Tuesday, December 15, 2009

presidential Advice

Ok, while Butler’s president hasn’t admitted it publicly, I have to believe that he’s regretted bringing up the tragic massacre at Virginia Tech as part of his explanation for why he filed the world’s first-ever lawsuit in which a university sued over on-line speech. After all, how could he not be terribly embarrassed to have his ill-considered remarks repeated so widely?

A Virginia resident with ties to Virginia Tech made the case as well as it could be made when he wrote to the chair of Butler’s Board of Trustees “You may think it a stretch to link Jess Zimmerman’s blog posts to the impassioned essays of our Founding Fathers, but Dr. Fong’s linking of Jess’s remarks to the shootings at Virginia Tech is far greater hyperbole. As a resident of the Virginia Tech shooter’s home town and one with two nephews who recently graduated from that excellent institution, I must protest that those ill-considered remarks trivialize the tragedy of that mass murder in a way that is deeply offensive.”

But what I just realized is that Butler’s president has a tie to Virginia Tech that makes his comments even more reprehensible
than I first thought. Soon after the shootings, The Chronicle of Higher Education invited a number of people to address the following question: “If you were giving the commencement address at Virginia Tech this year, what is the core of the message you would like to leave with the graduates?”

Very likely because Butler had suffered through a campus shooting of its own, Butler’s president was one of those
The Chronicle approached. His message was a simple but important one: both as individual students and collectively as an institution, Virginia Tech was not alone. He wrote, quite movingly, “In the depths of misery, there will be cords of compassion to draw you back to others.”

He also
offered some advice about fear to those who had just experienced the unimaginable. After noting that “Life can be dangerous, full of risk,” he went on and urged them to attempt to move beyond the fear that has to be inherent in such situations: “to respond to life with fear is to diminish yourself.”

When it became clear that he was going to have to explain why he authorized the university’s attorneys to file the lawsuit against “John Doe,” he immediately retreated to fear – and he immediately diminished himself. He told the faculty on October 13
th that the provost “was afraid, for her own safety, for her husband, for her house and property.

Of course, no one who read what I had written believed a word of what he had to say. And even those who wanted to believe him couldn’t help but repeatedly question why the university didn’t call the police to deal with the threat they perceived rather than file a secret lawsuit.

But by invoking fear as a rationalization, as so many others have said, he trivialized the truly frightful experiences of others and he failed to take the good advice he offered to students at Virginia Tech.

It seems peculiar that the president doesn’t pay any attention when he makes very good sense, but he expects the rest
of us to listen when he makes no sense at all.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"What We Must, At All Costs, Preserve In The Academy"

Consider, if you will, the following statement, spoken years ago by a Butler administrator:

I believe teaching our students to negotiate issues of ethics and citizenship must be part and parcel of a Butler education. In part it is a matter of doing what the academy has always done: entertaining diverse viewpoints and perspectives, and modeling how a community can engage in civil dialogue. The ideal of the academy is to be able to represent fairly the viewpoint of those with whom one most disagrees. But dialogue, however necessary, is not sufficient. The unending conversation is what we must, at all costs, preserve in the academy….”

I particularly like the final part, “The unending conversation is what we must, at all costs, preserve in the academy…”

, if you can, how different the past year would have been for me, for Butler, for the present administration, if those words had been heeded. The True BU was raising what I and what frightened faculty members thought were very real concerns. Those concerns were being aired in an anonymous blog because faculty felt that their voices had not been heard – they met privately with the dean, they met privately with the provost, they met privately with the president to no avail. They were repeatedly told one thing but contrary actions ensued. They were frustrated and, as they’ve said, they refused to speak publicly because they were afraid of retaliation. So they let The True BU speak for them. The same dean, provost and president who said one thing but did another did not like reading about those inconsistencies. Those same administrators did not like emails and memos pointing out those inconsistencies being shared publicly so others could draw their own conclusions about their actions.

“The ideal of the academy is to be able to represent fairly the viewpoint of those with whom one most disagrees,” the Butler administrator wrote years ago. How better to represent those views fairly than by presenting the actual words written?

