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A painful case

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dsm

As I’ve mentioned before, I certainly hope the mental health services at the University of Chicago are first rate:

When Sally Haslanger, a prominent feminist philosophy professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, returned to her Cambridge office in August after a summer abroad, she found a padded envelope with no return address waiting for her.

She opened the package while sorting through her other junk mail and stuck her hand inside to feel what was there.
“Then I thought, ‘Oh shit,’” Haslanger said. “‘This is shit. I’m one of the other people who got the shit!’”

MIT’s Environmental Health and Safety team confirmed that the substance was feces, according to a university police report. But Haslanger wasn’t as confounded as one might expect a well-respected philosopher to be when faced with a mysterious package of poop. That’s because three other philosophers also received shit in the mail last summer.

In July, Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins, a philosophy professor at the University of British Columbia, emailed Haslanger, who’s a friend, to say she had received feces in the mail — creatively described by the mystery sender as “foam sculptures,” according to the attached customs declaration.

The same month, J. David Velleman, a philosophy professor at New York University, stuck his hand into an envelope of shit delivered to his office door.

After this story was published, a fourth philosophy professor, Carolyn Jennings, emailed BuzzFeed News photos of the unmarked package of feces she received in July.

All four philosophy professors were embroiled in a 2014 academic brawl over what they perceived as an abuse of power within their field. Now, they say someone is sending them shit in an attempt to shut them up.
The question is, who? And why now?

Jennings’, Haslanger’s, and Velleman’s packages were stamped but had neither a return address nor postmark. However, Jenkins’ package contained tracking information, which traces back to a USPS facility in Chicago. Brian Leiter, a renowned philosopher and law professor at the University of Chicago, is the colleague with whom the four had a high-profile squabble two years ago. The return address is one digit off from Leiter’s office at the University of Chicago, and the sender is listed as “Peter Aduren,” a pseudonym that some believe is used by Leiter.
Leiter emphatically denied sending excrement to anyone.

“I have no insight into why crazy people would do crazy things like mail shit to people,” he said via email.

Although he has no insight into why crazy people do crazy things, he thinks he knows who is responsible:

Several months ago, I learned, via the Chair of the Philosophy Department at British Columbia, that my old pal Carrie Jenkins had received an “offensive” package, and that the return address consisted in a mangled version of my Law School’s address and a pseudonym attributed to me by a law blogger who had championed the idea that “law school is a scam” and whom I had mercilessly criticized for years.

The “law blogger” is me. Leiter previously suggested I or my criticisms of the law school establishment might have something to do with the murder of Dan Markel. The day before he did so “someone” had fed this charming theory to a newspaper, which he then proceeded to quote. Note Leiter’s faux amazement that a reporter so quickly “dug this [“this” being a couple of comments buried deep in a two-year old comment thread on my ITLSS blog] up from the bowels of cyberspace.”

The pseudonym in question is “Peter Aduren,” which Leiter used in the course of cyber-stalking and harassing various people on various occasions. Leiter has never actually denied that he did this, although he has labored mightily to produce the impression that he has denied it (Whether that counts as a “lie” is something I’ll leave to the analytic philosophers).

Moving right along:

I was not going to write about this misconduct at all, since publicity tends to encourage lunatics. But since it continues, it’s worth flagging it as a warning to potential victims. It also turns out one recipient told a reporter that receiving the package was a case of being “threatened for speaking out about what [she] perceives as abuses of power within the discipline.” I confess I laughed when I heard that, since it attributes far too sophisticated motives to the malevolent actor(s). Alas, what this is really about is what happens when one vile cyber-cesspool–the “law school is a scam” crowd–hears about another cyber-controversy (the one about the PGR) involving their nemesis, namely, me.

It is of course extremely unlikely that the perpetrator of this pathetic and disturbing publicity stunt is from the world of arguments about the behavior of contemporary American law schools, since the number of people from that world who even know who Haslanger, Jenkins, Velleman, and Jennings are can be estimated as one (1).

Now that I put it that way, I realize it isn’t unlikely at all. But since publicity tends to encourage lunatics, it would probably be best not to give this latest little outburst any more of it than necessary.

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  • Warren Terra

    Hokay, so there’s a crazy person out there who’s somehow deeply invested the feuds Leiter has with a bunch of people in the academical Philosophy world, apparently on Leiter’s side. I can understand why Leiter would be a bit scared – I wouldn’t want crazy people on any side of a dispute I was involved in, them being on my side at a given time would be small comfort, and this guy appears to be in Chicago – but why does Leiter write about the situation as if he were the victim? Why doesn’t he just express sadness for the situation and sympathy for the victims?

    • BigHank53

      Well, that would require him to set aside his ego long enough to at least fake some empathy, wouldn’t it?

    • Ahuitzotl

      it’s always all about him, didnt you know?

  • rea

    You would think that a DNA test would revel the culprit.

    • Breadbaker

      It might reveal the source, but not necessarily the culprit. In other words, it might be from one person’s feces harvested (by whatever means) by someone else.

    • NonyNony

      Only if their DNA is on file somewhere.

