Campus Free Speech

University of Oregon Suspended a Professor Who Had No Idea Her Halloween Costume Was Offensive

A terrible blow to free speech on campus

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Oregon
Public domain

Free speech is gravely threatened at the University of Oregon.

That's the inescapable conclusion of a report outlining the university's rationale for suspending a female law professor who dressed up as a black man during a Halloween party she hosted.

The professor, Nancy Shurtz, committed an act of race-based discriminatory harassment, according to the university's investigation—even though she had no intention of offending anyone and had never heard of blackface before.

This is one of the most disturbing outcomes pertaining to faculty free speech rights in recent memory: Shurtz joins Laura Kipnis, Teresa Buchanan, and Andrea Quenette among the ranks of female academics who were censored for expressing an unpopular opinion on the subject of race or sex. Shurtz's situation is most similar to Quenette's in that she had no intention of making her students uncomfortable.

According to Oregon's report—which was compiled by a private law firm—Shurtz hosted a private Halloween party at her own home. Students were invited to attend, and several did so. Shurtz's costume was "black man in a white coat," a reference to a book by Dr. Damon Tweedy about his experience as a doctor of color. Shurtz later told investigators she intended to pay homage to the book, which she had enjoyed, and start a dialogue about racial diversity:

We determined that she was inspired by this book and by the author, that she greatly admires Damon Tweedy and wanted to honor him, and that she dressed as the book because she finds it reprehensible that there is a shortage of racial diversity, and particularly of black men, in higher education. Shurtz was further inspired to this costume by virtue of the fact that her daughter attends medical school and her incoming class also had very few people of color; her daughter inquired with school administration about the class demographics and this apparently led to the medical school assigning reading assignments from Damon Tweedy's book. Shurtz's email to her class list the day after the event explained that she had intended "to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story)" and Shurtz's public apology following the event conveyed that she had intended to provoke a discussion on racism in society, educational institutions and professions.

(Well, we can't have a university professor provoking a discussion on racism in society. Burn the witch!)

Shurtz's costume involved the use of black makeup on her face and hands, which constitutes an offensive use of blackface in the eyes of many people. Blackface is always impolite, this thinking goes, because of its racist and discriminatory history—even if the person wearing it is portraying a specific black person, rather than black people generally, and even if the portrayal isn't intended to be mocking.

I'm not sure whether this logic makes any sense, but even if it does—even if blackface is patently and objectively offensive to a number of people—what right does a public university have to discipline a law professor for dressing provocatively?

Well, according to the report, Shurtz's costume constitutes discriminatory harassment because:

Discriminatory Harassment is defined by University policy as conduct that either in form or operation, unreasonably discriminates among individuals on the basis of race or color; which is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it interferes with work or participation in any University program or activity; which creates an intimidating, hostile, or degrading working or university environment for the individual who is the subject of such conduct; and where the conduct would have such an effect on a reasonable person who is similarly situated. …

Almost every student reported feeling shocked, offended, angered, disappointed, surprised, anxious or uncomfortable being at the event. The discomfort was not limited to the students of color. …

Discriminatory Harassment under the University's policies is directly comparable to racial or sexual harassment under Title VI or Title VII. "[T]he existence of a racially hostile environment that is created, encouraged, accepted, tolerated or left uncorrected by a recipient also constitutes different treatment on the basis of race in violation of title VI." Racial Incidents and Harassment Against Students at Educational Institutions; Investigative Guidance, 59 Fed. Reg. 11448 (Mar. 10, 1994). The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

The report notes that Shurtz enjoys certain free speech protections as a tenured law professor, but in this case, the university's interest in preventing racial discrimination outweighs Shurtz's claim to academic freedom.

It's impossible to overstate how radical and dangerous (and wrong) this finding is. As The Washington Post's Eugene Volokh points out, Oregon's policy forbids discrimination that arises not just from racial considerations, but a host of other status as well: age, veteran status, sexual orientation, perceived gender, and religion. If a problematic Halloween costume—donned with innocent or even positive intentions—is enough to constitute racial harassment, how easy would it be for the university to make a determination of religious harassment? Volokh writes:

Let's take religion. Say a professor posts something on his blog containing the Mohammad cartoons (as I have done myself); or say that he displays them at a debate or panel that he is participating on; and say that he has invited students in the past to read the blog or to attend the panel. Then some Muslim students, both ones who are at the event and those who just hear about it, get upset. His colleagues and the administration decide to discuss the matter in detail, which fans the flames — something that could happen with the cartoons as easily as it can with Shurtz's makeup. Under the logic of the Oregon report, such a post would equally be punishable "harassment."

