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Old March 13, 2009, 10:39 AM   #51
gretske
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IMO, this is a faulty comparison fallacy.
How is this a "faulty fallacy?" Both Ahmadinijad and the US military are advocating their point of view to students, but the administration of the University is apparently more concerned about the impact of those who are entrusted with the security of our nation than those that want to destroy it.th

At the end of the little bastard's speech, the Columbia moderator said, "But I think we can all be pleased that his appearance here demonstrates Columbia's deep commitment to free expression and debate."

Unless, of course, you are a member of the military who preserve and protect our precious freedoms.

It is a classic case of knee-jerk liberal hypocrisy.

And, that, is the "truthful truth." (since we are doing double affirmations.)

Now, before anyone gets their mortarboard in a knot, there are also instances of conservative hypocrisy, but we are not discussing them in this thread.
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Old March 13, 2009, 10:41 AM   #52
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TG - there are NO good predictive signs that don't generate many false positives.

The best we have is:

1. Owning weapons and a fascination with such (oh, dear)

AND

2. Making threats

That should get you a close look. The causal factors that lead to a rampage are not good predictors as for most they are unknowable by others before the rampage. We do know that seemingly arbitrary disciplinary actions that disrespect unstable people can be a prime for violence. As is bullying (more a high school thing). Coupled with depression or other disorders gives you a dangerous package but that is in a small percent of those who have gone through such. Schools are reluctant to deal with bullying because sometimes the bullying is done by the value 'alpha' males of the school.

To get folks to turn in folks who show the two signs is difficult. Young people are very oriented towards social groups and reluctant to turn in peers. Schools are reluctant to act because of civil rights concerns and law suits.

Let's say the next professor gets a paper on student carry but in the body of the paper - the kid sounds disturbed in some manner - what does that prof do?

That's why it is a difficult problem. Cho was really obvious and the school blew his threat off.

Since prediction is a bear - we advocate that folks be allowed to carry on campus. However, that unleashes other issues.

1. Are students a peculiar risk if allowed to carry? Mature, immature, etc. There are older students vs. drunks in the dorms.

2. Carrying on campus - what are the responsibilities of the fac/staff carrier - are they pseudo-LEOs? This is an issue if the school explicitly allows carry as compared to it being a state law. The former implies an approved agency of the school rather than just being an armed citizen.

3. Training - this drives me wild. If you argue for carry on campus to specifically stop rampages - should you have a modicum of training for a high intensity gun fight and stress? I see posturing paper target and rock shooters want to carry on campus. Well, I think they should if state laws allow general CCW on campus. If they want special agency, as a guardian, then get your butt into training. If I were a cost / legal concerned administrator and you came to me and said - I want to carry, blah,blah, RKBA, blah, Blah - VT, Blah, blah - I might say back - well, how skilled are you? The reply, I shoot at rocks in the country. -- That will get you laughed at.

For me, the optimal solution is for state legislatures to null bans on carry on campuses (the great private property argument). The armed person on campus as no more responsibility than in the mall or church.

As for other comments - I repeat my position that I don't accept blanket rants that colleges are all - blah, blah, blah. All professors stink - blah, blah, blah. All Liberals - blah, blah, blah. Not productive and in fact, counterproductive if you want to make the RKBA case.

My sig article came out of a campus discussion about gun rights and the Pink Pistols on our school chat system. Then the NTI folks asked me to wirte it up. Harper's magazine had an article on why progressives should support gun rights - one major point was the fear of tyranny from the right.
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Old March 13, 2009, 11:05 AM   #53
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GM - Your excellent articles and the thoughtful posts are on target, but I would like to offer one thought. I don't see the purpose of allowing properly licensed students or faculty to carry on campus to be any different than any other purpose for carrying a weapon.

A citizen is licensed to carry for one reason, and only one reason - for personal protection. LEOs have a totally different mission - to protect and defend. They are trained equipped and tasked to support this mission. For example, LEOs entering a situation would have body armor, which private citizens do not walk around wearing. This drastically changes the tactics that are available.

I would not expect an armed citizen to use their weapon in a proactive manner in defense of others, nor do I even think it is desirable. But, the fact is, that a citizen who does act in defense of their own person, will likely neutralize the threat, saving others in the process. Without proper training in "protecting and defending," an armed citizen could cause more damage to their self or others.
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Old March 13, 2009, 11:33 AM   #54
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Good discussion

Well, I am heartened by reading another lively and thoughtful discussion about our right to bear arms and the nature of the political and psychological context in our country on this issue.

