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Jan 28 2014

The Northstar Holy War continues

Which of these things is not like the others?

  1. The North Star, the abolitionist newspaper established by Frederick Douglass?

  2. The North Star STEM Alliance, an undergraduate organization that gives minorities research opportunities?

  3. The North Star, Polaris, an important navigational guide in the Northern Hemisphere?

  4. The Morris Northstar, a right wing newspaper run by wackaloons at the University of Minnesota Morris who hate equal opportunity laws?

It’s (d). It’s an embarrassment.

I just got back from the campus police, where I was read my Miranda rights and recorded giving a statement, because the Geiger cranks have apparently made a formal complaint, accusing me of stealing their rags and adding a new charge, that I’d vandalized the latest edition, scribbling an “str” on the cover to change “right-to-life” to “right-to-strife”. So I also had to leave a handwriting sample.

It’s gone well past ridiculous. Singling me out as a scapegoat (I am not alone in my contempt for their awful paper), making baseless criminal accusations, wasting the time of the university police and lawyers…this is now in the territory of harassment.

120 comments

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  1. 1
    Friendly

    Really sorry about this whole disgusting mess, PZ. I hope Ken at Popehat (or someone similar) will file a pro bono lawsuit (or two or three or six) on your behalf.

  2. 2
    tigtog

    Well into harassment territory.

    They are also really picking on a strategically unwise target – it’s going to be trivially simple for you to demonstrate to the police that you’re not a feasible suspect, and at the end of this investigation you’re going to have lost a few hours at most of inconvenience and a story that puts you in a strongly positive light to tell for years to come, while they will are likely to end up with an official record as a filer of nuisance complaints.

    They may get a very small bump in popularity in right wing wacko circles, but it won’t be big enough or long-lasting to propel them into the well-paid punditry circus of which they dream.

  3. 3
    Al Dente

    A countersuit for harassment would be appropriate.

  4. 4
    Desert Son, OM

    Grieved to hear that this morass continues. Wishes of support for you and your family, PZ.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  5. 5
    kurtdoles

    I’m not usually one to advocate lawyering up, but I bet they’ll fold like a cheap suit and skip town if you do.

  6. 6
    kosk11348

    A counter-suit might just be the thing to shutter that rag for good.

  7. 7
    Acolyte of Sagan

    ‘I was walking down the street, just-a mindin’ my own affairs
    When these two policemen came and grabbed me unawares.
    They said “Is your name PZ?”
    And I said “Why, sure.”
    And they said “You’re the guy we’ve been searching for!”

    And I was framed……..’

    Ritchie Valens.

  8. 8
    LykeX

    A countersuit for harassment would be appropriate.

    Seriously! Consult a layer and review your options. This kind of bullshit can’t be tolerated.

    When you first mentioned this debacle, I couldn’t tell whether it was meant as a joke or intended as a serious accusation. I guess this answers it: They’re really that crazy.

  9. 9
    Ray, rude-ass yankee

    Have they presented any, ya know, evidence that you are personally involved? If not, it certainly sounds all harassy and stuff. Counter complaint sounds like just the thing.

  10. 10
    Rey Fox

    How did that vandalism work, exactly? Defacing every single issue with that goofy nonsensical letter substitution by hand?

  11. 11
    carlie

    I’m starting to wonder if this is performance art, and they’re doing it to make you mad so they can claim that you can’t be for free speech if you don’t like them falsely accusing you of crimes.

  12. 12
    Tethys

    Huh, wha?

    I believe it is the time for you to file your own complaint with the police PZ.
    Harassment is illegal, and you are far beyond that into pure malicious fabrications.

    Mr Geiger clearly has some mental health issues, and the police humouring him is not helpful.

  13. 13
    Lofty

    Rey Fox

    How did that vandalism work, exactly? Defacing every single issue with that goofy nonsensical letter substitution by hand?

    The Cephalopodic Overlord can do eight copies at a time, you know.
    PZ

    It’s gone well past ridiculous. Singling me out as a scapegoat (I am not alone in my contempt for their awful paper), making baseless criminal accusations, wasting the time of the university police and lawyers…this is now in the territory of harassment.

    Bingo. Professional Liars know that the prime purpose of legal harassment, is, harassment. Costing you time and money is their punishment to you dissing their pathetic rag. Someone is probably funding these clowns on the sly.

  14. 14
    mothra

    If they have actually planned this as a long term vendetta, there could be confabulated ‘evidence’ complete with PZ’s handwriting. Definately hire a lawyer and consider a counter suit.

  15. 15
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    It’s a free paper, right? How in the hell do they have any sort of case, unless they’re accusing you of stealing it out of their office?

  16. 16
    captainahags

    I know and you know their accusations are a load of garbage. So why talk to the police? You have the right to remain silent, use it! I recommend watching this for a good primer on how volunteering any information at all to the police under any circumstances is a bad idea, even if you’re completely innocent. It’s a long video, but I think absolutely everyone should watch it. There’s my .02.

  17. 17
    otranreg

    Wait, isn’t ‘making baseless criminal accusations’ a crime, too?

