VA Tech Shooting and 1st Amendment rights


April 18, 2007, 02:36 PM
This story just came up on Fox News. Apparently a CU Boulder student was arrested by campus police after making what are described as threatening comments during an in class discussion about the VT shootings.

On one hand, I can understand making note of the fellow. This does strike me as going beyond the pale given his history of "pushing the envelope" of free speech. ‘Yeti' student arrested

By PAULA PANT Colorado Daily Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:00 PM MDT

A CU-Boulder student was arrested Tuesday for allegedly threatening his classmates during a discussion about the Virginia Tech massacre.

CU sophomore Max Karson was arrested after making several comments during a morning class in the journalism school that some classmates perceived as a direct, physical threat, according to Cmdr. Brad Wiesley of the CU Police Department.

Karson has been suspended from CU, according to his father, Michael Karson. CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard could not confirm the suspension, citing privacy laws.

“He made comments along the lines that he could understand how somebody could be angry enough to kill 32 people,” Wiesley said. “He said that there were things about CU, the fact that the classroom walls were unpainted Š the lighting in the classroom, were all things that were making him mad enough to do something.

“They felt, in their mind, there was a good chance he was capable of carrying out something, based on the threats that he made in the class,” Wiesley said.

Karson was arrested Tuesday afternoon and has been charged with one count of interference with staff, faculty or students of an educational institution, a misdemeanor.

Karson's father said he spoke to CU-Boulder Vice Chancellor Ron Stump at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“Basically what [Stump] said was they suspended him for something [Karson] said in class,” Michael Karson said. “They say he made such outrageous and threatening comments that the class could not continue.”

By the Colorado Daily's deadline at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Stump had not replied to an e-mail the Daily sent after normal business hours.

At 8 p.m. Tuesday Karson was in custody at Boulder County Jail. He could either be released on bond late Tuesday night or be arraigned Wednesday, Wiesley said.

The student has a history of pushing the free-speech envelope. In high school in Massachusetts, Karson was suspended for circulating a controversial newsletter. His high school revoked his suspension and relaxed their free speech restrictions after lawyers intervened.

Karson has gained notoriety at CU for publishing a controversial biweekly newsletter, “The Yeti,” which makes tongue-in-cheek statements such as “my dream girl is a lot like a punching bag with a hole in it.”

Karson's father said his sons' classroom statement was “outrageous yes, but threatening no.”

The father said he is contacting the American Civil Liberties Union and private attorneys.

Contact Paula Pant about this story at or 303-531-4951


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Lobotomy Boy
April 18, 2007, 02:55 PM
I know there is a tendency towards overreaction by the nanny state, but at the same time taking threats seriously is a responsibility of the state. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, to see whether his First Amendment rights have been violated or if he acted in a legitimately threatening behavior.

El Tejon
April 18, 2007, 03:03 PM
Ahhh, the Ivory Tower! What a shining palladium of Free Speech.:rolleyes:

At least the preening hypocrites in academia can STFU about their "beloved free speech."

When "Free Speech" is a weapon to attack Western Civilization, it is to be protected at all costs. When "Free Speech" scares the sissies directly, they run screaming to the university administration.;)

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