I was (quite publicly) arrested in college for comments about the Virginia Tech shooting
I didn't sue--my lawyers were (fortunately) primarily interested in my well-being. Basically they told me to get past it and move on with my life. Clearly I'm still thinking about it lol.
There was another TV, fame chasing lawyer who wanted me to go on talk shows and shit like that. I shudder to think of what would have happened if he'd gotten to me first. I wasn't emotionally equipped to handle any of it.
Glad you didn't go with the second lawyers. Clearly they were worried about the money in their pocket and wanted to campaign your story around the US.
Even more glad your lawyers were interested in your well-being. Granted, it is evident that this may never be something you get over as your image was tarnished (sorry for being so blunt).
Can I ask what your families thoughts are on all of this? Did they stand by you? Did it strain your relationship with them if you had one before?
Haha I've done much to tarnish my image before and since, so don't worry. It was scary though.
My lawyer said after a meeting "Go to therapy. You'll experience self-loathing in a way you never thought possible, and then it will get better." He was right, but it took me 8 years to actually go.
My family always goaded me on. Part of why I was always getting in trouble was to impress my father, who hates authority but lacks the spine to actually speak his mind. I still do provocative things, but I'm more thoughtful about it and how I really feel about it.
My relationship with my parents was decent then. Now I don't talk to either.
I'm sorry to hear that. That is unfortunate and never easy.
I find it really interesting, because of course everyone's initial response is "thoughts and prayers" and "shooter should have just killed themselves". However, you bring up what I think about a lot and that is, how do we prevent this from happening?
It is not guns that are making this happen. It is the people often within the schools. Now I am not saying that EVERYONE in school is the reason these individuals do this. Some definitely are influenced by outside sources. But most of the time it seems that every interview post-school shooting results in kids saying "they were quiet" or "nobody talked to them". Yet, rumblings come out over time that the person was viciously bullied or forced to be an outcast. I think more people need to be held responsible. Not just the shooter. I'm sure some of the people in the past were truly struggling, and they ultimately believed they had no other option.
Now I am definitely NOT condoning any of this. But it is sad/disgusting to see some people get pushed to this limit.
Yes, I think it's a bunch of different factors. Of course if you don't have a gun, you can't shoot people. But then we just have kids sitting there desperately wishing they could have a gun so they could shoot each other? That's still a pretty horrible situation. School, home life, society in general, these are all things we need to look at.
Unfortunately you brought up a controversial (although extremely thought provoking) idea that others were quick to reject. Maybe your professor/school wanted you arrested because you broke their brain.
Haha I think they just assumed I was insane or trying to scare them on purpose, when the truth is I'm just extremely stupid.
You're not stupid. You did what was asked of you, and exactly what I would have and have done in many classes myself- what many of my peers have done. Call it playing devil's advocate, call it breaking the circle jerk, either way, it's simply encouraging and practicing thought provoking discourse. This is what you are supposed to do.
It is sad and flat out fucked up what you suffered. I was lucky enough to have professors who didn't pull such a bait and switch as yours did. The classroom is exactly the place for such discussions.
Keep your head up bud.
Haha yeah that's the part that really pissed me off--that she asked what I thought, but really just wanted me to repeat what she thought.
Thanks for the encouragement. My head is fairly up.
Why do you say you are stupid?
Are you saying if you could go back in time you would not have made those same statements?
Haha no, I'm stupid because if I could go back in time I would say the exact same thing.
Was there any disciplinary action or investigation into the actions of the professor?
None whatsoever. The vice chancellor hated me. But the head of judicial affairs liked me, so he had the final say about letting me off the hook.
Have you been able to use this experience to your advantage in any way? (Job interviews, Dates, etc.)
BTW It's a totally crappy situation, and I feel like you were definitely the victim, and I'm so sorry you had to go through this.
Haha it does attract a certain kind of person to be able to prove that you won't back down from authority, so I'd say yes to the dates. All my jobs have been working for/with people who like my personality generally, so it hasn't hurt me professionally. That said, I made a porn movie and posted the link on facebook six months ago, so this is just one of many things on my internet record.
Yeah it was pretty horrible, and yet I keep coming back for more. I think I'm pathologically addicted to being misunderstood.
Did you personally star in the porn movie?
Can we have the link my man?
You're a professional weirdo my man
That's the goal.
Haha thank you.
