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Mar 22 2012

I guess she really doesn’t like evolution

I’m giving a midterm exam on evolution this morning. I hope none of the students snap.

Associate Professor Stephen M. Kajiura was reviewing with his evolution class in GS 120 for a midterm when FAU student Jonatha Carr interrupted him: “How does evolution kill black people?” she asked. Kajiura attempted to explain that evolution doesn’t kill anyone.

And then, Carr became violent.

A fellow classmate, Rachel Bustamante, was sitting behind Carr prior to her outburst and noticed she had been avoiding looking at the professor until 11:35 a.m. — that’s when she snapped. The classmate reported that Kajiura was discussing attraction between peacocks when Carr raised her hand to ask her question about evolution. She asked it four times, and became increasingly upset each time Kajiura’s answer failed to satisfy her.


…fuckin’ evolution, I hate this shit.…You better shut the fuck up, before I fuckin’ kill you!

Exam time really is kind of stressful for the students.

233 comments

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  1. 1
    Matt125

    Violent thug. If anyone deserves to be tasered, it is her. Disgraceful.

  2. 2
    clastum3

    Is this anything to do with evolution? The poor girl’s having some sort of a breakdown.

    I can’t help feeling it’s wrong to post this.

    Talking about breakdowns: freethoughtblogs is not behaving terribly well right now either.

  3. 3
    Zeno

    Jonatha will be in church Sunday testifying how she confronted Satan and his ungodly theory of evolution.

  4. 4
    madtom1999

    Dog ate homework not good enough anymore?

  5. 5
    'Tis Himself

    Who pissed in her Wheaties?

  6. 6
    davidnangle

    I don’t want to think what will happen if Beck or O’Reilly or Faux latches on to this.

  7. 7
    left0ver1under

    I’ve never been one to use the phrase, “He/She must be off the meds”, but in this case I have to wonder. How could something so bizarre happen so quickly?

    This is not a case of a creationist troll trying to interrupt a lecture involving evolution, and if the murder of Trayvon Martin played any part in her mentality, it certainly wasn’t the movitation nor the cause.

  8. 8
    Kristjan Wager

    I agree with the other commenters – this seems to be some kind of mental breakdown rather than an attempt to push creationismm.

    The comments on YouTube makes me, once again, loose hope in humanity

  9. 9
    HappyHead

    Wow. I’ve had two students go off the deep end during class, but never quite that bad. One of them just sort of screamed and ran out the back door of the classroom like he was being chased by monsters (paranoid schizophrenic, wasn’t taking his medication. He was all sorts of interesting…) and another one who spent a few minutes swearing at me for having the nerve to put different questions on the midterm from the one he had memorized the multiple choice letters for. (A, C, B, B, D, A, … you don’t need to actually know the course material, that’s unreasonable!)

    In any event, I never had to call campus security, both of them left on their own, so I guess I got lucky. Then again, web page design isn’t a very religiously stressful subject, even if I do occasionally point out some church websites in class as examples of things to not do. (So many of them are so horribly done…)

  10. 10
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I couldn’t understand a lot of what she was screaming, but it really didn’t seem like her breakdown had much to do with evolution.

    Violent thug. If anyone deserves to be tasered, it is her. Disgraceful.

    Violent thug or person having a nervous breakdown?
    Either way, I doubt anyone “deserves” to be tasered. It may sometimes be needed if there is no better way to defend oneself from an attacker, but even then it has nothing t do with deserving it.

  11. 11
    Zeno

    Some really vile comments accompany the linked article at the University Press. Nasty (and sadly predictable) stuff:

    She just has gotten a hold of a bit too much Hope&Change!

    Evolution does kill black people. It’s what started the Eugenics movement and Margaret Sangers “Planned Parenthood”.

    There’s good and bad people in every ethnic group but the media doesn’t want us to know that.

    This is “news” because this is what a Grand Mal Chimp Out looks like. Caught on tape.

    Ain’t affirmative action great?

    I think the University actually fosters this sort of thinking. They are hosting a lecture by Cornell West on the 22nd. I guess racism and socialism are part of the curriculum.

    Didn’t anyone in that class have a handgun. That was an act of terrorism than should have been ended with force. If she had been a white women acting like that, the Black Security guards would have been called and they would have shot her dead. Guns are needed in college today.

    Do you think the rise of this kind of thing might have a direct correlation to the current occupant of the White House

    Racism on parade. With a big dollop of idiocy.

  12. 12
    huntstoddard

    Instructor should have cleared the room immediately and called for help. Not doing so was irresponsible; letting people record it and put it on Youtube was irresponsible.

  13. 13
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Yeah that woman needs help. IANAD but it seems to be an emotional / mental break rather than anything else.

    What amazes me about the video is how long it took for another University employee to show up. And not even security from the looks of it.

  14. 14
    PZ Myers

    That’s not surprising. We don’t have guards roaming the halls — if someone erupted like that in my classroom, it would probably take 5 minutes for campus security to respond, and I’m on a small campus. FAU is a big place with about 30,000 students.

    I don’t want universities to be places where guards are everywhere, poised to leap into action at any disturbance.

  15. 15
    scorpy1

    If you thought youtubers were the worst of the lot on this, check the comments at the FAU post, it’s littered with jems like:

    Black people hate themselves, and they hate being associated with negative attitudes, and actions. The Media ( if not all ) depicts Negros in a negative light.
    The entire marketing is aimed towards Jues and people of the mid-west ( the Americana’s ( Heartland America ).

    or

    The only group killing Blacks on any industrial scale is Democrat-funded and supported Planned Parenthood, founded by Margaret Sanger for the SPECIFIC purpose of reducing to zero the numbers of Black babies…. Look it up.

    I don’t know how much of that came in after the story went national, but I can’t help feeling that if any of those views were from FAU students, I’d be indiscriminately angry as well.

  16. 16
    Inaji

    Zeno @11, yeah, I read a number of the comments too, then left as it was getting increasingly bad. Obviously, we have a long way left to go.

  17. 17
    Walton

    Violent thug. If anyone deserves to be tasered, it is her. Disgraceful.

    No. No one “deserves” to be tasered. People have died as a result of being tasered.

    And as far as I can tell, she’s having a mental breakdown of some kind. That doesn’t make her a “violent thug”. It makes her ill.

    (Seriously, stop with the judgmental rhetoric.)

  18. 18
    Matt Penfold

    Violent thug. If anyone deserves to be tasered, it is her. Disgraceful.

    Tasering should only be considered where the other option is the use of firearms. So what in fact you are saying is that she should deserves to be shot.

  19. 19
    ChasCPeterson

    If it’s vids of mentally disturbed people freaking out you want, I’ll just take the train downtown. On a ‘good’ day I’ll have two or three at this level before even getting out of Penn Station. They’ll have exactly as much to do with evolution, biology, atheism, and social equality as this one: zero.
    I’m puzzled by the lack of giving-a-shit-about-people displayed by posting this.

  20. 20
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Violent thug. If anyone deserves to be tasered, it is her. Disgraceful.

    Though there are times when using a taser may be appropriate (a person is an existential danger to hirself or others, or the only other choice is escalation to firearms), this is not one of them. And no one, no one!, ‘deserves’ to be tasered.

    =======

    As for the young woman, I hope she recieves whatever help she needs and/or wants.

  21. 21
    lexie

    I’m quite surprised that her classmates filmed it and put it on youtube. I’m a vet med student and our student cohort are really nice to each other and help each other out. We’ve never had anyone flip out this badly but we’ve had some students on the floor in tears and we don’t mock them instead we try and help them. Even though in this situation it was sensible not to approach her I’m very surprised her classmates are mocking her by filming her and putting it on youtube.

  22. 22
    Chrisco

    Lol, label me as you will but the moment that piece of shit pushed me or touched me her head would’ve bounced about a foot off the table.

  23. 23
    Ing

    I agree with the other commenters – this seems to be some kind of mental breakdown rather than an attempt to push creationismm.

    They are not exclusive options.

  24. 24
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I’m puzzled by the lack of giving-a-shit-about-people displayed by posting this.

    Agreed.

    May I suggest removing the video, if not the whole post?

    It’s basically mocking an ill person. From the title onward.
    “Har, har, a crazy is having a breakdown and she mentions evolution in it, let’s make jokes about it”

  25. 25
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Lol, label me as you will but the moment that piece of shit pushed me or touched me her head would’ve bounced about a foot off the table.

    Has anyone done a study on what percentage of humanity see violence as the first resort for all situations?

  26. 26
    Chrisco

    Thats like saying i cant believe these people who believe in invisible sky-beings are having a rough time accepting evolution. Capt obvious. All religious are ill (IMO), this ones just trying to coincide the two and apparent having a very difficult time doing so.

  27. 27
    huntstoddard

    “I don’t want universities to be places where guards are everywhere, poised to leap into action at any disturbance.”

    But the instructor is standing there not doing anything. In fact, he’s allowing other students jeer a person who’s obviously having some kind of breakdown. Not cool, PZ. Worse than pointing out rabbit teeth. Don’t let your disdain for creationism dehumanize you.

  28. 28
    Ing

    But the instructor is standing there not doing anything. In fact, he’s allowing other students jeer a person who’s obviously having some kind of breakdown. Not cool, PZ. Worse than pointing out rabbit teeth. Don’t let your disdain for creationism dehumanize you.

    Actual guidelines for disturbances in some Uni’s actually bar the instructor from addressing it. The idea is to just draw attention back to yourself because they don’t want the instructor actually engaging with the person.

    Partner at a training for this was actually told a story where a student started masturbating in class and the instructor’s “right” solution was to just draw the classes attention back to the front and let them continue.

  29. 29
    Chrisco

    Has anyone done a study on what percentage of humanity see violence as the first resort for all situations?

    No, because i punch surveyors in the face as well, jk. I dont see the need in being a undesrved pacifist in situations like this.

  30. 30
    Ing

    I dont see the need in being a undesrved pacifist in situations like this.

    Begging the question

  31. 31
    Sideshow Bill

    Unfortunately if you read the comments at the original post, it’s been picked up by reddit and Drudge and the racists are piling on

  32. 32
    ruthstl

    My teen is bipolar. We are currently working with a psychiatrist to adjust her meds, as the old one wasn’t working for her anymore. She can be doing well, then go on a rant that makes no sense to the rest of us. I really fear that this sort of thing will happen when she is older, and she will end up dead because she won’t comply with security because she is experiencing a different reality.

    There are programs for first responders to learn to deal with the mentally ill or disabled. Same sort of program may be needed for teachers.

    The racism in those comments is vile, but the things that have been said to my white autistic/bipolar child have been vile too.

  33. 33
    scottplumer

    Seems like someone didn’t take her medication…

    But seriously, I work at a university that had a shooting several years ago, and as a result, we now have security in every building. Seeing this video made me glad for it.

  34. 34
    PZ Myers

    Isn’t it odd how if I’d said something like “she’s crazy”, there’d be a rush to condemn psychoanalyzing someone at a distance, but when I report on an angry woman disrupting a class with a vicious outburst, I’m told that she’s mentally ill and it’s disrespectful to condemn her?

    The instructor here responded appropriately and calmly. It would not have helped the situation at all if he’d engaged with her, would have made it worse if he’d actually tried to compel her to stop, and it would also have been disruptive if he’d run around slapping cell phones out of other students’ hands. This was a lecture interrupted by an angry anti-evolutionist (I don’t know that she’s a creationist — her question makes it sound more like she’s outraged at the injustice of evolution). Maybe she’s mentally ill — but I don’t know that. Maybe she’s just really pissed off and is stressed out by the pressures of school — that seems just as likely to me.

  35. 35
    PZ Myers

    Also…threatening to kill the teacher and other students in the classroom? She doesn’t get a pass on that.

  36. 36
    A. R

    Oh my. When I was sub-TAing a lab a few months ago, we had a student start screaming and throwing culture plates around, but It never got this bad.

  37. 37
    huntstoddard

    “Also…threatening to kill the teacher and other students in the classroom? She doesn’t get a pass on that.”

    She might if it’s the result of mental breakdown. In fact, that would be the point where any reasonable instructor should draw the line, clear the class and call for help, which is perhaps what happened after that.

    Either way, if at all possible, this student’s reputation should have been protected until all the facts were made clear.

    Sorry PZ, you dropped the ball on this one. It happens to the best of us (whatsupdoc?).

  38. 38
    lexie

    Sorry PZ. I have no idea what caused her to do what she did as I don’t know her. I do think that the lecturer acted well by just trying to carry on and act calmly. I was not trying to suggest that the lecturer should have gone around taking the mobile phones from the students, just that I was surprised that they filmed her but I suppose that if my classes were regularly being interrupted I may change my attitude (fortunately all my classmates are fairly rational).

  39. 39
    charlessoto

    Please don’t attack the instructor here. He was being victimized, and it’s real hard being a victim, sometimes. I think his action was reasonable. I know I wouldn’t have acted so calmly. The other students, however, engaged in typical mob fashion. Not very reassuring. At my son’s school, we teach social/emotional awareness and it helps (my son told me yesterday he stood up for his friend when other kids called him names for allowing a point in volleyball – hope it lasts through college!).

    Also, this student is clearly having a bad day. Whatever the source of that, it’s something she needs help with, whether it be counseling, medical treatment, or just a little bit of “calm down and let’s see what sort of help you need.” My experience with university student services is that this isn’t a rare thing, and they will deal with it without prejudice or vindictiveness. My university has a large police force, but it’s such a big campus that they’re not everywhere. This isn’t a police state campus. And like PZ, I’m glad for that.

  40. 40
    NotAProphet

    Yeah, agreeing with Ing and PZ; it’s commendable that so many are so keen to give her the benefit of the doubt, but there are more options than irrational thuggishness or mental illness.

    My own first impression was that she might have been under the influence, be that of alcohol or narcotics. Of course that probably also means she needs help. Unfortunately, despite our compassion, in a situation where someone is acting unpredictably, vehemently issuing death threats, and raising her hands to bystanders, the softly-softly approach is not necessarily the correct one.

    I was impressed at the restraint of the gentleman who ordered her to leave, after being shoved repeatedly; it is possible to be physical without being violent, and in the end that appears to have been the route they took. Of course I am aware that mentally disturbed people can react badly to being touched, but I would posit that the well-being of the others in the class, their right both to not be assaulted and to continue their studies undisturbed, needs to take precedence.

    I know that teachers in at least some schools are taught methods of restraint for violently disruptive students, perhaps more ought to be, not through despair at our declining society, but through a preparedness to ensure the protection of all their charges.

  41. 41
    Louis

    Ok, now I’m slightly vexed.

    This is a breakdown?

    For fuck’s sake Internet Diagnosticians, if THIS is an exemplar of a breakdown your standards for breakdowns must be really low. I’m not going to make silly claims that none of you have ever seen breakdowns (or are unqualified to diagnose mental illness) because undoubtedly some of you have (and are). But really, one furious outburst does not a breakdown make. Beyond a YouTube video (such evidence!) you and I have no/little information about this woman.

    Is being quick to describe this woman’s reaction in mental illness terms an example of traditional “hysterical women” style misogyny, or “over-emotional ‘lesser’ black people” style racism? I don’t know, and have too little evidence to “diagnose” that in others so easily, but it’s something to consider.

    I am not underplaying the seriousness of mental illness, nor its expression, but I am sick to the back teeth of remote, unqualified diagnoses and mental illness being used as a club to beat people we don’t like, agree with, or who behave poorly. I am also sick to the back teeth of pathologising what is essentially bad behaviour. I am by no means a denier of mental illness, far, far from it, I’m working on drugs currently to manage two mental illnesses, and it’s actually I’m seriously considering (as in working on) a way to extend my career into psychology/psychopharmacology as opposed to merely medicinal chemistry. But I am also aware of the tendency to trivially pathologise the unusual, the out of line, or the annoying. As someone intimately familiar with the horrors of mental illness both personally and professionally, please don’t undermine an important and heavily stigmatised field with cheap shot remote diagnoses and the use of mental illness as a rhetorical shot.

    Anyway, I’ll grant you this lady lost her temper in relatively spectacular fashion, but hardly pathologically so. Imagine, for example that she had been primed by her church (if she is churchy) with the idea that black people are systematically targeted by “evolution” for extermination. Or with the idea that “black people are less evolved than white people (and thus less human)” or similar. Both are pieces of misinformation about evolutionary biology I’ve encountered.

    Now imagine yourself a feisty, strong willed young person in a class where this “evolution” stuff is brought up and you see people around you colluding in it’s transmission. A little less impulse control, a few more hormones coursing through the blood and this sort of outburst doesn’t seem so pathological. Put yourself in her (possible) shoes.

    Imagine being sat in a particularly vile Holocaust denial lecture, or a KKK meeting, or an MRA meeting where the most odious extremes of misogyny were being seriously, flatly discussed and everyone around you seemed to be taking notes. You’d think you had landed on the Planet of Creeps and needed to wake up the people around you to the “facts”. Of course her (presumed) anti-evolution views don’t fit into the same category of those examples, anti-evolution is factually incorrect for starters, but she may not know that and may well have been primed to think entirely the opposite.

    Of course the obvious points here, besides granting this woman some benefit of the doubt, are:

    a) Yes, of course, “death threats”* and physical violence are unacceptable. This woman deserves official censure of some description certainly, she at the very least owes everyone involved an apology.

    b) Obviously the fact that this outburst was spurred by discussion of evolution is important. It’s not a coincidence that this is the chosen topic and not, say, mitosis or the Diels-Alder reaction mechanism being a [4+2] cycloaddition as opposed to a single electron transfer mechanism (or is it, chemistry fans? ;-) ). (Religious) Anti-evolution is everywhere, and I would argue is a far more parsimonious underpinning for her poor reaction than incipient mental illness.

    Louis

    * Anyone who tells me that they have never used the words “I’ll kill you”, or some cognate thereof, in a fit of pique or temper is lying. I won’t believe them. It’s an unbelievably common thing to say. “One of these days, Alice, right to the moon”. Note: common=/=excusable.

