Updated–Hoax by Princeton University Student

A few days ago, I read in the Daily Princetonian that a group of students associated with the conservative Anscombe Society and a faculty member were sent threatening emails. A subsequent story reported that one of the threatened students was viciously attacked:

Details of the incident have not been confirmed by Princeton Township Police or the University Medical Center at Princeton, but Nava said in an interview Friday evening that he was walking from a borrowed car to the house of a boy he is mentoring when he was stopped by a man dressed in black and wearing a ski cap. According to Nava, the man said that someone was hurt and asked for his help. A second assailant, who was waiting around the corner, grabbed Nava from behind. Together, the two men checked him against a wall and repeatedly hit his head against the bricks.

According to the story here, however, the whole thing was faked by the alleged victim, including the initial threatening emails. And, it seems, the student might have done something like this before while a high school student at Groton. However you slice it, something very, very unfortunate has happened.

UPDATE: A commenter asks why I’ve posted about this:

Short answer: Information distribution.

Longer answer: As the alleged threatening events were happening, a number of bloggers complained that the university would have handled this differently if it consisted of offensive speech directed at liberal students rather than conservatives. In fact, part of the reason the university’s reaction may have seemed muted was that it was still confirming the truth of the underlying events. So, this is likely a case where (1) perceived academic bias wasn’t and (2) university crisis management seems to have done a good job in a post-Duke Lacrosse world.

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5 Responses

  1. wondering says:

    What point was supposed to be conveyed by this post?

  2. continue to wonder says:

    The fact that the threatening emails turned out to be sent by a hoaxer surely does not mean that (1) the university reacted appropriately; and (2) the university would not have reacted more promptly and aggressively if it were a liberal group (especially women or minority group) who reported exactly the same threats.

    All I see in this post is “conservatives lie too.” Hm, yes. They are human too, you know. What I don’t see in this post is any evidence that there was in fact no anti-conservative (or pro-conservative) bias in the university’s response.

  3. Adam Kolber says:


    My claim is as follows: (1) A muted university reaction could be interpreted as a failure to react appropriately to a situation. (2) There is an alternative explanation for the seemingly muted reaction. (3) The alternative explanation seems to be a reasonable one. (4) Therefore, at least one ground for the view that there was a biased reaction is likely wrong.

    I did not attempt to describe all of the known (and developing) facts, so I agree that there might be other grounds for finding bias and/or an inappropriate management of the crisis. I was merely suggesting that one such ground is likely inapplicable. In no way was I saying, “Conservatives lie too.” That’s certainly true, but it’s not the point of my post.

  4. continue says:

    Your four-part claim is internally incoherent and is not unsupported by any evidence that you presented. The university’s muted reaction could or could not be appropriate, but the degree of appropriateness had nothing to do with whether the threats later turned out to be a hoax (assuming the threats weren’t obviously phony upfront). Furthermore, the muted reaction and the discovery of the hoax tell us nothing about whether the university was biased against conservatives. The right question for the bias question is whether the university would have reacted the same way if the alphabet group reported the same threats, not whether the threats turned out to be a hoax.

  5. continue says:

    correction: “not supported by any evidence”