“The unending conversation is what we must, at all costs, preserve in the academy…” A year ago, the Butler administration completely ignored those words and ended the conversation, they stilled
the sound of dissent, they silenced my voice. And they did it because they didn’t like what I was saying. But then as now they’ve ignored the fact that those closest to the events I was describing, the faculty in the School of Music, have said that what I was writing was an accurate portrayal of events and an appropriate depiction of their thoughts. For these administrators, however, an unpleasant truth was enough to demand a halt to the conversation. Ironically, they thought that the cost of such silence would be small – but as is so often the case with censorship, the message ultimately got out and the cost was far higher than they ever imagined.

Rather than being willing to pay a high cost to preserve freedom of speech in the academy, this administration did exactly the opposite – they paid a high cost and have become infamous for attempting to silence alternative views.

Why would they go down a path so diametrically opposed to the advice given by the Butler administrator I quoted above? I can’t answer that question but perhaps Butler’s current president
can. He is, after all, the one whose policy careened so recklessly off course – and he is the one who, in his inaugural speech on February 9, 2002, spoke the words reproduced above.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another Newspaper Weighs In

Although a very strong opinion piece was written about The True BU case in the Whitworthian at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington a bit back, I haven’t had time to mention it here. Like virtually all of the other pieces that have been written, this one too makes two points clearly: Butler’s actions have implications far beyond the Butler campus and The True BU was providing useful information. Here, in part, is what columnist Jacquelyn Wheeler had to say. The full piece is linked on the right so you can read it all if you want.

“Censorship can be a scary thing, especially when those being censored are trying to open doors for discussion and transparency. Jess Zimmerman, a student at Butler University started an anonymous blog titled the “TrueBU Blog” to create a forum of discussion for people to anonymously express what is really happening at Butler University.”

“He was careful to frame his work as an opinion, but the amount of digging that was done to find real concrete evidence for his case against the administration’s decision to fire Dr. Gullickson was impressive. It’s no wonder the university found his case threatening. His blog was shut down and the school sued him for it.”

“At this point, what Butler has done is give Zimmerman much more critical material for his new blog titled “I am ‘John Doe’.” This blog documents the legal happenings in his case and presents a whole new realm of harsher criticisms against the university by staff, clergy and other important community members.”

“[I]t ought to make us thankful for the competency and integrity of our administration. At the same time, though, we too ought to be watchful and hold Whitworth accountable to the high standards it professes.”

“Zimmerman’s blog was something he was, and still is, willing to stand by. It was meant to hold the university accountable, and it has. What could have been forgotten about in a very short period of time has provoked Butler University to actions that open the doors for even more criticism, analysis and change.”

Although I’ve said this before, let me repeat it now. I simply can’t understand why students from around the country, free speech experts from around the world, and people from all walks of life who learn about this situation have come to a conclusion so much at odds with that of Butler’s administration. From the beginning, I’ve never thought that there was anything complex about this case – but then Butler administrators opted to make a federal case out of it – well, literally a Marion County Superior/Circuit case.

I wonder why all of these people can see so clearly what the Butler administration has been so blind to.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

Hubris is an interesting concept. From the Greeks to the present day, stories abound which focus on characters whose downfalls are associated with large doses of hubris. Consider the common definitions of hubris (overweening pride, arrogance, an excess of ambition) and its most common synonyms (arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, high-handedness, lordliness, self-importance, vanity) and you quickly get the idea that hubris is an extreme character flaw.

The Philosophy Dictionary provides a bit more insight: “The general connotation of the pride that goes before a fall is a later and partially Christian reinterpretation of the classical concept. In Aristotle (Rhetoric 1378b 23-30) hubris is gratuitous insolence: the deliberate infliction of shame and dishonor on someone else, not by way of revenge, but in the mistaken belief that one thereby shows oneself superior. Tragedy is not therefore the punishment of hubris, since tragedy concerns unjust suffering, whereas hubris deprives the agent of sympathy from the outset.”

What set me off on this tack was an editorial and a news story published recently in the Tufts Daily. While neither uses the term, in reading both, that’s what immediately popped into my head. The headline of the editorial, “Guarding a reputation, but sacrificing principles,” led me there first.