  42. 42
    ccfan

    My guess is someone told her evolution is what the white people used to justify slavery of the black people or something to that degree, sort of a variation of the Hilter-used-evolution-to-kill-Jews one, and that was why she was going on about it.

    Also if you watch the video in full the girl *did* get violent when a student stood up to her and told her calmly to get out of the room. She pushed the guy hard for three times before the guy defended himself and it got into a bit of a slap fight.

    I think taser or pepper spray is justified in this case when she clearly acted violently first.

  43. 43
    Louis

    All typos and errors are mine.

    (DAMN YOU TYPO! GDO OF CLERICAL ERRORS! DAMN YOU AND YOUR HOLY CORRECTING FLUID STRAIGHT TO THE BOWELS OF FORGETTING TO PREVIEW!)

    Louis

  44. 44
    craigrheinheimer

    I disagree with you, PZ. The instructor did not handle this in the best way he could have. Perhaps it is lost in the quality of the video, but all he appeared to do was to try and continue the lecture. He should have instructed the other students to be silent and not get involved. He should have worked to keep her focus on him and speak calmly to bring her down. The main thing is to keep her focused on him and don’t let the other students escalate things.

    When it became obvious that she wasn’t going to calm down, his first priority should have been to get as many people out of harm’s way as possible. He should have gotten the other students and himself out of the room, both for safety purposes and the fact that the other students were aggravating the situation.

    When the other university employee (I’m assuming) confronts her and subdues her at the end, he really screws up. Confronting someone in that state of mind with aggressiveness (pointing and shouting) is the exact opposite of what he should have done. Talk calmly, and then subdue physically if needed. Shouting her down will NEVER do anything other than escalate the situation.

    Poorly handled by all parties, the instructor, the students, and the other university staff.

    I fully agree that she doesn’t get a pass for her outburst and threats, regardless of the reason. She should be expelled and charged by law enforcement. The courts can decide if she needs some sort of mental therapy.

  45. 45
    A. R

    Louis: I vote for [4+2] cycloaddition! Organic chem may have laid waste to thousands of my neurones, but I remember that from class.

  46. 46
    Louis

    Oh and tasers? Pepper sprays? Why not just get out a water cannon? Perhaps an AK-47 (when you absolutely, positively have to kill every motherfucker in the room…accept not substitute).

    NO!

    In a class that large I find it very hard to credit that there was no one with the relevant expertise in controlling a person (i.e. martial arts, basic military/police training or the like). Even if that weren’t the case, this woman was not violent until confronted. By no means is that always the case with people losing their tempers spectacularly, but clearly confrontation escalated the situation here. As Ing said, the person taking the lecture should have tried to draw attention back to themselves and wait for security (i.e. someone actually…or supposedly…qualified to restrain/calm an angry person). Tasers and pepper spray and the like are totally over the top.

    Louis

  47. 47
    opposablethumbs

    Lol, label me as you will but the moment that piece of shit pushed me or touched me her head would’ve bounced about a foot off the table.

    Charming. Wow, chrisco, you really sound like a great person to have in a classroom in a moment of crisis or, you know, anywhere at any time.

  48. 48
    Louis

    A.R.

    Oh me too, but I saw an interesting paper not too long ago with some calculations showing a six electron SET/free radical style mechanism being potentially energetically favoured under some conditions. Obviously these things are just formalisms, but I did enjoy that paper.

    The authors didn’t think of actually running a DA reaction with a radical quench in though. All the calculations in the world don’t beat a good experiment! ;-)

    Louis

  49. 49
    lexie

    I feel very sorry for the lecturer as this would have been a very scary situation.

  50. 50
    NotAProphet

    Louis, she was violent before the confrontation, to some guy in the row behind her, she appeared to slap or push his face, not to mention her continued threats of violence.

    I don’t really want to see people tazed simply for egregious behaviour, but the consideration has to be there that with that many people at risk, and the potential for her (or anyone) to be armed, an expedient, “arms-length” means of subduing the subject is preferable. Tazer > Pepper Spray > Firearms. One might suggest it is the best of a bad bunch, though that is far from an exhaustive list.

  51. 51
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    That’s not surprising. We don’t have guards roaming the halls — if someone erupted like that in my classroom, it would probably take 5 minutes for campus security to respond, and I’m on a small campus. FAU is a big place with about 30,000 students.

    I don’t want universities to be places where guards are everywhere, poised to leap into action at any disturbance.

    Sure, that’s understandable. I just figure that after the whole Va. Tech thing that schools had gotten a little more sensitive about it. Guess not.

  52. 52
    opposablethumbs

    PS the above =!= approving of her behaviour or suggesting it ought to continue unhindered. But just saying “hey I’m bigger/tougher/meaner/more heavily armed/have more backers therefore I win” doesn’t sound like a great solution to me.

    Pity it probably wouldn’t have been practicable to leave her alone in the room till she got tired of having no audience, then apply disciplinary measures for the disruption and any damage. But there was obviously no need for tasering, pepper spray, bouncing of heads or anything remotely similar.

  53. 53
    dobbshead

    So the concept running through this thread is that this person behaved badly publicly, threatened people, disrupted a lecture, and somehow the thing that is really bad is it got posted online? That’s total B.S.

    If you’ve ever tried to diffuse a situation that is escalating like that, then you’d know engagement is the worst idea. That person is not behaving rationally and any form of interaction can result in more extreme behavior by the belligerent or the bystanders. The best course of action is to remain calm and walk move away, and encourage other to act with restraint. The instructor cannot move away, but he can draw focus away from the disruption, which he did. The only thing that might have been done better is if the instructor had told the students to leave the room and that lecture was over, but that’s a tricky call.

    One of the best things you can do as a bystander is to not engage and record the event. It allows people who weren’t there to get a sense for how bad things were. This person was behaving badly then and they might go forward with litigation, a video record is the best defense against that. When a person behaves that badly in public, their bad behavior is fair public record.

    The only person who did anything wrong in this event is the belligerent. It doesn’t matter why they behaved that way (since we aren’t a court, we have no reason to care), they were still a danger to others and themselves.

    That all being said, the FAU comment thread hurts my faith in humanity.

  54. 54
    dobbshead

    “That all being said, the FAU comment thread hurts my faith in humanity.”

    To be clear, I meant the other comment thread that has been hijacked by reddit. They have turned this into a beacon of how black people are all horrible and racism is right. It turns my stomach.

  55. 55
    carlie

    I think the instructor handled it badly, but faculty at most schools get NO training in how to deal with situations like this. It looks as though that might have also been a TA, and they get even less training (in that they usually don’t even think such a situation may occur, whereas faculty by then have seen a few things and have a better handle on the possibilities).

  56. 56
    Louis

    NotAProphet, #50

    Yeah I saw that. She’s sat down until ~2:17, after getting up, getting in the face of a woman to her right, she walks to and pushes the guy a few chairs to the left of her in the head at ~2:47, she is confronted by the guy in the sweater at ~3:01 and gets violent with him at ~3:11. In a 4 minute video she spends over half of it sat down and ranting. Both the people she attacks physically appear unharmed.

    Again, I’m not excusing her poor behaviour by any means, just noting she doesn’t really pose much of a threat to anyone. This “risk” of which you speak is surprisingly low and not serious. She’s apparently unarmed, not notably larger or more capable of dealing with physical violence than majority of people around her (most of whom seem more intent on “bear baiting” and videoing than helping I sadly note. Jeering humans always help and outburst such as this….not), and, again, “I’ll kill you” is vastly more likely to be temper inspired hyperbole than serious. Sorry but exaggerating the “threat” this woman poses is not flying with me.

    This is, in my opinion, far too low a bar for tasers/pepper spray and the like. Bear in mind people have died when being tasered. This woman deserves a tangible risk of death for her outburst? No. I don’t think so. Think also about the message tasering people for fairly minor transgressions sends. Given the gun violence in the USA, this outburst from a student doesn’t really merit such a reaction.

    I see fear here. What is so scary about the aberrant behaviour displayed here that a the use of greater violence is deemed useful? What’s so scary about this woman’s outburst that she must be othered by dint of diagnosing mental illness on the basis of one YouTube video? Across the world right this second literally millions of people are losing their tempers and shouting and screaming. Of those millions a tiny fraction will actually result in serious violence. More of that serious violence will be against women rather than perpetrated by women. It’s just vanishingly unlikely that this one outburst is likely to result in serious violence. And potentially escalating the situation is not the solution.

    Sorry, but the “taser the noisy woman” case just isn’t made here in my view. I can think of legitimate cases where it might be, but this isn’t one.

    Louis

  57. 57
    Glen Davidson

    Yet another victim of evolution. Well, maybe anti-evolution, but that wouldn’t exist without evolution, ergo…

    As Ben Stein pointed out, science leads to the anti-science faction reacting badly–or something.

    Glen Davidson

  58. 58
    dobbshead

    What is so scary about the aberrant behaviour displayed here that a the use of greater violence is deemed useful? What’s so scary about this woman’s outburst that she must be othered by dint of diagnosing mental illness on the basis of one YouTube video?

    Have you ever actually been in a situation like that? It doesn’t matter if the person is large or small, it matters if they are willing to do violence. The shouting, the wild movements, hitting other students, it all is representative of a person willing to engage in violence. You don’t know what she has in her bag, could have a weapon. The person’s size stops mattering, they could do some damage.

    Non-engagement and videotaping are the best options. The only person to blame here is the violent student. (and the racists in the reddit thread, fuck them)

  59. 59
    billnagel

    Looks like Matt125 got his wish: she did get Tased. And expelled.

    Apparently she used to be an algebra and chemistry tutor there, too. Sad…

  60. 60
    raven

    Cho Seung killed 33 people at Virginia Tech.

    Jared Lougher had a long career as a troublemaker at a CC before being banned. He shot 18 people, 6 dead.

    There have been other shootings at other universities.

    Near where I live, a student started acting strange and making threats. This was after Virginia Tech. The police put his name in a point of sale database for guns. A week later, he was arrested while trying to buy a rifle. AFAIK, he was carted off for a mental evaluation and never came back.

    I would have ended the class immediately and called security. Why take chances?

  61. 61
    lizdamnit

    @Rev. BigDumbChimp in 51:

    “I just figure that after the whole Va. Tech thing that schools had gotten a little more sensitive about it. Guess not.”

    Yes and no. There was a lot of talk, a lot of shiny new manuals, and (oh, my) so many meetings right after on what to do with violent students. And at my Current U, there’s some more campus cops sitting around. But I don’t think too much has changed, since this sort of thing is really unpredictable, which is the scary part. You can prep and prep, but you don’t have a crystal ball. It’s tough, really. The lines on engaging (or not) with a student aren’t all that clear, even after the post-VA tech measures.

    I’m still with PZ, though. I do not want uniforms everywhere, I do not want metal detectors, and over-surveillance. I want a reasonable amount, but I don’t want my “kids” to feel like they’re learning in a semi-prison. Nor do I want to teach in such a place. A healthy amount of care is necessary, but paranoia is poison.

    Someone upthread recommended “Arms-length” deterrents eg pepper spray, firearms, etc. No, thank you. I can’t see that playing out well in any school, especially those of us in urban areas. Current Uni is in a city with a infamous history of racial/class tensions. Despite the reality of the city, the reputation is that of a Gotham-esque back alley, with a quota of three dealers per block. Total bull, but people often still act accordingly. Last thing you want is an overly edgy person, feeding into this BS whipping out a taser or worse at the first person to break wind.

    It’s a shame that this woman went through whatever she did, and it’s a shame that the instructor had to go through that. I just can’t see the need for physical harm in this case.

  62. 62
    Koshka

    People do realize that tasers kill. Just this week a young man in Australia was killed by the police with a taser.

  63. 63
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I see in this video only human suffering. I hope she gets the help she needs.

  64. 64
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Huh? I admit that I couldn’t understand a lot of her screaming, but what I did had next to noting to do with evolution. It seemed like it was just a point where she snapped.
    But ok, she is obviously a rabid anti-evolutionist. Sorry for interrupting. Mock away.

  65. 65
    pHred

    Speaking as someone who actually has had someone completely wig out in one of my classes (almost 8 years ago when I was pretty new to all of this), I can agree that a) it is terrible for the instructor and b) this instructor did not handle it all that well. The video goes on for 4 minutes for Pete’s sake – that is well enough time for help to arrive, even on a large campus. No, they shouldn’t be slapping cell phones out of students hands (though most of my colleagues want to do that on a daily if not hourly basis anyhow.) He should have been engaging the other students in dialogue (not trying to teach) and having them back off and preferably clear the room. This is something that has gone really weird in our culture – btw – instead of trying to remove themselves from dangerous situations, people get closer in order to record them – it is bizarre.

    (Amazingly enough I had to do that when I was a PhD students when a couple of the Professors in a Master’s defense went off the deep end – some kind of personal grudge – I was the one who herded all of the other students out of the room and called for help.)

    It does not matter why the person is acting the way they are – she was threatening harm and was endangering other students. You can’t just pretend this isn’t happening.

    After all of the campus shootings in the recent past, there shouldn’t be a campus anywhere in the US that does not have some kind of response plan. (Yes, yes, I am sure that plenty don’t really, but that is gross negligence on their part.) I guess I am lucky that I work in a state with a Public Employer Workplace Violence Prevention Law that requires training. We talk about this – we have to. It has nothing to do with being a police state – it has to do with being responsible educators (which is damn hard).

    BTW – that student in my class had a history of behavioral issues and this was the fourth school she had transferred to. Given the timing this was before campus shooting sprees were common (? – not sure if that was the correct word). I spent the rest of the semester with a response trained university police person outside the classroom every class. It was NOT pleasant. The student did receive counseling and managed to complete their degree too.

  66. 66
    WharGarbl

    @Koshka
    #62

    People do realize that tasers kill. Just this week a young man in Australia was killed by the police with a taser.

    Anything used to restrain another can be fatal. Bean-bag rounds, taser, pepper spray, certain martial-art holds.

    Thou put it this way, if one day you were to temporary went insane and tried to hurt someone, would you rather be tasered or shot by actual bullets?

    Of course, this is assuming that police are trained to know when to use a taser versus when to just let the individual in question blow off some steam.

  67. 67
    carlie

    According to that linked article, she was tased in the back of the police car. They already have her stuck in there at that point, what could possibly be the reason to use a taser? She was then no danger to anybody.

  68. 68
    Louis

    Dobbshead, #58,

    Yes I have been involved in many situations like that, and worse. As if that has any relevance.

    Anyway, what do you think I am advocating other than non-engagement (until security arrives if that is what is deemed necessary)? In context my remarks about the scariness of this episode are not denying the absolute scariness of it, scariness is pretty subjective, they are putting it in proportion. Yes she could have a gun her bag, she doesn’t though. Nor does she show any sign throughout the video of having any weapon, reaching for any (accessible) weapon like a chair or book or pen to strike anyone with. She doesn’t go for any bag, or give anyone any reason to come to the conclusion she is armed. That’s why assessing the level of violence someone is capable of is important for a proportional response. The best solution here (as you and others note) is to do what it takes to de-escalate the situation, not to escalate it further. Note how she becomes more violent upon physical confrontation. It’s not a clear cut, binary situation. The level of violent threat this woman posed is not high, certainly not enough to merit tasering/pepper spray in my opinion (which is what I was arguing against in that post you quote).

    She also, for the majority of the video doesn’t seem to be interested in actually doing any violence. The wild hand flinging, emotiveness etc could be as much a cultural expression as a violent one. If you doubt me, I have home movies of my Greek grandmother to show you! ;-) The point being differing levels of emoting and movement of this type are tolerated in different cultures and sub-cultures. They are not necessarily indicative of violence or violent tendencies. That is not to disparage the more emotive/moving cultures, by the way, just to note that a spectrum of toleration of expressiveness exists and is a generally poor indicator of violent tendencies in the absence of a fuller assessment.

    Louis

  69. 69
    davem

    Partner at a training for this was actually told a story where a student started masturbating in class and the instructor’s “right” solution was to just draw the classes attention back to the front and let them continue.
    Reminds me of a tale I heard about a British Airways flight to Saudi Arabia, where a passenger was openly masturbating during the flight. The stewardess approached the captain as to what to do about him. “Tell him to hurry up; we’re landing shortly” was the response.

  70. 70
    bernarda

    I am surprised at the number of people who object to showing this video on this site and on youtube. They seem to not want to be subjected to real-life situations which may be disturbing. I have seen people get angry like that who didn’t apparently have mental problems. Shit happens.

  71. 71
    Koshka

    Filthy Human,
    My point is that instantly jumping to the option of using a taser is ludicrous. This woman was being violent, however she appeared not to present as particularly dangerous as the majority of people were treating it as a spectacle and did not look concerned.

    And to answer your hypothetical yes I would rather be tasered than shot. I just hope that Matt125 isn’t the person deciding when I get tasered.

  72. 72
    baal

    Another video showed campus police as they tried to calm the enraged student. Officers carried the student into the back of a squad car, then used a Taser to subdue her.

    Read more: http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21006999389416/belligerent-college-student-caught-on-camera/#ixzz1prNPigXk

    From the article mentioned a few comments up.

    If the reporting is accurate – they tazed her after she was in the back of a squad car. You know, in a steel cage that’s build to take abuse. This is not ok.

  73. 73
    julietdefarge

    I totally agree with Louis on this one. The people who taught her that evolution was some sort of threat are the ones who ought to be ridiculed. Odds are, those same people allow her to suffer from mental illness without attempting to get help for her. Having been in a similar situation, I can guess what will happen when her parents are called in- nothing.

    This shouldn’t be on the internet, but it is something that every student teacher should see. It’s not a matter of being afraid of real life, it’s a matter of having compassion for a disturbed child and trying to protect her from further abuse by an ignorant public.

  74. 74
    Koshka

    bernarda,
    A number of people are objecting not because they don’t want to see real life situations but because they have empathy for this woman having a bad time of it. Also you may want to read some comments from other sites to understand. See comment #11.

  75. 75
    Louis

    Julietdefarge, #73,

    Erm, I don’t think the video should be taken down* nor do I think her behaviour is necessarily indicative of mental illness. I also don’t think this woman is a “child”, nor do I think she is necessarily “disturbed”.

