Thursday, January 17, 2008

Neighborhood battle takes an unexpected turn

On occasion I interact with parents of BC athletes. One of my first recommendations is “don’t read the BC message boards.” I base this advice on history and the nature of the forum. Mostly unmonitored and relatively anonymous posters pick apart all aspects of the players and coaches lives with little worry about fact, slander or the consequences of their posts. I am not condemning the medium. I am active on one board and have spent numerous hours reading and enjoying both. They are vital to BC sports. However, every message board (including those outside of sports) builds up its own patois, list of references and humor that can easily be taken out of context by outsiders. At the end of the day, message boards are not for the faint of heart. If you are easily offended or sensitive, it is best to avoid and ignore them.

That preamble leads me to this bit of news via the Brighton blog: community activists are aware that they are being discussed and mocked on the BC message boards. For better or worse, BC is getting involved. The school has apologized for the behavior of the boards and may take action against Scout and/or Rivals.

In my opinion, BC should steer clear of this whole mess. Neither site is owned or officially affiliated with the school. If these remarks had run in the reader comments section of a Herald or Globe article, would the school feel the need to get involved? In my opinion these activists will never be happy with any BC solution for the Brighton campus (nor any changes to the main campus). Engaging in dialogue about these offensive comments or apologizing for the actions of anonymous message board posters just distracts from the bigger issue at hand -- the land. The neighbors have shown very little flexibility or willingness to discuss realistic solutions. Acknowledging this message board nonsense or even taking partial responsibility just reinforces the activists firmly-held (and unlikely to change) beliefs that BC and its community are a bunch of ogres trying to destroy Brighton.

As for the comments themselves…I don’t condone them. They are in poor tastes. But I don’t think anyone should give them any attention. I’ve seen much worse on the internet. The reality of today’s world (where anything can be said on a message board or blog and personal information is readily available via google) is that the minute these Brighton folks got involved and started writing, campaigning and giving interviews they opened themselves up as targets. (I should know. I receive all sorts of random and often harassing emails from people who don’t like BC sports.)

I would love to see this all get resolved. BC needs the Brighton campus. It would also add to the community around campus. But any long-time observer of the situation can tell you this won’t end smoothly or soon. Let’s move forward. The focus should be on solutions that work, not offensive online nonsense.


William said...

I agree that the comments were in poor taste and I can't defend them. But from reading the Brighton blogger's post, it seems that he doesn't understand the nature of those types of boards at all. Posters on those boards just say inflamatory stuff for the sake of provoking a reaction from other posters. Yes, it can be offensive at times, but I don't think they really mean what they say. And I would be shocked if any of them ever acted on anything they said on the boards.
I've read the Brighton blog before, and the blogger who runs it loves to lump all BC students together into this large group of crass, loud, disrespectful animals. And now he wants to add antisemitic to that list. BC shouldn't have apologized for the comments when the university had nothing to do with them and the school should not block access to the sites from campus. Considering how BC stood up for the privacy of its students when the RIAA wanted the names of students who had been downloading music, I would be shocked if the school took such a step as to block access to a largely harmless web site just to appease some members of the surrounding community.
One final semi-related note: I've tried to make respectful, completely non-inflamatory posts on the Brighton blog, and they've never made it past the moderator's "stamp of approval" to actually appear on the site. Maybe this is too anecdotal, but it seems like the Brighton blogger is trying to exert to much control over the debate that he has flung himself into the center of.

BCDoubleEagle said...

How do we know that some disgruntled Brightonian didn't just post these offensive comments himself/herself just to stir up trouble?

Eagle in Brighton said...

You gotta love Brighton Centered: misrepresenting fact and impeading University progress.

For those of you not familiar, the blog from which these comments originated is run by this local hack Michael Pahre.

He has some local concerns about BC's 10 year plan, but rather than sticking to his valid points (like contesting how close BC's proposed new Baseball field will be to residences), he has decided to contest practically every single facet of the plan, from the location of new dorms on Shea Field, to the number of faculty to be added, to get this, the type of grass the new baseball diamond will have (turf fields will "contain toxic chemicals that are dangerous both to users and the environment").


This Rivals/Scouts msg. board flap is just his attempt to demonize BC (incorrectly) as part of his own little power play over the 10 year plan.

Pretty deplorable tactics on his part.

Andrew said...

When someone is in a hurry to get offended or become outraged, they more often then not can find something to trigger said reactions.

The gross generalizations of "The BC Community" that arise out of the posts or other communications from people in the local community who oppose BC are so focused on negative aspects that they choose to ignore the myriad examples of Boston College's greatness.

Ok, so you found some anonymous posts on a site that has no affiliation with the school, thus BC fans are anti-semetic? There have got to be 10,000 more examples of acceptance and tolerant behavior that are right in front of your face at BC, yet you choose to ignore them. That is bad reporting, bad statistical analysis, bad politics and bad logic.

William said...

EIB: I totally agree. He did the same thing after the Cherilus incident last year and basically any time any BC student, or especially a BC student-athlete, has a run in with the law, no matter how minor or blown out of proportion.
And the amount of detail he goes into picking apart ever aspect of the BC plan is astonishing. He reads in these insidious alterior motives to everything BC does and says. His level of paranoia is almost amusing, were he not so hell-bent on stopping everything that BC wants to do.

Kristen said...

I find it interesting that many of the Brighton posters bring up Harvard's proposed expansion into Allston, and that Harvard students would never respond or behave the same way that BC students are. Does anyone know how Allston has been responding? I don't think they are being nearly as anal about the expansion. That might explain why Harvard students aren't feeling like their neighbors hate them. I don't think that is that much of a difference between the students at these two schools. The difference exists in how the communities they are looking to expand into are responding. I don't think the comments by the students are very mature, but Brighton residents seem to enjoy fueling the fire just so they can point the finger some more.

