Saturday, December 15, 2007

Somebody please explain this to me

I was shocked to find out this morning that a member of the Anscombe Society had been attacked in Princeton Township, possibly in connection with threatening emails that he received a day earlier.

My prayers and condolences go out to the victim, his family, and his colleagues who, no doubt, are in a similar state of shock and fear. I am also deeply saddened for our campus, for what I found to be just as shocking as this heinous crime has been the University's (and our) response to it.

Somebody please explain this to me: A swastika or a homophobic remark appears somewhere on our campus, and immediately there is a university-wide backlash: first, the investigations by Public Safety, then the official statements from the administration, and then the activism and outcry of student groups.

But when a member of a morally conservative student group receives a threatening email, or is attacked, there is little beyond a Breaking News update on the Prince's website. As far as I know (and forgive me, for I don't know all the details), the involvement of Public Safety and the administration in this whole matter has been either late or nonexistent.

Perhaps more unsettlingly, the reaction of the student body has been noticeably silent. Maybe it is because the incident occurred just outside our Bubble, or maybe it is because it is nearing the end of school, or maybe it is because the Prince isn't printing on Mondays or Tuesdays - but the last time I checked, a crime is still a crime, and to paraphrase MLK, an assault on one Princetonian is an assault on all. I must admit, I, too, have been surprisingly ignorant of the situation until of late.

This is not a call to revenge or anger. Nor am I trying to make the case that religious and moral conservatives are the true persecuted minority on campus. I only ask for solidarity with the victim and his peers, and that all hate crimes on this campus be treated with the fair application of justice and given at least a respectful level of attention. We may not agree with each other - liberal or conservative, Christian or non-Christian, pro-life or pro-choice - but one thing that we can all agree upon is the civility of our viewpoints, and the dignity of the individual.

A show of solidarity for the members of the Anscombe Society will take place today (Saturday, December 15) at 4pm in Murray Dodge and is open to all.

Blogger's Note: The 'Show of Solidarity' ultimately did not take place, but was appropriately postponed/canceled at the last minute. My sincere apologies to all those involved.

35 comments:

Matt Hoberg said...

Stephen,
Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful post. I think you're right that the administration's "response" has been disgracefully inadequate. A student has been brutally assaulted, and Public Safety hasn't even sent out an email- this is completely unacceptable. We should not have to hear about these things from the Prince's website.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. We get email alerts about strange smells, but not this?

Anonymous said...

Public safety does not have an ideological slant. They may have a sound procedural reason for not reporting this; at worse, it's a mere matter of incompetence.

The source of the bias lies with the administration. At Columbia, a mere symbolic gesture was enough to warrant demonstrations and administration response, and thorough investigation (even using DNA testing on the nooses in question). Our administration has been entirely silent; they haven't even posted a news item on the Princeton website. Here, doubtless part of the reason is that the victim is an ideological opponent of academic liberalism.

Anonymous said...

I should add that a large part of the discrepancy is because the Columbia incident targets a favorite "protected group," of the left, and therefore provoked an extreme response. I'm not implying that our bigwigs are stopping their ears and going "la la la"; it's just that they don't care as much about Mr. Nava as they would, had he been, say, gay.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, Columbia University initially refused to hand over security camera footage of the person who put the noose on the professor's door, and the noise surrounding the incident has conspicuously died down. Makes you wonder.

All that having been said, I agree with the previous commenters. A crime is a crime, and we shouldn't be treating social conservatives any worse than any of the academic left's favorite 'victim' groups. This should be thoroughly investigated.

freshman said...

Did the rally actually happen? Until I read this post (too late) I heard it was probably not -- wish this had been clearer.

I don't feel like I'm in a position to make anything happen, but I really want a campus-wide response to this. And yes -- why in the world did Public Safety not even send out an email? Perhaps, because others have been threatened, the toned-down response is some kind of safety measure. Yet what about strength in numbers? This would be the perfect moment for all the various special-interest groups here to come together, despite their differing opinions. This is not an issue of politics. A hate crime is a hate crime and does not belong here.

I would not consider myself a true liberal if I did not speak out against this kind of violence, no matter whom it is directed toward.

Anonymous said...

Public safety's lack of visible response is unacceptable- reporting an assault does not have to have an idealogical slant. If we get campus or college wide emails about strange smells and suspicious characters seen, we most definitely have a need to know about an assault taking place right outside our campus gates.

In regards to Mr. Hsia's complaint about the lack of student action, I think it is simply that most students still do not know about this incident. Most students are not in the habit of checking the Prince's website multiple times a day- just their inbox, in which a message about this has yet to be delivered.

Bryan said...

I think the reason there was no initial public backlash is it all just seemed too coincidental. There have been so many stories of people in particular groups at universities (although this is the first one I've heard of a conservative political group) fabricating threats against themselves and other events against themselves in order to garner public sympathy and gain the perception of them being a minority in need of special attention and recognition.