    In fact the bulk of my original complaint is that, whilst an outburst like this could be indicative of mental illness, it by no means is. In fact I am appalled at the speed with which people leap to diagnoses of mental illness based on very flimsy evidence. I am also appalled at the level of fear people display over such a relatively minor incident, and the degrees of violence they are willing to perpetrate because of that. I don’t see how pathologising a fit of temper or responding to a fit of temper with potentially lethal violence is in anyway doing the best by this woman or the other students.

    It’s lovely to be agreed with, but agree with what I said, eh! ;-)

    Cheers

    Louis

    * Although that said, I feel incredibly bad for her. After all, if/when she goes for a job, what’s the first google hit that will come up? I understand that she is responsible for her actions and that any ramifications are her responsibility, but I equally fail to see how or why anyone should aid her in her self destruction.

  76. 76
    Louis

    Actually Julietdefarge, that last bit probably came across harsher in text than I mean it. I am joshing with you a bit to be honest. I know you’re agreeing with what I said, I’m just clarifying other bits of what I think…

    …erm yes I am an annoying pedant, why do you ask? ;-)

    Louis

  77. 77
    Kaylakaze

    Here’s the video of police taking her http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150743751966869

  78. 78
    WharGarbl

    @baal
    #72

    If the reporting is accurate – they tazed her after she was in the back of a squad car. You know, in a steel cage that’s build to take abuse. This is not ok.

    That would be unnecessary. It would be understandable if they tasered her because they can’t shut the door.

  79. 79
    pentatomid

    She might have had a mental breakdown, sure. It may have been the result of a history of mental illness or it may not have been, I don’t know and I don’t see how anyone can tell based on this video. Something like this could just as easily have happened as a result of indoctrination with ideas like “evolution is evil” or “evolution leads to eugenics/racism/holocaust…”. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions.
    As far as the instructor is concerned. He didn’t handle it well, but I can hardly blame him. He probably never had to deal with anything like this before, didn’t know what to do and panicked.

  80. 80
    sonofrojblake

    @Koshka

    The fact that people were treating it as a spectacle and did not appear concerned does nothing to reduce the level of immediate potential threat. She made loudly audible threats to kill, knowing she was being recorded. She physically assaulted another person in the room, knowing she was being recorded. So far this week I’ve heard two news stories from Florida, and the other was about a man who took a gun that he was legally carrying concealed and used it to kill an unarmed teenager “in self defence”. If I had any responsibility for the safety of the people in that room, their apparent lack of concern for their own safety would have formed no part of my risk assessment of the situation. I would see a clearly disturbed person speaking and acting violently, in a state where it is legal to carry a concealed firearm, and try, in stressful circumstances, to make the correct decision.

    One other point: I have no idea why this particular person was tased in the back of a police car. However, based on personal knowledge of one specific incident involving a family member, I can relate that a disturbed and insufficiently subdued and restrained individual can use that steel cage to do *themselves* significant damage before the officers responsible for their safety can stop them.

  81. 81
    pentatomid

    Here’s the video of police taking her http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150743751966869

    What the hell was going on there? One moment the cops seem to be handeling things quite reasonably, then suddenly, when she’s in the car, she gets tasered? At least that’s what it looked like to me. Huh? Why?

  82. 82
    Glen Davidson

    The people who taught her that evolution was some sort of threat are the ones who ought to be ridiculed.

    And why are the people who mis-educated her fully responsible and not victims of an idiotic subculture themselves?

    Sure, I think that Stephen Meyer and Ken Ham are either knowingly lying or so in denial/incompetent that they’re committing the equivalent of malpractice, but most of the creationists causing these problems through miseducation are just people in one’s church, equally blind, ignorant, and pious, to this particular victim.

    Often ridicule is about all that can be used against the stupidity of creationism, but one should still remember that most creationists have been “sheltered” from the sort of knowledge that might make knowing better possible.

    Glen Davidson

  83. 83
    Ing

    As far as the instructor is concerned. He didn’t handle it well, but I can hardly blame him. He probably never had to deal with anything like this before, didn’t know what to do and panicked.</blockquote.

    As I pointed out, his hands may have been tied by policy. Certain instructors at Uni seem to basically be given very little protection in such instances.

  84. 84
    earlycuyler

    So now we should add Psych evaluation to the entrance requirements at a University?

  85. 85
    coyotenose

    scorpy1 @ #15:

    Those jems are outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous.

    ————–

    Louis @ #56:

    While I don’t believe she was a taser-level threat, the fact that we can see after the fact that no one was harmed does not make her harmless or mean those present wouldn’t have been justified in defending themselves. She could have easily had something like scissors or a file in her backpack or purse. Fuck, she’s a Biology student, right? She might have been carrying a dissection kit with a SCALPEL.*

    She could have put someone’s eye out with a pencil, with her keys, with even just her thumb, just by being a teeny bit more violent than people were willing to believe.

    Despite the charming phrasing, I’m inclined to (partially) agree with Chrisco. Once they attack me, I have every reason to think they will do so again, and have to act accordingly. Sometimes that means bouncing heads off tables. Sometimes it means backing the fuck up. It’s almost impossible to know which in the heat of the moment, and I’m not going to guess which one I would do in a theoretical situation.

    Also: Realize, everyone, that the jeering students were not expecting her to become violent. They were surprised kids who saw outbursts from time to time in school growing up, and they certainly thought she was just being a dramatic asshole until she hit someone.

    *I recall slicing the back of my finger off with a scalpel and not even noticing until I saw the blood. If someone in one of those classes acted up, I would damn well be scanning their hands the entire time.

  86. 86
    pentatomid

    As I pointed out, his hands may have been tied by policy. Certain instructors at Uni seem to basically be given very little protection in such instances.

    Sure, that’s also a possibility. I don’t know much about what the policies are in colleges and universities when something like this happens. I can even imagine many don’t even have explicit guidelines about these kind of things.

  87. 87
    Ing

    @Pentatomid

    In case you missed my example Partner was told in training an example that when a student started masturbating in class the female professor should have ignored it and drawn attention to her. Because they’re not allowed to kick people out for being disruptive because students have paid for their right to attend the class.

    Other guidelines have that you should call police the second someone refuses to leave or enters into criminal activity, but the conflict sends the clear message to certain teachers “The Uni will not back you if you engage…if the kid sues we will throw you under the bus”.

  88. 88
    pentatomid

    Despite the charming phrasing, I’m inclined to (partially) agree with Chrisco. Once they attack me, I have every reason to think they will do so again, and have to act accordingly. Sometimes that means bouncing heads off tables. Sometimes it means backing the fuck up. It’s almost impossible to know which in the heat of the moment, and I’m not going to guess which one I would do in a theoretical situation.

    Yeah, I see what you’re saying. It’s entirely possible that if someone attacked me like that, I’d punch back or react violently as an initial response. It’s not good, right or reasonable, but in the heat of the moment, it might happen. Still, Chrisco’s phrasing was off and it’s good that people called him out for saying what he said.

  89. 89
    Koshka

    sonofrojblake,
    I don’t understand your point. Are you suggesting she was at the point of tasering? You say there is potential that she had a gun. Isn’t this always the case? Do we taser anyone that gets even slightly violent because they might have a gun? I also don’t understand your point that she knew she was being recorded. My view was she was being recorded by multiple people and this would have aggravated her more.

  90. 90
    Chrisco

    She was tazered, im pretty sure, because she was “stiff-legging” and this wouldnt allow them to shut the door , a quick tazer zap loosens the muscles afterwards so they can bend her legs and shut the door. Im not justifying those actions, just my opinion on why it occurred.

  91. 91
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Ugh. Please pull this, PZ. It’s nothing but a honey pot for racists and shitheads to poke fun at someone having a breakdown. Jesus, don’t encourage it!

  92. 92
    Beanoglobin

    One thing that happens reliably, when someone starts acting aggressively or self-destructively in a crowd, is that a fair proportion of the spectators will egg them on to greater extremes (recording someone is a time-honoured way to get them to behave much more aggressively). The emergency services are keenly aware of this, and teachers should be too. I feel a lot of sympathy for the teacher, but IMO he did not handle the situation well, probably for lack of training.

    Also – and can I be the only one? – I am extremely, selfishly grateful that my own worst behaviour occurred pre-Smartphone, and didn’t immediately appear on the internet. Not once have I ever threatened to harm anybody, but I’m sure there would still have been enough material to keep the Youtube afficionados going for hours. The impulse to mock people at their weakest moments is flourishing like a well-fed tapeworm on Youtube, and it disturbs me to find even a segment or two of it drifting about one of my favourite blogs.

    Mocking someone for making an egregious pre-prepared statement is very different to mocking them for having a spontaneous public meltdown, whether or not they are mentally ill. It would take a lot to persuade me that ‘when in doubt, leave it out’ is not the safest policy in the latter case.

  93. 93
    alejb

    As someone who hopes to become a professor one day, I dread this type of situation. It’s easy for armchair analysts to criticize the conduct of the professor and students here, but it’s another thing entirely to be faced with someone that belligerent (and yes, violent) in person. As others above have said, the others in the room have no idea whether she’s armed, and all of their decisions must be made in seconds amidst the rush of adrenaline and fear of what might be next. I’m not convinced there’s anything the professors or students could have done better given the situation they were faced with.

    Most of us face these episodes rarely enough that we not emotionally prepared for it when it happens. Of course, if there are well-supported techniques for dealing with situations like this, I’d love to receive that training before leading a classroom… it can’t hurt.

  94. 94
    pentatomid

    In case you missed my example Partner was told in training an example that when a student started masturbating in class the female professor should have ignored it and drawn attention to her. Because they’re not allowed to kick people out for being disruptive because students have paid for their right to attend the class.

    Other guidelines have that you should call police the second someone refuses to leave or enters into criminal activity, but the conflict sends the clear message to certain teachers “The Uni will not back you if you engage…if the kid sues we will throw you under the bus”.

    Yes, I seem to have somehow missed the example earlier. Thanks for repeating it.

  95. 95
    jamessweet

    Take care not to read the comments on the YouTube video. So much disgusting racism there… I feel ill now. :(

  96. 96
    Chrisco

    Ugh. Please pull this, PZ. It’s nothing but a honey pot for racists and shitheads to poke fun at someone having a breakdown. Jesus, don’t encourage it!

    Ive seen no racist comments on this thread, maybe a few shitheaded ones by me, but thats why im here/reading, to get educated. And believe me if i pulled shit like this, and threatened to kill people, i would expect to be restrained, forcibly if need be.

  97. 97
    Lycanthrope

    chrisco, you’re a f**king idiot.

    I get so sick of this macho bravado bullshit. “If it were me, I’d ‘ve beat the shit outta ‘em! I don’ take shit from nobody!” Shut up. You have no idea how you would react in that kind of situation until you’re actually IN that kind of situation. People are usually terrible at predicting their own behaviour in stressful situations. And unless you’re a complete sociopath, it’s harder than you might think to really do violence to another person.

  98. 98
    pentatomid

    Take care not to read the comments on the YouTube video. So much disgusting racism there… I feel ill now. :(

    Never, ever read youtube comments. Seriously, I used to be quite active on youtube. The stupidity, racism and sexism of the comments are what caused me to get out of there. They literally made me feel ill.

  99. 99
    sonofrojblake

    “You say there is potential that she had a gun. Isn’t this always the case?”

    Maybe in Florida.

    Where I live, the risk that such an individual could be carrying a concealed firearm, while admittedly nonzero, is extremely low, because there is no legal way to do it and the penalties for those caught in possession are severe.

    In Florida, civilians can obtain permits to legally carry concealed handguns.

    That fact significantly changes the risk assessment parameters.

    This incident took place while there’s a international outcry going on about the killing, in that same state, of a black teenager with a legally held concealed firearm. That fact could reasonably form part of the immediate threat assessment too.

  100. 100
    oddree

    This post is a bit lowbrow for you PZ. I have come to expect you to have better judgement.

  101. 101
    Louis

    Coyotenose, #85,

    Read my #68.

    I’m not denying she could have been armed, nor am I relying on the fact that she wasn’t armed based on what we know after the fact. I specifically said that in observing her behaviour during the outburst she does nothing to indicate she is armed, has any intention of arming herself, is aware she has access to any form of weapon (be it chair/pen level up to knife/gun level). This is an observation of her in the moment behaviour. Note the use of the present tense. I am not justifying a specific response after the fact, but noting that in the moment, had I been there I would not have perceived her to be threatening enough to warrant tasering/pepper spraying etc. I.e. I am making specific objections to that level of violent response to her outburst.

    I have, until what follows, made no comment about self defence.

    If I were in the position of the two students she physically attacked, I would find some form of moderate self defence to be justified. In my estimation the outburst was poorly responded to by all concerned. The lecturer (can’t really blame him, probably untrained) reacted poorly and after the first minute or so of trying to calm her should have cleared the room at the minimum. Especially given the occurrence of shootings in the USA. It was clear at that point she was angry at the lecturer, the jeering of the other students exacerbated her anger, and being filmed also aggravated her. Whilst I can see some justification for filming things, I don’t really like it, and in this case it is clearly inflammatory.

    If the guy she pushed first had restrained her/attacked her I would think that a disproportionate response. To be frank he shouldn’t have even been there by that point, whether that’s his fault/the group’s fault/the lecturer’s fault is not for me to say, and pretty irrelevant. You back away from people having an outburst like that when you are uninvolved (unless you can actually help, which it’s obvious this guy was not doing). The second guy, the one she pushes, that’s a different matter. She clearly became more violent when he confronted her, but I think she was winding herself up to that point anyway, I think he has every right to defend himself. A wrist lock/arm lock and escorting her from the room would easily suffice here. I’ve had to do the same thing myself a time or two and there is little to no chance of harming the person, and no chance of death.

    I’m not arguing absolutes here by the way, but shades of grey. There are cases where tasers etc are perfectly appropriate and I’m moderately glad law enforcement have access to them by and large. This isn’t that level of incident, and lots of scaremongering about what could happen doesn’t change that. Nothing in her behaviour indicates any desire to use, or knowledge of, an accessible weapon, hence she can be dealt with without resorting to armed retaliation.

    Louis

  102. 102
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Oddree, your concern is noted, and then rejected for utter insipidity.

  103. 103
    Chrisco

    chrisco, you’re a f**king idiot.

    I get so sick of this macho bravado bullshit. “If it were me, I’d ‘ve beat the shit outta ‘em! I don’ take shit from nobody!” Shut up. You have no idea how you would react in that kind of situation until you’re actually IN that kind of situation. People are usually terrible at predicting their own behaviour in stressful situations. And unless you’re a complete sociopath, it’s harder than you might think to really do violence to another person.

    thanks for the insult and im working on my “macho bravado” as you put it. I have an idea how i would react because of past similar situations i have been in. Of course I wasn’t there and wasn’t able to do what i said i would’ve done. Carry on with your bs.

  104. 104
    oddree

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls, it must be hard getting through life as mentally retarded groupie troll.

  105. 105
    Louis

    Beanogoblin, #92,

    Also – and can I be the only one? – I am extremely, selfishly grateful that my own worst behaviour occurred pre-Smartphone, and didn’t immediately appear on the internet.

    Ohhhhhhh you have a brother in me there. I am beyond happy that there exists, to the best of my knowledge, little to no video evidence of my worst transgressions. It’s shaming enough that I know about them and cannot lie to myself convincingly. Don’t even get me started on the brain virus that is realising other people still remember!

    Louis

  106. 106
    pentatomid

    This post is a bit lowbrow for you PZ. I have come to expect you to have better judgement.

    Ooh, this one is such a classic. *rolls eyes*

  107. 107
    truthspeaker

    This person may well have a mental illness, and we shouldn’t make fun of that.

    But creationism is still an issue here. Someone gave that young woman the idea that acceptance of evolution has something to do with killing black people. If they hadn’t, would her illness have found something else to obsess over? Yes. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that there are people out there spreading lies. The undereducated aren’t the only victims of those lies. Giving misinformation to someone in a fragile mental state can have tragic consequences.

  108. 108
    Koshka

    chrisco,

    So instead of ‘If it would have been me I would have kicked the shit out of them’, it is ‘This happened to me and I bounced her head’?

    Still comes across as macho bravado bullshit.

  109. 109
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    it must be hard getting through life as mentally retarded groupie troll.

    And here you are showing you fail to understand the first rule of this blog. It is PZ’s, and he posts what interests him. Your opinion is nowhere in sight, nor should it be. Who the fuck are you??? Insipid critics like you are dime a dozen. Real bloggers like PZ are rare.

  110. 110
    Louis

    Oh for fuck’s sake…

    Truthspeaker, #107,

    She may have a mental illness? Based on….? One YouTube video of an outburst of temper?

    Are you a qualified psychiatrist? Psychologist? Some form of psychoanalyst? Forgive me if you are, but please, please, PLEASE for the love of all that is unholy can we all stop pointing at the absurd or stupid and othering it as diseased. Can we please stop using mental illness as an insult and as a rationalisation for non-pathological bad behaviour. Mental illness is bad enough without it being stigmatised in this way.

    Louis

  111. 111
    jimnorth

    Having actually been involved as the lecturer in a situation similar to this one, I asked the student to step outside the classroom on the pretense that we could discuss the matter that was bothering him in semi-private. He readily complied, continued walking down the hall and out the building. Later that day he came to my office, apologized, and we talked about the course material (and not his behaviour) during which I learned about external circumstances that led to the outburst. Happy ending, uhm, I mean, he became a model student and graduated with decent grades.

    At our small mid-western university, we occasionally have those utterly useless professional learning sessions; one actually taught us how to handle situations like this. Steps include, ask the student to leave — ask another student to call campus security — get everyone out of the classroom.

  112. 112
    barfy

    “I guess she really doesn’t like evolution”

    Not funny. At all.

    As a regular reader of Pharyngula, I’ve come to acknowledge that the emotional maturity of PZ and his ilk is around that of an angry 16 year old. If your looking for proof, his post and follow-up qualifies.