Nick P. said...

I'm discouraged that the school would apologize for something that might have had nothing to do with them. Is there any way knowing whether or not the posters were ever affiliated with BC? If we were to find out that these people were just fans of BC sports as opposed to students, employees, or what have you, I would think the author of the Brighton Blog would owe BC an apology. I agree with Eagle in Atlanta. BC should just ignore this type of slanderous tripe.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Couldn't be more embarassed that BC actually apologised for some 3rd party vendor that has literally NO connection to the University.

Michael Pahre owes the Boston College community an apology.

If only his mea culpa could come in the form of perpetual silence...

Paul said...

I will say that it is deplorable for anyone to post the a person's address with malicious intent. However, one would think that the residents of Brighton would be far more concerned about the crime taking place (rape attempts along the reservoir, stabbings in cleveland circle, etc) than ignorant people posting on a message board.

ctynan02 said...

I question the source of this BC 'apology.' Was anyone actually there to hear it? Is the quote elsewhere? Herald?

The quote does not follow logically. "BC has nothing to do with that website." That followed by "On behalf of BC, I would like to apologize ..." IMHO, this has sketch written all over it.

live_and_let_live said...

All of you appear to have an extremely negative and false perception of residents in Brighton, and you don't even know them. They are doing nothing wrong by participating in a normal public process that seeks to mitigate the impacts of BC's growth on abutters.

These people are not ill-willed idiots as you think they are. They just want to protect their peace when a big institution with heavy uses encroaches on their lives. A tax-exempt institution has an obligation to respect the surrounding community, not just ignore them.

There is no doubt that the super-offensive postings originated among the current BC students or recent graduates. They revealed enough about themselves to make it clear.

The message quoted below is from the person who was harassed by these BC guys. You should know the other side too.

"Just so you and other decent people at BC understand: Not for a moment do I, or anyone I know in Brighton, think that those obnoxious personal attacks on me and other community people in Brighton are representative of everyone at BC, or that the College embraces or actively encourages misogynistic and anti-Semitic behavior.

We know it’s not the case, and understand that people in the BC community want to distance themselves from that ugliness. But it’s not enough to say “We have nothing to do with it”, and “We can’t do anything about it”

A message for those who think that nothing needs or should be done to stop internet-based harassment: You just don’t know how slanderous and insulting internet postings can injure you until it happens to you.

When that happens, you realize that generic freedom of speech, a mere expression of opinions on this or that issue, is not the same as writing a real person’s name and wrapping it in filth and insinuations that have no basis in reality. When the latter pops out on Google and in other search engines, prospective employers and other people can form an opinion of that person based on that name being wrapped in all that filth and foolishness -- and it reflects on the victim, while the cowards who made the postings are safely hidden (unless the police or FBI gets involved and they are caught, which very well may be the outcome of this story).

If the victim is a well-known politician, artist, sports hero, etc., people will take internet attacks with a grain of salt -- but a regular person does not have a well publicized public record that can counterbalance the negativity of slander and harassment perpetrated against them on the internet. (Just recently there were stories in the main-stream media about teenagers being bullied, maligned and harassed on the internet to the point that some of them commit suicide.)

I wasn’t too alarmed when BC supporters were threatening to egg Mike Pahre’s house a few months ago. Now that they progressed to threatening more sinister actions, I realize that threats of any kind cannot be ignored, and I resent any suggestions that they should be dismissed as being of little importance.

When someone impersonates me on with postings designed to incite hatred against me among a bunch of immature men who respect no boundaries, that’s not a small matter. I will make an effort to find those who did those obnoxious things to me and hold them accountable — and so should the officials at Boston College.

Ask yourself these two questions:

1) Do we have the responsibility as society to protect people who are harassed by anonymous internet postings, or not?

2) Should Boston College be proactive in putting a stop to harassment that’s perpetrated in their name by their supporters?

I think the answer to both questions is yes. Any suggestions that BC does not have any responsibility to prevent postings from BC-owned email accounts to hate-oriented discussion groups is nonsense. It would mean that a tax-exempt institution’s servers could be used to engage in inciting Nazi, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or terrorist movements — and should BC be fine with that?"

ChrisB said...

Eagleaction and Eagleinsider are not hate oriented message boards. I peruse both boards for information regarding BC sports, much as I read this blog. Is this board a hate oriented message board? Of course it isn't.

What if the current Brighton Campus was sold to a private developer instead of BC? What then? Would that be a better situation for the community?

As a Boston native and BC graduate, I am disgusted with all sides of this process. I have no solutions, but I have faith that BC will in the end work with the BRA and the community towards a mutually beneficial development of the Brighton Campus

BCNorCal07 said...

Chris, I agree with a lot of what you say. This is all getting to the point of ridiculousness and I really don't see a solution. Obviously, it's not a perfect situation, but both sides need to take responsibility for fixing this mess. The two parties actually need to work together, by BOTH being pro-active and conciliatory.

Everyone needs places to vent, even online. It's one of the few places you can converse with people who actually share your interests. I vent here all the time about BC sports because there aren't any BC fans in Nebraska. However, the internet is (obviously) public and decorum is required. People have lost their jobs and others their lives (as Live and Let Live rightly points out) because internet decorum was not maintained. I don't think BC can be held responsible for the actions of anyone not posting from an on-campus URL, something BC simply cannot control. Maybe sites like EagleAction and EagleInsider need to instead do a little more to moderate the discussion. Some things aren't appropriate to say in public.

It's another case of two parties tossing gross generalizations back and forth. Even, I've done it, generalizing because of my bad experiences with Brighton residents. The majority of the involved people (on both sides) don't fit into these generalizations and that needs to be recognized by everyone. Perhaps if the insults stopped, dialogue would be easier.

