(4/24, 5 p.m. update) Thanks to Harvard attorney John Hinderaker for his blog post yesterday morning summarizing and commenting on our work: “Did Harvard investigate conservative students?“
We concur with Mr. Hinderaker on one key point: the mere fact that on Dec. 8 Ms. Williams sent an e-mail to dozens of her fellow activists stating that three named Harvard Law School administrators had that morning informed her and Brian Klosterboer that Harvard investigators were working to find out who is behind our blog does not mean:
(1) that this is what they actually told Ms. Williams and Mr. Klosterboer (indeed, we’re aware of at least one instance in which this protest group apparently made serious misstatements in an e-mail following up on, and purportedly summarizing what occurred at, a meeting with administrators); and
(2) even if the three administrators did make the statement reported in the e-mail, it does not necessarily mean that Harvard resources were actually used to investigate our identities (i.e., they could have been lying to Ms. Williams and Mr. Klosterboer, to placate them regarding their silly view that the mere existence of this blog somehow constituted an actionable “threat” to them, or, more charitably, perhaps on Dec. 8 there was a tentative plan to investigate us, and the administrators believed that what they told Ms. Williams and Mr. Klosterboer was true, but ultimately that plan was shelved, which might explain why no one has contacted us about the blog during the ensuing four months).
Given the interest in this story expressed to date by national media outlets, presumably the administration will comment on the Dec. 8 e-mail in the near future, and will either confirm or deny that Harvard resources were used to investigate our identities. Until then, we will give the administration the benefit of the doubt, and not conclude that it actually did use Harvard resources to investigate our identities merely because we mocked left-wing protesters in what turned out to be a widely read blog (far more widely linked to on the internet than is the protesters’ blog).
Thanks also to Ed Whelan for this attention-getting tweet summarizing what the bottom line of this story could turn out to be: “So Harvard Law admin covers up hate-crime hoax, investigates bloggers who exposed it, and tries to hide identity of Husam El-Quolaq.”
Finally, thanks to the journalists at the College Fix for their post yesterday afternoon summarizing and commenting on our work: “Claim: Harvard Law School protesters sought FBI investigation of their conservative critics.”
(4/25, 11 a.m. update) Thanks to journalist Blake Neff of the Daily Caller (who has broken many important stories during the past year concerning left-wing agitation on university campuses) for his post last evening: “Harvard Administrators May Have Investigated Conservative Students.” Rick Moran, with PJ Media and American Thinker, had a followup piece this morning.
Thanks to law professor Glenn Reynolds for calling attention to the College Fix and Daily Caller articles (here and here), and for this interesting observation:If it’s true that the Harvard Law protesters sought an FBI investigation of their conservative critics, it “ought to be reported to the bar ethics commissions in states where they plan to practice.”
[end of updates]
In yesterday’s post, we mentioned that the reason for the more than four-month suspension in our posting on this blog is that in early December we learned of the Royal Asses’ efforts to have us investigated by federal officials — merely for writing about, and mocking, key students involved in a protest movement that almost certainly staged a hoax to gain attention for the movement’s cause.
We also mentioned that later we might elaborate further on how we learned of the efforts to have us investigated. We are doing so now.
First, a bit of background on our decision to blog anonymously. We’ve blogged anonymously partly to ensure that the focus of readers would be on the substance of our argument, concerning the evidence that the black-tape incident was obviously a hoax, and not on our identities, which we viewed as a distraction. But we candidly admit that we did not want to attach our names to this project, for fear of hurting our career prospects — in particular given that one of us aspires to an academic career, and to that end is a closeted conservative, and being named as an author of this blog would blow that cover.
Still, we realized that it would be quite easy for anyone whose legal rights we might violate by blogging to eventually discover our identities, by filing a lawsuit and persuading a judge that there is sufficient cause to force Google and/or WordPress to turn over information concerning the accounts we use for the blog which would be sufficient to identify some or all of us. We were well aware that although generally there is a right to speak anonymously, that right is lost, and someone who posts anonymously on the internet can be unmasked, if a judge rules — after giving the anonymous speaker the right to be represented by counsel on the matter — that there is credible evidence that the anonymous speaker has committed libel or some other legal violation (see here).