  18. 18
    windnpine

    I followed the link to their Facebook page – they have 86 likes – 86 likes on the whole damn Internet. If the Startribune puts up an article that lends credence to AGW, there will be 86 minions commenting within the first hour that it is an enviro-nazi hoax. The Northstar’s own natural supporters can’t even get behind them (or find them on the ‘Net).
    These campus young Republicans never change. Going back 25+ years ago, I too had to put up with these nosebleeds. The best line was when our Congressman visited school and a young activist challenged him with a question about policy towards the homeless, and the president of the campus Republicans thought he would snarl at her under his breath, “Would you shut the F*** up B****.” Only his poor timing allowed everyone on that side of the student center to hear it. As a reporter for the student paper, I suddenly had a whole new angle to write about. Nonetheless, when a reporter covers the threats made by the officer of a student organization, it is Liberal Media Bias in action.
    Get a lawyer PZ and have a field day with the Northstar and with the undergraduate law enforcement major who had a total chubby filling out a real, live Police Report.

  19. 19
    Tethys

    checking the relevant laws in MN

    609.505 FALSELY REPORTING CRIME.
    Subdivision 1.False reporting. Whoever informs a law enforcement officer that a crime has been committed or otherwise provides information to an on-duty peace officer, knowing that the person is a peace officer, regarding the conduct of others, knowing that it is false and intending that the officer shall act in reliance upon it, is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person who is convicted a second or subsequent time under this section is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

    source https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.505

    Here is the relevant page for harassment. I would file for a restraining order against this fool.

  20. 20
    captainahags

    Also in re to several upthread, I am not a lawyer but here is a link to an article by one in which it seems claims against someone reporting you to the police are difficult to sue over.

  21. 21
    Sastra

    Again I wonder: does the editor of the paper and/or his minions really, truly believe that you personally destroyed a lot of student papers? Ordered their destruction? Or is this a stunt and deliberate harassment?

    I know the temptation is to say it’s the second, but I try very hard not underestimate the weird thought processes of those with a conspiracy mindset. They can end up sincerely believing the damnest things.

  22. 22
    nich

    @15:

    It’s a free paper, right? How in the hell do they have any sort of case, unless they’re accusing you of stealing it out of their office?

    When I was a yewt, the district attorney was getting a lot of guff from a local alternative weekly over some mayoral scandal the paper felt wasn’t being looked at hard enough. In a huff, the attorney went all over town trashing copies of the paper. He later got a visit from the local police because in the fine print it says only the first copy is free. Subsequent copies cost a quarter or something like that so he technically trashed a hundred or so bucks worth of newspapers. I’m sure the fine print was precisely so the paper had some recourse if an annoyed politician decided to start tossing stacks in the trash. I’m guessing a lot of these free local papers have similar fine print.

  23. 23
    anuran

    You need to lawyer up and do it now. If you don’t they will keep costing you time, money, damage to your reputation and stress you don’t need with your medical history. If you care about the festering cumblotches’ education consider suing them to be a lesson: Actions have consequences. Harassing people because of their beliefs will get you in trouble. Don’t be an asswipe.

  24. 24
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    It would appear the editor of this fish-wrap has upped both the stupid and harassment levels to 11. I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. Seconding (or fifth-ing or whatever) the Ken White/Popehat idea.

  25. 25
    Tethys

    captainahags

    claims against someone reporting you to the police are difficult to sue over.

    A lawsuit is unnecessary. All PZ has to do is file a complaint about false reporting with the police, and file for a restraining order. That way the next time Geiger tries to harass PZ or anyone else, there is an unflattering public record that the police will see when they decide if his claims are credible enough to warrant investigation.

  26. 26
    kreativekaos

    Sounds like grounds for a harassment lawsuit, yes?

  27. 27
    RobertL

    Lawyer up and teach them a lesson about privilege. They’re used to having it because they are white middle-class students. Now they are up against a white middle-class University Professor. You can use that to your advantage.

  28. 28
    kreativekaos

    Sounds like the time for students to produce a focused response by publishing a regular paper to review and respond to every bullshit article in the ignorant and demeaning rag, every time it’s printed.

  29. 29
    anteprepro

    I don’t even understand how the police are falling for this. The gibbering right-wingers got nothing but trollish logic that they only want taken seriously when it is convenient to them. The actual “crimes” are stolen newsrags and someone writing on other copies of said newsrags. Do they really think their number one suspect is the fucking college professor that the authors don’t like? I mean, REALLY?

  30. 30
    Rawnaeris, Lulu Cthulhu

    I’m seconding or thirding the PopeHat Signal.

    This situation has passed from the ridiculous into the extremely concerning.

  31. 31
    miles

    OTOH after all the concerns about campus security selectively paying attention to criminal complaints (re sexual assault on campuses) this last week… good to see they are starting to try and take every complaint seriously? I hope? Fingers crossed?

  32. 32
    Alverant

    I’m almost willing to bet money it was one of their own who stole the papers and/or “vandalized” them so they could pretend to be the victims. It’s happened before.

  33. 33
    cartomancer

    You forgot the Marvel Comics character Northstar!

    Who just happens to be a gay Canadian in a mixed-race same-sex marriage. Which I’m sure goes down splendidly among our friends in the right-wing ignoramus brigade…

  34. 34
    jaytheostrich

    Well, at least you can be glad they haven’t ‘SWATted’ you yet. I’d watch out for armed men in black at your door one of these days.. just do exactly what they say if they do show up.

  35. 35
    swervey

    I was trying to figure it out and you gave the answer.

