In prior coverage of Stephen Mark McDaniel, the Mercer Law School graduate accused of murdering his former neighbor and classmate, Lauren Giddings, we alluded to several emails that Stephen McDaniel sent to some of his classmates. Some students found the emails, which reflected McDaniel’s conservative political views, to be strange or disturbing.
Thanks to the kindness of several tipsters, we now have copies of some of the emails sent around Mercer Law by Stephen M. McDaniel. We will now share them with you, so you can judge for yourself whether there is anything in this correspondence that is troubling or problematic….
Here’s the email from Hacksaw McDaniel that kicked everything off. It was sent during the height of the 2008 presidential election, more specifically, on the morning of October 15, 2008 — the date of the third presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.
Law school professors love hypotheticals. So does Stephen McDaniel, it seems. (There’s some gibberish in what follows; you can skim and get the general idea.)
The following is a hypothetical question aimed at determining one method of political mentality of the student body of Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law. Please take the time to read the hypothetical and respond to it by replying to my email account or dropping a note in my mailbox outside classroom A.
Suppose it were to come to light that Senator John McCain, within the past 5 years, had been in extensive covert contact with a political candidate in the fictional Eastern European country of Alteria. The candidate, Andre Kirpochev, aligned himself with militant Communists and promoted replacing many of Alteria’s laws with doctrines expressed in the writings of Marx, Lenin, and other Communist writers. In the last election, Kirpochev failed to secure the necessary number of votes to gain the office of President of Alteria. Kirpochev is a descendant of a distinct group of settlers who originated in the Kirotan Valley in the Irovik Mountains of Northern Alteria. Kirpochev relied heavily on his fellow Kirotan Valley descendants as both a major constituency and a means of intimidation of other groups in Alteria. Kirpochev alleged voter fraud as the cause of his loss and instigated the other people in Alteria descended from the Kirotan Valley (now spread throughout the entire country) to attack the supporters of his opponent, Peter Entimoff (the incumbent President), who are largely descended from the plains region in southern Alteria. Kirpochev does not present definitive proof of the alleged fraud, but his supporters begin to attack people who supported Entimoff. This violence causes thousands of deaths and displaces hundreds of thousands of people.
Eventually, NATO stepped in and brokered a peace agreement which gave Kirpochev power on par with Entimoff, appointing him Chancellor of Alteria, a new position. It comes to light that Senator McCain had traveled to Alteria at taxpayer expense, and had appeared repeatedly alongside Kirpochev supporting his candidacy. Not only that, but McCain aided Kirpochev in structuring the finances of Kirpochev’s campaign, and their offices had discussed methods of using intimidation by ethnic descent as a means of winning the election. An investigative journalist goes to Alteria and finds evidence of this communication, but before he can bring it to light, he is detained at gunpoint by Kirpochev’s forces and barely manages to get out of Alteria. As a result of sloppy investigation, Kirpochev’s forces, when they collect all of the journalists belongings, unwittingly pack the communications between Senator McCain and Andre Kirpochev, as well as Kirpochev’s communications to members of his own party revealing Kirpochev’s motivations and methods.
If this hypothetical situation were genuine, would Senator McCain, irregardless of his other positions, be ethically or legally obligated to leave the race for President? Yes or No?
Also, please explain why you answered as you did. Remember, this is a decision based wholly on the conditions of the HYPO, and does not include any other positions or criticisms of Senator McCain.
Thank you all for your time and participation.
Stephen McDaniel, a true-born “Son of Liberty”
Query whether the residents of Alteria speak a special elfish language that was written for them by Stephen McDaniel.
Irregardless of your thoughts on McDaniel’s political views — presumably right-of-center, since he was vice president of the Mercer Law Federalist Society — you have to give him credit for his powers of imagination. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he was working on a fantasy novel that he claimed would “rival Lord of the Rings.”
McDaniel’s novel might turn out to be a bestseller; fantasy is hot right now. But his political musings were not a hit with fellow students. One of them attacked Hacksaw’s butchering of the English language, as you can see in this next email.
a.) “Irregardless” is not a word. I am sure you meant either “irrespective” or simply “regardless”
It is logically absurd to combine the negative elements of “ir” and “less” within the same word.
b.) unsubscribe me.
Did you expect this “true-born Son of Liberty” — funny, we thought Sons of Liberty were produced in test tubes — to take such insults sitting down? Heck no.
a. Irregardless is a word. While it is considered to be a non-standard expression of the conceptual terms synonymous with it, such as ‘regardless’ and ‘irrespective,’ it is recognized as a legitimate term.
b. As the goal of the original message was to gather information about the methodology of political thought of the entire student body of the law school, it was sent to the entire student body with the hope that intelligent, thoughtful responses would be returned. Your choice to decline to involve yourself in an examination of the student body’s mentality regarding political thought reduces the representative nature of the effort, but you were not, in the original message, singled out with the intention of harassment. Should there be any further communications intended for those who choose to think critically about hypothetical political considerations, I assure you that, should you receive such a message, it is not intended for you, and I ask that you simply disregard it, rather than respond with an email to the entire student body which incorrectly alleges the incorrect use of a term that has legitimate, if non-standard, meaning.
