May 03, 2004


Controversial columnist Rene Gonzalez wants to crush his own dissent:

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst student who penned a column deriding a fallen soldier as an "idiot" asked that his screed be taken off a school newspaper Web site after receiving death threats, student journalists said.      

His editors aren't sure where Rene Gonzalez is because the political science graduate student and part-time columnnist has been incommunicado since the furor erupted Wednesday.

"The only information we have directly from Rene is that he had received death threats," said Matthew Reid, editor of The Collegian's editorial page.

Brave kid. Rene dismisses someone who was killed in combat as an idiot who got what was coming to him, then runs for cover as soon as he receives some unfriendly email. In other Rene updates:

• The Boston Herald notes that there’s “no accounting for morons.”

• Rene’s editor has no regrets about publishing the column.

• Bob Young covers UMass footballer Jeff Krohn’s role in tackling Gonzalez.

• Some believe we should take a more nuanced view.

• On a positive note: the Gonzalez gibberish provoked many entertaining confessions of youthful leftoid madness.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 3, 2004 03:50 AM

In the meantime, the American military and CIA have tortured Iraqis. But I guess a punk kid with a big mouth, who's views are shared by a scant minority of those on the left, his story is just so much more important.

Posted by: tas at May 3, 2004 at 03:59 AM

In the last 20 years, it seems almost liberal who act stupidly soon claims they have received “death threats.” Tillmen is dead fighting the perpetrators of 9/11, but Gonzalez sees himself as a victim. He has probably awarded himself two purple hearts for his pain.

Posted by: perfectsense at May 3, 2004 at 04:09 AM

In a related undergraduate gesture, Indymedia/Portland have produced this cartoon. Nice.

Posted by: jafa at May 3, 2004 at 04:14 AM

Tas — Ah, the amazing Progressive Equivalency Button has been pushed. Someone _else_ behaved atrociously, so that justifies a smarmy young punk slandering a good man for his own self-aggrandizement.

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at May 3, 2004 at 04:19 AM

Milk that cow dry, tas! (Hey, wait -- that's no cow, and that's not an udder...)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 3, 2004 at 05:05 AM

Hey, tas, nice try, but no cigar! Misdirection is an old trick. Rene opened his own mouth on his own accord. He gets what he deserves. If he decides to run and hide from "death threats", that's his problem. He's still a flaming asshole.

"Run Away! Run Away!" -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Posted by: JeffS at May 3, 2004 at 05:47 AM

I knew it! I knew it! Didn't I predict that he'd be revelling orgasmically in his martyrdom (like he really needs to be "hiding out" on a campus like UMass) and saying he'd received death threats? (I'm not sure how to link to the post in the original Rene thread, and it's off the main page anyway, but this was oh-so-predictable). Rene is living down to my every expectation, and doing it very entertainingly.

Eventually the book deal will come, the revived fifteen minutes of fame when the book is released, the equivocal reviews, and fading into graceless obscurity as an assistant professor of Chicano Studies who can never quite make it past the tenure review process, somehow. At the age of forty-five or so, cranky and less financially stable than he'd like to be, with not enough academic articles under his belt and an ex-significant-other or two, he'll move back to San Juan and try to become involved in local politics. He'll manage to whip up enough supporters to get a fair number of sound trucks out there, trundling throught the streets and blaring half-baked socialistic agitprop as the local neighborhood residents try to sleep. He'll lose, of course, because he's not so good at organization that he's able to bribe all the people who really matter. But in between futile runs for Junior Dog-Catcher and Official Expresser of Grievances, he'll find time to do a little lecturing on the side (on political science, since "Chicano Studies" have less appeal in PR itself) and of course to attend many protest rallies, agitating for Puerto Rican freedom from the tyranny of the U.S. Having no actual plan for how to bring this about with destroying the Puerto Rican economony immediately thereafter, nothing will ever happen, and the young people attending the protests will be slightly dismayed at the sight of this washed-up old guy trying to act like he's one of them.

At the age of fifty-six, minor scandal will hit. In his loneliness and depression, he'll make a pass at one of the student workers who helps make signs for protest rallies. At the trial, it will come out that he's been enjoying a number of quickies with the youthful over the years. Since by then, sexual harassment laws will be much more stringent even than they are now, off Rene will go to minimum-security prison, in company with the pickpockets and minor con artists with which San Juan abounds.

And there, as he works for seventy-five cents an hour in the prison canteen and takes self-improvement classes towards another MA (anything to kill time, right) he'll bore his fellow-inmates silly with stories of his glory days.

That is to say - now. Rene has had his glory, his fame, his national attention. It's a long slide downhill from here, folks.

