Nowhere is the right of free expression more hotly debated than on our nation’s campuses. The recent controversy at my school, the University of Michigan, is a prime example. On January 9, U-M sophomore “Jake Baker”— a/k/a Abraham Jacob Alkhabaz, a 21-year-old Kuwaiti-American who uses his mother’s maiden name—did what he often did: he signed onto the Internet, the international computer network. Actually, Baker signed onto, an Internet newsgroup for pornography of all types. He had often written pornographic fantasies on the newsgroup before, and in all of his stories Baker used fictional names for his characters—except for the story that he composed that Monday. It seems that Baker, ironically a linguistics major, was unable to think of a fictional name and so used the name of a fellow university student for one of his characters—a character who was to be tied by her hair to a ceiling fan, tortured, mutilated, sodomized with a hot curling iron, and eventually killed in the story. As for why he chose the name of this particular girl, with whom he shared a Japanese class the previous term, Baker has only stated, “because she was an attractive young woman and I needed a name for the story I was writing.”

The story, entitled “Pamela’s Ordeal,” which even Baker admitted was “sick stuff,” drew little fanfare until a University of Michigan alumnus in Moscow saw the story and contacted university officials on January 19. The following day. Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers questioned Baker about the transmission, and he admitted, after waiving his Miranda rights, to writing and posting the story. On January 23, Baker was interviewed at University Hospitals in an attempt to evaluate his mental state. Following the interview, a letter was sent to the Vice President for Student Affairs, Maureen A. Hartford, which stated that Baker’s status at the university should be restricted. Yet, as one of Baker’s attorneys, David Cahill, pointed out, “They didn’t ask that he be suspended.” Nevertheless, as Baker left his 9:00 A.M. class on Thursday, February 2, he was taken into custody by three DPS officers and notified that he had been suspended indefinitely by University President James J. Duderstadt.

Duderstadt was able to suspend Baker by invoking his powers under Regent’s Bylaw 2.01, which gives the president the power to maintain “health, diligence, and order among the students.” As is customary with students suspended under this bylaw, a hearing was scheduled to determine the guilt of the accused, in this case for February 9. On that day, however, Baker was arrested by FBI agents and taken to a U.S. District Court in Detroit, where he was charged with one count of interstate transmission of a threat to injure or kidnap another person. He was then held without bond in a Wayne County jail; pleaded innocent in court on February 17; and was moved to the federal prison in Milan, Michigan, on February 23. He was finally released on March 10, after posting a $10,000 recognizance bond. Baker’s attorneys were confident that the entire case against their client would eventually be thrown out. As one of them, Douglas Mullkoff, said: “I don’t think this case will go to trial.”

The reason for the federal charge stems from the fact that not only did Baker use the name of a real person in his story, but he had also exchanged “threatening” e-mail messages with a man in Ontario named Arthur Gronda. In the correspondence between Baker and Gronda, which was found in Baker’s dormitory room by DPS officers, the two men discussed plans of torture, rape, and murder. Indeed, in one message Baker stated, “just thinking about it anymore doesn’t do the trick. I need to DO IT.” And in another, he wrote, “I have come upon an excellent method to abduct a bitch.” Gronda responded to one of Baker’s messages by writing, “I have been out tonight and I can tell you that I am thinking more about ‘doing’ a girl. I can picture it so well . . . and I can think of no better use for their flesh. I HAVE to make a bitch suffer!” Also confiscated by DPS officers was an unfinished story of Baker’s, in which he wrote: “I plan it well. It will be my first kidnapping, my first real rape of a pretty young girl. My first experimentation with all of the devices of pain I had thought up before. I obsessed about my target more than any other girl on campus.”

Judge Thomas A. Carlson, who presided over Baker’s detention hearing, stated that the messages discovered by DPS officers were of prime importance in the court’s decision to charge Baker. “If we only had a story of rape and torture, we would have the issue of the First Amendment here,” Carlson said. “But there are at least two additional elements to the case. Mr. Baker named an individual at the U-M as a subject of his story and had a discussion with another person about where and how an assault could be carried out. This is more than just writing a story.” On the strength of this evidence, the one federal charge against Baker was changed to five counts of threat to kidnap; “Gronda,” which police believe to be a pseudonym for a man still at large, has been indicted as a codefendant in three of the charges. The federal case against Baker was slated to go to trial on May 22.

