Follow up on Duclod posts. May 8, 2007 11:17 AM   Subscribe

The mystery of the duclod man is solved. Related to this post from March and this post from 2001. I think Sarah Aswell did a better job of unraveling his truth than the googling masses of metafilter.
posted by croutonsupafreak to MetaFilter-Related at 11:17 AM (73 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Huh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:34 AM on May 8, 2007


Sad.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:37 AM on May 8, 2007


Wow. Thanks for posting the update.
posted by vytae at 11:40 AM on May 8, 2007


Really interesting. A much more satisfying conclusion than the last installment when she sent him a letter.
posted by ND¢ at 11:46 AM on May 8, 2007


Awesome. The last update was a serious cliffhanger.
posted by sneakin at 11:56 AM on May 8, 2007


Thanks for the update, I'd been thinking about this story a lot. It's quite unsurprising, though some of the particular details are striking, that he turned out to suffer from some autism-like condition.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:59 AM on May 8, 2007


I still don't understand how he knew which students we bisexual. What am I missing?
posted by sneakin at 12:04 PM on May 8, 2007


sorry, which students were bisexual.
posted by sneakin at 12:05 PM on May 8, 2007


So it was quonsar after all.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:12 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this.
posted by granted at 12:21 PM on May 8, 2007


Holy crap, I hadn't read the original links. What a fascinating story! It's like the Hopkin story but with a sinister twist.

And a quonsar connection.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:22 PM on May 8, 2007


Wow, fascinating story. Thanks for the followup, croutonsupafreak.
posted by puke & cry at 12:34 PM on May 8, 2007


It's from May 22? The future is now...
posted by jourman2 at 12:53 PM on May 8, 2007


Thanks for the post. This is why it's so pointless (though irresistable) to speculate about the person behind actions we don't understand:
This is Rick: His one true love is organic gardening, and, Elaine explained, he’s extremely talented. As his small house disappears under years of unopened mail, his backyard thrives. What does he do with the excess vegetables? The same thing he does with the leftover doughnuts from his job as a dishwasher—he takes them to a food bank.

This is Rick: He spends much of his time rocking in an old rocking chair. The slats are broken from overuse. Rick has worn through the carpet, through the floor, and polished the concrete with his rocking, and the image stays with me. As I read about autism, I learned that rocking is a classic, comforting behavior.

This is Rick: He doesn’t quite understand or accept change. When he was growing up, Rick’s mom had a rule that no one in the family could spend more than $2 on Christmas or birthday gifts. Four decades later Janis, Allen, and Elaine all say he still doesn’t spend more than the $2 limit.
That's a human being: fucked up, complex, unpredictable, inifinitely more interesting than the straw men we invent.
posted by languagehat at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2007 [6 favorites]


Never confuse incompetence with malice. There's more of the former at work in life than the latter. Next time someone cuts you off in traffic, imagine for a moment that it's not all about you, the universe is not intent on getting at you personally - maybe the other person's just literally incapable somehow.
posted by scheptech at 1:18 PM on May 8, 2007


Yeah whenever somebody pisses me off I just think to myself "Oh well, they are probably just retarded."
posted by ND¢ at 1:24 PM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


In the small community of our college and its few thousand alumni/ae, this story is a total blockbuster: Sarah's work transformed a social predator into a victim of his context. Greater than the pleasure of this mystery solved, though, is the pleasure of seeing Sarah kicking narrative-journalistic ass: she was the star of the student paper during my time at Grinnell, and it's fun to see that sometimes people who are awesome at what they do in college can also be awesome at what they do in the larger world.
posted by Mmmmmm at 1:49 PM on May 8, 2007


Holy cow. Duclod man is Chauncy Gardener.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:44 PM on May 8, 2007


Wow, what an intelligent, reasoned response. More people should be as understanding.
posted by HyperBlue at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2007


I'm with sneakin. How did he know who to contact?
posted by sswiller at 3:08 PM on May 8, 2007


Glad she wrote it, and did the digging, but there are some things I don't understand. First and foremost, the Duclod thing was alive and kicking when I was at Grinnell from 1980 to 84. There was graffiti all over campus. We put it there. And it was the habit of some Grinnellians to leave it wherever they went. A kind of mark of the school, an inside joke. I remember finding a Duclod graf in a Village bar once. It meant "Someone from Grinnell was here." Other than that, we never knew what it meant. So this guy didn't invent it, if that's the claim (maybe it's not). Second, how the heck did he know which students were gay if he never went to Grinnell on scouting missions in the 1990s? I suppose the Internet would help, but still, that little problem needs to be explained if he was targeting gay folks. Very nice work, but I'd like these questions answered, pretty please.
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:13 PM on May 8, 2007


