The UND President Doesn't Need Security Because Of Nickname Brouhaha

It is rare that I find myself agreeing with the angry, intemperate children responsible for the Fargo Forum‘s editorials, but today is one of those rare occasions. The Forum gives a “leafy spurge” to former Bismarck mayor Marlan “Hawk” Haakenson who is seeking to block some of the new nicknames the university is putting to a vote by registering them as trade names with the Secretary of State.

For one, this is a futile tactic. Haakenson is going to have a tough time proving that he has any valid claim to those monikers. What’s more, he’s on the record saying that his motivation for registering them was malicious. He has admitted that his purpose was to derail UND’s transition to one of those nicknames. That’s not an argument that would ever stand up in court should Haakenson try to press his claim.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Haakenson actually managed to make the thoroughly duplicitous Robert Kelley, president of UND and chief concocter of the ridiculous nickname transition process we’re all suffering through, look sympathetic.[/mks_pullquote]

For another, Haakenson actually managed to make the thoroughly duplicitous Robert Kelley, president of UND and chief concocter of the ridiculous nickname transition process we’re all suffering through, look sympathetic. One of the narratives pushed by the anti-Fighting Sioux nickname activists is that the pro-nickname folks (who, by the way, never asked for this fight) are a bunch of intransigent fanatics. Haakenson’s does little but provide fuel for that fire.

And speaking of making Kelley look sympathetic, check out this article from the Grand Forks Herald. “No special security for UND president: Emails harass Kelley with name calling, insults,” reads the headline over the article by Anna Burleson.

From that one could reasonably conclude that Kelley is facing all manner of threatening communications, but if you read the article you find out that it’s really just one person.

That’s right. One person who sent a series of emails, some threatening, that were checked out by law enforcement and determined not to have risen to the level of a crime.

That’s a pretty shaky foundation on which to build a headline about Kelley potentially needing additional security. I’m certain Kelley is getting a lot of nasty blowback from the public. So what? It goes with the territory.

I’m the target of ugly emails and social media postings pretty much every day. Some of them rise to the level of threats (a couple to the point where I’ve considered contacting law enforcement). Kelley is trying to play the martyr, I think, as a way to defuse the furious reaction from North Dakotans over his handling of the nickname issue, but it’s not very believable when he’s received credible threats from just one person that, upon investigation, weren’t all that credible.

Kelely is no martyr. If anything he’s the victim of his own stupid policies.

On a related note, if you’re thinking about sending someone – maybe me? – an ugly message because you disagree with them, please reconsider. At best you’re not going to change anyone’s mind and, at worst, you may end up getting yourself in trouble if you go overboard to the point where your message could be considered a threat.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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