    I’m not a mental health professional, but a REASONABLE adult can watch this video and make a reasonable assessment that further investigation into this person’s mental state is warranted. Until that assessment is made, it is despicably cruel to mock this person and/or post this video.

    Shameful.

  113. 113
    Chrisco

    chrisco,

    So instead of ‘If it would have been me I would have kicked the shit out of them’, it is ‘This happened to me and I bounced her head’?

    Still comes across as macho bravado bullshit.

    ok, point taken.

  114. 114
    Chrisco

    btw. all of my statements were referring to a students position (mainly the male who she handpalmed, not to the lecturer or staff. I wasnt advocating a response of violence on the staffs behalf, just a thought about the student that was assaulted.

  115. 115
    Koshka

    barfy,

    Maybe you should read the comments where people are arguing various points and (almost) no mocking occurs.

    You are a pretentious arse.

  116. 116
    Chrisco

    @ barfy, see post #110.

  117. 117
    Chrisco

    belay my last. geez gotta get better at this. preview OK.

  118. 118
    Scarina

    Please don’t pull this post, P.Z., I think it makes some really interesting points.
    I’ve been following the story since it broke on Buzzfeed and, from what I’ve gleaned, she was asking questions about how evolution kills black people. She kept repeating them and repeating them & was getting angry b/c she was dissatisfied with the answer.
    That’s the minor issue for me, though. As someone who has been diagnosed with mental illness since I was six–my diagnoses have ranged from depression to bipolar disorder to, currently Asperger’s–I find the people defending her behavior on the basis of possible mental illness to be really disturbing. If she’s mentally ill, she may not be diagnosed yet and that isn’t necessarily her fault. But, if she is diagnosed, maintaining her mental health becomes part of her responsibility. My condition requires medication and I have my parents call me to make sure I’m taking my medication. It’s up to me to make sure I get the sleep I need, don’t take narcotics, and get whatever therapy I can within the constraints of my insurance. I work so hard to manage my condition b/c I realize that I’m the outlier and society can’t adjust for me, I just really resent other mentally ill people that don’t seem to have gotten the memo that mental illness can’t be an excuse. We even discussed it when I was in inpatient care, the benefits of having mental illness and how we have to let those benefits go.
    /rant

  119. 119
    pentatomid

    Koshka,
    Well said. You beat me to it.

  120. 120
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I’m still with PZ, though. I do not want uniforms everywhere, I do not want metal detectors, and over-surveillance. I want a reasonable amount, but I don’t want my “kids” to feel like they’re learning in a semi-prison. Nor do I want to teach in such a place. A healthy amount of care is necessary, but paranoia is poison.

    Yep I agree. I wasn’t saying there should be, just that I was surprised there wasn’t.

  121. 121
    jessie

    I’m a university instructor, and my immediate thought here is that I’d call security once it became clear that the student was not going to stop yelling. You can’t really go on teaching in this scenario, and I don’t think you can engage a person who is acting that irrationally. Clearly, she has some sort of drug or mental health problem and was taken to a hospital. In the end, that’s what needed to happen. No one can diagnose her problem from this video, but she’s going to be evaluated by a mental health professional. That’s what she needs. People are laughing at this and it’s not funny. Sometimes, people’s brains just malfunction horribly.

    Also, I can’t really bring myself to criticize the instructor too harshly. Sometimes, when something that unexpected happens, you just become stunned.

  122. 122
    kerrirawson

    She was interviewed about the rally for Trayvon Martin the night before.

    http://www.cbs12.com/news/class-4739510-carr-outburst.html

  123. 123
    Koshka

    chrisco,
    Note that the man who was face palmed did not respond and she moved on. I know it could have been worse for him but this result appears better than him getting up and hitting her.

    Although probably would have been best for the room to be cleared before this.

  124. 124
    Pink No More

    Notice how everyone immediately jumps to the standard defense of “mentally ill! MENTALLY ILL! HOW DARE U?!?!”? This is becoming a fucking epidemic here, and it’s starting to turn into a way of forcing conversations off-track. It’s derailing at its finest, and it needs to stop.

    First, you don’t fucking know that. You aren’t qualified to make that call, so don’t. Second, you’re stigmatizing actual mental illness by lumping anyone you don’t like into it. Third, people with ACTUAL mental illnesses aren’t necessarily unable to follow basic rules.

    Furthermore, to the Concern Trolling Decency Patrollers, coming in here, noses firmly pointed towards the ceiling, shaming PZ for daring to post this because how DARE he, shut up and get out. Of particular note is “Josh, Official SpokesGay”, who is now killfiled on my computer for his childishness and self-righteousness. Listen closely, for I will only say this ONCE: This is not your site. This is not your portion of this site. Your posts do not appear in red text, nor do they appear with a differently-colored background to indicate administrative status. You do not give orders to PZ. You do not give orders to ANYONE here. Your posts are a privilege, and they can be taken away. Are we perfectly fucking clear on this?

    Oh, and as a final note: DO NOT read the YouTube comments – as usual, they are a steaming pile of racist ponyshit. As usual.

  125. 125
    Koshka

    Pinkamena, Panic Pony

    I think you are doing exactly what you are protesting about.

  126. 126
    barfy

    PZ mocked her in his heading.

    What person reading this argues that there is not a reasonable need for investigation into her mental health?

    If you agree that there is a reasonable need for investigation into her mental health, then, please, consider her needs for a moment.

    Is a manic outburst deserving of less empathy or consideration than depression?

    Is it OK to mock or ridicule her if this was the case?

  127. 127
    A. R

    The more I look at this, the closer this seems to be connected to the Trayvon Martin case in some way. Might have just been the straw that broke the camel’s back or something.

  128. 128
    pentatomid

    The more I look at this, the closer this seems to be connected to the Trayvon Martin case in some way. Might have just been the straw that broke the camel’s back or something.

    It sure is starting to look that way…

  129. 129
    rorschach

    Of particular note is “Josh, Official SpokesGay”, who is now killfiled on my computer for his childishness and self-righteousness.

    I’m sure he’ll cope.

    Your posts do not appear in red text, nor do they appear with a differently-colored background to indicate administrative status. You do not give orders to PZ. You do not give orders to ANYONE here. Your posts are a privilege, and they can be taken away. Are we perfectly fucking clear on this?

    Who the fuck are you, and why should we care ?

  130. 130
    Koshka

    barfy,

    You need to consider that violent behavior is something that significantly affects teachers. If you have read the comments you will see that several other teachers have brought up instances that have happened to them. Maybe the point of the post is to highlight this.

    I do agree that the heading is mocking but I find that rather trivial.

    Your initial post refers to PZ and his ilk and their emotional maturity. I don’t exactly know who you mean by his ilk but as I have made several comments I am presuming I am included amongst other people making comments. There has been much discussion on this woman’s health and a reasonable amount of concern. For you to imply that the ‘ilk’ have no concern for this woman is a lie.

    For you to claim that you are a regular reader and in the same post imply PZ has little consideration for mental health is also evidence that you are a liar.

    So further to you being a pretentious arse you are also a liar.

  131. 131
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Listen closely, for I will only say this ONCE: This is not your site. This is not your portion of this site. Your posts do not appear in red text, nor do they appear with a differently-colored background to indicate administrative status. You do not give orders to PZ. You do not give orders to ANYONE here. Your posts are a privilege, and they can be taken away. Are we perfectly fucking clear on this?

    EVERYONE SHUT UP Pinkamena, Panic Pony IS TALKING NOW

  132. 132
    doktorzoom

    “In the 18th century people used to go to Bedlam to stare at the lunatics. For a penny one could peer into their cells, view the freaks of the “show of Bethlehem” and laugh at their antics. Entry was free on the first Tuesday of the month. In 1814 alone, there were 96,000 such visits”

    Wikipedia entry on the Royal Bethlehem Hospital

  133. 133
    NotAProphet

    I think several people here are underestimating how quickly someone considered a non-threat can become a very real threat.

    What exactly has her build, or the fact that she appears to you to be unlikely to use a weapon have to do with anything? Weapons of opportunity abound, and can be brought to bear with little or no notice; a chair can be flung, a table overturned, keys can kill and, heck, she might even be wearing a big-ass ring!

    While I’m not saying that angry people should be getting tazed left and right, willy-nilly, I am saying that someone trained and in possession of a stand-off means of subduing her would have been well justified in pointing it in her direction. This could well have garnered her compliance on its own, but had it not then you cannot decry someone’s right to self defence (that including the defence of others).

    I hope nobody here ever finds themselves in a position to learn first-hand why they should not be too quick to pronounce someone acting irrationally as harmless, but in the absence of real-world experience, cop shows on tv abound, and often show behaviour like this going bad.

  134. 134
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    EVERYONE SHUT UP Pinkamena, Panic Pony IS TALKING NOW

    Who the fuck is that? Or maybe what the fuck is that? And why should I care?

  135. 135
    barfy

    Koshka
    I did not “imply” anything approaching “no concern.” Yours is a straw man argument. Recognize.

    You admit that PZ’s heading is mocking, and define it as “rather trivial.” I disagree. It is not rather trivial to publicy mock the mentally ill, any more than it would be rather trivial to call a woman a slut for wanting a condom.

    And, once again, please argue for why there is not a reasonable need to assess her mental status.

    As to her “violent behavior,” what qualifies? Actual violence or potential violence? I would argue both.

    If that woman had thrown a shoe in anger and without warning at the teacher, would that qualify as “violent behavior?”
    I think it would. PZ and his ilk argued that when President Bush had a shoe thrown at him, it was justified. An argument of an angry 16 year old.

    This isn’t concern trolling. This is awareness, kindness and sensitivity until facts are in evidence.

  136. 136
    chimera

    As to the “mob-mentality” of the rest of the class, I’m willing to bet that some of them were filming it for the lulz, and others were filming it in case she attempted to make good on some of her threats.

    Whether or not posting the video on youtube was an act of cruelty, I would certainly hope that someone had recorded evidence if I had become a victim of a violent crime on her part, whether or not she had a poorly-addressed mental illness or was just being a huge asshole.

  137. 137
    Ing

    If that woman had thrown a shoe in anger and without warning at the teacher, would that qualify as “violent behavior?”
    I think it would. PZ and his ilk argued that when President Bush had a shoe thrown at him, it was justified. An argument of an angry 16 year old.

    Isn’t arguing easy when you do both sides!?

  138. 138
    coyotenose

    Louis @ #101:

    While I don’t disagree with you in general (this is a very gray issue, as you said) I do think “scaremongering” is an incorrect portrayal of describing a theoretical person in the room worrying that she might be armed, and the reason why can be summed up in two words: death threats. I doubt whether or not someone makes death threats is an indicator of how likely they are to carry through with them, but they should serve as notice that the person is *thinking* it.

  139. 139
    grumpypathdoc

    Having dealt on a personal as well as a professional level with persons exhibiting the type of behavior displayed in this video, this young lady is definitely experiencing a psychiatric breakdown.

    Whatever the reason for her outburst be it racial outrage or religious over-zealousness, it is nonetheless pathologically over the top. I have seen people committed for less than this type of outrage (I’ve committed people in the past, so don’t make any comments. The 3 PC rule exists. Bring out the wet sheets)so she definitely needs to be evaluated.

    Other than the video recording, and how can you restrict that nowadays other than confiscating everyone’s cell phone, I think the situation worked out about as well as anyone could expect.

    In regards to weapons of opportunity, didn’t everyone in the class have a pen or pencil? In fact when she was first confronted, didn’t the lady confronting her point a pen/pencil at her?

    I just hope she gets the help she needs.

  140. 140
    rorschach

    Having dealt on a personal as well as a professional level with persons exhibiting the type of behavior displayed in this video, this young lady is definitely experiencing a psychiatric breakdown.

    What exactly is a “psychiatric breakdown” ? And “definetely” ? Really ? Oh please, give me a break here, it’s getting somewhat ridiculous.

  141. 141
    pHred

    I find much of this disussion frankly baffling. It doesn’t matter why this was happening – the student was, for whatever reason, out of control. Even if it wasn’t clear at the start, as soon as she hit someone, the instructor need to change their behavior and call for help.

    It doesn’t matter that you do not consider her a danger because you could take her or whatever. As has been repeated stated, you have no idea what is really going on in her head, if she is armed with something and you also do not know if she is going to be a danger to herself.

    The first duty of the instructor in the room is to protect the students and to maintain civilized behavior if at all possible. Honestly – basic training is to get the other students out and get yourself out and call for help.

    Inaction with respect to the other students behavior was just as appaling as the lack of action about the situation in the first place.

    And as to those institutions that apparently insist you ignore stuff a) look at the results of the recent lawsuit over Virginia Tech and b) most states have new laws about this stuff, so I would seriously investigate if your institution is ignoring the law. Oh, and c) I think OMG someone could get killed trumps OMG I might get fired.

  142. 142
    ChasCPeterson

    Nobody who has questioned this person’s mental health has done so to “defend her behavior”. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been brought up for purposes of “othering” her either. It’s just a straightforwardly plausible hypothesis, given the empirical evidence of the vid. In the context of a college classroom, even the unilateral yelling was totally inappropriate behavior. Yelling death threats, in any public place? Actual physical assault (trivial in effect as it may have been)?
    Look, I too have no patience for internet psychialogitrists who proffer diagnoses with a link to the ‘pedia entry on some named syndrome.
    But in this case, even if it’s a mere blip, a momentary loss of temper, or whatever, that easily qualifies in my book as “freaking out” and therefore “mentally disturbed” (the non-diagnostic phrases I used).

    And there’s no good reason, in my opinion, for inviting people to point and laugh. That’s all. It’s not funny.

    FUCK I AM THE HUMOR POLICE

  143. 143
    coyotenose

    Pinkamena, PZ is a big boy and can police his own blog. Of course, the fact that very nearly everything is allowed means that you’re free to defend its honor. It also means that those “Who the fuck are you?” posters are allowed to act as entitled as they feel by virtue of having posted a lot (because we all know that legitimacy derives from seniority…), just like the Derail Nazis are free to have shitfits when someone posts a comment that doesn’t fit their view of how the discussion should go, and the Gender Neutrality Police can criticize anyone who uses a cuss word that doesn’t match their specific language criteria. And in return, we’re free to tell them to fuck off, if we’re so inclined. We’re also free to opine that anyone who doesn’t know that Pinkamena is the given name of Pinkie Pie of My Little Pony fame cannot possibly possess any worthwhile knowledge or opinion whatsoever.

    Also, this student was being a dick. But that might not be her fault, and since we can’t tell, every comment on her mental or emotional state should be assumed to come with a qualifier that reads “I do not claim to have psychic knowledge; we’re just throwing out ideas here, because that’s how you discuss something.”

  144. 144
    Ing

    just like the Derail Nazis are free to have shitfits when someone posts a comment that doesn’t fit their view of how the discussion should go

    Or net stalkers are free to throw tantrums?

  145. 145
    Inaji

    Of particular note is “Josh, Official SpokesGay”, who is now killfiled on my computer for his childishness and self-righteousness.

    Oh, do fuck off, Pinky. Josh is a respected, long-time commenter and an OM. He has every right to express his opinion on this matter. FTR, I agree with him. *shrug*

  146. 146
    oddree

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls Says And here you are showing you fail to understand the first rule of this blog. It is PZ’s, and he posts what interests him. Your opinion is nowhere in sight, nor should it be. Who the fuck are you??? Insipid critics like you are dime a dozen. Real bloggers like PZ are rare.

    I say, please Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls, we all know it is impolite to masturbate in public even if you are dreaming that its PZ’s dick in your hands.

  147. 147
    Louis

    NotAProphet, #133,

    1) I, at least, didn’t say she was “harmless” I said “…that in observing her behaviour during the outburst she does nothing to indicate she is armed, has any intention of arming herself, is aware she has access to any form of weapon (be it chair/pen level up to knife/gun level). This is an observation of her in the moment behaviour.”. That’s not the same as harmless. That’s an assessment of her behaviour. One based on years of real world experience of dealing with angry and violent people.

    2) I don’t agree that a “stand-off means of subduing her” is appropriate at all, and it is by no means always the case that the use of such items (tasers/pepper spray etc), or the mere pointing of them at anyone, subdues them. Often these sorts of things escalate situations by effectively “cornering” the angry person, making them feel they have no way out other than violence. So, no, it’s not obvious. But your self-contradictory claim not to want to tase people left and right, just to “point the thing at them” is noted. What do you do when the person moves in a way you with the taser deem threatening? Oh you tase them! Weapons more often than not are not the solution to problems like these, they are part of problems like these.

    3)

    I hope nobody here ever finds themselves in a position to learn first-hand why they should not be too quick to pronounce someone acting irrationally as harmless, but in the absence of real-world experience, cop shows on tv abound, and often show behaviour like this going bad.

    Annnnd here we have it. Cop shows are deliberately selecting the worst examples to make “good” television. They present a highly biased sample, and one that is likely quite unassumingly racist in most cases. They are no substitute for either actual knowledge of (for example) crime stats, psychology or, as you say, real world experience.

    Since I’ve been in situations like this, and calmed people larger, scarier, much, much angrier and less capable of reason than a university student down, I don’t accept that “cop shows be scary” is a sufficient reason to plonk this woman into the “eminently taseable” pile. Simply because an episode of Cops made you piss your Depends it doesn’t follow that every temper flare should be met with an armed response just in case it turns into the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Tailor the action to the situation. This woman did not merit a response beyond being restrained when she pushed the second person. No one has advocated against self defence, so that strawman is one of your own invention.

    Don’t you realise that the likelihood of an armed response increases the severity of violence people are willing to engage in? The knowledge that a person might get an armed response to bad behaviour necessarily drives an “arms race” of violent acts.

    The number one best action in any situation like this is to try to diffuse it, that takes courage, empathy and patience. It’s not easy, but it’s far more successful for everyone concerned on average.

    Louis

    Louis

  148. 148
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Louis

    Louis

    Louis

  149. 149
    Ing

    Louis?