How to find the GLBT folk at Grinnell during the '90s:

Grinnell in the 1990s had the Stonewall Resrouce Center for the GLBT community and the Stonewall Coalition (StoneCo) did have members listed as did all student orgs if memory serves. There was also COG (Coming Out Group) back then if I remember correctly. I think all anyone would have to do to target the general GLBT community would be to pick up a publication listing the members and match it against other resources that would have contact information.

I am curious as to the Duclod thing in the 1980s - MarshallPoe, why on earth did you go running around posting the word here and there if you didn't know the meaning? Did you have a meaning for it? Where did this all come from in your view? The plot thickens.
posted by Muddler at 3:27 PM on May 8, 2007


Thanks for the follow-up. The quonsar connection and the subsequent burst of internet sleuthery made the duclod post really exciting.

I still can't stand the author's writing.

"This is Rick": this is annoying.
posted by painquale at 3:30 PM on May 8, 2007


This seems to be one version of the "apology" referenced in the second article.

Also, what's a little confusing is that one of the Duclod websites had personal contact information for a guy named Robert in Little Rock, Arkansas. This does not seem to be the same guy as Rick. So, was the Robert contact information an intentional red herring?
posted by Mid at 3:46 PM on May 8, 2007


why on earth did you go running around posting the word here and there if you didn't know the meaning?

Independent of Grinnell and Duclod and such, that sounds like par for the goofy college antics course. Perpetuate the injokes for the hell of it, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on May 8, 2007


Yup. It was just a goofy thing to do as far as I knew. Those in the know (upper class folk) told us when we were freshmen that it was a Grinnell thing, and that we'd find "Duclod was here" all over the place. We did. I had no idea what "Duclod" meant, and I still don't other than "Someone from Grinnell was here." I'm not sure it had any meaning other than that. That said, it was often found in bathroom stalls next to "For a good BJ, call..." grafs. Maybe it was a gay thing, or an anti-gay thing (not to generalize). I was pretty naive then, so I wouldn't have known.

Also, I remember an entire series of Duclod limericks. Wish I had some of those.
posted by MarshallPoe at 4:51 PM on May 8, 2007


MarshallPoe, I'm not following. How do you know this guy didn't invent the word "duclod"?
posted by puke & cry at 5:20 PM on May 8, 2007


Perpetuate the injokes for the hell of it, etc.

I can see it. But what about this one?
posted by carsonb at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2007


but there are some things I don't understand....I was at Grinnell from 1980 to 84....So this guy didn't invent it

The follow-up article states that Rick's relationship (in a loose sense) with Grinnell dates back about 100 years.
posted by carsonb at 6:45 PM on May 8, 2007


Thanks, Muddler! Clears a lot up for me.
posted by sneakin at 7:05 PM on May 8, 2007


Couldn't the guy have seen the graffiti described by MarshallPoe on one of his many visits to campus and then just appropriated it for himself and assigned it a meaning based on whatever was going on in his head? Seems reasonable given what we know about his intellectual capabilities and mental health.
posted by sneakin at 7:09 PM on May 8, 2007


Could have, yeah. That article also says he liked to make up words though, so that's an idea too. And If this guy grew up in the 50s and had regular visits to the campus and area, which apparently he did, it's perfectly plausible that he made it up and started the graffiti anytime during the 50s, 60s, or 70s. I think I remember reading that it started showing up in the 70s but I could be wrong. Don't really have the time to go over everything again.
posted by puke & cry at 7:15 PM on May 8, 2007


let me be the nth to say thanks for the follow up.
posted by teishu at 7:59 PM on May 8, 2007


Who could have guessed that the Duclod story would turn into a parable of sorts? When we feel harassed and threatened, we almost always assume that our attackers must, in at least one way, be stronger than us.

Aswell didn't have to humanize Rick/Richard; she could have used the facts that she had to demonize him and his family.

