Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ellen Watson could’ve told Meg what was coming.

Ellen Watson could’ve told Meg Lanker-Simons what was coming. Watson could’ve told her what happens when a strong woman offends the establishment in Wyoming. Meg is about the same age Ellen Watson was when she was lynched in 1889. You may know Ellen as “Cattle Kate.” That wasn’t her name nor was she the prostitute they said she was to justify her hanging.

Ellen’s staked claim to land that Albert Bothwell insisted he owned, though he didn’t. Powerful cattlemen like Bothwell got their way by falsely claiming settlers like Ellen were rustlers. The truth could’ve been determined by a jury, but they could execute the death penalty without a trial. That’s what Ellen got.

It’s Wyoming 125 years later and that’s what Meg Lanker-Simons is getting. Trials are held to determine facts, lynchings before facts are determined. Lanker-Simons is getting what Clarence Thomas called a “high-tech lynching.”

Meg is out of step with many fellow students. She’s an unabashed liberal in Wyoming, where many would like to have liberals delisted along with wolves. Recently someone posted comments on a rogue website at the University, targeting Lanker-Simons, carrying explicit threats of sexual assault to remedy her leftist beliefs.

Meg once sued the University for violating the free speech guarantee of the Constitution. UW invited Bill Ayers to speak and then, under threat from politically powerful donors, decided Ayers couldn’t speak after all. Meg sued based on the “leftist” notion that public institutions shouldn’t preclude the exercise of free speech. The court ruled in her favor as any first-year law student could have predicted.

Judge William Downes asked, "If the First Amendment can't find sanctuary somewhere on a college campus, where can it take refuge?" Where? Not UW.

When the University discovered it had no defense, it went on offense, sending lawyers to trash the student who had the courage to stand up. It was a classless act that demonstrated how far UW’s administrators were willing to go to demean someone who dared question them.

John Davis’ book “Wyoming Range War” describes Watson’s killers. “Most of the men headed to Ellen Watson’s land that early afternoon of July 21, 1889, were angry, one might say steeped in outraged indignation.”

Apples don’t fall far from the tree. Many students come to Laramie from communities where there’s a bounty on liberals. Smart, articulate, and fearless,  she’s a worthy opponent. Those characteristics made her a target. Her outspokenness hasn’t been welcomed. It caused some to become “steeped in outraged indignation.”

Detractors are armed with a UW investigation into the threats aimed at Lanker-Simons on that rogue website. The investigation conveniently pointed fingers at Lanker-Simons, claiming she posted the sexual assault threats against herself. Sorting out criminal charges should be left to the courts. There’s good reason to challenge statements by UW’s investigators but that’s why we have lawyers, judges, and juries. Whether you think she’s guilty or not, she’s entitled to a presumption of innocence and a trial.

Vigilantes outsource their outraged indignation. On Facebook they call her a “communist.” Using the anonymity of the Internet they’ve posted lies and threats, inciting others to do the same. Someone identified as “Ibram Gaunt” posted, “aww she’s beautiful on the inside. bulllllshhhhiiiitttt, probably full of chicken nuggets and dollar double stacks. what a cow, go on a diet you fat bitch!!!!!!!!!”

On the Laramie newspaper site someone identified as “UW Student” posted, “Can we get some confirmation on whether or not this girl is dead? I keep hearing that.” One identified as “Jack Levitt UW Student” asked, “Did she shoot herself in the head to advance the leftwing gun control agenda?”

They want Meg and any other woman who might speak out to get the message. Outspokenness on this campus is risky. Unlike Ellen Watson, Meg will have her day in court. Unlike Meg, Watson didn’t have to endure the onslaught of cowards hiding behind social media. The cowards Watson confronted at least had to show their faces to do their dirty work.


  1. Thank you. With all the negativity going around about this thing, it's good to hear more of the positive.

    This makes me glad I left UW when I did. I'll finish my degree elsewhere.

  2. Cattle Kate was hung by vigilanties for pissing off the Cattleman's Association 1889.

    Meg made a fake threat of rape against herself in an attempt to smear political opponents.

    Yeah, I think Meg's actions are more closely aligned with the Cattleman's Association than with Kate's.

