Poopstika circling the onto-drain?

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CK MacLeod

WordPresser: Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001.

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  1. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Missouri is fast becoming a greater discredit to the generation than Yale.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I’m holding off on judgement, but I really hope it’s not a hoax.

      Not because I want it to have happened; but because if it IS a hoax and people let it get this far without fact-checking it, that is pretty shameful.

      Because people are actually at risk from the heightened emotions surrounding all this (the hunger striker, potential threats and counter-threats of racial violence). People could get physically hurt for no reason at all, other than someone failed to verify that what was said to have happened, happened.

      If it is a hoax, I’ll have to change my gravatar back just so I can say

      http://youtu.be/ZoWc6WRHKEEReport

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Not just that. Driving that professor to resignation (though the University declined to accept it). The ongoing turmoil.

        I have no Hit Coffee post for tomorrow because the situation doesn’t seem to be as I originally wrote it.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          I’m guessing you’re going to update it and have it for us with a day’s delay, but in case that’s not true, I would really love for there to be some way to find out what your thoughts were. Don’t know if you would even consider publishing something stipulating to honest misconceptions about the facts of a case…Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I’m holding off on judgement, but I really hope it’s not a hoax.

        I’m sorta conflicted about caring whether or not it’s a hoax since it always seemed to me that the list of grievances (student Prez called “N” word; poop swastika; one or two others) didn’t seem sufficient to demand the resignation of the school president. That is, I always assumed there were bigger issues in play here – like a general pattern of behavior which the univ. Admin. refused to engage in a dialogue about – and those touchstone issues were used as a shorthand for larger stuff.

        But if there’s no larger stuff, and now there’s no shorthand stuff, there isn’t very much stuff there.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Yeah, I still feel like there probably had to be a lot of unaddressed, ongoing issues for events to have reached such dramatic tipping points, hoax or no.

          Heck, you could make an argument that an administration that failed to get to the bottom of an ugly (potential) hoax like this before things got out of hand, proved themselves de facto incompetent to administer a university student body.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            You don’t have the entire faculty AND the football team (in Missouri!) walk out over a single incident.

            This isn’t a handful of angry students. This appears to be an entire campus, students and faculty both, who wanted this guy gone.

            Honestly, it doesn’t even matter why. if you’re the boss and both your employees AND customers hate you, you should resign. You’re not doing your job, obviously.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I found Jason Whitlock’s piece suggesting that this whole thing was mostly the product of the faculty manipulating the students to be interesting.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Got a link, linkmeister?Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Here is the link: http://j.school/post/133025099640/crying-wolfe-exposes-real-problem

                He mentions the theory in passing. It’s an interesting twist.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                A forcefully presented contrarian take, but I don’t think the theory is presented in passing. I think it’s integral to his main theme, the only question being how conscious on the particular matter the left-liberal professors would have been.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The only question, to be sure.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                From his point of view or according to his “everyone is wrong” theory.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Thanks for the Whitlock linky, will. Good article.

                We turned the education of our best and brightest kids over to predominantly white schools. We allowed them to abandon the black church. It’s not difficult to understand why they can’t distinguish between rude behavior and racism.

                That made me laugh. Very clever, Whitlock is.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Whitlock is half the time crazy but usually interesting.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Columbia ain’t our problem. Chicago is.

                One wonders why it has to be an either or. What’s more, while these students were able to come together and produce change where they are, it’s not clear that any amount of effort on their part would produce any change in Chicago. It’s not clear to anyone quite what would produce change in Chicago, at least not short term. I mean, we now know that Spike Lee is satirically proposing a solution in a film, but I doubt the message is, “Maybe this will work.” There are a lot of hard-working activists on the ground in Chicago (many of whom were once student activists), people who are trying different things to stem the tide in the short term and advocating for change at a various of levels of government and culture for the long term. I doubt many of them are thinking, “If only these kids were putting that energy into Chicago, things would be different!” But we could ask them. Or we could write an article showing we just really hate college kids.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Chris,

                He follows that sentence with the following:

                That’s not a statement vouching for the purity of Columbia. It’s rational, mature acknowledgment that there are not, never have been and never will be any safe spaces on earth free of rude, uncomfortable behavior by humans.

                I think his point in that article is that black kids (these days!) are confused about the distinction between racist behavior and rude behavior, and one cause of that, a fundamental one wrt the Mizzou situation, is that black kids go to predominantly white colleges. The unstated premise is that white people, and white culture, are themselves terrifically confused about that distinction. And on that last point, I think he’s right.

                Course, he admits that he’s trying to not criticize college kids in his critique, but that’s probably a pretty tough needle to thread given what he’s saying.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Hmm.. He’s doing the thing that so many people here and elsewhere are doing: treating the salient examples — some people being called the n-word and the poop swastika — to be the whole of what they’re complaining about, when again the students have been pretty clear that’s not the case. They see discrimination, a lack of voice and representation, and yeah, overt rudeness everyday, they say, and their demands (e.g., greater representation among the faculty and staff) clearly reflect that perception.

                That so many people seem to need this to be about a few incidents, trivial ones in the grand scheme of things (when compared to Chicago, or something many of these kids experienced first hand a couple hours away, Ferguson), so that they can dismiss these kids and their real concerns entirely. I find it disturbing.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                All I can do is read his words, but I don’t think Whitlock wants this issue to be about a few isolated incidents so much as he’s focusing his criticism in a different direction: that it’s the result of a confusion regarding racist behaviors and rude behaviors, and that (and this, to me, is the important part of what he said!) black kids who go to white schools and adopt white-culture-framing of these issues are going to be confused.

                Make of that what you will. And perhaps I’m wrong to understand his article as making that point. But I think that’s what he’s getting at.

                There’s real racism out there in the world, and there’s rude behavior. Definitely he’s criticizing the black activists at Mizzou for getting riled up about the latter. I see no reason to think he has less information about what’s happening there than you or I do. And it’s quite likely that he has more than either of us, given that he’s black and a sports writer.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Oh, I think that’s part of what he’s getting at, but for that to be the case, it requires that we treat the poop swastika and idiots using the n-word as the bulk of what these kids are protesting, despite them being quite clear that they’re protesting discrimination, exclusion, and a lack of interest on the part of officials. These things aren’t merely rudeness, and one has to ignore what the kids are saying almost entirely to think they’re just talking about rudeness. That is, it’s the worst sort of extremely selective hearing.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                despite them being quite clear that they’re protesting discrimination, exclusion, and a lack of interest on the part of officials.

                Well, that’s not entirely clear to me, actually. THe list of demands after demands I and II (that Wolfe admit his white privilege and being removed from office, respectively) fall into two pretty narrow categories: 1) expanding racial awareness programs (mandatory courses, for example) and racially-based university support services (mental health professionals, etc) and 2) hiring and retaining minority students and profs (and mental health providers) at certain targeted percentages.

                Given that, I’m not sure what to make of your above comment. I mean, surely institutional and individual racism exist in this country and at university campuses as well, but the list of demands seems more along the lines of advancing the interests of minorites than it does resonding to the oppression of minorities. That may be a distinction without a difference for some folks, but it’s an important one to me, and casts a bit of a shadow over your first two conditions.

                Regarding the third (lack of interest on the admin’s part): Insofar as these demands or similar had been made prior to the most recent Uprising! and went unaddressed or ignored, then I think the protests are on solid footing.

                ANd frankly, I’ve not read any info as to whether some of these issues have been specifically presented to the Admin before or not. I’m assuming they have, but that’s still an unknown known to me.