With that in mind, we took every precaution to ensure that in everything we did, there could be no possibility of anyone bringing a plausible legal claim against us. We stuck to the facts we knew to be true, did our best to piece them together in a fair and accurate way, and carefully avoided stating that we in fact knew, or could definitively prove, that any particular individual had done anything improper regarding the black-tape incident.
We were content to conclude, as we did in our posts, that the black-tape incident was almost certainly a hoax perpetrated by at least one of the student protesters in the Royall Must Fall movement, and we identified four students who we thought stood out as particularly plausible suspects, giving reasons to support that opinion concerning each of them.
Further, we carefully avoided contacting anyone mentioned on the blog, or anyone else affiliated with Harvard, so as to ensure that no one could complain that we were somehow engaging in harassing communications. All our e-mails and tweets were directed to bloggers and journalists who had contacted us with an interest in our work, or who we for other reasons thought would be supportive of our work
The care we took not to violate anyone’s rights is corroborated by the following points:
- To our knowledge, no lawsuit has been filed regarding our blog.
- None of the four “Royall Asses” we discussed, and mocked, on our blog ever wrote us complaining of anything we wrote, much less demanded we retract anything. Indeed, to the best of our knowledge, in their various public statements made after all our blog posts about them were up, none of the four ever disclaimed involvement in a hoax; instead, they said nothing at all about our contention that the black-tape incident was a hoax and that, if it was a hoax, they possibly were involved in carrying it out.
- No professor or administrator, or anyone else affiliated with Harvard complained about anything on the blog or, indeed, wrote us anything.
- No law enforcement official wrote us anything.
But that does not mean that the Royal Asses did nothing concerning our blog. Rather than bring a legal proceeding against us based on what we had said about them, or at least write us to complain and demand retractions, or else make public statements disputing what we had written, what the Royal Asses did was press for the FBI and Harvard administrators to use extralegal means to investigate us and determine our identities, hoping to defeat our right to speak anonymously without giving us an opportunity to defend our right to anonymity in court.
The effort was spearheaded by a 2L, Christian Williams (LinkedIn profile here; other background here). [4/24, 5 p.m. update: In the past 48 hours, Ms. Williams’ LinkedIn profile has mysteriously disappeared. Unfortunately, it has so completely disappeared from the internet that not even a cached version is available. Fortunately we saved a copy, which has been preserved on a fair-use rationale for the benefit of journalists, and perhaps future historians, here. Also, although we did not link to it in our original post, readers might be interested to know that Ms. Williams’ Twitter account (@eli_bailarina) has also mysteriously disappeared, although if you act quickly you can still read a cached version here.]
On December 6, she wrote several dozen other students who are active in the movement — including, interestingly, one “Husam Al-Dean El-Qoulaq” — stating that her “dad works in DC,” and that he had suggested that the students “reach out to the FBI.” She said she planned to “ask the FBI to consider monitoring the Royall Asses blog” unless the students mocked on the blog objected to her doing this (no objection was ever expressed, a reliable source has informed us).
On December 8, she sent out another e-mail stating that Marcia Sells, the Dean of Students, had assured her in a meeting that Harvard was using its resources to try to unmask our identities: “The head of HLS IT and HUPD [Harvard University Police Department] are looking into finding out who is behind the blogs and email.”
How do we know this? Because shortly after the December 8 e-mail was sent, one of the recipients of the e-mails (using a fake e-mail address so that we would not know which one), astonished that his or her fellow student activists and Harvard administrators would engage in such Gestapo tactics to invade student privacy and strip us of our right to speak anonymously without any legal process at all, forwarded us copies of the e-mails.
We were surprised, but deeply appreciative, that someone who very strongly disagrees with us on the substance of our work (the student bluntly expressed objections to our blog) nonetheless was willing to blow the whistle on this attempt to interfere with our right to speak anonymously. We then immediately suspended further blogging, hoping to thereby curtail the prospects of an intensive investigation that might well uncover our identities.