FWIW I am a clinical psychologist and on the faculty of a major medical school. I have had guns all my life since my brother taught me gun safety, and I started shooting our .22 rifle at the age of 5. My son goes to a liberal arts university and enjoys shooting with his father. My experience is that the tendency for polarized debate occurs in the academic world much like everywhere else. There is thoughtful discussion, but also emotionally-driven reactivity and stereotyping.

Part of what Glenn Meyer does IMO is to help reduce some of the reactivity by providing education to, hopefully, a broad base of people. If we want to have greater relevance and credibility we have to engage in dialogue with those who are on the other side of the table, or sitting on the fence, regarding the right to bear arms and safety in America. We have to try to understand what they are afraid of and respond to their fears. If a person's son or daughter had been at Virginia Tech during the killings wouldn't it be understandable that he/she would be angry about the ease of accessibility to guns by unstable people?

We have to expand our discussion beyond just "preaching to the choir" of our own group of gun enthusiasts. We need to find ways to create dialogue with a greater range of people and help reduce the stereotypes and caricatures that many people have of us.

Last edited by fomalley; March 13, 2009 at 11:40 AM.
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Old March 13, 2009, 12:20 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by fomalley
We need to find ways to create dialogue with a greater range of people and help reduce the stereotypes and caricatures that many people have of us.
Yes, exactly.

One good place to start might be by not overreacting to stories like this. The professor was concerned about a student's statements and reported her concern to the campus police, who asked him to come in and speak with them. They queried him about where his guns were kept and were satisfied with his answer. End of story.

Did the professor overreact? Probably, but given the recent number of mass shootings, her reaction was understandable in a non-gun person. Did the campus police overreact? Of course not. Asking him to come in and speak with them face to face seems reasonable; I'm sure they were also very alert to whether he came across as disturbed in any way -- interviewing him in person would, it seems to me, give them a better sense of his mental state than they'd get from a phone conversation.

To try to blow this up into a huge 1st amendment issue, turn it into yet another excuse for liberal-bashing, etc., seems to me to be a good way to perpetuate those stereotypes and caricatures.

Glenn is right that prediction, in these cases, is very problematic. But while permitting concealed carry on campuses might reduce casualties in a future incident, I don't think it will do a thing to prevent one; the people who do this stuff aren't rational and are not likely to be deterred by the fact that others around them may be armed.

So aren't a few false positives, of exactly this kind, a reasonable trade-off for even one good catch of a disturbed individual with a hit list and a closet full of pawnshop guns? I'd rather see the campus police politely interview a few people and find that one guy than have us wind up saying, "Oh, well, he only shot 7 people, not 30, before the guy with the CC permit and the handgun shot him!" and then try to call that a victory for our side...
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Old March 13, 2009, 12:51 PM   #56
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Did the campus police overreact? Of course not. Asking him to come in and speak with them face to face seems reasonable; I'm sure they were also very alert to whether he came across as disturbed in any way -- interviewing him in person would, it seems to me, give them a better sense of his mental state than they'd get from a phone conversation.
But, this is exactly the point, dragging (I know this is an emotionally loaded word) someone in to explain themselves for a point of view is intimidation, pure and simple.

Of course, we don't have the benefit of seeing the details of the presentation that caused the big to-do, so I am assuming that, since both the professor and the student are consistent in stating that the presentation was only exploring the notion of whether concealed carry on campus would be beneficial.

But, assuming that there was nothing incendiary in the presentation, this is a blatant example of using power to intimidate. There is no other way to look at it. What if the student had said he was a Republican, or a Mormon, or a vegetarian, and the campus police questioned him on it? You don't think that is a violation of his civil rights? If you don't, then you better go back and read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Think about the impact on the student body. "Hey, I hear Johnny had his butt drug in and was grilled about his presentation about guns on campus."

"Really, well, I guess we better not mention 'guns' on campus anymore, unless you want to talk to Officer Krupke."