AlwaysEagle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ATL_eagle said...

Always Eagle, sorry I had to delete your post but I don't want Pahre's address listed here on this blog for obvious reasons.

Joe Bags said...

live and let live - No one was being harrassed on Eagle Insider. If you knew anything about that message board, you would understand that. It's hyperbole. It's schtick. If you don't like where your name comes up when you Google yourself, contact the site's administrator to delete the content. I know the administrator of the site in question would have complied with your request.

And, no, I don't think society should be responsible for policing the Internet to the extent you feel it should. Such an attitude will lull people into believing everything they read online is true. That is a dangerous path to go down.

live_and_let_live said...

ChrisB wrote that Eagleaction and EagleInsider are not hate oriented message boards. As a whole they are not, but I have seen with my own eyes a thread on EagleInsider titled “The latest from our friends in A-B” that was so full of hate, deeply disrespectful and with explicit denigrating sexual remarks that it would make your jaw drop.

They also had a photo a BC fan holding a big sign in front of a private home in the neighborhood calling on other BC fans to tailgate there, and provided the exact address. Elsewhere they were talking about the need to “euthanize the bitch”, proposing to leave excrement on people’s porches, and so on.

Now this is all deleted, so you can’t see it, and people are saying that the Brighton folks are blowing things out of proportion. I don’t think so. The bottom line is that BC is going to get what it needs in terms of the development. It would be good PR for the school if they were more sensitive and tried to be accommodating to those people whose homes are right there. They have families with children, older folks, and working stiffs just trying to live their lives, and for them dealing with BC is like David against Goliath, but not in the least victorious. I think the residents have more reason to be frustrated because as individual citizens they are in a weaker position. They don’t have the power that BC and the city have. No reason to attack them. They have more to fear from BC (noise from games, traffic clogging streets, no parking) than BC has to fear from them.

Joe Bags said...

"...I have seen with my own eyes a thread on EagleInsider titled “The latest from our friends in A-B” that was so full of hate, deeply disrespectful and with explicit denigrating sexual remarks that it would make your jaw drop."

Would you say it was to the point where it is almost unbelievable?

BCDoubleEagle said...

"They have families with children, older folks, and working stiffs just trying to live their lives..."

That's touching, but you left out the obvious fact that these people decided to move into houses in close proximity to a major university that was there before they were even born. They knew the situation when they moved in, and I have little sympathy for their whining now.

live_and_let_live said...

Joe Bags,
You wrote about the offensive stuff on EagleInsideer "It's hyperbole. It's schtick. If you don't like where your name comes up when you Google yourself, contact the site's administrator to delete the content"

I disagree with you very strongly. I think that people in the BC community should be making every effort to adhere to the rules of politeness and respect for other people.

All of a sudden, according to you, it's alright to denigrate someone on a public discussion board, and it's the victim's job to look for the site administrator and beg them to remove the filth that was written about them.

You are totally out to lunch on that. And what about people who are not even aware that filth was written about them, and it just sits there harming them?

Frankly, I think that your attitude epitomizes what is wrong with, and needs to change in the culture around us, including BC. It's not always somebody else's fault/problem -- sometimes you or yours have done wrong, and you need to take responsibility for that.

This world is getting crazy around us because people only think about themselves and don't extend any courtesy to others. We all can do something to make this world better by resolving not to harm others through personal attacks. If you need to get some aggression out, that's what the sports are for.

You also wrote: "I don't think society should be responsible for policing the Internet to the extent you feel it should. Such an attitude will lull people into believing everything they read online is true. That is a dangerous path to go down."

Stupid me. I actually believe that we should not be writing things that are untrue, whether it's newspapers or the internet. We can't always stop it, but individuals and society should be committed to upholding high standards of decency even on the internet.

You are so cynical as to assume that enforcing decent conduct is a waste of time, and is bad for people. If all people thought like that we would have now trustworthy newspapers, no judicial system to punish harmful deception, and so on. We would be living in a chaotic jungle where there's no price to pay for abominable behaviors.

It may be fine with you, but most people don't want to live in a world without good manners and rules protecting everyone's quality of life.

Joe Grav said...

EI has been a little over the edge for me for quite some time now. It's mostly supposed to be funny, but they have to realize that not everyone gets their inside jokes.

I know they mean no harm, but that kind of stuff (like making fun of Sean Taylor the day after he died) makes the school look bad, whether they are being serious or not.

Joseph said...

I am not a lawyer, but I would be interested to see how ridiculing someone on a message board is harassment. I realize harassment is a misdemeanor, but I don't see how this case could possibly be harassment, when it is the equivalent of someone hearing a group of people talking about them behind their back. On top of that, calling someone a Nazi is far from anti-semitic.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Come on folks, the comments that were made in no way should be defended: personal attacks like that are deplorable and have no place on the 'net, or in regular discourse.

My issue is with the faulty correlation derived by Brighton activists between anonymous comments on a generic sports msg. board, and Boston College as a whole.

Just like LLL feels some from BC have a "negative perception of Brighton residents," it seems all to apparent that some Brighton residents are using these anonymous comments as fodder to blankly condemn the BC community as a whole (erroneously ), to reaffirm their OWN falsified perceptions.

Reflect on your own judgments before your come pointing the finger here Live and Let Live.

Eagle in Brighton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
live_and_let_live said...

"They have families with children, older folks, and working stiffs just trying to live their lives..."

BCDoubleEagle wrote: "That's touching, but you left out the obvious fact that these people decided to move into houses in close proximity to a major university that was there before they were even born. They knew the situation when they moved in, and I have little sympathy for their whining now."

