Dorkiest Death Threat Ever? Harvard Crimson Pulls Story After Threat from UCLA Fellow
Hemarajata via Baylor
The storied Harvard Crimson newspaper pulled an article off its website after the author allegedly received a death threat from a UCLA fellow over the piece.
The man identified as Peera Hemarajata, a UCLA Medical and Public Health Laboratory microbiology fellow, reportedly tweeted that "I swear that if I saw this MF on the street I'd elbow his middle meningeal artery and leave him for dead from epidural hematoma." This has got to be the most technical gauntlet throw-down ever.
Reuters reporter Andrew MacGregor Marshall preserved the tweet on his own feed, saying that Hemarajata subsequently deleted his account:
We contacted UCLA officials several times today *but have yet to get the school's reaction to the situation.
The Harvard Crimson this week took the unusual step of taking its story on its Thai Studies program down after the apparent threat. An editor's note states the piece's removal was a result of "concerns about the personal safety of its author." (They're worried enough about this nerd to pull an article?!)
The piece, preserved here, accuses the program of being run by sympathizers of Thailand's military junta, which it says was backed by the kind of "Thai royalists" who have run the country in the background and who have resisted democracy:
While the junta claims its goal is to restore order, its main agenda has been purging allies of elected former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and promoting the interests of the monarchy and its elite associates. The military government has suppressed critical discussion of the monarchy (even targeting people’s Facebook activity), intensified propaganda glorifying the king and his family, and initiated changes to the education system to further promote royalism and nationalism.
... The Thai Studies program’s proponents at Harvard include well-intentioned and politically astute individuals who are aware that the some of the money being raised comes with an agenda.
Hemarajata is listed as an M.D. who studied at Baylor College of Medicine as a Ph.D. candidate.
*[Added at 3:05 p.m.]: Dale Triber Tate, executive director of communications and government relations for
UCLA Health Sciences, said Hemarajata would not face any disciplinary action:
While UCLA and UCLA Health System abhor violence and condemn any threat of violence, we have no jurisdiction or authority to censor such hateful comments made in social media when they are made outside the course and scope of an employee’s work.
[Update at 9:38 p.m.]: The author of the Crimson piece, Ilya Garger, emailed us to assert that the reason the story was taken down did not have to do specifically with the tweet:
I asked for the article to be temporarily taken offline until I was able to leave Thailand, because the response to the article was stronger than I expected and as a result, I was in danger of arrest for insulting the monarchy.
The writer is safe, and the piece is back online.
(Before publishing our piece, we had reached out to editors at the Crimson but did not hear back).
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