I encourage you to read both pieces in their entirety but let me draw your attention to a couple of highlights to show you how I came to hubris.

“The university wrongly manipulated the U.S. legal system for its own personal benefit. Our laws should not be used as a means of blackmail; their purpose is to keep law and order. Suing Zimmerman was a way for the university to strong-arm him into giving up his identity and submitting himself to university punishment — a wrongful and overly suppressive step in and of itself.”

“Not only did Butler overstep in restraining the free speech of one of its students; it abused the judicial system and tarnished its own reputation in the process.”

Reading these two pieces made me think back to the language the university attorney, supposedly writing on behalf of the university president, used all summer long. He repeatedly mentioned Butler “having to teach me a lesson.” Although the public discourse, once the Butler community and the world beyond the Butler bubble found the institution’s actions to be reprehensible, quickly shifted to rhetoric designed to lure people into believing that Butler’s actions were crafted to protect the physical safety and welfare of the community from someone so deranged that he would criticize administrative actions, that’s not where this all started.

No, the last sentence from the Philosophy Dictionary’s definition of hubris, “the deliberate infliction of shame and dishonor on someone else, not by way of revenge, but in the mistaken belief that one thereby shows oneself superior,” brings all of this together for me. Certainly the institution was attempting to cast “shame and dishonor” on me by claiming I used racial and sexual epithets when I didn’t, or by preposterously implying that my criticisms should be viewed as physical threats. And many others have pointed out that the Butler administration is populated with incredibly insecure administrators who believe that tearing others down “shows oneself superior.”

In reading about the topic, I’ve come to realize that unbridled hubris so clouds vision that what others can plainly see is masked in a mist of self righteousness. This insight has been of great value to me because it helps me understand why the Butler administration’s actions have been so consistently in opposition to those expressed by so many people, newspapers and organizations around the world. Please understand that I’m not saying that I’m right and Butler is wrong. Rather, because my position has been supported so widely, across the full political spectrum, it previously made no sense to me that Butler felt compelled to act in a way that was viewed as so extreme by so many. I now understand where hubris can take someone.

Beyond the damage this has done to me, what’s most sad about unbridled hubris in leaders is that the institutions they’re responsible for also suffer. As the Tufts editorial, like a raft of others before it, demonstrates, in their attempt to demonstrate their superiority, Butler administrators have sacrificed the reputation of the very institution they had a responsibility to protect.

And, saddest of all, to this very moment, there’s no evidence that they’ve even noticed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thoughts on Censorship

I’ve gotten a little worried that over the last two months readers of I am “John Doe” may have gotten caught up in the details of some of the ridiculous and untrue things Butler has said about me and lost sight of the bigger issue. The real issue is that in the original True BU blog I was expressing my opinions (and those of faculty in the School of Music who were too fearful of administrative retaliation to express them themselves) and the Butler administration didn’t like what I had to say. The threatened me for writing what I wrote. They intimidated me for what I wrote. And, ultimately, for about nine months at least, they silenced me. In simple terms, their threats and intimidation were acts of censorship.

So, I did an internet search to see what others had to say about censorship. Rather than comment on each quotation, I want to leave them with you as a package. Read them and think about what the Butler administration has done. Read them and think about the world the Butler administration has attempted to create. And, perhaps most importantly, read them and think about the world you will live in if you sit by and do nothing to stop actions of this sort, in the Butler case or in other cases where people in power attempt to silence those who disagree with them.

(I do want to add a small disclaimer. Although all of the following quotations were found on the internet, I can’t vouch for their authenticity. Regardless of whether every one was actually spoken or written by the person to which it was attributed, each provides important and interesting insight.)

Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself.
It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. - Potter Stewart

Censorship is the height of vanity
. - Martha Graham

I suppose that writers should, in a way, feel flattered by the censorship
laws. They show a primitive fear and dread at the fearful magic of print. - John Mortimer

The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.
- Tommy Smothers

The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship.
– John Paul Stevens

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still
. - John Stuart Mill

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
- John Stuart Mill

If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
- John Stuart Mill

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.
- Alfred Whitney Griswold

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
- Sigmund Freud

Every burned book enlightens the world
. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The paper burns, but the words fly away.
- Akiba ben Joseph

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
- John F. Kennedy

You can cage the singer but not the song.
- Harry Belafonte

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it
. - Voltaire

You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! -of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.
– Winston Churchill

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
– Noam Chomsky

Don't join the book burners. Don't think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed
. – Benjamin Franklin

And let me end with one that should be near and dear to the heart of Butler’s president, since he is an expert on Oscar Wilde: An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Administrative Moments

Butler University recently released a fund-raising video titled “Butler’s Proudest Moments of 2009.” Not surprisingly, given the quality of students and faculty at Butler, there were a large number of things to celebrate. I join with my friends and mentors in congratulating those at Butler who accomplished so much this last year.

In the spirit of this video, I offer my “Butler’s Less-Than Proudest Administrative Moments of 2009.” As with everything associated with The True BU situation, Butler has far deeper pockets than I do so I won’t be able to produce a flashy video like they did. Instead, I’m going to have to provide you with a written list of those moments that the Butler administration would likely hope you all forgot. So, please imagine some music as well as administrators and their attorneys ranting and raving, as you read the following.

January 2, 2009: The vice president for student affairs demands a meeting with me on a day the university is officially closed. He brings along a witness and when I say I want one as well, he refuses to allow me that courtesy. He says he is not asking me who was responsible for The True BU but I am later accused of lying to him about this issue.

January 4, 2009: The university attorney Emails the Soodo Nym account to threaten both a civil and a criminal case over The True BU. This threat frightened me into removing The True BU from the internet.

January 8, 2009: The university, over the signature of three attorney’s, files the country’s first ever lawsuit by a university against on-line speech. This occurred four days AFTER I was successfully intimidated into removing The True BU from the web.

January 9 – June 15, 2009: All quiet on the Butler front.

June 16, 2009: In response to a letter from my father asking for a retraction, a clarification or an apology from the provost about outrageously untrue statements she made about him, Butler informs me about the “John Doe” lawsuit and threatens to substitute “John Doe’s” name with my name unless both my father and I sign confidentiality agreements and unless I agree to submit to any punishment Butler deems appropriate for speaking my mind.

June 17 – September 26, 2009: Butler repeatedly threatens to substitute my name for “John Doe’s” name in the lawsuit and continues to demand that my father and I sign confidentiality agreements and that I submit to any punishment they deem appropriate for speaking my mind.

September 27, 2009: Butler stops threatening to replace my name for “John Doe’s” name in the lawsuit, instead promises to do so by the end of the week. They also say they will instigate internal disciplinary procedures immediately.

October 12, 2009: A local Indianapolis television station ran a news story reporting on Butler’s lawsuit against “John Doe.” Because the only people quoted were associated with the Butler administration, it appears obvious that the Butler administration leaked the story to the press.

October 13, 2009: The president tells the faculty senate about the lawsuit indicating that he was compelled to file suit because of the possibility of a Virginia Tech style event taking place. The president sends out a memo to the entire faculty about the lawsuit that was riddled with inaccuracies and that made absurd claims about The True BU.

October 19, 2009: The president sends out a second memo to the entire faculty about me and The True BU that was also riddled with inaccuracies and that made absurd claims about The True BU. Additionally, the president accuses me of bullying the administration and the campus by writing The True BU. The president says he never intended to sue a student and he would not sue a student.

October 20, 2009: At an open forum discussing free speech issues, the provost said that although she was frightened for her safety, Butler was compelled to file a lawsuit against “John Doe” rather than contacting the police for protection, claiming that the police could only be contacted if they could be told who was threatening her.

October 26, 2009: Butler withdraws its lawsuit against “John Doe,” a full seven days after the president said it would be dropped. The president’s wife writes to faculty about The True BU situation enclosing e-mail and documents personally addressed to the president’s office at Butler Univeristy.

October 27, 2009: The president sends out a third memo to the entire faculty about me and The True BU that was riddled with inaccuracies and that made absurd claims about The True BU. He again states that I am guilty of various transgressions and says that I will be punished through Butler’s internal disciplinary process. The president tells a student reporter that he had nothing to do with the promise made by Butler’s attorney on September 27th to replace “John Doe’s” name with my name.