And, of course, this would be even clearer as to deliberate negative commentary on a particular group:

  • Sharp criticism of Islam.
  • Claims that homosexuality is immoral.
  • Claims that there are biological differences in aptitude and temperament, on average, between men and women.
  • Rejection of the view that gender identity can be defined by self-perception, as opposed to biology.
  • Harsh condemnation of soldiering (that would be harassment based on "service in the uniformed services" or "veteran status").
  • Condemnation of people who have children out of wedlock (that would be harassment based on "marital … status" and "family status").

All of these could be punishable harassment under the university report's analysis, if they generate enough controversy. And this is so even if they are just general political statements, without any targeted insults of particular individuals. The expression of certain views, however linked they may be to important public debates, is forbidden to University of Oregon professors, at least once the views create enough controversy.

I would add that "perceived gender identity" is a particularly problematic category, given Oregon's massive rejection of the primacy of academic freedom. A student or professor who persisted in the belief that all people are male or female and should be referred to as "he" or "she" could easily be found guilty of gender-identity-based harassment under this standard. Of course, "perceived gender" is as radically subjective as religious belief: could a professor be disciplined for mocking the tenets of Pastafarianism, or refusing to honor a student's wish to be referred to as "Your Majesty"?

The report does not specify what Shurtz's punishment will be—she has already been suspended for weeks. That's disturbing enough, but the greater concern is the overall climate at Oregon. Unintentional, one-off slip-ups constitute discriminatory harassment, in the university's view—as long as enough students are offended. It doesn't matter if they are wrong to feel slighted. It doesn't matter if the expression in question is a matter of legitimate public interest. It doesn't matter if the faculty believe that education should, in some cases, provoke discomfort. It doesn't matter if it happens outside the classroom, and only indirectly concerns the university.

If Shurz had dressed up as a Catholic priest, with the deliberate intention of mocking Catholicism and making her Catholic students uncomfortable, would we not defend her right to challenge religious dogma? I think I know Oregon's answer: no way. If accidental exercises in controversial expression are prohibited, then the university simply put, does not recognize free speech rights—full stop.

NEXT: What's covered in a course on computer crime law?

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  1. The report notes that Shurtz enjoys certain free speech protections as a U.S. citizen tenured law professor

    Fixed.

    1. No, doubly unfixed. The original statement refers only to her employment status, which is independent of her rights as a private person, and not related to citizenship either.

      You may argue that because the university is a government body, the First Amendment applies. But that is not what the original statement concerned, and it still leaves the false “citizen” unfix.

      1. Come now, everybody knows that “citizens” only benefit from so-called First Amendment protections in certain very limited circumstances, which naturally sometimes include being a tenured professor. Matters are quite different, for example, if one subjects a distinguished academic department chairman to inappropriately deadpan “parody” in the form of outrageous tweets or “Gmail confessions” in his “name.” Surely no one here would dare to defend the “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated judge in our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case? See the documentation at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. The report notes that Shurtz enjoys certain free speech protections as a person U.S. citizen tenured law professor

      double fixed

      1. I don’t think that North Korean persons have much in the way of free speech protections.

  2. Shurtz’s costume involved the use of black makeup on her face and hands…

    Kaboom. Soave thought he could bury these damning facts in the middle of the article. BUSTED.

  3. Would have been fine if she had a sign “All I want for Halloween is white genocide.”

  4. You know Robby you are a good guy. I was about to get all mad about the “white genocide” guy having a job, but you reminded me about my commitment to Free speach. / Serious

    How does one make it to academia and not know what blackface is?

    1. How does one make it to academia and not know what blackface is?

      All college professors are stupid dumb stupid heads from stupidtown who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are, because they are stupid dumb heads from stupid places with stupid faces.

      1. *reported as stupid

      2. Soooooo, you’re saying they are stupid?

      3. no Professors are not stupid dumb they just believe they can do anything they want while telling others they can’t.

      4. Wait, I used to be a professor… oh.

        Never mind.

      5. Slow down with the 5 dollar words there, boy.

        1. but those are $5 Canadian words, so I think he is fine.

      6. Prof Stupid McStupidface.

    2. She lives in Oregon, one of the whitest of white states.

    3. I think that is akin to the 5yr old caught in the cookie jar saying he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to be in there. They can’t prove you didn’t know, even though you both know it’s a baldfaced lie.

  5. Doesn’t she know the rules of higher education??

    She should have just tweeted that there should be a black genocide.

