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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 — 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 petition calling on Reed College to allow him back into the discussion section he’s been booted from. He argues his case on 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.

216 replies on “Reed College vs. The Dude Who Wouldn't Shut Up About Rape”

I could easily be wrong, but I’ve always known “Crackpot” to specifically mean “Conspiracy theorist” rather than “Mentally ill person.” ^^;

Yeah, I always read crackpot as referring to a silly argument or theory and not having to do with mental health. I’m over Branston continuing to harp on this subject after zie has been asked to drop it though. I know that mch.

One online dictionary says: a person who is crazy or very strange; ne given to eccentric or lunatic notions.

I think (but I’m not sure) that the origin of the word lies in the idea that one has cracked one’s pot (head) and presumably damaged his brain.

But the meanings of words do change — when I was young, “douchebag” was clearly a sexist slur, somewhat equivalent to what “mangina” is today, implying that the male being insulted would be able to put the object to its intended use. Nowadays it seems like douchebag has become a general-purpose insult without the earlier connotations.

I myself would not use “crackpot”.

I am really late to this thread but I think Kirbywarp should stay. Kirbywarp has been a good defender of the community while being considerate of new posters. Just my thoughts.

“crackpot is ok to say but mentally unwell is not?”

Way I see it, “crackpot” just means a person has some unsound ideas or beliefs, and “mentally unwell” is how people try to pathologize them for it by making a claim that they have unsound ideas or beliefs due to a mental illness. Just like claiming that a person who does violent things “must have a mental illness,” or claiming that someone who is meaner’n catshit “has mental health issues,” claiming that someone’s shitty ideas or foolish beliefs is due to “a mental illness of some kind” is really insulting to all those people with mental illnesses who manage to NOT internalize toxic ideas or behave violently or believe in demonic possession.

As soon as I saw a mention of Truth Revolt, I rolled my eyes hard. Ben Shapiro is the worst kind of disingenuous Brietbart-style RWNJ. Everything – and I do mean everything – wrong with the world is because of liberals, in his mind. He’s a hardcore pusher of the Cultural Marxism myth, and has written a few books on it. He’s a weasel, and deeply smug in his own stupidity.

As for True, he sounds like a campus shooting waiting to happen. Where is his family in the midst of this, I wonder?

Hmm. So I’ve read the responses to my use of the word “crackpot”. I was also under the impression that it refers to very strange ideas and opinions, and not to mental illness. The wiktionary entry has it as “eccentric, crazy or foolish”, in which case obviously I would apply it to foolish, possibly to eccentric, and definitely not to crazy (and I also wouldn’t say “crazy”).

However, if there’s consensus that we shouldn’t use it then I won’t use it anymore. If at least one person (not troll-person) claims it’s hurtful to them, I will also not use it anymore.

Related: Is RWNJ ok to say? :p Considering nj = nutjob.

Like GrumpyOldMangina said, this is sometimes difficult. All we can do is our best, I suppose.

I work with a university-level school, and even if I had no convictions one way or the other on feminism, rape culture, etc., I would immediately be inclined to trust the school on this one. Because having a student who is a late teen or early twenty-something white dude, who monopolizes class discussions, harangues and/or argues with students in the hallway, and regards any disciplinary action (or even just firm disagreement) as the most grievous sort of oppression, is so. freaking. common. It’s certainly not all of our white male students—in fact, it’s not even most of them. But there’s almost always 1-3 in every class.

The guys I have in mind right now were obsessed with a different issue than the one above. But they shared the problem of failing to grasp that the entire educational system does not revolve around them and their passionate opinions.

It is really, really tough to convince them, “Look, you’re allowed to have your opinion. You’re allowed to write about and discuss that opinion. But a) Some contexts demand that you listen quietly, b) No one is obliged to agree with your opinion or treat it as reasonable, and c) If someone doesn’t want to debate you, then for heaven’s sake leave them alone.”

@Ghost Robot:

Ben Shapiro is the worst kind of disingenuous Brietbart-style RWNJ.

He’s also a multiple plagiarist. I know, that’s kind of “… and jaywalking!” but he’s lost at least two jobs because he can’t keep his hands off of Ctrl+C.


Wow, didn’t know that. He was supposedly a child prodigy, too. Pfft.


I encountered a guy like that in a film class a couple of years back. He made the class utterly miserable for everyone, and treated the subject, tutor, and his classmates with aggressive contempt. He constantly read sexual iconography and/or ideas into the films we studied, and became hostile whenever anyone attempted to debate him. After a discussion on the power dynamics of an Italian film from the seventies degenerated into a – literal – shouting match, he disappeared from the class, only to then repeatedly harass the tutor via email when he was failed for only handing in half the work. Totally soured what should have been a fun subject for everyone.

Damn it, David! I was really clinging to the faint hope that Ann Coulter was just pretending to be a kook to sell books. Next you’ll be telling me Santa Claus isn’t real…

I have felt, on occasion, that people have snapped at a newbie a little too quickly and harshly, but the person who in my mind was the principal offender disappeared with the Thread of Doom.

Not to single out GoM in particular, but while we’re on the subject of community standards and not saying shit that upsets people, can people please stop taking these little passive-aggressive shots every time the ToD comes up? That thread the the ensuing split were painful for a lot of people and folks on both sides were left feeling betrayed by people they’d thought of as friends. And TBH I haven’t been around much because I’d rather just avoid the place (and thus be a really shitty mod) than stumble on another round of people singing “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead!” about people they used to like (and maybe still do like, but don’t feel they can say so).

@weirwoodtreehugger I’m genuinely not trying to ‘harp on’. I didn’t see what I said as offensive, but I apologised to anyone who did and agreed not to say it again. I just didn’t understand why it was ok to say a term I believe to be far more offensive (to me, crackpot is a derogatory term). But I’d not be upset with whoever said it anyway, I think the intention and not the precise words are what matters (bar extreme examples).

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