On Sunday, Jan. 25, two users added hateful and vulgar comments to a myUMBC post by The Retriever describing the increase of on-campus hate crimes at the end of 2017.
A myUMBC user named Samuel Dadds added a rhyming comment to the post, with the final line reading “Heil Hitler,” accompanied by two swastikas. Below, he wrote, “Hate crime or comedy with an unexpected punchline?” As of this writing, the comments has two likes, or “paws.”
When asked what his motivation was for writing the comment, Dadds responded, “I thought the motivation was quite clear. Hopefully you will include the entire comment in your article so your readers can see it.”
The Retriever staff reached out to Deputy Chief of Police, Paul Dillon, for assistance. According to an email to The Retriever, Dillon will consult with the Office of the General Counsel to determine if the comment is considered protected speech.
The post was originally published on Dec. 14. It was the last post from The Retriever of the fall semester, but it is unclear why new comments were added over a month later. This afternoon, Dadds also responded to a comment on the same post that was posted over three weeks ago.
Another user also revisited the post. Bill Houghton, referencing swastikas on campus, wrote, “The people drawing them are probably Jewish. Most Jewish people I know get a kick out of them.”
When asked for clarification, Houghton explained that use of swastikas are often for shock factor rather than hateful intentions, noting that it depends on the context. Houghton claimed that characterizing swastikas, particularly those used “in many groups of non-pc alternatively funny people” as hate crimes is inaccurate: “the random symbol for most middle class college students isn’t going to elicit connotations associated with anti-jew.”
“Now, many of my friends are Jewish and actively make jokes about the fact. None I know face prejeduce or injustice. Many Jewish kids I know are very aware of the stigmatized swastika and while they might see it as offensive in obviously offensive contexts, most would see it on a white board and laugh, and a couple would be the ones to draw it out of irony.”
UPDATE – Monday, Jan. 29:
Following publication, Houghton reached out to The Retriever staff to apologize for his comment, saying, “After reading the article and seeing my own dialogue quoted I definately [sic] see that my point of view was ignorant and ignored the entire point of the original story.”
After this reflection, Houghton hopes those affected by the swastika vandalism are not negatively impacted by his words. He removed his comments from the original post and subsequent news brief, and added an apology.