggest if you are truley concerned about student security, you lift a ridiculous conceal carry campus ban and let the students worry about their own "security". VA Tech just recently passed their conceal carry permit ban; we can all see how well that worked for criminal minds. Ironically, many students from VA Tech are in online forums which I can direct you to complaining that 32 people wouldnt have died in the students rights were not infringed by
    banning their legal right to carry their arms on their person. They take the argument that they would have shot the guy before he was able to massacre that many people; I on the other hand would argue that the guy wouldnt have even attempted this atrocity not only if we didnt pay for everybody and their mother to come here for free to soak up tuition funds but also that by knowing law abiding citizens carried weapons to defend themselves that criminals wouldnt be so bold to commit crimes against them...

    As usual, Im sure this plea of common sense will fall on deaf ears as I recently responded to a general email notifying students of the conceal carry ban...

    On a lighter note... For a "Christian" university, I am very disappointed in Hamline. With the motif of the curriculum, the atheist professors, jewish and other non-Christian staff, I would charge the school with wanton misrepresentation.

    Yes, I obviously feel that Hamline has been a serious let down, so far I am almost finished with half of my MAPA degree and havent even cracked a book. All the books that came in plastic wrap are still in plastic wrap despite the ridiculous amounts students are charged. I have yet to hear a student in my cohort that is happy with the curriculum or quality of professors. Why does this school charge so much for such a substandard education?

    Furthermore, why are you diversity initiatives anti-Euro American (ie white folks)? All over the university grounds I see loads of leftist propaganda, why not warn a student before they enroll at Hamline? It took me complaining to a few different people before even the hamline website finally included white people in the random pictures on the main page. If I remember corrextly it was like 1 white in a picture out of like 12... Now it is obviously better but just goes to show how biased this university is and the painstaking efforts of diversity pandering it does at the expense of people that are actually planning on contributing back to the TAXPAYERS that are footing the bill for your iversity initiatives. In fact, 3 out of 3 students just in my class that are "minorities" are planning on returning to Africa and all 3 are getting a free education ON MY DOLLAR. I bet the staff here is wondering how a swastika ended up in a bathroom... More people than you can imagine are tired of this all. It's just sad that they resort to petty vandalism rather than speak their mind like I am.

    Please stop alienating the students that are working hard every day to pay for their tuition. Maybe you can instruct your staff on sensitivity training towards us "privilaged white folk". If your staff is going to continually berate the evil white male for this privilage and his racist tendencies, at least have them explain where to find the privilages and point out the evil people that are ruining the world. Strange for how horribly racist Europeans and other white people are that everyone seems to want to exploit our generosity. Maybe someday the favor will be returned but I doubt it seeing what I have so far...

    Thanks for your time...
    Respectfully,

  • ||

    It's a private college, and by suspending this student they are merely trying to best serve their customer base (the non-crazy students).

  • Other Matt||

    The 'A' and 'I' keys are on opposite ends of the keyboard. How the hell did I do that?

    You were reading Jennifer's blog about taking her shirt off in public, and it got you all turned round?

  • ||

    Whatever you think of the content of the e-mails, I can't see how they would rise to the level of sending the kid to reducation, I mean counseling. Further, pick up any university newspaper and you are likly to see stuff that is ten times crazier than that only from a leftist prospective. No one ever sends those clowns to counseling. There is just no defending this. Thank God the hard left that runs our universities does not as of yet have any access to governmental power.

  • ||

    I read both e-mails. He has a number of opinions that I disagree with but he in no way sounds dangerous to me.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    Well, for example:

    there may be people on the edge ready to snap. I cant say I blame them, I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs.

    He's ready to snap, he writes in an email about the Virginia Tech shootings, because of those minorities - the ones he keeps obsessively bringing up, for no plausible reason.

  • ||

    John,

    reducation, I mean counseling.

    This is how we know not to take you seriously.

  • carrick||

    The comments made by Scheffler in his emails are consistent with the comments made by many, many marginally successful white kids I went to college with 25 years ago.

    His comments are remarkable only in the fact that is has a concealed/carry permit, and he made them in an email to the university administration.

    No way these were deserving of a suspension and a mandatory psych evaluation.

  • ||

    Syloson,

    Like I said, he could just be an asshole, or he could be genuinely disturbed. It's probably worth the university's dime to have somebody who can tell the difference have a talk with him.

  • ||

    joe,

    To be blunt my dear fellow, Hamline should IMHO actually engage this guy in debate.

  • ||

    So if the kid had written,

    "there may be people on the edge ready to snap, I can't say I blame them, I myself and tired of paying taxes to a fascist government bent on neocon dreams of world domination run by chimp moron who is controlled by corporations"

    You would support sending him to counseling Joe? Really? Even if he had written it in the school newspaper? Lastly, is there any school in the country outside of Regent and Ava Maria that would even think of doing so?

  • ||

    Thought #1: This is a private university, they can do what they want within the framework of their contract with the student. If he feels like the university is violating his contract, he had judicial recourse.

    Thought #2: Shouldn't this guy be spending more time on classwork? You can write all the kook letters you want to your local newspaper without spending big bucks on tuition at some fancy pants school. Or heck, if you are going to waste time during your college, at least make it involve drugs, alcohol and the opposite sex.

  • ||

    You know, I snapped and voted for a Democrat in the last election in order to stop the war (clearly a useless decision).

    Guess I'm ready for a mandatory evaluation.

  • ||

    J sub D,

    Read the emails


    I already did.

    No, I don't find it egregious to check in and see if this kid is just pissed off vs. a threat to the people around him, based on those emails.

    And yes, I'd feel exactly the same way if the person who wrote them belonged to a union.


    joe, Amazing. My respect for your tolerance of others has been diminished.

  • carrick||

    He's ready to snap . . .

    He didn't say that joe. He said he sympathized with other people that said they were. That is a huge difference.

  • ||

    I want to see Joe come in here with a straight face and say that he thinks someone who says they are ready to snap over the war and George Bush should be sent to counseling. Joe doesn't like the guy and thinks anyone who disagrees with him needs to be sent to counseling to make sure they are just insane but not dangerous. But, Joe is a very tolerant guy, honest.

  • ||

    He's ready to snap . . .

    He didn't say that joe. He said he sympathized with other people that said they were. That is a huge difference.


    carrick would not have done well in the Mafia: "he didn't say he'd kill me, he just said I'd sleep with the fishes."

  • ||

    joe,

    It's probably worth the university's dime to have somebody who can tell the difference have a talk with him.

    Who would that be exactly?

  • Episiarch||

    joe, his comment on "snapping" refers to going to the offensive and stupid stage of painting a swastika to express their frustration. You can see from his context that he is not referring to violence.

    Again, he seems like a douche, but he is expressing his frustration completely non-violently through emails. If you can be sent to counseling for that, what about people like La Raza members who advocate taking back California (presumably through violence)? Why aren't they referred to counseling?

