OSU Kicker Jake Russell Has Roommate Trouble

So, this happened.

Screencap via atheists.org

That’s kicker Jake Russell of the Ohio State Buckeyes. His bio says that he’s a freshman. When I first came to college, I was still extremely religious, having grown up in an almost exclusively Catholic environment. Meeting people with radically different worldviews was a shock. But it takes a special kind of person, even assuming that sort of background, to wish hate on someone else.

Then again, if you ask Jessica Ahlquist, maybe folks like Russell aren’t so rare.

Greg Lammers, the Missouri State Director for American Atheists, notified the OSU administration of the tweet and was assured that they would investigate immediately.

There is a fine, but crucial, line between hating ideas and hating the person who espouses them. There’s also an important distinction between hating or being disgusted by a person, and acting out of malice toward that person. In a pluralistic society that encourages discourse, those lines need to be crystal clear. From the American Atheists article:

As for Mr. Russell, we hope sir that no one ever asks anyone else to show you some hate. We hope that one day you will learn the pluralism that exists at your school and in your future places of employment and residence [...] Mr. Russell has brought dishonor to his team and to his school. He has disgraced himself by displaying his bigotry in public.

Hear, hear.

Incidentally, a couple of nights ago, Hemant sent a message to roommate-in-question Max Rouse asking for his side of the story. There’s no response yet, but we’ll provide an update if/when we hear back.

About Megan Wells

Megan Wells is an IT tech and sports blogger in Chicago.

  • Topher Kersting

    If this is his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=771259399), Rouse may be a conservative Catholic, and this may be a prank.

    • Michael

       Sounds to me like he’s spoofing the Jessica Ahlquist hatred, and doing it extremely badly. 

      • Anonymous

        Or what about this? He’s not out to his family yet? 

    • Anonymous

      Or what about this? He’s not out to his family yet? 

  • Achess

    That tweet right there made me really mad. Are we sure it’s the real deal?

  • Anonymous

    I see that the stereotype that football players are dumb jocks who can’t spell is once again exemplified here: “athiest”

    • Drakk

      That’s not a typo. He’s describing the roommate as possessing a quality called “athy”. The roommate’s obviously the athiest  person he’s ever met.

      Of course, I’m athier than him.

  • http://twitter.com/melbadear Melanie Bracey

    @google-c8be71f6a261bdb2c301a15558b79006:disqus Regardless of whether or not it’s a prank, it’s still a shining example of the “love” Christians have for people who are unlike them. If Russell and his friends find it funny to spread hate against atheists in the name of God, they’re just fueling the discriminatory fire and we should still call attention to it.

  • http://twitter.com/CoboWowbo Cobo Wowbo

    After reading more about it, this looks like the tweeter (Jake Russell) was just losing a battle of discussion and turned to get some support on twitter/facebook

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    I’m concerned that OSU is investigating. This is pretty disgusting behavior but clearly within the bounds of free speech. While in a narrow legal sense, free speech is an issue of what the government can restrict, if there’s any environment where we should be careful to allow a free exchange of ideas it would be in a university setting. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

      But if what he said did in fact lead to people “showing some hate,” there would definitely be a reason to investigate.

    • Anonymous

      Are threats and incitement to harass others protected speech?  I’m especially interested to know if such harassment based on religion/atheism is protected. 

    • Sunda

      Agreed. Freedom of speech is very broad, but not absolute. This walks dangerously close to incitatory or threatening speech — NOT the kind that should be encouraged in a free exchange of ideas or nurtured in an academic environment. Though I agree that this should be encouraged in general and on academic campuses in particular…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

      I agree with Joshua. Is what the football dude said repugnant? Yes, of course it is, but it is protected speech, and his use of the word “hate” is very vague and nebulous. Because of that, I can see no valid LEGAL reason to punish him.

      I must advocate free speech in the face of such vileness, because the greater good is a free flow of speech, ideas and expression. That trumps our disgust.

      Had he said “stab him in the neck” that would be another thing entirely, but as it stands, I have to side with The First Amendment.

      • Anonymous

        “my roommate max rouse (look him up on Facebook) is a jew, please show him some hate”

        Go First Amendment?!

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

          of course go first amendment. We know it is crass and repugnant, but they can and have the legal right to say it. You really think you want to begin telling people what they can and cannot say? That is frightening, much more so than the statement itself.