Granted, I have no idea if that is the case here. The threats and the violence could be totally legitimate, but they at least need to be treated with a dose of healthy skepticism. It just seems a little too convenient that this all happened right after the standoff in the Prince between Anscombe and the guy who wrote the anti-Anscombe column. Also, if the first death threat got caught in the spam filter, how would the sender have known that and sent another one unless the sender also had access to the receiver's account?

I think all threats and violence need should be taken seriously so as to make sure nobody gets hurt. But this story is a little hard to beleive.

Anonymous said...

So Bryan,
You think you successfully used some simplistic literary device to hijack this thread? Isn't that the hallmark of the activist-leftist? In this case, attack the attackee - question their motives and credibility by trying to drag in a hodge-podge of undocumented mish mash about how "other groups" have done horrible things "to themselves" "for sympathy."

There's a police report and a medical report. I suggest that the perp was Bryan himself.


I think Bryan needs his own special attention. Protective custody.

Broadsword said...

Bryan sez "...so as to make sure nobody gets hurt." Think about those two words, "make sure". What must be done to guarantee such certainty? Had Mr. Nava carried a weapon and been able to display it, I believe that would have been the end of it. A taser to the thigh of one of the attackers would have "made sure". 10% capsicum spray to the eyes? Knee to the groin? But before using any of these remedies to "make sure nobody gets hurt", a particular state of mind is needed-vigilant awareness. (At this interval in my reasoning I expect the secular nihilists to decide I am "blaming the victim" for the attack. You may chose to believe that if you wish; you believe all sorts of other sillineses.) But as the attackers are responsible for their actions, Mr. Nava, and we all, are responsible as well. He responded with at level of his training. Train for defenseless and you will respond with that training. Be vigilant! There are people in the world without consciences! The guys in black justified this wrong telling themselves it's OK, because this guy has the wrong ideas. Yes, it would be nice if the administration arrived on the scene bristling with condemnation. Unless they can arrive two seconds into the attack, you, and we, are on our own. One last scenario. Consider...what if there had been four thugs in black, and two held Mr. Nava while two raped his accompanying girlfriend? Does anyone ever want to be in such a position of helplessness? Firmly grasping the hilts of denial wields only the sword of wishful thinking>

Bryan said...

I'm not saying it's definitely a hoax, but the possibility is worth considering in pretty much any situation...police and detectives are trained to treat every statement with skepticism, and if the story doesn't quite add up or seems uncannily coincidental, to find out why... and I'm not the only one whose mind it crossed that it might be a hoax (i.e. see other comments and the blog post linked to at the end of the page). I really don't appreciate your assertions that I "hijacked this thread" when it's a valid point that deserves discussion.

I have no ulterior motives here and after thinking about it for a while, think it's probably not a hoax. While I would like to beleive that the members of the Anscombe Society are generally upright, honest individuals, the biggest evidence against the hoax theory is that it would take an unbelievably extreme hoax to give a member of one's own group a concussion.

Here's another theory: maybe it's not a hoax but the perpetrators want it to look like a hoax to try to discredit the Anscombe Society. Nah, that seems really far-fetched.

That said, assuming it's not a hoax, then it's definitely a scary situation. Though many in Princeton were disturbed by Anscombe's politics, who is messed up enough to resort to mafia-esque threats, stalking, and extreme physical violence? That's so unlike any Princeton students I'm familiar with that I am just very aghast and worried. Who are these people? And why hasn't the university released more specific information about the crime?

Anonymous said...

Stephen,

It's clear that, assuming everything we've heard so far is true, this is a politically-charged situation of left-wing people threatening and attacking a right-wing person. However, your attempts in your blog post to portray the university's response (or lack thereof) to the incident as somehow politically charged seems, at best, premature, and at worst, disingenuous. Yes, the university has been eerily silent so far about the incident, but I see no evidence that this has anything to do with some liberal conspiracy because the victim was a member of the right-wing. It's the weekend, which would slow down their response, and also, the university is never really all that forthcoming with information about sensitive investigations that are ongoing. They're taking it seriously; give them time and they'll tell us everything they know. Despite the presence of many liberals within the faculty and administration, Princeton is well-known as being tolerant of even the farthest right conservatism. Things that would cause bitter outrage at places like Brown and Yale (i.e. Profs. George and Frist, the Tory, Anscombe, etc.) are respectfully accepted here. Please don't be so quick to try to further politicize a situation without any real evidence pointing towards that. It's divisive.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for Francisco and everyone deserves a right to free speech without fear of assault. Clearly the university and students should take a strong stance in his support. But maybe the reason theres no public outcry is because he's in a group representing bigotry. anyone? bigot?