  • carrick||

    That's one of the 95-percenters Dan.

    Try again.

  • ||

    Syloson,

    To be blunt my dear fellow, Hamline should IMHO actually engage this guy in debate.

    I think the distinction between the political concepts he mentions and the emotional content of his messages should be kept in mind, not blurred for political purposes.

    That he raised legitimate points about, for example, concealed carry does not make him any less unbalanced. And, the fact that he appears at least somewhat unbalanced does not make the points he raises about concealed carry invalid.

  • ||

    He's ready to snap, he writes in an email about the Virginia Tech shootings, because of those minorities - the ones he keeps obsessively bringing up, for no plausible reason.

    Wow, joe. Based on two, count' em two, emails, you've diagnosed him as obsessive and "ready to snap".

    Perhaps you and Bill Frist should go into a remote diagnosis business together.

  • ||

    Cindy | October 11, 2007, 10:23am | #
    The university has a right to have him psychologically evaluated and reeducated if his views do not conform to the norms of political correctness. You have the right to your private views, but you don't have the right to express your views publically if they may be offensive to others.


    Err...did you get lost and wander here by accident? You know where you are...right?

    ^_^

    Joking aside, the article states:

    FIRE also pointed out that Hamline maintains a "Freedom of Expression and Inquiry" policy that encourages the public expression of opinions and the freedom to examine and discuss all questions of interest.

    So if they are encouraging people to express their opinions and then forcing psych evaluations on anyone who expresses an opinion that lies outside the norm, that pretty much makes their policy meaningless verbage at best. In my view it is an insidious attempt to cull non-PC folks and political outliers from the student body, but I always have had a tendency to impart the worst motives possible onto administrators of all sorts.

    Getting away from the post and arguing a bit on general principles, I would contend that your standard that:

    you don't have the right to express your views publically if they may be offensive to others.

    is a severe burden to freedom of speech. In fact I would contend that if followed, it destroys the right it is meant to modify. I would classify you as an opponent of free speech. I'm curious as to how you would classify yourself.

    Any chance you're a european?

    Getting back to argument, If we are forced to censor ourselves based on the rule that we cannot offend anyone, we are pretty much forbidden to comment publicly on any substantial issue. The factor that I believe you underestimate is people's ability to get emotionally wrapped up in all sorts of odd beliefs.

    Imagine for a moment that there exists person who is emotionally attached to his belief that the sky is green. Now should I, as a responsible person exercising my right to free speech, censor myself with regard to my understanding of the color of the sky?

    Aside: This may seem like a nutty example, but I have an ex who is passionately convinced that indigo is a shade of green, and would get seriously irate when I would point out that it is a shade of blue. I never thought to ask her what she thought of the sky...

    Perhaps what you are arguing for is to censor views that are offensive to many others. If so you are essentially calling for a ban on any unpopular speech. But what is the point of affirming a right to free speech at all if it only protects popular, uncontroversial opinions. I don't believe anyone has ever called for a ban on an idea that didn't offend anyone. The right to free speech exists specifically to protect unpopular, offensive ideas.

    I'll leave off with a couple of choice quotes from Frederick Douglass, a fellow who certainly had cause to think hard about the issue:

    "Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one's thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason…
    There can be no right of speech where any man…[is] compelled to suppress his honest sentiments.
    Equally clear is the right to hear. To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker."

    "Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning."

  • ||

    John,

    You would support sending him to counseling Joe?

    Not all by itself. Not would I think it a good idea to sent Scheffler to counselling, if that one quote I picked out as an example was the only thing he had written.

    However, if someone kept writing emails like that, obsessively bringing up "fascist neocons" in messages about something else, and complaining about how much he can't stand all the "fascist neocons" around him on campus - especially if he made it plain that he was using the term to refer to people's religious or ethnic background, and not as a political category - then yes, I'd find that a little questionable as well.

  • ||

    joe,

    He doesn't appear unbalanced at all. He appears to be a college student.

  • ||

    "If we are forced to censor ourselves based on the rule that we cannot offend anyone, we are pretty much forbidden to comment publicly on any substantial issue."

    What happens is the only people who get to express themselves are those approved of by the powers that be. In this case, the only people whose feelings matter are those who hold politically correct views. If you are offended by some La Raza member talking about taking back California, too fucking bad. If you are mad unconfortable by someone argueing for gun rights, send the speaker off to counseling he must be insane and perhaps dangerous. It is just an excuse for one side to keep the other side from expressing their opinion.

  • ||

    carrick,

    He said he's ready to snap, and can understand how people can snap, in an email about the Virgina Tech shootings. And, btw, you are wrong when you write, "He said he sympathized with other people that said they were."

    No, he didn't. He never mentioned anyone else saying anything.

  • ||

    Brian Terrel,

    Actually, I don't think this has much to do with political correctness.

  • Jennifer||

    So what happens if the college decides it doesn't like the results of this psychological examination? Back when I was in college, and approximately ten times as persnickety as I am now, I probably would've deliberately blown the exam, just as a way of saying "fuck you with a pinecone, asshole."

    "This inkblot looks like a girl being held down by her father while the Pagans biker gang takes turns having at her. And that inkblot reminds me of the first time I sawed off a shotgun barrel. Word association? You say 'boy,' I say 'kill.' You say 'girl,' I say 'kill.' You say 'light,' I say 'kill.' KILL! KILL! Get out of my head, you bastards."

  • ||

    joe,

    He did not state that he is ready to snap. He stated that he doesn't blame others for being ready to do so.

  • ||

    J sub D,

    Are you a very poor reader, or just a dishonest hack?

    Wow, joe. Based on two, count' em two, emails, you've diagnosed him as obsessive and "ready to snap".

    Let's go to the tape:

    No, I don't find it egregious to check in and see if this kid is just pissed off vs. a threat to the people around him, based on those emails.

    Like I said, he could just be an asshole, or he could be genuinely disturbed.

    Care to point out where I've diagnosed the guy?

    Are the actual points I've made so incredibly intimidating that you have to make up more easily refuted ones to argue against instead?

    I can point you to a number of commenters who've drawn definitive conclusions about this kid's mental state based on those two emails - the ones who keep pronouncing him perfectly sane.

  • ||

    joe,

    It's probably worth the university's dime to have somebody who can tell the difference have a talk with him.

    Who would that be exactly?

  • ||

    joe,

    the one line you quote about snapping when taken in the context of the whole of both emails is, at best, an afterthought. Its a broad, non-specific, off-hand remark compared to the whole and is in no way connected with his mention of CC laws. He clearly would be one of the last people to go popping people considering how much he castigates the admin for making it so easy for those intent on popping people.

  • ||

    The Great Ape,

    He clearly would be one of the last people to go popping people considering how much he castigates the admin for making it so easy for those intent on popping people.

    Interesting observation.

  • ||

    "Any chance you're a european?"

