In August, Sally Haslanger, a philosophy professor at MIT, received a package of shit.
“‘Oh shit,’” Haslanger said after putting her hand in the package. “‘This is shit. I’m one of the other people who got the shit!’”
Haslanger, along with two other philosophy professors, Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins and J. David Velleman, had actual human feces mailed to them over the last year.
Some believe the mailings are tied to a public spat with Brian Leiter, a philosophy and law professor at the University of Chicago, that involved the Philosophical Gourmet Report, a graduate school ranking that Leiter had run. Leiter was eventually ousted, after Leiter’s verbal abuse incensed the rest of the philosophy community.
Haslanger and Velleman published several emails where Leiter “calls other philosophers ‘sanctimonious assholes,'” and “refers to someone’s employer as a ‘shit department,'” reports the Daily Nous.
Tracking information on one of the packages suggests it was sent from or near Leiter’s University of Chicago office.
Unlike Haslanger’s and Velleman’s, Jenkins’ package contained tracking information, which traces back to a USPS facility in Chicago…The return address is one digit off from Leiter’s office at the University of Chicago, and the sender is listed as “Peter Aduren,” a pseudonym that some believe is used by Leiter.
“I have no insight into why crazy people would do crazy things like mail shit to people,” Leiter told BuzzFeed.
Haslanger believes that mailings are meant to intimidate her and her colleagues, telling Buzzfeed that “such acts are clearly aimed to degrade and silence us.”
Leiter, in his response to the mailing, mocked the idea Haslanger would be targeted for speaking out against abuses of power within her field, because it “attributes far too sophisticated motives to the malevolent actor(s).” Leiter blamed another group critical of him for the mailings.
“What this is really about is what happens when one vile cyber-cesspool,” said Leiter, a renowned purveyor of cyber-cesspools, “hears about another cyber-controversy”
We reached out to Leiter for comment on Twitter, he did not respond.
.@BrianLeiter Heraclitus says you can never poop in the same box twice. What are your thoughts on that?
— Critical Theory (@Crittheory) October 6, 2016
Read the full story at BuzzFeed.