          • Anonymous

            Not ALL speech is protected speech.  Remember, you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater because that could create a situation where people may be injured.  Making threats of bodily harm and inciting others to harm someone are also NOT protected speech.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

              Saying “hate jews” is NOT yelling fire in a movie theater.

              I would bet we both agree that Jessica Ahlquist is a brave and strong young woman. She stood up in the face of adversity, not just for the prayer issue, but she stood up for The Consitution. She stood up for our founding documents, which protect you and me. So why would you wish to try and chip away at the same document by advocating restrictions of speech?

              You make no sense, and free speech must be endured ESPECIALLY in the face of things we find difficult or repugnant.

              • Anonymous

                Um…the point is that there ARE limits to protected speech.  One example of that is the proverbial idea of ‘shouting fire in a crowded theater’.  Your right to shout things is limited by the harm it can do to others.  In a similar vein, you also can’t make threats towards people since they also have a right to be protected FROM being threatened. 

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

                  So, are you the barometer by which we decide what is right and wring to say? I find this side of the left to be scary. Saying “Hate Jews” or “Hate Christians” or “Hate Atheists” is idiotic, but there is no threat or such to advocate restricting this at all.

                  Frankly, I shudder every time someone –usually on the left– suggests speech restrictions. 

                  DOes something make you uncomfortable to listen to? Too god damn bad, suck it up and deal with it, because you know that somewhere, someone feels the same about what you say, and do you want YOUR speech limited?

                • Anonymous

                  :sigh:  There’s a huge difference between saying you hate someone or something and SHOWING hate (or asking others to do so on your behalf).  Right now, I pretty much hate* YOU FSq.  However, if I start SHOWING you some hate, say that I’m planning on SHOWING you some hate and asking others to SHOW you some hate, then I’ve crossed a line and violated YOUR right to live peacefully and free of threats and harassment.  Have you also never heard of the concept that my right to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose?  It’s the same principle. 

                  I think you are under the belief that words have no power and can’t harm someone.  Well, you’re WRONG.  Threats, even vague, non-specific threats, have to power to harm someone.  How can anyone know that a threat is empty?  Why should someone’s right to free speech trump someone else’s right to have a means to punish someone who makes threats against them? 

                  Free speech has limits and it should.  So, it’s about time YOU suck it up and deal with the fact that your freedoms are limited by the rights of others.

                  *eh, I don’t really hate you since I could not care less about you and your existence.  However, I do find that you’re pretty much a tool.

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

                  Hey dinglenuts, I am a journalist and know full well the power of words.

                  I also know the fear mongering, PC crowd that wants to tell people what they can and cannot say. And frankly, that is worse than some idiots exercising their First Amendment rights.

                  Sorry Isilzha, but you are a hypocrite and rather onerous. 

                  We must endure speech that we find uncomfortable or repugnant in order to ensure we have the right to gather, speak and say OUR words and thoughts.

                  It is precisely because I am a journalist that I must advocate for full free speech; and when people like you try to shroud it under an umbrella of “oh my doodness, doz widdle words hurt my widdle feewings, so they must be restwicted”, that is where I jump in and fight tooth and nail to stop it.

                  Tell me, who is the ACLU’s client?

                  I await your answer with great anticipation.

                • Anonymous

                  Fine…make threats if you feel you must express what you perceive to be your right to free speech.  Just enjoy your jail time when the other person presses charges to protect their right to be free from some wanker making threats.  Oh, and if you really are a journalist I’m sure you’re familiar with the terms of libel and slander.  You may want to pay closer attention to those concepts so you also don’t get sued when you are taking liberties with the concept of free speech.

      • Anonymous

        While “show him some hate” doesn’t name a specific action, it does seem to be asking others to inflict some sort of unpleasantness upon a specific person.  So, in that sense, it is inciting others to bully/threaten/harass/scare someone else. 

        It is especially disturbing when such a statement comes from someone on a university football team and more directly in the public eye.  Also, as a member of a football team he does represent the university.  I’m sure there are some codes of conduct which apply here.

      • Edmond

        There may be no LEGAL reason to punish him (though one could argue that inciting hateful action is reason enough), there certainly may be enough reason for the SCHOOL to punish him.  The law doesn’t have to be involved at all.  He could be sanctioned, or even expelled, for displaying values that are counter to the school’s code of conduct.  It doesn’t have to be a First Amendment issue.  The school can take its own actions based on how it wants to be represented by its students.

        • Ryan Moran

          It’s a public school, the first amendment is binding on them.  They would most likely face (and lose) a lawsuit if they expelled him.