    No, Brian, she is a troll. She might be a European troll; those are the worst kind.

  • ||

    The problem was that he mixed his views about weapons on campus with his view that diversity, non-christians, and minorities are a problem in a rambling semi-coherent manner that comes off as vaguely threatening. There are much better ways he could have said what he did, as it is he sounds like he's hinting that he wants to shoot minorties because he thinks they're out to get him.

    I have no problem with them requiring a psych evaluation to return to class. He most likely just has poor communication skills, but they do have a responsibility to other students.

  • ||

    Has anybody seen the emails from the university president that elicited the kid's response?

  • ||

    Who would that be exactly?

    A psycologist, psychiatrist, mental health counsellor. Heck, psych nurse with a few years under her belt could probably suss out whether this kid is ok or not.

    Episiarch,

    Once again - and I think this is an important point for people who define themselves in opposition to totalitarianism to keep in mind - you should make some effort to distinguish between the kid's politics and his mental health. The question isn't "What if someone from La Raza said something about taking back the Southwest?" but "What did that person actually write that reflects on his mental state?"

  • carrick||

    Considering this university also pushes "diversity" initiatives like VA Tech, maybe its "leadership" will reconsider its ban on conceal carry law abiding gun owners... Ironically, according to a few VA Tech forums, there are plenty of students complaining that this wouldnt have happened if the school wouldnt have banned their permits a few months ago...

    Considering that accoriding to the university president that there were recently serious "hate crimes" that were committed in the womens bathrooms; there may be people on the edge ready to snap. I cant say I blame them, I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs.

    The bolded text may be intpreted by reasonable people as an expression of sympathy.

    joe said: He said he's ready to snap,

    John posted the full text of both emails. I challenge you to show the actual words where he said he was ready to snap.

  • ||

    Brian, I enjoyed your post very much. But you may not realize that "Cindy" is obviously a troll and better left "unfed"

  • ||

    "...it is he sounds like he's hinting that he wants to shoot minorties because he thinks they're out to get him."

    Madog, would you be kind enough to connect the dots a bit. I read those emails. He sounds dumb. He sounds annoyed at the PC landscape with respect to "diversity". Where exactly does he hint that he wants to "shoot minorities"?

  • ||

    See, look at what Great Ape does here:

    He clearly would be one of the last people to go popping people considering how much he castigates the admin for making it so easy for those intent on popping people.

    You really shouldn't let your politics color your views of people like that. The fact that he holds a position you like about concealed carry is absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether he is unbalanced or not.

    Exactly what you, and John, and Episiarch are accusing the college of doing, is what you yourself are doing.

    I haven't mentioned the arguments he made about concealed carry at all, and certainly not as an indicator of his mental health. You did. That's not a good idea.

  • thoreau||

    I read the emails. For the most part, he doesn't sound like he needs a mental health evaluation. He does sound like he's obnoxious and immature (his complaints are not reasoned critiques of affirmative action but rather rants about life being unfair), but for the most part he doesn't sound mentally ill. If anything, he sounds like a guy in need of education, which is what universities are for. So I would have been very reluctant to do what the school did.

    However, there is that one line about people being ready to snap:

    there may be people on the edge ready to snap. I cant say I blame them, I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs.



    If it weren't for that line, I'd simply say that the university was being ridiculous, and I'd side with the asshole in need of education. However, when the guy who says he wants to carry a gun goes on to say that he can see why people would snap, and gives the insinuation that he has his own reason for snapping, well, I can't fault the university for erring on the side of caution here. He created that first impression, and everything after that reinforces that he is a tightly wound asshole.

    I don't think he'll snap. I really don't. But he talked about snapping, and I can't blame the people who responded to it.

    If it weren't for the part about snapping, I'd be entirely on his side. He's clearly obnoxious, he clearly has a lot to learn, and he clearly has a victim mentality. If those were his only flaws, I'd say that he's not so different from other students, and he should be allowed to study and mature. But he put in that part, and I can see why people are responding the way they are.

    Hopefully the evaluation will confirm my suspicions about him, and he'll be free and clear to continue his education and learn something. He has a lot to learn.

  • ||

    Basically, joe, nothing short of the guy writing "I am getting ready to snap" can be considered a reason to think he's getting ready to snap. And even then, he might just be talking about making noise with his fingers.

  • ||

    Brian Terrell,

    Easy there big fella!

    So if they are encouraging people to express their opinions and then forcing psych evaluations on anyone who expresses an opinion that lies outside the norm...

    Is there any indication whatsoever that they are doing this? Certainly not in this story. This one kid, who wrote these weirdo emails, has been told to attend counselling.

    I know that some people can't get through the day without a good dose of feeling like their people are victims, but let's not let our prejudices run away with us here.

  • VM||

    Syloson of Samos | October 11, 2007, 11:04am | #
    Brian Terrel,

    Actually, I don't think this has much to do with political correctness.



    well spake! "politically correct" has an incredibly enriched meaning to catch what would have been minor league back when... kinda like how everybody who wasn't a motorhead in highschool all of a sudden is a "preppie"...

    giggle.

  • thoreau||

    I do love that at the bottom of his letters he signs them with "Respectfully."

    Yes, nothing says "OK, maybe this ill-informed rant should be taken seriously" like signing it with "respectfully."

  • ||

    You can't send everyone who you think might go crazy to mental health. You end up with an environment where everytime someone writes and e-mail or gets angry and says something, they worry about whether they will be sent for a psyc eval. If sending people to the mental health clinic, doesn't chill free speech, I don't know what would. Further, even if they guy was going to snap, it is not a like a psyc eval is going to stop him. The shooter at Va TEch was in and out of mental hospitals and a thousand times more cookoo than this guy and that didn't stop him. I would rather take my chances with the shooters and protect free speech.

  • ||

    Joe, Thoreau,

    The kid did snap. He wrote two emails. In response to emails sent him by the university president, filled, I am sure, with the usual diversity and anti-gun blather.

  • ||

    carrick,

    I will indulge your semantic quibbling exactly once.

    may be people on the edge ready to snap. I cant say I blame them, I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs.

    1. Some people are ready to snap.

    2. I can't say I blame them.

    3. An explaination of the grudges that he, personally, feels, that makes him sympathize who those who are ready to snap.

    You really have to have your mind made up already not to see any commentary about his own mental state in this sentence.

  • thoreau||

    John-

    You make a good point about how there's no guarantee that counseling will do anything. However, if the guy gives them reason to think that he might snap, I think they want him on the radar.

    Most messed up students don't go on shooting rampages, but many of them find other ways to cause problems for fellow students and even faculty. Schools occasionally have to get restraining orders against students with psycho fixations on a fellow student or prof whom they blame for their problems. If the guy who talks about snapping shows that he has a fixation on his minority classmates, the school wants to know that.

    Hopefully the evaluation will show that he's just an obnoxious kid with a victim mentality and poor communication skills. In that case, he should continue his education without interference.

