Lawsuit-free since 9/14/05

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Steve Horwitz Claims TBOC Harasses Students

Confirms that Sullivan Lied

I recently came across this 3/6/05 post from SCSUScholars.com. Steve Horwitz, Professor of Economics and Dean of the First-Year Studies program, wrote a letter responding to SCCU's earlier coverage of Take Back Our Campus:
This blog is not just a "criticize the administration" blog. If that were it, so be it. The problem is that they have attacked and harassed other students by name. What they're doing is in violation of our student conduct policies. The decision to block access was an attempt (feeble yes) to protect those students from harrassment. The lawsuit is not designed to shut down the blog, but for discovery to find out with certainty who the students are behind it. If the president wanted to shut them down, he would have gone to the ISP.
How interesting, then, was the timing of SLU's block of TBOC-- mere weeks after we first began attacking administrative policies. And the lawsuit was filed shortly after we first reported the ban on TBOC and leaked President Sullivan's secret memo to the faculty council chair announcing the block.

However, if Horwitz is going to charge us with "harrassment," it would be kind of him to spell it properly. (Steve-- the SLU Writing Center is open six days a week and the nice tutors are always happy to look over your drafts.--ed.) After all, Horwitz himself is no stranger to ad hominem attacks on students. In particular, he's fond of leveling baseless charges of "anti-Semitism," the most reviled taboo of the 20th century, in an attempt to silence those with whom he disagrees.

In the fall of 2003, the students of SLU's Students for Justice in Palestine invited scholar (and critic of Israel's imperial policies) Norman Finkelstein to speak on campus. Horwitz (without having read Finkelstein's work) wasted no time in leveling unsubtle charges of anti-Semitism at Finkelstein. Then, not having attended Finkelstein's lecture, Horwitz proceeded to claim "anti-Semitism" on the part of the students who brought Finkelstein to SLU's campus. After being confronted as to the veracity of these charges, Horwitz wrote here (scroll down for second-to-last post): "The students who invited [Finkelstein] are not anti-semitic for inviting NF (although they could be for other reasons)."

The curious phrase "although they could be for other reasons" is an accusation in furtherance of which Horwitz declines to cite any evidence. It reminds one of nothing more than the dirty tactics used by Karl Rove in the 2000 Republican primary. During the 2000 South Carolina primary for the Republican Presidential nomination, pollsters hired by the Bush campaign conducted a poll in which voters were asked if they would support John McCain if they knew he had fathered an "illegitimate" Black child. The question was ridiculous-- McCain had never fathered a Black child, "legitimate" or not-- though the suggestion seemed plausible to South Carolina voters, as McCain had recently been campaigning with his daughter, an adopted Bangladeshi. Rove knew that the accusation against McCain was false-- but that wasn't the point of the question. The point was to plant the suggestion among the voting populace in order to distract them from the issues with ad hominem attacks.

Similarly, Horwitz's caveat "although they could be [anti-Semitic] for other reasons" continues his stream of personal attacks against the individual students who brought Norman Finkelstein to SLU. The "I have no evidence for this, but it could be true..." formulation is the most transparent, lazy and irresponsible form of criticism in which Horwitz could waste his credibility as a faculty member and administrator.

However, we owe Horwitz some thanks. After all, his letter clearly states: "The lawsuit is not designed to shut down the blog, but for discovery to find out with certainty who the students are behind it." Despite the syntactically vexing "for discovery to find out with certainty," Horwitz has made evident that President Sullivan and the administration misrepresented their case to a federal court. The lawsuit, ostensibly filed for copyright violations [in which we posted non-copyrighted pictures from SLU's website, but rather than ask us to remove the photos, SLU copyrighted the pictures (one of which was of Horwitz) and decided to sue us] has nothing do with copyright protection-- after all, we've already taken down the photos. The suit, as Horwitz explained, is to discover our identities. The administration can then avenge their hurt egos and use their vicious power to attack in any way they like.


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