    • Warren Terra

      I imagine that by far the most convenient source for feces – arguably preferable to squatting over a bowl yourself – is the nearest area where dogs are walked. Even easier if you have a dog of your own.

      • N__B

        I was gong to respond and then I realized I was about to engage in an internet argument about the easiest way to harvest feces.

        I’m off to a construction site. The odds are about 50-50 that there will be some feces in an unused corner somewhere. I will not be collecting.

    • LeeEsq

      Your assuming that the person is mailing his or her own shit. There might be a second shitter.

      • Warren Terra

        If we combine your theory of a Second Shitter with my theory of Dog Walking, a Grassy Knoll may well be involved.

        • LeeEsq

          I can’t wait for the Oliver Stone movie.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Natural Born Poopers

            • efgoldman

              Natural Born Poopers

              Bilo for the win

              • los

                Why not the more romantic, “You’ve Got Poo”?

        • Julia Grey

          If we combine your theory of a Second Shitter with my theory of Dog Walking, a Grassy Knoll may well be involved.

          This sort of thing is why I so often read the comments on this blog’s articles, even days later.

          • Yup. And why I regret I no longer have the time to read all the comments and comment much myself.

          • los

            eventually Julian Assange will release the leaked 1986 pootape (poomail tape?) involving Donald Trump…

      • BiloSagdiyev

        In the bushes, on the grassy knoll! You and your elaborate “second shitter” theory…

        • los

          The notorious Texas Excretadreck Suppository rears its ugly rear AGAIN

      • sonamib

        Well played.

      • delosgatos

        “It was never proved that it was his own shit. I mean, you can’t dust for shit.”

        • farin

          I mean, you can’t dust for shit.

          So says everyone I’ve ever lived with.

          • Camilla Highwater

            Very good.

        • TheSophist

          I was going to post that, but decided to scroll down to see if any other Tap fan had beaten me to it. Well done.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        (Louie Steven Witt opens umbrella, feces fall on head.)

      • Srsly Dad Y

        Back. And to the left.

        • awt76

          That must have been one magic dookie.

      • yinz

        Have we made a “Gassy Knoll” joke yet? No?
        .
        .
        .
        …is this thing on? Hello?

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Something I learned in the bigfooting world: getting DNA from feces can be a challenge.

      http://www.bfro.net/REF/THEORIES/WHF/dnatests.htm

      • JonH

        Well, it’d certainly be a challenge to get Bigfoot DNA.

    • Emily68

      The Buzzfeed story says that the shit is probably too old for DNA analysis to be useful. See story for details.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        So it could be Bigfoot?

    • hypersphericalcow

      Marty DeBergi: “And what happened to Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins?”
      Derek Smalls: “It’s not a very pleasant story. The official explanation was she received a package of poop.”
      Nigel Tufnel: “It was actually someone else’s poop. There’s no real…”
      Derek Smalls: “They can’t prove who’s poop it was. They don’t have the facilities…”
      Nigel Tufnel: “You can’t really dust for poop.”

  • yet_another_lawyer

    It also turns out one recipient told a reporter that receiving the package was a case of being “threatened for speaking out about what [she] perceives as abuses of power within the discipline.” I confess I laughed when I heard that, since it attributes far too sophisticated motives to the malevolent actor(s).

    Wait, how could you know that unless you know what the motives of the actor(s) are? And if you do know, then what are they and how do you know that? Please share at your earliest convenience.

    • Grumpy

      I came here to put my money on Leiter being the shitter. You can’t fool me–I’ve seen Gone Girl.

  • Rob in CT

    Wow. At least Chimpanzees are up front about the whole thing.

  • Looks like there’s a unishitter out there.

  • Woodrowfan

    who sticks their hand in a mystery envelope?? You can’t open it up and peek in first??

    • Warren Terra

      Fair enough, but: (1) who expects something vile?; (2) it was apparently one of those padded envelopes, that you can’t open wide and see the contents without ripping it completely asunder, and that things often don’t fall out of well; and (3) who hasn’t received some small item they forgot ordering through eBay, or some campaign buttons or the like, in one of those padded envelopes?

      • NonyNony

        Eh – I make it a general practice to look into packages before I stick my hand into them. Mostly because I once got stabbed by a staple that I wasn’t expecting to be in there, but it would mean missing out on this kind of fun.

        Also isn’t there a smell? I wonder what the culprit is doing to prevent a hideous odor from wafting out immediately on opening the envelope.

        • Warren Terra

          I’m not arguing the quoted victim was following best practices here. I’m not even saying most people would have done precisely what she did. But I am saying that she is the victim here, and the way she investigated the package is not freakishly unusual nor suspicious, and so not worth litigating, nor does criticizing her look good.

          • Quaino

            While the original comment may have been in the form of a criticism I think it raises a valid question: How exactly was this poop delivered such that it fooled a number of people into touching it?

            In my head I’m imagining a plain white envelope arriving, it’s lumpy and stained with brown moisture. My first thought is not to jam my hand into it — and that’s not exactly genius level deductive reasoning so I don’t think they would have either. Which means that this person has developed highly innovative, possibly valuable way to deliver shit to people in such a way that nobody thinks twice about jamming their hand into it. We need to know what they are and how they function.