  36. 36
    Travis

    I really do not know how it ever got this far. As was mentioned above, I thought their accusations were a complete joke on their part, I did not think they really meant it, but hey, maybe they do. Either way, their actions are causing real issues now. I think it is time to look into pushing back against this a little bit.

  37. 37
    Chaos Engineer

    I don’t even understand how the police are falling for this.

    My guess is that they’ve been on the phone with the police twice a day asking if there’s been a break in the case yet. And the police figure they’ll have fewer headaches if they do some token investigation.

    I mean, let’s take a step back and look at this: These guys worked really, really hard putting their newspaper together, and they presumably sold some ad space. And apparently the whole print run was stolen, and not only was their hard work wasted, but now they have to try to figure out if the advertisers are going to find out about it and expect to be compensated with a free ad in the next edition.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the most horrible act of repression that any of them have had to face in the entire 18-to-21 years of their lives.

    Do they really think their number one suspect is the fucking college professor that the authors don’t like?

    Not only don’t they like him, but he’s on record as saying that their paper was “trash” that should be “disposed of”. I doubt that any of them can even conceive of a scenario where a jury would refuse to convict based on all that evidence.

  38. 38
    Holms

    If they are actually taking this into official territory, consider looking into the possibility of frivolous lawsuit charges. Accusing you of theft because of ‘chloroform and other sciency smells’ is beyond trivial.

  39. 39
    jessie

    What the Hell? This is so absurd for several reasons:

    - They have no proof that PZ took the papers, beyond a ‘chloroform’ smell and a blog post where he criticizes the paper.

    - They left free papers for people to take. On they copy they have on their website, there’s no fine print I can see that says only the first copy is free. Can they really go after someone for taking free items?

    Couldn’t the paper itself be deemed libelous? It accuses a bunch of professors of being racist without any real evidence. At least no one is going to take this paper seriously. It’s truly awful.

  40. 40
    raven

    It’s gone well past ridiculous. Singling me out as a scapegoat (I am not alone in my contempt for their awful paper), making baseless criminal accusations, wasting the time of the university police and lawyers…this is now in the territory of harassment.

    Making false accusations can also be a criminal offense, misdemeanor or felony depending on the details.

    this is now in the territory of harassment.

    Right about now, I’d be thinking real seriously about getting a restraining order. Hmmm, well right about now, I’d be filing a restraining order. In my jurisdiction you can have one for the asking. The judge makes it mutual and binding on both parties.

    It doesn’t bother the victim but slows the perpetrator down.

  41. 41
    raven

    this is now in the territory of harassment.

    Right about now, I’d be thinking real seriously about getting a restraining order. Hmmm, well right about now, I’d be filing a restraining order. In my jurisdiction you can have one for the asking. The judge makes it mutual and binding on both parties.

    It doesn’t bother the victim but slows the perpetrator down.

    Actually, I would be getting a restraining order. I’ve been through this before a few times and know what it takes where I live. Not much. I’d also be communicating up the university chain of command in writing and in person about this harassment. They need to know.

    PZ Myers has a lot of hard copy and paper trails already. Most of the time, people going into court for restraining orders don’t have that. All they have are claims and accusations (and sometimes medical reports from the ER and bruises).

    This is on the west coast. I have no idea what it is like or the procedures in Minnesota.

  42. 42
    Nemo

    You should own the North Star before this is over. Please, terminate the career of this would-be James O’Keefe while it’s still in the cradle.

  43. 43
    rq

    There’s a Hollywood script somewhere underneath all that.

  44. 44
    chigau (違う)

    Campus police are Real police??
    creepy

  45. 45
    natashatasha

    Isn’t this harassment, false reporting and (if they publish their accusations) defamation of character?

  46. 46
    grumpyoldfart

    Sounds like a couple of the Uni police might be leaning a little to the right.

  47. 47
    Moggie

    carlie:

    I’m starting to wonder if this is performance art, and they’re doing it to make you mad so they can claim that you can’t be for free speech if you don’t like them falsely accusing you of crimes.

    Oh, cops just love people using them for performance art! I can’t see any possible problem with this!

  48. 48
    toddsweeney

    Maybe as a gesture of solidarity, students could go around smelling of chloroform and sciencey things.

    Wait, what does chloroform smell like? Wait…how does this _editor_ know what it smells like? Is there a story there we should be telling?

    (Looking around — drat — all I can go around smelling of is WD-40 and Caig Deoxit. Or smoke in a can, but that stuff mostly smells like farts….)

  49. 49
    Al Dente

    chigau @44

    Campus police are Real police?

    Remember this guy? He was a campus police lieutenant.

  50. 50
    DanDare

    Ok, come clean. Why did you do it? Why!? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy????!!!!!!!!!!!

    ….oh…wait….

  51. 51
    Nick Gotts

    PZ, I’m really sorry you’re being harassed in this way, but I’m not going to give you any advice about how to handle it, what with not being a lawyer, not knowing the full facts, and having far less experience than you in dealing with harassment.

    Mr Geiger clearly has some mental health issues – Tethys

    Cut the online diagnosis, please.

  52. 52
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Wow, that’s, well, you know.
    I agree with the others, it’s probably time you contacted a lawyer (if you haven’t already done)

  53. 53
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Tethys #12

    Mr Geiger clearly has some mental health issues…

    What? That’s not clear at all. It’s clear that he’s a malicious arsehole who is out to get PZ, but I see no reason to assume he’s mentally ill what so ever. I don’t even understand how anyone could.