                And after all *THAT*, I don’t think or believe that the current activism is illegitimate: I think those kids have every right to protest and put leverage on the University for substantial changes. My only hope, at this point, is that there’s a record of having attempted to accomplish some of these goals thru more diplomatic means prior to the hunger and football strikes.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                more along the lines of advancing the interests of minorites than it does resonding to the oppression of minorities.

                Obviously the administration can’t make people not racist, or not rude for that matter (though the latter is easier to police, I suppose). What they can do is put a system of support and representation in place, with a faculty and staff that is capable of understanding, conveying, and responding to issues. That, as I see it, is what they’re asking for. I believe that’s how they see it as well, as evidenced by their intention to actually form groups to participate in faculty and staff recruitment and facilitate the formation of health and educational resources for minorities.

                However, even under your reading, we’re not talking about rudeness at all, are we?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                However, even under your reading, we’re not talking about rudeness at all, are we?

                If you’re bringing this back to Whitlock, then it’s not racism either, at least by his definition: “Racism is a system of exploitation rooted in race.”Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I suppose that’s the case. It comes down, then, to why they have those interests.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Chris: so that they can dismiss these kids and their real concerns entirely. I find it disturbing.

                Or one may disagree largely or entirely with the premises that you appear to take as self-evident, but that people who do not share your expectations, or who would consider them utopian if not simply undesirable, either do not consider addressable, or do not consider addressable by them.

                Citizens in Bakersfield, California, or even St Louis, may take notice of events at Mizzou, or Connecticut, may hear about a student who heard about someone hearing a hurtful word, and think of all the hurtful words they’ve heard over their courses of their lives, or perhaps just that day, and envy the students for the luxury they enjoy of treating their emotional injuries as possibly significant to anyone else at all. Even our average Bakersfieldians with no particular interest in history know from parents and grandparents, or firsthand, and in different ways, of immense and arduous struggles to attain a minimally decent mode of existence at all. So, if they go on to Facebook or Twitter or some comments section, they’re more likely to fall on the “these delicate snowflakes need to toughen up” side than the “these are outrages – hooray for the brave and thoughtful students” side.

                Whatever further engagement will necessarily tend to be abstract and symbolic, and have to do with expressing themselves or establishing their own identities in their own life-worlds, not with the life-worlds of undergrads in Missouri or leftwing academics in Austin. For what reason should, or would anyone expect, our Bakersfieldians to put your and the students’ interests and perceptions ahead of their own? If there is no reason, then why should anyone find it disturbing? To the Bakersfieldian, it would be just another example of people ill-suited to living in “the [their] real world.”Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                This is a nice demonstration of what I was referring to. Again, you reduce their concerns to hearing hurtful words, concerns their demands, curiously, don’t try to remedy. Perhaps, then, they are upset about other things than what you think has upset them?

                What’s more, the students aren’t demanding anything of anyone in Bakersfield. For a time, they clearly wanted to keep it on campus, even.

                All I am asking is that if people are going to form opinions on these kids, they at least see what they are saying their needs are. If, after you see that they’re not merely concerned about two or three incidents, or with only such incidents, if you still think they’re overreacting or acting immaturely, or whatever, that’s fine with me.

                Don’t get me wrong, their problems are not so great as those of many others who are in less privileged circumstances, but they are trying to fix local problems with local action, and y’all are treating them like stupid, possibly brain-washed children who are making demands on you.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                People are often willfully blind to problems, especially if those problems don’t affect them or involve things they don’t wish to think about. In general, when that’s the case, people find excuses to minimize the problem.

                *shrug* Racism doesn’t affect ME and honestly I’d prefer to believe America was past that. Unfortunately, I’ve sorta had my face rubbed in it of late (thanks Facebook! Thanks racist relatives!), which makes excuses a bit thin on the ground.

                I mean I used to not give a crap about gun control. I sorta got tired of dead kids on the news, though.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                What’s more, the students aren’t demanding anything of anyone in Bakersfield.

                Yeah, this. It remains a mystery to me how CK thinks about these sorts of socio-political issues generaly, but why he thinks the “identity” of folks in Bakersfield is at all relevant to what’s actually happening in Missouri right now, in particular. To think that’s a relevant issue, let alone the primary one, reduces – well, actually raises, by orders of meta-magnitude! – it to a purely propagandistic exercise with no origins, causes or effects in the real world.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Dangit. I shoulda said “orders of magna-metatude”. With some explanation …. I mean exclamation!! points. Missed opportunity there…Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                This is a nice demonstration of what I was referring to.

                It was meant to be. The question wasn’t whether or not the Bakersfieldian reaction was a good or fair reaction, but whether there was good reason for you to be “disturbed” by it.

                Again, you reduce their concerns to hearing hurtful words, concerns their demands, curiously, don’t try to remedy.

                That’s not in my power to do – reduce their concerns. I did not attempt to describe or represent the students’ concerns. I offered a depiction of how a particular mostly ininvested distant outsider might come to the matter.

                Perhaps, then, they are upset about other things than what you think has upset them?

                I have not attempted to characterize them or the situation to which they are responding. I have offered a guess as to how a distant, uninvested citizen might respond to those elements of the situation that make the news.

                As for myself, I don’t claim to be in a position to judge any aspect of the situation “on the ground.” I do, however, receive certain texts – collective statements, opinon pieces, blog posts – whose content, in the form of rhetoric, logical argument, and demands, I believe I understand well enough to reject as such.

                The only way in which these controversies begin to affect me, or “make demands” on me, is precisely on this level, since I have no material connection whatsoever to hiring practices, or student- administration relations, or curriculum, or security, or admissions, or anything else at Yale or Mizzou. As someone who likes to examine ideas as ideas, I’m in favor of people being able to examine ideas without fear of being removed from employment or being subjected to campaigns of intimidation, or without having the very idea of public intellectual inquiry being put in question.

                I find Christakis’ argument as expressed in her notorious email sympathetic as far as it goes, even if it’s a bit paradoxical (if we are to treat transgressive speech as acceptable, then how is it transgressive?). I find the arguments and demands made by those reacting to it or to the Missouri matter unpersuasive and in some cases repugnant.

                It is difficult for me to imagine the prologue that would make a forced public confession with recitation of prepared text anything other than odious. It’s a terrible idea of a type that I associate with tyranny. It makes me feel “unsafe.” It reminds me of gross injustices perpetrated against people with whom I strongly identify. It has accompanied the slaughter of my ancestors all across the branches of my family tree.

                To bring up an incident also recently in the news, I likewise find the idea of punishing a newspaper for publishing an anti-BLM op-ed, specifically by requiring it to set aside space for social justice activist-approved content repugnant – not because I agree or disagree with the opinions on BLM, but because I find forced speech repugnant.

                (I had meant to think about this a little more, but triggered the “post” button, so will let it stand, even though this post was really supposed to be about important poop questions.)Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Clearly they would know right from wrong and get an excellent education if they had gone to a HBCU.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The amount of contempt some people have for college students is, quite frankly, staggering. I don’t think I knew it existed to this extent.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                It’s because we’re mostly old farts who have forgotten we were exactly the same way in college.

                Literally, for all the screaming (mostly about the dreaded SJW) it’s nothing new. College students have always been like this — it’s a combination of new freedom, desire for differentiation from their parents, excessive amounts of passion (ah, the teenage brain), and a combination of both learning new things AND an overestimation of their own understanding.

                Perfect recipe for getting REALLY INTO something and getting it mostly wrong in terms of “Making this actually work” with just enough successes to keep the train rolling. And often in pursuit of getting laid.

                Honestly, it’s a bunch of us 30 and 40 somethings who are too far from college to remember it clearly (and of course we have a biased view, a nostalgic coating of personal history mostly) but use social media and the ‘net enough to catch large swathes of what’s going on.