  • ||

    Sending people to mental hospitals was the favorite banishment in the USSR, as well. I am glad to see that the president of a Christian university emulates one the 20th century's great powers.

  • carrick||

    Hanson replied to Scheffler on Friday, April 20, offering him a chance to meet with university personnel to discuss his views the following week. Yet on Monday, April 23, before Scheffler was even able to respond to Hanson's invitation, he received a hand-delivered letter from Dean of Students Alan Sickbert notifying him that his e-mails to Stern and Hanson were "deemed to be threatening and thus an alleged violation of the Hamline University Judicial Code."

    The university suspended the student without a face-to-face meeting and before the student had a reasonable opportunity to respond to their request for a face-to-face meeting.

    Hanson responded to FIRE on June 11, 2007, claiming that there were several reasons for Scheffler's suspension, including the e-mails, his failure to meet with administrators when invited, and "critical input from various members of the Hamline community."

    FIRE also noted that the alleged information from "various members of the Hamline community," which supposedly played a role in determining Scheffler's sanctions, had not even been revealed to Scheffler himself, denying him the right to defend himself or present his side of the story.

    I can't see anyway to interpret the actions of the university as being a rational and orderly response to this situation.

  • ||

    Thoreau,

    If this guy is worthy of a mental eval, about half of the people who post on Reason need the same. Short of repeated harrassment or a specific threat, I don't see how you can justify forcing him to go to counseling. That is a serious infringment on his freedom. Forcing him to go to counseling just sends the message that you need to be careful what you say, lest some administrator take exception to it and send you for a psyc eval. That is a massive chill on free speech and a huge price to pay to keep some obnoxious kid on the "radar". Like I said, I will keep free speech and take my chances with the shooters.

  • ||

    Even if he was about to snap and go on campus to kill everyone the only thing that would stop him would be someone with a concealed weapon.

    oh thats right, DERRRR, the killer brings his gun regardless!

  • ||

    wayne,

    Let's hope that's all the "snapping" he is likely to do. Like thoreau and I have said, there is a good chance the kid is perfectly harmless.

    John,

    A psyche evaluation, if it determines the kid is potentially dangerous, could be followed up with mandatory counselling, a suspension to keep him off campus, or any number of steps in between.

    And don't judge all mentally ill people by the Virginia Tech shooter. Most people with mental illnesses do respond to treatment.

  • Jennifer||

    Hopefully the evaluation will show that he's just an obnoxious kid with a victim mentality and poor communication skills.

    How good are these supposed evaluators at getting rid of confirmation bias, though? Once the seed "this guy may be nuts" has been planted in your head, it's damned hard to prevent it from growing into something bigger.

    There was a study done some time ago, published in an article called "On Being Sane In Insane Places." Volunteers with no history of mental problems checked themselves into mental hospitals, and waited to see if the staff would figure out they weren't crazy. None of the staff did (though more than one patient figured it out, interestingly enough). But everything was interpreted as a sign of illness. One example I remembered: lunchtime was at noon, and patients would congregate outside the cafeteria as early as 11:30. Naturally, this was taken as a sign of an unhealthy something-or-other, rather than interpreted as "Well, in a strictly controlled environment like that there's really not much else to look forward to during the day." And the healthy volunteers' note-taking was also interpreted as some sort of psychotic compulsion, rather than a person simply recording things in a diary, or writing for the fun of it, or being a sane person undercover in a hospital to see how incompetent the staff was.

  • ||

    Sending people to mental hospitals was the favorite banishment in the USSR, as well.

    Yes, and Hitler was a vegetarian.

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

  • carrick||

    I will indulge your semantic quibbling exactly once.

    Back at you dude.

    1. Some people are ready to snap.

    2. I can't say I blame them.

    3. An explaination of the grudges that he, personally, feels, that makes him sympathize who those who are ready to snap.


    This can be heard on a daily basis in nearly every public location that allows people to sit and gather and bitch about their lives.

    How can you stand to leave your home every morning?

  • thoreau||

    I will say this much: Canceling the meeting and sending him to the shrink seems like a poor way to manage the situation. If he's unstable, they're just helping increase his level of resentment. I'd have wanted to talk to him ASAP, rather than sending him the Official Document Saying He Might Be Crazy.

    Not the most tactful handling of the alleged crazy guy.

    I can see why they'd be concerned about him (for reasons outlined above), but they went into ass-covering mode (sending a carefully worded letter, probably vetted by a lawyer, to have an Official Record that they Did Something) rather than crisis management mode (getting the guy to talk in a non-confrontational environment so they can size him up and make a decision about whether to continue this).

  • ||

    You really shouldn't let your politics color your views of people like that. The fact that he holds a position you like about concealed carry is absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether he is unbalanced or not.

    joe,

    My views on CC are unrelated to my statement. I am merely pointing out that the admin's perception of a threat seem entirely illogical to me b/c the kid is vociferously critical of admin's policies that he sees as enabling those intent on playing shoot'em up. The student had that view; I did not project my own onto his statements.

    I haven't mentioned the arguments he made about concealed carry at all, and certainly not as an indicator of his mental health. You did. That's not a good idea.

    joe,

    i know you didn't. I was offering it up as an unmentioned counterpoint to your assessment that he may be enough of a threat to warrant psych eval.

  • ||

    Having taken the time to actually read the e-mails, I'd say this guy is just a normally pissed off white guy who happens to be a 2nd amendment supporter. I think that many people outside of coastal cities and college campuses underestimate how deeply the resentment to "diversity" policies runs parts of the middle class white community.

    As it happens, I'm black and I resent diversity policies, so I sympathize. At least I'm lucky, in that nobody gets to call me racist for opposing racist policies.

  • ||

    joe, take out his reference to concealed carries, for a second, now he is just a douchebag, ranting about minorities and makes a glancing mention of being ready to snap. Do you still feel that the snap remark is sufficient to ask for a psych evaluation? Or is it the completely sane and lowkey notes about gun rights AND the snap remark that make require psychiatrist intervention.

  • ||

    The kid is dumb. I hope the counseling can cure that.

  • ||

    Joe,

    Those who are mentally ill and respond to treatment are unlikly to go bizerk anyway. The guy at VA Tech didn't respond to treatment because he was psycotic and there wasn't any treatment that would help him. If he had been the type to respond to treatment, my guess is he never would have shot anyone with or without treatment. The fact is that it is very unlikly that this kid is dangerous. I would rather take my chances than have everyone who writes an email that someone doesn't like be sent to a mental eval.

  • thoreau||

    John and Jennifer-

    Given that the guy has taken this to FIRE rather than going into stalker mode and sending increasingly crazy messages to school administrators, I'd say that he's harmless. If he'd showed up to a meeting and behaved calmly then that would have been a sign that the guy has self-control. That would have been the best way to handle it: Have him show up and see if he displays some self-control, or if he just goes off on rants and whatnot.

