Friday, December 19, 2014

Academic Freedom and Repellent Speech

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 15th, 2014

What are professors allowed to say? Where are we are allowed to say it?
Last week Deborah O’Connor, a senior lecturer at Florida State University, was pushed to resign after making racist and homophobic comments on a public Facebook page. She said some pretty horrible things, like blaming Europe’s troubles on “rodent Muslims.” She also told a well-known gay hairstylist to “Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass. ”
I am revolted by her remarks. However, I spent quite a lot of the fall arguing that impassioned political speech on a personal social-media account did not justify the “de-hiring” of Steven Salaita. As has been well reported, Salaita was hired for a tenured position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign when stories about his angry tweets regarding the war in Gaza reached the trustees and chancellor of the university. They canceled his appointment. Every time I encountered someone justifying Salaita’s firing by emphasizing what they considered the gross anti-Semitism of his tweets, I responded with the following: If we do not stand on principle for people with whom we disagree, we have no principles.

No comments:

Post a Comment

To eliminate spam comments at restricted to registered users. Additionally, all posts are moderated to further prevent spam and off topic discourse. We strive to post all on topic comments.