            This is science. It’s not victim blaming.

            • The Dark God of Time

              Apparently, unlike the rest of the commentators here, I’ve actually used the envelopes in question to mail stuff to friends far and wide. If it was lined in bubble plastic, as are the ones I use, once you seal it, there is no indication that whatever inside is wet or dry, or has a smell or not.

              Assuming that it was sent in an Manila envelope would be illogical.

              • Warren Terra

                It was described as being a padded envelope. Not Manila.

            • Which means that this person has developed highly innovative, possibly valuable way to deliver shit to people in such a way that nobody thinks twice about jamming their hand into it.

              But, enough about The Brave New World of Drone Delivery!

          • NonyNony

            Good point – I wasn’t aiming to be critical. Especially since really the only reason I wouldn’t have done something like that in a case like this is precisely because I once did something like that myself and got burned (well, stabbed anyway).

            • Woodrowfan

              Same here. The person opening the envelope didn’t have any reason to suspect something was wrong. I know no one expects to find an envelope full of crap (unless the return address is the RNC of course) but I guess I’m a little paranoid about envelopes from people I don’t know. I peek first.

            • Snarki, child of Loki

              See, we can DEFINITELY tell that the sender was not a chemist, because a chemist would add some phosphorus to the the package, and make sure it was airtight.

              So the bag of shit would burst into flame when opened.

              • Warren Terra

                I don’t think the Post Office smiles upon the sending of fecal matter, but if you really want to attract their attention you should mail an incendiary device.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Yes. I read about this case over breakfast and thought, “Am I old? Am I the only one who remembers letter bombs in the 70’s and early 80’s?” (And then the Unabomber, but he was always behind the times.) Packages and thick letters from you-don’t-know-who should be thought about a little bit first.

      • J. Otto Pohl

        I think security is considerably better now than it was 40 years ago. That said who gets letters in the mail in anymore? Hasn’t everything gone electronic by now. Sending packages by post is so difficult due to security concerns now that the only way I deal with postal letters is if they state that under no circumstances will they accept anything else. The last such letters I had to have sent involved going through six addresses in five different countries to have delivered. The last legs from MA to Turkey to Kurdistan had to be done by hand courier on THY. Sending money only requires four countries and can be done entirely by wire.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          I know! That’s why I don’t mail things from Chicago anymore.

        • Phil Perspective

          I think security is considerably better now than it was 40 years ago. That said who gets letters in the mail in anymore? Hasn’t everything gone electronic by now. Sending packages by post is so difficult due to security concerns now that the only way I deal with postal letters is if they state that under no circumstances will they accept anything else.

          Amazon still sends stuff by mail, provided you don’t need it right this second. People still send regular mail, you know. Some people like old-fashioned letters written in pencil or ink. I do find it weird that the packages were accepted without any return address. That’s a big no-no at post offices where I am. They even have signs up saying packages without a return address will not be accepted.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Yes, ever since another brainiac (not in a university, but a lab setting) sent out a bunch of anthrax letters.

          • (((Hogan)))

            People still send regular mail, you know.

            Yes, but they don’t live in Ghana Kurdistan, so stop talking about them

          • Ahuitzotl

            The post offices I’ve frequented in this country have all had chutes allowing you to post packages which you’ve already attached stamps to, and mostly have weigh/stamping stations automated to provide the stamps.

          • People still send regular mail, you know. Some people like old-fashioned letters written in pencil or ink.

            We know that the culprit was not a Millennial, who would probably have scanned the poop and sent it via email.

  • J. Otto Pohl

    Not a day goes buy that I am not grateful to be working in Kurdistan and not the US. Usually the confirmation is less extreme than this post, however. Academics in Kurdistan are definitely much better behaved than those in the US.

    • rea

      No shit!

      • Ramon A. Clef

        + No. 2

  • rea

    “I was not going to write about this misconduct at all,” says the renowned philosopher in the middle of writing about it.

  • Origami Isopod

    Thanks, Paul, it’s not like mentally ill people have enough stigma to deal with already. Or like most of us are far more likely to be the targets of this kind of abuse than the perpetrators.

    Sorry, I’ll go back to my safe space now, because apparently that’s the only place I shouldn’t expect prominent bloggers not to be utter dickheads about this subject.

    • Paul Campos

      I think Leiter is quite literally suffering from some fairly severe form of mental illness, although I wouldn’t venture to guess what exactly. I’m not intending to insult people who deal with any form of mental illness.

      • The Dark God of Time

        He obviously has some kind of personality disorder. Treatment of such conditions is difficult but not impossible.

        • Treatment of such conditions is difficult but not impossible.

          “But the light-bulb’s got to want to change'”

      • No Longer Middle Aged Man

        Academics is a profession where a large amount of what constitutes “performance” can be done with little to no social interaction with other people — i.e., the research component of our job requirements. Consequently, it attracts and allows to thrive people whose behavior would not be tolerated in other work contexts, like business or government. As a university prof I’ve run into no small number of assholes who either are unaware of just how much of an asshole they are, or who think that their assholery is small potatoes when compared to the self-evaluated importance of their research. And they get away with it. But Leiter really does seem to be a rather large and rancid cherry sitting on top of this pile of shit.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          To a very small extent yes. But, a much larger component of most academics daily work schedule is heavily dependent upon interacting with people. Most of us still earn our money by teaching students not publishing. Indeed being able to teach CIV 101 is a thousand more times more important in getting most university jobs than research. You can get a job at a university with no publications. Getting one without teaching experience is impossible in the US.