    Look, the guy said something that a reasonable person could take as a threat, and showed that he has some big resentments. It was important to check it out. I think sending the Official Letter directing him to a shrink was a bad way to check it out. Having some meetings with him, to see if he has self-control and can respond to constructive suggestions, would have been a better approach.

  • ||

    Jennifer,

    That's a good point, but let's keep in mind, they're not sending him into a locked mental hospital. They're not sending him to a forensic psychologist who works with people he knows to be criminally insane.

    They're sending him a college mental health counsellor, who is presumably familiar with the fact that 18-22 year olds in a college environment don't always behave and express themselves in the most appropriate manner, and that many who are very unhappy or angry are just stressed out and unhappy.

  • thoreau||

    BTW, VA Tech is the wrong paradigm to use for looking at this. The vast majority of crazy students don't fire guns. But there are plenty of students who find other ways to cause problems for other faculty and students, often acting as stalkers. I would have viewed him as a potential stalker and perhaps vandal (his references to hate crimes, swastikas, etc.).

  • ||

    "I can see why they'd be concerned about him (for reasons outlined above), but they went into ass-covering mode (sending a carefully worded letter, probably vetted by a lawyer, to have an Official Record that they Did Something) rather than crisis management mode (getting the guy to talk in a non-confrontational environment so they can size him up and make a decision about whether to continue this)."

    I would imagine ass covering and just ignorant prejudice against anyone who supports gun rights had more to do with this than political correctness or the desire to stifle debate. The administration probably thought "oh my God he is a gun nut, if he goes crazy and shoots someone and we didn't get him into counseling, it will be our ass." So they threw out all common sense and sent him to counseling. The common sense thing to do would be to go and talk to the kid and see if he is really crazy or just pissed off. But common sense doesn't happen much anymore. It is the same overreact to everything CYA mentality that sent the SWAT team after that doofus from MIT who had the electric jacket at Boston airport. "We think she might have a bomb, let's go talk to her and see if she does" turns into "call out the SWAT team and if she makes a wrong move shoot her, because if anything happens and we didn't overreact, it will be our ass". It is the same mentality at work in both cases.

  • thoreau||

    joe-

    Don't get too optimistic about the ability of campus counselors to assess problems. Sometimes their job is to cover somebody else's ass, not to get to the root of a student's problems.

    There are good people on college campuses who do good work for students. There are also people who work to cover the asses of administrators, even if it is to the detriment of students and even faculty.

  • ||

    I would rather take my chances than have everyone who writes an email that someone doesn't like be sent to a mental eval.

    But clearly that's not happening. H&R is bad about taking isolated incidents (drink?) and assuming such things happen all the time.

  • ||

    carrick,

    I leave my home every day, with absolutely no problem. So, obviously, this kid's emails don't read to me like people who gather and bitch about their lives, to me.

    Great Ape,

    I know you were offering up his political views about gun control as evidence that he was unlikely to be mentally unstable. I still maintain that A does not lead to B in your argument.

    Brian Terrell,

    Maybe if you moved to the coast, you'd discover that "ordinary white people" don't spend their days stewing in anti-minority resentment. No, it is not "normal" for white people to be that angry at being surrounded by minorities. It's actually a little bit prejudiced on your part to assume that we do.

  • ||

    Enforced psych / therapy is seldom productive. Even if not everyone responds as negatively as Jennifer might, people don't like being pushed.

    ...they went into ass-covering mode (sending a carefully worded letter, probably vetted by a lawyer, to have an Official Record that they Did Something)... is a great way of describing the situation. They got spooked by a student's rambling note that mentioned weapons, and had nightmares about their campus appearing on CNN "...and people are questioning if the Hamline administrators did enought to prevent this."

    One other potentially troubling aspect of this imbroglio is that some troubled students (at this, or other Universities) may hear about this, and stop communicating for fear of being labelled, or being forced into 'theraputic' environments.

  • carrick||

    If we work hard enough we can blame this on the main stream media. Violence has been steadily declining, but news reporst of violence have been increasing exponentially (they make good TV).

    As a consequence, most of the general population thinks that he or she is just one quirky guy away from a horrible death.

  • ||

    val,

    Actually, I thought the substance of what he was saying about concealed carry laws was the most lucid, sane part of his emails. But, once again, it's not a question of the substantive points he made, but the voice he wrote them in. He comes across as a bit nuts when talking about gun rights, too - and not because of the plausible point he makes about an armed person possibly stopping such a shooting in the future.

  • ||

    And, yeah, the univerisity doesn't seem to have handled this well. Maybe having his RA have a sit-down with him first would have been a good idea. Maybe talk to the people on his floor about whether they find him creepy or violent.

    Then again, perhaps they did. That reference to "various members of the Hamline community" could mean a lot of different things.

  • ||

    John,

    Good point at 11:41, about how to handle things. Good comparison to the Logan incident, too.

  • ||

    joe,

    A psycologist, psychiatrist, mental health counsellor. Heck, psych nurse with a few years under her belt could probably suss out whether this kid is ok or not.

    Didn't the VT shooter see a counselor? The point of course is that these fields may not have the best ability to predict behavior.

  • ||

    joe | October 11, 2007, 11:07am | #

    J sub D,

    Are you a very poor reader, or just a dishonest hack?

    Wow, joe. Based on two, count' em two, emails, you've diagnosed him as obsessive and "ready to snap".

    Let's go to the tape:

    No, I don't find it egregious to check in and see if this kid is just pissed off vs. a threat to the people around him, based on those emails.

    Like I said, he could just be an asshole, or he could be genuinely disturbed.

    Care to point out where I've diagnosed the guy? (J sud D's emphasis here)

    Are the actual points I've made so incredibly intimidating that you have to make up more easily refuted ones to argue against instead?

    I can point you to a number of commenters who've drawn definitive conclusions about this kid's mental state based on those two emails - the ones who keep pronouncing him perfectly sane.



    Yes, "Let's go to the tape:". Your post -

    joe | October 11, 2007, 10:44am | #

    Episiarch,

    Well, for example:

    there may be people on the edge ready to snap. I cant say I blame them, I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs.

    He's ready to snap, he writes in an email about the Virginia Tech shootings, because of those minorities - the ones he keeps obsessively bringing up, for no plausible reason. (Again J sub D's emphasis)


    My response -

    J sub D | October 11, 2007, 10:57am | #

    He's ready to snap, he writes in an email about the Virginia Tech shootings, because of those minorities - the ones he keeps obsessively bringing up, for no plausible reason.

    Wow, joe. Based on two, count' em two, emails, you've diagnosed him as obsessive and "ready to snap".

    Perhaps you and Bill Frist should go into a remote diagnosis business together.



    So in response to you question, "Are you a very poor reader, or just a dishonest hack?"

    Obviosly, neither.

    So, I've got to ask you this. Are you stupid, an asshole, or just being disingenious becaue you find yourself defending an untenable position?

