"Me after reading any article on the cut: this is horrifying"
July 23, 2019 4:50 PM   Subscribe

The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge: A Harvard Law professor who teaches a class on judgment wouldn’t seem like an obvious mark, would he? (SL:The Cut)

(Heads up: There are trans and lesbian people in this story, and the story contains allegations of violence against them.)

In today's Long Read du Jour, we have wild story involving an unfortunate mark (who just happens to be a Harvard Law professor who lives with depression and possibly more mental health issues), and too many signals that things are going to go south, as well as a number of surprises.
But they would stay in touch. Over the next four years, the law professor would be drawn into a “campaign of fraud, extortion, and false accusations,” as one of his lawyers would later say in legal proceedings. At one point, Hay’s family would be left suddenly homeless. At another, owing to what his lawyer has described as the “weaponiz[ation] of the university’s Title IX machinery against Hay,” he would find himself indefinitely suspended from his job. He would accrue over $300,000 in legal bills with no end to the litigation in sight. “Maria-Pia and Mischa want money,” Hay told me last summer, “but only for the sake of squeezing it out of people — it’s the exertion of power.”
*title from tweet
posted by General Malaise (71 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Jesus, truly horrifying.

To add to the FPP text: from the way the article is written, it sounds like two women conspired to entrap a guy in a fraudulent paternity scam, then escalated it to real estate fraud, harassment, and filing false allegations of sexual assault with his employer. They had attempted a similar scam with another man that fell through when the paternity test showed it wasn’t his child.

In addition to the obvious financial motive for the scam, the mark received an anonymous text warning of further harassment and saying “Oh and as to your quest for motives? Don’t bother. I just really hate the patriarchy, that’s it.” Lawsuits are pending.
posted by darkstar at 5:18 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Everyone I know right now is reading this or has just finished reading this. That tweet is an accurate summary of the Cut's content wheelhouse.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:22 PM on July 23 [6 favorites]


This is one of the more bizarre articles I've read in a looong time, but not necessarily for the details (which are admittedly bizarre), but more because it's unclear to me why this article exists.

The article title suggests that it's about how an "expert" on judgment is still capable of making bad decisions. This led me to believe the rest of the article would expand on this concept, and perhaps offer some insights on the human condition or how all of us are fallible, etc.

But it doesn't do that at all, it's more like an extremely detailed laundry list of unpleasant human behavior, but no real attempt at analysis. The punchline is "Hay remains mystified about what the women really wanted from him."

Um, ok? And you're publicly revealing all this why?
posted by jeremias at 5:24 PM on July 23 [26 favorites]


Since you won't say it jeremias, I will.

We are seeing this right now because so many people are so uncomfortable about the things women are saying about powerful men, and they are DESPERATE for any excuse at all to disbelieve those women.

And this story will give them that at an unconscious level.
posted by jamjam at 5:44 PM on July 23 [85 favorites]


The story is bananas, but it's remarkably uncritical and seems to be based primarily on taking everything Hay said at face value. (Interestingly, despite being clearly slanted towards him, he comes out like a pretty big asshole who also got conned.) I'd love to read a much better version of this story, though the real victim, Zacks, is smart enough not to speak to reporters.
posted by jeather at 5:50 PM on July 23 [27 favorites]


"And you're publicly revealing all this why?"

It sounds to me like further bad judgment, honestly. The article acknowledges that, by court order, he's not supposed to be talking to journalists. I can easily see this as an attempt to get back at the other two.

I'd like to hear the other side. The article is pretty one-sided, but it acknowledges just enough that maybe this guy isn't a sympathetic bystander who was taken advantage of. At the very least, he was a part of a pretty unhealthy three-way relationship, and I find it hard to believe that he's somehow a completely blameless victim. Maybe Haider and Schuman are lying, or exaggerating, but you're telling me this Harvard professor of decision-making is somehow just so naive that these evil women can just take advantage of him because they "hate the patriarchy, that's all"? It's a bit of a just-so story.

