Monday, October 19, 2009

Who's the Bully?

Breaking news on campus today. The president wrote in a memo sent to all faculty (linked on the right) that the University will not sue me, with the implication being that they never had the intention of suing me. Their purpose, he claims, in filing a suit against “John Doe” was to find out who “John Doe” was. Now that he knows that “John Doe” is a student, he seems insulted that anybody would think that he would allow Butler to sue a student.

If only the facts supported those claims.

The fact is, the president said on New Year’s Eve, more than a week before the lawsuit was filed, that he had incontrovertible proof that I was Soodo Nym. Was he telling the truth then or now? It can’t be both.

The fact is, on June 9th, he says the court provided him with incontrovertible proof that I was Soodo Nym. Did he dismiss the suit? Absolutely not. In fact, it was a week later that the University first threatened to substitute my name in the suit for that of “John Doe.” The University’s attorney wrote, “It will now be appropriate to substitute Jess Zimmerman as the defendant in that lawsuit.”

The fact is, on September 27th, the University, apparently tired of making threats, promised to substitute my name for “John Doe.” In an Email to my attorney their lawyer wrote, “we will proceed to substitute Jess Zimmerman for John Doe in the pending lawsuit. I anticipate that these actions will occur by the end of the week. Please let me know whether you will accept service for Jess Zimmerman.”

The fact is, throughout the entire summer, and to this day, they have refused to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. (What that means is that they have the ability to re-file the suit at any time they want, even if they were to withdraw it.)

Simply put, the president’s statement is completely at odds with the facts. Even after he knew I was the blogger, he wielded the lawsuit like a club.

But let’s go one step further, because he’s also not telling you the truth about why it was so important to know who the blogger was. Repeatedly, when talking about the safety of the community (and referencing real violent acts), he cited a portion of a single sentence from a single Email that I did not write and that he agrees there is no evidence that I wrote, as the trigger for instigating the lawsuit. That sentence, he claims, is what crossed the line.

Let’s look at the facts.

The fact is, the Email in question was written on January second.

The fact is, the lawsuit was first threatened on New Year’s Eve.

Those two points are facts, not opinions. The only logical conclusion, other than that the president has not been truthful with the community about this issue, is that the Email that he found so offensive was written at his behest. Even I don’t believe that.

Let’s talk about one other fact, now.

The fact is, the president has decided not to attempt to prove any of his outrageous charges of defamation, harassment, threats, and libel in a court of law. My lawyers are confident that nothing that I wrote comes close to approaching the standard necessary for Butler to win a judgment in their favor. Similarly, my writings have now been read by a large number of lawyers and non-lawyers alike on the internet and they have formed exactly the same conclusion. What the president is attempting to do, by removing this from the court system, is to convict me, without any evidence, simply by assertion. He writes, “The free exchange of ideas demands that faculty, students, and staff be protected from defamation, harassment, threats, and intimidation because these are the means by which bullies intimidate others into silence.” The president’s implication is that I am guilty as charged and deserve punishment. The reality is, The True BU blog closed because the threat of a lawsuit intimidated me into silence. Since its closure, I have regularly been threatened with a lawsuit and disciplinary action and now, the president is attempting to convict me without a trial, using only the unfounded assertions in his memo. Who’s the bully here?

There is one more point I know I should discuss here. Yes, I lied to the vice president for student affairs about sending the December 25th Email. It was a difficult situation, one that deserves and will get its own post, and I made a mistake that I should not have made. For lying, I am sorry.

I hope you’re still with me.


  1. I'm still with you, Jess. Admitting your wrongdoings (which you did) is one thing. Trying to cover your wrongdoings with justifications and bullshit (which Butler is doing) is another.

    Also, if you're bullying Butler, the silence thing isn't really working. Butler=screaming baby in a movie theater...

  2. I'm with you to the end. It is simply comical that you would somehow bully Butler, rather than the other way around.

  3. I still maintain that I will throw my full weight (and that of The Underground) behind you. You will not be alone in your "internal" disciplinary process.