C'mon! How were they supposed to predict that a scandal caused by pedophile priests was going to bring the Archdiocese to the edge if bankruptcy, leading to BC's acquisition of lands that were buffering them from the College.

In addition, many Brighton families settled there when BC was just a small commuter school with no major impacts.

Others bought homes in that area because that's where they needed to be for work reasons, and that's what they could afford.

Why would you say that you have little sympathy for them? One day (god-forbid) you may get hit by a car and become a cripple, and would you like your neighbor to turn his back on you and say, "It's his fault, he should have been walking on a different street"?

Joseph said...

Well I think someone should defend their right to say whatever they want, as long as it is within the boundary of the law. If you go looking for something to complain about, you're usually going to find it. I've seen a lot of distasteful things posted on those boards, but until I feel that a crime has been committed, I give any and all posters the benefit of the doubt.

A lot of people are acting as if there were threatening statements made to the said "victims", whether it be over the phone, through e-mail, etc. These people went looking for dirt and found it. I'm sure they found plenty of tasteless and untrue statements about themselves.

Taste is a value judgment! If you don't like what they have to say, don't read it. There are plenty of things that were said on those boards that I didn't care to read, so I didn't.

Good luck to the board, I hope some of them grow up a little, but I also hope that their speech remains as free as ever.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Some more judgmental activists:

Joe Bags said...

I can't deny being a cynic, and if I believed the authors of those posts truly wished harm on the people in question, I would want them held accountable. But I think people also need the ability to look at things in context. 10 minutes on EI should be enough for anyone to figure out that the site is not to be taken seriously.

live_and_let_live said...

Joseph wrote:
"I am not a lawyer, but I would be interested to see how ridiculing someone on a message board is harassment. I realize harassment is a misdemeanor, but I don't see how this case could possibly be harassment, when it is the equivalent of someone hearing a group of people talking about them behind their back."

There were clearly stated threats indicating desire to do harm to people and property. There was a photo directing BC fans to somebody's house to harass the owner. There were demeaning sexual comments that would be extremely troubling to any woman.

If this is not harassment, I don't know what is. People were convicted for much less.

Free speech is not to be used for such purposes. You're not gonna say things, or write about Father Leahy by using vulgar, sexual language and threatening him on a public discussion board, and expect to be protected by free speech.

Why don't you try, and see how your school feels about it, genius.

I'm getting out of this discussion. As always, some of you are alright, but some are just too thick. Good night.

Eagle in Brighton said...

If these people obviously have enough time on their hands to contest the turf that will be on the baseball field, it is pretty clear they are incapable of picking their battles.

People like Pahre and Webster seem to just like the sound of their own voices. Though their overreaction is dumbfounding, it is not surprising.

How do reason with people that have such a disconnect with appropriate response and decorum of assumption?

Joseph said...

If anybody else here doesn't realize such, Live and Let Live is Eva Webster herself. I have determined this after comparing the posts made by that alias on &

First of all, Eva, thanks for actually taking part in a meaningful discussion in which you do not ban anyone for expressing their views, as you have done on your Google website.

Your logic regarding the "feminazi"/anti-Semitism remark is so flawed that it isn't worth anybody's time or effort to disprove such.

By creating a public Google group that is open to discourse, by appearing in the Boston Globe, you have opened yourself up to criticism as a public figure. Whether you like it or not.

You live in Cleveland Circle. You have nothing in common with Lake Street residents. Actually, I am surprised that they let you represent them. BC students moving on-campus, on the Brighton Campus, would benefit you and be a major disservice to them. BC students moving on campus would increase the property value of most, if not all, homes in Brighton. Families with children would not have to share neighborhoods with college students. Many property owners would be able to convert their homes into single family homes--this clearly benefits the citizens of Brighton.

If Allston-Brighton residents really were opposed to BC expansion, wouldn't Alex Selvig have gotten more votes than he did in the primary election for the 9th District City Councilor race? Mr. Selvig finished in last place. This shows that Brighton residents are not vehemently against Boston College. In fact, through programs such as 4Boston, Boston College has been a huge benefactor for the Allston-Brighton community, including inner-city youths and the elderly. Additionally, Boston College employs many Brighton residents.

You express extreme displeasure at the fact that somebody took a picture in front of your house. This is extremely hypocritical. There have been views espoused on your "BC Neighbors" group that call for individual Brighton citizens to sneak up to the property of BC students to take pictures of them. This is even more invasive than somebody standing on public property (i.e. city-owned sidewalks) and taking a picture of your house. Don't believe me? Check out this link.

Stan Kugell
View profile
More options May 15 2007, 8:34 am
From: Stan Kugell
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 06:34:14 -0700
Local: Tues, May 15 2007 8:34 am
Subject: Counter-measures
Reply to author | Forward | Print | Individual message | Show original | Report this message | Find messages by this author
Outline of a community-based shame-to-courtesy campaign:

(1) Form a neighborhood telephone tree.
(2) Upon reports of disorderly behavior, call police and activate
(3) Teams of three or more meet at the location of the party on public
property. One person acts as cameraman, the others as guardian
angels. Photograph tight zoom flash pictures of all offenders and
enablers. No other contact with the offenders.
(4) Seek donated space or space in BC and community newspapers.
Publish the photographs along with a description of the offenses,
along with an offer of a reward for anyone providing the names of the
students, home towns, and/or the names and contact information of the
parents. Campus flyers too.
(5) Mail the ad to any parents that can be identified.

During my time at Boston College, Jews were among my best friends and best professors.

EagleInsider is a place for SARCASM. It is not a place for the average person. In one of your earlier messages you stated:

"All of you appear to have an extremely negative and false perception of residents in Brighton, and you don't even know them. They are doing nothing wrong by participating in a normal public process that seeks to mitigate the impacts of BC's growth on abutters."