The story I'd really like to hear is his ex-wife's. Sounds like she's been through some shit. On preview, jinx.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:52 PM on July 23 [18 favorites]


The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge

And here I thought this was going to be about that time Steven Pinker got caught up in the Epstein scandal...
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:07 PM on July 23 [14 favorites]


And this story will give them that at an unconscious level.

Hell, I saw a tweet straight-up saying that at a conscious level -- that these women proved that it's irresponsible to just believe other women about sexual assault. Others are calling them "MeToo feminists."

Still, jamjam, the reporter seems like a conscientious woman who is not invested in that kind of thing. Whether she was encouraged and printed for that reason is a little too wheels-within-wheels for me. I don't know that we needed this story right now, but I also don't know that it's psychological warfare.

I have this weird itching idea that I might have met Mischa Haider, just because she seems familiar and I used to live in Cambridge. I hope the heck not. Living in Cambridge always gave me the sense of vast and unknowable networks of personality and power vibrating with schemes around me while I was sitting around in front of a box fan and posting to Metafilter. (This was literally true, but not germane here.)
posted by Countess Elena at 6:45 PM on July 23 [26 favorites]


This is the kind of story that you're supposed to say "they should make a movie about that," except a surprising number of sexual assault stories in film are about some fella who is unjustly accused by some lunatic.

But yeah, it's a nightmare.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:44 PM on July 23


I read this earlier today, and my overwhelming takeaway was extreme extreme empathy for the large number of children who have been caught up in this.

This part, in particular: "But when Hay and the women returned to Cambridge two days later, Hay and Zacks’s beautiful Italianate home on a quiet corner of Mount Vernon Street had been emptied of his family’s furniture, cookware, toys, documents, books, Zacks’s mother’s and grandmother’s heirlooms — and everything replaced with the women’s furniture. " is just a fucking nightmare for Hay's and Zacks' kids. I cannot imagine.
posted by anastasiav at 7:47 PM on July 23 [15 favorites]


Uh, wow. OK, so Bruce Hay was a known creepster back in... about the time he was "platonically living with his ex wife" or whatever actually. Like he would spend nights with women (students) in the HLS dorms and go to student parties and stuff. Doing the math I guess he was only 40 or so but still. His reputation on this front was worse than, oh, say, Dershowitz for example.

Long story short I wouldn't believe a word he says and I agree with jamjam above that this story is some sort of proxy effort to discredit women making sexual misconduct allegations. Of course it's still possible he was victimized by a scam but I am inclined to be skeptical. I'm going to finish reading the piece and then walk the dog and then see how much more I feel like I can really say about the situation.

Everyone saying this is typical of The Cut: what's their editorial slant? I'm not familiar.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 7:53 PM on July 23 [61 favorites]


Interesting info there, Joey Buttafoucault. As I was reading the article, I was struck by the fact that Hay seemed to be the only source for much of the material, and I wondered what he was leaving out. I also wondered about his relationship to his wife and all these other women friends he alluded to. By the end of the article I had the hunch that the investigation at Harvard may not be solely about his relationships with the two women.
posted by stowaway at 8:08 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't be surprised--I never am--if there are more sexual misconduct allegations at play here, but things like the fake lease seem impossible to explain in a way favorable to the women.
posted by praemunire at 8:44 PM on July 23 [9 favorites]


(Also, and I say this with deep respect for my friends who are law school professors, teaching judgment at a law school, even a top one, is not really the pinnacle of the field. If you're at the top of a non-legal (or closely allied) field of study, it's very unlikely, although not impossible, that you'll be teaching it as "law and..." at a law school.)
posted by praemunire at 8:48 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


The article I read mentioned that the woman had tried the 'fake paternity' scheme with other men. I find the tone of some comments in this thread surprising.
posted by Baeria at 8:53 PM on July 23 [20 favorites]