          • semiotix

            Getting [a university job] without teaching experience is impossible in the US.

            True, but then again it’d be almost impossible in most fields to get a qualifying degree without having been used as a TA or lecturer. (There are probably some edge cases in the sciences where that doesn’t apply, and there are always the weirdos who self-fund vanity grad degrees in teaching-intensive fields, but they don’t usually go on the job market.)

            Of course that’s just a function of the fact that universities can still charge full-professor tuition for the course that’s taught by the rookie third-semester master’s candidate.

        • Mudge

          Have been an academic. I have always proposed that if the Military Industrial Complex ever invents an ego-seeking missile, it will strike universities first. U. Chicago may actually be the target of the second such missile, Trump (my proposal required revision) being the first..

          • No Longer Middle Aged Man

            ego-seeking missile,

            Great concept +10. But Hollywood and Oracle HQ are strong competition. Definitely a need for multiple warheads.

        • ajay

          Consequently, it attracts and allows to thrive people whose behavior would not be tolerated in other work contexts, like business

          OK, that raised a smile.

          • No Longer Middle Aged Man

            Plenty of assholes in business to be sure (and government), but only a small % of them are so good at their jobs or essential to the organizations that they have the equivalent of tenure. Plus some degree of working successfully with other people is almost always a job requirement at some point. Being a successful researcher in a lot of fields doesn’t much require that, and contra J Otto, teaching generally counts for less and less the higher up you go on the R-1 pyramid. And service, well nobody wants to serve on a committee with the uber assholes, so either they don’t get assigned or everyone hopes that they shirk the assignment rather than show up and make it miserable.

            • John Revolta

              I think I’d prefer one of theseyere Golden Parachutes to tenure, m’self.

      • ajay

        I’m not intending to insult people who deal with any form of mental illness.

        The picture of Bedlam might have been a mis-step, then.

        • Paul Campos

          Good point. Replaced.

          • ajay

            The apology is taken as read.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        “I wouldn’t venture to guess what exactly”

        I would: TRUMP SYNDROME

      • Ronan

        “I think Leiter is quite literally suffering from some fairly severe form of mental illness”

        But, to be frank, who cares if you do? This is a technical term, a diagnoses generally carried out by a trained professional. With respect, you’re a law professor, your judgments on this topic have about as much weight as mine do on US constitutional law.

        • Crusty

          What level of proficiency do you need to be able to discuss something? Phd? Masters degree? Undergrad major?

          If you call someone mentally ill that you don’t actually think is mentally ill, that’s insulting to the mentally ill because you’re attempting to taint the non-mentally ill person with the unfair stigma of being mentally ill. Apparently it is also not ok to say it if there is a good faith basis to think that someone is mentally ill, e.g., an academic who packages and mails shit. Why not? Is the whole genre of Trump seems to suffer from narcissistic personality disorder off limits?

          If you read up on constitutional law, I’d be happy to hear what you have to say.

          • Ronan

            To diagnose someone as mentally Ill? A high level? Something beyond barstool banterer ?

            • Crusty

              Just so I’m clear, discussion of an academic who by outward appearances is healthy, but may be involved in depositing feces in an envelope and mailing it to people cannot involve reference to the possibility that mental illness might be a factor?

              • Ronan

                Well we don’t know if he did, do we? If he did, and he has some class of mental illness that explains his behaviour, then yes, it’s probably a moment for compassion rather than snark.

                • Ronan

                  If, on the other hand, he just got drunk and shat in a box for giggles. Then that’s different. ( though I guess he could be an alcoholic, under those circumstances )

          • Ronan

            If you’re calling someone , who isn’t mentally ill, mentally Ill as a rhetorical trick, then you’re being an ass. If you’re diagnosing them seriously from a position of ignorance, then you’re being a Moron. If you use their illness against them, then you’re being at best a bit of a dickhead.

            • rea

              If you have been falsely accused of murder by them, on the basis of no evidence whatever, then by calling them mentally ill you are being . . . generous.

              • Ronan

                I don’t really see why. If Campos has some fear that leiter is suffering from a mental illness and having some class of breakdown then I assume you contact the relevant authorities or friends of leiter and express your concern. You don’t really post your “concerns” on a well read blog. This would lead me to conclude Campos’ “diagnoses” is mealy mouthed bullshit.
                I mean, not all strange behaviour is driven by mental illness, surely? What happened to the good old fashioned rhetorical comebacks. Leiter is an asshole, etc. Why does everyone now think they’re an amateur psychologist ?

                • Crusty

                  Does being a mere asshole explain shitting in envelopes and mailing it to your perceived enemies?

                • Ronan

                  It can

                • Ronan

                  I know this all sounds very defensive, but honest, I’ve never sent my enemies shit in the mail.

                • timb

                  Why does everyone now think they’re an amateur psychologist ?