          • Anonymous

            So, a public university can’t have a code of conduct for its students and student athletes? 

  • Volunteer

    Would love to see Jake Russells facebook

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1535286477 Roxane Farrell Murray

    He is athy, you are athier, I am athiest.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      I there’s one thing worse than a hater, it’s an illiterate hater.

  • Kelli Smith

    They’re FB friends: https://www.facebook.com/Symbolize

    I’m actually not convinced that this is legitimate.  HOWEVER, even if Max Rouse is not an atheist, the sentiment shown in that tweet is still disturbing and unacceptable.

    • Guy

      they are friends, this was blown way out of proportion. both good guys and they get along very well.

  • Anonymous

    What gets me is how so many groups and individuals struggle to see past their own interest. Currently in our Comm Ethics class we‘re studying several well known scholars
    and philosophers who tackle this very issue.  From UNC Chapel Hill we ran across this thought from Dennis K. Mumby in regards to power and ethics.

       “acting ethically is a dynamic practice that requires an ongoing awareness of the everyday operation of power and a willingness to engage the other in a manner that is both responsive to his/her/their differences and that opens up the possibility for self-transformation” (Cheney, May Munshi, 2011, P. 49)

       It relates to the Ohio State tweet because we’re talking about acceptance of other viewpoints, ideas and life styles. I interpret this to mean a common starting point for an ethical conversation is first and foremost acceptance. I prefer the word acceptance to
    tolerance here because in my mind to tolerate something simply means to put up
    with it and sometimes, begrudgingly. But if you can accept something you
    disagree with, not like or love it, but just accept it for what it is without
    getting emotional then that opens the possibility for self-transformation.

        There are many great minds at OSU and I’ll bet the student who made that tweet will sooner or later will be influenced by those minds. Here’s a link to
    the text with Mumby’s Chapter.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ZFiWoRsK_kQC&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=Power+and+Ethics+Mumby&source=bl&ots=eBlDrzFY9p&sig=uPGylPtKKpL5dBmcWNEFWzbeqEw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yNgiT4ixM4q62gXw2azfDg&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Power%20and%20Ethics%20Mumby&f=false

    Brian R. Shipman

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CSJLPHPEQTVNGWBTZDCOIILLYM Jake

    HEY EVERYONE. LISTEN UP. Max and Jake Met with the lady at OSU and she reported it was NOTHING SERIOUS. MAX IS NOT AN ATHEIST and although this was a poor joke, it was a joke between the two of them. It really bothers me that you guys think a kid would seriously try and spread some “hate” to his roommate? Grow Up. 

    • Anonymous

      Because people NEVER make these types of threats especially against atheists.  Thanks for clearing that up. /sarcasm

    • Annie

      Although I love a good practical joke,  it wasn’t between the two of them if it was posted on the wall of someone with over 1,000 “friends”.  It is important for people to understand that what may be fine and funny if talked about around a pool table or over a few beers is not the same as making a statement publicly (and permanently) on the web.  I’m sure what we saw was completely out of context, but perhaps it would be wise not to write things so publicly that can easily be taken wrong.  I also must wonder how many of Jake’s FB friends were in on the joke?  And how many of them don’t even know him, and may look up to him (being a football player and all) and think that this is acceptable behavior? 

    • Anonymous

      Gee, thanks Jake.  I’m so happy MAX IS NOT AN ATHEIST.  Could you imagine an atheist playing for Urban Meyer?  Ewww, gross.

    • Edmond

      It really bothers some of us that YOU think this DOESN’T happen.  Maybe you don’t spend enough time online learning what theists REALLY think of atheists.

      While everything may be hunky-dory between Max and Jake, you can bet that there are plenty of OTHER atheists out there who will become the target of hate by those who saw this message and agree that this is what atheists deserve.

    • HA2

      Yes, that bothers me too. Because someone trying to spread hate about his atheist roommate seems completely plausible. I wish it weren’t.

    • TheBlackCat

      That doesn’t eliminate the problem that Jake thought this was funny.

    • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

      looks like you need to do some growing up. We have all seen stuff done worse to roommates. I have read stories where roommates were KILLED over a disagreement just as petty as finding out your roommate is an atheist. So quit acting like crazy shit can’t happen BECAUSE IT HAS

    • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

      looks like you need to do some growing up. We have all seen stuff done worse to roommates. I have read stories where roommates were KILLED over a disagreement just as petty as finding out your roommate is an atheist. So quit acting like crazy shit can’t happen BECAUSE IT HAS

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregm766 Gregory Marshall

    Wait, Jake Russell, isn’t that a breed of terrier?

