(Addendum) – Up top, in the interest of fairness. I just got off the phone with the Princetonian’s Editor-in-Chief. He says that tomorrow’s edition will carry an apology and correction. The post below is still relevant, though – everyone should know what the fuss is about. –Stephen Drake
Last week, I was contacted by a student working on a story for the Princetonian, the independent student newspaper at Princeton University. Jason Jung was working on a story that marked Peter Singer’s tenth anniversary at the University and wanted some comments from someone associated with NDY, which helped to organize a major protest at the university on Singer’s first day of teaching class.
To be honest, I expected my quotes – and NDY – to be marginalized in the story, but in a way that met some minimum standard of accuracy. So I didn’t expect my quotes about Singer’s lack of integrity and rigor in regard to his approach to disability policy to appear in the article. (See the recent protest letter regarding his NY Times magazine essay on rationing for a sample of this lack of integrity and rigor.)
But I was honestly shocked and angry to find that the article strongly implied that NDY was the source of “death threats” against Singer and others at Princeton. This was discussed during my interview. I explicitly denied any connection – stating I even refused to pass on Singer’s personal contact info when someone sent it to me as potentially dangerous information. I also pointed out that we live in a violent country – in which the judge who sent Kevorkian to jail received death threats and even the animal rights movement has members who engage in violence.
None of those remarks are in the article, which can be read here.
The most egregious remark is left for the end, though:
Ten years after the violent protest sparked by his appointment, Singer said he has found University students and faculty to be “very open-minded.” (emphasis added.)
This is the protest that NDY organized, so it’s NDY that stands labeled as engaging in a “violent protest.”
But there was no violent protest.
Don’t take my word for it – here’s a link and quote from an article published in the NY Times after the protest:
Demonstrators opposed to Princeton’s hiring of Peter Singer, who has written in support of euthanasia for some disabled infants and is the university’s first professor of bioethics, protested his inaugural day of teaching yesterday by chaining themselves to the administration building.
The Princeton police said they arrested 14 people who refused to stop blocking the entrances to Nassau Hall, the administration building. Most of the protesters were in motorized wheelchairs and either locked themselves to the building or linked their chairs with handcuffs. They were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct and released.
The NY Times, never known for its love for NDY, described a protest noticably lacking in violence. That agrees with other mainstream press accounts from the same time period.
This “violent protest” is a lie – either created by the Jason Jung, author of the piece – or by Singer or other Princeton officials interviewed.
NDY does not promote violence. This has been forwarded to NDY attorneys. The author of the article and the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper have also been notified via email. We are demanding an apology and retraction.
We tried calling the Editor-in-Chief, but no one is answering the phone today and the voice mailbox is full. If they’re trying for professionalism at the Princetonian, they have a ways to go. –Stephen Drake