Scary Stalker on Campus Ends Up Not Being Who Everyone Was Expecting

Students at Indiana University Bloomington on Tuesday were urged by a school authority to stay indoors and not go anywhere unescorted because a member of the Ku Klux Klan had been reported by several people who had seen him stalking the campus, whip in hand.

Nothing could be done, students were informed, because the First Amendment prevented police from removing the scary person from campus until he committed an act of violence.

There was only one problem with this terrorism scenario: The “Klansmen” in question was a robed priest from a local church who frequents the campus, and his “whip” was a traditional rosary he always carries as he meets with and prays for students.

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As the kids say nowadays, “fail.” Big time.

I recall a friend of mine who once saw Bigfoot walking up our street.

Of course, we were 7 years old at the time, and we had the day before seen the movie “The Legend of Boggy Creek,” a scary film about just such a creature. …

I can’t help but wonder what excuses students at IU are making for themselves today.

It’s unclear who kicked off the fear fest, but enough rumors were fired across the social media network that it got the attention of Resident Adviser Ethan Gill, who emailed his students: “There has been a person reported walking around campus in a KKK outfit holding a whip. Because the person is protected under first amendment rights, IUPD cannot remove this person from campus unless an act of violence is committed. Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight, always be with someone and if you have no dire reason to be out of the building, I would recommend staying indoors if you’re alone. If you feel unsafe, please contact me, I’ll be returning shortly to Eigenmann [Residence Hall] from the TV Radio building.”

The Tab reported that other students tweeted messages like “@IUBloomington there’s a man walking around campus in a KKK hood carrying a whip and there’s NOTHING you can do to make students feel safe?”

priestKlansmanSeveral hours later, Gill clarified for his students by posting a picture of the alleged Klansman on his Facebook account and the following statement:

“Behold, your ‘klansmember….’

“This is what happens when there is miscommunication. So what happened tonight goes like this: a person saw white robes and what looked to them like a weapon, got scared (rightfully so), warned people, warned staff, which in turn caused me to warn my residents because I need to look out for my residents, which in turn made it spread.

“Then my residents, terrified, come running to me, saying yeah the report must be true, they saw him and couldn‘t believe there was a klansmember with a whip. And I see this picture. It’s a priest. With a rosary.”

As the conversation continued on social media, some students tried to justify themselves, including one who apparently was still intimidated by the mysterious figure: “OK seriously why the f*** was a priest walking around campus at night?”

Obviously, he must have been up to no good. …

The university itself does not seem to have issued any official statement in the incident.

Students of media history may recall the great “War of the Worlds” scare on October 30, 1938, when a substantial number of people across the United States were convinced we had been invaded by Martians. That particular panic is at least moderately understandable because it had the authoritative persuasive power of Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater players behind it.

This week’s panic was caused by a Dominican monk who was spotted buying a fro-yo at Red Mango.

There have been studies in recent years that have found IQs in the Western world have dropped as much as 14 or more points in the past century. It seems like it’s occurred more quickly in the past couple of decades and in particular on college campuses.

Perhaps universities should start handing out teddy bears and binkies to all incoming students.

It’s a brave new world. If you’re going to fear anything, fear the future because these kids will one day be in charge.

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