  6. I’m sure she was heard to say, “But I’m one of you!” as they dragged her away…

  7. >(Well, we can’t have a university professor provoking a discussion on racism in society. Burn the witch!)

    Wow, you really can’t get over the fact that the Drexel professor promoting white genocide was not OK, can you?

    Same thing in this situation. The teacher should be held to the same standards of the right. Bullshit that she has never heard of blackface. No, she just thought it wouldn’t be a problem because she is a liberal.

    1. She had good intentions and felt like she was doing the right thing to help blacks.

      Whether it helped or hurt is of no consequence because she meant well.

      1. And just to be clear, dressing up as a specific black character is not hurtful. Even if you aren’t a progressive.

        Unless that character is Uncle Remus. Then you might be in trouble…

        1. Is Buckwheat otay?

    1. Love the Trump costume next to her. That party musta been a barrel of laughs.

    2. is “Co-Ed” Buzzfeed’s answer to the Chronicle of Higher Education + FIRE?

    3. It’s about, as you might have guessed from the title, a black man who is doctor.

      So you think is not doctor, but is book author who black instead.

  8. she had no intention

    well then, given that intentions are such easy things to prove, let’s make sure to hinge everything on them rather than any principle like “free speech”.

  9. Well, we can’t have a university professor provoking a discussion on racism in society.

    I’d prefer if we got together and decided to stop most of our discussion provoking. Example: I recently received a wedding invitation that included a photo of the bride-to-be dressed like a man, and the groom-to-be dressed like a lady in a dress with a wig and heels and makeup and all that. They did it in order to encourage their less hip relatives to be a little more accepting of others.

    1. Sure they did. Perverts.

    2. All that probably resulted in was the less hip relatives not giving can any wedding gifts. Seems like a lose/lose

    3. They did it in order to encourage their less hip relatives to be a little more accepting of others.

      This is why i plan to make my wedding invitations out of gay-porn

    4. Is her name Peggy?

  10. This woman was in her home. This is regulating speech at a private function away from work that had nothing to do with her job. Even if Oregon were not a government run school, I guarantee you the employment contract and handbook that it uses does not give it the power to discipline an employee for private speech that happens away from work. Their actions here are wrong on a million levels.

    Contrast this case to the ass clown at Drexel who publicly advocates for and celebrates genocide of the white race. Anyone who thinks he has no business being a professor is an enemy of academic freedom. But it is totally different for Oregon to go after this woman for wearing a black face at a private party.

    We need to blow up our university system and replace it with something else. I don’t see how it can be fixed.

    1. Fixing it takes money. Our money. Away from their greedy hands. Make them earn it. Competition works, that’s why they hate Charter schools.

    2. It’s in process…online education, coupled with the anti-college movement, and universities are going to have to change their tune. They’re gonna need to learn about market econ 101 ASAP.

      1. My daughter didn’t shine at a traditional school and went to a coding bootcamp. After 6 months of that she is making very good money at a job she likes.

        I do a lot of hiring for my company (and previous ones). The only reason I ever even look at the education section is just to make sure that the candidate didn’t go to U of Tenn or Cincinnati (I’m a Memphis State alum). Other than that, I don’t care they got an AA from a community college (or a coding bootcamp).

        Yeah, I think that as more people realize what a crock of shit a BA is now, less and less will be shelling out $$$$ for one. Sadly, the last suckers to figure that out will be the ones who bitch loudest and longest about how they cannot get a job in the C-suite after graduating with a degree in some bullshit field.

    3. This woman was in her home.

      It’s a bit more complicated than that. As Robby reported, “[s]tudents were invited to attend, and several did so.” From what my institution’s legal department tell us, at least, even if an off-campus event is not mandatory, inviting students can be seen as serving an educative purpose. I don’t know U of O’s policy, but if its like many others, then the lines are blurred here, much less from a higher education law standpoint.

      1. “[s]tudents were invited to attend, and several did so.”

        Well, there was her first mistake. Didn’t anyone tell her to keep her distance from the little Nazi wannabes outside of the classroom?

        1. Yeah, that was my thought. I’ve never invited students to my home and never will. The closest I would come would be a beginning of the year kick off where Graduate Teaching Assistants were invited but as employees.

      2. It would come down to what their policies actually say. That is likely a pretty subtle and fact driven question. Regardless, even if you conclude this violated some kind of policy, that still leaves the question of whether a state run institution can have such a policy.