  150. 150
    A. R

    oddree –> killfile

  151. 151
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I say, please Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls, we all know it is impolite to masturbate in public even if you are dreaming that its PZ’s dick in your hands.

    Gee oddree, all your venom could have been prevented if you had just been a mature enough person enough to say “this is what I think, and this is the evidence to back it up”. You made a claim without backing it up, just so you could throw what you (but none of the regulars) see as a justified temper tantrum when you were properly called your insipid and inane tone trolling criticism. Now, are you mature enough to actually justify your tone trolling, or will you continue to show your lack of maturity by continuing your immature tantrum?

  152. 152
    metalk

    I find it somewhat ridiculous that people are condemning the professor for not acting correctly. This took place in a time span of less than 4 minutes. The first two, she remained seated. It was about 1 minute from the time she threatened the teacher,stood up, hit someone, and was confronted. I think people forget how quickly 2/3 minutes go by. Especially when you are trying to asses the situation.

    Every time a student yells, the teacher is supposed to empty the classroom and call the police? Students, and teachers, get upset and yell. It appears the men who escorted her out of the room had some training. So more than likely they were staff or security with training.

    He probably shouldn’t have antagonized her like he did; however, he probably thought she would calm down and/or leave.

    As far as pepper spray and tasers, they seemed to do fine without them. IE they weren’t needed to diffuse the situation. So they should not have been used.

    As far as her having a mental illness, why is that an excuse? I am sick of people acting as if mental illness == ______ license. Fill in the blank with whatever. I think most murders, rapists, child molesters, etc. have some type of mental disorder. I don’t think this gives them an excuse for their behavior. I think they need/deserve help, but are still accountable for their actions.

  153. 153
    Louis

    Coyotenose, #138,

    Sorry to disagree AGAIN, but I don’t think uttering “death threats” is evidence any specific thought is occurring. For the record, I don’t think this lady was thinking too much!

    “ARGH I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T TURN THAT MUSIC DOWN!” Was not unheard of in my childhood. Those boarding school nuns can get proper moody. ;-)

    The point being that not every “I’LL KILL YOU!” is a death threat. Especially when uttered in an utterly shameful bout of public temper throwing. That said, this woman did go the whole hog! She’s was going to kill 10000 white folks, a high bar of ranty nonsense.

    No one is arguing, I think, that what this woman did was excusable or right. No one is arguing, I think, that these situations cannot get rapidly out of hand. My original complaint was that a fit of temper, well within normal range given certain reasonably expected priors, is not necessarily indicative of mental illness. And given the difficulties people with mental illnesses already face, using the “mad” tag as an epithet, or simply diagnosing anything outside one’s comfort zone as “mad” is not only inaccurate, it actively contributes to a culture of stigma surrounding mental illness. We can all agree this lady behaved badly, whatever her situation regarding priors/mental illness, so to label it automatically the product of mental illness is to make the equation mentally ill = badly behaved. Which as others have said is faaaaaaaaaaaar from the truth.

    The second objection I have made is regarding the claim that this woman’s behaviour necessitated an armed response of some kind (tasers, pepper spray etc). It simply didn’t and in the moment of observation doesn’t. Oh it could have and many, many other instances of this type of behaviour do. But that’s not the same thing. “Could have” is shifting the goalposts. Every time I argue with my wife she could stab me to death. Domestic violence occurs and people die. Does that mean I should get out the trusty taser every time she and I get into a row? I hope not or the poor bugger is going to spend a lot of time doing the electroshock boogie.

    Again, by far and away the best response to people in this state of mind is to calm them down (or try to) first. To diffuse the situation. I’m not meaning to pile on the lecturer by saying he didn’t do that, and the other students really did not help matters.

    Louis

  154. 154
    Ing

    @Metalk

    To frame the issue in a way you might get it. Do you punish someone with a cold for spreading the cold to you? I’m not saying you have to let them cough on you but do you punish them for having to cough?

  155. 155
    Louis

    Hey, I’m so good I named myself twice!

    Louis

    P.S. How do I do superscript? I’ve tried [sup> and [super> (with the right brackets obviously).

  156. 156
    metalk

    @Ing

    I do not punish anyone for having a cold anymore than I punish my friends for being themselves. However, if they have a cold, sneeze on a tissue, smear the tissue on my face, cough on me, etc., then yes I begrudge them.

    If you say they don’t know better, then I ensure they understand/get help. But still begrudge them for doing it, until I am certain they at least understand why their actions were wrong and that they were sorry for them.

    So no, I do not punish them for having a cold, but I do not think having a cold is an excuse to sneeze on me.

  157. 157
    Ing

    @Metalk

    Yes those with a cold can because those actions aren’t part of the illness. What don’t you get about that?

  158. 158
    metalk

    @Ing
    #157
    I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say. mental disease =/= actions like a cold =/= actions.

  159. 159
    chigau (違う)

    I wonder what the e-diagnoses would have been if she had put her head down and sobbed noisily.
    Depression? PMS?
    Would they have even put it on duuuhtoob?

  160. 160
    rorschach

    I wonder what the e-diagnoses would have been if she had put her head down and sobbed noisily.

    Given the armchair analysing on display so far, I’d hate to think.

  161. 161
    Ing

    I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say. mental disease =/= actions like a cold =/= actions.

    People’s actions due to mental illness are a manifestation of an illness. Saying they should be held accountable often means “punished”

  162. 162
    WharGarbl

    #159

    Would they have even put it on duuuhtoob?

    I’ve got a feeling the answer to that is… yes.

    @Ing
    #161

    People’s actions due to mental illness are a manifestation of an illness. Saying they should be held accountable often means “punished”.

    Given what Metalk #156 said, I would guess that mentally ill people SHOULD be held accountable if, given that they had being diagnosed with a mental illness and knew of its effect, did not take reasonable steps (like taking drugs to control it) to control it.

  163. 163
    Louis

    Metalk,

    Naturalistic fallacy.

    People are not saying that the “is” of a person’s mental illness can excuse them the “ought” of a certain action. Even in (UK) courts this doesn’t happen. A person must be demonstrated to be incapable of telling basic right from wrong (IIRC, IANAL) rather than merely suffering from a mental illness to plead insanity. I.e. Mental illness is necessary but not sufficient in law.

    What you seems to be missing is that the very nature of certain mental illnesses means that the symptoms displayed are often behaviours out of the normal range for other people. Extremes of mood or auditory hallucinations are good examples. Understanding these symptoms and making allowances is not the same thing as absolving someone of responsibility for any fall out from their actions.

    If you’ve got two broken legs, it’s not reasonable of me to expect you to keep up with me as I run a marathon. Or even to ask to run on those broken legs at all. I make an allowance for your symptoms. I don’t need to patronise you, put you down or treat you as semi-human, I just need to take into account that until you heal, marathon running is probably off the cards. Now you might say, “Tish and pshaw! Give me a wheelchair and I’ll roll it!”, and good on you if you do. But a wheelchair is help. It constitutes me taking your current medical state into account. Mind you, given the current wheelchair marathon record is 1:18:27 and the best running time is 2:03:38, you might have to give me the head start!

    The point being that taking a person’s mental illness into account is not the same thing in any way as granting them a free pass. More than that, it’s situational. Compulsive pyromaniacs make terrible employees in document storage facilities and as fire fighters. However, as lifeguards they have a better chance!

    Louis

  164. 164
    metalk

    @Ing

    I agree people’s actions are a manifestation, but I don’t think punishment is necessarily a bad thing. If, my disease “caused” me to break something of yours, I think fixing it or some other form of reparation and getting help would be sufficient accountability.

    Granted for things like murder, rape, etc., I take each one more on a case by case basis. But I think there should still be some form of punishment/accountability.

    But as far as this case, regardless if it is a mental health issue, she should be held culpable for her actions. IF she has a mental health issue, I think she should work closely with a professional and figure out how to overcome/live within her means of the disease.

    Either way, she still at least owes the class, the professor, and the person she hit some form apology AND needs to show that she is working on whatever issue it was that caused this.(I am of course assuming no one just jumps up angrily for no reason…)

  165. 165
    truthspeaker

    I think it would. PZ and his ilk argued that when President Bush had a shoe thrown at him, it was justified

    Yes, because Bush had dropped bombs and shot missiles at the guy who had thrown a shoe at him.

  166. 166
    truthspeaker

    Or does dropping bombs and shooting missiles not count as violent behavior?

  167. 167
    Ing

    I agree people’s actions are a manifestation, but I don’t think punishment is necessarily a bad thing.

    Right so you blame people with colds for having to cough.

  168. 168
    metalk

    Ing

    Perhaps this is becoming a semantics issue. I would think that if a person who has a cold and isn’t taking cold medicine, then as punishment that person should take cold medicine and/or perhaps a cough suppressor. Why I say punishment? Because, it may be seen as unpleasant to the person with the cold.

    However, mental illnesses generally aren’t as tame and/or quick to disappear as a cold. So forcing a person with a cold to take medicine may not be necessary, but at the very least having them cover their mouth is not too much to have them do. But again that may be considered punishment, because it may be unpleasant.

  169. 169
    metalk

    Louis,

    I don’t disagree at all with what you said. It just seems, in the US, that people often use person x has disease y as if that justifies action z and that has always bugged me.

    While I understand that certain mental illnesses certainly cause actions, I don’t think certain actions are necessarily caused by the mental illness.

    So I completely agree its situational.

  170. 170
    NotAProphet

    Louis, #147

    1) That’s the point, someone can seem unarmed and not likely to become armed, and then they do arm themselves and, through presumptuous unpreparedness on the part of the observer, gain a dangerous upper hand.

    2) Assuming the decision has been taken that she needs subduing, why should the person to whom that onerous duty falls put themselves, or bystanders, at any more risk than strictly necessary.

    Herein lies the rub, you’re quite happy bleating about strawmen and self-contradiction you mistakenly think you have identified in my comments, but I haven’t said she definitely should have been tazed. Yes, “pointing the thing at them” often does garner compliance, in my personal experience (albeit at the tail-end of an assault rifle rather than a less-lethal device). If the person ceases to be a threat then you don’t fire, if the situation develops such that a less extreme opportunity to subdue them presents itself then you take it. You escalate and de-escalate as necessary to deal with the developing situation with the minimum of risk to yourself, bystanders and the subject.

    3) Of course the producers pick and choose to ensure good tv, are you suggesting that situations like the ones they select don’t happen?

    The “advocating against self defence” (which I didn’t accuse anyone of, are you hard of reading?) refers to a situation where the user of a less-lethal device felt themselves or others threatened to a degree where employing that device was a response they deemed justified to protect them. This is an “honest belief” requirement (in law), not a “reasonable man” test.

    I would just love to see the supporting evidence for: “Don’t you realise that the likelihood of an armed response increases the severity of violence people are willing to engage in?”

    Of course the “best” outcome comes from defusing the situation, but it’s not always possible. Do you accept this?

    Now @ #153

    Actually, “uttering death threats” is, at the very least, common assault. If you can’t see the difference in tone between your mother superior yelling at you to turn down your stereo and this young woman’s utterances then I’m really glad you are apparently so unreservedly pacifistic!

  171. 171
    yubal

    “How does evolution kill black people?”

    Well, if you put the question into the right perspective, a plausible answer goes along those lines:

    A group of (black) humans left Africa some ten thousand years ago and migrated into the Caucasus region(s). During their stay in that region they went through a(nother) time of hardship. Food became scarce and an ice age restricted the members of that group to a live in caves most of the year and to use clothing the rest of the time. This resulted in a severe lack of sunlight, which is stimulating the Vitamin D production in the human body, and woman giving birth to babies with weaker bones, which need Vitamin D in order to grow properly. Those babies had a significantly reduced bone structure, than they would have if their mother would have been exposed to more sunlight during pregnancy or had a diet richer in Vitamin D. Both were not easy to access during that time, so one evolutionary mechanism, the non-random one, rewarded mothers with a less black skin tone with higher Vitamin D levels and thus healthier babies. The loss of melanin production lead to an advantage in Vitamin D production, which was selected for. Over the course of several generations, the phenotype of the population shifted from blackish skin tone to whitish skin tone which produced offspring with higher fitness under those conditions at that time. Later, those individuals from that population broke up and settled across Eurasia where they founded the pale-skinned populations of humans native to those regions. Although no selective pressure is present anymore, the low-melanine phenotype still persists.

    Essentially, evolution did not kill black people, it selected for less black people in a certain region at a certain time which resulted in a persistent phenotype with no significant advantage/disadvantage at present times. This might pose an issue later on, e.g. in the hypothetical case that we loose our planet’s ozone layer at one point in the future and a selective pressure against pale skin would arise. Under the assumption we loose our ability to produce UV-blocking ointments/clothing.

  172. 172
    Louis

    [HUGENESS WARNING, MASSIVE TEAL DEER. SCROLLING FINGERS ACTIVATE]

    NotAProphet, #170,

    1) Okay, back in #133 you said that people here were underestimating how someone considered a non-threat can quickly become a threat, and that her build and my view that she wasn’t making overt moves for a weapon were irrelevant (they’re not as I tried to point out). You later on used the word “harmless” a term I certainly hadn’t used in any absolute sense.

    I didn’t say that people in general cannot arm themselves, I said this woman did not make any moves that would give anyone reasonable cause to assume she was about to arm herself. That’s not the same thing as you were arguing against. Yes things can spiral out of control, yes people can arm themselves but they do specific things like reach for their keys/bag/a chair whatever to do that. This woman did not do any of those things. More than that she showed no sign of doing so. She’s not wearing a jacket, her clothes aren’t loose and cannot easily disguise a weapon etc etc. My point has always been that whatever hypothetical possibilities can be dreamed up, whatever happens in other cases, what is happening (NOT what has happened, note the difference) in this case as you watch it gives no indication that this woman is going for any weapon.

    I’m arguing against pre-emptive escalation of and pre-emptive use of weapons in events like these on the basis of “might have beens” and “seen it on TV”.

    The continual claims of “underestimation” on my part are a straw man from you. I’m not making a general case, I’m arguing that in this specific case, nothing this woman does is any cause for assuming she is about to arm herself and hence an armed response is inappropriate. That is relevant, as indeed is her build. I’m more likely to arm myself in response to a 300lb body builder with “Kill” tattooed on his forehead and PCP habit that makes drug dealers wince than a 90 year old naked woman in a wheelchair who is blue from hypothermia.

    I’m talking about carefully assessing the threat in front of you, not some fictional threat imagined from feverishly masturbating to cop shows, and acting accordingly. As opposed to “might makes right” type armed responses advocated by you which at the least involve intimidating people (which, trust me, backfires as often as not) into submission.

    2) Risk. What risk? Again, careful assessment of what is in front of you gives you an idea of risk. Is this woman more or less risky than the fictional Cop show protagonist in your head? Or my PCP-loving body builder above? You seem under the illusion that I am assuming, as opposed to assessing, that this woman is not a threat. Again, my point here is specific, not general. Different situation, different protagonist, different response.

    I’m certainly not arguing that one does not respond to a situation as it develops (nice straw man, which obviously you’d know if you’d read what I wrote for comprehension. Irony much?), of course one does. But I am not talking about a situation, I am talking about this situation. This woman is loud and wavy, sure, but her movements don’t indicate she is armed or intent on arming herself, her violence is minimal and her capacity for immediate violence is not great. She doesn’t appear to have access to guns/knives anything immediately or overtly lethal, and I think it would take some pretty special pleading to claim that she does. That is not a denial that in other cases people do, of course they do, those are OTHER CASES. Is it possible you are getting the distinction yet? What is the risk here specifically? Not “could be” not “I saw it on TV” but HERE.

    When she is confronted by the guy in the sweater at ~3:11 note he is about a head taller than her and considerably larger framed. He is also helped by a still larger man in bundling her out of the room (in a relatively controlled way for amateurs I note). The risk to this guy is minimal. Look how hard she shoves him the first time, he takes one step back, barely even loses balance. This is not a person who is at significant risk from this woman, and neither is anyone else. Well apart from the first lad she pushes in the head, he looked like he was about to pee himself. Perhaps he should sue for mental trauma and pissed pants.

    [Sarcasm] Perhaps with Florida’s concealed carry laws he should have whipped out a gun and blown her away, after all she was pushing him and he had an “honest belief” that she’d do it again. And you never know, right….Hey, she’s black, he’s white…haven’t we just had a case like this in Florida where the police have utterly failed to arrest the killer of an innocent (non-temper throwing) person? In other words, he stands a good chance of not getting charged. Yay! [/Sarcasm]

    Risk is a quantifiable thing in a situation like this. Of course I’m not advocating whipping out a spreadsheet or getting the angry person to fill in a questionnaire, but it’s not impossible to assess the kind of risk an individual poses. Nor does it require years of training to do. In one watch of that video I took in the woman’s stance, her demeanour, something about what she had near her and who was near her, and so on. Rocket science it isn’t. This was a “talk down and avoid” not a “to the Bat-Taser, Robin”.

    Since your so concerned with the other people in the room, think on this, if this woman were tased in front of her classmates, what harm would that do to them?

    As for why should any person charged with protecting others (say a security guard) take a risk in dealing with this woman, simple really, can’t imagine why you haven’t got it yet: proportional response. This woman is not posing a lethal risk, so don’t combat her with potentially lethal means. Stop arguing might have beens and TV cop show derived hypotheticals and argue what is in front of you.

    3) How do you get from “TV people select situations to make good TV” to “those situations don’t happen”? Are you somehow deficient? Of course these situations happen, they have to happen to BE FUCKING SELECTED YOU STUPID BASTARD! Forgive me, uncontrollable rage at utter stupidity. The point I was making is that as a representation of reality TV cop shows are not a good choice. They are deliberately skewed to produce an entertaining television programme, therefore they necessarily select lurid events rather than a statistically valid sample. That’s not a complaint about TV shows, of course they do this, it’s how they are in business, it’s a complaint about an argument you made which is “cop shows are evidence some angry people are dangerous”. No one denied SOME angry people are dangerous, what I am arguing is that based on watching the behaviour of THIS angry person, THIS angry person is not sufficiently dangerous to warrant potentially lethal response. Do you see the difference between my moderate argument and the pile of straw you are duffing up?