We will leave it to our readers to comment on whether the decision of the Royall Asses and the Harvard administrators not to counter our speech publicly, and not to even write us privately to complain and demand retractions, but instead to use investigative resources in an attempt to strip us of our anonymity, was appropriate.
But that question should not be asked merely in the abstract. We note that Harvard administrators’ efforts to invade the privacy of our anonymous communications are difficult to square with the refusal of Harvard administrators during the past week — citing the paramount value of student privacy — to name the left-wing student who mocked a prominent Jewish leader for being “smelly,” even though the student was videoed making the comment in a public forum, knowing that under the rules posted for the event, by participating in the question-and-answer session he had consented in advance to the video being published.
And as Harvard attorney John Hinderaker has pointed out, Harvard administrators were not especially protective of the privacy of a law student who, back in 2010, expressed some politically incorrect thoughts bearing on race, in a private e-mail, for which she was publicly condemned by Dean Minow. There seems to be a bit of a double standard at play here.
As attorney Scott Johnson observes, recently Harvard Law School has proved itself to be a “friend to those who hate [Jews].” So perhaps it’s no surprise that Harvard Law School administrators, in an effort to match the administrative efficiency of the Nazi regime, would use Gestapo tactics against us in an effort to strip us, without the benefit of any legal process, of our right to speak anonymously.
We close by officially designating the 2L who spearheaded the effort to have us investigated by the FBI and Harvard police as an individually recognized “Royall Ass.” Even though she graduated from Yale, one wonders how she managed to get admitted to Harvard Law School. Her e-mails reveal her to be an even more horrible writer than fellow “Royall Ass” Alexander J. Clayborne. Take, for example, paragraph 2 of her December 8 e-mail (errors identified in bold):
The head [sic] of HLS IT and HUPD are looking into finding out who is behind the blogs and the email. In the meantime, we are trying to avoid drawing undo [sic] attention to these sites because the more they are tweeted, posted, reposted, or Googled, the more their profiles rises [sic]. There is a chance that literally only one person is doing this, and we don’t want to encourage them [sic].
Given her demonstrated intellectual shortcomings and her obsession with using law enforcement resources to investigate people merely for disagreeing with her views on racial issues, plainly Ms. Williams fits in comfortably among the weird and pretentious hacks we have individually recognized on our blog to date:
Royall Ass # 1: Derecka Purnell, a #BlackLivesMatters/Ferguson activist and J.D. student who had the remarkable luck of getting to campus a couple of hours before her first class on a Thursday morning, just in the nick of time to discover, and prevent a professor from removing all evidence of, a “hate crime” — which she then quickly publicized on social media.
Royall Ass # 2: Mawuse H. Vormawor, an L.L.M. student from Ghana who has called for a military coup to kill everyone in his country, and who mocks Christians for believing that Jesus is “the messiah . . . who’s [sic] fart raises the dead and cures schizophrenia.”
Royall Ass # 3: Alexander J. Clayborne, a J.D. student with a degree in English who’s a horrible writer, and who feels inanimate objects at the Law School commit microaggressions against him — he gets “freaked out walking down the hallway lined with portraits of white man after white man,” and he feels it’s racist that there’s an “enormous white marble statue of Joseph Story” in the library, but no statue of a black man.
Royall Ass # 4: Brian Klosterboer, a J.D. student and intellectually vacuous, morally messianic gay activist who has been a leader in students’ selfless fight against student debt, and who bragged about starting a bar in Uganda before coming to law school, but left out the part about writing fake TripAdvisor reviews praising his own bar, and about how the bar ultimately failed.
Royall Ass # 5: Husam El-Qoulaq, a J.D. student who attained worldwide infamy when, in a crowded public forum at Harvard Law School, while being videoed, he mocked a prominent Jewish leader for being “smelly.”
So today, April 22, 2016, we hereby officially designate CHRISTIAN WILLIAMS as ROYALL ASS #6. Congratulations!