She didn't. I read the Duclod stories because I'm human and I have a dumb side that likes to stare at trainwrecks. The next time I read Sarah Aswell, it will probably be because I actively sought out her byline. I like trainwrecks, but I like good writing even more.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:04 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


very bizarre. though i don't buy him coining the word. as mentioned previously, i saw a duclod "joke" on a bathroom wall in albion mi in december 1978.
posted by quonsar at 8:46 PM on May 8, 2007


Thanks for the followup! The previous posts have been haunting my bookmark list. (And to defend the Googling masses, Aswell got paid to do her digging. We were just having fun... at Quonsar's expense.)
posted by turducken at 10:24 PM on May 8, 2007


MarshallPoe, and others:

1. I'm fairly certain he coined the word. As others have noted, he was born in the 50s. The earliest known references were in the late 70s.

2. The Robert guy is him, although the contact info may not be current, useful or advisable.

3. The headlines on mefi and digg are a bit misleading: he wasn't ultimately really targeting anyone. Everybody who wanted to see a pattern saw one, but in the long term as many, if not more straight people as gay or bi got the letters. That friends sometimes got them concurrently may have been an assumption on my part when I wrote the article in the Scarlet & Black in 2001 based on the statistical anomaly (remember, it's a campus of 1300) that a good friend and I got them at the same time.
posted by beukema at 10:30 PM on May 8, 2007


that sounds like par for the goofy college antics course. Perpetuate the injokes for the hell of it, etc.

Aye. Our gang's '80s toilet graffito was 'off the pig, develop the illegal front' -- not because we were political (which we were, somewhat), but because we thought it was funny as hell that some people took stuff like that seriously.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:36 PM on May 8, 2007


Thanks croutonsupafreak. Odd. Sad. Not with a bang but a whimper.
I hope Sarah finds a good editor. Although her writing style grates at times, it remains compelling although I admit I may just be confusing the attraction of the storytelling with the attraction of the story. But she was kind of too close to it all. Gonzo vanilla.
posted by peacay at 11:38 PM on May 8, 2007


So ... he sent weird letters to people over several years .. ? I don't get the fascination.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:17 AM on May 9, 2007


Okay, so the claim is that Richard (aka "Duclod Man") made up "duclod" in the 1970s and, while visiting his grandfather the Grinnell professor, began to graf it all over the campus at that time. Thus I found it in 1980. But he did not start sending the letters until the 1990s. Have I got it straight now?
posted by MarshallPoe at 5:05 AM on May 9, 2007


i saw a duclod "joke" on a bathroom wall in albion mi in december 1978.
posted by quonsar at 10:46 PM on May 8


And by "saw", he means "wrote".
posted by Koko at 6:43 AM on May 9, 2007


But he did not start sending the letters until the 1990s. Have I got it straight now?

Late 80s or early 90s I believe.
posted by puke & cry at 11:56 AM on May 9, 2007


languagehat confessed: "That's a human being: fucked up, complex, unpredictable, inifinitely more interesting than the straw men we invent."

See? I toldja Quonsar was innocent.
posted by davy at 12:04 AM on May 10, 2007


I'm not impressed by the story or the writing of it. She hunted down a harmless but occasionally slightly annoying freak and exposed him to the Universe for (at least) ridicule and censure. And before y'all pounce all over me, did he threaten or harm anybody? Don't tell me "But he made people feel threatened!"; there's a difference, unless I have a right to ruin the lives pf people who make ME feel threatened by putting Jesus fish on their humongous pickups and wearing pink shirts while they drive them.
posted by davy at 12:12 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Weird guy does weird things - arguably not knowing why.

College students do goofball things - admittedly not really knowing why.

Certain people experience pain, imagining a threat that doesn't exist because we're all pattern-makers and the centers of our own little universes. Sorta like Rick.

Interesting story, post, and followup. All saying as much about us as him.
posted by scheptech at 8:24 AM on May 10, 2007


"All saying as much about us as him."

Speak for yourself, d00dling.
posted by davy at 11:58 AM on May 10, 2007


I really enjoyed Sarah's articles too, until I started examining them. I found no less than eleven factual problems with her article. Is "Richard" really as psychotic as he seems? What was Sarah's motivation? I've outlined my findings here: http://saveourskyline.livejournal.com/1127.html
posted by saveourskyline at 5:55 PM on May 14, 2007


While I appreciate your attempt at fact-checking, your personal nastiness and insistence on interpreting everything as deliberate dishonesty makes it hard to welcome it. Some of your corrections are substantial, some are ridiculous nitpicking, but in general you don't seem to grasp that all reporting, even at major newspapers, contains errors. Have you never been involved in anything that was covered by a newspaper? Those of us who have can attest that they always get things wrong, sometimes major things. This is not because reporters are evil people trying to pull the wool over our eyes, it's because they're human and make mistakes and are sloppier than they should be. If their primary interest in life was correctness in details, they'd be editors or engineers or something, not reporters; reporters are out to get the story, and the realities of journalism mean that there is rarely time to check every detail.

