Access to Critical Blog Blocked

Web site devoted to scrutiny of former leader of College of Southern Nevada is shut down there and (temporarily) at his new institution.
October 22, 2007

Nothing makes a book sell like banning it -- and so to it is with blogs, as Richard Carpenter's current and former institutions are finding.

Carpenter is the new chancellor of the North Harris Montgomery Community College District, in Texas, a position he took this summer after being president of the College of Southern Nevada. On his way out of Nevada, he offended board members who didn't like the way he handled his search for a new job and union leaders who didn't like the way he tried to kill a popular training program.

While it is unclear who they are, a group of people with pseudonyms like TruthToPower and Plebian created Richard Carpenter Watch as a blog to discuss his tenure in Nevada. The blog's mission statement is typical of the site's tenor: "This blog offers a centralized clearing house that can document the atrocities going forward and arm Richard Carpenter's antagonists with facts and the historical record in real time, when they need it. Therefore, this nihilist will not be able to wreak his destruction because of the lag time it takes each new set of victims to get up to speed on his methods."

Last week, Carpenter's current and former colleges blocked the blog from campus networks. After North Harris was sued, it restored access.

Helen Clougherty, a spokeswoman for Southern Nevada, said the college blocked access to the blog "after being made aware of threats and solicitation of physical violence against a college employee." While Southern Nevada has not elaborated, one of the articles posted on the Web site refers to a commenter having suggested that anyone who saw a certain college vice president in the parking lot should "please run her over."

Steve Lestarjette, a spokeswoman for the Texas district, said that the site was blocked "based on safety and security issues" and that it was unblocked because "those issues have been addressed or are being investigated."

Asked about whether the college being sued also played a role in the decision to stop blocking the blog, Lestarjette said that the litigation "had an influence." The suit charged the college with violating the First Amendment rights of citizens by blocking access to political speech.

Lestarjette said that Carpenter was not commenting on the substance of the blog attacking him, but that it would be correct to assume that he disagrees with it.

Two of the blog's authors, responding anonymously via e-mail, said that they don't control the many comments that are left on the site, and that they suspect the comment that was used to justify blocking the site was planted there by someone wanting the site blocked. They vowed to continue their work on the project.

The blog is reporting record traffic.


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