In response, I would like to say the following to Ms. Webster, Mr. Pahre, Mr. Furman, Mr. Selvig.

"All of you appear to have extremely negative and false perception of the posters of Eagle Insider, and you don't even know them. They are doing nothing wrong by participating in a normal public process that seeks to mitigate the impacts of virulent, false accusations that Brighton residents have been spewing at Boston College students, alumni, and other members of the Boston College community."

I rest my case.

May there be valuable and meaningful discourse that will be able to sort out differences and create the best situations for the residents of Lake Street, Brighton, Chestnut Hill, the Greater Boston area, Massachusetts, and the United States of America.

Joseph said...

"Why don't you try, and see how your school feels about it, genius."

Nobody would send an e-mail like that to Father Leahy for the same reason they wouldn't send an e-mail like that to you, because when it's sent to someone or said directly to them it obviously is harassment, as opposed to the satirical banter that might occur on a message board. And if you really wanted to I'm sure you could find some instance where someone who didn't agree with Father Leahy called him a name or something of the like. There's another project you could undertake in your free time.

I have no sympathy for these people. You use examples of children being bullied on the internet and committing suicide as examples of why message board content should be filtered. You aren't children, and if your state of mind is fragile you shouldn't be actively seeking out abuse on a football message board.

Like I said, I don't read most of the garbage on these boards other than football news, but I have read small bits from time to time, and this is really just a cry for attention, an and attempt to censor people who disagree with their group.

Might also want to note there's another Joseph replying. I didn't read what he posted but I don't think I'll take credit for it.

Cubicle Jockey said...

live_and_let_live, on the Brighton Centered blog, you decided to accuse another poster, amartin, of being the person responsible for the insensitive comments. It is unclear to me what evidence you were basing this on, aside from the elusive ability to count. When you do something like that, it doesn't make it very hard to "rise" to you level.

Frankly, it is unclear to me how you expect the BC community to respond to the legitimate concern about the nature of the message boards when you support someone who has labeled the BC community as populated largely by anti-semitic misogynists. When you come to the conversation with that kind of presumptive baggage, I'm not likely to treat you with much more than disdain.

Yet you demand respect.

I'll give that to you when BC is no longer characterized as a force for evil in the community and when its students, past and present, are not characterized as inherently ignorant.

Finally, kudos to ATL_Eagle for actually allowing an open discussion. The conversation at Brighton Centered will never be as productive as long as the comments are filtered by someone who cannot deny bias, even if that bias is rightly held.

amartin said...

BC caving in and is going to punish student message board posters

BCDoubleEagle said...


One does not need to be clairvoyant to understand that BC, like all other major universities, is expanding. Those who live near BC should have used common sense when they moved in, and understood that the school (again, like all other major universities) would probably be looking to expand. It's not rocket science.

Finally, your attempt to compare BC's expansion with someone being hit by a bus and rendered a cripple pretty much shows why many people are reluctant to take you seriously. For your own sake, I suggest not resorting to hyperbole.

Cubicle Jockey said...

Frankly, I'm not concerned about BC punishing posters of obviously insensitive material. I think the Technology Use Policy is written broadly enough to allow them to do that. What would be more disturbing is if BC attempts to punish or limit message board posters in general, particularly if that punishment includes limiting access to specific sites. The message boards are hardly the most offensive site accessible to BC students, and banning access to them would actually come to define "slippery slope."

Of course, that would probably lead to more traffic at blogs like this, which I think already reflect a healthier and more vibrant community than the message boards.

beighsman said...

I read many of the blog posts on EI before the free site was shut down and I am having a hard time figuring out this "anti-semetic" label that is now being thrown around as if it were fact. Unless, I missed something, the only references to that time involved a poster referring to Eva as a "Nazi" or a "Feminazi" due to her iron-fisted rule over her own message board and the fact that she shares the same first name with Hitler's former mistress. I interpreted it as a reference to the supression of freedom of speech. She was being compared to a Nazi not insulted because she was a jew (which I'm sure the poster had no clue about. ) So again, unless I am missing something, the "ant-semetic" thing needs to stop. Labeling someone a racist can be more damaging than anything these people are saying about the A-B neighbors. And frankly, it comes off as a cheap shop by a group of people that have no other punches to throw.

BCDoubleEagle said...

Check this out:

It is another article from Michael Pahre yesterday. I really think he is starting to discredit himself, as his writings become less and less reasonable (see comments after the article).

Eagle in Brighton said...

There were other comments referencing Dachau that were kind of off color.

With that said, the issue is that regardless of what was said, it can't be overlooked that the comments originated in a satirical context.

Rather than treating this as an isolated incident, extreme activists like Eva and Mike have used the comments to paint the entire Boston College community as misogynistic and anti-semitic, which is probably more an unjust generalization than the comments from which the whole riff originated from!

Eva is a walking, talking, breathing hypocrite; blindly slandering the entire BC community for comments (independent of the school mind you) that she feels did the same to her. Speaking nothing of the way in which she regulates (blocks) all oppositional discourse on her own blog, she stymies the sort of forum that could lead to reconciliation.

And she doesn't even live by campus!

Respect? All I have is disdain.

flutie22phelan20 said...

I noticed that this story is now in BostonNOW--the poor man's Metro--and given the standards (or lack thereof) of our city's major papers, it's not that far from being on the front page of the Herald.

It could certainly end up being a PR nightmare for BC, particularly given how the Brighton community activists seem to relish playing the role of victim.