Taken at face value, I feel like a big lesson here is that this sort of thing is what happens when you are a rich white guy with a prestigious job and have spent the last 20 to 30 years never facing any negative consequences whatsoever. If you live a life where you want for nothing and are treated with special care by everyone you ever meet, you will eventually become a mark for scams. One of the ways you can build up the natural ability to discern someone who actually finds you attractive from someone running a frankly pretty obvious scam is to not be treated like a very special boy every time you lose your keys, badly misunderstand social boundaries, or fail to uphold basic obligations. I'm not saying that people should be brutally punished for making mistakes, but I am saying that having the notion that one's actions may actually have some consequences is generally pretty healthy both for oneself and society at large. Once you start giving people effective impunity, some of the ones with self-awareness will inevitably exploit that, and others without self-awareness will inevitably be exploited by two-bit scammers with cockamamie schemes.
posted by Copronymus at 8:53 PM on July 23 [32 favorites]


Obviously this guy is not a paragon of anything, having cheated on his partner and all, but if it's true that the women in question did literally the same thing twice before, I don't think there's any reason to go looking for another side to the story.
posted by value of information at 9:02 PM on July 23 [14 favorites]


Regardless of anything else, this man is a hapless idiot.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:16 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


"And you're publicly revealing all this why?"

Maybe it is an attempt to influence the outcome of Harvard's investigation.
Harvard has yet to decide Hay’s fate, but according to multiple off-the-record sources, Hay has already run afoul of investigators for reaching out to journalists (namely me), which they view as an act of retaliation.
I feel like Mascha and Maria-Pia's story is the one that needs to be told here. It's too bad she wasn't able to interview them. I'm fascinated by what really happened here and what their relationship is like.

Law&Order or NCIS should do an episode based on this or something.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:44 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I live in Cambridge, and this is intensely surreal. Who the hell picks people up at Tags Hardware? Who the hell gets picked up at Tags? It is not a happening social scene, although the dudes who mix the paint are pretty friendly.

I also hang out at that Darwins, and can recommend the peanut butter brownies. And I'm fairly hooked into this area's LGBTQIA+ bunch of people who run into each other at things all the time. So the odds of my having shared space with any of these people are low, but extant, and that's really the weird part, because honestly one never expects the people at the next table to have this sort of thing going on.

I mean, they often sound like they do in the snatches overheard while turning a page and taking the next sip of hot chocolate, but generally one assumes one is being sensationalist...
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 9:53 PM on July 23 [11 favorites]


I casually spedread the article and found myself doing double takes everytime a new person was added to the mix. By the time Klein was sued i had to go back and figure out where Hay acquired ANOTHER antagonist.
posted by Karaage at 10:01 PM on July 23


if it's true that the women in question did literally the same thing twice before, I don't think there's any reason to go looking for another side to the story.

Having read the whole thing now, I am open to believing that these women were pulling a scam, but only because of the other guys' corroboration and not because of Bruce Hays' storytelling. If they were scammers, it seems they were Boston regulars, and I do have to wonder how much his reputation / history made him a mark for this particular one. I agree with others that I sympathize far more with his wife and kids than with him.

By the end of the article I had the hunch that the investigation at Harvard may not be solely about his relationships with the two women.

That's an extremely good observation and I think it's important to distinguish the scam these women were pulling on him, if any, and the Title IX action the university was taking against him. All I have is anecdotes so I can't cite a specific action against him prior to this time, but given his reputation it would not surprise me AT ALL if he was already on the university's radar about potential Title IX complaints. And now maybe he's trying to launder the entire situation via a sympathetic interview when really he would have a lot to answer for if not for this scam issue.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:10 PM on July 23 [20 favorites]


Who the hell picks people up at Tags Hardware? Who the hell gets picked up at Tags?

Seriously, he may be the only guy in history who ever got laid as a result of Tags.
posted by praemunire at 10:12 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Who the hell picks people up at Tags Hardware?

Grifters who stake out a local victim and wait for him to go shopping?
posted by pracowity at 10:33 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to know why he thought his wife was generally suspicious of his female friends.
posted by smelendez at 10:35 PM on July 23 [5 favorites]


Haider and Hay have published a bunch of stuff together. There’s a deep internet rabbit hole to follow here. Very weird.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:19 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


One question Harvard likely would want to answer is exactly what Hay and Haider's relationship entailed.