  54. 54
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    It’s already well in the realms of harrassment. The problem of course is proving that Geiger is deliberately and maliciously making up false accusations. It’s entirely possible that the various attacks really did happen and that he really believes PZ to be behind them. Such a belief would be clearly irrational, but that’s rather beside the point.

    @toddsweeney #48

    Wait, what does chloroform smell like? Wait…how does this _editor_ know what it smells like? Is there a story there we should be telling?

    For fuck sake. Can we stop insinuating that everyone we disagree with is a rapist? Haven’t we gone over this before?

  55. 55
    ifcunning

    Shermer must love this bullshit

  56. 56
    LykeX

    We’ve gone over it several times, over the course of two (now three) threads. Of course, we’ve also repeatedly gone over why it’s not a good idea to ascribe mental health issues to people who are obviously just jerks. Yet, it keeps happening.

  57. 57
    anuran

    They’ve already started a paper trail against you. There was a cease-and-desist. There was a FOIA. Now there’s a police report. Until you put a stop to this they’ll keep adding to the mess. A few more police contacts and legal boilerplate and complaints and help from the Right Wing media and they’ll have created a pattern of bad behavior on your part. Not a real one, but enough of a stink to cause you expensive legal trouble. I’m guessing their end-game involves breaking your tenure. They probably can’t, but they’ll sure enough try.

    You need to take this seriously and use a big enough hammer to stop it before it gathers momentum.

  58. 58
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    If you were read your rights, can we presume that you were arrested? But then released, without posting bail? And if you recorded a statement without lawyering up, you are not thinking straight. Take care of yourself. It takes one cop with an ax to grind.

  59. 59
    nomadiq

    anuran @ 57 summed it up well. It’s fairly clear what they are trying to do. They are *creating* facts to paint PZ in a negative light. You North Star guys are reading these comments aren’t you? – you know I’m right – wipe that fucking smirk off your face. This is all designed to influence any legal proceedings that PZ may need to face with the state, with the North Star, or with his own employer.

    I don’t like to throw around generalizations like “the right wing”, but this is so fucken typical “right wing” to do this. Lack of evidence? Create some evidence! Facts not on your side? Create some off-topic, but close enough to topic, facts of your own to muddy the waters! Yes, “the left” can do this too, especially regarding vaccines and GMO, but “the right” really win the prize for this behavior. Its the lowest of the low. It’s entrapment because no matter what you do, you look like you have something to hide. It’s one step up from shouting “fire!” in a theatre after strategically placing a machine gun with its trigger connected to a motion detector at the exit. You chose to listen to the “fire!” call, you chose to take the exit that wasn’t blocked with easily removed trash cans. Clearly you wanted and planned to get shot in the face all along.

    If PZ’s presence can be recognized by the smell of chloroform and other ‘sciency things’, then I’m pretty sure I could detect the presence of The North Star boys too. Its that weird combination of the smell of a shit-eating grin along with the stench of being covered in your own semen after thinking about your enemies too much.

  60. 60
    Louis

    This is a shitty state of affairs PZ, so I’ll raise a clenched tentacle of solidarity and sympathy. From all that’s been said I’m jumping heavily on the “get a lawyer, STAT!” bandwagon, with the usual caveat that I know nothing about these situations. I’d have scurried for a lawyer by now for that reason alone though.

    Louis

    P.S. Geiger must be a mad rapist because blah blah blah….NO! Please stop these things. It’s enough that he’s clearly an unpleasant muppet.

  61. 61
    b. - Order of Lagomorpha

    @ Antiochus Epiphanes Mandatorily, Miranda rights are read if you are under arrest or if you’re going to be asked questions when the ever-popular reasonable person would or could believe that they couldn’t just get up and leave. However, many officers will read them prior to someone giving a fully cooperative, non-custodial statement just in case something criminal pops up during the statement. For example, Whoever is asked to come in and give a statement reference an accident he witnessed. During his statement, Whoever mentions the dead body in the trunk of his own car at the time of the incident. If the Miranda warning hadn’t been read beforehand, the statement has to be stopped and his Miranda rights read. If it’s done at the get-go, then you can just continue on with the narrative, although an officer may decide to repeat the Miranda rights at that point.

    tl;dr No, you don’t have to be under arrest or subject to a custodial interrogation to have your Miranda rights read to you.
    Just the facts, ma’am: I am neither a lawyer nor an officer of the law. I am a former police dispatcher of 13 years experience who had to know this stuff to answer the public’s questions.

  62. 62
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    b. -Order of Lagomorpha: Thanks for the clarification. That makes complete sense.

  63. 63
    gussnarp

    I don’t understand why the police don’t say, “I’m sorry, I don’t see any reason at all to believe that this individual stole your papers, let alone prove it. We have more important things to do with our time than call in a professor to give a statement and a handwriting sample about your self published free paper being taken for free. We’re not even sure a crime has been committed, by anyone.”

    Seriously.

    I guess that comes of living in a small town. In the last few months my wife’s car was broken into and her belongings stolen, a friend’s studio was burglarized, and someone stole my credit card number and used it to ship stolen and forged checks, leaving at least some paper trail. Law enforcement took my wife’s statement and told her nothing would come of it and there would be no effort to find the thief. My friend had to go to the landlord to get the security camera footage herself and provide it to the police before any action was taken, and no one at all cares about my credit card fraud or even the charity whose checks were stolen and forged.

