Second part of a close reading of Record coverage by Lauren Bender about the Paresky Defacer. Start with Part I here.

Dave Boyer, director of Security, said that the College is working in tandem with WPD on the investigation of the incident. Because the investigation is ongoing, he could not reveal any details about how it is progressing. However, Boyer did say that the College has not yet determined how to classify the crime.

“Generally, an incident has to be thoroughly investigated before a determination can be made on how it’s classified as a crime,” Boyer said.

1) As discussed yesterday, if the College/WPD/FBI have not yet determined whether or not this is a “hate crime,” then the Record should not use this terminology in its article titles.

2) Boyer is a smart guy who has been around the block more than once with these sorts of incidents. He is well aware that many (25%? 50%? 75%?) of the reported hate crimes at elite schools are either hoaxes or have nothing to do with racial/religious animus per se. These quotes sure make it seem like Boyer/Williams are hedging their bets.

3) “Thoroughly investigated?” It has been a week! How much more investigation is there left to do? Paresky is open to the public, so there are not a bunch of electronic records to go through. There is also no video surveillance. (As always, campus readers are encouraged to correct these claims.) What, exactly, is Security investigating today. Did the Record ask?

4) Sure would be nice if the Record had some anonymous sources in security. I bet than rank-and-file security offices take a fairly dim view of these moral panics. If you are an aspiring first year reporter, go say Hello to the officers you see at the next campus party.

My guess: Boyer/Williams has determined that there is no there there. Either the vandalism was a hoax or it was a once-off driven by other factors. They don’t think that anyone is in danger or that this is going to happen again. But they can’t say that! So, they will string out the “investigation” until December and then drop the whole thing.

“We felt concerned about one another, more than for ourselves,” Firas Shannib ’15, a member of the Muslim Ephs, said. “I don’t think anyone felt overly fearful. It felt like a moment of strong community. People weren’t really afraid or angry … It was lovely to see everyone come together and make a show of support.”

Good stuff. Kudos to Shannib and the other Muslim Ephs for such a level-headed response.

Cesar Roman ’15, president of the Interfaith Group, said he was concerned by the student body’s seemingly ambivalent response.

“We had a meeting on the subject of how we respond to violence,” Ronan said. “As the Interfaith Group, it was important to acknowledge violence and how it doesn’t have a place here … it’s a difficult question, a difficult conversation, and people don’t necessarily want to have those conversations.”

Allow me to explain to Roman why many of his fellow students are “ambivalent.”

First, there is a good chance that the entire thing is a hoax. Until we know more, it is hard to get worked up.

Second, even if it is not a hoax, it does not seem to be a big deal. Of all the tragedies in Williamstown, much less in the wider world, a defaced poster of an alumnus, seems relatively unimportant. No worries if you want to get all worked up about it. Tastes differ! But you have no business telling me what I should be spending my time on.

Third, it is hard to take Roman et al serious when they insist on using words like “violence” for an act which was non-violent.

Fourth, I think that there are lots of “difficult conversation[s]” that we could be having at Williams, starting with affirmative action. But those probably aren’t the conversations you want to have.

According to College Council (CC) co-president Erica Moszkowski ’15, CC will hold a “Community Matters” discussion this evening on the hate crime.

Were any readers at this meeting? What happened? Discussion is good and a smart CC co-president would create an atmosphere in which students from a variety of viewpoints, including ambivalence, would feel welcome. Alas . . .

“This is about basic humanity,” Moszkowski said. “The whole idea of the ‘I am Williams’ campaign is that we are all unique and incredibly complex and fascinating individuals and we all belong here, and we can all claim Williams. This was a direct denial of that, and it should matter to every single person. So [CC] represents the entire student body and should do something active.”

“Basic humanity?” Uhhh. Really? Again, if a studio art student created a similar poster of, say, an alumnus who was the CEO of a coal mining company, and defaced it in the same way, thereby expressing her concerns about global warming, would Moszkowski be using terms like “basic humanity” and “direct denial?” I doubt it, but corrections welcome.

“[S]hould matter” and “should do something active” is perfect expression of the busy-body student goverment weenie who wants to order her fellow students around. Maybe Moszkowski, instead of spouting off to the Record about what her peers “should” do, could try talking to some students who disagree with her. She might learn something, mainly that many (most?) students find this PC scaremongering boring.

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