Looks like one of AutoAdmit’s heads, Anthony Ciolli, has stepped down from his position as Chief Education Director of the site (yeah, I laughed at that title too). He’s still affiliated with AutoAdmit and will continue to manage the other sites that he co-owns with Jarret Cohen — the other AutoAdmit head, who has not stepped down. Ciolli says he’s dropping the message board because of an incident of cyber-harassment, but it’s probably not too much of a stretch to speculate that this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back after the WaPo article and several reported meetings with his law school deans.
As much as I can’t stand the pit that AutoAdmit is, I’m not looking to shut down the site or get its creators pushed out. I just think that they need to be more responsible and more consistent — if you have an anti-outing policy, then that should apply to posters and to completely unrelated female law school students who did nothing more than go to school with a handful of pathetic one-handed keyboardists. While Ciolli is definitely smart to resign and to save his own skin, I wish that he and Cohen would have instituted a more proactive solution. Because that board is ugly, and it keeps getting uglier.
Case in point: The incident which pushed Ciolli to step down. One AutoAdmit poster sent the following email to the entire faculty of a top-five law school, about one of the female students who spoke out about being entered in the Top 14 beauty contest (names and identifying information have been redacted):
Dear [redacted] faculty,
I write to you now about a very important issue that affects a non-trivial number of you. Although you undoubtedly deal with self-entitled, spoiled students on a regular basis, there’s one person in particular whose history I feel you must be made aware of before problems arise. [Redacted], a student in your [redacted] class, has a felon as a father who stole money from [redacted — his place of work] to buy her horses. I kid you not, she asked her father for horses so he took money from an organization aimed at helping the poor. Just imagine how hard she must have begged him in order to commit such an odious crime. One could make the argument that her character at ten is not representative of her values as an adult, if it wasn’t for the recent evidence to the contrary. She spent in excess of $150 to remove material that was in the public domain, simply because she found it offensive that it emphasized her good looks. If such reckless use of money in the name of free speech suppression is not indicative of a damaged character, I don’t know what it is. Best of luck to you in managing this liability, it is regretful that the admissions process can’t encapsulate the entire person.
Patrick Bateman (Harvard Law School 08)
In his post on AutoAdmit, the author of this lovely email (who appropriately calls himself lonelyvirgin) writes, “I post this here as a warning to all those who would try to regulate the more antisocial posters- we have the power now.”
Yes, I’m sure the faculty of that fine institution are up in arms about a crime that a woman’s father committed when she was a child. I’m sure she’s been expelled.
I cannot emphasize enough what bottom-feeders some of the posters on that board are. I’m sure there are dozens of decent people who read AutoAdmit for advice about law school, but they’re tremendously over-shadowed by these fuckwits. And while responsibility does fall primarily on the individuals who are posting these things, the owners of the board are responsible for not moderating it properly, and for allowing it to turn into a complete cesspool. Jarret Cohen continues to shirk that responsibility by appealing to ideals of “free speech” — making it clear that he is not in fact a lawyer (nor even a layperson familiar with with constitutional law). First-year Con Law (or even 8th grade civics class) should make it clear enough that the right to free speech means the right to expression without governmental interference, not the right to express yourself however you want wherever you want. I have the right to publish this post on my own blog, in my own corner of the internet, without the Bush administration shutting me down. I do not have the right to write whatever I want on Pandagon or the National Review or the New York Times. The right to free speech does not mean an unrestrained platform on which to speak. If Jarret Cohen wishes to offer bigots, racists, anti-Semites and misogynists such an unrestrained platform, then that’s his decision, but he needs to own it and not offer up pat justifications for behavior which has caused substantial harm to many other people.
The latest bout of cyber-harassment isn’t out of the ordinary for AutoAdmit, even if it is outrageous. Ciolli is smart to distance himself from that toilet. Now if only Cohen had the balls to actually regulate it.
*Also, thanks for all the kind and supportive emails in response to my previous AutoAdmit post. I’m sorry I haven’t emailed you all back yet, but today is the first day I’ve been well enough to spend more than 5 minutes sitting upright at my computer. You will be hearing from me within the next few days.