May 11, 2007

The Insanity Offense

In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, many people have questioned the state's decision to make the university a "gun-free" zone, especially when it did nothing to prevent the attacker from bringing the weapons on campus. Noting the impossibility of securing a 2600-acre campus, the forced disarming of the student body and faculty has created a debate about the Second Amendment and the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. The debate has highlighted the differences between assuming roles as activists and victims.

Locally, the well-regarded Hamline University took the latter approach. After the shooting, the university offered counseling and coping assistance, even though the shooting had taken place 1500 miles away. Grad student Tony Scheffler took exception to that, and replied to the e-mail that perhaps a better solution would be to allow Hamline students the ability to defend themselves. As Mitch Berg notes, that's when Hamline decided that Scheffler required psychiatric treatment:

In the aftermath, officials at Hamline University sought to comfort their 4,000 students. David Stern, the vice president for academic and student affairs, sent a campus-wide email offering extra counseling sessions for those who needed help coping.

Scheffler had a different opinion of how the university should react. Using the email handle "Tough Guy Scheffler," Troy fired off his response: Counseling wouldn't make students feel safer, he argued. They needed protection. And the best way to provide it would be for the university to lift its recently implemented prohibition against concealed weapons.

"Ironically, according to a few VA Tech forums, there are plenty of students complaining that this wouldn't have happened if the school wouldn't have banned their permits a few months ago," Scheffler wrote. "I just don't understand why leftists don't understand that criminals don't care about laws; that is why they're criminals. Maybe this school will reconsider its repression of law-abiding citizens' rights."

After stewing over the issue for two days, Scheffler sent a second email to University President Linda Hanson, reiterating his condemnation of the concealed carry ban and launching into a flood of complaints about campus diversity initiatives, which he considered reverse discrimination.

So what happened at Hamline? A debate over the nature of personal security? A healthy exchange of views on gun control? A forum on diversity initiatives?

Not exactly, no. David Stern, reaching back to the grand tradition of the Soviet Union, decided that dissent had to involve some sort of psychological disturbance and bounced Scheffler out of Hamline. Rather than wait to the end of the semester and then invite Scheffler to continue his education elsewhere, though, Hamline treated him like a psychotic and barred him immediately from campus until he got psychological help:

So Hamline officials took swift action. On April 23, Scheffler received a letter informing him he'd been placed on interim suspension. To be considered for readmittance, he'd have to pay for a psychological evaluation and undergo any treatment deemed necessary, then meet with the dean of students, who would ultimately decide whether Scheffler was fit to return to the university.

The consequences were severe. Scheffler wasn't allowed to participate in a final group project in his course on Human Resources Management, which will have a big impact on his final grade. Even if he's reinstated, the suspension will go on his permanent record, which could hurt the aspiring law student.

"'Oh, he's the crazy guy that they called the cops on.' How am I supposed to explain that to the Bar Association?" Scheffler asks.

He has also suffered embarrassment. Scheffler obeyed the campus ban and didn't go to class, but his classmate, Kenny Bucholz, told him a police officer was stationed outside the classroom. "He had a gun and everything," Bucholz says. Dean Julian Schuster appeared at the beginning of class to explain the presence of the cop, citing discipline problems with a student. Although Schuster never mentioned Scheffler by name, it didn't take a scholar to see whose desk was empty.

What happened to all of that caring and coping? Hamline stood ready to treat its entire student body as victims, offering all sorts of free and presumably anonymous counseling and "coping" assistance. When one of them challenged that status, they use the same mechanism to humiliate and punish him. Either Stern has never read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, or he has only done so as a do-it-yourself guide to political correctness and punishment for its violators.

And let's also point out that they only hired an armed guard after Scheffler pointed out that they had left students with no defense whatsoever against attackers -- and only to ensure that the man who pointed it out could not return to campus.

Hamline is a private university and can set its own standards for admission and retention. However, it should be made clear to its students and its potential students that Hamline has no room for intellectual dissent from its attendees. Students have to accept the victimology dogma of the administration in silence, and in return Hamline will help them cope with their powerlessness. If by chance one of the students challenges the university directly on its philosophy, they will treat him or her like a psychotic and hire the guards they should have hired when they decided to keep their students disarmed.

Mitch and I will absolutely be discussing this on tomorrow's edition of the Northern Alliance Radio Network.

UPDATE: The lovely and talented Dr. Helen takes note of this, and adds:

I have an idea of how to get potential psychotic school shooters off campus: Just goad them into saying something conservative. Next thing you know, they'll be whisked off the campus in handcuffs and psychological treatment will be a must--at their expense! Problem solved.

All too true, especially since Hamline apparently sees conservatism as a mental disorder.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (11)

Posted by Harleycon5 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 7:59 AM

This is where the student should hire a team of lawyers and sue the university for 20 million dollars. Such occasions where a student is not given the right to speak out or write a letter are ripe for a lawsuit.

It must be noted that this just goes to prove that the Left does not like to be challenged in their illogical way of thinking. Some examples: Where has Marxism been effective? Yet the Left continues to push for Marxism. Right to carry laws have proven that guns in the hands of the law abiding actually decrease crime. Yet the left wants to ban them from legal purchase. High taxation actually hurts the poor, since Communist countries generally have the poorest people around, and in the highest numbers. Yet the Left asks to squash wealth at every turn.

