There have been numerous news stories about packages I and others received this past summer. I am not sure that any of them capture just how troubled I have been by this. I have been so troubled, in part, because of its apparent connection with what I take to be a campaign of harassment by Brian Leiter. I think it is best if I turn my energies away from these events, and back to both my philosophical work and my efforts to improve the profession, but, first, I think it is worthwhile being clear about some facts:
1) I was sent a package of feces in the mail this summer, as were three other philosophers. This package arrived at my place of work with no postmark or return address. I discovered that this happened to the three other philosophers on October 6th.
2) The four of us are connected only in that we were entangled in a dispute with Brian Leiter two years previous. We had not met prior to Brian Leiter's attack on my work in July 2014. To this day, I have only met one of the four.
3) At least one of those packages was sent from the 60666 zip code, which is the zip code for O'Hare International Airport.
4) All of the packages were sent with excessive postage and no postmark.
5) One package, sent internationally, had an undated customs form filled out incorrectly with fictional information, which some have claimed is linked to Brian Leiter. As it was filled out, it would not likely have been accepted over the counter at a post office.
6) That package was tracked for the first time at O'Hare International Airport around midday on June 23rd.
7) Brian Leiter had a flight that left O'Hare International Airport on the afternoon of June 22nd.
8) Brian Leiter denies that he sent the packages.
9) Some have put forward the possibility that a friend, fan, or foe of Brian Leiter sent the packages. If a friend or fan of Brian Leiter, it is strange that fictional information that could be linked to Brian Leiter was used. If a foe of Brian Leiter, it is strange that the linking information was not placed on all packages. These options, of course, do not exhaust all of the possibilities. Moreover, strangeness might be expected for someone sending feces.
10) This case is closed everywhere but with the Merced Police, who wait upon action by USPS.
In my view, the most likely scenario is one in which all four packages were dropped off at a USPS Collection Box near the airport and then later picked up and taken to the post office at the airport, at which time the international package began to be tracked. If this is true, it is very unlikely that any video footage can be obtained regarding the packages, since most collection boxes do not have video cameras nearby. In any case, there are a large number of candidate collection boxes, many of which only pick up mail once per day, early to midday. Given his itinerary, it is possible that Brian Leiter is responsible for sending these packages, but he denies it. It is also possible that someone else sent the packages.
Unfortunately, regardless of whether or not Brian Leiter sent the packages, these events have brought his campaign of harassment against me to the forefront of my mind, which has been difficult for me. What is helping me handle this situation is the support I have received from a great many philosophers, both now and over the past years. I am very grateful for this support and I very much hope that this situation has an end date. I know, of course, that just presenting these facts could lead to further harassment. I am taking that risk because I think I have a right and a duty to voice these facts and to shed light on how this situation has affected me, which appears to be a matter of public concern.
By chance, I reported the events of 2014 to my university for an internal review in early June 2016, and said in that report that I hoped the saga was over. I renew that aspiration now.
Alan Richardson also received a package in December, which led me to follow up with the USPS investigators working on this. The newest investigator assigned to the case sent me the following message last week: "I conducted some additional follow-ups on your complaint and I have referred this matter to our Chicago Division. I do not know when or if they will contact you regarding this issue. It’s important to note that often cases are not accepted for federal prosecution for a variety of reasons, including insufficient evidence or the case not meeting federal prosecution thresholds for that particular District." If I hear anything further worth sharing, I will post an update.