A campus lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender center is defaced with hateful messages, with no witnesses — right around the time the state legislature introduces a bill banning gay marriage. Headlines scream, university administrators wax indignant, and rallies are held to decry the anti-gay bigotry that surely was behind the incident. Despite supposed leads that point to a hate crime, the campus police make no arrests.
The only logical reaction to such a series of events — which happened this October at North Carolina State University — is to roll one’s eyes and hold one’s nose (from “smelling a rat”). After all, it fits the template for university hate-crime hoaxes, of which there have been dozens over the last couple of decades (here and here).
So I didn’t buy the headlines about NC State’s LGBT center. I called the campus police, and I was told that they had not even considered the possibility of a hoax, that some serious leads that suggested the crime was not a hoax, and that there was nothing to suggest it was a hoax (a colleague at the Pope Center, however, suggested that the vandals’ use of purple paint was a dead giveaway).
The event eventually disappeared from the local news, apparently without resolution. A week or so ago, I called back to find out whether they had ever found the perpetrators. I was told that the initial leads had not panned out, and the case, while still unsolved, was pretty much considered inactive.