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Max Karson: First Amendment Champion or Fucktard?

YetiNoFeelingsSmall.JPGSo, most people are familiar with the old “tragedy plus time equals comedy” maxim, right? And most people have enough tact to know when it’s “too soon,” right? In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, it’s one thing to make this particular joke (which was directed more at the media) only a few hours after the incident, but quite another to introduce alleged satire into a college classroom a day or two after the shooting. Well, that’s just what a University of Colorado student did the other day.

During a discussion of the shooting in a gender and race class, Max Karson made comments sympathetic to the VT shooter, saying “if anyone in here says that they’ve never been so angry that you wanted to kill 32 people, you’re lying,” and that he was “angry about all kinds of things, from fluorescent light bulbs to the unpainted walls, and it made him angry enough to kill people.” Karson was also reportedly asked: “Would you kill all of us?” His response: “No. Not all of you.”

Obviously, the comments scared the bejesus out of his classmates; students left class crying, scared for their lives, and shaken up. Even today, students are questioning whether to return to that particular class, though I understand there will be a police officer standing guard. But given the circumstances, the school made the only logical decision it could: It had Max Karson arrested and jailed for a day, before he was released on bail. The charge: “Interference with staff, faculty or students of an educational institution.” He’s also been suspended and banned from campus. He has since pleaded not guilty to the charge.

So, the question here is: Were Karson’s First Amendment rights violated? I mean, seriously: “Interferences with staff, faculty, or students of an education institution”? What kind of charge is that? And given the guy’s past history, it seems somewhat likely that the statements were satirical in nature (not funny, of course, but still … ). Karson has done this sort of thing before: in high school, he circulated a newsletter claiming that he was “gayer than Big Bird” for his friend, Matt, and another in which he satirically suggested that he’d been romantically involved with a principal accused of inappropriate conduct (the newsletter helped lead to the principal’s resignation).

And just last year he wrote an article in a self-published newsletter about “the myth of the female orgasm” and “argued that the clitoris is functionless (‘like an appendix’), breasts have no nerves and can therefore be squeezed as hard as possible, and the sex act should proceed without lubrication, ‘so they can really feel it.’” It was meant, according to Karson, as satire. The administration, however, was not pleased with the insensitivity of the article and looked into their legal options. Karson called in the ACLU, and the school rightfully backed down (it was a stupid, insensitive article — but, hey! That’s what the First Amendment is for.) (The ACLU was brought in after the high school incidents as well; in both instances, he got his suspensions taken off his permanent record).

And now I suspect that the ACLU will be brought in to help Karson once again, and CU will likely lose this battle as well. In the meantime, students in his class have no idea what to think — was he making a joke? Was he serious? Should we wear bulletproof vests to class? Personally, I think he’s a jackass with a bad sense of humor, but otherwise harmless. But if I were a student in that class and he was allowed to return to it, I seriously doubt I’d feel comfortable sitting next to the Fucktard.

| Comments (22)


Comments

This is why people overreacting after a tragedy is irritating. Some jackhole decides to get a rise out of people and gets thrown in jail, knowing full well that he's protected. Said jackhole then looks like a 1st Amendment martyr rather than just an attention whore with poor taste.

More interesting, though, is what he was arrested for. If someone actually felt threatened, and was unsure whether he had the ability to make good on his threat, wouldn't it just be assault? And if noone felt threatened, how did the call to the police go, "Hi, I'm in class, and a guy just made an insensitive remark. Please arrest him."?

I'm not sure whether I find Fucktard or whoever dropped the dime on him more contemptible.

as a vet of combat who has personally seen streets covered in body parts i feel any coments made to satire a mass murder the day after the incident are just in bad taste and all he wanted was to get his name somewhere to make himself feel important. i wonder if he would make the same comments if someone went to his families home and slaughtered his entire family because the paint on the walls drove him to it

i think people overreacted but it was DEFINITELY too soon for any sort of comment of that nature. it's tactless and disrespectful.

People forget that schools are in a no-win situation with potential violence.

Arrest the kid who was (unsuccessfully) trying to be funny and get the ACLU shoved down their throats -or- not respond, cross your fingers that he was only joking, and be crucified later if violence does break out.

From the sound of the douchebag's prior record, he would have brought down the ACLU even if they had only removed him from the class for the rest of the term.

It's more pathetic when you realize that Max's father is a child psychologist and attorney who makes himself available as an expert witness in criminal and child custody cases (see his power point presentation at www.cdhs.state.co.us/childwelfare/Documents/MichaelKarsonfinal.ppt). This is a man who should know better, yet has created a monster of a child -- now a man-child -- who will now cast doubt on his father's ability to reason effectively as an expert witness on anything. It all comes home to roost, and I suspect it is too late for Mr. Karson, Esq., to correct the faulty parenting he has already done on his child. So let him spend the rest of his life defending his son and his son's right to disturbing free speech as long as he wants. He'll probably have plenty of time to do that now that demands on his time as an expert witness ought to shrivel up and die. (I see that Max's newsletter -- The Yeti -- has been taken down for a while. Maybe the family and dad in particular are a little embarrassed at how their doubtlessly "gifted" son's mind works??