This is not Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Communist China, or the Islamic Republic of Iran, people are allowed to hold and express non-violent political positions without being harassed by the campus administration or its police force.
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Old March 13, 2009, 01:19 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gretske
...dragging (I know this is an emotionally loaded word) someone in to explain themselves for a point of view is intimidation, pure and simple. ... What if the student had said he was a Republican, or a Mormon, or a vegetarian, and the campus police questioned him on it?
Gretske, if you read the story linked in the first post, you know that they weren't questioning him on his views. They were questioning him on where he kept his guns, as he was prohibited from keeping them on campus. I assume that their first step was finding out that he did indeed own guns, which would have raised its own "red flag;" see Glenn Meyer's post about predictive factors. Now think about the position the campus police, in particular, would have been in, if they had not acted on the professor's concerns, and Mr. Wahlberg had turned out to be another Cho.

Please note that I DO think that Professor Anderson overreacted, especially given that academic freedom is something I take very seriously. The campus police? Not so much. Once they were notified -- rightly or wrongly -- of a concern that a student might pose a risk to public safety, they had an obligation to check him out, I think.

And, yes, "dragging" is an emotionally loaded word. So are "Nazi Germany..." etc. See fomalley's point above about emotional reactivity and stereotyping.

Last edited by Vanya; March 13, 2009 at 01:25 PM.
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Old March 13, 2009, 01:30 PM   #58
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Hmm?

Glenn –
Nice thesis. Some thoughts –

Quote:
there are NO good predictive signs that don't generate many false positives
That’s because we are all positives, falsely so sometimes but all with the capacity of true positiveness.

Quote:
1. Owning weapons and a fascination with such (oh, dear)
AND
2. Making threats
We all own weapons and are fascinated with them (guns, size, attitude, authority, power, intellect, knowledge, ownership, etc) and we all, from time to time at least, make threats using our weapons. In the case in point, the professor used her authority and position to initiate a threat to the student.

We all are also threatened by ideas and discomforts. This is when we usually display or at least prepare to display one or more of our weapons. If you display a gun over an idea or a simple discomfort, it is illegal. Displaying other weapons is usually not illegal. The idea of someone thinking that possession of fire arms on campus by non-LEs is very threatening to some.

Quote:
seemingly arbitrary disciplinary actions that disrespect {unstable} people can be a prime for violence. As is bullying (more a high school thing)
Arbitrary disciplinary actions are bullying.

We all are capable of instability, especially when disrespected and/or threatened with bullying, i.e., using a gun to protect self or others, threatening a student for stating an opinion, etc.

Instability can be fleeting and whether fleeting or not can be dangerous.

“seemingly” Ah, now there’s the rub!

Quote:
Schools are reluctant to deal with bullying because sometimes the bullying is done by the value 'alpha' males of the school.
Is this not a problem that could/should be corrected? How about alpha females? Alpha professors?

Quote:
Let's say the next professor gets a paper on student carry but in the body of the paper - the kid sounds disturbed in some manner - what does that prof do?
“sounds disturbed” On what basis? What are the factors?

Quote:
[1. Are students a peculiar risk if allowed to carry? Mature, immature, etc. There are older students vs. drunks in the dorms.
Are people who are allowed to carry or even to possess firearms mature, immature, older, younger or drinkers?

Quote:
For me, the optimal solution is for state legislatures to null bans on carry on campuses (the great private property argument).
My state could disallow bans on weapons at public schools (carry and or no carry), but not on private campuses. This is one reason (making up their own rules), that several public schools in my state are trying to devise methods to achieve autonomy from state government control while yet remaining on the dole.

In addition –
I believe that your criticism of VT is overly harsh and a little over the top. The primary failures had to do with the subject of your thesis on how to determine threat, the conflicts of privacy issues with reporting of information between various agencies, and misjudgments by a lot of people including many out side of VT. We can easily tell by the scrambling going on at schools across the country that VT is not the only one now working hard to repair deficiencies. I vote to give them a break.
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Old March 13, 2009, 02:05 PM   #59
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Views

Vanya-
The police may not have questioned his views (we really don't know), but they were questioning him BECAUSE he expressed those views. He didn’t and doesn’t owe them the answer to the questions of whether or not he owned guns and where he kept them. He obviously already knew that guns are banned on campus (that is why he expounded his views). Did they have reason to suspect that he had them on campus other than his expressed views? If so, get a search warrant if needed (not sure what their rules are for search dorms) and take a look. The professor and the campus police all bullied, intimidated, and disrespected the student. I sure hope and pray that their acts of disrespecting him don’t have a snap impact on him. Whose fault would that be?