    If the money isn’t big and no one is dead or seriously injured, most law enforcement doesn’t seem to care enough to even do an investigation. They must be bored up there.

  64. 64
    gussnarp

    As others have indicated, this campaign by the hate rag “publisher” borders on criminal. It seems to me you need professional legal advice not only to protect yourself from a spurious prosecution, but to determine whether there is legal action that ought to be taken against your harasser.

  65. 65
    mattand

    A little late to this party, but one thing I’m not clear on: this is a student paper, run by students, correct? If that’s the case, isn’t there some sort of ethical guidelines for students the university enforces?

    I would imagine harassing a tenured professor with false charges would fall under those guidelines.

    Echoing everyone else, in that you need a lawyer ASAP. The fact that these guys are getting the police to do their dirty work is alarming, to put it mildly.

  66. 66
    Blondin

    Rats. For a second there I thought I might finally learn the question to which the answer is “Gump Worsely”.

  67. 67
    moarscienceplz

    I don’t know what the hell Geiger’s problem is, but WTF is wrong with UMM’s campus police? A handful of pimply-faced students make absolutely absurd accusations without a shred of actual evidence against a professor with decades of service to the university, and they haul PZ in and demand a handwriting sample? Did Barney Fife move from Mayberry to Morris?

  68. 68
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @moarscienceplz

    In fairness, it’s the cops’ job to gather the evidence, they just need to be presented with a reasonable suspicion in order to do so. How “He wrote nasty things about my paper!” counts as reasonable suspicion I’ll never know, but clearly someone decided it was enough to at least be seen to be doing something.

  69. 69
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Of course, we’ve also repeatedly gone over why it’s not a good idea to ascribe mental health issues to people who are obviously just jerks. Yet, it keeps happening.

    You can certainly argue that people shouldn’t make internet diagnoses, but accusations which match the dictionary and common usage definitions of “paranoid” and “delusional” are not accurately characterized as “obviously just being a jerk.”

  70. 70
    LykeX

    Then pick whatever other thing you want to call them, just don’t conflate it with mental illness. My point is that people who are simply assholes are routinely described as having mental problems and this is not helpful, both because it tars people with mental problems and because it to some extent provides cover for the assholes.

    If you want to insist that Geiger is technically not being a jerk, but rather is being irrational, letting his biases guide him into untenable conclusions, and then irresponsibly acting on those conclusions without proper regard for fact checking; fine. That wasn’t really my point, though.

  71. 71
    jnorris

    I second the seriousness of Mr Geiger’s actions. But there is another consideration. Mr Geiger may have opened a can of worms he can’t close. The FOIA request made the shit real and brought in the police. I wonder if there is someone at UMM who can consul Mr Geiger and suggest a way for him to drop everything without his getting his ass handed to him with legal counteractions by PZ and UMM.

    Consulting your own lawyer is good advice. You cannot count on the university providing you with any legal help. UMM will only look out for itself. The sooner UMM starts cranking up its legal machine, perhaps the sooner Mr Geiger will come to his senses and retire. Or not.

    I do hope you asked all the police officers at the station if they thought you smelled of chloroform and other ‘sciency things’. Having that on record would be nice. Also nice would be having Mr Geiger on record being able to detect the smell of chloroform in a outdoor venue, in the middle of the night, in the cold, perhaps hours after the chloroform was present.

  72. 72
    Inaji

    jnorris:

    Also nice would be having Mr Geiger on record being able to detect the smell of chloroform in a outdoor venue, in the middle of the night, in the cold, perhaps hours after the chloroform was present.

    I have a suspicion that asking Mr. Geiger to close his eyes, then placing a bottle of fresh ink under his nose would result in his yelling “chloroform!”

  73. 73
    Richard Smith

    Officer gives Mr. Geiger a chloroform-soaked rag. “Sir, can you describe what you smell? Sir? Uh… Sir?”

  74. 74
    David Marjanović

    Officer gives Mr. Geiger a chloroform-soaked rag. “Sir, can you describe what you smell? Sir? Uh… Sir?”

    Doesn’t work like that. I don’t remember what it smells like, but I’ve cooked tea with the stuff (to make caffeine crystals*). He’d turn away in disgust, not faint, unless the rag is pressed in his face for minutes.

    * And determine their melting point. Well. The first time they just sublimated; I watched under the heated microscope as they simply disappeared. The second time, after most had sublimated, the rest melted into a boiling liquid. Unsurprisingly, the temperature I got was a bit off.

  75. 75
    dorcheat

    Dr. Myers,

    I absolutely and vehemently must echo what the other posters state. It is time to seek legal advice! Also if the UMM police, or Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, or even Morris Police Department want to conduct further interrogations, then you really need to do so in the presence of an attorney or not answer questions if your attorney is not present.

    Being a fellow Minnesotan (from Detroit Lakes: now living in Louisiana), maybe it could be better to consult an attorney in the next town such as Alexandria or Fergus Falls, or perhaps even Glenwood, Elbow Lake, or Ortonville.

    It is time to halt this immediately. These people are attempting to pin criminal charges on you.

  76. 76
    shadow

    Definitely get legal advice.

    Geiger et al could be setting PZ up so that, when he countersues/complains, they can claim their martyrdom.