Anonymous said...

And thus threats and assaults are legitimated.

Anonymous said...

One would think that the campus community would take an assault on someone disliked/disagreed with just as seriously as someone loved and revered. A controversial/hateful stance does not justify that person getting hurt, and I think we all know that. I don't think anyone on this campus would dismiss this by saying "he got what he deserved," because he didn't deserve this, and we all know that. But that seems to be the insinuation with a few of the previous posts. Maybe it is a subconscious prejudice?

Anonymous said...

It's nothing short of pathetic to libel people who hold conservative values as bigoted. If their positions make you uncomfortable, fine. You probably make them antsy, too. Welcome to America, where not everyone who disagrees with you is evil, except of course if you're a radical leftist. The only bigots in this case are the attackers who savaged Nava and the people who justify it even a little bit.

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster:

Nothing anyone has said has tried "justify" an act of violence against Nava whatsoever.

People were speculating about the various reason's behind the university's perceived apathy towards the event, but nobody has justified it whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

We can all agree that violence is never the answer. It halts discourse and only serves to further polarize groups. This is the time where all student groups must come together and condemn violence, regardless of ideological differences.

Though I cannot say what the administration's response to a gay student getting attacked would be , I can say that the incident with the homophobic remarks at Whitman has been misrepresented. There was little to no response from Public Safety or the administration in response to homophobic obscenities written on people's blackboards. And may I respectfully point out that not everyone who receives homophobic messages is a homosexual (as McGinley assumes). More often, it is the perception of homosexuality rather than a reality, which provokes homophobia.

McGinley then describes the LGBT center's reaction with a mass email and the Ally Triangle project. The LGBT center was notified through students of this incident, not the administration. And they had no part with the Ally Triangle campaign. The campaign was organized by students, paid for, and distributed by students. Note that the campaign occurred two weeks ago, a full 5 weeks after the incident.

I cannot comment on any University administration ideological slant; however, I can say that this incident was not an example of any instant, miraculous University response.

Regardless, now is not the time to throw accusations at one another, it is a time to stand together.

Broadsword said...

Anon #3 said, "We can all agree that violence is never the answer". That depends; what was the question? A passer's by quick poke into the eye of one of the black clad attackers would have answered his violence most effectively. Are you unable to distinguish between violence used in self defense and violence used for aggression? If violence is to be condemned regardless, you tacitly endorse tyranny. Are you sure you want to go there?

Anonymous said...

Broadsword, that's a strange and irrelevant point to be making. S/he probably doesn't condemn all violence unequivocally. The comments box on a blog, however, is not the proper forum in which to write extended treatises with lots of nuances. You gotta simplify for the blogs.

Anonymous said...

I posted this on another blog but I think it's important enough to get reposted here:

The way McGinley writes in the Prince certainly does give the impression of a double standard by the administration. However, based on accounts I've heard from other students, it does seem like much of the response of the administration that McGinley refers to was actually arranged by the LGBT center, an organization that really has little to do with the administration. It would be the equivalent of the Anscombe Society, the Tory, or the campus Republicans encouraging people to put up signs in their windows.

Why didn't the university respond to Nava's case with counselors and RAs as they supposed did to the homophobic graffiti? Well, did Nava truly make his plight known? Did he try to get the attention required for such help?

Assuming he did, then this does expose a double-standard of the administration. If this is indeed the case, I'm left wondering whether it's intentional or inadvertent and what the implications are of either. My guess is that the university is used to LGBT students being the subject of theats and other forms of intimidation, and as such, is aware of their plight and sensitive to their issues. The conservative groups on campus, in contrast - and this probably applies more to the Tory than to Anscombe but they tend to get lumped together in people's minds - generally have the reputation of being bullies: strong, well-assembled, and making their points heard at the expense of those whose rights they seek to curtail (i.e. gay marriage, etc). When the perennial bully suddenly becomes the victim, there is confusion and the university doesn't know how to react.

(Disclaimer: I definitely think their opinions deserve to be heard and debated, despite my characterization of their techniques and general disagreement with their opinions. I have learned more from debating people with differing opinions than from talking to people who agree with me!)

That said, this doesn't excuse the university's actions. Any threat of violence should obviously be taken equally seriously if there's reason to believe there's an actual threat. I'm not sure what they should have done (had a public safety escort?), but the university definitely needs to be more aware of these things. Now that it's clear that conservative student groups can also be the subject of threats (and unfortunately, attacks), the university needs to get their act together and do what they can do protect anyone who may be in harm's way.

Felix said...