                  Maybe they’ve met a couple and note many of them seem to be hacks?

                • Ronan

                  Eh, sure. But if psychologists are hacks then amateur psychologists are amateur hacks.

                • Surely with mental as with physical illnesses, there are some signs and symptoms that even a lay person can reasonably notice and remark to be indications of illness—though not necessarily of any illness in particular.

                  For instance, if I see someone spitting up blood, or notice that a patch of someone’s skin is green and oozing pus, I likely wouldn’t be justified in diagnosing consumption or gangrene, but I think I’d be entirely justified in remarking (apparent) physical illness (which might, of course, turn out to be feigned by a goldbricker, or acted by an actor).

                  Why should the case of mental illness be entirely different?

                • Ronan

                  But if you see someone coughing up blood do you advise them to get help (or say it to their friends), or do you write a post about how someone was dirtying up the sidewalk with blood on your way to work that morning?
                  Also, I don’t see that the comparison holds at the minute, as all we have is Campos’ biased speculation on who.sent the shit.
                  But as a general matter, you’re obviously correct .(non snarkily. I’ve overstated my case)

                • rea

                  It is worth mentioning that Campos links to Leiter speculating that “Crazy Campos” might have something to do with the Dan Merkel murder.

        • timb

          The DSM is a pretty simple book, quite similar to a study of law. Does the person have these “elements” (symptoms), then they have a differential diagnosis. Just because the human brain is a mystery doesn’t mean psychology is. Hell, most clinicians are LCSW’s or social workers.

          Nice try. Paul can notice abnormal psychology in someone who knows as easily the rest of us can.

          • Ronan

            There’s obviously a difference between being able to read the constitution and understand it

            • BiloSagdiyev

              +1 Gold-fringed flag.

      • Origami Isopod

        I appreciate your changing the image. That said, the DSM pic is still not great, if better than the Bedlam pic. Leiter may very well have a personality disorder. He may also simply be an asshole. Bringing up his hypothetical mental illness causes “splash damage” to other mentally ill people. It would have been better to insult his character in some way, because we’re all responsible for our characters.

        (Admittedly, the line gets fine when it comes to personality disorders that are all about harming others, such as anti-social personality disorder. Or the outdated clinical term “sociopath.” In general, though, it’s better not to invoke mental illness when you want to decry someone’s personality.)

  • Is Brian Leiter a member of Chuck C. Johnson’s fan club?

    • Woodrowfan

      maybe that was his source, Johnson’s old dorm room floor.

  • The Dark God of Time

    He really is cuckoo for Coca Puffs, isn’t he?

    • LeeEsq

      That’s a novel way to turn people away from eating sugary cereals.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Especially little round brown ones.

      • The Dark God of Time

        He probably doesn’t eat it as part of a healthy breakfast, he surely creeps around his residence in his bathrobe, munching it straight from the box.

  • Coconinoite

    How fucked up do you have to be to decide you want to do this and then actually go through with it? Through the ex and my own stint in grad school, I got exposed to some of the more sordid parts of academia – professional jealousy, backstabbing, research wars over competing theories, sexism, and tawdry affairs between professors and grad students, but this is really hard to comprehend from a (moderately) sane person’s perspective.

    • Crusty

      Yeah, you’d think there’d have to be a moment between coming up with the idea and then depositing the envelopes in a mail box that you’d say wait a minute, what the hell am I doing, or wait a minute, I don’t want to have to actually deal with the shit myself, or wait a minute, squatting over this envelope is really not easy, or wait a minute, people are going to wonder why I’m carrying my dog’s poop past a garbage can and taking it into my house. But no, this guy kept going.

      • Young_Hegelian

        Fair, but once it’s in an addressed and stamped envelope, you’re probably pot-committed.

      • people are going to wonder why I’m carrying my dog’s poop

        Dog-poop collecting used to be an honoured profession,* back in the days when “pures” were used in tanning fine leather. So there’s your excuse right there.

        * Not really honoured.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Meanwhile, in St. Louis, postal inspectors have questioned Chuck Berry and found that he also received one, but had not contacted the authorities did not want to file a complaint.

  • brad

    I think his rush to blame Campos really gives away his game. Seems kinda likely that if he had nothing to do with it he’d be interested in helping find who did it. It’s hardly impossible to see a former student or someone whose career he petulantly destroyed trying to do him harm like this, especially considering how many in the field he’s harmed, but this is too specific and too subtle an attempt at a frame.
    Even having been in the field and knowing how childish some of these men in it are, and what a horrid person Leiter is, this is just amazing.

  • LeeEsq

    In all seriousness, I can’t understand the thought process that would lead somebody to do something that seems like the plot of a John Waters movie in real life. Besides being really jerk-ass, it seems like so much damn work. There are better things to do with your free time like watching BBC documentaries or cartoons from the early 1990s on YouTube.

    • NonyNony

      Besides being really jerk-ass, it seems like so much damn work.

      One thing that I’ve discovered in my years on this planet is that there are people whose thought processes are completely foreign to me.

      There are people who get a level of pleasure out of being terrible to other people. Where I would prefer to end my week reading a book, watching Netflix or possibly working up something for my RPG campaign, they’ll sit and work up ever more complicated ways of being a jerk to their fellow human beings.