The Left simply cannot deal with the fact that we will not be silenced, certainly not without a fight, and fight we shall.

Posted by Linh_My [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 8:18 AM

As God doesn't exist in their minds, They assume, in their own minds Godliness. To disagree is Heresy. Your post is an offense against their Godhood. I like it.

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 8:39 AM

Masculinity combined with bravery, is SO FOREIGN to some people that they get nervous when they encounter it. It's part of a general anti-male bigotry, with a strong bias against associating superiority with the physical. Men win the physical contest, so the concept of winning by force is just repulsive to some. Winning by force: obviously unfair to women. I don't know why they can't see that firearms make women more equal, not less equal, but they don't. Firearms are just too associated with maleness, I guess.

Posted by TomB [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 8:42 AM

This is a sad (and not the only) byproduct of the academia at our Universities being uniformly “Leftistos” and “Democratos”, no diversity here. In fact many Universities become nothing more, than some little Socialistic Republic of This, or That, poisoning minds of young generation in the process.
As I said before, these Augean Stables should be cleaned out, but this one is also a Herculean task...

Posted by SCATTERSHOT | May 11, 2007 8:45 AM

Mr. Scheffler challenged the authoritarian nature of the school's administration. He wasn't obsequious enough when he offered his unsolicited thoughts on the subject of campus security, twice. Such insensitivity to the signal sent by the administration (silence in response to his first email) was enough to convince the weaklings in the administration that he must be culled from the herd.

Posted by Rich Horton [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 9:22 AM

Too often today so called liberals are demanding "re-education" for any who oppose them. They will admit to no rational ground to stand against their wishes. To oppose their agenda is, they feel, evidence of an "unbalanced" mind.

It is a short step from here to the psychopharmalogical "neutralization" of dissent.

Posted by biwah [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 9:44 AM

A thought criminal, and a hate criminal to boot! Speech criminal, too...

Seriously, it seems outrageous. If he said something more threatening elsewhere in his letter, some kind of response was perhaps warranted (like, how about an interview with someone in the administration to discuss the substance of the letters? Would that be such a bad idea?)

"Insanity offense" captures it masterfully. This is largely about the use of "psychological concerns" about an individual as a pretext to disappear them and pre-empt a true debate. Psychology has such potential (e.g., it could have detected the intentions of any number of mass murderers in time) but is also a malleable tool of the state (and to a lesser degree private institutions) and, if used as such, can be used to shut virtually anyone down based on an elastic interpretation of certain speech or certain conduct.

Viewed through the right lens, most if not all) of us will satisfy some DSM criteria for some recognized form of pathology. As such, psychology is an easy way to hurdle due process and individual rights under the pretense of "protection". It is all too easy (and common) to smear your political detractors as deranged when you've got governmental or institutional clout behind you.

Also, notice that no psychological professional seems to have signed off on the threat posed by the student here. They just needed to invoke the "concern" and use the right language. This is an extremely dangerous game and it is played everywhere in our society.

Posted by Boondoggie [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 10:30 AM

I wonder if we're hearing all of this story. It could be that the email he sent had some threats in it, in which case the school was being cautious. But in that case, you'd expect the school to be making noise about that.

It will be interesting to see this one play out.

Posted by Roy Lofquist [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 11:14 AM

Certainly a private institution has the right to set its own rules subject to legal restraints. That said, the university and the student have a contractual agreement: you pay the tuition and we provide the education. The arbitrary breach of this agreement is, I believe, a tort.

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 12:24 PM

I thought a tort was a sort of layer cake...

I strongly object to placing an armed police officer on the campus. What if he should go mad? Or decide to play Marshall Dillon? What if he's drunk? The students and faculty would in jeopardy!

I mean, isn't this what we're told when somebody suggests allowing airline pilots to be armed? Or, God forbid, common citizens?

Cap'n Ed wrote:

What happened to all of that caring and coping? Hamline stood ready to treat its entire student body as victims, offering all sorts of free and presumably anonymous counseling and "coping" assistance. When one of them challenged that status, they use the same mechanism to humiliate and punish him. Either Stern has never read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, or he has only done so as a do-it-yourself guide to political correctness and punishment for its violators.

Given the libs' collective admiration for communist thugs like Che, Castro, Mugabe, Mao and Stalin, I'd say it's more likely the latter than the former.

He could not help feeling a twinge of panic. It was absurd, since the writing of those particular words was not more dangerous than the initial act of opening the diary, but for a moment he was tempted to tear out the spoiled pages and abandon the enterprise altogether.

He did not do so, however, because he knew that it was useless. Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed - would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper - the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

It was always at night - the arrests invariably happened at night. The sudden jerk out of sleep, the rough hand shaking your shoulder, the lights glaring in your eyes, the ring of hard faces round the bed. In the vast majority of cases there was no trial, no report of the arrest. People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vapourized was the usual word.

George Orwell

Isn't it ironic that the lefties who go into hysterics over the Patriot Act have no problem using stalinist tactics against people who disagree with them?

Posted by Neb Okla | May 13, 2007 6:06 PM

Sounds like Scheffler needs to contact and have Hamine seriously smacked-down.