26 Mar 2014

It Begins: Tyler Cowen Pepper Sprayed in Class

Economics 31 Comments

This is on Reason so I’m guessing it’s legit? I see no mention at MarginalRevolution but presumably that’s because Tyler Cowen is too suave to seek sympathy.

Anyway, according to Reason:

Economist, author, and George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen was pepper sprayed in his classroom today by a man trying to place him under citizen’s arrest. ArlNow.com reported on the incident, which took place at GMU’s Arlington, Virginia, campus this afternoon.

Obviously that’s ridiculous and of course nobody should be assaulting economists. (And for real, I’m zapping stuff in the comments that’s over the line.) But I am only half-joking when I warn my fellow economists that the public is going to come after us in a few years, right after bankers.

31 Responses to “It Begins: Tyler Cowen Pepper Sprayed in Class”

  1. Benjamin Cole says:

    I thought it was Tyler Cowan. Did I spray the wrong guy?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      I spelled his name correctly.

      • Mustela putorius says:

        I would like to think you are safe, Bob. But I can see this playing out: ” Hey, Murphy, this is for tellin’ it like it is”

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Why the hell are you joking about this?

  2. Matt M. (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

    Don’t worry Bob, I’m sure anyone who is thinking of doing this will distinguish the Keynesians from the Austrians.

    … and they say it’s impossible to communicate sarcasm over the Internet!

    • Mustela putorius says:

      At least Krugman will be OK. Unless his would be attacker figures out how to get his hamster ball open.

      • Tel says:

        Krugman is encouraging this.

        Read his bit on “Crime of 2010” everything can be blamed on the “Austerity” whatever that means.

        • Ken B says:

          Krugman is encouraging pepper spraying of his critics?
          How exactly?

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Ken B is right.

            Krugman only wants to have his critics pepper-sprayed, at the very least, if they want to opt out of Krugman’s preferred protection racket.

            To all of you who say Krugman is ok with an innocent person like Cowen being pepper sprayed, you’re way, waaaaaay off. Krugman is against initiations of violence…from those not wearing a badge.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            This is a well written article that shows how Krugman advocates for initiations of violence while ostensibly foreswearing violence.

          • Anonymous says:

            You did read the article?

            The one with “crime” in the title?

            Crime -> assest, you might do some “detective” work.

  3. Tel says:

    Mistyped above.

  4. David R. Henderson says:

    I’ve seen you make that warning before, Bob. What do you suggest we do about it, if anything?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Well, I’m branching out into stand-up entertainment.

    • Andrew' says:


      Change campus gun laws.

      Haha. I’m just kidding. We know getting policy changed is impossible.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        If I were a well known free market professor on a highly radicalized campus (ie, pretty much all of them), I would think long and hard about concealed carry, regardless of what the campus policy says…

      • andrew' says:

        Get a TA from the football team to sit on the front row. Kubaton. Pen. Pepper spray. There should be an Emergency word to let the class know it isn’t “part of the lecture”. Card swipe locks. Rewards to do overcome the first mover problem. Online classes. A moat around the lectern filled with tigers.

  5. RPLong says:

    As many others have noted elsewhere, the fact that the victim was not Cowen and not someone more extreme is a bit puzzling. I would chalk this up to one disturbed individual, and not an indication of any broader trend.

    • RPLong says:

      That should read “was Cowen and not someone more extreme…”

      Sorry for the superfluous “not.” 🙂

    • RPLong says:

      BTW, it appears I may be right, assuming this LR article is correct.


      • Rick Hull says:

        From: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/03/assorted-links-1081.html

        > Jonathan Pendleton March 17, 2014 at 4:50 pm
        > What better place to do prison research than inside a prison?

        > If the police and FBI won’t arrest you for hacking my computer and sexually harassing me over the past several months, I will do it myself — in the next couple weeks before school starts again. Either way, one of us is going to prison.

        > I will entertain settlement offers at the email address provided.

        > Sincerely,

        > Jonathan E Pendleton Seattle, Washington

        • Andrew' says:

          Well, it’s either getting weird or even weirder.

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      To someone on the extreme left, even someone who entertains free market notions is considered “extreme right.” People called Paul Ryan a radical libertarian extremist for chrissakes!

      I have zero doubt that this was ideologically motivated.

      • RPLong says:

        Look at the comment Rick Hull posted. That was the motivation. The dude lived in Seattle and thought TC was hacking his computer and harassing him. That sounds like schizophrenia to me, not ideology.

        • andrew' says:

          Not his horrific opinions on Thai food?

  6. Andrew_FL says:

    Didn’t the occupy types go after Mankiw a while back?

    violently, though.

    They don’t have a good sense of who their real enemies are. No economist is safe.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      Er, I deleted the word not before violently by mistake.

  7. Tel says:


    We think people like you are criminals and deserve imprisoning for your lies and hate.

  8. Tel says:


    Those denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics.

    Let’s make a clear distinction here: I’m not talking about the man on the street who thinks Rush Limbaugh is right, and climate change is a socialist United Nations conspiracy foisted by a Muslim U.S. president on an unwitting public to erode its civil liberties.

    You all know that man. That man is an idiot. He is too stupid to do anything other than choke the earth’s atmosphere a little more with his Mr. Pibb burps and his F-150’s gassy exhaust. Few of us believers in climate change can do much more—or less—than he can.

    Nor am I talking about simple skeptics, particularly the scientists who must constantly hypo-test our existing assumptions about the world in order to check their accuracy. That is part and parcel of the important public policy discussion about what we do next.

    But there is scientific skepticism… and there is a malicious, profiteering quietist agenda posturing as skepticism. There is uncertainty about whether man-made climate change can be stopped or reversed… and there is the body of purulent pundits, paid sponsors, and corporate grifters who exploit the smallest uncertainty at the edges of a settled science.

    I’m talking about Rush and his multi-million-dollar ilk in the disinformation business. I’m talking about Americans for Prosperity and the businesses and billionaires who back its obfuscatory propaganda. I’m talking about public persons and organizations and corporations for whom denying a fundamental scientific fact is profitable, who encourage the acceleration of an anti-environment course of unregulated consumption and production that, frankly, will screw my son and your children and whatever progeny they manage to have.

    Those malcontents must be punished and stopped.

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