      I really wish I didn’t know some of these people, so I could go back to being blissfully unaware of just how terrible people can get.

    • DW

      it seems like so much damn work.

      Oh, it’d have to be deliberate, but it doesn’t seem like there’d be much actual work involved. I imagine Lonely Island and Justin Timberlake could put together a 3-step video outlining the whole process.

  • BobOso

    Scene: Leiter’s office with two detectives

    Detective Straightlace: Well that is all the questions we have.

    Leiter: Excellent

    [Suddenly Detective Maverick jumps up and grabs Leiter’s hands]

    Detective Maverick: [SNIFF] Wait a minute…

  • LeeEsq

    What happened to the Hogarth picture? I like Hogarth and it was from one of his best series, the Rake’s Progress.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      It was deemed offensive to the criminally insane.

      • Warren Terra

        This … is not a nuanced, informed view of the Bethlem Mental Hospital of the 18th century.

        • postmodulator

          And you’re what? Shocked and appalled to see such a comment coming from a poster whose name has come to be synonymous with “nuance?”

  • markregan

    Maybe all you have is someone who has seen “Travesties” once too often:

    TZARA: My God, you bloody English philistine – you ignorant smart-arse bogus bourgeois Anglo-Saxon prick! When the strongest began to fight for the tribe, and the fastest to hunt, it was the artist who became the priest-guardian of the magic that conjured the intelligence out of the appetites. Without him, man would be a coffee-mill. Eat-grind-shit. Hunt-eat-fight-grind-saw the logs-shit. The difference between being a man and being a coffee-mill is art. But that difference has become smaller and smaller and smaller. Art created patrons and was corrupted. It began to celebrate the ambitions and acquisitions of the paymaster. The artist has negated himself: paint-eat-sculpt-grind-write-shit.

    (A light change.)

    Without art, man was a coffee-mill: but with art, man – is a coffee-mill! That is the message of Dada. -dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada …

    (TZARA is shouting, raving. CARR immobile.)

  • yupyup

    Over at Daily Nous, I’ve been slowly building evidence that this was, in fact, perpetrated by Leiter himself (shockingly, I know).

    BL claimed that “More interesting is that the photo (produced by Buzzfeed) of the alleged malicious envelope does include a “tracking number” which reveals that the package to Jenkins passed through Chicago on the morning of June 24 of this year (when I was, ironically, in Germany–though this may help narrow the suspects down to two, assuming a USPS tracking number is reliable).”

    From the Canada Post Tracking I got from the Buzzfeed article, I found that the package left the US at 07:56 am on 24 June, which means it was deposited into the postal system prior to June 24. CDJ, who seems to have the US tracking number which I did not see in the Buzzfeed article, noted that “The tracking info at USPS says: “June 23, 2016 , 1:17 pm Arrived at USPS Facility CHICAGO, IL 60666“

    I Googled 60666. As best I can tell, 60666 is the zip code for O’Hare International Airport.
    1. We know BL was in Bonn for a workshop June 24 for ‘The inaugural workshop of the International Society for Nietzsche Studies … held at the International Centre for Philosophy NRW at the University of Bonn on June 24-25, 2016.’
    2. We can presume he flew from O’Hare to Cologne-Bonn airport, although we don’t know his precise travel dates.
    3. The feces was mailed from a zip code the seems to be uniquely associated with O’Hare Int’l Airport on the day BL would have had to depart to arrive at the conference on time
    4. There are direct flights on Air Berlin that leave O’Hare at 3.25pm Thursdays and arrive the next morning in Cologne-Bonn, in time to go to the workshop. A 3.25pm departure seems to be consistent with BL popping by a post office in the airport at 1.17 pm.
    5. Peter Aduren is a pseudonym BL has been known to use.

    It also seems EXCEEDINGLY unlikely to me that some ‘law school scam’ Leiter-foe, in an attempt to frame him, coincidentally mailed feces to four esoteric (to law school people) philosophers, with one mailing coming from an O’Hare Int’l Airport post office of all places at the precise time when it seems likely that BL himself was passing through the very same airport en route to Germany.

    What were the dates of BL’s Germany trip, precisely?

    He’s a true sicko.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Time for TSA to update their question list!

      “Did you pack these bags yourself? Has anyone asked you to take anything onto the aircraft for them? Could anyone have interfered with your bags since you last packed them? Have you been crapping in envelopes and mailing them to your enemies from the airport post office?”

      • Warren Terra

        I don’t know about O’Hare, but when I’ve used an airport post office it was outside of the secured, screened area of the airport.

    • Warren Terra

      Oh, for heaven’s sake. It’s not impossible, but it’s circumstantial, and there are actual investigators looking into this, people with experience, knowledge, and the ability to talk to people. Wildly speculating about a named individual is not really suitable behavior. Leiter has done a number of shitty things (pun intended) that we do know about, if you want to disparage him why not stick to those?

      • yupyup

        Connecting him to Peter Aduren was only achieved when people starting gathering evidence and connecting the dots on this blog. I think the fact that it seems the mailing to one of his arch-enemies came from O’Hare at a time when it seems likely he was passing through the airport is absolutely germane.

