Pharyngula

Should this student have been suspended?

This is a troubling story if you just read the right-wing perspective: a student at Hamline University (an excellent liberal arts college in the Twin Cities) was suspended for writing a letter to the university administration. That shouldn’t happen, I’d say — we want to encourage free speech. Even if the student seems to be a bit of a far-right nut, and if the letter was supporting that lunatic idea that school massacres wouldn’t happen if everyone were carrying a concealed weapon, people should have the privilege of expressing their opinions.

So I read John Leo’s opinion piece on the issue and was actually agreeing with him, which was a curious sensation in itself. He didn’t actually quote any pieces of the letter in question, though, which was a little odd. So I looked up the letter from Troy Scheffler on the web. Uh-oh.

I 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,

Troy Scheffler

Uh, that is a mildly disturbing letter. I’d be worried about the student who wrote that myself — it’s disjointed and rambling, and while it certainly doesn’t have any direct threats in it, I’d want this kid to get psychiatric help right away.

The request for the right to carry concealed weapons is something I consider wrong, but I can see how someone would argue for it, and should have the right to argue for it. But then, “on a lighter note,” he spends the rest of the letter complaining about the presence of atheists, Jews, and non-Christians at the university, and expressing his resentment at the minorities allowed into the school. And there’s also the narcissism of thinking that he’s paying for other students to attend, and he’s so smart that he doesn’t even need to open a book.

So no direct threats, but instead a letter that says, “Please let me carry a gun, and by the way, anyone who is not a white Christian is inferior and shouldn’t be here.”

Now I think Hamline did exactly the right thing: they suspended Scheffler and told him to get a psychiatric evaluation and clean bill of health before they’d let him stalk the corridors again.

There was another alternative, though, one that Scheffler might have found worthwhile. They could have given a couple of dozen other students guns and told them to keep an eye on him, and shoot him if he made any suspicious moves. That wouldn’t have ended well (why, what if the armed students were minorities?), so Hamline made a wise decision.

(via Canadian Cynic)

Comments

  1. #1 Brownian, OM
    October 30, 2007

    Raindogzilla hit the firing pin on the head.

    I’m not, unfortunately, surprised to read that people are still making the claim that concealed weapons will somehow ‘protect’ us all from gun-wielding maniacs.

    How many guns are there in the US? Per capita? How many school, shopping mall, petting zoo massacres are there? By the numbers, surely there was at least one or more armed private citizens in attendance at more than a few of these, yet how many were stopped by the lone NRA hero standing up to protect ‘liberty’?

    The little Nazi can wax lunatic all he wants, but I don’t think the evidence is there to support him.

  2. #2 Brownian, OM
    October 30, 2007

    Gun Control doesn’t work, it just lets criminals know they won’t be shot back at.

    Zero, you’re making a number of errors here.

    The point in gun control is not to dissuade criminals from using weapons, it’s to make weapons more expensive and harder to come by.

    Like many, you’re making the assumption that criminals are all tactical masterminds. They’re not, for the most part. Most criminals, especially those who commit violent crimes, are individuals with poor impulse control and are generally poorer planners than the average citizens. That’s why they end up committing criminal acts rather that getting degrees in medical transcription from technical community colleges.

    The more hoops the average individual has to go through to purchase a firearm, the fewer guns are going to be available. The fewer guns that are available, the more expensive and difficult to purchase on the street they will be. The more expensive and difficult guns are to purchase on the street, the less likely Joe Meth is going to be able to get one on a Friday night so he can knock over the local K-Mart an hour later with no planning whatsoever and start shooting when things inevitably go wrong.

  3. #3 David Marjanovi?
    October 30, 2007

    I am a concealed carry license holder in the state of Kentucky, and I’m proud to be. Gun control laws, specifically bans are a silly notion, because it requires that law abiding citizens not own or carry a firearm in a world in which criminals could care less about breaking the law. Wake up!

    For the probably tenth time: you have not even considered the possibility that the bad guy might draw faster than you. In fact, if he has good reasons to suspect you have a gun, he will make damn sure of drawing and shooting before you can draw. If you’re afraid of being shot, buy a bulletproof vest.

    Not to mention comment 83.

    However the most likely reason is that for a multitude of reasons US society is pretty violent compared to Western Europe.

    It should be tested if one of the “multitude of reasons” is the easy availability of guns…

  4. #4 David Marjanovi?
    October 30, 2007

    I am a concealed carry license holder in the state of Kentucky, and I’m proud to be. Gun control laws, specifically bans are a silly notion, because it requires that law abiding citizens not own or carry a firearm in a world in which criminals could care less about breaking the law. Wake up!

    For the probably tenth time: you have not even considered the possibility that the bad guy might draw faster than you. In fact, if he has good reasons to suspect you have a gun, he will make damn sure of drawing and shooting before you can draw. If you’re afraid of being shot, buy a bulletproof vest.

    Not to mention comment 83.

