Copy of my 12/5/2008 comment on The Volokh Conspiracy

January 3, 2009

So this blog is self-contained, below is a copy of my 12/5/2008 comment on The Volokh Conspiracy, which was the impetus for this blog about the Harvard Law race hoax which occurred in April, 2007.

The original post on The Volokh Conspiracy was made on 12/4/2008 by law professor Eugene Volokh, who flagged a newspaper article about an African-American student at Trinity College who had admitted that she had perpetuated a race hoax by “anonymously” (or so she thought at the time) posting racist statements on a college website.  You can read Professor Volokh’s post, and all 90 comments from readers (including my comment) here. Additional background and commentary can be found here and here.

The Trinity College student who perpetuated the hoax, a woman who immigrated to the United States from Nigeria at age six, is:

ikejimba3Lynda Ikejimba

I made my comment, which you can read in the original format here, to note that something similar had occurred at Harvard Law School less than two years ago.  I wrote:

A similar hoax occurred at Harvard Law about a year and a half ago, except that the hoaxer wasn’t forced to self-identify; instead, the whole thing was swept under the rug.It happened in one of the 1L sections. During a class discussion pertaining to racial issues, someone sent around a nasty anonymous (or so it seemed) e-mail derogating African-Americans (blaming them at least in part for behavior which reinforces certain stereotypes). That triggered predictable PC anger, outrage, etc. — even a letter to the Dean demanding adoption of a PC wish list of measures to curb such “hate speech.”For a while, it looked like it would turn into a big deal, like a similar incident a few years ago (just Google “Kiwi Camara”). Then it was discovered that the whole thing was a hoax: the e-mail was traced to someone with undeniably PC credentials (indeed, someone who signed the letter to the Dean!) who, when confronted, claimed the e-mail was merely an attempt at satire/parody of people with racist attitudes, meant to furnish an object lesson for class discussion. The whole thing quickly went away; as best I can tell, there was no official punishment of the hoaxer, or even public identification of the hoaxer.

In my opinion, that incident did not involve an attempt at satire or parody; instead, I believe the 1L hoaxer was trying to create another racial incident at Harvard Law. So you can judge the matter for yourself, over the weekend I’ll try to post somewhere, and link here to, various e-mails which were exchanged within the 1L section about the matter; I think I have most, if not all, of them. (If I leave out anything important, I assume someone among the dozens of others who have these same e-mails will fill in the gaps.)

Based on my experience at Harvard Law, and comments above by Thorley Winston and others, it certainly seems that hoax racial incidents are relatively common at public universities, and actual racial incidents are relatively uncommon — suggesting that the speech codes and other controversial measures for combating racism and other “isms” on campus may be doing more harm than good, by encouraging members of minority groups and their PC fellow travelers to perpetuate hoaxes in support of their agenda.

Percy “Thrills” Thrillington
Harvard Law School, Class of 2010

12.5.2008 8:08pm

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