This is fine. It is a free country right? I dont agree with him but he has every right to speak his mind just like crazy Cho had every right to go buy a freaking 9mm. We live in America and arresting him makes me upchuck Red, White, and Blue all over these other retarded comments.

I agree with cooter..
since when is bad taste a crime?
I'm sure the people in this class are familiar with Karson's style. It was pure overreaction at a time of heighten sensitivity. I would rather have a discussion where someone verbalizes this point of view and sparks a constructive discussion NOT a call to po po.

Right now, as a college student, there is no room in any classroom for "constructive discussion" of wanting to shoot your classmates. This guy had the opportunity to say "Hey, I'm joking!" Given his prior actions, this looks nothing like satire. Swift talked about eating babies; this guy talks about rape, sexual abuse, and mass murder. They were overreacting? Look at all the incidents that have come after this - hostage killed in NASA campus, bomb threats. I don't think it was overreacting to want to feel safe from a potentially dangerous classmate, but the law isn't a big fan of "potential" harm.

sounds like death threats to me.

I have another fantastic campus overreaction for you. Yale University has banned the use of realistic stage weapons from all theatrical productions, possibly forever, because of the VA Tech shootings. This was first recently applied to a play with swords set in medieval times. Google yale daily news and red noses to find out more.

This is America. You can be a fucktard AND a First Amendment champion.

Anybody who watches Stargate SG:1 will appreciate this.
I want to get a costume like the Ori Priors on Stargate SG1. With my glowing staff I'd proclaim,"Hallowed be the teachings of 'Political Correctness'.""you must embrace 'Political Correctness'." "For if you do not embrace 'Political Correctness',you'll be fired like Don Imus,or thrown in jail like Max Karson."

To those commenters here who have bleated "It's TOO SOON" or some such crap, my question is this: when precisely WILL it be okay to say stuff like this? I'd like a precise date and time. So what if it was tactless and disrespectful. Exactly who was it disrespectful towards?? I really don't get that particular comment? And anyway, tactless and disrespectful speech is precisely the kind that needs to be and is protected under the first amendment.

Too bad they're trying to delete the wikipedia page documenting what's been done to Max Karson:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Karson

Ben, I believe it was disrespectful to his classmates: “Would you kill all of us?” His response: “No. Not all of you.”

And they day after is by my standards TOO SOON. Yale may be taking it too far with fake weapons, but getting so angry he'd kill people is intent to commit murder. I find it really hard to believe that if you were in that classroom and his comments were made, you would be fighting for his rights over your personal safety.

Establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, and promoting general welfare are ALSO in the Constitution, not just the First Amendment. I think some people forget that.

I think this intire thing is so blown out of proportain...Seriously i live in maryland which is no where near where this happened and it seems people everywhere are talkin about it...Well i think theres nothing worng with what he said..So what! it was "Too Early" to the incident..the kid should be allowed to say whatever he wants
It was a collage classroom and not some holding pen for babies who cant here honest oppinons Because thats all it was his oppion and i bet some people really think that sometimes not saying the would do it but we all think stuip things from time to time based on emotins...
there isn't one hormone drivein girl out there, when there boyfriends really pissed them off hasnt thought or said id really like to kill him even thought you loved him...Huh??? Well i think if he just did it for attention what does it matter Because you can bet the person who called the police wasnt doing it Because they were honestly scared.

Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you stop talking for a while.

maxKarson and his father need help, free expression is ok in it's place, just like sex is...
but what max does is basically "public masturbation" (just like the flag burners)
Don't forget there are many limits on free speech already: you can't legally slander and libel or say certain words on television...there are copyright restrictions, you can't yell fire in a crowded arena, you can't threaten to kill someone...(all restrictions on free speech? lol?)
maxKarson and his father need to grow up...go away somewhere and write a novel or screenplay why don' ya

I think this attention-whore loser asstard would have learned a better lesson if one of the kids in his class had walked over to him immediately after his 'look at me' comments and beat the shit out of him. Problem solved, idiot learns a lesson and what court would prosecute anyone who could just argue self-defense?

It's when we give creedence to the spoutings of these pathetic losers that we really waste time and detract from meaningful dialogue.

when you pansies in the lowest common denominator see max walk free in the near future, just remember this:

life sucks. get a helmet.

there is no law on the books require that i be sensitive or kind. and god willing there will never be.

Free speech dictates what we are allowed to say (almost anything), not when. A classroom is a controlled environment, in terms of subject matter and progression, presumably dictated by the instructor. As an instructor, I can dictate that a single uninvited utterance (i.e., speaking without requesting and being given the floor) will result in lost points or dismissal from the class. Is that a first amendment violation? No, because we're not talking about a free environment. One voluntarily enters a structured environment, one accepts the constraints. Talking like a sociopath in a college classroom, to me, would appear to be an actionable event (but only academically, not criminally).

If anyone looks at the reporting they will see that there was no joke involved, only discussion.