A student at the University of Wyoming who claimed she was targeted for a Facebook rape threat because she “runs her liberal mouth all the time” faked the threat against herself, police say. Meg Lanker-Simons, 26, has been charged with interference with a police investigation by giving false statement.
The phony threat, posted on a Facebook page called “UW Crushes” was cited as “an example of rape culture” by Lanker-Simons in an April 24 item on her Tumblr blog, where she urged readers to tell the administrators of the page that “this kind of misogyny is not okay.”
However, UW police said, they interviewed Lanker-Simons and searched her computer, and “obtained substantial evidence verifying that the offending Facebook post came from Lanker-Simons’ computer.” Lanker-Simons “admitted to making a controversial post on UW Crushes webpage and then lied about not doing it,” according to the citation for a misdemeanor, which can be punished by up to a year in jail.
Lanker-Simons has been an outspoken activist on the UW campus. In 2009, she helped lead protests against former Vice President Dick Cheney’s appearance at the university and, in 2010, went to federal court in an attempt to force university officials to permit former Weather Underground terrorist leader Bill Ayers to speak at UW. “Look at Bill Ayers — he made something of himself,” Lanker said in a newspaper interview at the time.
Lanker-Simons’s “Cognitive Dissonance” site was recognized for an award last year by the Center for American Progress’s Think Progress site. She also hosts a weekly talk-radio program on Laramie’s KOCA-FM.
The anonymous threat on the Facebook page was written to make it appear that it came from a conservative Republican. “I want to hatef–k Meg Lanker Simons so hard. That chick that runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its hot and it makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican b–ch.”
Even after the threat was exposed as a hoax, a University of Wyoming spokesman cited the “progress” resulting from the “discussion” Lanker-Simons’s fraud had provoked.
“This episode has sparked an important discussion reaffirming that the UW community has no tolerance for sexual violence or violence of any type,” university spokesman Chad Baldwin said in a statement. “The fact that the Facebook post apparently was a fabrication does not change the necessity for continued vigilance in reassuring that we have a campus where everyone feels safe. It’s important that this event does not undermine the progress that has been made in this area.”
Katherine Timpf of Campus Reform reported that Lanker-Simons “is a member of the University of Wyoming Gender & Women’s Studies group as well as the school’s chapter of The Nonviolent Communist.” Defenders of Lanker-Simons have created their own Facebook site where they proclaim their belief in her innocence.
One of her defenders, Pamela Kandt told the Laramie Boomerang that the charge against Lanker-Simons police is a “classic case of blaming the victim,” and said: “This is the worst episode of ‘Law & Order’ you can imagine.”