The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Candyass Blogger’ Update: Free Speech Absolutists Who Banned Mr. Althouse UPDATE: ‘These Are Historical Dildos’

Posted on | December 20, 2012 | 49 Comments

The defense of Professor Erik “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK” Loomis is becoming somewhat of a cause célèbre for the progressive community online and in academia. I’m actually working on a much longer piece about this ongoing controversy, based on my own vast experience in saying stupidly offensive stuff that pisses people off. Meanwhile . . .

Essential to the progressive pro-Loomis project is promoting a narrative in which (a) Loomis is the victim of deliberate misrepresentation, and (b) the full context of the controversy is obscured. This is the bogus narrative presented by Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Education:

Critics of Loomis have been quick to describe the tweet as literal. The blog  American Thinker wrote, under the headline “Professor  Calls for Murder of NRA President,” the following: “A professor at a  taxpayer-supported state university has called for the murder of the president  of the NRA. Apparently the carnage in Newtown, Connecticut was not enough  slaughter to satisfy the blood lust of Erik Loomis….” At National Review  Online, the headline was “The  Post-Newtown Witch Hunt: Anti-gun champions of nonviolence urge violent death on  NRA members.” Other bloggers have taken to attacking  Loomis’s scholarship (which focuses on environmental and labor history).

Now, if you are aware of what Loomis actually did, you know it wasn’t just one Tweet (“head on a stick”) that got him in hot water.

As Professor Donald Douglas has explained, before Loomis deleted his Twitter account, it “was practically flooded with blood from all the violent tweets and retweets he’d been sending out.” Unless you consider Tweeting “Fuck the NRA” and re-Tweeting messages about “fuckers” deserving to be “beaten to death” to be appropriate forms of expression for an assistant professor of history, this meltdown was . . . well, arguably problematic.

When I said that the mentally ill should be in institutions, public universities weren’t the kind of institutions I had in mind.

Leaving aside whatever personal psychiatric issues may afflict The Ranting Professor — and if a nut like Loomis can legally buy a gun, maybe we do need new laws — Jaschik’s link to “attacking Loomis’s scholarship” is to the guest blog Badger Pundit wrote late Tuesday night.

To Jaschik, apparently, to “attack” someone’s scholarship is to quote their dissertation and describe its contents. Whose fault is it that Erik Loomis, Ph.D., studied the historic significance of anal sodomy in logging camps and the proletarian symbolism of “Everest’s testicles”?

It this a dissertation or a Monty Python skit?

Well, enough with the random sarcasm. It is interesting to note that the chief proprietor at Lawyers, Guns & Money, where Erik Loomis blogs when he’s not pondering the genitalia of early 20th-century I.W.W. members or gibbering like a madman on Twitter, banned Ann Althouse’s significant other in March 2011, inspiring her to brand Professor Robert Farley a “candyass blogger.”

So the operative principle is clear: (A) it would be a crime against human liberty for Erik Loomis to be denied tenure at the University of Rhode Island merely because he’s a demented kook, and (B) no fair trying to talk back to Commissar Farley and the LG&M politburo.

Intimidation,” anyone?

UPDATEFrom comments on Dr. Loomis’s latest opus:

RedWood says:
December 20, 2012 at 10:42 am
Again LOOMIS was the one going on and on (and on) about anal sex in his dissertation, and tweeted that he gets very excited talking about dildos to his teenage students. Who is the one with issues again?

Erik Loomis says:
December 20, 2012 at 10:44 am
To be clear, these are historical dildos we talked about. Actually read about to be specific. I can provide you some readings if you’d like to learn.

Uh, spare us the footnote citations, Professor . . .

(Hat-tip: Badger Pundit on Twitter.)


  • whig


    I am a college professor and if I made such remarks, I will expect some sort of disciplinary action. I also teach public law.

    I would not expect outright firing, re Pickering v. Board of Education,391 U.S. 563 (1968) would be constitutional but it could be a factor for tenure and promotion and performance reviews–eg collegiality is one of the standard criteria.

    What any disciplinary action need to follow is content neutral–eg. time, place, and manner instead of content regulation. Thus, the use of obscenities, the identification with the University, violent threats against NRA members, could all be viewed as unprofessional and impair his relationship with students (actual and potential). It would still be rolling the dice whether a court would agree with any University’s disciplinary action that adversely affected Loomis’s property or liberty interests.