    4) Ahhhh I love moments like this:

    From your #170:

    The “advocating against self defence” (which I didn’t accuse anyone of, are you hard of reading?)

    From your #133:

    This could well have garnered her compliance on its own, but had it not then you cannot decry someone’s right to self defence (that including the defence of others).

    Bolding mine.

    Erm…yeah, yeah you kinda did. Hence why I did not say that people do not have the right to self defence, I strongly believe they do and didn’t, and don’t “decry” it in any way. See my #101.

    5) This is why I think “honest belief” tests like this are dangerous turf. An armed person (taser, pepper spray, bat, whatever) facing an unarmed person is in a position to do a lot more potential harm than their unarmed opponent, all other factors being equal.

    By the ~3:11 mark on the video you can see this woman is unarmed, you can see she is away from incidental objects that can be used as weapons and you can see that she is confronted by a larger person, more likely to be capable of dealing physical harm to her than the other way around. At least on basic impressions. There is no “honest belief” here that she is about to provide a level of harm to others that merits an armed response. Remember again, she could be killed by a taser, to use but one example. Getting this woman in an arm lock, whilst riskier for the lock-er is much less likely to kill/harm the lock-ee. Again, there are vastly more, and safer, options available than resorting to violence of any kind, but armed violence is excessive IN THIS CASE. Note, I am not claiming that armed violent responses are excessive in all cases.

    “Honest belief” is very open to misuse. See the recent gunning down of an innocent kid again. Paranoia (inspired by cop shows?) and weapons are a lethal mix.

    6)

    I would just love to see the supporting evidence for: “Don’t you realise that the likelihood of an armed response increases the severity of violence people are willing to engage in?”

    Well, I’m not getting up from my armchair, you haven’t demonstrated the skills to be worth the effort yet. Two words: “Game theory” and “Arms Race”. I mentioned one of them above in #143, did you miss it? I’ll even give you an example: The good old US of A.

    Tell me, why is gun death so rampant in your fair nation? Is it perhaps because criminals go armed to crimes in preperation for and anticipation of an armed response? Is that trend followed across all countries with relatively relaxed gun laws to a greater or lesser extent? Why yes it is!

    I could link you to the figures I linked for some gun nut the other day, but I can’t be arsed to find them. Do your own homework.

    As I also mentioned in #147, if you corner people they tend to react poorly. Pointing a weapon at someone leaves them very few options, only one of which is to become subdued. It is effectively lex talonis, the law of the jungle. If you come out swinging your dick, don’t be surprised if someone swings right back.

    7) Death threats are common assault. Hallelujah! You actually make a good point! I concede that fact utterly and without reservation. But then you go and spoil it. Damn. Of course I can tell the difference between the nuns telling me they’d kill me for noise pollution and the utterances of this woman. The nuns meant it. And could do it.

    It seems you didn’t read my #153 for even basic comprehension, just picked bits to suit your case. Silly silly silly. The point I was making…here let me quote it, you missed it the first time:

    The point being that not every “I’LL KILL YOU!” is a death threat. Especially when uttered in an utterly shameful bout of public temper throwing.

    I think that represents a pretty clear statement that I can tell the difference, especially considering the point I was making is that THERE IS A FUCKING DIFFERENCE! The words “I will kill you”, in and of themselves are necessary but not sufficient. If so I’d like to sue my wife for 18 million incidents of assault. This week.

    And we return to my original point that in THIS case by observing THIS woman’s behaviour, the conclusion I have come to with the limited evidence before me that the woman is not posing a credible threat of serious harm or lethal harm. Thus she should be met with a commensurate response.

    I have made no general claim that pacifist responses are universally to be applied. That is a straw man of your confection. Which brings me to my last point…

    8) My pacifism. I am intellectually and ideologically a pacifist.

    Why the distinction? Because I am also by far and away the most violent, and the most prone to being violent, person I know. I could go into my background etc, but really the “tough guy on the internet” routine is terribly old and barely relevant.

    My point here is that my pacifism is very hard won, it goes totally against my every natural instinct. I have precisely the same feelings (and worse, much, much worse) as that poster above who “wanted to bounce the woman’s head off a desk” and exactly the same fears as you do regarding harm. But I know those feelings and fears for what they are: my adrenal gland acting the arse. I’ve been in enough unpleasant situations, and had enough training and experience in dealing with them, to know that if you’re listening to your adrenal gland, you’re not assessing the situation well.

    Your problem is not that I do not understand where you are coming from, it’s that I do.

    Louis

    P.S. See? I can do snide and sarcastic too. I just do it well.

  173. 173
    Louis

    But apparently I don’t do proofreading.

    Fuckety fuck fuck.

    Louis

  174. 174
    huntstoddard

    “Other than the video recording, and how can you restrict that nowadays other than confiscating everyone’s cell phone, I think the situation worked out about as well as anyone could expect.”

    It turned out “better” than it could have, but “as well as anyone could expect” might be a little too much. I can think of a lot of things that could have been done. The instructor could have requested that students put down their phones and leave. He could have requested that they not post to Youtube (to be fair, perhaps he did). Of course, the pink elephant standing in the room is that people should have the sensitivity not to promulgate this video (looking at you, PZ — who seems to have conveniently left the building).

    The fact that she was Tasered AND expelled obviously before a complete evaluation makes me wonder if there isn’t some kind of racism being demonstrated by university. Possibly she already had a history; otherwise I find the speed of condemnation highly suspicious.

    Just a bad performance all around.

  175. 175
    marcussever

    This woman began making empty threats about hurting/killing people.
    She then slapped/pushed some guys face, which could not have felt good.
    She then shoved the man sent in to tell her to leave, and getting up in his face.
    He subdues her with a hold that causes very little, if any pain, if the person being held doesn’t violently struggle against it.

    And some people are blaming the man?

    I for one am appalled that people are siding WITH this girl. Sure, exams are tough. Sure, ranting about things unrelated to the topic (the topic being natural selection [in peacocks], which is somewhat a part of evolution, but evolution “killing all black people” was probably never discussed) could occur from stress. When did attacking other students suddenly become okay? She SCREAMED into the faces of her peers, and pushed/slapped/scratched some guys face. Whether or not he provoked her, her physical response was not necessary. Her attack on the man made his physical response necessary, since she was shoving him. Shoving him could’ve caused him to trip backwards, either onto the floor, or onto a student, and in her current state, it was fairly likely that she would’ve attacked further if she saw a moment of opportunity.

    I don’t believe for one minute that she had a mental condition, that’s probably just an excuse, especially when all of the people saying she “probably” has something most likely haven’t met anyone with the condition they “diagnosed.”

    As for the tazing, well… that’s not necessarily something that SHOULD have happened, should the story that the was tazed when she was already in the car be accurate. If it isn’t, then I don’t understand the true problem here. Yes, a tazer can kill. So can a bullet. Care to compare the probabilities of either happening? A bullet would win everytime. Tazers are certainly capable of causing death, but in a situation like this, where we have no idea if she was planning to pull a knife on someone, shoot someone, or something else, (I realize that she didn’t make any moves towards any weapons, but you never know what she might have underneath her shirt, in her bra, or other places) it just is NOT responsible to let her “cool off” when she has already shown herself as violent towards others.

    If you’d prefer her to have been shot rather than tazed, feel free to let me know.

  176. 176
    Jaclyn

    Louis,

    On the whole, I don`t disagree with you much. However, your assertion that a person who doesn`t look dangerous, is not acting in a certain manner, or is not physically intimidating, cannot become dangerous or inflict harm is problematic. As a small person with a disability who recently had spinal surgery, just about anyone can physically harm me. Just about any action can harm me. I avoid crowds because just someone simply shoving past me can leave me in a decent amount of pain. I believe that you cannot assume that any able-bodied person is incapable of harming another based on just about any criteria. I have to be afraid of just about everyone, even if they don`t have the intent to harm me, because they could end up doing it anyway by simply being unaware of my situation and making physical contact with me. So, in that situation I would be terrified once she started making physical contact with people and I would not be able to simply escape quickly. I would hope that someone would intervene in some way, though the degree of violence some are advocating is troubling.

  177. 177
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I got killfiled by a Magical Pony? Doesn’t that just rustle my crinolines!

    Seriously, my mind can be changed. She *does* come off to me as having a breakdown, the sort of thing that could have been set off by any old topic because she was poised to blow a gasket. But no, of course, I am not in a position to diagnose anyone.

    It’s also possible that my mental illness meter is way out of calibration and that I may be among those of us who are pathologizing what used to be known as having a tantrum. I’ll have to give that some serious thought. It is not, however, immediate self-evident to me that that is the case.

    I agree that mental illness gets thrown around inappropriately sometimes to excuse bad behavior. As someone who’s been on psych drugs for decades I get that it chafes to see stereotypes deployed. But I’m surprised at how angry some folks got about this comment thread—is it honestly so obviously ridiculous for someone like me to think she’s having a mental breakdown?

  178. 178
    Inaji

    Josh:

    is it honestly so obviously ridiculous for someone like me to think she’s having a mental breakdown?

    I don’t think it’s ridiculous. Whether or not this was simply losing control of one’s temper, going by my own experiences, at the very least that tends to indicate serious stress under the outburst.

  179. 179
    huntstoddard

    “If you’d prefer her to have been shot rather than tazed, feel free to let me know.”

    False dichotomy. It would have been preferable to have neither done. The police are a pretty blunt instrument. Anyone who is ever in a situation like this should know that calling the police on an addled person brings the significant possibility that they will kill him/her–particularly if they are not informed that they might be dealing with mental illness. Unfortunately, that’s just a fact. For family members, for instance, of schizophrenics, this is a terrible double bind. So it always a judgement call that balances the potential for violence/harm and the significant chance that the person will be killed when you make that call.

  180. 180
    billk

    She hit at least two people. She’s gonna be banned from campus, breakdown (most likely) or no. As for tazing, oh yes, we all have tazers set for stun when we have disruptive students. OK, we WISH we had them. Of course we’d use them on mid-level administrators first.

    I’m going to cut the prof AND students documenting this a lot of slack. They were caught between the devil (rules on how you engage students) and the not-so-deep blue t-shirt surrounding a female minority student who’s snapping. Get too close and you are confronting her. Touch her and heaven forbid! Any “Force/Protection” or “conflict resolution” training in a scenario like we’re being treated to is a joke. You play it by ear — that is once you are over the shock that this bizarre piece of classroom theatre is actually happening. Also the students who were recording it were doing what you’re supposed to do. Document it. Was it aprorpriate to make it viral? Maybe not (more than maybe not). But if there was no documentation and the student had one or two sympathetic people in the room and the prof was in disfavor going into this, he could be in deep trouble no matter what reality was and no matter what a lion’s share of the other students said.

  181. 181
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    This:

    Listen closely, for I will only say this ONCE: This is not your site. This is not your portion of this site. Your posts do not appear in red text, nor do they appear with a differently-colored background to indicate administrative status. You do not give orders to PZ. You do not give orders to ANYONE here. Your posts are a privilege, and they can be taken away. Are we perfectly fucking clear on this?

    is amusing. Yes ma’am, Bossy McPonyPants.

  182. 182
    supernova

    PZ @#34

    it would also have been disruptive if he’d run around slapping cell phones out of other students’ hands

    Not to mention that if things had become much worse the footage could have been very important. It might even be useful now if she is getting help with her issues. The other students may have been doing the right thing for the wrong reasons by filming the outburst.

    I’m a bit vexed by what appears to be the majority reaction to this, the view seems to be that violent thug/mentally ill is a binary division – she’s either one or the other. She could be experiencing issues but that doesn’t necessarily excuse how she behaved. It would have been different if she had said exactly the same things but while sobbing hysterically, if that were the case I doubt PZ would have posted it here.

  183. 183
    huntstoddard

    “It’s also possible that my mental illness meter is way out of calibration and that I may be among those of us who are pathologizing what used to be known as having a tantrum. I’ll have to give that some serious thought. It is not, however, immediate self-evident to me that that is the case.”

    Probably the best reason your gut instinct is correct in this instance is that almost anyone these days understands the danger of going off their rocker in a school environment. Basically, if you lose it at school today, you run a high risk of being offed by the police. That alone is strong evidence that this woman was having a breakdown.

  184. 184
    Louis

    Jaclyn, #176,

    However, your assertion that a person who doesn`t look dangerous, is not acting in a certain manner, or is not physically intimidating, cannot become dangerous or inflict harm is problematic.

    Well luckily I haven’t said that so we’re all good!

    I’m quite content to concede that such a person CAN become dangerous or inflict harm because, well, as you so eloquently demonstrate, they can. Indeed I have conceded this point, well, I say “conceded”, but since I never disagreed with it…

    …it’s pretty hard to concede to something you agree with! ;-)

    What I have said is that THIS woman, based on her behaviour as evidenced in THIS video, is not in that situation. I.e. she is not a person who is presenting the type of threat you describe.

    You also make an excellent hypothetical point, i.e. if someone in your position were there, you’d hope that someone else would intervene to prevent harm to you. I agree, and again, I’ve not said anywhere that I am anti-intervention. Because I’m not. What I am for is proportionate intervention. I am disagreeing that the proportionate response to this woman in this situation is to point a taser at her, point another weapon at her, actually use a weapon on her, or respond too violently to her (quite moderate) physical violence.

    Those are always options in this general sort of situation, see the difference between the specific case and the general case, but this specific case doesn’t merit them. I am not anti violence, per se, despite being a pacifist. I am anti unnecessary violence or violence as a first resort or excessive violence in response to ostensibly minor violence.

    The protection someone like yourself (and everyone else) deserves in a situation like this is for the person in charge (the lecturer in this instance) to have received proper training, to try to calm the situation first, to quickly move from calming to removing people from the situation (i.e. when that woman stood and started moving around, the place should have been cleared), and for a professional response as rapidly as possible in order to diffuse or disarm the situation as appropriate.

    Also, I don’t like this implicit desire on the part of many here to harm someone, or claim they are deserving of being harmed, simply because they are acting in a way that is outside the comfort zone of the people around them. This is a deeply troubling attitude.

    So in sum, I’m not against intervention, I’m for considered intervention. And responding to an unarmed, and unlikely to be armed woman (as in THIS case), who is not noticeably within reach of anyone she could cause significant harm to, with a taser, fired or unfired, is over the top.

    Louis

  185. 185
    Jaclyn

    You can cut the students some slack if you want but I find the fact that so many of them were laughing and smiling to be appalling. Regardless of whether or not the woman has a mental disorder, she is obviously very upset and I hate the prevalence of mockery in our culture that makes it funny to laugh at people in distress.

  186. 186
    supernova

    @#183 huntstoddard:

    Anyone who is ever in a situation like this should know that calling the police on an addled person brings the significant possibility that they will kill him/her–particularly if they are not informed that they might be dealing with mental illness.

    Err really? I understand the police in the United States are prone to overuse of force, and some forces are corrupt, but I find it hard to believe that there is a “significant possibility that they will kill him/her”. You make it sound like this is an almost everyday solution the police use. Unless the mentally ill individual had possession of a weapon (especially if it were a gun) don’t you think most cops would just physically restrain them rather than “damn this guys freaking out, lets just off him! We’re totally allowed to do that you know, no hearings or inquiries”.

  187. 187
    huntstoddard

    “Significant” means conceivable. I didn’t say “high.” Depending on what country you’re in, you may not be entirely aware of how bad American police are.

  188. 188
    Louis

    Josh, My beloved Virtual Husband, Of Whom I Am The Hetero-ish-Platonic-Remote-Life Partner Experiencing Much Guilt At Being A Shitty Spouse, #177,

    …is it honestly so obviously ridiculous for someone like me to think she’s having a mental breakdown?

    No it’s not ridiculous but it is…sorry…a little lazy and under-evidenced.

    Could this woman be mentally ill? Sure. Is it beyond the realms of possibility to the extent of being ridiculous? No, of course not. But that’s really not the point.

    The point is that in n comments we’ve had n-m comments remotely diagnosing this woman on the basis of one, single, solitary, 4 minute glimpse of her life. That’s not enough. That’s not enough if every single n-m Internet Psychiatrist was actually a Real Psychiatrist of 30 years experience with specific expertise in remote, rapid diagnosis.

    Worse than that, it’s even possibly a kind of lazy prejudice, a knee-jerk “othering” of people who behave badly/oddly as being ill, as being diseased, as being something less than a fully functional human. Way back in my initial comment, #41, I said:

    Is being quick to describe this woman’s reaction in mental illness terms an example of traditional “hysterical women” style misogyny, or “over-emotional ‘lesser’ black people” style racism? I don’t know, and have too little evidence to “diagnose” that in others so easily, but it’s something to consider.

    In addition to this, is the insufficiently evidenced diagnosis just plain old mental illness stigma? Plain old ablism? It’s a case of be very careful, you tread on potentially dangerous ground here.

    Of course some mentally ill people sometimes act in ways like this, or at least not a million miles away. So? So do some women. So do some black people. Is this therefore a property of those sets? I hope not! Not all mental illness is identical, not all people with mental illnesses, even identical diagnosis, experience or express those illnesses identically, it’s an area fraught with complexity. To my eyes this remote diagnosis is too damned close to othering. Too damned close to distancing this distasteful display of raw emotion, right or wrong, from oneself by claiming that there must be something inherently wrong with the woman. That raises my hackles.

    It was not so long ago, in memory of Turing, that homosexuality was considered a mental illness and treated unbelievably harshly because of such. The simple expression of love between two men or two women was considered so aberrant, so abhorrent, that it could only be the result of a sickness. The product of a diseased mind. So I’m leary of leaping to mental illness diagnoses without good, very good, evidence.

    So yeah, mental illness is a possibility, but come on, one fact, one piece of utter douchebaggery and temper tantrum and BOOM diagnosis? Too easy. Is it a privilege check for us all? Perhaps. But it’s definitely something we can’t say for definite here, and should be wary of saying at all given the stigma and oppression suffered by people with mental illnesses.