While some classmates objected to Hacksaw McDaniel’s writing style, others had problems with his substance. Check out this next message. Who knew there were Obama supporters in Georgia?
The goal of your original message, sir, was not to “gather information about the methodology of political thought of the student body.” It was a cowardice attempt at more Rovian smear tactics. Don’t sit here and act like your “hypothetical” wasn’t actually you passive agressively spreading what you heard about Obama on one of those ridiculous email forwards. We all have a friend who has sent it to us at this point. I think we can all agreee to disagree about who we are supporting at this point based on legitimate differences in stances on the issues. But for all our sakes, please keep this crap off of the student body list.
Stephen McDaniel responded by asking, in essence, “Can we all just get along?” He also stressed that his hypothetical was just that — a hypothetical, nothing more.
I have not received any forwarded email concerning the matter concerning Senator Obama until after I sent my hypothetical, and the goal of my message WAS gathering an outlook on the interest of the student body in analysis of political current events. I wanted to examine whether the student body believed that such conduct, if true, was a disqualification for a person running for the office of President of the United States. I made no accusations, and only posed a hypothetical agreement. Any basis for my hypothetical was information that I personally researched and differentiated from baseless positing. Unless I were to receive information validating the claims as true, I would not use them in judgment concerning my political action. The hypothetical situation I proposed was a situation where there is an inherent assumption of genuine fact which may not have been yet found in any real events that are similar in construction.
I would ask that you show common decency and, should you find something in my hypothetical objectionable, address your concerns to me personally, instead of attacking me and calling me a coward in the public arena in an attempt to discredit me when I have made no claims about the validity of a situation that may bear resemblance to a hypothetical. If you choose to not involve yourself in my invitation to offer your personal political judgment, you are welcome to do so, but refusal to involve yourself does not require rude and insulting language directed at me.
The responses to McDaniel that we’ve shown thus far weren’t even the harshest. Check out this one (we’re shifting to images because some of the emails came to us in this form, as opposed to plain email text):
Ouch. The next few emails in the chain speak for themselves:
Stephen McDaniel apparently tried to take the high road, but one of his classmates was not impressed by his effort at civility:
In fairness to him, let’s give Stephen McDaniel the last word (although note that chronologically this was not the final email):
So there you have it: the strange emails from Stephen McDaniel, “A true-born Son of Liberty,” and the responses from some of his classmates. (Please note that this may not be a comprehensive collection; there may be additional emails that we are unaware of; if there are any undiscovered gems, please feel free to email them to us.)
“You can tell by his diction and writing style that he’s a little… off,” one Mercer Law graduate told us. “And also by his choice of sending out politically charged emails to the entire school.”
But that’s just one person’s opinion. And just because McDaniel is, well, weird and annoying — which he is, beyond a reasonable doubt — does not make him a murderer. (It is also worth noting that the woman he’s accused of killing, Lauren Giddings, apparently shared his right-of-center political views; they served together as officers of the Federalist Society.)
Readers, what do you think? How do these emails affect your evaluation of Stephen McDaniel and your view as to his innocence or guilt in the murder of Lauren Giddings?
P.S. If you haven’t done so already, vote in our reader poll on McDaniel’s innocence or guilt. Based on the poll results as they currently stand, McDaniel is getting acquitted (although note that the prosecution claims it is waiting on additional evidence to come back from the FBI).
UPDATE (6 PM): After we drafted this post, our attention was directed to this Tumblr site, which includes additional McDaniel emails. Check it out; some of the emails are awesome. This was my favorite:
As a liberated citizen of Alteria, I would like to apologize that our countries woes have brought such pains upon the student body. We recruited the True Sons of Liberty to help us gauge the “Political mentality of the student body.” We did not expect such disasterous results as [REDACTED]’s massive explosive diaharea or Mr. McDaniel’s public humiliation for sending a highly regretful e-mail.
However, there is a silver lining here. I am in possession of the late Titerian dictator’s fortune of $212,000,000,000.44. I am willing to share this fortune with you in exchange for your help in transferring the money to an American bank. If you are interested in helping me, please respond with your name, SSN, and the word “unsubscribe.”
Check out the Tumblr site for more. The final email, by “Student K,” is hilarious (I s**t you not).
McDaniel Mass Email Exchange With Mercer Students [Not That You Asked, But / Tumblr]
Earlier: A Portrait of the Accused as a Young Man (Plus a reader poll: innocent?)
Has Stephen McDaniel Been Framed in the Lauren Giddings Murder?
The Plot Thickens: Say Hello to ‘Hacksaw McDaniel’
A Closer Look at Stephen McDaniel, Lauren Giddings, and Mercer Law School
Breaking: Stephen McDaniel Charged With Murder of Lauren Giddings
An Update On a Mercer Law Student’s Untimely Death
Grisly Scene Developing At Mercer Law School