    However the most likely reason is that for a multitude of reasons US society is pretty violent compared to Western Europe.

    It should be tested if one of the “multitude of reasons” is the easy availability of guns…

  5. #5 Brownian, OM
    October 30, 2007

    #70: Whoa, whoa. Make things more expensive and harder to come by = harder to get? You do know there’s a drug problem in America right? Drugs are illegal, hard to find, a tad on the expensive side… but they’re prevalent pretty much everywhere. I think you’re underestimating the ability of the public to find just about anything they want to find.

    Zer0, How can something be both hard to find and prevalent everywhere? Anyways, I see your point, but I rebut with the following:

    Guns and drugs cannot be compared so simply since drugs are an end in themselves, whereas guns are a means to an end; for instance, a means to procure drugs. For the average jonesin’ criminal, a gun is one step removed from the true goal: buying drugs. Again, the ability to plan under such circumstances is a factor. If it’s easier to find a crack dealer than an arms dealer, then why would you even want a gun?

  6. #6 Moses
    October 30, 2007

    Guns and drugs cannot be compared so simply since drugs are an end in themselves, whereas guns are a means to an end; for instance, a means to procure drugs. For the average jonesin’ criminal, a gun is one step removed from the true goal: buying drugs. Again, the ability to plan under such circumstances is a factor. If it’s easier to find a crack dealer than an arms dealer, then why would you even want a gun?

    Posted by: Brownian, OM | October 30, 2007 3:01 PM

    That’s just silly logic and totally wrecks your arguments with it’s overly-broad misrepresentation of a complex issue. And that comes from someone who firmly believes in the 1939 Supreme Court ruling that states the Second Amendment is a STATE RIGHT, not an individual right and the gun nuts just need to STFU and we need much stricter gun controls.

    1. Many people grow or manufacture drugs. Far in excess of their casual, recreational use. They do so for MONEY.

    2. Many criminals don’t use guns to get money for drugs. There are more crimes, Horatio, than you have apparently dreamed of in your philosophy.

    3. Most guns never see a criminal hand.

    4. Most dopers have JOBS. Sure, they’re usually suck jobs, but many are white collar, or even professionals.

    5. Many people are collectors. Some collect guns. I have friends that collect guns. My uncle collects guns. My step-father collects guns. For them, the gun is the end in and of itself.

    6. Many criminals don’t do drugs. And while the correlation is strong, I’ll attest to that, it’s also true that many criminals just don’t do drugs and the pre-arrest/conviction drug use percentage, according to the Federal Government, was about 66%. Meaning one-third of criminals didn’t use drugs.

  7. #7 Brownian, OM
    October 30, 2007

    Moses @#127

    I really didn’t mean to brush everything in such broad strokes, but I was trying to restrict my argument to the comparison between supply of guns and supply of drugs. The result was very muddled and certainly not compelling, even to me.

    All of your comments were bang on. Thanks for the clean-up.

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    The American south is still a disgusting vortex of ignorance.

    oh, I always love posting this…

    http://www.fuckthesouth.com/

    not that I completely agree, and there are of course lots of areas of the South that aren’t butt-scratcher ignr’nt, but I at least understand the sentiment.

  9. #9 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    Wow, what the hell did I capitalize FOUNDING FUCKING FATHERS for?
    I’m probabaly drunk.

    …or you might have clicked on that last link I left.

  10. #10 autumn
    October 31, 2007

    No, Ichthyic, I merely (echoing Mere Christianity) mistook something I would have liked to have shouted, with anything that may have been worth shouting about.
    Lewis and I were both being overly simplistic.

  11. #11 Ichthyic
    October 31, 2007

    But i really don’t see why he should be suspended.

    Uh, that is a mildly disturbing letter. I’d be worried about the student who wrote that myself — it’s disjointed and rambling, and while it certainly doesn’t have any direct threats in it, I’d want this kid to get psychiatric help right away.

    maybe that’s why?

    with all the hype about recent school shootings, getting a letter like that might trigger automatic investigation.

    a “better safe than sorry” kinda of thing.

  12. #12 Brownian, OM
    October 31, 2007

    certainly most police officers seem to want to hang on to their firearms, odd as that might seem…

    Especially when they could all be armed with claw hammers for a fraction of the cost.

    Stupid military and police forces, spending all that money on guns and planes and ships.

    Don’t they realise anything could be a weapon in the right hands?

  13. #13 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 1, 2007

    I point you to this article and more specifically to the example cases in which the citizenry that just try to defend themselves are now the outlaws and the criminals prevail.

    “In 1999 Tony Martin, a 55-year-old Norfolk farmer living alone in a shabby farmhouse, awakened to the sound of breaking glass as two burglars, both with long criminal records, burst into his home. He had been robbed six times before, and his village, like 70 percent of rural English communities, had no police presence. He sneaked downstairs with a shotgun and shot at the intruders. Martin received life in prison for killing one burglar, 10 years for wounding the second, and a year for having an unregistered shotgun. The wounded burglar, having served 18 months of a three-year sentence, is now free and has been granted 5,000 of legal assistance to sue Martin.”