        The other issue is the university can’t selectively enforce its policies. I bet you a hundred dollars that liberal professors have committed much more egregious violations of whatever policy this woman is alleged to have violated and were never disciplined. My guess is she likely has a pretty good legal case over this.

        1. My guess is she likely has a pretty good legal case over this.

          As I brought up yesterday, according to the AAUP, even if the party was deemed to be extramural, the university would have to prove that her suspension was justified due to the speech evidencing a lack of fitness for her duties. This is why they are going for the harassment angle, in my opinion.

          1. Well, that would be a separate issue (fitness for duties). What they can’t do is say that she violated their anti-discrimination policies, which pretty clearly do not apply here. How you can bootstrap “didn’t actually violate our policies” to “not fit for duty”, I’m not clear.

            1. The only way I could see is that if you had a professor whose publicly stated and known views were so unpopular and offensive that students would refuse to take their class.

              Suppose you had a mathematics professor who was revealed to be a Nazi who spent his spare time marching around his home in an SS uniform. He didn’t ever do anything related to work or say anything about Nazism in his classes but he shows up on facebook in an SS uniform and becomes publicly notorious for being a full on Illinois Nazi.

              I don’t think the professor in that hypothetical violated any university policy. I do however think it would be reasonable for the university to terminate him because of the damage his reputation would do to the university at large.

              I am not sure I agree with that but I don’t think it is unreasonable. This however in no way rises to the level that would justify even this justification.

              1. I don’t think the professor in that hypothetical violated any university policy. I do however think it would be reasonable for the university to terminate him because of the damage his reputation would do to the university at large.

                In principle, I disagree with you. Once you cross that line, it gets very difficult to say they can’t terminate anyone for any views.

                But, I hate Illinois Nazis.

                1. Everyone hates Illinois Nazis. And you are right, it is a tough issue and one that I don’t really agree with either. I just don’t think going the other way is unreasonable. But if it involves an Illinois Nazi, then everyone agrees the guy has to go.

              2. I was born in Illinois. Stop picking on our Nazi.

            2. Well, again, from what I’ve been led to believe by our legal dept., it hinges on whether or not the party is deemed to have served an educative purpose. The presence of students and “Shurtz’s email to her class list the day after the event explained that she had intended to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story)'” might been seen by some as supporting such an interpretation. If the event, even if extramural, served an educative purpose, then, from what I understand, the university’s policies concerning classroom conduct, etc. would apply.

              1. You may have a different policy.

                The policy above doesn’t use the terms “educative purpose”, and any reasonable reading of it would conclude that a private party in a person’s private home is not a university environment or activity.

                Of course, the “educative purpose” language has no boundaries whatsoever.

                1. You may have a different policy.

                  A fact which I had acknowledged 40 minutes prior.

                  The policy above doesn’t use the terms “educative purpose”

                  If you are referring to U of O’s discriminatory harassment, as cited in Robby’s article, then note that the full policy is included in the report linked to the article. Section G reads:

                  Section G. Educational Programs and Activities
                  (1) No individual shall, on a prohibited basis, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any academic, extracurricular, research, occupational training, or other educational program or activity operated by the University, or, although not operated by the University, is required of students by the University.

                  [cont.]

                  1. Now one might think, “Great, this wasn’t a required event. So it doesn’t apply.” However, as I was trying to get across in my original post, with students currently enrolled in your class it’s never so clear. As page 13 of the report quotes:

                    Two students explained that there was no classroom requirement to attend and that they did not feel directly pressured, but noted that they felt indirectly obligated to make an appearance because of a general sense of the student-teacher relationship, including the knowledge that Shurtz had papers of theirs on her desk that she would soon be grading.

                    [cont.]

                    1. One of the two students explained that attending the event felt like participation in class, stating “I wouldn’t have gone if it didn’t feel like participation in class. You want her to know you and recognize you. It helps. Participation is huge in a small class. If she’s invited you to her house, you need to make the face time.” This student would not have attended the event if such attendance did not feel to the student like class participation that could influence his or her grade. The other of the two students went on to explain that this sense of indirect obligation to attend extended to a similar feeling to remain at the event, despite feeling extremely uncomfortable about being around Shurtz in this costume.

                      This is basically the textbook example of the ambiguity I cited that my institution and, I assume, many others use to justify their interpretation. Now that interpretation may be bullshit, but that wasn’t my original point. The point is that interpretation exists, and Shurtz will have a tough time fighting it.

