Academic Administrative Fecklessness

by on 2012-12-19 in Duck- 22 Comments

I wasn’t going to post anything about the cyber-intimidation campaign being directed at Erik Loomis, as that seemed like a job for Big Important Liberal Blogs and not for the Duck of Minerva. But now the issue has strayed directly into our territory.

In brief, Erik Loomis is a history professor at the University of Rhode Island and a long-time blogger. His highest-profile gig is at Lawyers, Guns & Money. In the immediate aftermath of the Newtown massacre, Erik tweeted that he “wanted to see Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.” The usual suspects in the conservative blogsphere soon translated this into the idea that Erik had called for LaPierre’s assassination.

The rest played out as you might expect. The stupid spread throughout the right-wing echo chamber, leading to depressing bullshit and, soon enough, calls to the Rhode Island police etc. etc. Erik was forced to delete his Twitter account, leading to the same kinds of losers who whine about “suppression of speech” at the slightest opportunity to crow victorious.

Now, we can debate Erik’s language and the general use of violence-oriented metaphors by political partisans, but there’s no one who isn’t either an idiot or arguing in bad faith could interpret “head on a stick” as a call for literal murder. As an Erik notes (borrowing from an LGM commentator):

Here is Glenn Reynolds, so outraged by my intemperate language, asking “can we see some heads roll” over the Benghazi attacks. Does Reynolds literally want to see the head of Susan Rice decapitated from her body? Of course not. It’s a metaphor. I wouldn’t have even looked twice at that line because I know exactly what he means, even if I disagree with him. Not to mention that Reynolds has quite literally called for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

So why talk about this? Well, here’s the official statement from the President of the University of Rhode Island:


The President’s office might have condemned Erik’s language. It might have simply reaffirmed the University’s opposition to “acts or threats of violence.” But no, Dr. David M. Dooley — PhD in the Practice and Theory of Pusillanimity, no doubt — pretty much implies that Erik’s remarks are, in fact, “threats of violence.”

And it gets worse. Note that David Dooley clearly believes the honorific “Dr.” important enough to use on his official correspondence. But Dr. Erik Loomis, who holds a professorial appointment at David Dooley‘s university? Not so much as a “Mr.”

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  • Larry Lennhoff

    Would it be helpful for us to send emails to the URI President in support of Eric, or is letting things die away a more useful tactic at the moment?

  • Dan Nexon

    It looks like my earlier reply failed. A big-time academic blog is going to go up with a statement in the near future, so probably best to wait.

  • Bob Almighty

    Interesting how you edited down his record to one banal tweet. Well done.

  • Dan Nexon

    I linked to a post that chronicled his offenses. Are you a merely an idiot or instead arguing in bad faith?

  • repsac3

    At how many tweets expressing content you don’t approve of does one lose their right to free speech, anyway? And should partisans really be contacting the employers of people they disagree with–or the police–over online commentary unrelated to their jobs?

  • Bob Almighty

    At what point does the Left start to get in anyone’s face?

  • Badger Pundit

    Hear hear! And we need to remind people that Loomis has positive qualities. For example, in his Ph.D dissertation he displayed great sympathy for the plight of homosexual lumberjacks and castrated Marxist assassins in the early 1900s. Seriously:

  • Dan Nexon

    The sad thing is that you think that post reflects badly on Loomis instead of making its author look like a third-rate Butthead: “Heh. He said ‘castration’ and ‘anal.'”

    The problem isn’t that you all look like ignoramiouses, but that you seem to think this is a feature rather than a bug.

  • Everett Volk

    Ummm…. I take it you’re unfamiliar with the notion of a “threat”. I’m sorry to hear that. You might try reading up on it a little bit.

    Perhaps you could answer a couple of questions for us to clarify what you believe the word “threat” to mean. When NWA sang “Fuck tha police”, surely you didn’t interpret that to mean that they were literally threatening to bend every policeman over a handy couch or bed and engage in intercourse, did you? And when you were in kindergarten and your classmate called you a “poopyhead”, you didn’t take that to mean not only that your head was made of poop, but also that they were going to wipe your head with toilet paper, did you?

    Thanks very much for completing this questionnaire.

  • drdick52

    I think the answer to your inquiry is clearly, “Yes.”

  • Everett Volk

    Incidentally, this was meant for Bob, not Dan. While I can understand the word “threat”, I have a hard time pushing buttons apparently.

  • Everett Volk

    Bob is vewwy vewwy angwy, so that means that every one widdle ol’ Bob doesn’t wike is going to have to start doing what Bob sez or he’s going to get even ANGWIER!

    If you remember this simple rule, you should be able to plumb the general outlines of what Bob considers appropriate speech. True, it’s a moving target (if Bob doesn’t take his vittymin supplement, he can be VEWWY CWANKY!!!), but just put yourself in his shoes for a minute and you’ll know when to keep your liberal trap shut.

  • Eli Rabett

    About the time that we have to bury 20 kids because some assholes like you can’t figure out how to jerk off.

  • Bob Almighty

    Sorry Evvy Dolt, I seem to have gotten under your skin. I didn’t mean to make you fuss. You just need some time on the boob.

  • Bob Almighty

    No Eli Rabbit, it’s much sooner than that.

  • Bob Almighty

    Probably not.

  • Stan Scott

    Well said, sir! Target, cease fire.

  • first last

    Yes, actually we are kind of upset that the NRA helped kill 20 kids last week and we’d like to see Wayne LaPierre’s head on a spike.

  • good_in_theory


  • first last

    I took a screenshot of this, it’s probably the most epic comeback I’ve seen all year.

  • Sean II

    Wait. You can get a Ph.D. in the Practice and Theory of Pusillanimity now? Shit! If I had known that, I never would have spent a year and three months earning my Master of Public Poltroonery…which – oh, yeah – is totally worthless now!!!

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