Analysis

Jamie Newman hints at suing Purdue Students for Life over rape remarks

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Today we have a pathetic but not entirely surprising epilogue to the saga of Jamie Newman, the Purdue University staffer who quit following outrage over his hate speech directed at pro-lifers: threats of litigation.

First, Newman called campus pro-life activists “vile, racist idiots” who might be “evil” for informing their classmates of abortion’s disproportionate death toll among black babies. Then the outrage intensified when he told a commenter here at Live Action News, during an argument about abortions in rape cases:

My hypothesis is that if your wife, daughter, sister, or mother were raped, you’d see to it that any resulting fetus was aborted pronto. Shall we attempt to arrange an experiment that might test my hypothesis? […] Oh, I’m sorry. So, let me make my intentions quite explicit: I did in fact offer to rape Tom’s wife/daughter/great grandmother. Free of charge, even. I’m generous that way.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Newman quit rather than wait to be canned. But now comes word that Newman says he’s thinking about suing Students for Life for exposing him:

(1) Your parent organization, Students For Life, fabricated an allegation that I’d threatened to rape pro-life Purdue students for purposes of impregnating them, and that my wife had agreed to assist me by holding my victims down. It disseminated this fabricated allegation via its web site, and probably through its email distribution list. (2) In an effort to determine whether this allegation was credible, SLF was contacted by the Purdue University Police Department and asked to provide its sources for the allegation. SLF was unable to provide any sources. None […]

(3) After removing its original defamatory story about me from its web site, SFL replaced it with a different, but still defamatory, story, about me. The new story alleged that I had threatened to rape pro-life woman — not Purdue students in particular. The evidence put forward to support this claim was a message I’d posted in a comments thread on the web site of Live Action, another anti-abortion organization.

Even for the annals of egotistical hatemongers trying to shirk responsibility, this is getting surreal. Apparently Newman realized that it doesn’t work to claim comments you’ve already admitted making were “fabricated,” so now he’s trying to suggest some other accusation was the “fabrication.” But from the beginning of this story, all the coverage has centered around the undisputed “test my hypothesis”/“offer to rape” comments.

The deleted post he refers to seems to be this one, and while it does also quote Blanke as accusing Newman of additional vile remarks (reportedly deleted comments administrators were trying to restore), it also contains a scan of what we know he said—disproving Newman’s defense that SFL swapped in his rape “offer” after the fact. Purdue SFL didn’t respond to the College Fix about his latest complaints, but with some comments about raping pro-lifers already on the record, the accusation that he made more certainly seems more likely than not. (I have also contacted Purdue SFL for comment, and will update if they reply.)

But Newman is also outrageously outraged that people were offended by his “offer to rape Tom’s wife/daughter/great grandmother,” firing off a string of irrelevancies that he thinks should prove it wasn’t really threatening, and that mean old pro-lifers arbitrarily decided it was to retaliate against his original criticism of Purdue SFL:

[N]one of the participants in the thread, or anyone from Live Action, actually felt threatened by any of my messages in that thread at the time they were posted. We know they didn’t feel threatened because they were never reported to any law enforcement agency that might have been authorized to investigate or prosecute me for making them at the time I made them. Although one of the participants in the thread, identified as “PJ4” claimed — IN THE THREAD — that she was contemporaneously calling either the West Lafayette Police Department or the FBI, this appears to have been a lie. Neither SFL or Live Action has produced any record of a report having been made to either agency.

Note that he has no justification for his remarks’ content—which he astoundingly defends as a “joke” warranting no apology. Newman’s comments displayed a hateful, disgusting character that was entirely unfit for a position of respect and authority in a learning environment where students are supposed to be able to express their ideas freely.

Even the “charitable” interpretation of Newman’s remarks—that he was merely trying to make the point that pro-lifers really would support abortion if it was their relatives who had been raped and were facing unwanted pregnancies—is malicious. As an accusation that dodges a direct argument over abortion’s permissibility in rape cases, that he cannot possibly know is or is not applicable to any specific pro-lifer, and that the pro-lifer can’t disprove, Newman’s “stand” is nothing more than the circumstantial ad hominem and burden of proof fallacies wrapped in a extra layer of viciousness.

Never mind that, though. Newman concludes by stressing that he’s not only the victim here; he’s the hero:

You’ve attempted to destroy me and my family by persistently, brazenly, and shamelessly lying about me, and broadcasting those lies all over the world. In the process, you’ve threatened to destroy the University whose integrity you shamelessly claim you are seeking to defend.

If you can sleep at night, and hug your own children, knowing that you’ve done this, then go to your demonstration. If you believe that you haven’t violated God’s commandment against bearing false witness, go to your demonstration. If you and your organization are prepared to risk incurring millions of dollars in damages for defaming me so deliberately and mercilessly, go to your demonstration. If you are comfortable attempting to destroy Purdue, go to you demonstration.

Funny, Purdue counsel Steve Schultz doesn’t seem to think Newman was the one upholding the school and its honor—he holds Newman “entirely” responsible for Purdue’s ordeal and his comments an “embarrassment.”

It’s hard to imagine Jamie Newman’s lawsuit (should he bother to make good on his threat) getting very far, since by his own admission he wasn’t forced out of his job and his undisputed comments are damning enough. But the fact that, after all this, he is unwilling to own up to any degree of misconduct demonstrates that Purdue University students are better off without him.

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