  77. 77
    LykeX

    Fine. Sue their asses and let them claim martyrdom all the way to bankruptcy court.

  78. 78
    teejaykay

    I’m more amused by their product than their idiocy. One of the Geigers being interviewed in his own magazine with captions like “in his spare time [he] hangs out with senators” (not the direct quote) — to be quite honest, the PDF I read off their blog seemed pretty much masturbatory. Same thing with the Facebook page. I did laugh a few times at least. It all read to me like accusations and smugness over campus journalism.

  79. 79
    Sastra

    I have no idea if it’s time or past time to get legal advice. The only advice I’ll offer is a timid suggestion to perhaps get together with Geiger and the other Northstar students and have a quiet, civil discussion (recorded) in which you reassure them that no, you did not and would not steal their papers and use the opportunity to try to figure out if they really think you did … or no they don’t, but will drop hints of what they’re up to.

    Of course, most of the commenters are likely to say this is a horrible idea and why — so don’t listen to me.

  80. 80
    gmacs

    I just learned something funny. If you follow the link to their constitution from their Student Activities page, you’ll see that the heading says “The Counterweight“. The whole constitution, in fact, refers to The Counterweight and nowhere mentions the North Star.

    Interesting thing to note is the CW was a conservative newspaper at UMM from about 2005 to 2010. One of their founders, who was no longer associated, was arrested with James O’Keefe. No one with the paper at the time was involved in any wrongdoing, but they scrambled to needlessly cover their asses without consulting each other, ultimately leading to their implosion and the transferring out of most of their members.

    You’d think that if you were aware of your intellectual predecessor, you would learn something from how they met their end. On the other hand, if they just copy+pasted the entire constitution, I’m not sure how much they really cared to learn about what happened.

  81. 81
    toddsweeney

    Sorry, you are right…not a joke, and I shouldn’t have said it. Poor taste and distracting.

  82. 82
    timgueguen

    Blondin@66, the question you’re looking for is “Who was the second album by Canadian rock group Sons of Freedom named after?”

  83. 83
    Dr. Pablito

    PZ, you should probably stop blogging about this expanding mess. You’re building their case for them. Sure, they’re being putzes, but so far, they aren’t harassing you in a legal sense. An attorney would give you exactly the same advice — clam up. You’re following their desired script. Here’s an interesting read:

    http://www.splc.org/knowyourrights/theftchecklist.asp

  84. 84
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    PZ, you should probably stop blogging about this expanding mess.

    Please explain how documenting their behavior at this blog is “following their desired script”, when in fact their desired script is to get PZ to shut the fuck up about their miserable rag.

  85. 85
    ChasCPeterson

    n fact their desired script is to get PZ to shut the fuck up about their miserable rag.

    How could you possibly claim to know that? What’s your EVIDENCE? It seems far more likely to me that they are after publicity. But that’s just my OPINION.

  86. 86
    anuran

    Sastra writes:

    I have no idea if it’s time or past time to get legal advice. The only advice I’ll offer is a timid suggestion to perhaps get together with Geiger and the other Northstar students and have a quiet, civil discussion (recorded) in which you reassure them that no, you did not and would not steal their papers and use the opportunity to try to figure out if they really think you did … or no they don’t, but will drop hints of what they’re up to.

    Of course, most of the commenters are likely to say this is a horrible idea and why — so don’t listen to me.

    That would be reasonable advice if these were reasonable people.
    They aren’t, so it isn’t.
    These are attack dogs. Their goal is to hurt, preferably ruin, PZ. There isn’t anything he could say to them which would do him any good. And every word out of his mouth is potential ammunition for them.

    I skipped past their association with the notorious James O’Keefe on first reading. It puts a nice frame around the ugly picture. This is a man whose claim to fame is entrapment and character assassination.

  87. 87
    ChasCPeterson

    Their goal is to hurt, preferably ruin, PZ.

    unless, you know, it isn’t.

  88. 88
    ChasCPeterson

    here, I’ll give what I think is an illustrative example:
    The Insane Clown Posse is suing the FBI for labelling juggalos a “gang”. Is their goal to “hurt, preferably ruin” the FBI? Of course not. It’s a gesture of solidarity to their fans and a publicity stunt. Looks to me like the same thing here.

  89. 89
    PZ Myers

    Read their web pages and their awful little newspaper: one thing you’ll discover is that they have a tremendous inferiority complex, constantly referring to their status in the Morris community, bragging about how wonderful they are, constantly whining about how they don’t get the appreciation they deserve. They are desperate for attention — and as mentioned above, they are the progeny of the Counterweight and the James O’Keefe school of contriving controversy. That’s what they want — not me, just a cross to hang upon as a high place from which to complain about the injustice done to stupid conservatives.

    I’m really not worried. And don’t worry about our local policeman: he was just doing his job, following the rules, and he seemed a little embarrassed about having to lead me through the nonsense.

  90. 90
    Terska

    It concerns me that they read you your rights. This could they are either doing you a favor and hope you call a lawyer right away and then do the right thing and not talk to them or they are seriously considering arresting you and filing charges. If you know the police officer well then maybe it will be okay.

    PZ can’t file a counter suit. He isn’t being sued. He is being investigated for a crime. The RWNJ’s are accusing him of a crime and the police heard enough or have enough evidence to consider him a suspect. I would take this pretty seriously and talk to a criminal defense attorney. Never trust the police to be nice to you in a criminal investigation. Their job is to convict people.