    His property interest depends on his contractual rights which is probably quite extensive in Rhode Island and may involve union membership. The liberty interest analysis requires the court to determine whether the speech is protected (my guess would be yes as the debate was on a matter of public importance and did not involve disruption of the work environment relationship with his immediate supervisors). A lawyer that specializes in Rhode Island law and university administrative law would be able to shed further light on Loomis.

  • Auntie fraud

    Then 9th word in his non-apology is “wingnut”. At that point he has already lost his argument.

  • K-Bob

    Those are good points. We can an must continue exposing these people for the violent rhetoric.

    What they are doing now is exactly the same thing as those Palestinian children whose parents train them to get in the faces of Israeli soldiers, trying to incite them to respond.

    The proper response is to spread the video, spread the evidence that shows this execrable behavior for exactly what it is. You won’t convince a Palestinian mother that it’s bad behavior for her kids to engage in these tactics at their behest. Neither will you convince a lot of University faculty that the Loomis approach is bad in any way. Those are what we call lost causes.

    The reason to do it is to live by principles, and explain them, without relying on tepid words; to make it known that this behavior is unacceptable in the public square—even though it may qualify as protected speech. After all, our responses are also protected, so we have no reason to pretend that a moderate approach is of any use here. These violence-inciting professors are going to get people killed.

  • gloogle gloogle

    “… pondering the genitalia of early 20th-century I.W.W. members…”

    ISWYDT, Stacy…

  • richard mcenroe

    I see no reason to respect the academic or intellectual integrity of a “professor” who cannot tell the difference between “metaphor” and “hyperbole.”

  • Stogie Chomper

    When I said that the mentally ill should be in institutions, public universities weren’t the kind of institutions I had in mind.

    LOL! You and Smitty ought to learn to tap dance and take this on the comedy circuit! TouchAAAY! You are both on a roll lately. Maybe you can teach Wombat to do a rim shot on a snare drum! (heh!)

  • JeffS

    The only “historical dildo” in this conversation is Loomis himself.

  • Professor Erik Loomis

    Who are you calling candy assed?

  • Professor Erik Loomis

    You are not as highly educated as me, when it comes to historic dildos. Are you challenging me?

  • Bob Belvedere
  • Bob Belvedere

    Why do hate dildos!

  • Stogie Chomper


  • Will Lloyd Garrison

    Mighty big words from the guy whose mod bans people everyday….Meade was able to post hundreds of comments at LGM before being shown the door. Most “dissent” on this site is blocked and deleted after one comment.

    Hypocrisy much?

  • Wombat_socho

    They have their standards, we have ours.
    Maybe if half you trolls were half as entertaining as our Token Foreign Commenter Anamika, we’d let you hang around longer, but unfortunately most of you have problems pulling your heads out of your asses long enough to type something recognizable as English.

  • K-Bob

    Mighty heavy reliance on moral equivalence from a guy who sounds like he’s actually familiar with this blog.

    I’d wager the bannings here are much lower than the bannings there, by a long shot.

  • JeffS

    Nope — I’m acknowledging you as a subject matter expert.

    It takes one to know one, after all.

  • CarolinaGirl3

    I did speculate earlier this week that Prof. Dildo might have spent some quality time in the Dean’s office trying to explain why the University’s switchboard was lighting up and not from alums offering end of year donations.

  • SEK

    We’ve banned two people, Meade being one of them. He was posting 50 or so comments per day, and they rarely had anything to do with the topic of the post. After tiring of telling him to stay on topic, we told him he can stay on topic or be banned. He chose to be banned. Don’t blame us for his bad behavior.

  • SEK

    Wow, y’all deleted my matter-of-fact, this-is-why-Meade-chose-to-be-banned statement. You really can’t brook criticism, can you?

  • robertstacymccain

    Unlike LGM, this site isn’t run by a bunch of progressive academic dilettantes, so that makes a difference in how we view the bandwidth banditry of liberal trolls who want to use OUR space to promote THEIR message. If you want to encourage your Bolshevik comrades and denounce the reactionary bourgeoisie, there are prlenty of sites available for that, including LGM.
    We, the reactionary bourgeoisie, are not obligated to provide you a platform for your views. At least not until Obama enacts draconian Internet regulations.