For everything else too, obviously :)
Haha yes of course.
I just wanna say, you lead a very interesting life from what I've seen in this thread. I hope you have a nice day!
I try to keep things interesting lol. You too.
Even in this thread there are people trying to misquote you and strawman the arguments you made.
Looks like you came to the right place lol.
Hahaha yes, it's ironic. I think people have a very strong gut reaction of wanting to define themselves as non-school-shooters as fiercely as possible, which of course makes them look secretly crazy to me.
I agree that humans have a tremendous potential for violence. But violent crime today is at an extremely low level in the U.S. and the world at large. Most Americans are very rarely victims of violent crime. Why do you say the U.S. is generally a violent society?
We are violent in our thoughts and entertainment. And abroad with our military. I think humans are just violent. But yes in the U.S. we tend to channel it into healthier outlets. Except when we shoot each other, which we definitely do a lot compared to other rich nations. I look at shootings like this as a symptom of a larger problem with how we talk to each other (and avoid conflict) rather than as a huge problem in and of themselves.
There were no audio recordings. There are audio recordings of my classmates' interviews with the police. Maybe half of my classmates supported me or refused to talk to the police. The other half tried to bury me in their interviews.
You may think I'm white--over in Colorado they don't usually see it that way.
Being a "possible threat" is not a crime.
Were you ever required to get a mental health evaluation from either a psychiatrist or psychologist?
My lawyers hired a psychologist to evaluate me because they thought I probably wasn't getting back in without it, so kind of, yeah.
I was evaluated as being normal/healthy, except slightly naive/paranoid (as in, the thinking what I said in the classroom would be well-received kind of naive).
Were there any other students you felt were actual potential threats yet managed to slip under the university radar?
Interesting question. There was a student who was found to have guns in his dorm room, and he got suspended too. I'm from a liberal college town in MA so the idea of having guns was insane to me. Now I'm a little more worldly and don't think it's weird, and own a gun myself. But at the time I was like, THIS GUY'S THE PSYCHO, NOT ME!
Why do you have a gun now?
In case I have a bad day and need to shoot 32 people.
Just kidding. I bought a gun because I have a youtube channel about empathizing across political party lines, and my moderate friend (and content editor) convinced me to buy a handgun and make a video about it.
Bravo. Understanding things is the first step to no longer fearing them. If more people took the time to understand what a gun is and what it does, they might not be so afraid of them. Like any other object or substance that has the potential to be hazardous, it has proper handling methods that should absolutely be followed a hundred percent of the time.
Yeah I'm very careful whenever handling a firearm. It's funny hearing my fellow liberals talk about guns and realizing they never had the slightest clue what they were talking about.
You raise a good point. But just after a shooting people are not thinking clearly. Emotions can reduce people's thinking by a significant amount and schools are going to react like Israel does to anti-semitism. What happened to you was wrong, no question. But the context of your theory would have been better suited as an OP-ed after tension had decreased.
Having said that, back to your theory, what actions would you implement if you were an administrative educator?
And I agree with the first comment about legal ation. Since the professor publically shamed and misrepresented you this looks like an open and shut tort lawsuit. I'd look into taking them to court to if anyone thing else, publically clear your name.
Hahaha yeah I get this response a lot. "What happened was wrong, but what the fuck were you thinking?" I'm naive about how rational people are because I'm hyper-rational.
If I were an administrative educator I would create self-expression classes and encourage students to express ugly feelings, and work with their parents if possible. We take the most emotional people on earth and then ask them to sit quietly and listen to boring lectures. It's kind of inhumane.
I don't and didn't want to go back to court. I don't think the professor was evil. Just a little nutty/scared.
What astonishes me is the professor’s complete lack of rationality in a position where he has influence on the minds of numerous other students. That inability to feel empathy is the reason the gun debate is so hot - neither side of it appears to understand what the other side wants, and therefore no constructive middle ground can be found.
As a survivor of a school shooting years ago, I completely understand now what it is you were trying to say: we need to empathize with the shooter because we all respond irrationally in our pain or anger etc (by taking it out on a SO by being irritable for example). Myself almost a decade ago the day after my school shooting? Not so much. And that’s being said with the token of info that I knew the shooter through mutual connections and had no hard or negative feelings against him until that point.
It’s all in the timing my dude. I’m glad you got a piece of your justice.