                Our parents were, by and large, oblivious of whatever protest we were up to in the 90s, unless it made national news. We’re NOT because of social media, cable news, and the internet.

                *shrug*. Of course, try telling that to the people foaming at the mouth about this stuff. “It’s always been like that” does not calm them. This time, finally in OUR generation, the kids really ARE the worst!

                Aren’t we lucky? Thousands of years of parents claiming the kids are all drunk idiot messes who will destroy society, but it was OUR generation that was right!

                So add a hefty dose of egotism. The Silent Generation was wrong about the Boomers, the Boomers were wrong about us…but we, we are RIGHT about Gen Y or the Millenials or whatever.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                The truth lies somewhere in between “The kids are different now” and “The kids have always been pretty much this way.”

                It really, truly, genuinely wasn’t like this* for most of the time I was going through college. I sorta know because there was the other part, for about the first 18 months I was there, where it was a little bit like this (and I sort of have the impression that it was a lot more like it a couple years before I got there). Which suggests to me that there is an ebb and flow. Right now it’s flow, but it’ll probably burn itself out.

                Honestly more worried about administrators than students at this point.

                * – “This” with reference to the great sensitivity on identity issues and political self-image and whatnot. If we’re talking about young people being self-righteous and obnoxious more generally… yeah that’s pretty constant.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                @will-truman

                I think you are only two years my senior.

                I think we might have gone to college during a political lulling. It was largely or completely pre-9/11. People might have been upset about Bush v. Gore v. Nader but no one knew at the time what Bush II would be like. We were still in the glow of late 1990s economic prosperity. IIRC there was not much culture war stuff going on.

                In short, we had the glow of kindness of a boom time.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Identity issues have been increasingly important since the 50’s. It is true they weren’t a big thing the way they are now, but then they couldn’t be, because the groups focused on identity now had little or no power or influence before. Also identity was really important to many people before the 50’s, they were often the ones in power ( Confed apologists or whites wanting to keep blacks down as examples). Jim Crow was about identity issues.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Wasn’t saying sensitivity to identity issues was ever unimportant. Just that it hasn’t been a constant, and is greater now than it was when I was going through, though perhaps not all that different than the time before I was going through.

                The reasons why are debatable. Most likely some confluence of factors (technology, culture, political environment). But I think both those that are freaking out and those that are arguing that things aren’t at all different presently are both wrong.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The Kids Are Alright, but The Times They Are A-Changin.

                {Man, I’m old…}Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “It really, truly, genuinely wasn’t like this* for most of the time I was going through college. ”

                I dunno. I do remember it being like “that”. What’s changed is that back then, the caring and concerned students wouldn’t have banded together to call for faculty and administration resignations over the issue, and they’d have been laughed out of the building if they had.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                It’s because we’re mostly old farts who have forgotten we were exactly the same way in college.

                Alternately, it’s because we remember EXACTLY the kind of goobers we were in college.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Yeah, no.

                Admittedly my ancedoes aren’t proof, but when I was in college in the late 80s, those agitating / protesting were more respectful. When Jean Kirkpatrick came to speak, they protested outside the lecture hall banging drums and shouting slogans. Then they came inside and asked questions that actually challenged her statements. They did it was a certain amount of smug self righteousness, but when their time was up, they actually sat down and let someone else in the que ask their question. And frankly, they were pretty articulate in asking their quetions.

                Recently I attended a lecture by an internationally known potter. The last question, asked by someone currently in school was inarticulate, full of ums, errs, etc. The guest actually had to state “I don’t understand what your question is”. No one knew. It took her several minutes to articulate, poorly, what the question actually was. By then we’d all tuned out and didn’t give a damn.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                It’s true, all the articles about millennials mention their disfluency.Report

              • Avatar Guy says:

                I was on a robotics team in high school. I recall distinctly saying to a friend of mine (on multiple occasions) something along the lines of “hand me that thing, you know, the one.” And he would hand me precisely the tool I needed. Similar things happen when I discuss media with friends; it’s difficult to do the same with professors because I have a whole set of terms and references in my head (TvTropes, basically) that they don’t. Similar things happen in casual conversation with my peers on other topics. Plus, given the proportion of my communication that is written, I think it might be fair to say that I’m lacking some capacity to compose (or maybe quickly compose) spoken communiques*.

                In short: modes of communication have changed, and millennials are rather fluent in a language that is not spoken in the formal settings under discussion and which prior generations are not guaranteed to be conversant in; they are less fluent in more traditional speech. Also they’re sh*t mass (as opposed to p2p) writers, but that’s true of the vast majority of the population anyway.

                *or statements, if you will.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                I challenge anyone to comprehend something like this.

                “So, I was wondering, like, you know, how, when you are….ah….working in your medium, I mean the clay, how that working, your work in the clay that is, how that creative process…

                I mean, the creative process that you…err…experience, ahhh start, in prep..before you begin making the thing, how that all works?”

                I did my best to provide an example of the crap we all had to listen to and I still did a better job that the questioner did.

                It’s a shame Americans disapprove of canning. The questioner deserved it for wasting everyone’s time.Report

              • Avatar Guy says:

                Well, so, first of all: “what is your creative process like? How do you go from a lump of clay to a (work of art)/(finished piece)?”

                (That last is contextual based on the institution the talk was at and the way the talk was billed)

                But of course it’s easier to parse in text, and you’ve already filtered it some for me.

                But! My point was not that the person you’re talking about said something coherent that you failed to understand, it’s that their linguistic skills have been reallocated rather than reduced. Still bad*, but not as bad as your original claim.

                *Assuming the point is communicating with people who haven’t</ mastered the speaker’s primary mode of communication, which in this context it usually is.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “Still bad*, but not as bad as your original claim.”

                Clearly I didn’t convey in incomprehensibleness of the question well enough in my last post.Report

              • Avatar Guy says:

                Again, my point is not that you should have understood her, just that her communication ability is not decreased in total. Yours is not the only demographic she communicates with, and that is not the only forum in which she communicates. (And for that matter, she is not the only member of the demographic you impugn.)

                (and can someone with editor powers fix my italics tag? It’s a little embarrassing)Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                If the film professors don’t have TV Tropes engraved in their heads, something is wrong with them, not you. TV Tropes are terms of art, and they’re used in the industry (I should know, I know a television writer).Report

  2. Avatar nevermoor says:

    Fiorina saw it! Or felt like she should have seen it anyway. So the larger implication that it COULD have existed is true. Unless you prove that it could never have existed and that nothing at all similar ever has.

    (At least this one is unproven-to-date instead of simply false)Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    See, this is exactly the sort of context-free stuff I mentioned at the outset.

    Shorter to the OP-
    “This entire thing is all about the poopstika. Nothing else, just the poostika. It was the poopstika that caused the protests, the poopstika that got the perfessor fired, the poopstika that is motivating and generating the entire national discussion about Missouri University. There is no other reason why these students are so angry.”

    What would be your thoughts on the issues raised, if it were shown to be a hoax?

    It really does seem like there is this concerted effort to look away from the problem, to avoid admitting that there is a persistent and very deep problem with racism in America.

    So lets focus on the microscopic detail of whether Michael brown stole a box of cigars, or whether the poopstika was real, or anything other than the elephant in the room.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      Chip Daniels: What would be your thoughts on the issues raised, if it were shown to be a hoax?

      Is that question for me, or was it put to the commenters in general?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        You as the author and anyone else who cares to chime in.
        How would it change your thoughts on the issues raised?Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

          I don’t know, and never suggested that this side question, presented in OTC, as much, I confess, for amusement as for any other reason, had any great bearing on the questions debated at length in multi-hundred comment threads at this site and all around the interwebs.