From Googling, it looks like Harvard professors aren't allowed to date or be intimate with grad students they supervise. Even though she's in a different section of the university, they did collaborate on published work where he was clearly the senior author and he did mentor her, so this rule may apply.
posted by smelendez at 11:41 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


At the very least, he was a part of a pretty unhealthy three-way relationship

Four-way, right? Hay, Haider, Schuman, and Klein. This is a nutso story.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:43 PM on July 23 [1 favorite]


Even though she's in a different section of the university, they did collaborate on published work where he was clearly the senior author and he did mentor her, so this rule may apply.

That’s not clear in the least. They published in the popular press on trans issues, where arguably Haider was the subject matter expert.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:46 PM on July 23 [4 favorites]


We are seeing this right now because so many people are so uncomfortable about the things women are saying about powerful men, and they are DESPERATE for any excuse at all to disbelieve those women.

And this story will give them that at an unconscious level.


It's a freakish outlier which can become a stand-in for a threatening group, like Reagan's Cadillac Welfare Queen (in reality, an outlandish serial grifter; in the conservative public consciousness, a stereotype for inner-city Black mothers).
posted by acb at 1:31 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


"things like the fake lease seem impossible to explain in a way favorable to the women"

But do we even know there was a fake lease? The only person in the story saying unequivocally it was fake is Bruce Hay. The article elides the details of why the court issued the preliminary injunction and doesn't go any further into the legal proceedings. It seems at least possible that Hay did execute the lease and then changed his mind about it, and there are numerous reasons why it could have been thrown out besides just "it was something that Haider and Schuman made up".

I might be going too far down the anti-Hay road at this point, but the more I think about this (and the more I read the comments here), the less sympathetic I am to Hay.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:37 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


I have been around social justice-y circles for pretty much my entire life since my teens. I've seen a few people who do emotional entanglement/grifting/threats and honestly, I find Hay's story relatively easy to believe, although obviously incomplete. He seems like a creepy person whose creepiness made him a good target.

I just...like, for a while I was on the outer edge of this social circle (I'm going to leave out every single specific except that it was social justice driven with a lot of focus on trauma and abuse, and many people in it had been through some bad stuff) where someone grifted and threatened, not on this scale but in a way that was very scary and stressful. I happened to have witnessed some of the events that were lied about, which was part of what tipped me off to the whole thing. The person in question was very troubled and the worst part of the grift/threats situation did hinge on involvement with someone who wasn't a great person, but there was a whole forest of lies and threats, lies on lies, scamming, trying to "explain" obvious motivated lies...One friend of mine was practically drive to a nervous breakdown by lies (not lies about sexual misconduct; and these were things I knew for a fact to be untrue) told about them by this person. And it was all social justice framing of "believe me, I'm a victim" that was very very hard to argue against unless you just happened to have been a witness.

I am sure that Hay is a creep and I truly do pity his family and the students that it's suggested upthread that he creeped on and exploited. But if it's actually true about the other men who were hit with false paternity claims, I think we're dealing with a really messed up grift.

I wish it weren't true. It really, really shook me when the whole lies/grift thing happened in my social circle, because it took advantage of a lot of principles that I really believe in. But it does happen. It happens rarely, it doesn't mean that people shouldn't believe survivors or those who have suffered trauma, but there are con artists and exploiters everywhere, unfortunately.
posted by Frowner at 4:20 AM on July 24 [47 favorites]


I came across this article yesterday. The first odd thing was that Hay and his wife had gotten divorced in the early 00's and yet they still lived together and even had more kids after the divorce. Then the story mentioned the thing about M-P having a baby and didn't put him on the birth certificate and kept the baby away and Hay still wanting to be the father and being supportive despite him not having... climaxed in her. WTF?! How does he think babies are made? DUH!

At that point it was clear he's an actual moron and reading further was a waste of my time. It's the same type of story as to how elderly people get taken by email scams but in real life.

Moreover the guy is a professor at Harvard. Yikes. He's an example of how people can be brilliant in some field on paper and total idiots in regular life.
posted by Blue Tsunami at 4:51 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I literally got to the end of the first paragraph and could have told you how this was going to turn out. It's that total WTF thing about mediocre privileged white guys being totally unaware of how mediocre they are, that a totally average 52 year old thinks that a random hot young woman hitting on him in the street could be anything but a scam.