Well, we need to empathize with you as well--the survivors and victims. I guess people think you can't empathize with both. It's especially disturbing because I wasn't saying "screw the victims, I really feel for this guy!" I was offering it as a solution to the overall problem.
I'm glad you're still alive.
After all these years do you still hold those same views about school shootings?
Yes. I think school shootings are an indicator of something wrong with our society and how we treat children. I also think humans are just naturally violent animals and we like to kill things/each other, but if we are treated well we are more peaceful.
It seems to be a complex issue; one I think you seem to have a pretty firm grasp on.
There is an enormous disparity in the numbers of school shootings in the US vs European countries. That has got to be indicative of at least a few of the factors you mention.
It's not like the land upon which you live is built on old indian burial grounds.
Yeah exactly. We're here because we're the recent descendants of murderers, slavers, slaves, and all other kinds of violent people. That's true of a lot of countries obviously, but to pretend we're just nice happy people is deluded.
I'm not entirely sure if I agree with the "innate violent tendencies"- theory.
Violent impulses are, indeed, a regular occurrence in most peoples' lives. However, they don't necessarily carry more importance than the myriad of other, more mundane, unexpressed impulses.
It's more a question of how often violent impulses occur, how well-equipped one is to exercise impulse control, and maybe whether healthier alternatives to aggressive patterns are available.
This is the part that might be relevant in understanding any possible mutual influence these factors share with societal factors.
(sorry if this is hard to parse, English isn't my first language)
Or it might be a mix. Or you could be right. I don't know, but it's an important question.
I think it's just a matter of perspective. Acknowledging that humans are violent creatures is useful, I think, because you can then plan for it.
I grew up in Blacksburg and was a senior in high school at the time of the shooting.
I distinctly remember when they were planning the memorial for the 32 victims (one stone for each of the slain students), they talked about adding a 33rd stone dedicated to the family of the shooter, since they were just as much a victim as everyone else in the community, but were ostracized instead of comfoeted. It always struck me as a very compassionate thought, and I'm sad that didn't make it into the final version, and every day on the anniversary of the shooting I write a post on Facebook about how we should be talking about the shooter and that he was a victim and how much we as a society failed him.
I guess I need a question. What did you have for lunch today?
That is compassionate, and very sad. You sound like a compassionate person. It's hard to hate someone, hate what they did, and also feel empathy for them all at once.
As for lunch--a protein shake and two of what my girlfriend wants to call "mookies." Cookies made in a muffin pan so they're huge and muffin shaped. The alternative was "cuffins." Mookies is more uncomfortable though so we went with that.
What was the nature of your previous satire pieces?
The main one they were mad about was a newsletter I wrote titled "the myth of the female orgasm." It was about how it's impossible to make a woman orgasm despite the lies porn tells us, how I've tried everything and it just doesn't work, etc... Things like that, making fun of racist or sexist people, except some people didn't know I was joking and thought I was racist or sexist.
This is only the second time I have spoken publicly about the whole affair.
Given the face on how poorly the first time went for you, why are you doing it again?
You say it went poorly because you think I'm trying to make myself look good on the internet. But that isn't my goal.
My goal is to provoke interesting discussions about difficult topics and to express myself. It can be painful to be roasted, but if I wanted to avoid pain, I wouldn't have tried to empathize with a murderer in the first place.
Do you really think that a slightly better upbringing will stop a psycho from killing a bunch of people?
To actually have the nerve to shoot and kill a bunch of people takes a seriously messed up person. Will improving the way you treat him actually change anything? Do you think that will actually stop a disturbed person from carrying out an atrocious killing?
I think a better upbringing will stop someone from being a psycho.
Yes, I do. Especially the Virginia Tech Shooter. He was pretty clear about why he did it in the video he posted.
I’ts incredibly surreal to come across this thread immediately after I finished watching this Alt-Right Playbook video. Surreal.
It’s like having a practical class right after you’ve studied the theory.
You think I'm Alt-Right? I hate Trump and publicly denounce him frequently. I'm leaning toward Pete or Klobuchar.
If I may ask, how was your psychological evaluation?
Hahaha so delicate with your question. Nice username, too.
I scored normal except I scored high for naivete/paranoia. Which is obviously why I got arrested in the first place. I honestly thought they'd be like, "Good point, Max! We all think about shooting people sometimes! A+ for class participation!"