Here, let me show you how it feels to be on the other end. A comment on your post says:
While you are correct that there is nothing very hacktastic about his magical "ability to open" her mail client, you also stated that it can't and won't “try to send a mass-email from your personal account”. Without getting bogged down in quibbling over details, it should be noted that when I visited the "Welcome To Desolation" link, it did indeed launch my fantabulously secure Outlook Express, and autofill in a grand total of 33 email addresses in the To: field, all just by opening the site, not clicking a "Email Me!" link or anything. These are not addresses from my own personal Address Book, but rather are pulled from a list in the source HTML using a bit of Javascript. I'm no expert on the subject, but that's where the addresses are coming from.
Now, do you see how I could, if I wanted to treat you as you treated Sarah, make that (and similar errors/exaggerations I could come up with) into a damning indictment of your honesty and integrity? "Looks like saveourskyline is willing to say anything to smear this woman!" If you're willing to give yourself a pass because you just didn't phrase it well or didn't think of the possibility your reader brings up, have the basic honesty to extend the same courtesy to Sarah.
posted by languagehat at 8:50 AM on May 15, 2007


The difference is that I didn't get paid to write an article in a nationally-distributed magazine picking on an autistic person.

And yes, it's very obvious that at least a couple of the items in my list cross the "sloppy factchecking line" into deliberately dishonest and misleading.
posted by saveourskyline at 9:00 AM on May 15, 2007


It's "obvious" to you, because that's what you for some reason want to believe. It's not obvious to me.
posted by languagehat at 9:49 AM on May 15, 2007


Fine - let's not split hairs. My point is, this is supposed to be non-fiction. It's supposed to be *true*. If she weren't demonizing someone, I'd agree with you 100% - some of it is nitpicking. But if what you're doing, as davy said above, is exposing someone with an illness to censure and ridicule, at least get your fact straight! If you can't even do that, don't just start *making shit up* that makes the person look worse, just to make your story more compelling. That's just wrong.
posted by saveourskyline at 10:44 AM on May 15, 2007


But she's not demonizing him! Did you even read the second article, apart from picking through it for misstatements and errors? Everyone but you seems to have found it a moving admission that she was wrong about him, that he's got mental problems that he's been taking out on people in a relatively harmless way (compared to what some people with mental illness do) and that his family is trying to work on with him so he won't do it any more. You're misrepresenting her position to make your nitpicking more compelling. That's just wrong.
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on May 15, 2007


Yes, I read the second article. That's the article I read initially, actually, and then I went back and read the first part. And I thought, "Wow, she's really a cool person to be so big-hearted about it." However, I got really concerned when her second article contained something like this:

"More jokes were posted in abandoned Internet guest books: If a duclod was an Eskimo, he’d only go east and west."

If you read the post, it's obvious to anybody that it's not Richard posting the joke. And she doesn't say that he posted it - it's just slipped in there, as a sneaky insinuation to make him look like he's continuing his disruptive behavior.

So that kind of behavior, coupled with the admission in her first article that she's basically out for revenge, is why I wrote my rebuttal.

To give her the benefit of the doubt, yes, it's quite possible that she's merely, as I stated, "carelessly and disappointingly negligent with the details she was reporting". However, if you're a journalist who has a personal and emotional involvement with your subject (as she so clearly does), and you get your facts wrong, you are opening yourself up to the questioning of your motives. It's expected that this kind of conversation - the one we're having now - is going to be generated.

If she had stuck to the facts and reported things the way that they were, it would still have been an interesting story. As it is, she ends up looking like a sensationalist, and that's too bad.
posted by saveourskyline at 11:37 AM on May 15, 2007


It's also interesting to consider why she split the story up into two articles. To give her the benefit of the doubt, she arguably was just publishing information as it came her way. However (and I'm probably going to sound like a conspiracy theorist here), the delivery method she used is quite interesting for several reasons:
One, there's no strong reason why, after two years of pursuing Richard, she simply decides to give up, without talking to his family, and write her first article about it. People were screaming in the forums, "How could you publish this without closing the loop?!" because it seemed so artificially concluded.

