There was no shortage of elitist Left and Right Coast media outlets lined up to heap praise upon Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. and scorn upon Alabama after Hugh Junior claimed last week The University of Alabama Law School had told him where he could stick a $26.5 million donation. Hugh Junior had publicly urged students to boycott UA — including the law school bearing his name and the school of business bearing his father’s — in response to the recently passed law banning abortion.
The school’s reaction to his boycott suggestion, according to an op-ed Culverhouse penned for The Washington Post, was to send his money back and break out the Black & Decker on the sign bearing his name outside Alabama’s lawyer factory. It was a story regurgitated time and again by others in the media all too willing to lap up a tale too good to believe — that even Alabama’s premier university (I mean ONE of them) is run by the same kind of Bible-thumping rednecks who just passed a law so strict it won’t even let a girl abort the product of her last family reunion.
They piled on, one after the other with little actual thought as to how stupid the story actually sounded. A rich guy attacking a school he pledged $26.5 million to and that now bears his name because the state legislature passed a law he doesn’t like? University administrators — known hardline conservative thinkers — telling a wealthy donor to take a flying leap because they didn’t agree with his political statements? A guy who gave millions to Alabama and whose father once owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claiming he hates football because it hurts people?
Never mind that the story ran counter to common sense — no time to check it out when there were conservative skulls to crack.
But Hugh Junior apparently forgot the many emails he sent to the law school griping about all manner of things having nothing to do with the state of abortion in the state of Alabama. Behind the scenes Hugh Junior was a huge pain, making outrageous demands, openly insulting the dean and other law school muckety-mucks and otherwise acting like a raging jerk. At least that’s how the emails read.
For example, it seems Hugh Junior wanted to be able to just wander into any law class at any time and set up shop in the back of the room. Administrators also were under the impression he wanted to fire up to 10 law school professors. All this comes from the emails UA dumped onto the worldwide web shortly after Culverhouse and the rest of the world branded them the dumbest rednecks outside the dumb rednecks who actually passed an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Those emails show Culverhouse to have been an insufferable (rich) clown, making outlandish demands and treating faculty and staff like cartoon bears treat toilet paper in a TV commercial. The emails also reveal UA was in the process of returning his money, which he’d asked for, before Culverhouse ever went public with his calls for a boycott. And he never mentioned the abortion issue to university officials. It was obviously a face-saving effort on Hugh Junior’s behalf.
But don’t expect to read much about that outside the borders of this beautiful state that would prefer it if you do, in fact, carry to term a reminder of the last time you saw Uncle Jimmy. As much as I often think the “liberal media bias” claim is an easy way out for right-wingers who don’t want to answer tough questions, this serves as a great reminder the label has actual roots in actual bad journalism. And I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the majority of those outlets that bandied Culverhouse’s lie as an unimpeachable example of what Grade A morons are running the show in Alabama to now come back and explain he made it up because he misjudged just how much abuse he got to dish out for $26.5 million.
For his part, Culverhouse is playing the “Alabama’s emails just prove I’m right” card. It’s not clear HOW they make him right, but the one thing that is clear at this point is that Mr. Culverhouse appears “eccentric,” to put it kindly.
In fact, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised to find out this was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to UA’s stash of unhinged Hugh Culverhouse Jr. emails. Seeing as his father donated heavily enough to the business school that it’s known as the Culverhouse College of Business, I can only imagine some of the letters Dean Kay M. Palan has received:
“Kay-Kay, I just wanted to check in and see how my Culverhouse School of Business Writing is coming along. Remember, I want to cut through the crap and teach our students how to really offend people they’re dealing with. I think the first course should be called ‘Dear A-hole 101,’ and I’d like you to submit the names of five really irritating professors to teach it so I can select one then write the other four and tell them they suck. Get this done today or send my money back and expect me to blame the failure of this fine program on Gov. Ivey signing the chemical castration law. — H.J.”
Or maybe something like this to Dean Robert F. Olin of the College of Arts & Sciences:
“Bobb-Ohhh — I read that your science students are experimenting on some ‘perplexing worm-like mollusks’ and immediately thought of you! Is this really the kind of research my hard-earned money should be supporting???? Remember the Japanese art collection I promised to donate after I die? Fuh-ged-about it!!! I’m sending a truck around to get it tomorrow right after I put out a press release saying it’s because Alabama’s legislature didn’t pass a law allowing public schools to teach yoga. — H.J.”
A past $2 million donation to the UA women’s golf team has brought some interesting missives, I’m sure. Maybe something like this to Head Coach Mic Potter:
“Mic, the lack of a K in your first name offends me. I want my two mill back. Either that or I’ll need the ladies’ team captain to drive me around campus in a golden golf cart. Didn’t Alabama just get rid of marriage licenses? DO NOT provoke me!!! — H.J.”
Hugh Culverhouse Jr.’s emails might be the only truly funny thing that’s come out of this abortion law fight and the story serves as a great example of how we tend to believe what we want to believe — even if it’s totally crazy.
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