There are definitely several sides to this incident. Some were intimidated by uninformed ideas and unfounded fears, while one was intimidated by authorities. The authorities get no pass on this from “being careful”.
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Old March 13, 2009, 02:42 PM   #60
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Vanya -

I did read the article and have followed other press coverage since I am a journalist. And, I understand what you are saying, but I have serious rights concerns whenever people are subjected to scrutiny by law enforcement because of their views. And, ONLY for their views.

Start with this, what is the probable cause (a legal requirement for detention and/or questioning) in this case? That the student wrote a paper suggesting that guns should be allowed on campus? Remember, no threat was made or implied.

I wrote a letter to the editor which was published today rebutting an editorial that the law should require guns kept in people's homes to be locked at all times. Should the sheriff have the right to pick me up and question me about my gun ownership because of the public position I took? This is exactly what happens in a totalitarian country. People are harassed, and called to account for opinions, in an attempt to quell public resistance to the government. My examples of Nazi Germany, etc. was appropriate and accurate, in my opinion.

After you read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that I assigned you, ;-) might want to read Judge Andrew Napoliano's book, "Constitutional Chaos." He makes the most compelling case for safeguarding civil rights that I have ever seen.

I do appreciate the thoughtful and respectful discussion.

Last edited by gretske; March 13, 2009 at 02:43 PM. Reason: Smiley didn't work
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Old March 13, 2009, 04:06 PM   #61
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Quote:
How is this a "faulty [comparison] fallacy?"
While I certainly understand the views on the Columbia/Ahmedinajad issue, I just don't think it has any relation to the OP's original issue.

I would put money on it that the professor in question was not trying to promote any agenda. She is probably just a scared, uninformed person, trying to prevent any possible problems.

Right after 9/11 I hired a driver who was Armenian. He spoke with a thick accent and carried around a large, black bag (almost all drivers carry a small, black bag, but this one was large). I had several other employees express concern that he was carrying around a bomb or weapons. This went on for months. Was he making sure he was strong enough to tote all that ammonium nitrate around? Or maybe he was practicing carrying his AK and 50 magazines?

When he finally came in with a small bag one day, I asked him about it. He said that he had finished his classes and no longer needed to carry his books and laptop around with him anymore.

Fear. It's a powerful thing.
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Old March 13, 2009, 04:41 PM   #62
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Jumping to conclusions

Quote:
Fear. It'a a powerful thing.
Can't be said any better than that. Any of us can be afflicted by it.
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Old March 13, 2009, 04:53 PM   #63
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gretske, I actually agree with you that Mr. Wahlberg has something of a First Amendment-related civil rights beef with CT State. But in pragmatic terms, I stand by what I said: once alerted, the campus police had, effectively, no choice but to look into his professor's concerns.

Since some of us have been talking about this in terms of signal detection theory, let me make this a bit more explicit, as I think it's a useful way of thinking about what's actually going on here. The following is a sort of simple-minded graphical representation of how the theory works:



To keep this very simple, let's say that two things determine the relative probabilities of responses in each of the 4 categories in the box above: the signal-to-noise ratio (how hard the signal is to detect), and the motivation of the observer, which is determined, among other things, by the relative consequences of hits and misses. In the case we're discussing, call the "signal" that needs to be detected "wacko-who's-about-to-shoot-up-the-campus" -- "wacko" for short. As Glenn Meyer has pointed out, detecting wackos is really hard to do before the fact, which is another way of saying that there's a lot of noise. Now consider the consequences of hits, misses, correct rejections, and false alarms (or false positives).

A hit: A wacko is found, prevented from acting, and lives are saved.
A miss: A wacko kills a bunch of people.
A correct rejection: Mr. Wahlberg's feelings are spared. No one hears about any of this.
A false alarm: Mr. Wahlberg's feathers are ruffled, the U. takes some flak, and people on gun forums get to agonize about his civil rights.

Now, if you're the campus police, your overriding concern is to avoid misses, for obvious reasons, so the probability of false alarms goes way up. The risk of another campus shooting (and of the lawsuits that will result if it gets out that they were alerted that someone might be dangerous and they did nothing) will far outweigh even your concerns about a civil rights lawsuit.

So, yes, they ask him to come in for a little chat about his guns.