Adios, mariposo!

Posted by: Sonetka at May 3, 2004 at 06:07 AM

I was dying to make a smartass comment about the bad guys in Iraq knowing we're serious about torture when we bring on the Streisand videos, but it just doesn't sound funny when one considers the damage done to our cause by those asshole guards.

At least their trials will suck some of the wind outta Clinton's book release this summer.

Posted by: geezer at May 3, 2004 at 06:22 AM

Why is it so hard to believe that Gonzalez has received death threats? And what kind of freedom are we fighting for if it only applies to people we like? Gonzalez is an evil idiot and until he breaks the law, he is due the full protection of it. Freedom of speech is even the right of those who would deny it to others.

Posted by: Private Person at May 3, 2004 at 06:24 AM

No one is denying Mr. Gonzales either his freedom of speech or his right to be worried about death threats, Person. But neither of those things protect him from our right to call him names and mock his predicament, which he brought on himself. Or are you objecting to speech you don't like?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 3, 2004 at 06:30 AM

Private Person:

It's not that I don't believe that there can't be death threats against Rene. It's that I don't care about what he has to say; he blew his wad, and is now on his own.

With freedom of speech comes the responsibility to speak clearly and with purpose. Simply spewing hate doesn't count. The First Amendment does not give Rene immunity from slander and libel laws. It does not shield Rene from the outrage of those who disagree. If he has genuine death threats, that's something different; he can go to the police, and not whine on the INTERNET, nor run and hide.

The First Amendment says Rene can shoot his mouth off all he wants. It doesn't say that he has credibility or authority because he can talk; he has to prove his point. He can stand on a soapbox all day long, screaming all day long for all I care. Whether or not he makes sense is his problem.

And the First Amendment says the same for me. So I can mock him all I want, as long as I stay in the rules. And mock him I will.

Posted by: JeffS at May 3, 2004 at 07:04 AM

I can believe he's received death threats, and no, I'm hoping very much nobody acts on them, if nothing else because it would turn this schmuck into a secular saint. He doesn't deserve to die or be injured for being an idiot, and somehow I have the feeling that he's well-protected right now, which is fair. But neither does he deserve to be shielded entirely from the consequences of showing his malicious foolishness in a public venue. And we also have every right to laugh and point at his idiotic predicament, which, unlike most idiotic predicaments, is ENTIRELY of his own making. Somehow I don't think he would hesitate to return the favour - the man who can mock a dead Ranger from the comfort of his insular grad-student post is not a man whose sensitivities we need to be worrying about.

Posted by: Sonetka at May 3, 2004 at 07:11 AM

Someone _else_ behaved atrociously, so that justifies a smarmy young punk slandering a good man for his own self-aggrandizement.

Do you practice completely missing the point, or is it just one of your god-given talents?

I never remotely said anything about agreeing with this little UMass punk. In fact, this is how I described him and how widely shared his views are, "..a punk kid with a big mouth, who's views are shared by a scant minority of those on the left." Anybody with half a brain reading such a statement would come to the conclusion that I don't agree with the kid.

However I'm amazed at all the press he's received on right wing blogs such as this one. In the face of a huge, global story where soldiers, apparently being supervisored by the CIA, tortured Iraqi prisoners, it seems like the right could care less. There have been denoucments of these actions on right wing blogs, but in the next breath, these actions have been downplayed. Oh, it's "only humiliation," right? An isolated incident. A few bad apples. No biggie! In fact, the real story is how one UMass student, whose views are shared by virtually no one in America, publishes an inflammatory column about Pat Tillman. How dare he!

I didn't like the column either, and I certainly don't agree with it. Bu giving it this much press is pointless, and it shows just how warped you people really are. We have soldiers dying over Bush's lies, the CIA carrying out torture of Iraqi prisoners, but to you people that just isn't important. It's much more important to highlight the behavior of some little shit college student in some little shit state, take his views and try to apply it with a broad brush to the rest of the American left.

Some people with a clear mind would call this behavior obsessive. Others might even call it psychotic.

Posted by: tas at May 3, 2004 at 08:27 AM

Well, tas, you might try being as eloquent and detailed in your first post as you were in your second. Golly, it really sounded like you were a troll, misdirecting the thread for whatever reason.

See, the thread is titled "RENE RUNS AWAY".

Then you say, "In the meantime, the American military and CIA have tortured Iraqis. But I guess a punk kid with a big mouth, who's views are shared by a scant minority of those on the left, his story is just so much more important. The emphasis is mine.