          I think rather that my presentation tends to suggest the contrary, except in this one sense: The credulity and one-sidedness with which the story has been received may say something about the desire of participants to build a narrative, and throw anything on the common restroom walls of our minds, to see if it sticks. I think that there’s plenty of evidence for that – as there always is – regardless of what our excremental artist originally was trying to say.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      @chip-daniels

      You may be somewhat right, but in talking about what is “real” and what is distraction, you are ignoring a pretty significant bait and switch. The way that these things tend to work is that people spend a lot of time dining out on the details and then once the details become questionable, or prove to be outright false, the posture switches to “this is not about the details!”

      Maybe it’s not, but you can’t really blame people for focusing on the details, when it’s the details that the students/protesters use to call attention to the issue in the first place.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        You know that Rosa Parks was a trained political activist, and was planted specifically to provoke an arrest, right?

        Does that change your understanding of the civil rights movement?Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          It is interesting that you presume to know something about my understanding of the civil rights movement in the first place.

          Now is where I admit that I am simply not smart enough to make the appropriate connection between my comment and what you’ve just said.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            The “detail” was that Parks was a meek and harmless woman who was tired and refused to move.
            The larger narrative was that black people experienced a second class status, constant and pervasive affronts to their dignity.

            The “detail” was false; the narrative was true.

            To make a bit more palatable- ocassionally leftists will play the same game, by parsing the mythic details of the American narrative, e.g., the victims of the Boston Massacre were actually a bunch of drunken hooligans who deserved to get shot, the raising of the the flag at Iwo Jim was a staged photo op and so on.Report

            • Avatar j r says:

              Thanks for telling me about black people. You’re still not actually responding to any comment that I’ve made, which has nothing to do with what leftists or conservatives do. And that’s the problem.

              There is a reality to the world that goes beyond either side’s political narrative. Details aren’t everything, but they’re not nothing either.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          The basic social background, of segregation and Jim Crow, was not unknown at that time, though. In the analogy, Rosa Parks’ counterpart here is probably Jonathan Butler or one of the other protesters. When people want to know about details like poopstika or the incidents preceding it that have been alluded to, they are inquiring into the analogue to Jim Crow itself. What you hear (what I’ve heard) most often is that these protests are about inaction and insensitivity on the part of the university administration to the concerns of the protesters. That’s the shortcoming that precipitated Wolfe’s departure.

          So we’e clear that there was unresponsiveness. What we’re less clear about, at least I am based on the reporting I’ve heard, is the precise nature of the situation that initially needed attention. Pieces like this one offer a general sense of the nature of the grievance, but when you drill down to the situation at Missouri in particular, details (specific to Missouri) become notably sparse (though not nonexistent, of course). OTOH, this may be a nationally-minded protest as much as anything else, fueled by awareness of these issues that’s been heightened by events in the larger society (BLM, etc.).

          Whatever the case, I think when we see people who appear to be genuinely seeking to better understand the specific nature of the basic grievance, we should be willing to understand them to be doing only that, and if we have guidance or information to offer, offer it if we have the time.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Isn’t the claim being made by the students, essentially the same claim being made by black protestors nationwide?

            That they experience a pervasive pattern of bias, prejudice, and malign neglect?

            We have not one or two isolated incidents- there is a vast sea of testimony, personal stories and data points all pointing towards that same conclusion.

            So when people leap to scrutinize one data point, they are implicitly denying the pattern.

            So I’ll ask again- suppose the swastika was a hoax- would this change your conclusion of the massive sea of testimony?Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew says:

              Isn’t the claim being made by the students, essentially the same claim being made by black protestors nationwide?

              That they experience a pervasive pattern of bias, prejudice, and malign neglect?

              I don’t feel confident that I know. I just don;t have any confidence that I have any real sense of what the situation in its essence or in its particulars was on the campus. You don’t sound particularly confident either. I do think that, even if we were to accept the grievance uncritically in the general terms you offer without demanding details, even then in order for anyone outside of the situation to be able to have any clear understanding of what the issues are that constitute that pattern, eventually more specifics would have to be discussed. Otherwise there really isn’t any genuine communication of the situation to the outside world (i.e. us) going on. I’m sure those specifics are available to one extent or another (but I wonder about the extent); I’m just not confidently versed in them.

              We have not one or two isolated incidents- there is a vast sea of testimony, personal stories and data points all pointing towards that same conclusion.

              If you say so. Maybe it’s vast, or maybe it’s just extensive. I trust that it exists. But I don’t personally know what’s in it.

              So when people leap to scrutinize one data point, they are implicitly denying the pattern.

              Maybe some are, but some aren’t. I don’t think that CK here was in any way meaning to deny the existence of data points other than the swastika, up to a number of them comprising a vast sea thereof.

              So I’ll ask again- suppose the swastika was a hoax- would this change your conclusion of the massive sea of testimony?

              With the proviso that I don’t have personal knowledge of the vast sea – I don’t know where to access it – and also noting that I wasn’t looking to take up that question, but instead to point out that a revelation about Rosa Parks would change a different part of the story in the civil rights movement context than would a revelation about the fecal swastika change in this story, I’m happy to answer that it wouldn’t at all. It would make (would have made) me wonder why the precipitating event for the hunger strike ended up being a hoax when there was a vast sea of other data to support protests. But, no, I agree with your view that it wouldn’t (necessarily) have been material to an overall assessment of the situation on campus for nonwhite students. Unless somehow that situation is in fact being vastly exaggerated by the protesters, which I do not belief is the case.

              Also, the swastika was not a hoax, so this discussion is purely academic.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Good news, everyone. Mizzou released the police report regarding the incident.

    The last page has the poop but, unfortunately, there is a lot that was redacted on the last page.

    But there *IS* a police report that mentions that this actually happened.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      “poop but” there is always a but after good news.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

      I knew that Top Persons would sooner or later nail this matter to the wall!

      Unfortunately, the report doesn’t say, or provide drawings or photographs showing, whether the swastika was a Hakenkreuz (“crooked” or “angular” “cross” – typically depicted at an angle, always “forward-facing”) or the Hindu and Buddhist Swastika (square, often in the reverse orientation, “su” from the Sanskrit meaning “good,” “asti”: “to be,” “-ka”: diminutive/intensifier, so: “lucky charm”).

      Interesting that the feces were found in a restroom. I still find it hard to read a particular pro-Nazi (or pro-Buddhist, for that matter) meaning into the act. Maybe there’s some explanation relating to local events that hasn’t been brought out yet on this very important question, but I remain unsure why we’d assume a political cause rather than, say, a bad acid trip or some other anti-social impetus. If someone over in the art department did the same thing, wouldn’t we be complaining that the Nazis were an easy target and the methods too derivative? Why is “Piss Christ” taken to be challenging to Christians and perhaps to conservative art-lovers, but “Fecal Swastika” is seen as a challenge for anyone other than those who esteem the symbol?

      Unless the responsible party or a direct witness comes forward with a convincing explanation, I doubt we’ll ever know what the intention really was. As for the relevance to whatever larger issues or practical questions, I think we’re even less likely to arrive at a clear answer.Report

      • Swastikas: They’re Magically Delicious!Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            You might like this one:

            http://www.alef.net/ALEFThings/Swastikas/MicrosoftWindozeAnnotated.Gif

            This one is surprising, vintage 1925

            http://www.japanese-buddhism.com/image-files/coke-swastika.jpg

            This image turns up a lot. Apparently the building is sometimes identified as a Buddhist temple, sometimes as a Satanist temple, sometimes as a US government installation (why not all three at once?):

            https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7f/a0/cd/7fa0cd35f82305dbdf67305d8a7250aa.jpgReport

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            I’m just going to say it… this is grossly offensive.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Wait, what? These are examples of explicitly non-Nazi swastikas. If CK was springing them on someone who didn’t know what they were in an effort to upset them, that’d be one thing, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening here.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                The first image is known as “The Falun Emblem.”