Wait, was it just a psychological test or a whole diagnostic interview? I don’t want to ask for some sensitive information but I am really surprised that psychologists didn’t calm everybody down. Your whole point is clearly what psychology is about - a rational and individual approach to the person.
The thing is that the police and prosecutors didn't really think I was crazy. They were just embarrassed and didn't want to back down until the news coverage died down. So the stories of my arrest were huge--the story of the charges being dropped barely made the local papers.
It was a whole interview, tests included.
What happened to your grades and degree ?
My grades weren't great to begin with, but I had to retake all my finals six months later, did badly, and graduated with a BS in psychology at the bare minimum GPA.
Do you still have friends for college? How did they handle the situation?
Yes. My best friend (then and now) was one of the few people who actually gave a shit. She stayed up all night worrying about me when I was in jail and took care of me when I got out.
How do you feel now about what happened and those who overreacted?
I feel angry that my classmates and the teacher were a bunch of pussies who can't handle facing their inner demons and wanted to take it out on me for approaching it head on. I also feel empathy for them, but damn, what the fuck.
I also feel sad for myself. Jail was terrifying and so was the prospect of going back for a year and a half, all because I wanted to fucking help people.
We see the societal problems associated with mental health in many forms, depression, addiction (crack in the 80's the opioid epidemic today), and even to some extent the obesity epidemic.
I've always felt that guns are simply the tool (don't get me wrong, still a problem) but the underlying problem is mental health.
To what extent do you agree and/or disagree with this assertion?
In your opinion what can be done to address mental health on societal scale?
Yeah I agree with you. Taking the tools away would likely cut down on murders, but doesn't really address why people want to use those tools to kill each other.
I think we need to talk about our feelings more, basically. The way we parent and teach kids kind of puts them in an emotional trash compactor where they are expected to be happy all the time and repress all their anger. I think emotional awareness and expression needs to be a normalized part of school and part of home life.
I think you hit the nail on the head with talking about feelings, emotional intelligence, and schooling in general. Thanks for your reply.
You're welcome. Thanks for validating my views and making me feel smart lol.
What are you doing now?
Responding to comments here and on my youtube channel on my couch in the shirt from the picture and my underwear (I was wearing no pants when I took the picture), and I'm about to get ready for work (I'm a personal trainer).
do you realise you look like Louis theroux?
Lol I don't actually, but with the glasses and this picture, sure. I look more like a cross between Jeff Goldblum and Elijah Wood.
Do you think the professors assumption of your intentions had anything to do with how you are perceived physically? Such as your ethnicity? Physical features?
I was like one of 10 Jews at the school (I'm not religious, but racially I think I read as a Jew), so maybe, yeah. I thought about that. I also just look generally kind of like a 9/11 terrorist.
I did something kinda similar once in college. Was my first year. Big auditorium class 100+ people. History? Sociology? And we were talking about people working for pennies in 3rd world countries. Person after person would say... that's horrible I feel so bad for them. They should get paid more!
My comment was - they may be thrilled to even have a job. They aren't slaves, if better jobs are available they could leave. Pretty sure there were gasps. ha. But thankfully the professor loved the answer. But could have easily gone the other way. After that I learned to keep my head down.
That's a scary moment when you realize a ton of people are about to label you a bigot and turn on you simply because you're bringing up another way of looking at things. Sounds like you had a good professor though lol.
How did your friends/family react initially, did they take your side or the media's? What was it like returning to campus? Also props for this AMA I know the last one didn't do so well :(
What last AMA? I have no idea what you're talking about...
My family always egged me on to get in trouble, so they took my side. However I now hate my parents and don't talk to them.
I was angry when I returned to campus. I wrote a satirical article that pissed people off so much, they shut down the school newspaper.
Unpopular opinion maybe but umm... isn't this the exact kind of targeted, accusatory, factually negligent marginalization of an individual that would lead to a school shooting?
Self-Fulfilling prophecy much?
Reminds me of Frankenstein.
Haha yeah exactly. They posted a cop in the class for two days just in case I wanted to retaliate.
So that teacher is on your list now right? Seriously what a fucking retard
Yeah I've been compiling a kill list for 13 years and it has 25,000 people on it, I just need some high-capacity magazines and I'll be set.