See? You complained about the prisoner abuse first, then you mentioned Rene. While you thought you had communicated your thoughts, alas, most of us are not telepathic. We missed that big leap of logic and nuance. Or at least I did.

The issue about the prisoner abuse is covered in other threads. Had you looked around, you might have seen that. Indeed, I commented on that myself....and not in support of the soldiers who perpetuated the abuse, I assure you.

(BTW, the current allegations are only against US soldiers.....the CIA accusations tend to come from people against the war in Iraq. This is some reason to assume that you were a troll.)

Let me add that there was some serious debate on the other threads about the prisoner abuse. Your original tone was not a positive one, nor friendly. If you intend to make a comment on a thread in support of it, kindly say so in a clear manner. Don't drop a vague comment, and then complain about us having an obsession.

As some people have noted before, the preview button is your friend.

Posted by: JeffS at May 3, 2004 at 08:56 AM

Yeah, tas, no one in the "right wing" cares about the tortured Iraqis. Is this going to be the start of another Leftover lie meme?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 3, 2004 at 09:07 AM

By the way -- it occurs to me you may need some help -- each word is a different link to a different website.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 3, 2004 at 09:09 AM

TAS, just type the words "yeah, but" next time. Don't even bother trying to fake an argument. Just say "yeah, but". It perfectly frames all the following arguments.

Yeah, Saddam was bad BUT Bush lied!
Yeah, the Taliban was bad BUT hugs not bombs!
Yeah, the oppression of women under fundamentalist Islam is bad BUT Bush is banning so-called partial birth abortions!
Yeah, Rene was a boob BUT I'm going to defend him anyway!

Why even add any other words beyond "Yeah, But"? If all you want to do is pretend to accept a premise just so you can use it as leverage to change or spin a subject, those two little words are just as good as several equally meaningless paragraphs.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 3, 2004 at 10:04 AM

Private Person — I'm willing to wager there isn't a conservative bloghost or frequent poster who hasn't received death threats from heroic, anonymous lefties. Lord knows I have a folder full. You just don't hear us sniveling about it.

Tas — Do you practice not researching your points? Every major conservative blog I've been to has condemned the Iraqi prisoner treatment in the strongest terms. And, as JeffS already pointed out, this is a thread about a different topic. Honestly, you remind me of the shrill preacher's wife in The Simpsons who brings every argument on any possible topic to a halt by shrieking "What about the children?! Doesn't anybody care about the children?!"

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at May 3, 2004 at 10:10 AM

My favourite in that comments thread is the confession of regicide.

Posted by: TimT at May 3, 2004 at 11:10 AM

I followed the kink to see what "nuanced" view of this there could possibly be. I posted in the comments there:

I see, it was justifiable for David Williams to be fired from his job at the Oregon State University newspaper because he wrote a column criticizing black leaders while being white.

But the writings of some fat-headed Poly-Sci grad student disparaging a soldier is somehow "nuanced"?

I certainly hope that Mr. Gonzales puts this episode on his resume, because I will do my best to bring it to the attention of anyone I find that is considering hiring him.

I encourage everyone to do the same. Pat Tillman died upholding his principles, I think it is only fair that Mr. Gonzales lives with his.

Posted by: Just Some Poor Schmuck at May 3, 2004 at 02:36 PM

Tas wrote:
"the real story is how one UMass student, whose views are shared by virtually no one in America"...

What about the "Dumb Jock" DU posting and comments? There must have been others in the same vein, but I didn't have the stomach to look. Were there any apologies for that thread?

Posted by: c at May 3, 2004 at 03:08 PM

'Freedom of speech' is as much of a fiction (and just as important) as 'innocent until proven guilty'. The overwhelming majority of defendants in criminal proceedings are guilty (if this were not the case then justice is a phantasm). Freedom of speech guarantees your right to express objectionable opinions. It does not indemnify you from the consequences of your utterances. If someone smashes Rene Gonzalez's hands with a club hammer so he can't write any more, that's assault, not a violation of his First Amendment rights.

In point of fact, I believe that the opprobrium that dear, lack-witted Rene has pulled upon his head will be ample recompense for his revolting bile. What with the Micah Wright debacle, my Schadenfreudometer has been pegged for 24 hours now.

Posted by: David Gillies at May 3, 2004 at 06:33 PM

And to clarify: the First Amendment guarantees your right to express a view free from government sanction - it does not mandate you be given a forum from which to speak. Gonzales' diatribe is neither protected nor proscribed by the First Amendment, and those who claim otherwise are stupefyingly ignorant at best and offensively disingenuous at worst.

Posted by: David Gillies at May 3, 2004 at 06:44 PM