                It is the symbol of Falun Dafa. As described by Master Li Hongzhi in “Zhuan Falun”, “The Law Wheel of the Buddha School, the Yin-Yang of the Tao School, and the ten-directional world are all reflected in the Falun -the Law-Wheel.” “The configuration of Falun is a miniature of the universe and has its own form of existence and process of evolution in each of the other spaces. Therefore, I call it a world.”

                http://www.umich.edu/~falun/Falun%20Emblem.htm

                One of the oldest known swastikas was painted on a paleolithic cave at least 10,000 years ago.

                Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                You mean antisemitic racists were using the swastika 10k years ago? No way? BTW, the building in the picture is at the Coronado naval base which was built in 1967 and no one objected until 2007.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Why did the Navy build a Buddhist Satanist Nazi temple?Report

              • Because the Army already had one.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Wow, that’s a real building – and US Military, to boot!

                Looks like the Navy realized pretty shortly after groundbreaking what had happened, but decided not to fix it, since there was no Google Earth, and it was in a no-fly zone so no one would see it. Oops.Report

              • And I’ll bet you the blueprints were retroactively classified. Seriously.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Something something the meaning of a signifier is a culturally determined context-dependent symbol-as-text etc blah yada.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                It’s gratuitous. And pointless. No one denies swastikas have other meanings. But it is laughable to suggest that these swastikas were drawn to convey that meaning absent any evidence to that end. What is the point in posting them?

                CK has gone from denying the swastika existed to arguing if it did exist it was Buddhist in nature. And, oh by the way, here are a bunch if swastikas.

                It’s like those dumbasses with their “knickers” song.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                It’s laughable to suggest that any swastika was drawn to convey any meaning unless you know who did it and why. Anything else is assumption. IF this was a poop swastika, maybe someone drew it as a protest against nazis? You know, how “piss christ” was a artistic statement against the christian church.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well then, I could right “Damon is an asshat” right here and insist you should take no offense because I was referring to a different Damon who is in fact a headpiece for a donkey. Or, at least, I *could* have been.

                If only words and symbols had generally understood meanings in a given context.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Hey, I’ve seen some pretty cool hats or cows, so one for a donkey must be nearly as cool. Thanks for the compliment!Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Hmmm. I could be wrong, but I don’t think CK is arguing that the scheissestika was Buddhist. He’s arguing that, because we don’t know who did it and especially because it was done in poop, its intended meaning (if any) remains unclear.

                Which is something I said originally; and, no matter its provenance or intention, there’s still no justifying a scheissestika on communal or public property.

                Hell, if someone draws ANYTHING in poop on my wall or one I must share, I want them prosecuted for hate crimes. 😉

                (kidding about the hate crimes part. But they will still feel my wrath).Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Kazzy is arguing with his own imagination. (The same goes, incidentally, for his statement that I denied the fecal swastika ever existed. I noted that Top Persons were on the case.)

                The reference to the Buddhist swastika came up in the context of an aside on the redacted police report. I never argued that the swastika was a Buddhist swastika. To state the obvious, I consider it highly unlikely that the fecal swastika, assuming it was properly identified, was or would have been meant to refer to a Buddhist or Hindu or paleolithic swastika, or any other swastika other than the Nazi Hakenkreuz, although the fact that we are likely dealing with the act of a deranged individual or of an individual undergoing a psychological break of some sort (I mean the “artist,” not Kazzy) means it’s not impossible! Even if the act was performed as a “false flag,” as some suspect, I would still consider it deranged, and certainly anti-social, as I said elsewhere on this thread.

                The statement of the fecal swastika may be a statement of hatred – so “hate speech” – but,excuse me for repeating myself but it seems necessary for me to do so, it says more strongly and clearly that “there is a hateful and deranged person here among you” than it says “there is a Nazi here among you.”

                If I were interested in offering a tribute to a symbol or the movement it represented, I would seek some other material than human feces (my own or anyone else’s!). For that matter, the real Nazis, and their descendants or wanna-be imitators, typically treat their own symbols with, to say the least, with high respect: It was a major factor in their appeal. Otherwise, an American patriot doesn’t construct an American flag out of feces. We’ve already now referred to Piss Christ, which was not taken as a tribute to Christianity (though in the artist’s imagination it maybe been meant to be) – ditto for the Mother Mary portrait decorated with elephant dung. You don’t offer a heart made out of feces for your beloved on Valentine’s Day – unless he or she’s a coprophiliac, I suppose…Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                it says more strongly and clearly that “there is a hateful and deranged person here among you” than it says “there is a Nazi here among you.”

                Is that what you think the dispute is over: that “some people” think the person who drew the symbol is a Nazi? I wonder why you think that. (Can you cite any reasons for thinking that Mizzou students were upset that there was a Nazi amongst em?)

                Rather, the only point people have been making, it seems to me, is that there is a hateful person in their midst, and their hate is probably directed along lines consistent with American’s political use of the swastika.

                So in effect you’re conceding the only point people have been making. Which is weird.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Rather, the only point people have been making, it seems to me, is that there is a hateful person in their midst, and their hate is probably directed along lines consistent with American’s political use of the swastika.

                Conjecture, based entirely on assumptions, with an irrelevant distinction between “a Nazi” and someone acting “probably… along lines consistent with.. use of the swastika.” To draw any kind of symbol on a common wall in feces is a deranged act before it is any kind of political act or statement, and regardless of how the perpetrator conceived of it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Hey, you’re the one who attribute a belief matrix to people, one which assumed the complaint was about Nazzies walking the campus. So you’re the one who made claims based on facts not in evidence, but also is arguing with your own imagination, CK. The kids at Mizzou objected to the swastika for precisely the reasons you’ve conceded are legitimate.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “To draw any kind of symbol on a common wall in feces is a deranged act before it is any kind of political act or statement, and regardless of how the perpetrator conceived of it.”

                Conjectute. Based on assumptions. Etc etc etc.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Because the purpose of articles like this is to threadjack and derail a conversation about racism in America into pedantry and irrelevant distractions.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                I’m really warming to this argument. Tell me more about how I “threadjacked” my own post!

                In the meantime, what a perfect symmetry without connection you repeatedly set up, between one side arguing in favor of arguing, the other refusing to argue on presumed unquestionable principle – a simulacrum of this unique non-debate regarding debate that has been occurring. Its very nature prevents us ever from moving beyond the fist step, since moving beyond the first step into any authentic discussion is not merely a concession, for the sake of argument, but treason and blasphemy as far as the illiberal side is concerned.

                The only question is what people taking the second position are doing at a discussion site full of “irrelevant distractions,” under a post offered openly as a marginal diversion. If the search for the missing poopist and other aspects of this sidebar don’t interest you, then you are the one who is “threadjacking.”Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              Only offensive to the uneducated. The swastika has a long history in Buddhism/Hinduism as a good luck symbol.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              That is, CK noted that one ancient meaning of the swastika, before the Nazis ruined it (as they did that mustache), was “lucky charm” – at which point Mike made a cereal joke, and CK responded with a programmer (Windows) joke.

              Obviously only Mike knows if he’s offended, but I’d be surprised if that was CK’s intention, or Mike’s response.Report

    • So the real poop is that there was really poop?Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      there is a lot that was redacted on the last page.

      I thought that black box was a photo of the scene of the crime, and someone just forgot to turn on the light or use a flash!

      Come to think of it, trying to identify a scheissestika in the dark is a sadly-apt metaphor for this entire mess.