As for reaction to the Baker case on campus, opinion was mixed. Though Baker’s story was roundly denounced as gruesome and sick, many people were concerned by the treatment he received from the university as well as the federal government. The Student Civil Liberties Watch (SCLW), a student group unaffiliated with the ACLU, stated in a press release that it “denounces the actions of both the University of Michigan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. [T]he SCLW affirms that in order to reserve our liberties, we must often defend reprehensible choices made by individuals with questionable judgment exercising those rights.”

The Michigan Review, an independent student publication, took a similar stand. As it stated in a March editorial: “After considering in detail what Baker wrote in his stories, one may contend that what Baker did is, in fact, criminal. . . . Nevertheless, even if one determines that this argument does have merit, it still does not justify the decision of Duderstadt to suspend Baker. If one faces criminal charges, as does Baker, one has a right to trial by a jury of one’s peers, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Additionally, one is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—a long-standing aspect of American jurisprudence. By acting to suspend Baker immediately, Duderstadt, the president of a public university, circumvented these standards in the legal process. In this sense. Baker did not receive his right to due process under law.”

Michael Paul Goldenberg, a graduate student, voiced a similar opinion in a letter to The Michigan Daily, the other major campus publication. Goldenberg stated, “Without debating the wisdom or taste exercised in making his internet entry, I suggest that neither foolishness nor vulgar taste are crimes; that Mr. Baker has not received due process under the code because the administration panicked, and that his case highlights exactly why we need a university run by the laws and constitutions of Michigan and the United States.”

The Michigan Daily officially offered a different point of view: “While the technical questions remain about the process, it is now clear that suspending Baker was a prudent decision. Baker’s messages are indicative of a dangerous person. In naming a specific individual as his target, detailing how he would harm that person, and having access to that person. Baker gave Duderstadt ample reason for quick action. Duderstadt acted correctly in suspending Baker.”

Yet the harshest criticism of Baker emanated not from his fellow students but from the participants in the very forum in which Baker posted his story. Indeed, Baker has been a target of attacks in more than one subsequent tale posted on A California woman named Tanith Tyrr, who claims to be a professional “adult writer,” even detailed the gunpoint abduction of a man she calls “Joe Baker.” Tyrr has Baker tortured and eventually killed. The female student named in Baker’s story has declined, as we go to press, to comment on the controversy.