    Don’t cheapen real suffering by applying it to the merely odd or outrageous.

    Louis

  189. 189
    Louis

    Jaclyn, #185,

    I would never even consider cutting the jeering students any slack. Those people do not deserve the benefit of the doubt in this case.

    Louis

  190. 190
    mikee

    Louis @172

    I’m talking about carefully assessing the threat in front of you, not some fictional threat imagined from feverishly masturbating to cop shows, and acting accordingly.

    I guess one of the challenges here is that people will assess a threat differently, dependent of their previous experience (or lack thereof). From what you have said you appear to have considerable experience both in assessing such situations and in assessing mental illness – most people do not. Some may only have “experience” from the cops shows you rightly point out focus on the worst cases.

    So many people seem to have opinions and advice on what the tutor should have done, but aside from PZ and a few others, how many people know what it is actually like to teach classes? Under such circumstances I would imagine the tutor is trying to quickly work out the best thing to do in a situation they hadn’t anticipated and is possibly suffering from paralysis by analysis (adrenalin and fear have a habit of making it hard to think clearly)
    Taking cellphones off of students is not dealing with the most important issue at hand (the student) and would probably lead to legal issues if the lecturer attempted this.

    Lastly, I thought in many countries there are potential legal consequences to threatening to kill someone. Yes, people may joke around with such a threat but I cant see that this is the case in the video.

  191. 191
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Don’t cheapen real suffering by applying it to the merely odd or outrageous.

    Looks for all the world like real suffering, just not necessarily chronic.

  192. 192
    Louis

    Mikee, #190,

    Oh I agree, and yeah, I’ve been in these sorts of situations a few too many times for comfort! ;-)

    I don’t blame the lecturer per se although I do think he did the wrong thing, I think given the climate in the USA in particular (but this applies to other nations too) academics need training in how to defuse these situations.

    You’re right also about the death threat thing, as is NotAProphet. These can be “common assaults” or at least seen as overtly and criminally threatening. I think they have to be seen to be credible threats though, and yes, while those are difficult to assess, I think in this specific case, however serious this woman was, she was simply extremely angry and not in any position to act on those threats. Mind you, that’s no defence in law and she could still be charged so….

    Louis

  193. 193
    Louis

    life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ, #191,

    Sorry, but I was making a general point there, I thought that was clear from the context. I don’t doubt this woman was distressed in some genuine way, after all why react the way she did if she wasn’t? But her distress was a normal reaction, a proportionate reaction to a genuine tragedy.

    This is part of why I am so annoyed by the leap for the mental illness diagnoses. Her reaction, her emotions fall well within normal range for someone experiencing distress. The default explanation for her behaviour is not necessarily one which involves some disease on her part.

    For example, it’s common to experience symptoms not entirely unlike clinical depression after a trauma or loss, but those are not pathological, they are part of the normal emotional range of human beings. We call them “grief”. If this state persists at a similar level of severity to the acute phase of onset then this is not normal, this is verging on pathological. It could be a prodromal phase or indication of clinical depression for example. Note: evidence needed for this diagnosis. A 4 minute YouTube video of one outburst doesn’t fulfil that requirement.

    Louis

  194. 194
    huntstoddard

    “Looks for all the world like real suffering, just not necessarily chronic.”

    After seeing that, I’m pretty sure the people who did the most wrong here were the ones who uploaded the videos to Youtube. Those who have spread it around aren’t guilt-free either. We can bat around race and mental illness and try to out-PC each other all day, but the assholes here are the ones who think anything they capture on their phones can and should be broadcast to the public. Given all that has transpired, if you really want to salvage a message from all this, it’s that we still live in a world that can drive a person crazy, and there are always those who enjoy watching it happen.

  195. 195
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Louis, thanks for clarifying that.

  196. 196
    robro

    If, as I assume, “FAU” is Florida Atlantic University, then I wonder if this person might be reacting to current racial events in the area. Sanford, Florida, where tensions are very high right now, isn’t that far away and many people have traveled into the area from around the state (and the country) to protest. Her initial question may well reflect her emotional reaction to the murder of Trayvon Martin and subsequent events in the region.

  197. 197
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ugh, this post, and this thread.

    The video confirms the impression I got from reading most of the thread earlier: That the woman was having a breakdown. So does GrumpyPathDoc’s comment. So does the CBS article linked by, among others, Life is Like a Pitbull with Lipstick.

    Don’t give me this “ableist” shit, unless you want to scold me for “colluding in my own oppression.” That’s not “ableist.” That’s compassionate. I don’t know what her religious beliefs are, but what she was saying to the professor didn’t even remotely resemble religious offense. She was raving, in the very literal sense of the word.

    (Louis: The above isn’t aimed at you. I’m impressed by your comments about how the situation could have been better handled. That said, as someone with a psych history myself, I don’t perceive my assessment as othering the woman. I don’t agree that her distress was “a proportionate reaction to a genuine tragedy,” unless you are implying the possibility of PTSD — which is a diagnosis.)

    Should she be be held legally accountable for her actions? Yes, but only to the extent that her legal accountability is not mitigated by diminished capacity, and to the extent that she knew she had a psych condition and was not working to handle it.

    So, yeah, Marcus Sever, big fucking strawman there. People aren’t so much “siding with” this girl woman as they are expressing empathy. There’s a difference, cupcake.

    Oh, and all the students laughing at her? Fuck them. Assholes. Nervous laughter, I can understand, but as Jaclyn says they were mocking her outright. Rachel Bustamante fails for uploading her video to YouTube and Facebook. The school fails too for not having a plan in place to deal with such incidents (I don’t blame the prof at all). The cops fail for tasing her. PZ fails for posting this video. And all the Internet Tough Guys around here fail for existing.

    HuntStoddard:

    Basically, if you lose it at school today, you run a high risk of being offed by the police. That alone is strong evidence that this woman was having a breakdown.

    Especially since she’s black. Though I’m sure Billk up there thinks this makes her more likely to win some kind of a lawsuit.

    Supernova, you’re white, aren’t you? Does the name Trayvon Martin mean anything to you?

  198. 198
    Ing

    Err really? I understand the police in the United States are prone to overuse of force, and some forces are corrupt, but I find it hard to believe that there is a “significant possibility that they will kill him/her”. You make it sound like this is an almost everyday solution the police use.

    It IS an everyday solution the police use.

  199. 199
    Louis

    Ms Daisy Cutter, #197,

    You know I love you unreservedly, but I’m drunk as a battery of lords, so if I fuck up, give me some benefit of the doubt.

    (Louis: The above isn’t aimed at you. I’m impressed by your comments about how the situation could have been better handled. That said, as someone with a psych history myself, I don’t perceive my assessment as othering the woman. I don’t agree that her distress was “a proportionate reaction to a genuine tragedy,” unless you are implying the possibility of PTSD — which is a diagnosis.)

    Fair enough. My criticism is not that this woman is absolutely not suffering from a mental illness, she may well be, my objection is that we really don’t have enough data to tell. And that many/most of us are supremely unqualified to tell. LIke I said to Josh, I don’t deny mad is a possibility, but really, one YouTube outburst…? This is weak sauce, this is a very low bar for mental health diagnoses.

    Perhaps this tendency to diagnose is cultural, perhaps it is a peculiarly an American phenomenon given the level of advertising and pressure my glorious (hahahahahaha) industry puts on you wonderful folk. Meh, conspiracy theory…it’s late, forgive me!

    If you don’t agree that a person likely well primed by religious anti-evolution, and a terrible “local” event that is egregiously racist, could have such a reaction within the normal emotional range of human beings, then fine, you don’t agree. I’m not a psychologist/psychiatrist either, but my own experience with people with mental illness and my own studies on the subject (at least reasonably relevant to my profession) tells me this is not so far from normal as to indicate pathology.

    The woman concerned may well be a muppet, but I’m going to want a lot more before I call her mad.

    Louis

  200. 200
    Crissa

    Police should not be using tazers to punish people who don’t behave. It’s a replacement for shooting.

    Is someone saying it’s actually appropriate to shoot someone restrained in a police car?

  201. 201
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Louis, my long-suffering Fake Husband Who Does Many Dirty Things To Me That I’m Not Gonna Tell Other People About But Only Cuz You’re Sooooo Good But Don’t Push Me:

    No it’s not ridiculous but it is…sorry…a little lazy and under-evidenced.

    What can I say? That’s how it pinged me. Maybe it is lazy. Maybe my meter is miscalibrated. But maybe it isn’t. I don’t know how to tell.

  202. 202
    Crissa

    There is no ‘stand off means of subduing’ there are assaults you can do with a higher chance of injury and death for the victim of the assault.

    You have put your right to being disrupted over their right not to be killed.

    Bleah.

  203. 203
    michellefitzgerald

    In all my experiences with crazy (I’ve got plenty of them) I find that ‘mental health’ isn’t something that is at all static. During times of continuous stress a person gradually erodes their reserves of willpower and energy. If they don’t get a chance to refresh it eventually they will snap. This isn’t a long term mental health issue (an actual mental illness) it’s just the result of too much stress, not enough time to de-stress. I think of it like just spending a temporary amount of time in crazyland, they’re lucky to be able to recover quickly and move back out of it.

    I doubt she is actually suffering from a real mental illness (Bi-polar disorder, massive depressive syndrome, schizophrenia, etc). There has been a lot of talk in this thread about ‘Does she, doesn’t she’ have a mental illness and really, like I said above, it can be temporary. I guess you can think of it this way, a cold is an illness but it’s not sticking around. Cerebral palsy is an illness too but it ain’t goin’ -nowhere-.

    On the topic of PZ posting this I don’t think there is anything wrong with him posting it. It’s already all over the internet and has been dragged to the very sewers of the tubes, posting it or not posting it isn’t going to affect that at all. Add to that that -real- and effective discussions can be sparked from it. Anything from the topic of mental health and how it’s viewed in society to security concerns in institutes of higher learning. I think we lose more in turning a blind eye to this and pretending like it didn’t happen then we do in having it here and looking at it and knowing that that’s a human being in the video and we can’t know if under a similar set of pressures that we wouldn’t react the same way she did. It’s better to see things and talk about them then hide them away because they’re ugly.

    As for my armchair diagnosis of mental health I’m going with what I touched on earlier, it can either be a temporary condition or a sign of a deeper longer issue that’s been left untreated. It is certainly a breakdown, anyone can see that, but what caused it is the interesting part and how people reacted to it, or failed to react to it. Neither of these things are bad things, they are neutral. How we respond to it matters and what happens to her from here on out matters.

    I’m shutting up now, I rambled too much I’m sure.

  204. 204
    chigau (違う)

    and late again

  205. 205
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Ms. Daisy Cutter in #197, thank you. You said what I was thinking, just more eloquently than I could have.

  206. 206
    Muz

    Louis

    I’d second that impression of yours. Middle class white westerners and American middle class folks in particular have a strong tendency to be amateur psychologists. It’s data free, but I don’t think I’ve encountered a people for whom psych diagnoses are such a part of the culture. The language of ‘issues’ and ‘entitlement’ and therapy in general seems thoroughly in entrenched from a young age. But it’s only an impression.

    This reminds me of a funny story (I think it’s funny anyway). A friend of mine flipped out at uni few years ago at a technician, chased him a short way to the the technical services office and ended up kicking a hole in the door. He’s a little guy from Singapore, with a bad temper admittedly, and the tech was pretty freaked out (he seemed like an old nerd sort of fellow). It all cooled off before security arrived, but they were batons and tasers at the ready.
    It seems the tech was in a hurry and had tried to push through a group of us impatiently, shoving, with no great force, my friend in the back in the process. He was tired and stressed out and that is something he finds incredibly rude.

    The end result: some words of apology stated and now the door in question has a airflo installed at the bottom. That’s it. We named the vent after him and chuckled each time we went past it.

    Had people seen this incident filmed I have no doubt it would fall under “threats of violence/expulsion/mental breakdown/arrest/psychiatric evaluation/lawsuit/appropriatestaffintervention/yadda” conversation.
    This present video is a bit different as she wasn’t backing down and was keen to disrupt things. We’re lucky over here in Aus since people don’t shoot up university campuses all that often. But I’m just saying, disruptive though they may be, these things aren’t always a big deal once the dust settles, despite how they look.

  207. 207
    huntstoddard

    On the topic of PZ posting this I don’t think there is anything wrong with him posting it. It’s already all over the internet and has been dragged to the very sewers of the tubes, posting it or not posting it isn’t going to affect that at all. Add to that that -real- and effective discussions can be sparked from it. Anything from the topic of mental health and how it’s viewed in society to security concerns in institutes of higher learning. I think we lose more in turning a blind eye to this and pretending like it didn’t happen then we do in having it here and looking at it and knowing that that’s a human being in the video and we can’t know if under a similar set of pressures that we wouldn’t react the same way she did. It’s better to see things and talk about them then hide them away because they’re ugly.

    I appreciate your opinion, but in my opinion that’s not a morally defensible position. We don’t have the right to make this spectacle some kind of teachable moment. The concerns of this woman, who is obviously undergoing a terrible trial, must be given total precedence. That is why posting this is wrong, no matter how much publicity it’s already received.

    I tend to agree that this was a temporary loss of control due to acute stress and rage over an event that disturbed her. All the more reason to contain the spread of it. Imagine if she were your sister. How would you view the utility of offering her as some kind of sociological exercise? Wouldn’t you rather prefer that she was protected and cared for?

  208. 208
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    The only reason I can think of the police tasering someone already cuffed in the back of a squad car is if she was trying to injure herself. There’s not a lot of options available when you have someone already violent towards you and you’re trying to save them from themselves.

    I agree that the ethics of this being posted and going viral is more than a tad shady, but hopefully it does emphasize better knowledge in such a situation if you are a co-student, an instructor, privacy rights if you’re the one being bellicose because of an undiagnosed or unmedicated condition, and a whole lot of other things all rumbling through the thread.

    It’s unfortunate that technology can turn a microscope on everything now. Every situation is going to have its first ‘broacast,’ and in each of those circumstances someone is going to have the misfortune of being the example that causes the ‘what to do?’ discussion. Future videos like this one may be made illegal because of privacy rights, but the first one will always be saved for the discussion and textbooks.

  209. 209
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Or, I should say, the sad distinction of being saved for the discussion and textbooks.

  210. 210
    Drew

    The police report of the incident has been released. There’s a write up here and itlinks to the full report.

    Nutshell, after being put in the police car, they took her to the station. Before removing her from the car they decided to take her directly to the mental health center, based on her behavior. They tazed her twice more because she kicking the roof, door and wihdows of the car and were trying to restrain her. They carried her into the hospital where she continued to not cooperate and they carried her into a room and the hospital restrained her on a bed.

  211. 211
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Louis:

    You know I love you unreservedly,


    but I’m drunk as a battery of lords,

    Are lordly batteries alkaline, dry-cell, NiCad…?

    I take your point from an earlier comment, and that of Muz, that cultural issues play a part here, both the middle-class white Western tendency to therapeutize everything, and the same culture’s discomfort with emotional display. It’s entirely possible that you’re right, that this is a normal reaction but that we’ve pathologized it in this country. I’ve witnessed similar (if not as violent) outbursts that turned out to definitely have arisen from a psychiatric condition, or from stress to a person on the autistic spectrum. But I’ll admit up front I don’t have the background to place any of these events in a global sociological context, and that I’m aware that different cultures construct health and illness very differently.

    Michelle:

    I find that ‘mental health’ isn’t something that is at all static. During times of continuous stress a person gradually erodes their reserves of willpower and energy. If they don’t get a chance to refresh it eventually they will snap. This isn’t a long term mental health issue (an actual mental illness) it’s just the result of too much stress, not enough time to de-stress.

    I think this is an excellent point. And, you’re right, some issues are chronic, others short-term (although that doesn’t mean all of the latter do not correlate with diagnoses of some sort or other, even if only for billing purposes).

    But I have to agree with Hunt Stoddard on the ethics of posting this video. “It’s been posted elsewhere” is irrelevant. Whatever possible harm was done to her in this space is microscopic compared to whatever possible harm was done to her on Reddit and YouTube and Facebook, but “Everyone else is doing it, too” isn’t a valid excuse.

    Also, how people reacted or failed to react to her breakdown is certainly not “neutral.” Mocking someone in that kind of distress is always an asshole move, as is uploading such a video to the internet.

    Beatrice: You’re welcome.

  212. 212
    Louis

    Josh, My Beloved Virtual Husband, For Whom I Have Just Bought These Really Impressive Wonder Pants, A Pint Of Low Fat Whipped Cream And A Series Of Exquisite Boys (All “boys”
    guaranteed to be over 21, consenting and pliable), Just In Time For This Evening’s “Session”*: #201,

    Never, not once did I mean to imply that it was you who was lazy, no no no no NO. My fuck up!

    What I meant was these mental health diagnoses are a bit of a “lazy stereotype” thing, an easy go-to means for condemning someone’s behaviour. After all “mad” and cognates are used as insults pretty frequently.

    However, the more I read about this case, the more I think this woman might be either doubling down (she’s been hospitalised it seems) on her rage, or might well have had some sort of breakdown. The problem is I’ve seen (a lot) of worse outbursts from “sane” (Who They? Ed.) people and I know a little bit (academically) about the range of human emotion and what shitty situations (or situations the person imagines to be shitty) can do to otherwise “sane” (Again, what?) people.

    Either way, if I’m wrong about this case, and I freely confess that strong possibility exists in all I’ve said here because it’s to do with shades of grey and judgement etc, I’m not wrong about the cheapening of genuine mental illness by the over-colloquial use of mental health terms in describing normal behaviour.

    Louis

    * I call dibs on the first hour this time. After last week, there is no way, I’m taking hours two and three again. The weeping was extraordinary. Just trying to calm down the ocelot was enough work for twenty. And don’t get me started on what happened to that ptarmigan. I’ll be farting feathers for a month.

  213. 213
    billk

    “Especially since she’s black. Though I’m sure Billk up there thinks this makes her more likely to win some kind of a lawsuit.”