  • K-Bob

    I saw that post. There was lots of O/T ramblings that you let stand. So yeah, you get the blame. With knobs on.

    (EDIT: You do realize, I assume, that when a person who disagrees with the politics of a site shows up, he or she receives far more responses than the average person, and so will often reply to most of them. This generates a high volume of comments from that one person. So your making a point of 50 is silly. Are you afraid the internet will run out of space or something?)

  • SEK

    It’s not concern over space, but the tenor of the conversation. If I’m writing a detailed visual breakdown of an episode of Breaking Bad, I don’t want to someone coming and filling up the thread with comments about how legalizing gay marriage spells the end of the American empire. Space isn’t an issue, topicality is. Meade was asked to refrain from posting irrelevant comments and refused to do so.

  • SEK

    Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, Robert. We have plenty of trolls, conservative and libertarian alike, and we allow them to have their say so long as they remain on topic. If they’re one-note trolls who write about the same issue in every comment on every post, that’s a problem and we deal with it. You’re turning a practical issue into a political one. The only message I’m promoting here is “stay on topic,” which you’ll note I’m doing.

  • Professor Erik Loomis

    SEK you deserves a present from my “historical collection” for great liberal blogging. Maybe we can hang out and watch Reds sometime. I can bring supplies and some wine to loosen us up.

  • Professor Erik Loomis

    Of course I like discussions of lumberjack camps while watching Breaking Bad. But that is just me.

  • Professor Erik Loomis

    I am an expert! I love sharing my knowledge with others. I am a giver that way.

  • 20thCenturyVole

    “I’ll have you know that this large one here was used by Catherine de Medici, you lout! Good DAY, sir!”

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  • wbonesteel

    The world went insane whan I wasn’t looking. I’ve somehow been transported to a world that has gone insane, where everything and everyone in it is violently insane.
    How do I get back to the universe that was sane? That’s my quest…however long it takes, whatever I must do, wherever the road leads…whatever the dangers. I must return home.
    I must escape this world that has gone insane, and find my way home again. A beautiful home, away from this world, where sanity is normal. A place where the insane are not in charge of everything.
    Home. A land of enlightenment and reason…how I miss it all, now…in this dark world, full of unimaginable horror and pain.
    (Well, it’s much more sane than talking about historical dildoes…)

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  • t-dahlgren

    If you are not already familiar with SEK I’d advise you to not waste your time. You will certainly not have an honest discussion.

  • richard mcenroe

    Would be interesting to see if these violent outbursts are his normal way of interacting with people online. Anyone who has the URL of his defunct website might hit the Wayback Machine at

  • richard mcenroe

    ” A lawyer that specializes in Rhode Island law and university administrative law would be able to shed further light on Loomis.” So, I expect, would a can of Raid and a Bic lighter…

  • K-Bob

    Heh. That pretty much sums up this whole issue. Once upon a time both left and right would have made sure someone publishing violent rhetoric was properly ostracized and unemployable.

  • AnonymousDrivel

    “When I said that the mentally ill should be in institutions, public universities weren’t the kind of institutions I had in mind.”

    Barump ump. Well played, RSM.

  • Infidel

    What scholarship? This sorry clown has not published a single journal article nor his tenure book. That’s grounds for denying tenure all by itself.

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  • Truman North

    Amen, Warren

  • Wombat_socho

    I just don’t like preachy assholes.

  • Wombat_socho

    No, I didn’t. It’s further down the comment stream, as you might have noticed if you were as intent on truth as you are on being butthurt over our neo-Hunnish comment policy.

  • Wombat_socho

    No worries. He’s minding his manners for the moment and seems to be settling into his role as Punching Bag of the Week.

  • Moneyrunner

    It’s worth stating that there is a case to be made for the freedom of academics to take unpopular views. In Loomis’ case it becomes a matter of defending the right of academics to be outrageous assholes without consequences.

  • SDN

    Ask Jeff Goldstein about the SEK troll. Just another liberal liar (at a university, natch).

  • SDN

    The only “American empire” is the one where Spock has a beard.

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  • Wombat_socho

    I thought he sounded familiar.

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