President to revisit professor’s free-speech discipline case

No, of course I’m not talking about President Schill’s decision to discipline Law Profressor Nancy Shurtz. Johnson Hall doesn’t make mistakes.

I’m talking about Rutgers President Robert Barchi and a professor who tweeted something stupid and offensive about New York City real estate, near as I can figure. InsidehigherEd has the report here. People complained. An extensive and expensive investigation of the twit apparently recommended some discipline. It also provoked the sorts of criticism that President Schill got for his handling of the Shurtz matter, such as this from Erwin Chemerinsky, now Dean of the law school at Berkeley:

… I, of course, am not arguing that free speech on campus is absolute. Campuses can punish speech that is incitement to illegal activity or that threatens or directly harasses others. Campuses also can engage in more speech, which long has been recognized as the best response to the speech we don’t like. There can be efforts to educate the community about the history of blackface. There should be debates about whether it is ever appropriate to use blackface even when advocating against racism in higher education.

But what campuses never can or should do is punish speech because it is offensive.

I would have hoped a law school faculty and a university president who is a lawyer and law professor would have recognized this. Unfortunately, what happened at the University of Oregon is all too typical of what is happening on campuses across the country where the desire to create inclusive learning environments for all students has led to punishing speech protected by the First Amendment.

Barchi now seems to want to end things, and pulls out the boilerplate every university president should keep in their template folder:

“Like many in our community, I found that Professor ________’s comments showed especially poor judgment, were offensive, and, despite the professor’s claims of satire, were not at all funny,” he wrote. “At the same time, few values are as important to the university as the protection of First Amendment rights — even when the speech we are protecting in insensitive and reckless.”

Which should end things right there – but instead he’s going to appoint another committee.

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8 Responses to President to revisit professor’s free-speech discipline case

  1. A duck says:

    James Livingston is why I say things like “It’s OK to be white.” It’s a sad day that it has come to this, but come to this it has. I have kids. I’m not going to commit demographic suicide to appease some strange shared guilt complex.
    Maybe James Livingston can go work with Sarah Jeong at the NYT?

    • uomatters says:

      I’m guessing that my readers may not be as familiar with these names and ideas as you expect. Or at least I’m not. Could you elaborate on the issues?

      • A duck says:

        James Livingston was the “professor who posted antiwhite comments about gentrification in his neighborhood on Facebook last spring, violated Rutgers’s discrimination and harassment policy.” from your link’s link:
        What he reportedly said was:
        “OK, officially, I now hate white people.” and so that this has some context in case , a larger quote:
        “I don’t get the FB threat thing against me because as far as I can tell, my page is intact, including my earnest, angry, and ridiculous resignation from the white race. As if I could! Calling Noel Ignatiev. Who am I kidding? The FB algorithm conjoins the words “race” and “hate” and designates the origin, which would be me, as a problem. OK, God knows I am. But not in this regard. I just don’t want little Caucasians overrunning my life, as they did last night. Please God, remand them to the suburbs, where they and their parents can colonize every restaurant, all the while pretending that the idiotic indulgence of their privilege signifies cosmopolitan–you know, as in sophisticated “European”–commitments.”
        Sarah Jeong was recently hired by the NYT and has similar things to say about white people:
        Such gems as “#CancelWhitePeople” and “White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along.” with a cute little smiling demon emoji. ‘Cause, you know, satire, right guys?

    • Disturbed says:

      The *actual* sad day is when it comes to someone in these comments casually using the phrase “demographic suicide” in a discussion about race.

  2. A duck says:

    Disturbed, nothing casual about this. White hatred is the cool, hip thing to do, haven’t you been paying attention to the main stream media agenda?

  3. duck a la ennui says:

    I was going to lob in this piece, which though toxic was handled just as uomatters advises.

    But instead, you really should read this piece, which provides more of a view from a distance (being about the UK). Learned at least five new words, including (God help me) “duckspeak”.

    (extra credit for this one)

    • uomatters says:

      Ennui, I suggest commenters post snippets along with links, if they want others to check out those links. Few people will follow a link just on the advice that they really should. Best to give them a bit more.

      • duck a la ennui says:

        You’re right. Here’s an attempt at some quotes for the three links:

        In The Washington Post: “Why can’t we hate men?” (by Suzanna Danuta Walters, a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University)

        “So men, if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong.”

        University response: “The university has more than 1,000 faculty members whose viewpoints span the entire political spectrum, […] Consistent with our unwavering commitment to academic freedom, the opinions of an individual professor do not reflect the views of the university or its leadership. Northeastern is committed to fostering an environment in which controversial ideas can be discussed, debated and challenged.”

        In Quillette: “The UK Labour Party and the System of Diversity” (book review by Helen Dale)

        “Under the ‘system of diversity’, victimhood never ends. There is no room in it for the traditional trade unionist who wants better conditions for, say, coal miners so they don’t die underground; or a shop steward who wants call-centre workers or fruit pickers to earn better wages. There isn’t even room for the democratic socialist who aspires to any of the various forms of worker democracy that have existed historically, or who wishes to make use of alternative business structures, like cooperatives and mutuals. Instead, certain groups are taken always to require support. Certain groups must always be on the outer. Cobley calls them ‘the favoured’ and ‘the unfavoured’. The favoured include women, Muslims, and immigrants. The unfavoured include men and whites — but also uneducated people and most of the working poor. There are always victims, and always perpetrators. Oppression is systemic; it never ends, and can never end.”

        Also in Quillette: “Academic Activists Send a Published Paper Down the Memory Hole” (by Theodore P. Hill)

        “No sooner had Sergei posted a preprint of our accepted article on his website than we began to encounter problems. On August 16, a representative of the Women In Mathematics (WIM) chapter in his department at Penn State contacted him to warn that the paper might be damaging to the aspirations of impressionable young women.”
        “Colleagues I spoke to were appalled. None of them had ever heard of a paper in any field being disappeared after formal publication. Rejected prior to publication? Of course. Retracted? Yes, but only after an investigation, the results of which would then be made public by way of explanation. But simply disappeared? Never. If a formally refereed and published paper can later be erased from the scientific record and replaced by a completely different article, without any discussion with the author or any announcement in the journal, what will this mean for the future of electronic journals?”