I want to take a moment to pause, and just say thank you.
A few weeks ago, when Butler’s attorney said that the University was going to substitute my name in the lawsuit for that of “John Doe,” it was not a good time for me. I was scared of the lawsuit, even though my attorneys had assured me that I have a good case. More than that, though, I was afraid of the unkown. I wasn’t sure how people would react, I wasn’t sure what it meant for me or my family, I wasn’t sure what it meant for Butler. Worse, I couldn’t talk to many people about it because I had not yet identified myself as Soodo Nym. I was afraid that the administrators might get away with using their deep pockets and high-powered attorneys to silence me, no matter how hard I was willing to fight.
You have demonstrated what I discussed in my post last night. Some of you created a Facebook group, “Friends of Jess Zimmerman,” and hundreds of you have joined. By joining the Facebook group and commenting on my blog and on the news stories, many of you have personified the best of the Butler community. I can’t say enough about how much it means to wake up to supportive texts and phone messages, Emails and Facebook posts. Your words and your actions make me believe even more in what we are standing up for: our rights, our words, and our school. Now, though I still worry about all of this, and it still consumes far more of my time and energy than it probably should, I know that I have a support system. Just that knowledge has made an absolutely wonderful difference. For that, I thank you.
Something interesting: Adam Kissel, who is the director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (The FIRE), was cited in yesterday’s Indianapolis Star article as saying that this case marks the first time that a University has sued a student for online speech. I knew that I had heard of students suing schools, but I had been pretty sure that I had never heard of a school suing a student. Now we know: This is the first case of its kind.
That took a little bit to sink in. When I read it, I immediately thought about the other blogs that I read while I was writing The True BU. Some of those blogs were very positive accounts of life at so-and-so university, others contained diverse student discussions similar to what I had intended The True BU to accomplish, still more were written by students or faculty that were critical of their institutions. I read them while writing The True BU to gauge where I was on a criticism scale: Many of the blogs I read were profanity laced tirades and I knew that I didn’t want to emulate those, but I also did not want to simply comment on what I saw happening in passing. I was hoping for passion, and I was hoping for accuracy. Like I said in my first post, I wanted it to be the good and the bad, but most of all I wanted it to be real. I wanted to make informed judgments that honestly reflected my opinions based on the information that I had and I wanted them to be readable and justifiable.
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the profane blogs that I was trying to avoid and a one being the passive blogs I was also trying to avoid, The True BU was probably right in the middle. Usually I don’t strive for average, but this is a different kind of average. Does it make sense for “average” to be the center of the first ever lawsuit of its kind? In fact, although I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, many of the blogs that were closer to a ten on my scale were more widely viewed and more commented upon than was The True BU. That too makes it so ironic that I find myself in the midst of an unfortunate situation that is breaking new legal ground.