MIT says Jeffrey Epstein gave $800,000, issues statement on MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito, Seth Lloyd

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/22/here-is-mits-statement-on-je.html

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Wish they’d been as positively responsive when Aaron Swartz ran afoul of the law via MIT.

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Or Star Simpson; as I recall, they more or less threw her under the bus, with no support at all.

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Whatever their previous missteps… I feel I kinda need to give them credit for this one? An unreserved apology on behalf of the institution, while defending people on the ground that may be unfairly scapegoated and offering concrete support and plan for the future. Maybe other people feel differently, in which case feel free to educate me, but to my superficial understanding this seems to be a good response.

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I thought the same at first, but Epstein was a donor. Now that he’s dead, it’s actually the easiest thing in the world to turn around and take a shit on him. Swartz and Simpson were not donors, they were students, and MIT simply rolled over when the authorities told them to rather than try to judge the situation in an objective way.

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I was not prepared for that last sentence. Notwithstanding the examples where MIT failed to live up to expectations (as other comments explain) this is a good response.

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If universities regularly gave back donations from people who turned out to be reprehensible, they’d all go bust. Some of them would have trouble refusing contributions from people they already know to be reprehensible.

Epstein’s interest in science is probably genuine; he majored in math (but didn’t graduate) in one of the best math departments in the world.

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I can honestly say I didn’t find it super convincing. To start with, I’m sure Epstein gave money to a lot of people, and I know MIT has gotten money from a lot of people, so I’m not sure why it should have even occurred to me to demonize MIT in the certainly-plausible case that those two sets overlapped (as, it seems, they did).

Perhaps for that reason I spent most of the statement wondering why they were writing as if they were taking responsibility for Epstein’s offenses, looking for the “we didn’t know!” …and, yeah, there it is, but subtle.

It’s like they were going for some sort of PR-jiu-jitsu move, but honestly I still am so unsure why I would transfer blame from Epstein to any one organization that received money from him that it instead makes me wonder a bit if there isn’t some story here MIT thinks they need to get ahead of.

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It ain’t rocket science! Give the 800K to the victims of this depraved scumbag. WTF!

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Not sure I completely understand why the apology is needed. Was the money a result of human trafficking or his other known illegal activities? Was the money used by MIT for human trafficking or other illegal activities? Was he known to MIT (or his foundation more specifically) known to support human trafficking? I haven’t seen anything indicative of that. So a bad person made a lot of money and gave some of it to MIT? Take his name off the esteemed donor list but put the money to good use. It may sound crude, but money ain’t got no owners, just spenders. At least he didn’t spend this money on bad actions and maybe some good can become of it.

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This clumsy and ambiguous statement right here is the tell:
“Because the accusations against Jeffrey Epstein are so shocking, it can be difficult to maintain a fair understanding about what individuals at MIT could have been expected to know at the time”

Or, the apology could simply come from the pride and honor of the institution (which is a $elling point). It doesn’t reflect well to have a sex offender/criminal as a donor. What other compromises are being made for a buck?

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He raped teen girls.

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Apparently he also locked up a bunch of money in a trust right before he died. It’s going to take a long time to break that open for the people he assaulted. If a few other deeppocketed institutions (Harvard) also get squeamish and turn over donations it could help those folks out.

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How much of that was after his 2008 conviction?

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Who cares. He raped teen girls. GIRLS.

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MIT has an endowment of $17 Billion.

They could burn $800,000 a day for 22,500 days - assuming they got zero returns on their endowment in the interim.

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$800,000 funds MIT for two hours.

https://web.mit.edu/facts/financial.html

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Epstein still raped teen girls.

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Well, with the timing, it’s a question of whether they took money from a child rapist, or took money from someone they knew was a child rapist, when they took the money. That last one becomes not just indefensible, but you also start eyeballing whoever took the money to see what you need to do about them

Well, when it came to some of Epstein’s “science funding,” it was specifically tied (explicitly or implicitly) to some crazy evil projects he wanted done for himself, and he was open about what he was wanting to do. E.g.:

https://www.livescience.com/66072-jeffrey-epstein-dna-eugenics.html

At many of these gatherings, Epstein would talk to researchers about DNA, “superior humans” and his plans for inseminating women at his ranch.

So it raises questions about what Epstein wanted for his money, and who the hell would take it from him.

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If all of it was before 2008, MIT would have said so (“We didn’t know.”).
If it was after 2008, MIT PR would prefer to say “Over the course of 20 years” rather than “since 2008”.

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