                    2. Yeah, I didn’t click through. I appreciate you enacting my labor, though, HM. 😉

                      I will note that this party was not required of students by the university, so its not caught by that clause. “Feeling indirectly obligated to make an appearance” or “feeling like participation in class” is not the same as “required of students by the university”. That phrase has a fairly specific and narrow meaning, requiring the university itself to say or do something that communicates a requirement. It does not encompass free-floating feelings by students.

                      I’m still not seeing much ambiguity here. This was not covered by the policy, because student feelings do not promulgate university requirements.

                      Also, while I’m being pedantic, even the rest of the university policy you so kindly quoted is not nearly as ambiguous and open-ended as “educative purpose”.

                      I feel your pain, HM. Your school’s hopelessly expansive policy looks even worse than this one.

                    3. I feel your pain, HM. Your school’s hopelessly expansive policy looks even worse than this one.

                      I should tell you our drone policy sometime. But, yes, the overall philosophy seems to be “let’s see just how wide a net we can cast to disincentivize behaviors we don’t want, with the understanding that overreach will be whittle down if actual litigation happens.”

                      The argument seems to be (from pp. 22 and 23) that the event disrupted the “university environment” (which is more encompassing than just a working environment) and that

                      Although the event was off-campus, there was considerable nexus to the law school: Shurtz had invited all students from two of her classes, using the class listserv, using their university email addresses, and including the invitation within an email that also included coursework assignments; several students reported feeling obligated to attend, and several said that once they arrived and were uncomfortable, they felt obligated to remain, and unable to say anything to Shurtz about the costume, given the dynamics of the teacher-student relationship as well as their own discomfort; and ultimately, over half of the attendees were students and over 70% of the attendees were from the law school itself.

                      [cont.]

                    4. The report goes on to list the disruption to the learning environment that happened after the event. The report then mentions the Pickering test, which I assume is the teacher version of the Tinker test.

                      I suppose one way to protect oneself is to not use university email to send out the invitations and include boilerplate that participation in the event does not in any way impact one’s grade for the course. It’s silly, but that’s the litigious world we live in.

                    5. No, it’s the litigious world YOU live in. In the litigious world I live in, they pull this garbage and I sue them off the face of the earth and easily win manies.

                    6. Even more interesting. I’d still take the prof’s case over the university.

                      Their key argument seems to be that the event disrupted the university environment. I think that’s stealing a base, though. The event didn’t occur in a university environment – any disruption was a second-order effect.

                      First, I think you need to disregard any “disruption” based on second-hand accounts of the event – that disruption is due to the people who passed on accounts of the event, which makes them the proximate cause of that disruption, which in turn opens the door to holding them responsible for disrupting the university environment, much as you can hold the publisher of defamatory content responsible for publishing the content.

                      Now, was the university environment disrupted for the people who actually attended? This is their best argument. Let me think on that one.

                      The blah-blah about nexus, attendees, etc. falls far short of making this a university requirement, so I think we can set that aside.

                      If they are trying to say that the nexus, etc. makes the private party in a private home a university environment, I think they have a steep hill to climb that a university environment is anyplace that students are at after hearing about it via university listservs or whatever. I’d be delighted to go through all their other policies that apply to “university environments”; I guarantee that where those policies impose obligations on the university, they are read much more narrowly.

                    7. The policy says:

                      creates an intimidating, hostile, or degrading working or university environment for the individual who is the subject of such conduct; and where the conduct would have such an effect on a reasonable person who is similarly situated. ?

                      The policy doesn’t refer to “who witnessed the conduct”, it refers to the subject of the conduct. The subject of such conduct (wearing blackface) would have to be black people. No complaints of disruption by anyone who isn’t black should be recognized under this clause. No complaints by non-black people should be taken into account. Only black people who were at the party count, IMO.

                      There is an “and” before the final clause, meaning it has to be independently satisfied. Note that the reasonable person has to be “similarly situated”, meaning, I believe, also a black person who was at the party.

                      So, I need to know what black people who were at the party are claiming that the university environment was disrupted for them. Without that, nobody has standing to bring a complaint under this policy.

                      I’ll leave the question of whether a jury would find a reasonable black person would believe the university environment was disrupted after they attended a private party at a private house aside, but I still like my chances.

                    8. Shurtz had invited all students from two of her classes, using the class listserv, using their university email addresses, and including the invitation within an email that also included coursework assignments

                      Shorter version of what I wrote above: stupid, stupid, stupid.

                      When it comes to teaching and socializing, it’s like Ghostbusters: don’t cross the streams.

      3. “It’s a bit more complicated than that.”