Two, it allowed her to make Richard out to be a lot creepier in her original article than she could otherwise have done if her readers had all of the information up front.

Three, it created an amazing "cliffhanger effect".

Four, it allowed her to paint herself as the victimized scared college student in part one, and the benevolent big-hearted bearer of forgiveness and understanding in part two.
From this perspective, if she'd had all of her information up front, and still chose to write both of those articles the way she did, I would consider that unethical. But again, it could all just be a big coincidence.
posted by saveourskyline at 1:26 PM on May 15, 2007


But you're drawing unflattering conclusions based on what you readily admit is an untested supposition. This bit, here:

One, there's no strong reason why, after two years of pursuing Richard, she simply decides to give up, without talking to his family, and write her first article about it.

You assert that there's no reason. Hence, there is no reason? No question of emotional exhaustion? Reticence at a moment of change or catharsis? Simple human pause and doubt about the relative cost and benefit of pursuing it vs. leaving it?

That's not to say the scenario you're pondering is impossible, of course, but you're being damned uncharitable and single-minded in sticking so confidently to your speculative take on things. The axe-grindy attack on her motivations comes off in an ironic light, under those circumstances.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:56 PM on May 15, 2007


I'm not "sticking so confidently" to it - I went out of my way, twice, to give her the benefit of the doubt. This is mefi, where people float their crazy pet theories. And yes, the irony behind the similarity of what she did with Richard's writings, and what I'm doing with her writings hasn't escaped me :)
posted by saveourskyline at 2:14 PM on May 15, 2007


You signed up for a metafilter account specifically argue against her reporting and to post a link to your blog entry dissecting her reporting, an entry which concludes thus:

Wonderful. Looks like you got your revenge, Sarah.

I'm not saying you're wrong to have suspicions, and I am frankly very pleased when people join the site to further information or a new angle into an ongoing discussion; but, yes, I have a hard time seeing the way this has gone down so far as anything other than sticking confidentally to your attack.

You've allowed for the possibility that she might have been merely "carelessly and disappointingly negligent", and not necessarily (though, hey, it sure does seem likely, don't you think? Eh? Eh?) genuinely malicious and prevaricating in her presentation—and that's the benefit of the doubt?
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:44 PM on May 15, 2007


This is getting really silly. OK, listen: it's not like I'm being irresponsible and saying that I have absolute proof that she's been malicious; I'm not even saying that I'm absolutely certain of it myself.

What I'm doing is bringing to light several important pieces of information that nobody else had mentioned, pointing out that they're misleading, and calling into question her motives because of that. What I'm saying is,
I don't take for granted that journalists all have impeccable morals and are acting with your best interests at heart. Since you seem to have missed it, I guess I have to insult everybody's intelligence by pointing out, yet again, that this is my opinion. I'm pointing out, time and again, that it's possible that I'm wrong. If I wanted to write something completely balanced and neutral, I'd go write a NPV wikipedia article, OK?

What you seem to be doing is calling my motives into question - how ironic can this get?
posted by saveourskyline at 3:06 PM on May 15, 2007


That's because your own writing calls your motives into question. You keep talking about "important pieces of information" that nobody but you thinks are important; you continue to overinterpret trivial matters and insist that your interpretation is vital to understanding what's going on; you ritually repeat that you don't have "absolute proof" and you're not "absolutely certain" (if you were honest and/or objective you'd say you don't have any proof and you're just floating a remote possibility)—not to mention that you have no other existence here than as somebody who signed up to trash the author of the articles. Sorry, but I have no reason to assume your good faith, and I'm glad this repellent discussion is proceeding pretty much in the penumbra of a little-visited thread. But your own blog post will be linked by Google to Sarah's name, and I hope at some point you recover from your fit of whatever it is that's making you obsessed with this and have the decency to take it down. Unless, of course, you find your "absolute proof."

I'm old enough to remember the days when senators ranted about "communist sympathizers" and claimed to have lists of names in their pockets, and I don't like your style here, not one bit.
posted by languagehat at 3:24 PM on May 15, 2007


Yes, but I don't have a dog in this race: I've got no activist role on either side of the story, and have only been following it as far as the metafilter coverage of it. Understand that from my perspective—metafilter reader outside of the story—your sole role in the discussion has been to step on to stage and begin stumping your off-site position on the story.