    Well… her race AND gender probably would tilt the balance on that and most of that would be internal to the school. But once again, only if the prof was already in disfavor with his chair and admin (and that’s a big if – but the sad fact is that universities are filled with tenured teenagers with inflated titles and they now only have to “prove” things to 50%+), and THEN only if there was no concrete documentation (so while posting on youtube was inappropriate, taking the video and handing it over to authorities AND the professor would certainly be right-and-proper).

    But back to the reality of this case, I suspect this case has not so much to do with evolution (unless the student like many others have mistaken it for Nietzschian bull hockey coupled with frustration over the Martin case). I’m not sure that even the Discovery Institute will try to tie her getting tazed and arrested to her opposing evolution. But you never know!

    I feel badly for the student if there are indeed mental problems and I think the student can claim diminished capacity (likely a breakdown possibly aggravated by recent headlines maybe, but I’m not planning on paying a visit to the inside of her head to confirm). But her readmission to school will likely involve her having to go through a lot of hoops and she also has lost a heck-o-a-lotta face.

    As for the school having no plan on how to deal with it? As I said above, you can have all the FP or CR training a school can offer then even prevent to live in a lawyer and “discipline committee” free world. But if there is not a direct immediate threat (as was with her – she was just sitting and ranting and then went for broke later and assaulted multiple people), the typical person is just going to sit there and say “is this really happening?” and watch the drama unfold before they snap too and realize that at some point it’s time to call in security (hopefully before someone gets smacked in the head) .

  214. 214
    Crissa

    The chance of being killed by police seems to be below a percent, sure.

    However, there are hundreds of millions of people and police are called hundreds, thousands of times a day.

    I personally knew three people shot and killed by the police for not hearing their demands. One of these was my father.

  215. 215
    Crissa

    Saying ‘that looks like mental illness’ is no more an amateur psychology than saying, ‘that looks like someone playing football’. It takes an expert to diagnose it, sure, but it does not take an expert to decide to get the expert.

  216. 216
    Louis

    Crissakentavr, #215,

    Really? So kids in playgrounds are called “footballers” as an insult? People acting oddly are disparaged as being “a bit footbally”? People with footballing tendencies are discriminated against in the workplace?

    Need I go on?

    One of these things is not like the other.

    There is a stigma associated with mental illness. It is a stigma that is there for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are fear and ignorance, and it is a stigma that is actively fuelled by offering simplistic marketable solutions, panaceas, to complex problems. The stigma is also exacerbated by pathologising behaviours that, given certain common priors, fall well within the normal ranges of human behaviour. As noted above, albeit slightly tongue in cheek, this is partly a cultural phenomenon.

    More than that, another difference between “football” and “mental illness”, the social context you utterly ignored aside, is that one is vastly more complex than the other. Hint: football is the simpler. It is comparatively easy to identify someone playing football by simply looking at them for a few seconds. The same is not necessarily true of someone with a mental illness in all but the most extreme circumstances. A glance will spot a footballer.

    How do you tell at a glance if the person crying with their head in their hands is grief stricken (not a mental illness), an excellent actor (not a mental illness…welllllll….no, no, it’s not ;-) ), or someone with a genuine mental illness. How do you tell at a glance if the person who hasn’t got out of bed today is suffering from a hangover (not a mental illness), the condition of being a slobby teenager (not a mental illness), or clinical depression (mental illness)? How do you tell at a glance if the person talking quickly and loudly is on cocaine (not a mental illness), simply an excited extrovert (not a mental illness) or is in the prodromal phase of a manic/hypomanic episode and experiencing pressured speech often associated with bipolar disorder (a mental illness)?

    Want me to continue? You can’t do any of those things by the way. Neither could a professional. In every case more analysis and data would be needed to come to even a basic conclusion, far less a diagnosis. In all but the most extreme ends of mental illness, where someone is sectionable, it is impossible to tell at a glance, to say “that looks like mental illness”, with any reliability. So no, your analogy doesn’t fly.

    And sorry, but I’m going to tell you that your comment utterly REEKS of “able” privilege, whether or not you enjoy such.

    Calling someone “mentally ill” on the basis of very scant evidence isn’t quite the same as “but all men aren’t rapists” replies to Schrodinger’s rapist, or “but more black men do commit crimes so I avoid them” style prejudice, but it is not a million miles away.

    Louis

  217. 217
    keenacat

    the person talking quickly and loudly is on cocaine (not a mental illness)

    Minor quibble: addiction is a mental illness, but a single instance of cocaine abuse is not, so he could be either.

    Other than that, I say FUCK YEAH LOUIS IS RIGHT AGAIN.
    Thank you, sez F33.4 (not detectable by bystanders).

  218. 218
    Louis

    Keenacat,

    Oh of course, addiction can (and is) classed as a mental illness, good correction. But yeah, I was referring to a one time only type thing.

    Louis

    P.S. F33.4? Congrats on the .4 part ;-)

  219. 219
    keenacat

    Thanks, I worked hard to earn my .4. :D
    I am still under medication, though.

  220. 220
    jessie

    Why is speculating that a person screaming about killing people may be mentally ill being prejudiced? Honestly, I’ve seen people behave like this before numerous times (screaming death threats, repeating themselves, assaulting others without clear provocation) and in every single case, the person did have a very severe mental illness. I’m not trying to insult the people by saying that. I would never accuse someone of being mentally ill by just to insult them.

    No, one cannot diagnose a person based on a tape, and no one has come out and said, “Yes, this person very clearly suffers from (borderline personality disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc.)” However, people are recognizing that may be a possibility. True, lots of things that aren’t mental illness could cause this sort of behaviour. However, even the police (who were there) thought she may have a psychiatric problem and that’s why they took her to a psychiatric hospital instead of jail. Would you rather they took her to jail?

    Now what would be cruel and prejudiced would be to immediately assume that this was her normal behaviour and to throw her in prison for uttering death threats without bothering to find out what exactly caused this outburst. It’s also unfair to assume she had this outburst just because she’s creationist and doesn’t like evolution. I’ve talked to people who disagree with the theory of evolution via natural selection and not a single one acted like this.

    She is going to see a mental health professional and that’s what needed to happen. What’s unfair is that this got put on youtube for everyone to laugh at. It’s not funny. Now the police report is online. It doesn’t describe normal behaviour, unless you think that black women normally threaten to kill everyone and assault students and police officers. Yes, some people are quick to label normal behaviour (grief, shyness, etc.) as ‘mental illness’ but this is not normal behaviour.

  221. 221
    billk

    “Why is speculating that a person screaming about killing people may be mentally ill being prejudiced?”

    Well if the person screaming about killing people was of sound mind, he/she wouldn’t have left any witness to tell about the aforementioned screaming.

  222. 222
    Louis

    Jessie, #220,

    Way to miss the point! I’ve gone over and over this in a few posts, you could simply read back. Just in case, let me make it clearer

    (By the way, I’ve seen plenty of people lose their tempers in ways worse than this for no other reason than they were in poor circumstances (i.e. under some form of external stress). They weren’t mentally ill by any definition of the term. Want to bet your anecdote and my anecdote demonstrate the same thing? I.e. nothing.)

    Speculating that this woman may be mentally ill is not in and of itself, prejudiced. Neither is speculating that any individual black person is a criminal in and of itself prejudiced. Neither is speculating any individual female rape victim is actually making a false allegation of rape. All those things happen. Some people are mad, some black people are criminals, some women make false rape allegations. So none of those acts are in and of themselves inherently prejudiced acts.

    However, none of them occur in a cultural vacuum either. The USA (to pick on one example, it’s by far and away not the worst contender) is a racist society where black people, particularly black young men, are singled out as being criminal even when innocent. They are punished above and beyond the level their non-black peers are. They are, as we have seen recently, shot and killed by vigilantes, white vigilantes who go as yet unpunished for killing an innocent, unarmed black youth simply because he was a black youth and the attitude that “black youth = criminal” persists. So whilst the speculation that any individual black person is a criminal in and of itself is not prejudiced, after all some black people are criminals, they have to be caught, the cultural context in which that speculation occurs IS relevant and can render such speculation, outside of the realms of Platonic logic, quite prejudiced. Context matters. Curious how “black youth = criminal” comes up so often as a default assumption in certain quarters, isn’t it?

    Again, female victims of rape live in cultures that typically and habitually push the blame onto them, try to minimise the crime, try to cast unsupported doubt on their claim. There is a distinct anti-woman bias there. So whilst speculation that any individual rape victim is lying is not inherently prejudiced, after all some people lie (there’s no evidence that this is more than false allegations in other crimes, but I digress) and a good police person will investigate any and all avenues, the cultural context in which that speculation occurs is, again, relevant. Curious how “rape victim = liar” comes up so often as a default assumption in certain quarters, isn’t it?

    And now the juicy one. Mental illness. People with mental illnesses live in cultures that by and large pretend their diseases don’t exist (ask any depressive how many times they have been told to “pull themselves together”). Cultures that have pervasive ideas about dualism which claim mental illness is a weakness in some “soul” rather than a physicochemical disease influenced by environmental pressures and genetic. People with mental illnesses are subject to abuse by simple virtue of the fact they are mentally ill. Mental illness is used to slur others (Hey! Nutter!). I even do this by the way, I’m far from perfect. Mental illness is used to discredit people who are different from us (Ken Ham can only believe the things he does because he is mad and wicked). Mental illness is even associated with evil, ever heard of demonic possession, in some cultures. Oh there’s more, there’s lots lots more. So sure, some mentally ill people have outbursts, some mentally ill people rant and rave and shout and say the most abominable things. I shouldn’t have to point out that so do some people who are not mentally ill. So whilst speculation that any individual person ranting and raving is not inherently prejudiced in and of itself, in our twee, perfect little world, isolated from any context or culture, when that culture and context (which is part of what allows anyone to deem anything prejudiced in the first place) is considered even for the briefest of moments, things don’t look so rosy. Curious how “strange/outrageous behaviour = mental illness” comes up so often as a default assumption in certain quarters, isn’t it?

    So yes, this woman could be mentally ill. But why go there as a default assumption? Sure, that black youth could be a criminal. But why go there as a default assumption? Sure that woman could be lying about her rape? But why go there as a default assumption? Get it yet?

    The rest of your straw men I’ll leave alone. Other than to note I’ve never said “this woman should be dealt with harshly, or without checking if she is mentally ill” or anything like it. Quite the reverse in fact. My issue is with the casual leap to pseudo-diagnoses (and watch how the backpeddling occurs when those diagnosticians are so confronted) within the cultural context we have that surrounds mental illness.

    Louis

  223. 223
    Louis

    Oh and to everyone, on a general point, just think about what a mental health diagnosis means.

    Here in the UK it means you have to declare it at job interviews if you want your potential employer to take it into account. Of course you are not forced to mention it, but then if you are ill and require aid above and beyond the aid a “normal” sick person gets, your employer is entitled to sack you for non-disclosure.

    It means you have to declare it to motor insurance companies and the DVLA (like the DMV). In some cases you will have your licence immediately revoked, no matter how clean, no matter how spotless your driving record. A period of assessment will be entered, typically 3 months, but given bureaucracy it’s more like 7+.

    Travel insurance. Forget it. £20 deals? Try 100 times that for certain conditions. Not the really scary conditions, those are uninsurable.

    Ignoring the loss of friends and family upon disclosure, which I assure you is exceedingly real for many people, how about the joys of the popular press presenting caricature upon caricature of mentally ill people as either scroungers or monsters. Not a soap opera has been written where someone with a mental illness isn’t either a murdering lunatic or a pitiable wretch. Controversial gay kiss? Give me a fucking break. How about a human depressive or bipolar person.

    Benefits! How many hoops would you like to jump through? Our glorious ConDemNation Coalition has recently raised the bar and put in stringent independent assessment panels for people claiming medical benefits. Can’t have the proles cheating the exchequer now can we? (See umpteen column inches and documentaries on scroungers) Don’t worry that tax evasion and avoidance costs the exchequer 15 times what benefit fraud does. That’s done by big corporations and rich folks who we need, despite a conservative measurement of our GDP being ~80% small business. No no, you’re not mad enough, you can’t eat, sorry prole!

    Want therapy? Sorry, no. Cut. Or postcode lottery. Or private at ~£70 an hour. Access to a psychiatrist? How long have you got? You better be really mad, properly mad or it’s care in the community for you my lad.

    Oh and whilst I’m on a roll, got a passport? The right to vote? I don’t think so! Get sectioned under the right bit of the mental health act and you are a non person. Not a citizen, not an adult, not capable, not even involved in your treatment (while this might be appropriate initially, it rapidly stops being the case). Want tales of abuse? I got ‘em. Want evidence of neglect? I collected dozens and sent them to the PCT. Want to know what it’s like to have to care for other patients in the ward because the nurses refuse to help them shower? I’ll introduce to a friend of mine. Want more? I HAVE MORE.

    Ask me how I know this. Because in working on drugs for mental health I came to the realisation that I had been operating in a fog of bigoted ignorance my entire life. I learned about these diseases, how utterly hellish they are. So I did a little bit of volunteer work with mentally ill people. Then I did a bit more. Now I do a lot. The horror stories I have heard would turn your hair blue. And we in the UK are LUCKY. LUCKY. We’re amongst the best in the world.

    Put that in your pipe and fucking smoke it.

    Oh sorry, you’re just “speculating”. It’s just a rhetorical gambit. Hey, I’m just saying. Fuck me I am feeling nauseated.

    Louis

  224. 224
    Anthony K

    [Takes Molly insignia off, hands it to Louis.]

    Here. You deserve this more than I.

  225. 225
    NotAProphet

    Louis mate, you might think you’re doing it better, but you are really only convincing yourself, I haven’t long, so some quick salients:

    I think the biggest problem is that you view me as some arm-chair hard-man, “masturbating to cop shows” as you so eloquently and cleverly put it [/sarcasm]. I am not, I’ve had more bullets fired at me than you’ve had Saturdays, so stop making assumptions about the other’s frame of reference, do me the credit, ‘kay?

    4) Apologies for not pandering to your difficulty in comprehending, the “you” in my initial statement was not aimed at you in person, any more than if I said “you cannot walk on water”, in future I’ll help you out and use “one”, if I remember. You’re welcome.

    5) (and elsewhere) I’m not advocating tasing her, in fact I don’t believe I’ve said anywhere that she ought to be tased, I kinda get the feeling you’re arguing against one big strawman, stood kind of behind and to the right of me. I’m saying that it’s an option in the escalation/de-escalation of the situation that would have been open to someone suitably trained in dealing with someone, and one that would have been far preferable to pepper spray or firearms.

    6) Is gun death so rampant in my nation? Which nation do you think that is? You’re making assumptions about me again.

    I’m really glad you picked up on this point here, coz I get to point and laugh at the correlation/causation fallacy.

    Do my homework? You made the claim, you provide the evidence, or I just get to ignore it. Do you agree with all the theists saying “I say god exists, you prove he doesn’t”? Maybe you do, I’m not conceited enough to make assumptions about you (Other than you’re being a bit of a dick to me, but hey, I’m a grown-up, I’m not losing any sleep over it).

    As for any universal pacifism you may or may not hold, note I said “apparent” as in that is how it appears to me. F- for comprehension.

    I’m aware I have not addressed every single one of your points, and I apologise. Please do not think I am dodging anything, I simply have better things to be doing right now.

    Here’s an idea, I’d love to discuss this, so how about you stop worrying so much about “swinging your dick” at me and discuss it; get that adrenal gland of yours back in its box and we can discuss it like open-minded adults? Deal? Personally I don’t think a difference of opinion is worth falling out with anyone over, even/especially a complete stranger.

  226. 226
    Louis

    NotAProphet,

    I am weary from dealing with straw.

    So you’ve had bullets fired at you, congratulations, you’ve done more than me. I have an extreme allergy to fast moving lead and a note from my mum. And you’re not a weapon happy Yank? My apologies. Walked like a duck, quacked like a duck…

    As for the rest, asked and answered, look above. Not that comprehension troubled you the first time.

    Oh and I haven’t fallen out with you. I was moved to moderate sarcasm. I’m not really that thin skinned. Have a good time wherever it is you are rushing off to.

    Louis

  227. 227
    jessie

    Gee Louis, please tell me more about the stigma of mental illness. Never mind that it runs in my family, that MY OWN MOTHER died by suicide, and that I myself have suffered from serious panic attacks and had to seriously change my career plans due to that.

    In sum, you are making stupid assumptions about what I do and do not understand about mental illness. And then you have to nerve to preach to me about it.

  228. 228
    jessie

    Honestly, I don’t need your condescending, self-righteous preaching. I know about about all the stigmas associated with mental illness and it has affected me in ways you would not understand.

    All I hope is that this girl will be treated with compassion.

  229. 229
    TimKO,,.,,

    meds

    ——————

    I installed Do Not Track on my browser. Many sites have 2 or 3 companies tracking your clicks and keystrokes these days. Pharyngula has 13.

  230. 230
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I find it curious how some people, like jessie, who’ve been close to mental illness take that to be a license that no one should ever be allowed to criticize them for stigmatizing generally mental illness or attaching the stigma of mental illness to an individual specifically,

    while other people who’ve been close to mental illness do not view themselves as being above criticism on the matter.

    I wonder how that happens.

  231. 231
    Louis

    ॐ,

    I have noooooo idea.

    I also have no idea how “please don’t leap to conclusions about people on flimsy evidence, it plays into common prejudices” = “you know nothing about mental illness and have no experience” or even = “you have no compassion and want someone not to be taken care of”.

    But then I’m a very bad person. Someone on the internet told me. Must be true. Hmmmm maybe it’s sympathy. If I say I’m sympathetic, does that make the things I say true and beyond criticism or error?

    Louis

  232. 232
    derringerdruid

    What it means, Louis, is that your provocative and condescending response to jessie shows you have a lot of compassion to acquire behind your lists of facts if you want to work in psychology and be any good at it.

  233. 233
    Inaji

    What it means, derringerdruid, is that you don’t grok sarcasm or humour when you see it.

    BTW, why in the hell did you show up in a month old thread simply to take offense?

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