    Well, over here, excess of self-defense is a crime. You have the right to kill someone who is trying to kill you, but not someone who is stealing your stuff. IMHO that should be obvious.

  14. #14 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 1, 2007

    I point you to this article and more specifically to the example cases in which the citizenry that just try to defend themselves are now the outlaws and the criminals prevail.

    “In 1999 Tony Martin, a 55-year-old Norfolk farmer living alone in a shabby farmhouse, awakened to the sound of breaking glass as two burglars, both with long criminal records, burst into his home. He had been robbed six times before, and his village, like 70 percent of rural English communities, had no police presence. He sneaked downstairs with a shotgun and shot at the intruders. Martin received life in prison for killing one burglar, 10 years for wounding the second, and a year for having an unregistered shotgun. The wounded burglar, having served 18 months of a three-year sentence, is now free and has been granted 5,000 of legal assistance to sue Martin.”

    Well, over here, excess of self-defense is a crime. You have the right to kill someone who is trying to kill you, but not someone who is stealing your stuff. IMHO that should be obvious.

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    November 2, 2007

    who were massacred by less than a dozen young and untrained(???) men armed with cheap machetes in time periods shorter than 30 minutes.

    invalid.

    group vs. single individual

    try again.

  16. #16 Kseniya
    November 2, 2007

    (Ah, I see Ichthyic has been watching, too…)

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    November 2, 2007

    A dozen people spread amongst almost 1000 is no different than 1 person approaching 50.

    yes, it’s quite different. especially given the exact spacing described in your original post.

    still invalid.

    try again.

    . If you choose to be the one who fights you’re almost guaranteed to die, although you’ll save many, many others. But if you hide there is a chance that you might survive. Like they say…every man for himself.

    which of course is entirely irrelevant to the guns vs. knives issue.

    try again.

  18. #18 Ichthyic
    November 2, 2007

    I am merely refuting the statement that it is categorically impossible to kill large numbers with anthing but a gun.

    I’m looking back at the post where it was defined categorically, rather than implied from a probability standpoint, and not really finding it.

    Is that the point you really wanted to make?

    that it’s not impossible to kill several people with something other than a gun?

    talk about trivial.

    now if you want to make the point that it is somehow just as PROBABLE that someone could kill multiple people with a gun as with a knife, then we have something altogether different to laugh at you for.

    so which would you prefer to be laughed at for:

    making an entirely trivial, pedantic argument?

    or making a very silly extrapolation from exceptional cases to one of general probability?

    maybe I’m missing an actual serious argument you are trying to make somewhere?

  19. #19 Ichthyic
    November 3, 2007

    I believe his record stands as the highest total in history, most shootings barely cracking double digits.

    and how many shootings vs stabbings cracking more than one or two people, eh?

    again, you are either making a trivial point, or you are trying to argue somehow that you could easily kill just as many with a knife as a gun.

    which ridiculous argument would you like to continue with?

    pick one.

    No doubt the fact he had a 21″ blade rather than a switch knife helped increase the body count

    and if he had a gun with a decent sized clip?

    you’re defeating your own argument, at least as clearly as I can make out your argument, anyway.

    Robin brings us back to square one, and is quite correct that you have not brought any argument to the table that refutes the idea that guns obviously kill people faster and easier than knives (or hammers) do.

    so again, I ask, what is it exactly that you wish to prove to us?

    are you seriously trying to say we should allow both guns and machetes on a given campus as the best way to alleviate campus violence?

    other than arguing for the sake of arguing, I can’t see the point of continuing this “debate”.

  20. #20 Ichthyic
    November 3, 2007

    totally unenforceable

    so metal detectors wouldn’t work to detect concealed handguns, or knives, for that matter?

    news to me, since they use them at many campuses already.

    Moreover, that’s the rule in every Courthouse in the Nation, AFAIK.

    seems quite enforceable to me.

    I think it’s pretty much a wash what they’re armed with.

    and you still haven’t made a convincing argument on that front, either.

    frankly, I find your entire set of arguments not only unpersuasive, but patently ridiculous.

    sorry.

    maybe Kseniya sees something i don’t.

  21. #21 David Marjanovi?
    November 3, 2007

    Besides, a 21” blade is not a “knife”. It’s a sword or a machete.

    I don’t think people should be allowed to carry swords around on a campus any more than guns…

  22. #22 David Marjanovi?
    November 3, 2007

    Besides, a 21” blade is not a “knife”. It’s a sword or a machete.

    I don’t think people should be allowed to carry swords around on a campus any more than guns…

  23. #23 Ichthyic
    November 3, 2007

    Crikey, there’s a wombat…

    LOL

  24. #24 Robin Levett
    November 4, 2007

    Ichthyic:

    Crikey, there’s a wombat…

    LOL

    It’s not original with me, I’m afraid – borrowed from talk.origins usage.

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