I don't say that maliciously, I say it to point out why it is that you'd get the argumentative reaction that you have. That you think the only reason you'd get an argument is because it's not clear that your opinion is driving it strikes me as a bit weird: my objection has basically been that you seem to be running solely on your opinion, offering essentially "threat or menace?" analysis based on which of your uncharitable characterization you've seemingly decided is more likely true.

Again, I don't think you're out of line for questioning the reporting—you're not the first person in this thread, let alone in the overall mefi discussion of the Duclod saga, to do so—but the approach you've taken is undeniably aggressive, and saying that you might be wrong about thinking the worst rather than merely very poorly of someone isn't exactly a balanced approach. It's gonna get a response.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:26 PM on May 15, 2007


And a little bit of what he said.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:26 PM on May 15, 2007


Yikes. First of all, I've been reading mefi for a long time. I didn't join to trash someone, or get hits on my blog, or whatever. I joined because I wanted to contribute to this conversation.
I hope at some point you recover from your fit of whatever it is that's making you obsessed with this and have the decency to take it down.
If it's so uncompelling, why do you care who reads it?
I'm old enough to remember the days when senators ranted about "communist sympathizers" and claimed to have lists of names in their pockets, and I don't like your style here, not one bit.
Wow, I'm getting compared to Joseph McCarthy now - hyperbole, anybody? :)

When I say "I don't have any proof" (for her motivations), let's not confuse it with not having any proof for the factual errors she made. I don't have anything "in my pocket", I laid it all out on the table, and cited my sources.

To demonstrate my goodwill, I emailed her and invited her to view and respond to my blog entry. I'll post her responses, if any, and amend anything I've written in light of anything she has to offer on the subject.
posted by saveourskyline at 6:10 PM on May 15, 2007


I didn't find the piece about the reporting to be particularly aggressive or attacking or nasty. (Though IAAL, so ... )
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:04 PM on May 15, 2007


Can I just say that I fall somewhere in the chasm between opinions expressed here. I think, as I said earlier, that Sarah needs a good editor. Her closeness and emotional investment with the project not so much tainted her writing necessarily, but there was something of an overwrought edge to it all. She's green, I put that sense (and probably the bulk of any quibbling errors) of just a bit too much enthusiasm or emotionalism or whatever down to inexperience. Although I haven't read the pieces in a while I never felt at the time that I was being intentionally manipulated - the factoids in dispute (if they are) are incidental to the level of interest and level of belief that I had when reading them I'm sure. [I concede there are some elements raised by saveourskyline for which it would be interesting to hear a response; but I don't draw any negative conclusions about Sarah's motives in their absence]

But of course Sarah's writing and quality of facts are open to criticism. I guess, to cut a long story short, I reckon saveourskyline has indeed jumped for that judgement of 'questioning motives' and implying more sinister shenanigans have gone on than I would have thought were warranted, even after seeing the list they posted to their LJ site. Sure saveourskyline is retreating from the position that it's being stated as truth, but I agree with cortex and languagehat to the extent that the mode of happenstances here -- joining just to throw these hypotheses out there -- 'feels' a bit disingenuous at best and are perhaps themselves suggestive of some level of vindictiveness or is that too strong an expression(?); ok, well, how about: overzealous singlemindedness.

All that said, I thought the LJ post was oookkkk, languagehat's comments about newspaper reporting notwithstanding, and it would be interesting to hear Sarah's response. I wonder if she knows about it or if anyone passed it on to her?
posted by peacay at 10:27 PM on May 15, 2007


Yeah; I sent a link to Sarah from her myspace, but she hasn't read the message yet.
posted by saveourskyline at 10:21 AM on May 16, 2007


I found another one...

In a forum for battered women he writes a long treatise on how men should teach their sons to hit their future wives.

As the URL below shows, Richard had only copied and pasted the aforementioned "treatise" into one of his home-made webpages. The writer of the treatise, the pseudonym "Sudam Mabus" does not exhibit any of Richard's characteristic diction; there's no reason to suspect that Richard originally wrote it or ever used this pseudonym.

In fact, "Sadam Mabus" is a Nostradamus reference, which would have attracted Richard's attention, because, as Sarah has herself noted, Richard was obsessed with Nostradamus (people have conjectured that Nostradamus writing about an individual named "Mabus" was actually writing about Saddam Hussein, because "Sadam" is a mirror-image of "Mabus").