        No. It’s not. She was in her own home. Full stop.

        Tell your institution’s legal department the perpetual arrogating of authority over students and faculty needs to end and that a private off campus event is far far out of their purview.

        1. Tell your institution’s legal department the perpetual arrogating of authority over students and faculty needs to end and that a private off campus event is far far out of their purview.

          I’ll get right on that, Thomas.

          1. Or not, since really it is you who is apparently choosing to pass under their yoke. My suggestion was offered for your benefit, not mine. Choose accordingly.

            1. It’s more the fact that they wouldn’t give a shit about what either you and I have to say about it.

              1. Oh I get that. What I don’t get is why you think their position was worthy of citing. As if it represented any sort of legitimate counterpoint.

                1. Because I assumed the reader understands the difference between ‘is’ and ‘ought’.

                  1. You know when you do that you make an ass out of Hume and me.

                  2. Which is why I started with a quote from you “It’s a bit more complicated than that.” The sentence that began your counterpoint to the assertion that her presence in her own home was the controlling factor.

                    Absent any “ought” from you it would be reasonable to conclude that you were at least accepting, if not necessarily outright advocating the position of your institution.

                    My advice was that you reject it.

                    1. Absent any “ought” from you it would be reasonable to conclude that you were at least accepting, if not necessarily outright advocating the position of your institution.

                      Perhaps the hedging was too subtle for you then. As I wrote:

                      From what my institution’s legal department tell us, at least, even if an off-campus event is not mandatory, inviting students can be seen as serving an educative purpose.

                    2. Yes, subtle to the point of being absent. Those highlights indicate that you are paraphrasing, and interpreting what they have communicated to you. But I can see no indication that you in any way reject them.

                      And if you did disagree then why in the world would you offer them in the manner that you did? Does their guidance differ substantially from the manner in which the professor is being dealt with by her own institution? why re-tread the same ground if not to offer any rebuttal?

                      I remain unconvinced.

                      But I do get that your reply was really about the tone of my suggestion. The only thing I would add at this point is that you might consider just who it is that has been mentioned within this discussion that might ever sanction you for failing to follow their guidance. That it is also the party you admit pays your words no mind is perhaps not coincidental?

                    3. You’re wasting your time. HM wanted to bloviate, let him bloviate.

                    4. Hell, I’m not just letting him. I’m facilitating him.

                      But, he was responding to a normative argument. The idea that what he said was purely descriptive was laughable from the start.

                    5. HM was actually giving us some insight into how university drones write and enforce policies. After working it through, I think his point is well taken.

              2. that they wouldn’t give a shit

                Even given the low bar for bureaucrats, higher ed bureaucrats are particularly arrogant and stupid.

      4. Read the policy above. Her home is not a working or university environment, unless it is owned or leased by the university, which I see no reason to believe is the case. A party in her home is not a university program or activity, unless the university sponsored or paid for it, which again I see no reason to believe is the case.

        This is not hard. She did not violate their policy, unless there are facts not contained in the article which make her home or the party a university program, activity, or environment.

        1. Additionally, are students always students? Or are they also entitled to private, non-University lives in which they are free to attend parties, concerts, sporting events, etc.?

      5. So, they’re college students, they’re assumed to be 18 or older. She has the freedom to associate with them in her home.

      6. She should’ve dressed as Robin Thicke.

  11. I love the smell of progs eating their own in the morning.

    1. It is like a comic retelling of the show trials with leftist college professors playing the role of the old Bolsheviks. These people honestly believed that the apparatus of oppression they created would only be used on the other side. It never occurred to them that after it had purged all of the evil, racist conservatives it would turn on them. I should not laugh but I can’t help but be amused as one right thinking Progressive after another is consumed by this. But they had always been a party member in good standing. How could this happen?

      1. And the sad part is, they don’t even get it after it turns on them. Her defense isn’t “I have a right to dress however I see fit”. It’s “But, I meant well”.

        1. Darkness at Noon was based on a real person. Leftists never fail to amaze and terrify me.

          1. Darkness at Noon has one of my favorite quotes of all time: “Bravo! The wolves devour each other!”

      2. I was thinking about this recently, in context of the Sunni/Shia feud kicking into overdrive, and how it seemed to coincide with massive declines in other minority populations in the region.

        If your philosophy is grounded in plunder and is successful in that, eventually you run out of OPM. If your philosophy is grounded in demonizing and brutalizing the Other and is successful in that, eventually run out of out-group members and have to create a new out-group from a slice of your in-group. It probably would have been the fate of the Nazis as well, had they lasted.