Moreover the guy is a professor at Harvard. Yikes. He's an example of how people can be brilliant in some field on paper and total idiots in regular life.
Stronger suspicion that being a privileged white guy means that you can be very much less than brilliant and still get to the 'top' of a field. Academia has a serious problem with sexism, and an even more serious problem with racism.
posted by Vortisaur at 5:06 AM on July 24 [25 favorites]


Academic brilliance does not seem to be correlated with having a clue about the real world.

There was a story a while ago about some high-profile professor of mathematics/physics (I think he may have won some prestigious prize as well) who fell in love with a brilliant, scintillating woman somewhere in South America. They corresponded for months, and then he went over to visit her, and accepted a bag from her to take to the US. Which is, of course, how he ended up in jail for attempting to smuggle several kilograms of cocaine. Does anybody remember this?
posted by acb at 5:10 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


"That’s not clear in the least. They published in the popular press on trans issues, where arguably Haider was the subject matter expert."

They co-authored "The only thing standing between Trump and authoritarianism: the supreme court/With Congress in Trump’s pocket, it’s more important than ever for Democrats to block Neil Gorsuch’s appointment" (in The Guardian).
posted by Alizaria at 5:29 AM on July 24


On another note: I have a weird feeling about the article, though, because it seems like scandal and not news. If this were a think piece in a left publication where it were mostly "how can we sort through situations like this", it would be different, but in a mainstream publication where most people are consciously or unconsciously primed to say "someone who uses social justice rhetoric may actually be a bad person, therefore all women are liars and the right wing is correct", it is Very Not Helpful.
posted by Frowner at 5:56 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


acb, I think you're thinking of this.
posted by Schmucko at 6:27 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


The first odd thing was that Hay and his wife had gotten divorced in the early 00's and yet they still lived together and even had more kids after the divorce.

This seems pretty judgemental. Relationships ae complicated. Do people in the blue never read the green?
posted by biffa at 6:29 AM on July 24 [14 favorites]


Yeah I have no doubt this story was written in order to make Hay seem like a harmless fool that just wants to love, or whatever, but in reality this story is about a privileged white man who had an affair and ruined his partner's life because he wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

He finally told her he’d been involved with Shuman. Zacks took it as an enormous betrayal
the way this entire article is written is infuriating. Zakcs "took it" as a betrayal. It wasn't actually one, she just interpreted it that way. I have no problem believing this man was scammed, but he's the opposite of innocent, and I'm with everyone else who is wondering why this was written at all.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:39 AM on July 24 [26 favorites]


Right. On rereading, there was a point where he was contemplating taking out a half-million dollar loan against the house that Zacks was living in with her kids, and that she seems to have been a joint owner of, so that he could spend the money on a house to live in with Shuman and Haider? That's Hay cooperating with Shuman and Haider to strip Zacks and his children with her of the family home.
posted by LizardBreath at 7:42 AM on July 24 [29 favorites]


On the afternoon of October 26, Haider texted ... "If you make any further threats to ‘destroy me’ I will share those with the administration as well."

why are we only provided direct text messages from Haider and Schuman, and not Hay, only Hay's version of how he felt? Was he really threatening them? This whole thing is so fishy. And, again, I'm not saying he wasn't scammed, i'm just saying that this article is probably falsified, and at the least extremely biased.

After her confrontation with the women, Zacks realized she had to be more active in protecting herself and her children — especially after Hay told her about Shuman and Haider’s various proposals for selling their home and Zacks found on his desk an application for a $500,000 home-equity loan.

The constant transition from active to passive voice is giving me whiplash. Hays, 52 year old man and Harvard Professor, is absolutely just not in control of his actions at all, is he?
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:16 AM on July 24 [17 favorites]


On rereading, there was a point where he was contemplating taking out a half-million dollar loan against the house that Zacks was living in with her kids, and that she seems to have been a joint owner of, so that he could spend the money on a house to live in with Shuman and Haider? That's Hay cooperating with Shuman and Haider to strip Zacks and his children with her of the family home.

