Mainpage: Mobbing in academe and beyond

Webpage for
books about mobbing

K. Westhues
homepage

 

Sociologist

Joel Inbody

(1990-2023)

was targeted,

shot, and killed

Kenneth Westhues
University of Waterloo, 2024

Altogether apart from his scholarship on mobbing, Joel Inbody was a promising young sociologist specializing in studies of relgiion. The Edwin Mellen Press published his intended doctoral thesis as a book in 2022, entitled The Praxis of Inequality: a Study of Three Ancient Agricultural Societies (Egypt, China, and Mesopotamia). The book argues that "elites in these agricultural societies enjoyed an upper-class lifestyle because they served food and drink offerings to gods. Those offerings were produced primarily by non-elites, who believed gods dined on them. But the truth is that elites divided food and drink offerings among themselves. Religion disguised the fact that feasting rituals for gods amounted to a redistribution of resources."

 
 

 

Click here for a PDF of Westhues's preface to Joel Inbody's book about academic mobbing. The book is to be published by the Edwin Mellen Press in the summer of 2024.

 

Until 15 months ago, the part of Joel Inbody's life most relevant to the scientific study of academic mobbing was what happened to him a few years earlier in the doctoral program in sociology at the University of Massachusetts. He had written a detailed, factual, analytic account of his ouster from the university, grounding it in the research literature on mobbing. The Edwin Mellen Press will publish this account as a book in the summer of 2024.

In April of 2023, Inbody became the target of an altogether different kind of mob, a coterie of half a dozen ill-trained, trigger-happy border patrol officers on a desert road near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

This second mobbing was not unrelated to the first. Being forced out of a doctoral program in the field Inbody considered his vocation was traumatic. As he describes in his book, and as commonly occurs in academic mobbing, it meant a crisis in all aspects of his life: occupational, financial, familial, emotional, psychological. It was the cumulated crises in his life that led to his encounter with the border patrol officers in New Mexico.

The present webpage consists of the following information about how Inbody was killed on the night of April 2, 2023. Depending on your browser settings, you may need to open one or another of these links in a new window.

  • First is an edited compilation of the bodycam footage of three of the border patrol officers involved in the killing. The editing was done by CBP, US Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security. The compilation says at the start that the agency is committed to accountability and transparency, but what is most noteworthy about the compilation is that none of the officers is identified by name. Transparency would require clarity about exactly who said what and who did what — as Jack Webb always put it on Dragnet, "Just the facts, ma'am.". Click here for the compilation as found on the website of Buffalo News. Click here for the same compilation on the government's own website.

  • Second is the Border Patrol's press release on the killing, dated April 8, 2023: "Agents fire service weapons on non-compliant man after he strikes agent with wooden club; man dies at scene." Click here for the press release on the Border Patrol's website. As in the video compilation, nobody's name is given. The exact time each event occurred is provided, down to the minute. Inbody's SUV is identified, a Nissan Rogue. Roads are called by name: Interstate 10, County Road C003. But the human beings involved are all anonymous. The effect is to reduce Inbody to a "non-compliant man" and to elevate the officers to the collective embodiment of public authority.

  • Click here for Inbody's obituary in the East Aurora (NY) Advertiser. His hometown was nearby Holland NY, part of Metro Buffalo.

  • Thanks to the sober, factual, unsensational approach of veteran investigative reporter Luke Moretti and the evenhandedness of policing expert Jerry Rodriguez, WIVB-TV's three-part series on Inbody's killing turned out to be an exemplar of journalistic excellence. This station is the CBS affiliate in Buffalo NY.

    Click here for the video Part I of the series, and here for the transcript.
    Click here for the video and transcript of Part II.
    Click here for the video and transcript of Part III.

  • The 3-part series on Buffalo TV aired in September of 2023. Eight months later, on May 13, 2024, Buffalo News published a lengthy story on Inbody's killing. Click here. This article's slant is different from that of the TV series. Its title is "Alden woman cites failures after son killed by Border Patrol." Its emphasis is on the grieving mother of a mentally ill son who was unfortunately killed, rather than on the question of whether the border patrol officers were justified in killing him.

The eight links just recommended are to information supplemental to that in Joel Inbody's book. That book deserves to be read and evaluated on its own merits, as if the author had never been killed on a desolate desert road in New Mexico. The facts remain, however, that the author was killed, his life permanently snuffed out, on the night of April 2, 2023, and that the circumstances of his final elimination are strangely reminiscent of academic mobbing, except quick, overt, blatant, violent and lethal. I expand on these points in my preface to Inbody's book. Click here to read it.

Clarification: my general views on the police

Let it not be thought that I am generally anti-police or have a bleeding heart for crime. The opposite is true. I worked for decades with the police department of my home city, lectured regularly in their Citizens Police Academy, and advised on community policing. Day after day, police officers put their lives on the line to ensure the safety and security of all the rest of us. They deserve respect and gratitude.

Emotional disorder or mental illness sometimes poses a hard challenge for police. "Suicide by cop" is a real if rare phenomenon, wherein a person in distress attacks or rushes a police officer, so that the latter is faced with no alternative but to kill or be killed. A reasonable person cannot blame the officer in such a circumstance for killing the attacker.

When, however, law enforcement officers themselves misbehave, when, for example, they themselves try to create a kill-or-be-killed scenario or when they kill somebody unnecessarily, this misconduct – whatever the reason for it, whether malice or carelessness or inadequate training or what has been called for millennia hysteria – must be recognized and corrected, lest it happen again.

 
 

 



The plan for Mellen Press's publication of Joel Inbody's book on academic mobbing took shape at a meeting held at the press's offices in Lewiston NY, on June 28, 2023. This photo shows the four main people in attendance. From left: Herbert Richardson (founder and chief editor of the press, longtime theology professor at Harvard, Toronto, Tübingen, and elsewhere), Kimberly Lewis (high school teacher in New York, mother of Joel Inbody), Eva Kort (longtime philosophy professor in North Carolina universities, now an editor at Mellen Press), and Kenneth Westhues (professor emeritus at Waterloo, Mellen author and author of this website).