Princetonian Celebrates Ten Years of Peter Singer – By Libeling NDY And Fabricating a “Violent Protest”

(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

6 thoughts on “Princetonian Celebrates Ten Years of Peter Singer – By Libeling NDY And Fabricating a “Violent Protest”

  1. I was at this protest. I was on the street chanting and handing out flyers, mostly in the rain with my then teenage son. I was a bit apprehensive about being there with him, because of some unfounded fear things might get ugly. My fear was misplaced. Not only was the protest peaceful, but it was peaceful between protesters that were there with entirely different ideas why Singer was the wrong person to be teaching young minds. The police did their job and protected the space where we protested. They informed my son and I when arrests were imminent so we could move away (since I didn’t feel my son could handle being arrested.) I would not have taken my son to any protest with a violent agenda. I felt safe. My son felt safe.

  2. The article in the Daily Princetonian is what I would expect from a school newspaper. The bias is overwhelmingly pro Singer and anti anyone or any group that dares question the self proclaimed “most important philosopher of our time”. Ten years later Princeton is still doing a full court press to promote Singer’s appointment. Singer is without question a widely read and ill tempered philosopher but not a bioethicist–the post for which he was hired. Princeton was wrong to hire him a decade ago and refuses to admit their mistake.

  3. Seems to me, the only violence being advocated is Singer: violence on babies with disabilities.

    Princeton’s first bioethicist, eh:
    they definitely needed some instruction in ethical and still do.

  4. huh? a violent protest? i

    i was one of the 14 arrested. i actually didn’t chain myself to anything or anyone and i can’t remember other arrestees doing that either. i did help to block a doorway and the police politely informed me of my rights and then politely pulled me and my wheelchair away from the doorway while i politely submitted.

    i recall the police ignoring the protesters blocking the main entrance. they wouldn’t have done that if the protestors were violent in any way.

    we came in peace, we exercised our 1st amendment right, and we left in peace.

    clearly that’s not as interesting or meaningful to some as an imagined violent protest.

  5. It’s a cliche for journalists to say protests are violent. When they are biased they go straight there. It does all sorts of good stuff for the person they are protecting.

    However, saying “violent” with protest is redundant. A protest IS violent in that it vehemently disagrees with something. As it should.

    The issue here is the degree of violence. The degree to which someone protested should be specified. It can run the gamut from shouting loudly to burning buildings. So which was it in this case?

    I don’t think NDY should aim to be seen as peaceful here. Singer’s dishonesty is so bad, it has to be stopped.

    The danger in worrying about being called violent is that it distracts from the issue. Why not send a list of the things that happened at the protest per se and reiterate how much NDY deplores Singer’s sugar-coating?

    See, terrible things happen on earth. It is a place where devouring is the name of the game. It just is that way: no value judgement on my part. But it should not be hidden! This is what Singer is doing…

    He is concealing his devouring of babies (organs and all) by associating himself with a university. He exploits the use of the word “ethicist.” This word once meant protection and limits. Now it just means how far the public has been fooled by advertizing, movie and TV show propaganda, and what medical depravity people ccept in a fooled state.

    Singer teaches his students how to promote, measure and report on public opinion (apathy and ignorance) and call it ethics.

    Allowing journalists to bully you into proving your protest was peaceful, simply brings issues down to the debate level. And this is their tactic. They want you to actually compliment to Singer by saying you were debating his actions.

    Debate dignifies with a reply os it must be avoided. Singer should be exposed for what he is. With a (violent) protest. Violence in this case can extend as far as stating what he is doing with well thought out research and comparisons. There is nothing as protest-worthy as the truth.

    Perhaps you could institute a scale of violence as for a tornado or hurricane. Write to Jung and tell his yours was a category 4 in terms of physical activity but category 1 in terms of stating the truth. Admit that he is right in calling protests violent otherwise they aren’t protests.

    A best defence is a good offense.

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