Yeah, honestly there is so much there where it seems like Hays really just "wanted to keep everyone happy", and like - I've known that type, and I have zero difficulty believing that this isn't as clearcut as Hays is saying now. For me, the key item here is that Hays transferred the house into Zack's name - which would have been totally unnecessary if he felt he was capable of saying no to Shuman and Haider.

Like, I would wager hard money that Shuman and Haider talked about how unfair it was that Hays lived in a 3 million dollar house and they lived in a 3 bedroom small apt, and I would wager hard money that Hays agreed with them and was like "someday I'll make it right", which he thought was safe to say because he assumed he'd never be held to it. Or that Hays thought of taking out a half million dollar home equity loan as a victimless crime because Zacks would never know!

And I have zero difficulty believing that Shuman and Haider were like 'wouldn't it be nice if you leased us the place you live in, and we could all live there together, free of Zacks' and Hays was like 'oh yeah that would sure be nice!' thinking that he would never have to do it. And then Shuman and Haider were like 'cool sign this stuff.'

And like: this paragraph is really illuminating.
During one of these periods, in April 2017, they agreed that Haider, Shuman, Haider’s boyfriend Klein, and the kids would stay with Hay in July while Zacks was away in Spain with his other children. The women were planning to sell their house and buy a bigger place in Cambridge (though, at other times, they discussed moving to Europe to flee Trump’s America). Hay asked only that they not tell Zacks.
So Haider and Shuman moved in, in July, the July he had already agreed that they would stay with him in 'his' house while Zacks was away.

I actually don't find it hard to believe that there was some miscommunication there - like, Hays was thinking 'you will stay here, and not disturb a thing, so I can hide the fact you were here from Zacks' and Haider and Shuman were like 'cool, we're moving in, and since this is his house he can just tell Zacks to leave'.
posted by corb at 8:30 AM on July 24 [12 favorites]


I can't understand why he didn't insist on a paternity test. Why wouldn't that be the first thing you'd ask for?
posted by orrnyereg at 8:36 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I actually don't find it hard to believe that there was some miscommunication there - like, Hays was thinking 'you will stay here, and not disturb a thing, so I can hide the fact you were here from Zacks' and Haider and Shuman were like 'cool, we're moving in, and since this is his house he can just tell Zacks to leave'.

I would be not one bit surprised if "hey, just tell your partner of many years to leave, she's old and out of touch, therefore we deserve the house since we're young and groovy" weren't part of the reasoning going on here, because there's a particular kind of ageist misogyny that you see in fashionable left circles practiced by both men and women. Older women are expected to serve, not take center stage, and their rights and expertise are routinely ignored or devalued. It wouldn't surprise me at all if everyone except Zacks herself and the kids semi-consciously viewed her as sort of an upper servant.

I dunno, this all feels so familiar in so many ways - a man who can't or won't grow up still develops the appurtenances of adulthood in the shape of family and home because a woman does a lot of work to build them up around him and then he tanks the whole thing because he operates like he's about twenty-two. I have no objection to people not growing up, really, but I have very strong objections to people not wanting to grow up and yet still building up grown-up lives that they can't sustain. If you want to live like a reckless undergraduate, sure, fine, but stay single and live in an apartment.
posted by Frowner at 8:50 AM on July 24 [31 favorites]


My impression is that Hays deserved everything he got, but that Zacks and the kids did not, and I'm glad she was able to mostly disentangle them from his stupidity (though not without emotional cost to the kids.)
posted by tavella at 8:55 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Ever hear the phrase, "you can't cheat an honest man?"
posted by stowaway at 8:56 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


Wow, things just kind of seem to happen to Hays. Like when he clerked for Scalia. (Brennan was his first choice, so...)
posted by BibiRose at 9:11 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


There is an awful lot of oddness in this article, but...

It was still very much winter, and, once the woman got his attention, he saw that underneath her dark woolen coat and perfectly tied scarf she was wearing a dress and a chic pair of boots — hardly typical weekend-errand attire in the New England college town.

I don't know what New England college towns the author has been hanging out in, but that seems like pretty typical clothing for winter weekends.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:12 AM on July 24 [14 favorites]


that seems like pretty typical clothing for winter weekends.

