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Keith Burgess-Jackson, Mentally Ill Cyberstalker

This post from October 14, 2005 (which includes a July 2006 update) contains the pertinent background information about this seriously disturbed individual, about whom some readers occasionally inquire.  He teaches in the philosophy department at the University of Texas at Arlington (which is near Dallas), and has had a delusional obsession with me for quite some time.

Over the last three-and-a-quarter years, he has written several hundred (perhaps more than a thousand) blog entries harassing, threatening, defaming, and/or insulting me--and my co-bloggers, my wife, my parents, and my children.  I should add that none of us have ever met him.  Indeed, until October 2005, I had never even responded publically to his repeated scurrilous attacks and slanderous tirades.

That I did finally respond in fall 2005 to the 100-or-so items he had (by then) written attacking me was apparently too much for Burgess-Jackson to bear.  Sane and happy person that he is, he spent his Christmas Day 2005 creating a separate hate blog so he could harass, threaten, defame, and/or insult me (and my co-bloggers, my wife, my parents, my children etc.) almost daily, declaring (more than once), "By the time we're done with this sorry excuse for a human being, he'll be crying."  He also noted that my responding to his attacks constituted "a terrible mistake, one that will haunt [Leiter] for the rest of his life. At 48 years of age and in great health, I expect to be around for another 25 to 30 years."  This (now) 50-year-old man often links to photographs of me and mocks my appearance as "effeminate."  He is very concerned with gender roles, having written that "no self-respecting man will play second fiddle to a woman."  (Burgess-Jackson, it will not surprise readers to learn, is unmarried and socially isolated.)

In the summer of 2006, my university retained a psychiatrist to evaluate his increasingly weird rantings and behavior in light of other information about his personal and professional life--some of it revealed on his blog; some from university officials who are aware of his history; some from his embarrassed colleagues; and some from his former teachers, ex-friends, grad school contemporaries, and other philosophers whom he has harassed in the past (there turn out to be many). 

As a former friend of Burgess-Jackson's who is now a professional philosopher wrote to me after learning about his hate blog:  "Keith has imaginary grudges against many many people, myself included," adding that Burgess-Jackson "scoured the web in search of information he thought he could use to embarrass me, threatened to blacken my name forever, wrote at least one horrible letter to another philosopher denouncing me as a bad and stupid person and even said horribly unkind things about my children, whom he has never met and about whom he knows nothing.  Does it sound familiar?"  Alas, it does.  "I really am convinced that he is mentally ill," this philosopher concluded, "but I don't see anything to be done about it."

And as another well-known senior moral philosopher wrote:  "I have heard through the grapevine that you are Keith Burgess-Jackson's latest target...This has been his defining characteristic for at least the last 20 years [ed.-I get conflicting reports on how long he has been harassing people, but it may well be this long].  You are just the latest of his victims....He will, for a time, decide that some philosopher is a god, and then suddenly decide that they are the prince of darkness.  I know slews of people, both in this country and in the UK, who have, at one time or another, been subject to his attacks.  Some of these victims are among the gentlest, most decent people I know.  He did the same with fellow students from grad school.  He clearly needs help....Join the legions who have felt the sting of his vicious attacks more than once.”

Burgess-Jackson appears to be severely afflicted with one or more personality disorders that impair  his capacity to respond to criticism or disagreement, his ability to interact normally with or sustain relations with other human beings, and his ability to interpret the actions and words of others accurately.  (There is some pertinent detail here and here.)  Unsurprisingly, Burgess-Jackson is a serial liar and dissembler when it comes to smearing me, sometimes making things up (events, correspondence etc.) out of whole cloth, and almost always misrepresenting what I have written.  It is a particularly striking feature of his disturbance that any unpleasant character trait he possesses (e.g., narcissism) or any malfeasance in which he has actually engaged (e.g., threatening someone's career) he consistently projects on to me (and his other "enemies").  (For some of the gory details, scroll down towards the end of the October 2005 post, which also notes his weird tendency to repeat verbatim any criticism someone has made of him, directing it back at the critic.  Indeed, portions of his hate blog actually make some sense if you substitute his name for mine!)

I apologize for boring readers with this unpleasant business.  But since Burgess-Jackson has been both persistent and malicious, I thought I ought to get the basic facts into circulation.  Please do not link to Burgess-Jackson or try to correspond with him; he craves attention and he is not rational.It is an unfortunate aspect of Cyberspace, alas, that it is such an attractive forum for the mentally ill and socially estranged.

I sincerely hope Burgess-Jackson receives appropriate medical intervention, which might enable him to return to what had been, at one time, a productive scholarly career.  I would urge his colleagues and deans at UT Arlington who are aware of his problems to be more pro-active in this regard.  They know that I am not the only person he has harassed, and they must surely recognize that, unless he receives psychiatric help, others are likely to be victims in the future.