    Yours truly,
    J sub D

  • ||

    S o S,

    Didn't the VT shooter see a counselor?

    Yes, and far more. They all said he was nuts, and potentially dangerous.

    The professionals not knowing the kid was crazy was NOT the problem at Virginia Tech.

  • ||

    joe,

    Your statement does look like, well, if not a diagnosis, then certainly an evaluation of his mental state.

  • ||

    J sub D,

    The question I was answering was, "joe, please explain what the kid says that would require him to have a psychological evaluation. Not why he is a douche, but why he should be examined."

    Examined, Espisiarch. In order to get a diagnosis. Not me making a diagnosis, me saying someone else needs to make a diagnosis.

    Dude, learn how to fucking read, or leave me the hell alone.

  • ||

    S o S,

    I suppose if you ripped it out of context in an effort to make it appear like I was making a confident statement and drawing a conclusion, it could be read that way.

    But as a an answer to the question, "What makes you think this kid needs an EVALUTION?" No, it' can't be read like that, not without a great deal of wishful thinking.

  • ||

  • thoreau||

    In the half hour that I've thought about this case my thinking has changed a bit. I still think that his message could be plausibly taken as a threat, and so it was important for the university to respond. However, I have concluded that sending a letter recommending a psych eval is not the best way to handle it. An in person meeting, to see whether he has self-control and coherent thought, would have been a better, softer approach. And he would feel like Somebody Is Taking Him Seriously, if he got a chance to talk to administrators about his recommendations.

    What amazes me is that while in a half hour I went from the tougher approach to the softer approach, in a few days they went from the softer approach to the clumsier approach. Clearly somebody in charge of ass covering got involved.

    At new faculty orientation, my school had the Official Ass Coverer (no, I won't give her real title) give a talk. She was actually rather tightly wound, to be honest. She said (paraphrase) that anything you do in life is risky, so take no risks. Later, we had a more productive session with the police chief and head of student counseling, where they said more sensible things. Now, maybe they're secretly just ass-coverers as well, but they certainly seemed more productive. I think (hope?) that my school has wisely delegated the paranoia to somebody who will write the necessary memos, while letting the police chief and counselors be more practical.

    So, in conclusion: This student merited a closer examination by the university. The university managed to fumble on it. Ironically, the biggest sign of this student's sanity is that he went to FIRE. Crazy guys go into stalker mode, rather than lining up with advocacy groups.

  • thoreau||

    Breaking news: University Administrators Cover Ass, Fumble

    In other news, the sun rose in the east today, and is expected to set in the west.

    (And no, I'm not anti-academic. I'm a professor. Which means I have even more reason to dislike university administrators.)

  • ||

    S. of. S.,

    The "failures" were in the steps the counseling center took, not in their ability to diagnose him, which is the question at hand.

  • ||

    joe,

    The guy quoted you in full. Furthermore, your statements up to that point don't seem to provide me any context which would dissuade me from thinking that your statement on its face looks like an evaluation. Anyway, to be frank you are making an evaluation of the guy, right? That's why you think it isn't that big of deal for him to be sent to a counselor, correct?

  • ||

    joe,

    So they diagnosed him but failed to take adequate measures? Isn't part of the diagnosis process creating treatment options? Or recommending appropriate treatment options?

  • ||

    joe,

    BTW, by putting "failures" in quotes are you suggesting that no failures actually took place?

  • ||

    Examined, Espisiarch. In order to get a diagnosis. Not me making a diagnosis, me saying someone else needs to make a diagnosis.

    Dude, learn how to fucking read, or leave me the hell alone.


    joe, disingenuos then, thanks.
    You claimed obsessive. You said "He's ready to snap". On the basis rather two innocuous E-mails. I'm not only losing respect for your tolerance, I'm losing respect foy you all together.

  • ||

    Anyway, as I suggested above, a far more useful approach would have been to actually engage and debate this student.

  • ||

    It has recently come to my attention that members of the student body at this once-proud school are apparently unable to organize their thoughts and express them in a logical, coherent manner. This situation is intolerable, and cannot be allowed to remain unaddressed.

    We will be re-evaluating all members of the faculty; those deemed to be underperforming will be offered the option of attending special counseling and refresher courses, or early retirement.

  • ||

    A shooting rampage leaves more than thirty people dead on a campus that prohibits carrying guns.

    The president of a university concludes that banning guns on her campus is "prudent".

    A student objects and points out that it is constitutional to bear arms, and that if the students on the campus where the shootings occurred had been armed, the outcome would probably have been different.

    Who is crazy here?

  • ||

    S o S,

    I was asked why I thought an evaluation was in order, and answered. Noting that someone should be diagnosed is not the same thing as diagnosing him.

    Furthermore, your statements up to that point don't seem to provide me any context which would dissuade me from thinking that your statement on its face looks like an evaluation.

    The fact that I answered the question "What makes you think he needs an evaluation?" doesn't give you any reason to think I was talking about him needing an evaluation? Whatever. And no, I'm not going to indluge your semantic game about the word "evaluation." I was accused of diagnosing him, and I didn't.

    So they diagnosed him but failed to take adequate measures? Isn't part of the diagnosis process creating treatment options? Or recommending appropriate treatment options?

    Actually, recommending treatment options is an additional step, and from what I've seen, they did recommend the appropriate treatment options. The problem seems to have been that they didn't adquately convey to the administration how dangerous it was to let this kid stay on campus - which goes to security policy, not the appropriateness of his treatment from a medical standpoint.

    J sub D,

    Piss off. You've ceased to even pretend to contribute anything meaningful to the thread. Nobody cares to watch you whine about the fact that I called you on your indefensible accusation.

  • ||

    wayne,

    What are you, kidding me?

    Do you actually think that the debate here is over whether the kid's position on concealed carry makes him crazy?

  • ||

    Joe said: "You know, the ones FIRE didn't bother to link to?"

    I quite agree. FIRE is hiding the evidence. They can't be "bothered" to provide a link. FIRE can't handle the truth. Where are the WMDs!!!!

  • ||

    joe,

    Noting that someone should be diagnosed is not the same thing as diagnosing him.

    As I stated, you are evaluating him, right?

    And no, I'm not going to indluge your semantic game about the word "evaluation." I was accused of diagnosing him, and I didn't.

    Actually, it isn't a semantic game. I made a distinction between the two above (as you can see). I didn't conflate them in other words.

    BTW, re: reading skills, I would point out that you apparently failed to realize that FIRE did in fact link to the e-mails in question.

  • ||

    joe,

    Anyway, do you think that the counselor option was the best first move here? I don't.

  • ||

    I don't think the counsellor-letter-suspension option was the best first move.

    On the other hand, I'm not certain it was the first move.

    There's a great deal of wiggle room in that phrase about the "community."

  • VM||

    SoS, joe, Doktor T:

    it seems that you three are basically in agreement - is this correct?