more than one subsequent tale postedrnon A California womanrnnamed Tanith Tyrr, who claims to be arnprofessional “adult writer,” even detailedrnthe gunpoint abduction of a man sherncalls “Joe Baker.” Tyrr has Baker torturedrnand exentually killed.rnThe female student named in Baker’srnstory has declined, as we go to press, torncomment on the controversy.rnColumbia Universityrnby Tom WoodsrnMost of us recognize that cries forrn”tolerance” have become thernleft’s weapon of choice in its erosion ofrnthose few civilized norms that remain inrnAmerican life. The image the left likesrnto conjure up is that of an ignorant bandrnof rednecks sadistically persecuting homosexualsrnor other minorities, when therntruth is that most ordinary Americansrnwould be satisfied simplv to go throughrnlife without having condoms thrown atrnthem or their children.rnhi such an atmosphere, the only absoluterntruth becomes tolerance itself. Exasperated,rna few friends of mine, curiousrnto test the umbrella of tolerance, formedrnan organization last year called Studentsrnat Harvard Erotically Engaged with Petsrn(SHEEP). Its “coming out” letter to thernHarvard Crimson, later reprinted in FirstrnThings and the Rothbard-Rockwell Report,rndecried the discrimination and opprobriumrnto which practitioners of bestialitrnha’e historically been subjectedrn”because we refuse to form relationshipsrnaccording to sociallv constructed categoriesrnsuch as ‘species.'”rnThe problem, of course, is that thesernmovements are impossible to parody, forrnno sooner have you come up with arnclever satire than the lefties have begunrnto adx’ocate seriously the very idea yournproposed in jest. As Murray Rothbardrnobserved, we emplo’ reductio ad absurdumrnwith such people at our peril, sincernthe tend to be all too willing to embracernthe absurdum.rnNo, a student group advocating bestialityrnhas not been formed (yet), but itrncan scarcely be far away. The New YorkrnPost and the Washington Times, whichrntend to ha’e a keen eye for these things,rnquickly latched on a few months ago to arnbreaking stor’ at my place of graduaternstudy, Columbia University—the formationrnof a student organization calledrnConversio Virium (CV), a group devotedrnto the discussion of bondage, domination,rnand sadomasochism.rnNow even without this development,rnColumbia University, with no right-wingrnstudent newspaper, no sympatheticrnprofessors, and with a guide to New Yorkrnlisting no fewer than 16 homosexual orrnAIDS-related groups but not a singlernchurch, already ranks among the mostrninhospitable environments for a normalrnperson. But this episode added a wholernnew dimension to an already less-thanidealrnsituation.rnMercifully, a coalition of campus religiousrnorganizations recently succeededrnin repealing the group’s recognized statusrnby a vote of 18-15, but at the Pyrrhicrnprice of recognizing this group of misfitsrnas worthy of any discussion at all. Notrnsurprisingly, respectable campus opinionrnwas unanimous in condemning therngroup’s expulsion as the worst humanrnrights violation since the turning away ofrnH[V-positie immigrants, and pledged tornappeal the decision. One CV memberrnvowed to remain on a liquid-onlv dietrnuntil the organization has received a formalrnapology from its persecutors andrnbeen fully reinstated.rnSeveral days later. Modern Times,rnColumbia’s “progressive newspaper,”rnpublished a front-page story condemningrnthe head of the religious coalition forrndisplaying “genuine hatred and intolerance”rnfor those who do not subscribe tornher “strict moral code.” Even worse, ofrncourse, was the “not-so-thinlv-veilcdrnhomophobia” that permeated the expulsionrneffort. For its part, the CohimbiarnDaily Spectator detected the mailed fistrnof fascism behind the vote to expel, arngesture which in its view “violated thernrights of every student at Columbia.”rnCan’t give up that fundamental right tornengage in acts of torture on someonernelse’s property.rn”There is, indeed, a higher law thanrnthe Earl Hall constitution,” the Spectatorrnsolemnlv intoned, referring to the documentrnthat allows for such expulsions.rnThe meaning here is unclear, but it’s arngood bet that the reference is not to thernnatural law, the old-fashioned view that arnqualitative difference exists betweenrnman and beast, and thus between the actionsrnappropriate to each. When FallenrnMan is made the measure of all things,rnas the left would have it, strange and horrificrnconsequences inevitably follow.rn”What a contemptible thing is man,”rnwrote Seneca, “if he fails to rise above thernhuman condition!”rnUniversity of Wisconsin-rnMilwaukeernby Michael KentrnAt the heart of the most recent politicalrncorrectness controversy at thernUniversity of Wisconsin at Milwaukee,rnwhere I am a graduate student, is thernproposed “Great Books Certificate Program.”rnThe program, first presented tornthe Course and Curriculum Committeernlast November, is the brainchild of arngroup of 23 professors headed by Dr.rnDavid Mulroy of the Department ofrnClassics and Hebrew Studies. The goalrnof the program is “to provide guidance tornstudents seeking a rigorous liberal artsrneducation. It provides an incenti’e forrnsuch students to select courses that traditionallyrncompose the nucleus of a liberalrnarts education and are still consideredrnespecially valuable by a large number ofrnfaculty members, i.e., courses in foreignrnlanguage, mathematics, the history ofrnWestern civilization, and in the greatrnbooks, i.e., original works widely regardedrnto be of fundamental importancernwithin various disciplines.” Other certificaternprograms exist for students completingrna voluntary regimen of coursesrndealing with various racial and ethnicrnminorities.rnWhile “Creat Books” programs likernthis one were once common in the liberalrnarts, many faculty members at UWMrnsee no merit in them. This view manifestedrnitself in the three-to-two voternagainst recommending the program tornthe Associate Dean’s Office for approval.rnPredictably, a key point of contention, inrnthe words of Professor Campbell Tathamrnof the English Department, was thern”problematic” nature of the whole notionrnof “great books.” Professor JoycernKirk of the History department complainedrnthat the program was “too Western.”rnFortunately for the students, the issuernattracted the notice of the student pressrnas well as the Milwaukee Sentinel. Sentinelrnstaff writer Dave Tianen listedrnamong his “Top Ten reasons why GreatrnBooks classes do not belong at UWM”:rnbecause they “soak up valuable class-rnJUNE 1995/45rnrnrn