October 29, 2009: The president refuses to act on a letter privately delivered to him by Father Charles Allen from more than 10 faculty members in the School of Music. These faculty members, fearful of administrative retaliation, opted to speak out only if they were guaranteed anonymity and confirmed that what was written in The True BU was the truth and that it accurately reflected the information they provided to Soodo Nym aka John Doe.

October 30, 2009: The chair of Butler’s Board of Trustees sends a statement to the media about The True BU case. In that statement, he opts to “reaffirm Butler’s pledge to provide for the safety and welfare of its students, administration, faculty and staff,” implying that campus safety was somehow at risk.

October – November: The president and his public relations staff regularly reply to concerns raised about my situation with a defamatory letter claiming that I threatened the campus community.

November 12, 2009: The chair of Butler’s Board of Trustees writes to acknowledge receiving a letter from my attorney discussing the internal disciplinary process. The chair ignores the issues of bias raised saying, instead, that he trusts the process and that the president was made aware of my concerns.

November 12, 2009 – the present: I’m sorry to say that I cannot, at this time, discuss this part of the ordeal. I hope to fill you in on it, as much as I can, soon.

There you have it: my list of “Butler’s Less-Than Proudest Administrative Moments of 2009.” The crazy thing is, all of these items involve only my case. I know, and I suspect that many of you know, many other administrative actions taken this past year that are just as reprehensible as these. It is a shame that no one is able or willing to hold Butler administrators accountable for their actions. I hope that my blog sheds some light where none has been and that it encourages others to speak out when they see injustices being committed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

When in Doubt, Sue

Inside Higher Ed recently ran an interview with Professor Amy Gajda, the author of The Trials of Academe: The New Era of Campus Litigation published in October by Harvard University Press. The book and the interview have much to teach us about Butler’s reaction to The True BU.

Take a look at how the interview opens and see if it sounds familiar: “When in doubt, sue. That philosophy has become an expected part of American society and (to the frustration of many in higher education) academe as well.”

Professor Gajda was asked to comment on the notion that “Many college administrators these days complain that lawyers for their institutions have too much power.” In response, she said, “University counsel have never been busier or more important, but there is a danger in letting lawyers call all the shots. The ‘safest’ course from a litigation standpoint may not be the best for innovation, research, or teaching….College administrators and faculty generally need to be alert to the legal risks, while remaining true to their academic judgment.”

Remember that Butler’s president is on record saying that the university lawyers were operating without his knowledge and not under his control. Actually, though, I don’t think that is what Professor Gajda meant when she said that “lawyers for their institution have too much power.” Frankly, I doubt that she would have ever imagined a situation of the kind Butler’s president wants you to believe. But I have no doubt that the lawyers were complicit in creating Butler’s strategy with respect to intimidating me into shutting down The True BU. And I have no doubt that they play too large a role in the Butler administrative ethos.

Professor Gajda was asked about ways to reduce litigation: “Can you summarize the steps you recommend to colleges to discourage litigation as a means of solving disputes?” Her advice makes good sense. “The most important thing is for colleges to find a way of defusing academic disputes before they harden into a legal complaint. If colleges and universities took greater care to promote communication and a sense of community on campus, there would be fewer lawsuits.”

It seems to me that Butler has a great deal of work to do on this front. What sort of a “sense of community” exists on Butler’s campus when faculty member after faculty member expresses great fear of the administration? How can the administration ignore the problem when music faculty feel they can only come forward anonymously under the protection of a priest to document that what I wrote in The True BU was what they shared with me and that it was accurate? There is one thing that is helping faculty come together and build a shared community: their sense of fear of the Butler administration. Similarly, the Butler administration is all about secrecy. They “classify” more documents than you can imagine. Their two-pronged strategy when dealing with conflict, as has been so well demonstrated throughout my experience, is to demand that the content of all meetings remain secret and to have meetings with as few people at a time as they can get away with so they can tell each group a different “secret.” Amid a climate of fear, this strategy ensures that no one knows what anyone else knows – and thus that administrators are never asked tough questions.