With that said, there is absolutely no excuse for some of the crap that was spewed by people on EI. We all somehow seem to think that the message board world is some little bubble, where anyone can say anything and be as offensive as possible, without any consequences. Unfortunately, it looks like that is going to be proven untrue because of a unique conflux of: absolutely ridiculously inappropriate posts (that really are indefensible, regardless of how you feel about free speech--whether or not one can say something is quite distinct from whether it should be said); sensationalist victims; and a sesnationalist press.

amartin said...

Can I sue Pahre and Webster for the $9.95 per month i now have to pay to read EI?

Brian said...

"This world is getting crazy around us because people only think about themselves and don't extend any courtesy to others."

Quite simply, this goes both ways. Vehement opposition to anything BC plans to do with the land seems like self-centered, selfish behavior, in my honest opinion.

If some of the A-B activitists weren't so hellbent against everything BC plans to do, and were willing to have an open conversation about the plan, we might get somewhere, instead of committing libel against one another (from both sides, sadly).

Kristen said...

Pahre is so off the wall. I just checked out Brighton Centered for the first time - wow. I love how even our graduation rate of student athletes is criticized and compared to Stanford. Are you kidding?

This guy seems like a complete coontrol freak and is acting like the victim in every sense. His response to BC moving all but 600 students on campus? It's a Trojan horse! And they are still too close to home and should be living in a high-rise in the Quad (paraphrased). He claims BC isn't considering the citizens of Brighton in this decision, but I think the fact that they are trying to move so many ppl is clearly a consideration.

If BC had not bought this land, I wonder what would be happening right now. Would the residents still be insisting on moving the students? It seems like we're giving them an inch and they want a mile. Pahre may have vested interests as a community member, but he is no trustee and should not have a say in every decision BC makes.

Kristen said...

Update: Pahre locked down comments on his blog because another "death threat" against a community activist occurred today.

live_and_let_live said...

It is simply not true as all of you seem to believe that Brighton residents are opposed to everything that BC wants to do.

That mistaken conviction exacerbates your extremely negative feelings towards the whole neighborhood, which is why some of the people on your side started going after Brighton residents personally.

In contrast, none of the Brighton people singled out anyone of BC supporters on line, identified by name and piled a ton of insults and threats on them.

People who express their opinions under their own names (Pahre, Webster, Furman, Selvig etc.) should not be attacked personally for exercising their right to free speech (which all of you here support), because personal attacks are detrimental to free speech. Personal attacks amount to intimidation; they intimidate people into silence (which is what the enemies of free speech want).

So how can some of you profess love of free speech and not have a problem with attacks on those who exercise it? (I'm sure not everyone who reads this is like that, but some clearly believe only in free speech when they are the ones talking -- but not when the Brighton people exercise that right.)

Pahre does not have an obligation to be 100% objective (just as Fox News is not objective); still, he has a right to publish his perfectly legal views on his blog.

If you were truly, honestly in support of free speech for everyone, not just when it comes from you, you would not be posting anything that makes references to people personally, only to the substance of what they are saying.

Just a moment ago, Kristen posted something directed against Pahre. Pahre is the bad guy.

Think about it: the guy has a right to post any opinions regarding BC's Master Plan that he wants to publicize on his blog (it's his blog), just as you have a right to express yourself here.

Why would you expect complete objectivity in Pahre's opinions when you yourself are not objective because you feel loyalty to BC. Well, he feels loyalty to his neighbors who wish for the Plan to be in some respects changed (not killed altogether). Not allowed?

The difference is that if Pahre knew any of your real names, I know him well enough to know that he would never attack you on a personal level because he honestly believes in people's right to discuss issues (without hurting any individual).

Nick P. said...

In all honesty, this is getting ridiculous. Both sides are clearly frustrated and the argument is going nowhere, so lets call it a day on this conversation and get back to BC sports.

On a related note, however, I was thinking it would be interesting to see a blog (akin the the Brighton Blog) from the BC perspective on the expansion into A-B. Perhaps one of the posters on this blog would be willing to spearhead such an effort?

Kristen said...

Nick P. - agreed! Both sides are guilty of going to extremes. I'm not really sure what the answer is: each side is getting angrier because of how the other is responding. If a conversation could happen without prejudice and exaggeration, and a realistic view and realistic demands, maybe we would get somewhere. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time too soon.

Cubicle Jockey said...

In some way, what Pahre is doing is even worse than attacking individuals: he is painting the entire BC population with one brush. As someone who falls squarely in his "target" demographic - white male with a BC degree and New England roots - I fiercely object to be characterized as a racist, misogynist, or any of the other titles he has graciously conferred upon me simply because the institution that handed me a diploma had the audacity to purchase land near his house.

He has every right to protect his interests. He has the right to claim that a handful of ignorant comments represent an entire community.

I also have the right to consider him a meddlesome twit with an inflated sense of righteousness.

Brian said...

"In contrast, none of the Brighton people singled out anyone of BC supporters on line, identified by name and piled a ton of insults and threats on them."

I'd like to point out, live and let live, that I read the EI post in question "Latest from our friends in A-B" and remember that you had referred to BCNathanHale in an insulting manner.

From everything I've read, you are not beyond reproach either. Don't cast stones if you live in a glass house, is all.

Rob said...

I'm usually a pretty reasonable person who while a BC alumnus does respect some of the concerns of the A-B neighbors. I grew up in Boston and I used to deal with development issues in my previous profession so I understand the anxiety behind it all that builds on both sides. Yet today I'm called uninformed by Michael Pahre and chastised publicly in his comments. I won't get into the details since anyone can look at his blog and see it for themselves, but I have to say that it's pretty sad when someone like Pahre is willing to throw rocks at a person that otherwise is sympathetic to some of the neighbors' concerns and would like to see a suitable compromise reached. He is not doing his contingent any favors.

Kristen said...