        What’s the alternative? Four enemies of Leiter received poop in envelopes. Somebody sent them. Suspects are most likely either Leiter himself, or some critic of Leiter’s from the law school scam crowd who knows about his pseudonym and is trying to frame him, as he suggests.

        One of the mailings was sent from O’Hare airport. It seems likely Leiter was at the airport at that time. If it was one of Leiter’s critics, it seems like a crazy coincidence to me that the mailing was sent from O’Hare, out of every post office in the country, at a time Leiter was very likely at O’Hare himself. I don’t think I’m stretching this too far at all.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      1. We know BL was in Bonn for a workshop June 24 for ‘The inaugural workshop of the International Society for Nietzsche Studies …

      Oh my… is he the Poopermensch?

      • Srsly Dad Y

        Good one.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        COTD right there.

    • There are posters in all the US Post Offices I’m familiar with that list various things that can’t be sent through the mails. I don’t think that shit is listed there, but it seems at least likely that mailing it is at the very least frowned on; which leaves me wondering what the Postal Inspectors might think about all this.

    • dmsilev

      As best I can tell, 60666 is the zip code for O’Hare International Airport.

      I think anyone who has changed planes at O’Hare would gladly testify that the (post)mark of the beast is appropriately granted.

    • brad

      I’m not sure that means it was sent from the airport or just went through it at that time and date, but in either case it does show it was sent before Leiter left the country. And it’s certainly suspicious that the alibi he “coincidentally” mentions doesn’t even pan out.

  • N__B

    Did the return addresses say 725 Fifth Avenue?

  • Dilan Esper

    By the way, a piece of free legal advice to everyone:

    Publicly engaging in the sort of “speculation” Leiter did, without any evidence, is a very nice way to render yourself liable for defamation.

    • LeeEsq

      The Sullivan defenses might apply in this case though. Leiter could qualify as a public figure and this is a matter of public concern. This places to the burden on Leiter to prove that not only are the allegations false but they were made with actual malice.

      • Dilan Esper

        Talking out of your ass is not protected by the actual malice defense.

        I’m actually surprised how many people don’t know this, but it’s true. Sullivan simply requires that the plaintiff show recklessness by clear and convincing evidence. Spitballing an accusation of a serious crime without any supporting evidence IS reckless.

        • rea

          Although Dilan’s original comment suggested that Leiter was defaming Campos, not the other way around.

          • Dilan Esper

            Correct. I have no problem with Paul’s post. I am offended that Leiter thinks it is OK to publicly accuse Campos of a serious crime on no evidence.

            • Ahuitzotl

              well that does seem to be his modus operandi

        • LeeEsq

          Courts are also reluctant to allow internet talk to be the basis of defamation suits.

    • The Dark God of Time

      Has Leiter definitely stated that he is not a lunatic?

  • Platypus Prime

    All four philosophy professors were embroiled in a 2014 academic brawl over what they perceived as an abuse of power within their field.

    I never knew philosophy professors had any power to begin with, let alone enough to abuse it – or make said abuse worthy of concern.

    • Keaaukane

      The academic corollary of Lord Acton: Trivial power corrupts trivially.

      • Young_Hegelian

        This is top quality work.

        • timb

          agreed

          • Keaaukane

            Thanks. It was my father’s. As you might guess, he was a professor.

    • medrawt

      I do not recall what specifically precipitated the 2014 brawl, but Leiter runs, or ran, a site which organized ranking of philosophy departments (based on surveys of philosophy professors rating the “prestige” of other philosophy professors). (This in itself was highly controversial, but ten years ago my opinion was that a lot of the people pooh-poohing it had lost touch, if they ever had it, with what it was like to be an uncertain grad school applicant who’d received basically nothing in the way of useful advice from his undergrad department.) In addition to his own standing as a scholar in the field, this put Leiter in a position of perceived authority as an arbiter of other people’s reputations. Because he appeared to not know how to argue directly with other humans without being an asshole, he was also in the habit of writing about people he disagreed with in a way that might be described as “reputational bullying.” “Professor Jane Doe, tenure track at a third-rate department, opines that …”

      • Keaaukane

        I see what you did with that “pooh-poohing it”.

      • Srsly Dad Y

        I’ve read (OK, skimmed) a couple of his articles in law reviews, and from that evidence it looks like he takes a similar approach in his scholarship. Using nominally formal and polite prose, he purports to eviscerate intellectual adversaries as not only wrong, but so wrong that they exemplify bad scholarship that should be shunned from legal academia. He shits on their work, come to think of it.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Get me Philip Roth! We need a rewrite of The Human Stain!

          • Paul Campos

            Send lawyers guns and money.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              Great zot! I had not thought of that! Could the professor merely be an excitable boy? Has anyone spotted him rubbing a pot roast on his chest? We must consult the DSM-5.

              • The Dark God of Time

                Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
                And I went to meet my man
                He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
                By the Pioneer chicken stand.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  “Intentionally Like A Martyr: the Brian Leiter Story.”