OK -- so Richard is crazy. But when you actually stop for a second and realize what's going on here, his intentions become clear. Look at the source code of the URL below, and you'll see that Richard intended the message "Nostradamus warned us about him!" to pop up - in effect, saying, "watch out for this guy" (and by "him," whether Richard means Saddam Hussein, the poster of the article, the guy Nostradamus was writing about, or whether he realized any of these are distinct is unknown). But he was definitely expressing disapproval for the article.

Reference URL: http://web.archive.org/web/20021121154945/www.geocities.com/theqraft/gopfunk/
posted by saveourskyline at 12:39 PM on May 16, 2007


If it's so uncompelling, why do you care who reads it?

I care about people being slandered. I'm funny that way.

Wow, I'm getting compared to Joseph McCarthy now - hyperbole, anybody? :)


You should talk, Mister "sneaky insinuation... out for revenge... carelessly and disappointingly negligent... opening yourself up to the questioning of your motives... looking like a sensationalist." You want to be dealt with in a reasonable and charitable way, deal with others that way.

let's not confuse it with not having any proof for the factual errors she made


I never said she didn't make factual errors. I said you were blowing them out of proportion and interpreting them in the worst possible way, all the while smarmily claiming you're full of "goodwill" and don't want to "trash anyone." If you don't want to trash anyone, start by not trashing anyone.

And you invited her to appear before your committee respond? How big-hearted of you. If I were her, I'd stay the hell away from anyone who clearly was out to get me, but maybe she's naive enough to try to defend herself against your attacks. If so, I'll be very interested to see how you respond.
posted by languagehat at 5:40 PM on May 16, 2007


I care about people being slandered. I'm funny that way.

I think you're confused about the definition of slander. It's not slander if I say "Person X did Y, and I think their motives are Z".

If you don't want to trash anyone, start by not trashing anyone.

I'm not trying to trash her. I think she's a very talented, intelligent individual who just went too far, but that's not my focus at the moment. But OK - fair enough. I can see how my tone goes overboard and becomes acerbic. Based on feedback, I've taken all of the conjecture regarding Sarah's motives out of my blog post. It now just contains facts about the problems in her article.

And you invited her to appear before your committee respond? ... If I were her, I'd stay the hell away from anyone who clearly was out to get me


You are cracking me up, languagehat. I'm not out to get anybody, I'm speaking up for someone whom nobody else will right now.

Speaking of him, if you haven't noticed on other mefi threads, although she changed “Richard”’s name for the article, she left enough real information in for anyone who cares to look to find his real name, along with his picture, phone number, and address. It’s since been posted and reposted in various places, with individuals reportedly emailing him, calling him, or mentioning that they're considering "swinging by his place to have a chat".

Yes, I'm pissed off at Sarah for her incorrect statements -- "he’s posing as a teenage girl interested in autoerotic asphyxiation", "he’s ranting about beating women", "he continues to post duclod jokes after he’s asked to stop". I wonder if you'd be so quick to jump to her side if she were writing false things like that about you.

But you're right, it's wrong to assume that she did it on purpose. 99% of the communication has been on her side, and I'm here to posit an alternative viewpoint, which people are free to ignore. The truth is, nobody knows what Sarah's motivations were except for Sarah.
posted by saveourskyline at 7:09 PM on May 16, 2007


I should comment on my earlier post that starts "It's also interesting to consider why she split the story up into two articles." I did some further digging regarding when the two articles were published, and when his sites came down. I was looking for a scoop to confirm my theory that she contacted his family before publishing both articles, but the evidence doesn't bear that out - it seems to fit perfectly well with her alleged timeline. So there's no reason to suspect that she had all of the information up front.
posted by saveourskyline at 7:35 PM on May 16, 2007


Clearly, "weird" people should be taken out and shot, for their own good and that of Society. And obviously no college student should ever be made uncomfortable by anybody.
posted by davy at 9:24 PM on May 16, 2007


hahahaha :)
posted by saveourskyline at 11:05 PM on May 16, 2007


But OK - fair enough. I can see how my tone goes overboard and becomes acerbic. Based on feedback, I've taken all of the conjecture regarding Sarah's motives out of my blog post. It now just contains facts about the problems in her article. ...

But you're right, it's wrong to assume that she did it on purpose. ... The truth is, nobody knows what Sarah's motivations were except for Sarah.


Thanks very much for this. Sorry if I came off as unnecessarily belligerent, but you sounded like someone who refused to listen to reason. I'm glad I was wrong.
posted by languagehat at 1:37 PM on May 17, 2007


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