    In addition, what exactly is the status of the lawsuit? Nowhere do I see that it has been dropped, although you allude to the refusal to dismiss with prejudice. What effect do you this this will have on your future and reputation Jess?

    One final note. As far as I'm concerned, this whole thing is not over until Fong apologizes. His memo accomplishes nothing but bickering, almost adopting a bitter tone. Let's not become disinterested. Let's demand an apology!

  4. Jess,

    Still with you. You should get a medal for shining a light on the brutal tactics of this administration. Many, many of us know that you are far from the first one to suffer this kind of treatment at Butler. The climate of fear we live in continues to silence voices that need to be heard - mine has been one. I am ashamed that I still feel the need to post anonymously but I'm working on that.
    Jess, thanks for standing strong for all of us.

  5. I knew very little about Butler University prior to this, but I certainly hold a very dim view of the place now. I've served at several public universities in my career, and thank heaven I've never had to work with such banal and arrogant administrators. It really makes me wonder if Dr. Fong is qualified to hold such an important position. Your Board of Trustees might wish to examine that question; it seems he has done a world of harm to the university's reputation.

  6. What is going on here?

    1. The president now claims that they have no intention of suing a student and that the only reason they had to file suit was to uncover the name of an anonymous blogger. Is writing anonymously now illegal in this country? Don't start with the nonsense about fear of violence - we're all seeing through that ploy.
    2. The president has known the name of this anonymous blogger since June and did not close the suit but continued to threaten legal action. Did it take the university nearly 5 months to figure out Jess is a student?

    3. Now we are hearing that Jess is being threatened with internal punishment. Is this because there is no real basis for their legal threats in the first place?

    4. If he hasn't done anything wrong what will the university be taking action for? Is expressing opinions and holding administrators accountable for their actions against university rules?

    5. Isn't it time for the Butler administration to drop the bully tactics and apologize? They owe apologies to Jess, the Butler Community and the country's legal system just for starters.

  7. An atmosphere of fear and intimidation often results in lying. That's why torture doesn't work. Thus, the kid was scared and lied. From what we've seen of this administration, which first muscled him with a lawsuit and now attempts to gratuitously shame and humiliate him, his initial fear was realistic.

    This same administration will discipline him. But who will discipline this administration? Who will call the president to account for his own lying, for his creation of an atmosphere of fear, for his incredibly bad judgment in handling this issue, and for bringing shame upon Butler University?

    Will the faculty have the courage, after so many years of muttering against him, to call him to account? I won't hold my breath.

    Instead, we will watch as Bobby Fong uses this student as a human shield to protect himself.

    The student grew into a courageous young man, but like lawyers who make a victim's virginity the issue of a rape trial, Bobby Fong will use the kid's fearful lie a year ago to cloud the issue and never take responsibility for his creation of the atmosphere of fear and intmidation that results in lies, masks, bowing and scraping, and all such inauthentic behaviors. The sad irony is that the faculty, shaped by this milieu, will let Bobby Fong off the hook by not having the courage to call him on it.

    The least the faculty can do is not let Bobby Fong turn this into a question of the student's integrity when it is a question of his own.

  8. It's strange. I graduated from Butler a couple years back and, even then, none of the students I knew thought that the administration - often taken to mean Bobby Fong - made any good decisions. And by "good" I mean those that clearly were of benefit to the student body and not just Butler's pocket book. I am deeply saddened by this situation, but what's even worse is that I am not surprised in the least.

    You have my support.

  9. I would like to see Web application developers implement an additional layer of poor impulse control into every "submit comment" button found online. It would go something like this (tongue in cheek):

    1. Click submit
    2. Pop-up: "Is what you are saying nice, necessary and truthful? If it is true, but not nice, will it be generally beneficial to those who read it?"
    3. Click yes (or "no, let me start over")
    4. If yes, Pop-up: "are you sure? Did you take your happy pills today? Have you had your coffee? Would your mum let you post this? …..This is your last chance!"
    5. Click yes (or "no, let me start over")
    Michael Roberts
    Internet Libel Victim’s Advocate

  10. Just let it go. Forgiveness is the best solution.