                • BiloSagdiyev

                  Well I dropped my trousers on the tenure track
                  Showing off my PhD
                  But a diet of fiber is what I lack
                  Poor poor pitiful me

  • Camilla Highwater

    If Leiter was going to do something like this, he’d surely have the sense to use a new pseudonym — not one (Aduren/Neruda) that had already been blown. Wouldn’t he?

    • medrawt

      Pavel Durena, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

    • Paul Campos

      The theory would be that he tried to make it look like somebody in the law school scam world was trying to make it look like he was the sender of the packages, so he could continue to play the martyr while attacking the people he continues to harass. Whoever is responsible is obviously nuts so it’s difficult to unpack their motivations in any coherent way.

      • The Temporary Name

        It seems as if you’d have to hate the recipients. Framing Leiter doesn’t necessarily require poop-handling.

        Kooks will be kooks though.

  • Calming Influence

    Instead of poop I would mail signed first editions of “I’m OK, You’re OK” to my philosopher foes, but I don’t have any philosopher foes.

    • Warren Terra

      Per Descartes, how does anyone prove they really have philosopher foes?

      • Calming Influence

        “Cogitus cogito, ergo cogito sum.”

        I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      I had an eccentric uncle who had a phobia about very tall philosopher fees, fies, and fums, but I don’t recall him saying anything about foes.

  • Camilla Highwater

    “Right now, I can’t read too good.
    Don’t send me no more letters, no.
    Not unless you mail them from
    Defecation Row.”

    • Dilan Esper

      You just won a bright shiny internet. Where would you like me to put it?

    • Denverite

      Huh. Now “they’re painting the passports brown” has a whole new meaning for me.

      • Dilan Esper

        My favorite version:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKglmptMuaI

        I saw a good number of Dead shows and they could be very inconsistent, but when they nailed something they could really nail it, and Desolation Row brought out their best (there’s a little sound board error in the middle but that is not the band’s fault).

        • Ahuitzotl

          Uh. That’s their best version? OK.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Heh heh. Many moons ago, in the second half of the 80’s, when the Dead seemed to be undergoing a resurgence, one of my buddies became a Deadhead. I was standing in my room when I realized that the cassette tape he had been playing, why for the last two minutes or so, the Dead had been doing their version of Buddy Holly’s “Not Dade Away.”

            And I proceeded to rant about how I could make a better noise if I dug up Buddy Holly’s corpse, carved a hole in it and started blowing.

            • Dilan Esper

              They were never a very good rock and roll band. They also flunked “Johnny B. Goode” (and used to play it ALL the time).

              But they were good at long, meandering songs. That’s why “Desolation Row” could bring out their best, and I can remember some “Days Between”‘s and “Standing on the Moon”‘s that were really something.

              They were also, strangely, pretty good at country-tinged stuff. Their best album, “American Beauty”, has several examples of it, but I also remember Bob Weir doing a cover of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” that was dead on.

              I’m very much a realist about what I saw. I heard PLENTY of crappy music at their shows. They could be really bad, or even worse, pointless. But they were a bunch of talented people who were also very sloppy and who took a ton of drugs, so when the talent won out over the slop and the drugs, they could produce some really good music.

              • At some point I am going to write my 3000 word partial defense of the Dead on this site.

              • BiloSagdiyev

                Howard Johnson Dilan Esper is right!

                That’s what I’ve been thinking all these years, I don’t hate them. I can see where they have some appeal, sometimes.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Hey, if you don’t like that version, you probably don’t like this version, either:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJC6hmxrAmQ

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Oh great. Now you’ll have me converting Dylan lyrics into poop lyrics all weekend.

      JOEEY
      JOOOOEEEEEEY
      What made them want to
      flush you away?

  • Calming Influence

    Pro tip: putting “Philosopher” as your ocupation on your tax return and declaring any income almost guarantees an FBI raid.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      True. It’s much safer to put “Spy”.

    • tsam

      “Occupation?”

      “Standup philosopher!”

      “Oh, a BULLSHIT ARTIST!”

      “Grrrrrr….”

      “Did you bullshit this week? Did you bullshit last week?”

  • Julia Grey

    He probably made use of the “blown” pseudonym so that the recipient knew who had sent it, but he could still use the lame “frame attempt” excuse in public. Some people are willing to be the subject of supposedly scurrilous speculation as long as their Official Version is still covering them socially. In fact they might derive pleasure from “knowing that they know” and laughing up their sleeves.

    Maybe the more anonymous packaging was just not satisfying to the perpetrator. He needs to — what’s the phrase? — rub their noses in it.

  • bw

    An old boss actually shat in a box and sent it to the offices of one of his best friends (it was in retaliation for the friend pranking him by stuffing the remnants of some food into his bag when he wasn’t looking. The food sat in the bag for several days before being discovered).

    Unfortunately, boss did not realize that the friend was out of town for two or three weeks at the time of the shit-sending, and thus the package sat on his desk all that time, reeking up the building, until a poor secretary opened it).

    I confess that I laughed my ass off when he told the story.

    God, that job fucking sucked. Though not really because of him.

  • yupyup

    Interestingly, whereas mostly people accuse Leiter of only being able to threaten law suits, it seems as though he actually has filed a lawsuit this year…

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