At that point I'd recommend novels instead of magazines
Hyuk hyuk hyuk
How do you feel about how pc the world has become? You can't say anything anymore!! and I think you brought up some good points, as it is important to understand why shooters do it, in order to prevent it happening again. Do you think the politically correctness will eventually die down and go back to how it was, or do you think it will get much worse?
Haha well, in my hometown of Amherst Massachusetts, our school play was canceled because West Side Story was deemed to be too racist. The following year the students put on The Vagina Monologues. So I've been kind of fighting against political correctness my whole life.
The thing is--you CAN say things. People just get mad at you. I think we should just let that happen. Even with my arrest--they eventually had to concede that I was allowed to say it. The ride is just a little bumpy along the way.
After Trump (who I dislike, except that he is politically incorrect, I do like that), I think things will get worse, at least in liberal circles (my life, lol).
Thanks for replying, but I disagree with you to a degree on saying you can still say things, as you were arrested! That's insane!!! That's not freedom and you didn't say anything that was a threatening. It's like that poor woman that was arrested for saying women are born with vaginas. it's now considered hate speech and transphobic which is insane!! I hope political correctness doesn't get worse though cos god help us all otherwise 😂
Hahaha fair enough, I guess I just mean we should keep speaking our minds regardless of what the PC police (or actual police) say.
Yeah I got banned from a feminist subreddit yesterday for posting a video titled "Things Feminists Would Say If Women Had Penises." The top comments were like, "But women do have penises."
This makes me laugh. I am from Boston and can agree, Massachusetts is extremely liberal and I do not see political correctness dying down here.
I'm a conservative, I voted for Trump, I don't agree with everything he says and does, but he has tried to push away from this soft cushiony idea that we are supposed to be ever so gentle with everyone on earth.
Political correctness is what I believe will continue to stall any type of solution for education systems looking at ways of addressing your comments in your class.
Yes, political correctness has an implied mandate of no one ever getting upset. The problem is that if we all try to never get upset, we snap.
Lol I so very much hate Trump, but I think this is one good thing he has done for politics. Politicians (and kind of everyone) can say more of what they're thinking.
The problem is that if we all try to never get upset, we snap.
Yeah I think I'll make a video about this. Thanks for helping me distill that down.
I guess the problem is your honest believe:
"I said that we've all had violent thoughts, and if we pretend we haven't, we're lying. We live in a violent society (the U.S.) and humans are violent animals. Instead of pretending that isn't the case, we should figure out why that violence is being directed toward institutions like schools, especially huge crappy schools that dehumanize their students."
NO, NO, NO! Nobody usually has violent thoughts, that would include the killing of people. Not even to hurt them. That is not normal and not a lie for must of us.
There is NO excuse, what ever anger you have, to get violent. If you feel, that violence is an appropiate means to change things, I believe that you are dangerous and should be locked-up.
Would you believe that violence is the most unappropiate way, and that we could completely solve problems by finding solutions?
I think you're taking what I said a little too literally--you're not distinguishing between thoughts and actions. Look at the most popular movies, games, sports, TV shows. They are largely violent. We think about violence all the time.
No, I think talking about your feelings is a better idea than shooting your classmates. Lol although both can land you in jail.
Meaning something and saying something is different. What you said within your comments is different to what you want to say. I totally get you. You wanted to say, that there is a reason behind any shooting. That there is unfair treatment. That those problems should be solved. That somebody should look behind all of those reasons.
But what you said, was " I can understand the anger, and it is right. (and that about a school shooting). As long it is not solved, we are angry and we do take any means."
Do you understand the difference in communication and words?
I didn't say that. You are not quoting me, you just made those quotes up, which is ironic given your insistence on differentiating between words and intention. You're saying what you think I meant. But I didn't say that, or mean that.
So I go back to what you have said initially and also in many comments you made in this thread. You are reflecting zero. None of your comments put you in this position?
Yes, I might have been trying to take it more positive than you really are. You are a clever person, as I can see. I don't like you at all. You will love this :-)
I think it's better to be yourself and take your lashes than to conform to what the world wants you to be. But that's just me.
No, I don't love that you don't like me, it's stressful and makes me sad.
First off, I commend you for posting this. This takes a lot especially after you were publicly lambasted for offering your thoughts in a open discussion in a classroom. Shame on the professors for being so soft.
Did you ever sue?
Edit: Oof. Seeing some of these past posts definitely make this a little awkward since this obviously was not one of the first times... this comment may age poorly.
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