        1. That is what happened to the communists. After they killed all of the Tsarists they needed a new enemy. The whole system is based on hating a designated other. That is why the knock eventually comes to everyone’s door.

  12. even i know that whites should never put on a Black face, Chinese yes Back no

    1. Chinese yes Back no

      is this some pidgen-english way of saying asian women are booty-deficient?

    2. Unless you’re Robert Downey, Jr.

  13. “”accidental “”

    This reminds me of yesterday’s “unqualified” defense of free speech.

  14. Well, because the use of black makeup “has a very negative racial history and connotations,” it “operated to unreasonably differentiate between students of color and other students.” And that, coupled with people’s reactions to the speech, created a “hostile environment”:

    The law school environment has become hostile, with discussions and strong conflicts of opinion taking place within the classrooms and on the law school social media pages. The reactions to the event and the students’ conflicts have required other teachers to take time from lessons to address the Halloween incident.

    Any “hostility” suffered by students is directly the result of you dipshits treating any and all incidents as being animated by racism, and putative racism having a detrimental effect far out of proportion to mere words or gestures. When you remove all sense of good faith or equanimity from the conversation, you get witch hunts and communal hysteria. Don’t blame innocuous faux pas and trolls for your condition. Physician, heal thyself.

    1. Not to mention the obsessive need of faculty and activist students to contextualize these events as personally malicious rather than incidental. It’s always ME ME ME with you fucking retards.

  15. Without even reading any of that bullshit, this is what just popped into my head: students should be allowed encouraged to sue their colleges and universities for malpractice; triple damages. This will not only provide effective feedback to the schools, it may ease the student loan problem.

  16. Let me ask a serious question. Is it okay to instead wear a brown full body spandex suit costume (a la greenman) in these situations? You know, and then maybe paint on eyes and a mouth? Blackface is greasepaint. This is something entirely different. (And if you’re wearing blackface underneath, who’s going to be the wiser? Teeheeheehee.)

    1. This is the kind of quibbly deep diving which long ago was part of my realization that statism sucks and that governments in general are incompetent at everything they do, other than keeping some elites in power.

      Markets work so well because of competition and choice, sorting things out in a million transactions, all with no one in charge: the invisible hand. Bureaucrats stomp all over that because the peasants are too ignorant, naive, and stupid to make wise decisions, then create a zillion rigid rules to emulate what the have corrupted beyond belief.

      All it takes to show how bizarre this is is keep coming up with corner cases like yours, and watch the bureaucrats come up with 100 pages of new regulations to cover it, create 1000 new corners for more questions. The few times I have tried this personally shows how bankrupt that morality is — they bluster and fluster and cannot answer.

      Every such corner question expands into a thousand times as many corners. It only takes a few such expansions to destroy the bureaucracy. But of course the bureaucrats get around that by leaving corners to Wise.Men.

      Just as rigid robotic enforcement of traffic laws would swamp the system, so would rigid enforcement of bureaucratic rules. swamp bureaucracies.

    2. +1 Slim Goodbody

    3. Let me ask a serious question. Is it okay to instead wear a brown full body spandex suit costume

      No.

      Disney pulled (and apologized for) the brown spandex Maui costume after the racism accusations.

      You can’t use spandex to weasel out of this.

      1. Incorrect, they pulled it because of the tattoos and clothing involved.

        1. Yeah, I think that was due to cultural appropriation, which is an entirely different strain of racism.

  17. It’s nice to see these PC clowns eating their own. There’s nothing left for us sane people in society to do, just sit back and enjoy their self destruction.

  18. I’m walking around in blackface right now.

    1. You can’t fool us. That’s an Al Jolson costume.

    2. Cake walker.

    3. Stupid coal miner.

  19. she dressed as the book because she finds it reprehensible that there is a shortage of racial diversity, and particularly of black men, in higher education.

    Now she knows how the hyena feels when it has been injured by a zebra’s kick and suddenly is looked upon as superfluous to the efficient operation of the pack.

  20. Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon… you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of universities, and I tell you, people do that all the time.

    1. +1 Costanza defense

    2. She wasn’t sleeping with the staff, that’s forgivable. She was being a racisty racist, that’s the stuff the death penalty should be reserved for.

  21. The commie faculties of these insane asylums created a gang of little authoritarian monsters and now the monsters have turned on them. I’m enjoying this. Bon apetit, little monsters.