  91. 91
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Never trust the police to be nice to you in a criminal investigation. Their job is to convict people.

    This was campus police, and I suspect they were under orders to take the complaints seriously enough, to leave a paper trail showing all supplied leads evaporated as serious suspects. The the NS fuckwits can show their bosses they complained, but it went nowhere. If they go further, they, and their bosses, could be brought up for slander. They need to stay on the right side of that line, but the note under PZ’s door is damning for them.

  92. 92
    anuran

    PZ, maybe it’s professional bias. The unofficial motto of my field (infosec) is “Are you paranoid enough?” You’re the one there with access to unfiltered information and local culture, but be careful. Nobody thought ACORN would be brought down by an obviously-fake video. And these pathetic twits may not be acting entirely independently. At the very least I’m sure they’re getting encouragement and advice from Very Bad People.

  93. 93
    anuran

    Terska writes:

    The RWNJ’s are accusing him of a crime and the police heard enough or have enough evidence to consider him a suspect. I would take this pretty seriously and talk to a criminal defense attorney. Never trust the police to be nice to you in a criminal investigation. Their job is to convict people.

    Well, not actually to convict people. That’s the DA’s job. But you’re right for all practical purposes.

  94. 94
    David C Brayton

    Let me amplify Terska. The police are not your friends. It is an adversarial system. You have the right to remain silent and you should exercise that right. Rarely can you say anything that will help you and it is really easy to say something that will hurt you. Let the police investigate the matter without your help.

    The police are incentivized to make arrests and prosecutors like convictions. They are not incentivized, at all, to find people innocent. You do not want to find out if the prosectors and police think they are doing God’s work in pursuing an atheist.

    The folks at The North Star may be silly twerps. But the police may have an entirely different agenda.

    Let them do all the work.

  95. 95
    anuran

    What David Brayton said. A thousand times.

  96. 96
    Gar Lipow

    I really, really want to second those who say lawyer up. The cops are NOT your friend. For all you know some of them could be right wing nuts. Police tea party types are not exactly unknown. But that aside, once you have been read your rights you should never ever answer police question, especially not without a lawyer present. If you don’t believe your commenters, then talk to an experienced criminal attorney and ask them if talking to the cops after they have read you your rights without a lawyer present is a good idea. Campus cops are not that different from other cops. Please, please at least ask an attorney whether you should get an attorney. Don’t decide on your own. That is one of the ways innocent people end up in prison.

  97. 97
    raven

    The only advice I’ll offer is a timid suggestion to perhaps get together with Geiger and the other Northstar students and have a quiet, civil discussion (recorded) in which you reassure them that no, you did not and would not steal their papers and use the opportunity to try to figure out if they really think you did … or no they don’t, but will drop hints of what they’re up to.

    Of course, most of the commenters are likely to say this is a horrible idea and why — so don’t listen to me.

    Well it is a horrible idea. If you ever find yourself in the same situation, don’t follow your own advice.

    It assumes these are reasonaable, benign, honest people. We already know they aren’t.

    I’ve had to deal with similar. The only thing to do is document what you can, contact the police and FBI, and let the law run its course. It is them that have something to worry about, not PZ Myers.

  98. 98
    gmacs

    It appears, from their Facebook page, that these folks are still in contact with Basel.

    Don’t use the landline, PZ.

  99. 99
    ck

    ChasCPeterson wrote:

    How could you possibly claim to know that? What’s your EVIDENCE? It seems far more likely to me that they are after publicity. But that’s just my OPINION.

    To be fair, Nerd is probably right, even if the certainty was overstated. Intimidation of PZ (and anyone else who would dare criticize them) is likely one of their many goals in doing this. It’s not like conservatives attempting to browbeat public employees into silence is particularly unheard of. Publicity and self-aggrandizement is likely another significant goal, and is totally compatible with any intimidation attempts.

  100. 100
    cubist

    It might be interesting to investigate whether or not any of the NS personnel have an established track record of pulling the sort of crap they’re now doing to PZ…

  101. 101
    =8)-DX

    @Nerd #84

    when in fact their desired script is to get PZ to shut the fuck up about their miserable rag.

    @ck #99

    Publicity and self-aggrandizement is likely another significant goal, and is totally compatible with any intimidation attempts.

    Yeah, I think its mixed up – but basically the whole idea is “PZ shouldn’t be able to say nasty things about us! And I’ll throw a Tiny Temper Tantrum™ if he doesn’t stop!”. It’s childish behaviour and children have no problem making a fuss when frustrating contradicting emotions swell up inside them.

    I guess it’s also not that unusual for adults either to want everyone to agree with them or for those who disagree to be “defeated”. But the difference with an adult is that one doesn’t stoop to absurd baseless accusations, intimidation and lies. And part of being an adult is having a more realistic view of one’s own importance.

  102. 102
    anuran

    @101 =8)-DX wrote:

    I guess it’s also not that unusual for adults either to want everyone to agree with them or for those who disagree to be “defeated”. But the difference with an adult is that one doesn’t stoop to absurd baseless accusations, intimidation and lies. And part of being an adult is having a more realistic view of one’s own importance.