I think that comment was partially directed at me also. I tried to send a response mentioned that I had lived in Brighton, and was at BC during the master planning sessions, so I don't feel like I'm uninformed on these issues. It never got posted, and shortly after is when he suspended posting on the board. Seems a little unfair.

live_and_let_live said...

To Brian:
I never posted anything to EagelInsider. No one among the Brighton activists even knew about it until earlier this week.

You must be a careful reader if you remember something about BCNathanHale that someone else posted to that infamous EI thread. That thread's sole purpose was to trash a Brighton woman with crude sexual and Nazi insults. And some minor second-hand reference to BCNathanHale was all that bothered you on that thread?

If you think that any reference to BCNathanHale that originated from the Brighton people and was forwarded to EI was on the same level of offensiveness as the "Latest from our friends in A-B" thread on EI, then we really have nothing to talk about.

By the way, the death threat to Pahre today was real. For any of you to put it in quotation marks as if it is just a joke speaks volumes.

What some of you most resent at this point is that any obnoxious actions committed by anyone associated with the BC community, when they are publicized, begin to reflect badly on you as individuals because you are also associated with BC.

So your anger is with whoever publicizes those actions.

This is crazy thinking. No rational person assumes that just because there are Muslim fundamentalists, all Muslims are bad. Same goes for BC people.

Should a terrorist attack by a Muslim be kept quiet because it besmirches other Muslims?

Since pro-BC people who perpetrate obnoxious things manage to remain anonymous, and the only thing that is known about them (so far) is that they are associated with BC sports discussions groups, and they target people who oppose certain aspects of BC plans, there is simply no way that BC's name can be kept out of it.

You have the temerity to expect and demand that the people who are victims of internet harassment should just take it and not at all react because their bringing it into the light ruins your reputation. Wow!

So somebody else should suffer just so BC's name stays intact. If your reputation and BC's name are dear to you, as they should, then the people you need to focus on are the ones who post filth on Eagle-this-or-another boards, not the people who are the targets of those obnoxious postings.

One of you said "if it bothers you don't read it". Oh, really? If someone gets threats and offensive letters in the mail, do you think that police just say "Throw it out, you don't need to read it."

If your mother, sister, girlfriend or wife was called a "c__t" in a public medium, or someone called to "euthanize the b__c", or to burn down your parents house, would you be in favor of just letting it go on?

It's a waste of my time to be corresponding with this group because for every person who gets this issue, there is somebody else who doesn't and they will respond, and we'll be going in circles.

Those of you who participated in those hateful and denigrating postings will probably never get it. You will persist in being in denial because to admit to yourself that writing those things was wrong and nasty is just too hard. Then you have to start asking yourself, what kind of a person am I? Then you may figure out you need to change, and change is hard; you need to be consciously involved in the process.

Some of you have some soul-searching to do. I hope that in a final analysis you will conclude that human decency should always take precedence over your attachment and loyalty to anything BC. Then BC will truly profit from having you as members of the BC community - now and always.

Rob said...

There are too many cooks spoiling this broth. I'm fairly confident the overwhelming majority of A-B neighbors and the BC community are reasonable people looking out for their own interests certainly but willing to compromise when possible. There are outliers on each side and this whole fracas has essentially identified who they are. Time to move on for now.

Brian said...

Live and Let Live - I was merely suggesting that you have resorted to name calling as well from your blog post entitled "Hostile postings from BC students." I stand corrected in that it was not directed at BCNathanHale, but merely to label a group of BC athletic fans as fruitcakes. (I thought I no longer had access to the post since your community's blog is now closed to the public, but I found it cached on google).

"Alas, as a moderator of this forum, I only hear from pro-BC zealots and fruitcakes."

This is inflammatory/derogatory speech as well, I'm afraid.

I do feel for you and agree that you have been wronged by some idiotic posters on EI. However, I strongly disagree with you dragging my alma mater's name through the mud in what you must perceive as some right course of action to rectify what has been done to you.

BC did not do this to you. A small group of internet posters did.

Take action against them, not the school. The school is an outstanding institution, yet you feel the need to post that the only rationale course of action is to cease all educational operations at BC?

I do not take offense to your concerns or your cause (I find them worthy of activism and open discussion), merely you s**ting all over my alma mater, undeservedly so.

I, for one, am done wasting my time with you. All this attention is clearly what you wanted. Good luck with your cause of saving A-B from the ogre that is Boston College, and have a great long weekend.

Eagle0407 said...

Amen, Brian.

No one on this board is trying to let the people responsible for making such absolutely out-of-line posts off the hook here. I think we can all agree that its despicable to post stuff like that.

But this discussion started on the point of whether BC should have apologized for it or not, given that the school itself is not responsible for what happened. You have to acknowledge that it is not possible for BC to proactively stop something like this from happening, short of cutting of all internet access entirely. All they can do is try to respond appropriately to things when they happen and use punishment as a deterrent. I happen to think its a good thing that the school apologized, because regardless of responsibility, I think we can all say that we are very sorry that this happened.

But looking back at the postings on this blog before you started in, live and let live, I don't see what provoked you into this day-long bickering fest on this particular message board. Some things may have been said in response to your posts to keep you going, but to be honest I think you come off as just another obstinate brightonian who lives for the argument. This, more than anything, is what many BC people find so frustrating about SOME A-B residents, that the town-gown conflict has become such a huge part of your life that your views become divorced from substance, and the means are way more important than the ends you supposedly want to achieve. Its not fair to use this terrible incident for leverage in your battle. Its clearly a small group of individuals responsible for this, and rather than rip BC and argue with us all day long, you should call the police, call a lawyer, find out who they are, and I guarantee the school would take swift action to deal with it.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Couldn't agree more with both Brian and Eagle0407.