  • ||

    joe,

    Their first response appears to be this one: http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/8471.html

  • ||

    "What are you, kidding me?

    Do you actually think that the debate here is over whether the kid's position on concealed carry makes him crazy?"

    No, I think the debate here is about the abuse of power. A university president compels a student to undergo a psych evaluation to cover her ass.

    Do you think it is rational to ban firearms on campus after the recent (real world) experience at V Tech?

  • ||

    wayne,

    The argument can be made that banning firearms on campus saves more lives by eliminating Friday-night-bars-closed-fistfights from turning into shootings than it costs in the incredibly rare event of a mass murder.

    My personal opinion is that it is unlikely to make much of a difference either way.

  • ||

    joe,

    Regarding the 'community' issue at this point, who should get the benefit of the doubt?

  • wsdave||

    If he had said:

    "may be people on the edge ready to cry out to the heavens. I cant say I blame them..."

    Then would any of this have come about? If talk of someone else being ready to snap is call for a mental evaluation, then why not cry out to the heavens? Is "snap" such a scary word, or is this really about being PC?

    If he had said "cry out to the heavens" and then gone on a shooting rampage, would everyone say that they never saw it coming because there was no "snap"?

  • ||

    VM,

    Dunno.

  • ||

    "My personal opinion is that it is unlikely to make much of a difference either way."

    Fair enough. So, why not follow the law? The US constitution (there is no higher law in the US) specifically allows the right to bear arms.

  • ||

    What's the timeline of this in relation to the recent set of shootings? I can see why university administrators could jump the gun if they get a half-baked rambling letter from one of their students who a) indicates hostility towards minorities b) mutters something about "snapping", and c) boasts of concealed carrying.

    Because universities are considered in loco parentis, if by any chance this kid does fly off the handle and turns the campus into a shooting gallery, the very fact that these letters were sent to the campus administrators means one thing:

    Exit one university, sued into non-existence by parents bitterly complaining that their little darlings weren't protected enough. Heck, the kid doesn't even have to kill anyone--just shooting the place up would be enough.

    If I were a university administrator, what would be the most prudent thing to do? Obviously, from a risk analysis point, simply can the kid...

    (Too bad the second amendment didn't have a following clause, stating "except for dumbsh!t idiots like this one.")

  • ||

    grumpy realist,

    The original e-mail by the student was a couple of days after the shooting from what I can tell.

  • wsdave||

    joe,
    "A psyche evaluation, if it determines the kid is potentially dangerous, could be followed up with mandatory counselling, a suspension to keep him off campus, or any number of steps in between."

    OF COURSE he's "potentially dangerous"!! Why else would he want to carry a gun!? On campus, no less!!

  • ||

    S. of S.,

    Since this is none of my business, I'd say the benefit of the doubt goes to the university.

    The burden of proof here would seem to be on those who claim that people who have never before even heard of this college need to parachute in and save the braying jackass from the consequences of his actions.

  • ||

    BTW, I was under the mistaken impression that this guy is an underclassman; but apparently he is a graduate student. Is that correct?

  • ||

    wayne,

    The US constitution (there is no higher law in the US) specifically allows the right to bear arms. The Constitution also protects free speech. Nonetheless, I can throw you out of my house if you insult my wife. Property rights, wayne. It's not your school.

    wsdave,

    And they're under your bed, too! Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

  • ||

    "The burden of proof here would seem to be on those who claim that people who have never before even heard of this college need to parachute in and save the braying jackass from the consequences of his actions."

    No the burden of proof should be on the college who wants to send everyone who has an opinion they don't like for a mental health evaluation. I will remember this thread Joe sometime when you are on here telling us how Rush Limbaugh calling out some liberal jerk is a "chill to free speech".

  • ||

    This kid needs an English tutor more than he needs a headshrinker.

  • ||

    "This kid needs an English tutor more than he needs a headshrinker."

    True, but that would be educational, so obviously not a priority.

  • ||

    "Property rights, wayne. It's not your school."

    True. It is certainly a "public place" though.

  • ||

    Along with the exchange, folks should probably read FIRE's letters on this issue.

  • ||

    what i would really like to see if the PC emails the university president sent out.

  • wsdave||

    joe,
    "And they're under your bed, too! Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!"

    Um, what's under my bed? And are you OK; the "Aaaaggghhh!!" thing seemed painful.

  • ||

    I thought the readers of Reason online would be brighter. Shame.

  • ||

    John,

    No the burden of proof should be on the college who wants to send everyone who has an opinion they don't like for a mental health evaluation. Aaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!! Panic! They're coming for us! Everyone with an opinion the school doesn't like is being sent to a camp!

    Or, at least, it makes white conservatives with persecution complexes feel good to pretend that they are.

    I will remember this thread Joe sometime when you are on here telling us how Rush Limbaugh calling out some liberal jerk is a "chill to free speech".

    You know, you could type "joe chilling effect free speech" into the search bar, and learn just how much of a strawman you've built there.

  • ||

    OK, John, we'll let you and David Horowitz go around the country, telling every college what their procedures should be when a kid with conservative politics writes threatening emails.

    Because of your love of freedom an all.

  • thoreau||

    Also, I have to say that while going to FIRE shows his rationality (crazy guys go into stalker mode, rather than going to advocacy groups), FIRE was dumb to take up his cause. His first email had a statement that was plausibly threat, offered in the context of an incoherent rant against many of his fellow students.

    I'm not thrilled with how administrators handled it, but he's hardly a poster child for students getting beat up on by mean administrators. FIRE needs to think more carefully about which causes they take up.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    FIRE exists to provide David Horowitz and his buddies with jobs. It does this by getting a small number of easily manipulated people riled up.

    Take a look back through this thread. Take a look at the headline.

    I think it was very rational for FIRE to take on this case.

  • thoreau||

    joe-

    Point taken.

    Would you agree with me, though, that going to FIRE shows that the kid isn't a danger? People who go to advocacy groups and hand their case over to somebody else (albeit somebody who will tell them whatever they want to hear so they can feel vindicated) are very different from people who want to do something violent on their own.

    I don't like FIRE, but I'm reassured that the kid went to them.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Maybe. Or, he could just be in an earlier stage.

    None of us can really draw an informed conclusion.

  • ||

    On a completely different tangent.

    Can Hamline really ban guns on campus? I thought only buildings, other then dorms. And they definitely can't in parking structures and lots...Maybe someone with a better understanding of state law can find it. I looked but there doesn't see to be a way for a private university to "ban guns on campus" other then in non-dorm buildings.

    http://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/bin/getpub.php?pubtype=STAT_CHAP_SEC&year=current&section=624.714

  • thoreau||

    Sure, but I'd feel safer around the student who's letting somebody else take care of it, as opposed to the student who continues to send crazy messages. Nothing is guaranteed, but handing the case over to cooler heads (and yes, David Horowitz is a cooler head compared to some of the stuff in those messages) is a good sign. I'd rather see a good sign than not see it.