A correct rejection would have been nice, in principle: the police could have listened to Professor Anderson's concerns and said, "No, he sounds like just a normal guy who's expressing a belief in the 2nd Amendment."

But does anyone seriously think this was likely, given the consequences of a "miss" coupled with the fact that the campus police would be held responsible?? Give me a break.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theotherTexasRich
Fear. It's a powerful thing.
Exactly.
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Old March 13, 2009, 05:47 PM   #64
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Vanya -

I see your point, but, as you said, whoever the professor reported this to should have carefully and thoroughly qualified it. If, as the case is, the "qualifier" determines that it was a simple presentation that Mr. Wahlberg made proposing legalized carry, and there were no other indications, then they still should not have acted on it. Acting on the fact that he was only taking a position is harassment. Gun ownership is not illegal, nor is suggesting that students should be allowed to carry on campus. We cannot allow making ideas illegal or the triggers for rousting (ELT*) otherwise innocent citizens. This is inconsistent with the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

At this point, there are some remedies to this. First, perhaps the professor should be charged with filing a false report since there was no crime or potential crime in the making. Secondly, if the ACLU was really concerned with Civil Liberties, they should sue the school and the professor. If a student were brought in for questioning by the police department for advocating abortion, you know the ACLU would be on them like syrup on pancakes.

I understand that you want to give them a pass on this, and believe, "no harm, no foul." But, for me, any compromise of my Rights are always harmful and always foul.

*ELT = Emotionally Loaded Term (I think it is OK to use them. Tom Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John & Sam Adams and James Madison, among others, did. As a courtesy, I identify them.)

Last edited by gretske; March 13, 2009 at 05:49 PM. Reason: Forgot *ELT
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Old March 13, 2009, 06:31 PM   #65
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No Pass

Vanya -
By your reasoning, anybody could question anybody elses motives for anything and initiate a police investigation. Why even wait for an accuser. Let's just have the police investigate everyone. Maybe we could also get them to search everyone's property for anything that might indicate that they might be up to something dire. Think of all the possible bad things that we might prevent. Good idea?
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Old March 13, 2009, 06:44 PM   #66
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The trouble with your reasoning Vanya is that sociological systems are complex iterative sets with a stochastic feedback loop resulting in a upward modulation of the setpoint.
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Old March 13, 2009, 07:51 PM   #67
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M&M

That's exactly what I was trying to say. I think?
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Old March 13, 2009, 08:11 PM   #68
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Quote:
Gretske, if you read the story linked in the first post, you know that they weren't questioning him on his views. They were questioning him on where he kept his guns, as he was prohibited from keeping them on campus. I assume that their first step was finding out that he did indeed own guns, which would have raised its own "red flag;" see Glenn Meyer's post about predictive factors. Now think about the position the campus police, in particular, would have been in, if they had not acted on the professor's concerns, and Mr. Wahlberg had turned out to be another Cho.
Now that is a scary direction if i've ever read one.
Are you really advocating that gun ownership in and of itself is a "red flag"?
That all gun owners who have access to "gun free zones" should be interviewed by authorities to judge exactly how much of a threat they pose?
What's left to deter police from running the registration records of all students, faculty, and people who work or live within walking distance, then interrogating them all to make sure they dont also bring weapons onto school property. Do they pose more or less of a risk than this student? Regardless of the answer, what's the basis?


I agree that real threats must be taken a look at, but common sense did not play a role anywhere in this situation.

If we are classifying gun ownership as justification to be classified and treated as a threat, then this is much too close to a witch hunt for my comfort.
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Old March 13, 2009, 10:56 PM   #69
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Rights versus risk

First, in the Wahlberg case there's not much argument about the fact that the faculty member overreacted. To a reasonable person there wasn't evidence of a "threat," at least on the basis of what was reported.In other cases it's not so clear. People may argue with the applicability of the following situations, nevertheless . . .

Suspected child abuse:
Mental health professionals (like myself) are required by law in virtually every state to report to the proper authorities suspected child abuse. The language usually is something like "has reason to believe that a child is or has been abused." It doesn't mean I have to have evidence that would hold up in court, only that I have "reason to believe." Reporting child abuse is not only expected of me, but also of physicians, nurses, teachers, LEOs, and others. In the case of child abuse the requirement supersedes the confidentiality expectation between client and provider of services. Providers who make such reports in good faith are usually protected from liability (being sued by the client) in such cases.