Indeed. When I think of Cambridge, it's not the same as Amherst or Bennington, it's part of Greater Boston and people dress like they live in a city.
posted by suelac at 9:36 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Also I rankled when the author included Hay’s musings that he might be “on the spectrum” and just leaves it hanging, as if there’s some implication that it explains away his actions and makes it extra depraved for people to have taken advantage of him.

Motherfucker has got Harvard Law professor-tier health insurance, which absolutely covers the neuropsychological testing required to get diagnosed or not. But it’s much more convenient for him to claim he has a disorder which garners him sympathy and casts him as misunderstood by no fault of his own.

There were shades of this also in the Al Franken article from the other day, where he mentions that the former senator “misses social cues and swings his arms in crowded spaces”.
SMBC comics has labeled this “assburger’s syndrome
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:42 AM on July 24 [17 favorites]


There is no reason for this article to exist. It is not the best of the web. There is no reason for this article to spawn as much endless discussion as it has. What the fuck is wrong with everyone?
posted by tobascodagama at 10:17 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Uh, wow. OK, so Bruce Hay was a known creepster back in... about the time he was "platonically living with his ex wife" or whatever actually. Like he would spend nights with women (students) in the HLS dorms and go to student parties and stuff. Doing the math I guess he was only 40 or so but still. His reputation on this front was worse than, oh, say, Dershowitz for example.

HA! Having known Academic Creepster types, this totally is familiar behavior to me, and I thought of it IMMEDIATELY as I was reading the article... god these guys are all cut from the same shit, huh? "absentminded professor" my ass.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 11:47 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Blue Tsunami I tell you this only in case you are acting on a false belief in your own life, but babies can totes get made even if the man doesn't experience ejaculation. Lots of sperm in pre-ejaculate, is my understanding.

Otherwise I pretty much agree that this article could disappear from this timeline and we'd all be the better for it.
posted by allthinky at 11:50 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Also, remember to wear condoms, kids law professors in their 50s who are fucking someone who picked them up at the hardware store on the second date
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:18 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


You can do it when you B&Q it.
posted by biffa at 12:25 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Lots of sperm in pre-ejaculate, is my understanding.

I think we had a post about this not too long ago, and the research is mixed. Some people do, some people don't, it's not clear if that varies over time or stays the same, we don't really know a lot about it or the viability of such sperm where it does exist. It's well within the realm of possible, but "lots" is an overstatement.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:36 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


So reading this reminded me of the The Confidence Game, an account of various scams. Unlike the classic and excellent The Big Con these are told primarily from the victim's accounts and involve ugly manipulations of their motivations beyond greed. It's extremely similar to the approaches there.

One thing that struck me in the book is that everyone--clever, educated, street smart, poor--everyone can fall for the most ridiculous thing. The one thing victims didn't have was trusted relationships outside the scam that they listened to, which seems the only defense. Hence the plays to get Hay to alienate his ex-wife, repeated so often in this account.

So it certainly rings true to me, though I am digesting a bit of the rumors here that Hay was a known creeper.

Yeah I have no doubt this story was written in order to make Hay seem like a harmless fool that just wants to love, or whatever

It reads to me like a specific subgenre of journalism, where the author essentially believes the primary source is a creep, idiot, or laying out a self-serving story, but still frames it from his point of view because he's the one who talked to her and can give flavor, detail and internal thoughts that aren't a matter of public record.

Just my interpretation, but IMHO that's why these tend to read weirdly, as if the the author is trying to be sympathetic but has a blind spot, when in fact it's sort of the opposite.

To be clear I do think the author believes he was in fact scammed and harassed. I don't believe she thought he was a lovable, harmless guy.
posted by mark k at 10:15 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


Agreed, mark k, it does read that way. Only to me that says, "Maybe this isn't a story that needs telling if this is the only source I can get." Especially in the middle of legal proceedings and all.

I also nod emphatically at every word Rush-That-Speaks wrote. (I could say the same except Somerville instead of Cambridge and I can't vouch for the Darwins brownies.) This is a bizarre peephole into the universe next door.
posted by clauclauclaudia at 11:02 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


It seems at least possible that Hay did execute the lease and then changed his mind about it, and there are numerous reasons why it could have been thrown out besides just "it was something that Haider and Schuman made up".

