the PATRIOT Act apologists don’t want to expire December 31st:
A UMass-Dartmouth senior, who has asked that his name be withheld for fear of further troubles, was recently visited by agents from the Department of Homeland Security after they learned he had requested a copy of Mao’s “Little Red Book” from his school’s library.
The student was researching a paper on Communism for his class on fascism and totalitarianism when he left his name, address, phone number and social security along with his request for Mao’s 1964 classic from the inter-library loan program.
“I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book,” Professor Pontbriand said. “Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that’s what triggered the visit, as I understand it.”
The department’s interest in the student was heightened further by his having spent significant time abroad.
Come on, how can we not appreciate the irony in this happening during research for a class on “fascism and totalitarianism?”
Update: Ruh Roh, Boing Boing’s readers cast doubt on the story.
1. UMass Dartmouth does not use SSN’s for student ID’s. An interlibrary loan request by SSN would seem to violate the University’s own privacy policies (Link).
2. The reporter has not talked to the student. He has talked to the professors, who told him what the student claimed happened. The professors have no first hand knowledge of the incident.
3. It seems a little unlikely that UMass Dartmouth wouldn’t have the Little Red Book on Campus.
4. The professors only “went public” with the story in response to a query about domestic wiretapping.
I think it’s at least equally likely that the student made up an excuse for not doing some work, and that the professors bought into it enough to advance their own agenda.
Indeed, this may end up being a tall tale crafted by some college student.
Latest Update: One article now claims the whole story was bogus all along:
The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for “The Little Red Book” by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.
The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.