One of the main points of Professor Gajda’s book is that recourse to the court system, while being overused now, came about to correct abuses present on college campuses that occurred when colleges acted as if they were outside of the law. She paints an unsettling picture of how things were: “At one time, colleges were basically unaccountable in the courts. They ignored contracts, trampled speech rights, and dismissed students and faculty on whim or prejudice with basic impunity.” She concludes that thought with the only statements she’s made with which I disagree and which is demonstrably false, at least on one campus in central Indiana: “No one should want to go back to those days.” It is all too obvious that Butler administrators yearn for the good old days when they could act with impunity, when freedom of speech stopped when someone in power didn’t like what was being said.

Professor Gajda does a great service by documenting a very real threat to higher education and the actions of Butler University serve to prove her case definitively.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The president Meets Dick the Butcher

Most of you probably know that Butler's president has a Ph.D. in English. It's fair, therefore, to suspect that he's familiar with Henry VI, Part 2 by William Shakespeare. Given some of the statements the president has been making lately, he seems to have taken to heart the line offered by Shakespeare's Dick the Butcher, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

This latest turn of events is somewhat surprising since Butler has long been enamored with their lawyers. Remember that Butler brought in their lawyer to meet with my father last December. At that time he was told that they had proof I was “Soodo Nym” and they threatened to sue me if The True BU was not shut down because the president was so angry about the negative publicity he thought The True BU was generating.

Although their power tactic worked and they intimidated me into closing The True BU, I never believed that they would actually sue me for expressing my opinions in a blog – especially when those opinions were the same as those voiced by many faculty members in the School of Music, and especially when I (thought I) was living in a world in which universities simply don’t sue students. But the president was angry enough that he set his lawyer to work, and his lawyer found two colleagues in his firm who also wanted to generate some billable hours, and a lawsuit was crafted. That lawsuit was filed four days AFTER The True BU was removed from the web and it was filed over the signatures of three attorneys.

As I’ve said before, I heard nothing about this lawsuit for six months – not until my father complained to the university about disparaging and absolutely untrue comments made in public by the provost about him. Then the lawyers were trotted out again to threaten me with this same lawsuit. And they threatened and they threatened. They threatened me throughout the months of June, July and August. They threatened me for the first 26 days in September. And then, at 10:05 p.m. on Sunday, September 27th, in an email, they stopped threatening and made a promise – they promised to substitute my name for that of “John Doe” in the lawsuit within the week. (“…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.”)

Throughout the summer months of threatening, the university’s main lawyer repeatedly said that he had to check with the president before committing himself to any specific course of action. And that’s how it should be when a lawyer is working for a client.

Which brings me back to the president. How often has he said that he never intended to sue a student? How often has he said that he only filed the original lawsuit to find out who “Soodo Nym” was, something he said he already knew before the suit was filed? Why the threats to sue me if he never intended to sue me?

One implication to be drawn from these statements is that the lawyer was running the show – apparently against the wishes of the president and in such a way that the president was completely ignorant of his actions. I’ll leave the alternative implication for you to discern and simply say that it certainly isn’t flattering to the president.

And then, on October 27th, exactly a month after I received the promise from the university’s attorney that my name would be added to the lawsuit, I learned from a Collegian reporter that the president explicitly stated that he had nothing to do with the promise. In the face of the national outcry over the outrageous lawsuit, the president decided to cut his losses and, metaphorically at least, kill his attorney. Shakespeare would be proud.

The attorney, however, like the president, doesn’t seem to want to take credit for the promise to put my name on the lawsuit. Take a look at what the attorney wrote to a Butler faculty member: You accused me in our phone conversation of threatening a student with his/her substitution for John Doe in the lawsuit. I immediately reacted to this by telling you that was untrue…. This amazing disclaimer was preceded by a threat: I repeat our caution to you that your concerns be voiced responsibly, especially before making such serious accusations against Butler and its attorneys.

So, according to Butler’s president and to Butler’s primary attorney, no one is responsible for the email promising to substitute my name for “John Doe’s” and even mentioning such a thing makes one susceptible to Butler’s wrath.

These are the people running the show – and these are the people complaining about my blog, a blog since October 14th I’ve taken credit for writing.

When are these people going to take responsibility for their actions?