And just happened to leave all his family's belongings there for them to move out? And just happened to do it when they were out of the country? What kind of person in their right mind, if they thought they'd leased a house and came to find it completely full of some other family's stuff, would just go ahead and toss it? Nah. There's learning to read the story from the other side, and then there's just being a sucker.
posted by praemunire at 3:28 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Update: The Harvard Professor Scam Gets Even Weirder. Six other men describe their encounters with the same mysterious Frenchwoman.

If you're looking for other versions of how this plays out.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:42 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Two weeks ago, New York readers were introduced to Bruce Hay,

(I posted this) Good god—that was only two weeks ago?!?!
posted by General Malaise at 1:18 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I squealed!!

So I still think Hay is the worst kind of dummy. And I still don’t hate these women. I know they’re criminals. I know they’re manipulative. But as I read each near-miss encounter from the update, I was actually licking my lips. Am I a terrible person?
posted by Dressed to Kill at 2:24 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Kind of? I mean, they're not really doing anyone any favors by being manipulative and awful, are they? It's not like they're robbing from the rich and giving to the poor or targeting known abusers. They seem to pick their marks pretty randomly.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:54 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


P.S. It was super weird to see this thread get linked on Unfogged.
posted by General Malaise at 3:59 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


No, they're not doing any favors, no... and they sound terrible, generally. But while they're picking their marks randomly, but based on their only "successful" con (Hay) they're certainly looking for a specific brand of stupid: vain, gullible, passive, unable to say 'no,' not used to accountability, callow, weak-willed.

Maybe I'm enjoying watching men from the update escape their trap with nothing more than some good sense.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:23 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Dressed to Kill, I'm not sure where you got any of that? The various men's reactions in the update seemed pretty sensible to me; they politely declined, or briefly indulged her until realizing pretty quickly that she's a scammer. (Which kind of just highlights how many men she must've had to approach before finding someone as gullible as Hays).

Given the article gives next-to-no details about them, it feels like oddly mean-spirited and inaccurate to label them 'vain, gullible, not used to accountability,' etc, when all they did was agree to give out their number and then get understandably weirded out at her behavior.

I have no problem hating these women, and it especially makes me furious that they're opportunistically using a 'fighting the patriarchy' narrative as cheeky window-dressing to justify being truly awful people. They are not fighting the patriarchy. They're just barely competent scam artists with some serious mental health issues.
posted by adso at 7:05 PM on August 17 [3 favorites]


That’s the thing! The guys in the update weren’t the turds they were looking for, ultimately. But Hay was.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:27 AM on August 18 [3 favorites]


True, but if you're hinting that there is some sorting mechanism at work so only the unworthy are suffering at their hands I would say that is unwarranted. I mean you can see it with that one guy in the follow up that almost got sucked in--he lied about his name and number when they had sex, which would have left him "safe" but he did a more decent thing and decided he didn't want to ignore a possible child. The decent act was the risky one.

What the women were looking for is people who would be victims of abuse. Hay isn't their only successful con, he's the only one with the right kind of cluelessness to admit it publicly (up to this point anyway.)
posted by mark k at 10:11 PM on August 18 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm but... is it possible that in a way the “sorting mechanism” is the degree to which a man will perform a risky, brave or decent act, or conversely, whether he will fail to perform due to vanity, cowardice, passivity and gullibility? (I’m basing this on the data set of the articles)

And Hay, I would argue, is not merely do-dee-do clueless either. He’s trying to shore up sympathy to allow him to deflect accountability. And he knows his position allows him to control that narrative. He’s banking on it, believing he knows better than lawyers and journalists and readers.

This isn’t to say the women didn’t behave abusively. They did. But the update at least doesn’t in any way absolve Hay, who is also terrible.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 2:36 AM on August 19


The article wants us to think there’s a sorting mechanism based on gullibility, I mean, if we accept the title that Hay is the most gullible. I question that hard.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 2:49 AM on August 19


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