      (Why on earth was it necessary to redact so much? I can see redacting names for now, since events are running hot and you don’t need anyone getting death threats, but that’s a NSA-level total redaction. Still, it’s enough to say that the incident happened, though who did it and why remains murky…and stinky.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        It didn’t occur to me that the large black square might have been a photo of the scene.

        If it was, good lord, why did they redact it?Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          I doubt it was (just) a photo, I was just being silly. I assume it’s more text.

          Still, that’s a lotta redacting. Like I said, I can see blacking out names, for people’s safety right now, but that’s at least a paragraph or two. Maybe they are just being cautious in case other details therein could identify people, and then they have to put those people under police protection or something.Report

        • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

          Jaybird: If it was, good lord, why did they redact it?

          Because the sight of some things is just too much even for hardened police professionals, much less the general public, to bear. Obvs.Report

  5. Avatar Dand says:

    Tangentially related: A student group at CUNY blames “Zionists” for tuition hikes,

    http://www.thetower.org/2556-at-cuny-students-blame-israel-for-tuition-hikes/Report

    • That’s what the headline says, but what the story says is that the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) will be participating in a march intended to protest tuition hikes, but instead they’ll be protesting the “Zionist” CUNY administration.

      Calling the administration “Zionist” is stupid, but if they want to protest the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, that’s completely their right, and a much more serious issue than a few morons shouting racial slurs.Report

      • Avatar Dand says:

        Here’s the full text of the groups facebook message:

        On November 12th, students all across CUNY will rally to demand a freeze on tuition and new contracts! We must fight for funding for our university, and for CUNY to be accessible to working class communities in NYC as the public university system. The Zionist administration invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP aims to change the university to fight for all peoples liberation.
        We demand:
        An End to the Privatization of Education!

        -Tuition-Free Education
        -Cancellation of all student debt!
        -15$ minimum wage for campus workers!

        An End to Racial and Economic Segregation in Education!

        -Racialized college-acceptance practices
        -Work Program requirements for students on public assistance
        -Rapid gentrification and privatization of public school property.

        Transparency in Administration!

        -Gender Resource Centers and perpretrators of sexual assault expelled
        -Demand CUNY divests from Israel, companies that maintain the Zionist occupation, private prisons, and prison labor.

        -Pay Parity for Adjunct Professors
        -A fair contract for CUNY Professors

        I’m struggling to find a non Anti-Semitic way that Zionism relates to the economic issues they’re protesting about.Report

  6. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    There’s a pedestrian tunnel downtown near my work, that I walk through most days to go to the bakery for lunch. It’s frequently graffiti’d and buffed and graffiti’d again.

    There, under the beige buff paint, is a thick swastika, in lines three fingers wide, with the visible trenches of those three fingers that smeared it on. It might not be made of poop, and I’m not about to put a lot of investigative effort into finding out. For whatever reason, the cleaners buffed it over without pressure washing it off, preserving it against future washing.Report

  7. Avatar Damon says:

    Was leaning towards not believing it, but didn’t give it much thought. Figured if it WAS real there’d be pictures up on twitter, instagram, etcReport

  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    The PD report seems clear: two residence hall staff of unknown race and gender reported the swastika to the police, who noted its presence in an official police report.

    But because this supports an argument being put forth by Black folks and liberals, obviously we need to question whether it REALLY happened. And if there are any discrepancies — such as someone involved in the protest but not present at the scene saying the swastika was drawn in “their feces” instead of just “feces”, obviously all these uppity Black folks are the REAL racists. Ugh…Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      The facts are important, unless you believe there has never been an instance of a SJW falsely claiming they were attacked just to get attention.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        And the facts are that two resident hall staff members and a police officer documented the incident. And that all this hand wringing could have been alleviated by a FOIA request, which is ultimately what got us the report. Yet the hand wringing continues because the report doesn’t indicate the staff members names so, obviously, this is all a liberal plot.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          The Federalist, which started raising the questions, submitted a FOIA request several days ago. They never got a response.

          It is clear that the poop swastika existed. The context of it, though, is still unknown (and we’ll probably never know for sure). But that this thing did apparently exist is not insignificant.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            If the Federalist didn’t get a response, you can’t lay that at the feet of the protesters or suggest it has any impact on the legitimacy of their claims. To do so would be ridiculous.

            All this talk of context is really troubling to me. I mean, it’s a fucking swastika. What is there to debate? Do you really think someone said, “Ya know what? Fuck Nazis. I’ll show them. I’ll draw their primary symbol — one used to promote anti-Semitism and racism and many other forms of hatred ever since — in shit on the wall of a dorm bathroom. THAT will show the Nazis!”Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I agree that the protesters didn’t know. Tried to say something to that effect, but couldn’t in a way that didn’t sound like I was saying that they should have waited (which wasn’t their responsibility).

              I mention The Federalist mostly to say that this wasn’t a case of their not trying to do diligence before raising some of the doubts.

              Regarding context, what we don’t know is whether it was done to intimidate students, or done specifically to garner the sort of reaction that it did. That’s the context that matters.

              And yeah, hate crime hoaxes are a thing that happens. (I’m waiting for hate crime hoax hoaxes to become a thing.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There is also the third option: drunk/stonedReport

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                In college I knew a guy who took a bunch of acid, and the next morning his dorm room wall was inexplicably-coated with peanut butter.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                In the world of law, we’d say res ipsa loquitor to a situation like that.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I don’t mean to imply the immediate cause was unknown – clearly, he himself had done it, while under the influence of a bunch of acid – but for the life of him, he could not recall the “reasoning” behind the act, nor could he clearly remember committing the act.

                Also, I feel I should clarify – “a guy” is not a euphemism here for “me”. I love peanut butter far too much to just waste it like that.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Understood. If it had been a euphemism for “me,” the phrase would more likely have been “a friend” rather than “a guy.”Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                Reminds me of a couple of California ladies once upon a time who were arrested after covering their bodies in mustard and honey and going out for a drive in their convertible (I think). Their reported explanation was something like, “The spirit moved us.” They were nicknamed “the Sunshine Sisters.” I don’t recall whether they were actually sisters.

                People can be weird, with or without drugs and college involved.

                Decorating a common restroom with feces suggests a state or episode of mental derangement, regression to infancy joined to a peculiarly, but not necessarily rationally, politicized hostility.

                So, the act seems clearly and unquestionably, objectively, anti-social. As a “false flag,” it would be a bizarre false flag. It seems to say, regardless of conscious intentions, “you all and everything you believe in are shit to me.” If someone with a rightwing extremist point of view is responsible, the act would still have occurred somewhere over the line between political extremism and insanity. (It was literally “unsanitary.”) Whether it says anything specifically about the state of things at Mizzou, or at American universities, or in American society, etc., and whether whatever caused it can be rationally addressed by school adminstrators or anyone else remain questionable. Could as well be that well-intentioned reforms addressing students’ rational complaints would exacerbate anti-social acting out of this type, in any of several ways.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Possible, but being with people whose idea of S&G is swastikas on walls is definitely cause for distress.

                So I put that more in the “hate crime” bucket than the “false flag” one.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Well, it was definitely shit wasn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Guy says:

                I believe (but can’t verify) that they already are.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            How long ago did the Federalist submit its FOIA request? Add twenty days to the second date. (Maybe more, if the state law of Missouri cognate to FOIA has a longer response time.) You can’t read anything into a public agency failing to respond to a request before the deadline to do so. You oughtn’t read much into a public agency saying “We need more time to respond to the request,” either. And if you get a response of “This is an ongoing investigation that is not yet closed so we’re declining the information request at this time, but you’re welcome to try again when our investigation is closed,” there probably isn’t much of a subtext below that.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I didn’t make much of the lack of response, but they’re not going to wait 20 days to run the story (and suggesting that this all could have been cleared up by a FOIA request becomes somewhat null). Also, I can understand some frustration on their part that Slate’s request has gone through (in well under 20 days) but theirs hasn’t, but there may be a good or at least decent reason for that.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                Agreed that they’re not going to wait 20 days to run their story. Nor should they: timely analysis of a breaking event is important for both journalism and commentary purposes.