Duty to warn:
Duty to warn statutes have to do with (again) mental health professionals' responsibility to warn potential victims if (again) "they have reason to believe" that a client is intending to harm the potential victim. The threat must be judged to be imminent or highly likely because this also involves overriding the confidentiality of a client. Some states (e.g., Texas) allow these reports but do not mandate them. In some other states such reports are required by law. In Texas the provider is not protected from liability. You can be sued if you don't report (and a targeted victim is injured or killed), and you can be sued if you do report (and violate confidentiality). Case law is murky.

My reason for going into all this is that these complicated laws address (sometimes not very well) the problems of protecting the individual's rights to privacy and freedom from harrassment on the one hand, and protecting the safety of people for whom there is a substantial risk of harm on the other. This is precisely the kind of dilemma that Vanya was trying to point out in the previous posts.

We can probably all agree that there was apparently no evidence of substantial risk to anyone in the Wahlberg case. The faculty member made a mistake and might be vulnerable to law suit from Wahlberg (but what do I know about that? I'm not a lawyer). Other situations are much more difficult to balance - rights versus risk. And, as Glenn Meyer has pointed out the assessment of risk (in terms of potential for violence) is complicated.

Last edited by fomalley; March 13, 2009 at 11:00 PM. Reason: incomplete post
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Old March 13, 2009, 11:56 PM   #70
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Who'd a thunk?

This forum continues to amaze me!

When I joined I thought I might be in danger of overly indulging my knuckle-dragging id. Imagine my amazement at finding such restrained and scholarly discussion that my super-ego is actually stimulated!

What disturbs me most about the whole proposition of a 'teacher' authority - or any authority - causing any kind of restrictive action, even one so slight as an interview - is that it is pro-active and preemptive. Condoning such is beyond my most liberal abilities.

What seems to be at issue here - although I'm certainly NOT a lawyer nor would I ever let myself enter that community because I know too many of them (wink, wink) - is defining the threshold of probable cause.

Why should ANY action be appropriate by the instructor when no crime has been committed and no indication has been given that any crime is threatened? To give the instructor and the school grace for having acted in such a manner as described is unthinkable in my opinion. The student should be outraged. His civil rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were impinged - however slightly - and trampled upon on the basis of some figment in the imagination of the instructor.

If this is allowed to stand, I could have the whole of the Texas Legislature, half of the faculty in Austin, and most of the US Congress called in for discussions with LE for what I fear they are going to do.

Someone has to tell the emperor he's buck-naked (or is that butt-naked?). Seems we're about discussing whether his clothes suit our style or are outrageous, instead.
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Old March 14, 2009, 10:11 AM   #71
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I think there is some confusion here. Some of you are bandying terms about, that have specific meanings, and have confused the following two terms:

Probable Cause: When there are grounds for suspicion that a person has committed a crime or misdemeanor, and public justice and the good of the community require that the matter should be examined, there is said to be a probable cause for, making a charge against the accused, however malicious the intention of the accuser may have been. Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856 Edition. See also here.

Technically, probable cause has to exist prior to arrest, search or seizure. It is evidence sufficient to obtain a warrant for an arrest or search and seizure. Or to effect an arrest or search and seizure when exigent circumstances exist, without a warrant.

Reasonable Suspicion sometimes referred to as Reasonable Articulable Suspicion: an objectively justifiable suspicion that is based on specific facts or circumstances and that justifies stopping (detention) and sometimes searching (as by frisking) a person thought to be involved in criminal activity at the time.

So the question becomes, did the lecturer have a reasonable suspicion to report the student to campus police and did the campus police have reasonable suspicion, based upon what the lecturer told them, to summon the student and interrogate him? (According to what we know, probable cause was not at work here.)

If the answer is, no, then a violation of civil rights may exist. Conversely, if the answer was, yes, then no violation has occurred.
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Old March 14, 2009, 10:42 AM   #72
gretske
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Actually, Al, it does not matter whether the person is detained (a temporary condition) or arrested (a formal condition). In either case, probable cause must be established before a person's rights can be curtailed.