  • ||

    Sounds to me like the school is doing the right thing, only they are doing it ineptly. There are a number of things in the emails that have nothing to do with politics that are strongly suggestive of the onset of mental illness.

    A number of people have mentioned his poor grammar and poor composition for a graduate student. One of the things that happens for people with schizophrenia and schizoeffective disorder is that they lose a number of their cognitive skills. They peak age for onset of schizophrenia is in the 20s.

    They are actually paying better attention to the real errors made in Blacksburg than most administrators. This is a person with multiple strong indications of worsening mental illness and an angry agenda. If they fail to take any action, they are opening themselves up to tremendous liability.

    I think that they are doing the right things, but in a lot of the wrong ways. I don't know what tools they have at hand, so my judgment is really worth spit.

  • jake||

    None of us can really draw an informed conclusion.

    That's never stopped you in the past.

  • ||

    Something else that jumped out at me was the kid's statement that every one of his text books was still in the wrapper.

    Every single one of his classes is so awful that he hasn't cracked a book? What does he do with himself?

    Not a big deal all by itself, but one more stick to throw on the pile.

  • ||

    joe,

    FIRE exists to provide David Horowitz and his buddies with jobs.

    This FIRE's Board of Directors; it does not include David Horowitz.

  • wsdave||

    Actually joe, I recently saw a show about the state of higher ed in this country, and several of the students interviewed hadn't even bought the books. Many were getting 3.0 averages.

  • wsdave||

    Perhaps all the kids should be checked out. One more stick on the fire, and all that.

  • ||

    joe,

    That statement could easily be mere hyperbole.

  • ||

    Syloson,

    This FIRE's Board of Directors; it does not include David Horowitz.

    Um, so? Are you under the impression he doesn't work for them?

    wsdave,

    Actually joe, I recently saw a show about the state of higher ed in this country, and several of the students interviewed hadn't even bought the books.

    Sure, but this kid did buy them. Go back and read that section of the email.

    Perhaps all the kids should be checked out. One more stick on the fire, and all that. I'd have to say that being a kid isn't, in fact, a piece of evidence that could suggest mental instability.

  • ||

    joe,

    Um, so? Are you under the impression he doesn't work for them?

    As far as I can tell he doesn't.

    Anyway, if you go to FIRE's website they discuss the issue of the ideology of the group, etc.

  • ||

    Syloson,

    That statement could easily be mere hyperbole.

    Sure it could. And by themselves, every statement he wrote could be perfectly innocent, and not be even remotely indicative of anything wrong.

    But we're getting into Larry Craig territory here. He looked through the crack for over a minute because he couldn't see very well AND he grabbed at the toilet paper in a bathroom where that was known, even by the police, to be code AND he tapped his feet and sidled them to the cop's foot AND he was using a bathroom where men hooked up for sex enough to draw the public's attention AND he initially refused to come out of the stall when the cop ordered him out AND he plead guilty AND there have been rumors about this sort of behavior before AND he up and married a staffer with kids when those rumors surfaced last time AND...

    Any of us can come up with perfectly innocent explainations for every single one of those facts, just as any of us can apply the most generous interpretation to everything Scheffler wrote. But if you've ever taken statistics, you know that you don't have to continue the statement "A 90% chance of a 90% chance of a 90% chance..." very far for the odds to start stacking up against something.

  • Seitz||

    If the school sucks so much and he's not learning anything from all of the atheists and Jooz, why doesn't he just quit and go somewhere else?

  • thoreau||

    I missed the part where he's a grad student.

    If he were a 20 year-old with a serious victim mentality I'd figure he needs some time to toughen up. But he's a grad student.

    Kid, it's time to stop thinking that the "politically correct environment" is out to get you, and time to recognize your real enemy: Your thesis advisor.

    Geez, grad students these days! When I was his age, I was whining about my advisor, not students of other colors. Kids these days think the whole damn university should be feeding their victim mentality. Back in the good old days, we only expected our thesis advisor to persecute us. And when he didn't persecute us, we went and created our own problems for ourselves. We didn't insist that other people feed our victim mentality. We learned to create our own misery. And we liked it!

  • thoreau||

    Disclaimer: Everything about the "real enemy" was intended as a joke about thesis advisors and grad school. I'm only advocating some time-honored grad student whining, nothing else. I only made this statement because my assessment is that, despite some statements in that email, he is sane (as evidence by his decision to go to advocacy groups rather than act as a stalker).

    I am not advocating any action against his thesis advisor, just a good long session of grad student griping.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Your savvy when it comes statistics. Are they additive in the way joe is describing?


    joe,

    I'm sorry, but no. It looks like hyperbole to me.

  • ||

    Hm...I don't know, thoreau. You might be a timebomb.

    What are your feelings on concealed carry laws? That's the only way I can diagnose you for sure.

  • wsdave||

    joe,
    "Actually joe, I recently saw a show about the state of higher ed in this country, and several of the students interviewed hadn't even bought the books.

    Sure, but this kid did buy them. Go back and read that section of the email.

    Perhaps all the kids should be checked out. One more stick on the fire, and all that. I'd have to say that being a kid isn't, in fact, a piece of evidence that could suggest mental instability."

    You missed the entire point. You seem to think that buying textbooks and then being upset that he never needed to open them to do fine in class is a stick on the pile of his instability. I point out that many students don't even bother buying the books. Is not needing a book to do fine in a class a mark of suspicion (a stick on the pile), or is being upset that you bought something you didn't end up needing?

  • thoreau||

    Probabilities are multiplicative, SoS. If the probability of each statement meaning something else is 90%, but you have a bunch of them, then you take 0.9^N, where N is the number of statements.

    Then again, if the probabilities are correlated, you can't use that formula for independent events. Everything becomes far more complicated.

    I think joe's point was not meant to be taken as a literal, quantitative statement.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    I didn't think it was (I didn't think he was doing statistics on the fly in other words). However, he was analogizing to a particular statistical method and I wanted to know if what he was analogizing to was accurate (if it wasn't accurate I'd geuss it becomes a less useful analogy). If it is, so be it.

  • ||

    90% of 90% is 81%.

    90% of 81% is about 73%

    90% of 73% is 66%.

    90% of 66% is 59%

    90% of 59%...

    And no, it wasn't meant to be a literal, quanitative statement.

  • ||

    joe,

    I never claimed that it was.

    ________________________________

    Anyway, FIRE from what I have observed defends folks (students and professors) across the ideological spectrum.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Then again, if the probabilities are correlated, you can't use that formula for independent events. Everything becomes far more complicated.

    Can you go into this bit further?

  • thoreau||

    You have to use Bayesian methods, SoS. The conditional probability of A being false given that B is false may not be the same as the probability of A being false in general.

    It gets complicated.

    And you can google for more info. I'm off to class.

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