    You don’t follow Right Wing politics much, do you? ACORN? Any Conservative on President Obama or the Clintons? Kleiner Perkins? The AFA, FRC, FOTF, NRA, FOX “News”, Gohmert, Gingrich, Christie, Rand Paul or the Family?

    The Morris Morons are following the example of their elders.

  103. 103
    David Marjanović

    From my German-speaking perspective, I can’t help feeling like this over the fact that people abbreviate the Northstar as NS.

  104. 104
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    North STAR

    What is it with kooks and stars? Morning STAR

    Or am I reading too much into stars? Has PZ done a write-up on these guys? Searl effects: magnets !!! quantum!!! … and such.

  105. 105
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @theophontes

    US conservatives do seem to use the star a lot in their iconography… I assume it’s related to the stars on the US flag, and to the Texan use of the “lone star” as a symbol of individualism and independance; i.e. state-level nationalism.

  106. 106
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    105
    Thumper: Token Breeder

    @theophontes

    US conservatives do seem to use the star a lot in their iconography… I assume it’s related to the stars on the US flag, and to the Texan use of the “lone star” as a symbol of individualism and independance; i.e. state-level nationalism.

    There’s also the North Star in the Nativity story. When I heard the paper’s name, that’s the first thing that popped in my head. The paper guiding people to The Truth and Christ and all that shit. I wouldn’t put it past them.

  107. 107
    grumpypathdoc

    Toddsweeney@48

  108. 108
    grumpypathdoc

    Woops!

    Toddsweeney@48.

    If you have a bottle of Liquid Paper around handy take off the top and take a whiff (just a small one).

    That’s chloroform you smell, assuming the Liquid Paper is still liquid.

  109. 109
    Ronald Couch

    As a lawyer who doesn’t practice in Minnesota, you really do need to consult with an attorney (or maybe more than one) who is (are?) knowledgeable in the areas of criminal law and involving your professional position.

    Things have clearly gone on a little too far to just blow them off.

  110. 110
    eleutheria

    (Coming in completely ignorant to the situation, bear with me. However:)

    I don’t understand why PZ should cooperate _in any way_ with the “investigation.”

    He should keep it short and sweet: I do not have any thing to say to you; please consult my lawyer. I do not consent to a handwriting sample.

    I don’t even vaguely comprehend how writing “str” on a pamphlet they’re handing out free to the public would constitute “vandalism.”

    I would think it’s beneath a sitting professor to even answer these bizarre charges. Scribbling on a pamphlet? “Call my lawyer, call my union representative (if such a thing exists at that univ), but don’t bother me with this garbage; I got work to do.”

  111. 111
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    I’ve been desperately trying to compose a hockey joke revolving around right wingers, the Minnesota North Stars, and relocation to Dallas, but it just won’t cohere.

  112. 112
    Tethys

    What is it with kooks and stars? theophontes

    One of the nicknames of Minnesota is the “North Star State”, which comes from our state motto.

    L’Étoile du Nord (French: The Star of the North)

  113. 113
    David Marjanović

    There’s also the North Star in the Nativity story.

    …Where did you get that from? There’s no identified star in either Matthew’s or Luke’s nativity story.

  114. 114
    Owlmirror

    There’s also the North Star in the Nativity story. When I heard the paper’s name, that’s the first thing that popped in my head.

    You’re misremembering. There is no North Star specifically mentioned in the Nativity story. There’s a star (see Matthew 2), but it cannot have been the North Star, since the “wise men from the east” said that “it rose”, and the North Star does not rise. Also, the star was putatively ahead of them as they went south, from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

  115. 115
    ChasCPeterson

    There’s also the North Star in the Nativity story.

    you can’t be sirius.

  116. 116
    Owlmirror

    and the North Star does not rise.

    To be more pedantically precise, the axis of Earth’s rotation doesn’t point exactly at Polaris, but it’s currently about a degree away. Due to precession, it was slightly further away at the time the nativity story was being written.

    Either way, it makes a very small circle around the axis of rotation, and actually, none of the stars to the extreme north can really be said to “rise”, since they all appear to rotate in circles around the axis without going below the horizon.

  117. 117
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    I was wrong, I’m sorry. Thanks for the correction.

    Just retelling what I remember from Church and religious community when I was in one. Doing a quick Google search shows others referring to it as the North Star and saying the wise men used the Star of Bethlehem as their “North Star”. There’s also several pages of North Star churches, some clearly using the Star of Bethlehem icon, others just a guiding star. But I can’t tell if the former are confusing the two, the about me (or similar) pages don’t detail why/how the name was picked.

    *shrug*

    It’s not surprising, it’s not like they whip out a map and an astrologer during sermons.

  118. 118
    Kevin Kehres

    Christ on a Cracker, PZ — have you never heard of the “good cop” routine? 90% of confessions are obtained by cops who are being friendly and are “embarrassed” to even be investigating whatever.

    Watch some “Law and Order” reruns on your day off, OK?

    NO MORE STATEMENTS TO THE POLICE WITHOUT A LAWYER!

  119. 119
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    That’s chloroform you smell, assuming the Liquid Paper is still liquid.

    According to Wiki,

    the organic solvent 1,1,1-trichloroethane was used as a thinner in the product.

    , but they have since switched to a naphtha (aromatic solvent) based formulation. A lot of the halogenated solvents smell similar. Saying it is one without MS evidence is ludicrous at best….

  120. 120
    chigau (違う)

    Y’all know that there is a new thread for this?

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