    Nice try, though.

    1. Did you read this at all? Meg is accused of making this fake threat, but has not had her day in court. NOTHING has been proven. THAT is the point.
      You're literally doing the lynching! You're making an assumption based on rumors and outright lies and convicting her without any evidence. Do you have some special insider knowledge into the case?

    2. "You're literally doing the lynching!"

      Unless mpur actually has her with a rope around her neck hanging from a tree, the word literally does not mean what you think it does.

      "Sorting out criminal charges should be left to the courts. There’s good reason to challenge statements by UW’s investigators but that’s why we have lawyers, judges, and juries. Whether you think she’s guilty or not, she’s entitled to a presumption of innocence and a trial."

      Exactly. She isn't convicted yet. She has her day in court, and the judge and all parties involved will take that 'innocent until proven guilty' mindset as required by law. Normal citizen, however, are not bound to such ideals, and with freedom of speech we are allowed to comment how we see fit.

      I'm sure her camp wouldn't hesitate to release evidence were it in favor of saving her public image, so stating that we who are not involved in the trial should disregard evidence stating that she herself posted the message is silly.

      As well, she wasted no time in acting on these messages as a victim, so even she herself did not allow the 'innocent until proven guilty' to hold up with an official investigation before she acted publicly. Even the supposed 'victim' in this case didn't hold herself to the ideals you presume to hold us to!

  3. Yeah, that's pretty much a big steaming pile, even for Wyoming.

  4. Actually Meg is accused by political opponents of threatening herself and discrediting herself and an important cause on campus. I think you're a member of lynch mob, "mpur" and lack the critical thinking to see it. Next time you read an article about the perils of rushing to judgement try thinking about it before you rush to judgement again, about the subject of the article. *face to palm*

  5. The main difference between Ellen and Meg was that Ellen was accused by those who wanted to punish her. Here, however, she is being punished by others who have learned of evidence from a non-biased 3rd party. The college has no reason to lie and say she did it; either they have a inappropriate post, or they have a girl faking a rape threat for attention. Either one makes the university look bad.

    Additionally, Ellen was lynched. Meg just has some bad internet publicity. This reminds me of a 13 year old who gets embarrassed and goes running to their parents screaming 'My life is OVER! I might as well just die!'. The internet will move on and forget soon enough, if you can just keep from being butthurt long enough.

    "They want Meg and any other woman who might speak out to get the message. "

    I think you misunderstand why people are pissed off at the prospect of a woman fabricating a rape story to gain sympathy. It's not her message, but rather her fabricating it and playing victim, thereby lessening the effect of those true victims, that pisses people off. Anything said otherwise is just a persecution complex in disguise. This is a girl who speaks against the 'rape society' and yet is willing to demean real victims to further her own goals.

  6. Love your blog Roger but I think your really stretching for this one. Though I believe that trashing another person before all the facts are there is just ugly it's simply part of life, especially political life which Ms. Lanker-Simons puts herself squarely in the middle of. Ms. Lanker-Simons utilizes her radio program and all sorts of other means to belittle her opponents any way she sees fit, calling ugly names and making unsubstantiated claims much in the style of Rush Limbaugh on the opposite side of the political fray. I'm about as liberal as they come in these parts (and most of the country for that matter) but I disagree with her tactics and don't feel all that bad that those same tactics are now being used against her. I like to a real B*tch...but you get what you give in this world. This most definitely isn't about silencing a voice for good in our society just because the big-bad-bully lawyers want to shut her up for some 1st amendment lawsuit. This is about a person who often puts themselves out there in an ugly way and now that she's caught up in something that she should get sympathy for (if it actually happened) she's not getting any because prior actions have branded her, of her own accord, as a trouble maker. I do believe her heart is in the right place...but actions are the key. When you cause harm through your actions it matters not what your intentions might have been. Perhaps Ms. Lanker-Simons will remember what it is like to be trashed on social media the next time she picks up the microphone to belittle one of the activists on the other side of the political fence. I hope the best for her. I hope the evidence is in her favor. But mostly I hope she, and many of us, learn a much more valuable lesson from all this.