                Calling the absence of an early response to a FOIA request a material point to consider within that story is presenting that evidence in a way likely to mislead the reader.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It can be, but it’s also answering the question “Why didn’t you try to find out from the police department?” analogous to “Attempts to reach Senator Smith were unsuccessful.”Report

              • Avatar Mo says:

                Also, I can understand some frustration on their part that Slate’s request has gone through (in well under 20 days) but theirs hasn’t, but there may be a good or at least decent reason for that.

                @will-truman The fact that Slate has more than an order of magnitude more monthly traffic than the Federalist is probably one of those reasons. A government agency may rationally decide to prioritize larger organizations than smaller ones.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      It never occurred to me that it might not actually have happened, but there is an extensive history of this sort of thing being done under false flag. In particular, it seems to me that the things that go viral like this have in the past been particularly likely to be false-flag, probably because they can be crafted to fit the narrative, whereas real racist vandals are usually not so obliging.

      Drunk guy yelling the n-word? Sure, that sounds plausible. Fecal swastika? That smells like an SJW failing an ideological Turing test.

      I could be wrong, but if we were betting even odds, I’d go with false-flag.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        That sounds an awful lot like “They doesn’t fit with how I want the world to be, ergo it probably didn’t happen”.

        That logic is awfully subject to things like confirmation bias and what your priors are. Plus, it’s pretty much immune to evidence. If it happened? FALSE FLAG. If it didn’t happen LIE.

        Either way, you’ve basically got a “heads the students are liars, tails the students are liars” setup there. There’s no real room in your construction for “Yep, this happened”.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Brandon and Density have both been pretty consistent about what their suspicions are. Both said Maybe False Flag very early on, before there even was a “there was no poop” theory.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            In these kind of media storms info is muddled and background unclear as new bits come up. I noted below there an incident last year of a student convicted of burning swastikas into a stair well at MU. So this kind of thing does have some basis in reality.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              Yeah, I’m glad you found that one.Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              So it was vandalism but it was not directed at anyone, right.? Or rather no random minority assumed that it was directed at them.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Beats me, i didn’t talk to the vandal. But swastika’s do have a certain …ummm…baggage to them. They probably weren’t aimed at the big homecoming football rival.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                greginak: They probably weren’t aimed at the big homecoming football rival.

                But as you just said you don’t know, do you? Sometimes folks are just stupid and vandalize stuff without any real reason. That is until someone reads something into it like this case where the black guy assumed that the poop swastika in the bathroom must be aimed at him. I’m still trying to understand why the black guy would assume it was directed at him in the first place.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                True, he could have been trying to make a giant X but his hand slipped four times. It could be true. Without a notarized statement listing the groups the swastika was aimed at it is safer to assume it was bad luck he settled on that symbol.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                So it was vandalism but it was not directed at anyone, right.?

                Same with a KKK rally. Wearing those robes in public isn’t directed at anyone, or any group in particular. It’s just an inexplicable expression of … well, how do we even know that it’s an attempt to express anything? Maybe it was just the result of collective irrationality resulting from a bad acid trip or too many Coors Lites? Or a joke. Or the celebration of white sheets as an under-appreciated yet timelessly fashionable clothing accessory.

                Who knows?

                Adding: I mean, one thing we DO know is that it’s not an expression of racism cuz I’ve read several self-admitted KKK members explicitly deny that they’re racists.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Swastikas were painted on the sidewalk in a public park in my former hometown. This was the same town with a sizable Orthodox Jewish community with strained relations with their non-Orthodox neighbors. This shit happens. And the real occurrences far outpace the false ones.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “But because this supports an argument being put forth by Black folks and liberals, obviously we need to question whether it REALLY happened. And if there are any discrepancies — such as someone involved in the protest but not present at the scene saying the swastika was drawn in “their feces” instead of just “feces”, obviously all these uppity Black folks are the REAL racists. Ugh…”

      I think it’s worth pointing out that nobody here has actually said this except for you.

      I wondered whether the thing had actually happened. Given the lengthy history and many examples of this sort of thing not happening (or being perpetrated by the student who reported it), I’d say that was a reasonable question.

      And now there’s a report that says it actually did. So, question answered.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        @densityduck

        But how often has this shit REALLY HAPPENED? What is the ratio of real swastikas to fake one?Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          You want to be careful with statistical arguments, dude. Because I can show statistics to the effect of “when a black man who matches the description of a recent thief runs toward a police officer, it is unlikely that he intends to peacefully surrender the stolen goods and allow himself to be taken into custody”.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:

      Sure, but do the people involved have nice counter tops?Report

  9. Avatar notme says:

    Chip Daniels: So lets focus on the microscopic detail of whether Michael brown stole a box of cigars, or whether the poopstika was real, or anything other than the elephant in the room.

    So details are not important when they don’t support your favored narrative?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Whether Michael Brown stole cigars is immaterial to the legitimacy of his shooting.

      Whether a swastika was drawn (note: it was) is immaterial to the broader complaints offered by the students. It served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. Had it not happened (note: it did), all the other straws would have remained and been no less legitimate.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The students have been pretty explicit about the fact that it’s the general atmosphere of racial discrimination and intolerance, combined with the administration’s lack of action/attention, that has fueled these protests. The major events cited in the media are largely used as salient examples for people who aren’t on campus and/or aren’t members of marginalized groups. It is, of course, pretty much only people who aren’t members of marginalized groups who’ve come to the conclusion that those salient examples are the beginning and end of it, so that if they are shown to be false, the whole thing is therefore a sham.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          @chris

          I think it’s even worse. Many folks deny the existence of microaggressions. They insist that anything short of hoods and burning crosses doesn’t constitute racism. Well, now we have a swastika. But it MIGHT have been a fake swastika so, yea, still nothing to see here.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          @chirs and @kazzy

          It is, of course, pretty much only people who aren’t members of marginalized groups who’ve come to the conclusion that those salient examples are the beginning and end of it,

          I am going to push back against this. There are the usual gang of reactionaries who generally want to minimize any and all claims of racism and who are perpetually ready to hit the send button on some post about how liberal are turning all the kids into petulant fascists. Those people exist, but there is a whole range of opinions that don’t have a public outlet and don’t generally get counted. I guarantee you there is a pretty significant cohort of older black folks who think that any kid lucky enough to be going to Yale, should quit playing student revolutionary and that the best way to help the cause is to get back to the serious work of getting an education (I’m not endorsing that opinion, only pointing out that it exists).

          It is certainly possible to believe that the students have a point, but that their reaction is a bit much. You can believe both that there is racism in the world and that calls for administrative censorship and the overuse of safe spaces is a problem. You can believe that microaggressions are a thing and that the best response to them is not to occupy a campus or call for mandatory sensitivity training. These are all viable opinions.

          In fact, I believe these things because I am the member of a marginalized group. I don’t believe in giving folks with arbitrary authority wide-ranging powers to decide ad hoc which forms of expression are acceptable or unacceptable. When the poop hits the fan, I would much rather have a robust set of legally and historically recognized speech and expression rights on my side then the temporary support of well-meaning white progressives. The latter has a history of being very fickle.Report

  10. Avatar greginak says:

    Clearly the idea of swastika vandalism is a reach. Well except for one Bradley Becker who burnt a swastikas and Illuminati triangle into stairs in a dorm. He was arrested and pled to second degree property damage.

    http://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/local/mu-freshman-faces-hate-crime-charges-for-swastika

    http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/crime/2015/10/30/mizzou-swastika-vandalism-dorm/74899358/Report

  11. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Kevin Drum weighed in on this briefly, and made a point that I’d just assumed everyone knew.