This is clearly embodied in the Bill of Rights, Amendment 4 -
Quote:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The difference in detainment or arrest is technical, but, in no instance, can an individual's freedom of movement be curtailed unless and until probable cause can be established. In this situation, I contend that the mere expression of a political opinion cannot be sufficient to establish probable cause in the absence of other evidence that a crime has been, or is likely to occur.
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Old March 14, 2009, 11:55 AM   #73
Semi-jacketed
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Quote--"But while permitting concealed carry on campuses might reduce casualties in a future incident, I don't think it will do a thing to prevent one; the people who do this stuff aren't rational and are not likely to be deterred by the fact that others around them may be armed. "

Really? Are you sure that is a completely honest or finished thought, or simply an emotional idea that wants the world to be a certain way that feels good or allows a specific world perception to be true? Think of the shootings that have turned into mass murders in the last few decades. Where have they occurred? Schools, churches, daycares, office buildings and malls that deny the carry of personal firearms, but no one goes into a police station, gun range, military base, guard armory, or any other facility where it is known and accepted that there are people there with loaded weapons who are willing to use it.

And by the by, near Biloxi Mississippi a teenaged boy went on a shooting spree at a local school. He was stopped by a teacher who ran across the street to retrieve his pistol from his car as he wasn't allowed to have it on school grounds. Had he been able to carry concealed there were several folks who could have been saved while he was running to and fro to defend others rather than simply drawing and taking aim.

If it was commonly accepted that a significant (not even most) portion of the population was carrying concealed it is far more likely that petty grievances would be ignored or appropriately sorted out; self-regulation is much easier and physical bullying impossible when you are aware that the person is very capable of stopping you immediately. It's also likely that a "nut" wouldn't get very far in any shooting spree.

Most people respect law enforcement due to the badge and representation of authority that regulates society. Some people only respect violence, and those are exactly the people likely to go "crazy" or commit violent crimes when the opportunity presents itself. How about taking away the opportunity?
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Old March 14, 2009, 12:10 PM   #74
fomalley
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Response to Antipitas

In my post of yesterday (#69) I thought I made it clear that, regarding the Wahlberg case, I could not see from the reports any evidence to support the faculty member's actions. I did not comment on what the police did. The previous posts about the Wahlberg case served to open up a more general discussion of the problems that exist in our society regarding defending rights versus responding to risk.

I do not pretend to have comprehensive knowledge of the laws regarding such terms as probable cause and reasonable suspicion. However, I suspect that these terms are directed mostly at what must guide the actions of law enforcement and other agencies with legal authority.

Some civilians, who, because of the statutes governing their professional behavior (as in my case as a mental health professional), are expected to balance rights to privacy (confidentiality) against the potential risk to others (as in the cases of child abuse and serious threats of violence). The lawmakers have decided that certain professionals must exercise judgment and assess to the best of their abilities the degree of danger that may exist or harm that has been done. When reports regarding these types of issues are submitted it is then up to law enforcement or agencies with legal authority to determine, under their legal guidelines as to what actions, if any, to take.

In the Wahlberg case I would think (given my limited legal knowledge) that the issues of probable cause and reasonable suspicion are more relevant to what law enforcement did than the actions of the faculty member (which we all seem to agree were unwarranted). Whether Wahlberg has a case against her in civil court is beyond my scope.

The point of my post was not to review the Wahlberg case, but to point out that the lawmakers have determined that there is a balance between rights and risk, and it has been difficult for them to create clarity about this in many circumstances.
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Old March 14, 2009, 01:09 PM   #75
Vanya
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Semi-jacketed
Think of the shootings that have turned into mass murders in the last few decades. Where have they occurred? Schools, churches, daycares, office buildings and malls that deny the carry of personal firearms, but no one goes into a police station, gun range, military base, guard armory, or any other facility where it is known and accepted that there are people there with loaded weapons who are willing to use it.
Semi-jacketed, you're correct about the locations of these shootings, and it's a good point; but with the exception of a couple of these, such as the one in the Knoxville Unitarian church last year, it's not clear to me that the shooters went to those places because they expected people to be unarmed. Unhappy students shoot up their schools; unhappy workers shoot up their workplaces; and so forth. Whether people will be deterred if they know that someone in a school or church might be armed is an empirical question. If CC in any of these places is ever approved, then we might get some evidence...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MeekAndMild
The trouble with your reasoning Vanya is that sociological systems are complex iterative sets with a stochastic feedback loop resulting in a upward modulation of the setpoint.
Holy Big Words, M&M -- I surrender!
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