    Oh, JACK…..

  • Marco Conti

    My take so far is that these are a couple of college dudes and one had the bad taste to make a practical joke to the other. Without invoking free speech I think Jake is simply a dumb, young kid that needs to grow up and see the world a bit. He basically used “atheist” because somehow it transpired in his mind that the word “gay” as an insult/prank is no longer acceptable. So what does he do? He pranks his friend with the epithet “atheist”.
    He obviously thought that was more acceptable and would not raise the ire of a minority.

    Surprise: many of us like to be an “Atheist” and we see it as a meliorative, not a pejorative. We don’t like it when a word we identify with is used to insult or prank someone else. In fact, I’d like them to tell me why we should like it and why we should not be annoyed at his prank. Either way he is wrong, but I am inclined to forgive him the slip up and use it as a teachable moment. 
    After all I think that being stupid in your 20′s is a basic human right and I was a beneficiary myself when I was their age.

  • Craig

    I think it was probably a prank. I hope so, at least.

    What might be even more disturbing, though, are some of the tweets showing up showing hate to Russell. There’s some really ugly stuff there. It seems like a lot of those are from college students. 

    @JakeRussell21 I got some hate and intolerance for you! I hope your foot gets gangrene. Your savior would be so proud! 

    @JakeRussell21 go f*** y’self, go f***  y’self, petty small and stupid twat, go f*** y’self, go f*** y’self, with a splintered baseball bat. 

    @JakeRussell21 is a prejudiced, bigoted theist. Look him up on Facebook and/or show him some Twitter atheist hate. patheos.com/blogs/friendly… 

    To be fair, though, this is also among the responses, RT’d several times:

    Ohio State punter @JakeRussell21 outed his atheist roommate & asked followers to show him “hate”. Lets show Jake some love #atheism #atheist 

    Are these ugly responses pranks, too? I hope so. I am very troubled by the language and concepts expressed, even if they are pranks. 

    And if they are real attempts to counter Russell’s possible bigotry, they are very, very twisted. 

    The response to a call to hate is not a counter call for even more hate. 

    • Annie

      This is so counterproductive, and I wish all atheist could be above such things.

  • Xeon2000

    It’s not illegal to be an asshole.

  • Javier

    His Twitter account appears hacked now as it’s adorned with University of Michigan wallpaper and a UMich logo. http://twitter.com/jakerussell21

  • Ottomaniac

    You know, I’m pretty much okay with this.  I have a long history of living with people with whom I’ve traded epithets that are offensive.  Every time I lose something, my current roommate (we’ve lived together peaceably for three years) asks me if I’ve checked inside my cavernous vagina.  It’s legitimately affectionate abuse.  And we’ve said much, much worse things about people who aren’t present, none of which we actually believe, because we’re juvenile and we think horribly rude things are funny. 

    I wouldn’t, however, repeat almost any of it here, because of the ripping I’d get from people telling me I’m actually, at heart, a racist/sexist/anti-semite/ageist/ableist/whatever.  It’s one thing with Roommate is playing Call of Duty online and some enraged junior high school boy screams into his mic at Roommate that he’s a “nigger-shitting faggot,” causing the two of us to laugh for about two weeks at how awesomely absurd the insult is.  It’d be another thing entirely for me to, say, post that on my facebook status.  And I think that’s really the problem, here; Russell didn’t think very well about how the Internet and social media work.  He was horsing around with his own roommate, and while making a tweet out of it was a bad choice, I don’t think it’s necessarily a big deal or even a reflection of his actual, strongly held opinions. 

    • http://twitter.com/Kahomono Kahomono

      So the most vicious thing he could think of to verbalize about his roommate was “athiest.”  

      By how many points did that beat out “nigger-shitting faggot?”

  • Anonymous

    Greg Lammers is a moron. By going to OSU officials, he was being a whiny little turd. I don’t care whether this was a prank or real or a mistaken tweet or whatever. Discuss it in editorials, on blogs, on Facebook and Twitter, and between friends, but don’t pretend like anyone has a right to not be offended.

  • http://twitter.com/Kahomono Kahomono

    Is Rouse also an OSU athlete?  Because I thought the big time NFL-minor-league programs like OSU had enough sense to keep the athletes away from the humans.


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