    Whatever the trigger was (an email about Halloween, or a poop swastika or whatever) is almost always the last straw, not the first provocation. I’m not going to claim that some little thing never, ever, ever gets blown up into a big thing….

    But the betting odds are, when some little thing sets a whole lot of people off? There’s a lot more behind it than that one little thing. So getting hyper-focused on whatever the last straw was, and trying to discredit that?

    Pointless at best, because it’s so very rarely the entirety (or even a big piece) of the problem.Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    The goal post shifting is remarkable. I bet if I had asked folks a month ago if a poop swastika would have been an obvious act of racism, nearly everyone would have said “Well, yea. That is pretty clearly an act of racism.”

    Now we have a poop swastika. And lots of folks are saying, “Well…”Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Does a poop swastika mean the same thing to jews as is does to blacks? Is this guy a black jew?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        The swastika was adopted as a symbol of the KKK.

        So, yea, I should have said “act of anti-semitism or racism”.

        And yet you have not in any way refuted my actual point. Nit nit nit nit nit…Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          You mean your assumption that people would automatically associate a poop swastika was racism versus antisemitism? If that’s all you had it wasn’t much of an actual point. Nit nit nit nit nit…Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      I’m not sure about that. If you’d asked me a month ago, my thoughts would be pretty much what they are now. There’s any number of possibilities as to why someone might draw a poopstika:

      -they might be racists making an racist statement
      -they might be activists trying to drum up support for some sort of anti-racism action
      -they might be drunk/stoned/tripping and have no discernible agenda whatsoever

      Even if it’s just the plain old racist category, it’s still not clear what a poopstika means. Is it an all-purpose statement of white supremacy? Is it specifically anti-Semitic act? Is it someone trafficking in taboo symbols purely for the shock value? Devoid of context, the act is somewhat meaningless.

      Of course, no matter the particular classifications, a swastika is a swastika (other than when it’s not) and we should all be able to agree that the administration ought to take some action. As to how students ought to respond, that is another story.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        As I mentioned before, I’d argue that the “No discernable agenda” is still gonna fall in the racist bucket for most intents and purposes unless that person was somehow unaware of how it would be recieved. Being drunk/stoned doesn’t get you there.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          That’s fine. As I and others have said, a swastika is a swastika, as is drawing anything in poop, and I would still expect the administration to act.

          That said, how I as an individual react is absolutely dependent upon the context of the act. If it is part of a large pattern of racism and intimidation, then I would likely act. If it’s one dude acting an asshat, I’m probably not going to let it ruin my day.

          That’s me, of course. How others react is up to them.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “swastika because asshole” has a different solution from “swastika because racist”.Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            If I were an extremely anti-social individual who wanted to show my scorn for “social justice warriors” and simultaneously for the establishment that, in my mind, enables, coddles, and privileges them and the groups they represent, I might be casing out the next “restroom wall” just about now. Likewise if I were a cheap thrill-seeking a-hole witnessing convulsive reactions to the shouting of a few epithets, and one epithet in particular, I would be taking note and looking for the next opportunity to show off.

            There are a lot of driving age little boys out there looking for anthills to stomp. Some, in addition, have grievances of their own, as deeply felt and in their minds undebatable as anybody else’s.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          unless that person was somehow unaware of how it would be received. Being drunk/stoned doesn’t get you there.

          Mostly-true, but as I alluded in the peanut butter story above, it is certainly possible for a college student (or anyone) to imbibe enough [mind-altering substance] to do something otherwise-inexplicable, and even to black out, so that there is no memory of having done so.

          My college roommate got black-out drunk on most or all of a bottle of Scotch, and passed out in a dormitory stairwell; he was underage and could well have been arrested, but the campus cop that roused him instead released him into the care of a mutual friend (it’s debatable whether this was wise, since he was likely drunk enough to have been at some medical risk).

          The roommate (who was Vietnamese/mixed-race) thanked the officer via multiple utterances of the words of the Vietnamese prostitute in Full Metal Jacket – “Love you long time, baby” – to our mutual friend’s mortification.

          The roommate remembered none of this incident the next day (though he was spectacularly hungover).

          Extreme intoxication may as well be on a continuum with the “mentally ill” possibility – most people (unless they have a fetish, which is itself derived from the taboo) have a deep-seated aversion to feces. I’m on my third kid and have two dogs, and have changed a lot of diapers and emptied a lot of training potties and scooped a lot of poop, and I still must suppress my gag-reflex sometimes, when I have to deal with a poop situation.

          Coprophilia (or some more apt term, since that’s really about the fetish) doesn’t necessarily indicate mental illness; but working in poop seems at least possibly-indicative of a mentally-disturbed person – recall that one of the worst details of the Tawana Brawley fiasco, was that she had been smeared with feces by her (as it turned out, non-existent) attackers.

          In truth, she came from an incredibly-abusive situation and the whole story, with “props”, had been cooked up by her, in an attempt to avoid yet another beating at home.

          Worth noting also, that some mentally-ill people have an unhealthy fascination with taboo symbols such as swastikas. Manson carved one into his forehead.

          None of this is to excuse a scheissestika, nor imply people are wrong to be concerned and upset upon discovering one. They should be concerned, for a number of reasons.

          Just pointing out that in addition to the possibilities that 1.) racists did it 2.) anti-racist false-flaggers did it 3.) drunk/drugged/antisocial trollers did it, there’s a 4.) – a mentally-ill person did it (has anyone seen GG Allin’s ghost?) Or there could be overlap in some of those categories.Report

          • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

            Worth it just for the revelation, for me, that GG Allin (whom I may have heard of vaguely once upon a time) was given the name “Jesus Christ Allin” at birth.

            I’ve rejected @chip-daniels ‘ attack on the very existence of this sub-inquiry, and I did so on the grounds that this post and thread were largely for “amusement,” but I think I was wrong to do so. Chip (whose given name was, I believe, “LWA,” at birth) is also still wrong, in my view, but for the opposite reason. The act was directly referenced by the hunger striker Jonathan Butler and associates as the excrementum that broke the racism skip-loader’s front-mounted square wide bucket, while the hunger strike was the act that, apparently, was too much for the community (esp as represented by the football team) to absorb.

            Even if the former act had been calculated provocation or a “false flag,” that wouldn’t necessarily invalidate the grievances motivating Butler and others, either at Missouri or nationwide. However, the reception of the act might still tell us things about those grievances or about the grievance narrative, in defense of which the activists and supporters will tend to pre-judge any questions and divergences in opinion as reflective of “minimizing sentiments” – the latter being Jelani Cobb’s term in his controversial New Yorker article referring to “the free speech diversion.”

            Maybe a response to Cobb is worth an entire post, or anyway a discussion separated from an inquiry into a “poopstika.” I find this concept of “minimizing sentiments” as a speech crime, advanced at the New Yorker, interestingly dangerous, and wouldn’t want to minimize anyone’s sentiments about it.Report

            • By the way, a perfect illustration of:

              1. The complexity of the meta-levels in free speech discussions, and
              2. How reflexive partisanship makes everyone stupider

              Was Junior Podhoretz’s freakout about Jelani Cobb’s article, as if the New Yorker giving him a place to express his views constituted a full endorsement of them, even though they’d also published a classic New Yorker “This stuff is complicated: let’s try to sort it out before drawing any definite conclusions” piece in the same issue. Apparently Podhoretz’s reponse to a criticism of free speech would be to censor it.Report