The original comments were deplorable. End of story.

But don't generalize about BC itself from some hack comments that happened to appear on a BC athletic board. This is intellectual deprave and asinine to draw this broad generalization.

The fervor you have shown "Live and Let Live" (aka Eva Webster) has only further proven that you only like the sound of your own voice. Rather than having constructive conversation, she has ignored her own high minded ideals, deferring to mischaracterizations by stigmatizing all of BC for the words of some third party msg. board.

A flaming hypocrite is what she, as well as some in the A-B activist community (see Mike).

Publicize your ill will toward the message board all you want Eva, but don't drag the school itself into your own personal vendetta/victim fest.

You're a pathetic, publicity hungry human being when these are the tactics you defer to. I'm embarrassed to be neighbors with this woman.

Have a great long weekend.

Suzanne said...

Greetings All ~ Here's my take on the debate: Boston College spent a substantial amount of money to acquire the seminary land, and would like to do exactly as it likes with it. The neighbors want to limit the ways in which that land is developed. As mentioned, as little as ten years ago, no one could have predicted the transitions in the land precipitated by the changing fortunes of the Boston Archdiocese. Neighbors buying property in Brighton had a reasonable expectation that Saint John's Seminary, which was founded in 1881 (and at its present location), to continue as such. I suspect that the administration of Boston College functioned under the same assumption. All that changed, of course.

Land being what it is in the city, large swaths tend not to be acquired and developed in one fell swoop. BC sees great opportunity, and the neighbors are nervous. The nervousness might imply paranoia, but I think rather it reflects a long series of unfortunate clashes between rowdy students (as opposed to the mellow students, who don't precipitate clashes). Most of the neighborhoods of Boston have seen an increase in owner-occupancy, but Brighton has seen a decrease, apparently as a consequence of real estate speculation fueled by the high rents that students can be charged. The neighbors would like to reverse this trend. Wouldn't the Brighton dorms draw students out of the neighborhood rentals? It would, in fact, but the proximity of the students has a reasonable chance of decreasing the appeal of vacant properties to families.

The discussion of how the land should be developed has been going on for months now. The Institutional Master Plan (IMP) filed by BC in December is vast, and the community appears to oppose only one aspect of the proposal for the Saint John's land, building dorms, while having serious reservations about aspects of another, building a stadium. I believe the intensity of the community in its opposition reflects the fact that the IMP made no concessions on the two points that the community cares deeply about.

There at least are two ways to interpret the Brighton Centered blog post under discussion: it could be construed as a cynical move to create bad press for BC, or it could be interpreted as a sincere and necessary defense of a fellow activist against perceived aggression. Consider this: we are in the middle of a very brief comment period leading to the scoping determination by the BRA, and the stakes are especially high. Wild attacks were made against an activist on Eagle Insider, and specifically implicated her agenda of limiting the development of the seminary land by BC. As the attacks were mounted against the activist, it stands to reason that those responsible take BC's side. What is the relationship between those who wrote inflammatory posts and BC? No one really knows, but I would say that it is reasonable for Michael Pahre to convey his perspective in a public forum. In an ideal world, responses to blog posts, no matter how provocative, would refrain from ad hominem commentary.

Visitor said...

Brian wrote this to LLL:
“The school is an outstanding institution, yet you feel the need to post that the only rational course of action is to cease all educational operations at BC?”

Eva Webster to whom you were attributing that statement, Brian, never wrote those words. Some EI member in order to inflame things lifted that quote from a posting on BCNF by another Brighton activist, and made it look on the EI thread like it was Eva’s.

At that time she didn't even know of EI's existence; I showed it to her just last mOnday

That same or another EI member wrote on EI using “EvaWebster” as his handle, intentionally impersonating her to stir things up. You've got someone that unethical among those guys who were posting there.

I just wanted to make this clarification FYI. You were duped into disrespecting a person for something she didn’t do.

After all that has been said here, and people mostly agreeing that ad hominem attacks are inappropriate and needlessly intensifying animosity, Eagle in Brighton still goes after her personally. You wonder why people in Brighton don't dig BC. Cause ->Effect.

Joseph said...

As far as the "death threat to Pahre", instead of attributing it to BC students/alum denying it to keep any dirt off of BC's image, maybe it should be attributed to "the boy who cried wolf" syndrome. I honestly am sorry if this actually happened, but when people who blow up situations on a daily basis makes one more outrageous claim, do we really have any responsibility to place any faith in its validity?

Of course not

downtown_resident said...

If one lets the Brightonites let their mouths run long enough, as is their propensity, they make some very revealing statements.

Here are two of the most telling:

(1) From Michael Pahre: "The victim has not, to date, filed a formal complaint with the police against the posters, nor has she pursued a restraining order against them."

Instead of contacting law enforcement or pursuing legal channels to protect herself, the object of many of the comments from the message boards instead elected to fight her battle solely in the court of public opinion. I find that to be an incredibly telling action.

Similarly, Michael Pahre's response to the alleged "death threat" (I refuse to give any credence to this supposed "threat" until it's produced by Pahre or acknowledged and investigated by the police) was to lock the comments on a message board and to announce the "threat" in as many public forums as possible.

There's no doubt as to why the residents are reacting this way. Just take it from them-- according to Suzanne on this very blog: "we are in the middle of a very brief comment period leading to the scoping determination by the BRA, and the stakes are especially high."

Instead of reacting to threats- real or perceived- in the manner in which a reasonable person would (by contacting law enforcement), the residents simply resort to shouting their story to as many people as will listen. This has nothing to do with free speech, comments on message boards or anti-Semitism. It has everything to do with the Boston College master plan and some neighborhood opportunists trying to achieve their political goals by any means necessary.