Steve,
I have to agree that it's probably a bit premature to accuse the administration as well as public safety of a poor response, especially because of "academic liberalism" as others have done in the comments. I am confident in Princeton township police's ability to conduct a full investigation. There are a few interesting points that I'm sure the police will investigate - if this is a targeted attack, someone clearly had to know that Francisco would pass that way regularly to mentor a child. If these are some randos, how easy is it to find out a Princeton student's plans and schedule? Yet if these are Princeton students, the campus is so small that I would certainly recognize it if someone was walking around who had assaulted me so I doubt any Princeton student would be idiotic enough to do that. I wouldn't think it would be that easy to track someone without arousing suspicion and that Francisco would be able to pinpoint who knew where he was going. just my thoughts on playing amateur detective and I would be interested in seeing what others think.

I am rather disappointed at the quickness of the politicization of this topic. Unfortunately, when people take on controversial views, others are often slow to defend them (see the even less outcry and rather incompetent police investigation after pornography Larry Flynt was shot and paralyzed) - but I don't see accusations of police/government politicization flying around there. I am sure there is far more sympathy for Francisco at Princeton, even from people who disagree with his views.

Anonymous said...

Just to point something out, everyone in Butler received an email Saturday evening from the Dean and Master of the College about the incident, because Francisco is an alternate RCA. But it does seem strange we were the only ones who got an official email. What I find disturbing is that the people who did this felt strongly enough to hurt someone. And yet they were either unable or unwilling to communicate what it was specifically they thought Francisco stood for that they found so threatening that they resorted to violence rather than dialogue.

Martha Vega said...

Yeah, Butler College received a (vague) email from the College office, but there has been nothing sent out to the student body at large. I just talked to someone who still had no idea what was going on.

Hopefully there will be something in our inboxes Monday morning...

Anonymous said...

First off, I'd like to say that I am a proud liberal. Got it? Great.

Having said that, I am in complete agreement with this post. I probably agree with very few (if any) of this student's viewpoints, but one that I think he and I can agree on is that we are all Americans, and another is that there are certain rights a man is guaranteed by the fact that he's alive. One of those rights is not to be attacked for speaking out, and it's clear who violated those in this case.

To the idiots and thugs who perpetrated this incident - this is not how ideologies survive. Violence is the first resort to those intellectually unable to hold their ground, and all you've done is prove that you aren't fit for discourse of any kind. Get out of my movement. We don't need or want people like you, and you deserve nothing save a quick boot to the backside.

Conservatives are not the only people Nava will have backing him on this issue. From a proud liberal, here it is - keep speaking out, Mr. Nava. No one has the right to shut you up.

Bryan said...

More details:

http://www.nysun.com/article/68139

Anonymous said...

My sympathies to Mr. Nava, with whose views I disagree, but whose rights I strongly support. His civil rights, guaranteed by the fourteenth amendment, have been violated. That makes this, arguably, a federal case. If the university is not capable of supporting an intensive investigation of the matter, he may want to pick up the telephone and inform the FBI. Perhaps someone will help him.

Broadsword said...

Anon #11, or are you anon #7? Anon#3 said "...never". Where is the nuance in an absolute? Thanks for letting me know the purpose of the comments box on a blog. "See Jane blog. Blog Jane! Blog."

Anonymous said...

http://www.firstthings.com/

We can stop criticizing the administration. Anscombe blocked the publicity and it appears that everyone is handling this in the best way possible

Anonymous said...

so much for the conservative's moral compass.

REN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
REN said...

"so much for the conservative's moral compass."

And so much for "nuance" by another anonymous poster (as broadsword put it). Well, unless the anonymous poster happens to be conservative, but wouldn't that be a hoot? This incident doesn't really speak to a conservative's "moral compass" in any way, unless you have evidence of a pattern of similar behavior among "conservative" students. I'll wait for the answer on that one.

bahblahbah said...

Someone going by the screen name "College Conservative1" signed up to freerepublic and made a thread to discuss the princeton story about 3:30pm-ish on saturday.
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1940007/posts

This blog(The Prox) was the only I can find discussing the incident before the FR post.

I didn't word is strongly, but I knew it was a hoax as soon as I read the stories.
"""""
Horrible, though I hope this doesn't turn into another fake hate crime type incident. Something doesn't seem right just reading those two articles. I have known about that organization for a while and that Robert George had received a lot of flak for his views in Princeton.
"""""
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1940007/posts#6

Anonymous said...

So, the guy made it all up.

Will the outrage purveyors who commented earlier come back and eat crow? Or will they just move onto raging about the next liberal insult/leftist double standard/anti-conservative bias case that comes along? Somewhere out there David Horowitz is crafting a press release at this very moment; so why apologize and retract the daft accusations in the above comments, when there are fresh sources of outrage for conservatives? So it goes...

Broadsword said...

Anon (#...?) said, "so much for the conservative's moral compass". Goodness!! Is it your position that the sins of one mean the damnation of all? I've gotten lost frequently; I never thought to curse at and then abandon my compass at my failings. "All have fallen short"...you know.