  22. Shurtz’s costume involved the use of black makeup on her face and hands, which constitutes an offensive use of blackface in the eyes of many people. Blackface is always impolite, this thinking goes, because of its racist and discriminatory history

    I don’t find the blackface offensive, per se. It’s the goddam cornpone humor and hoky dance routines. And the washboard “music” accompaniment.

  23. Setting aside the lunacy of the university’s actions here, I can’t help but wonder who dresses in black face? How does that happen? At what point does someone decide that is a good idea? Yes, she has a right to do it without being disciplined by her employer. That fact still leaves the question of why she did this in the first place. I am one of the least PC people on earth. Yet, I can’t imagine a situation where I would ever want to dress in black face. The whole thing is just odd.

    1. My guess is that she assumed nobody could possibly be offended because she knows her own heart is pure.

      Unlike all those other people who got in trouble for wearing blackface (e.g. Ted Danson) who, deep down, really must be evil racists.

      1. So what if a black person intentionally dyes their self white and even has surgery to make their self look more white? I’m trying to think of someone who actually did that, hmm…

        1. Are you asking me what I think? Or what she would think about Michael Jackson?

          Not that I have much of an answer for the latter. As to the former, I never really thought too much about anything he did, only noting all the hoopla he managed to generate over it.

    2. I can easily imagine some snowflake, protected by his parents from any disturbing news, reading bowdlerized histories. He would have never heard of blackface, and some day in college, away from home without his insulating and protecting parents, he’d see in the news some person of color being a hero (even if only of the SJW variety) and want to dress up in their honor. It would be soooo easy to include black face and hand paint.. Sooooo easy.

      His distress after learning how evil he was would be delicious.

    3. Why wouldn’t someone, if they had a costume idea that involved a black person?
      If someone is aware that blackface could be offensive, then it would be a good idea to make their real intention clear.
      If she had told the people at the party that her purpose was to promote this book, and they still felt offended or called it racism, they would need to justify that.
      John Griffin, the author of “Black Like Me”, darkened his skin so her looked like a black man, and traveled through the South for six weeks in 1959. He’d interacted with some of the same people as a white man and as a black man, and he reported on his radically different experiences. “Black Like Me” was one of the fundamental books of the civil rights movement, because his experiences were hard to rationalize away.
      And there was the mother in Australia. Her white son wanted to be his favorite football player for Halloween. But this football was black. She figured nobody would understand the costume if he went in white skin, so she darkened his skin. And he won a prize in a parade. Later she was excoriated for supposedly being racist.
      Probably it wouldn’t even occur to a lot of young black people to feel hurt or offended by blackface, if it weren’t for the cultural taboo. After all, the minstrel shows that were used to make fun of black people, happened many decades ago. The people who cry racism whenever someone wears blackface are perpetuating a sense of hurt and offence. It’s a kind of bullying.

  24. What’s a cat gotta do to get a free blow for terrible speech on campus anyway, Rico?

  25. If dressing as another race is always offensive, then isn’t dressing as another sex also offensive? Unless the person claims to be a real transgender, I think cross dressing has to go by this standard as well.

    1. All costumes are appropriating, one way or another. The natural progression would lead to no costumes whatsoever. Your identify card will list your allowed culture. No accents either. Can’t take up new dances, new jokes, new anything, unless it was from someone of your listed cultural identity.

      Progressivism FTW!

      1. But I don’t like lutefisk.

        Akvavit is ok though.

    2. And veterans should start making a stink about anyone wearing military costumes as well. Unless you have served, no way you get to wear that camo costume.

  26. “Shurtz’s costume was “black man in a white coat,” a reference to a book by Dr. Damon Tweedy about his experience as a doctor of color. Shurtz later told investigators she intended to pay homage to the book, which she had enjoyed, and start a dialogue about racial diversity:”

    Useful idiots never see it coming.

    1. Ah yes, that popular character that everyone instantly recognizes, and we don’t have to be told who it is or be lectured on what it means or anything.

  27. You can’t say offensive shit and somebody else gets to determine what’s offensive? The whole damn thing sounds like a heckler’s veto to me. You allow that and now you’re surprised it bites you in the ass?

  28. Blackface artists were some of the biggest champions of blacks in the arts. Al Jolson, the most famous blackface performer in history, almost single-handedly paved the way for mainstream black artists and spent his life fighting racism. I never understood why it’s not acceptable today in the proper context. There is no reason for the blanket ban and universal taboo associated with it.

    1. The nuance crowd does not want to go there because that sort of approach requires serious thinking. And allowing people to think for themselves simply cannot be tolerated.

      Nope. Too risky.

    2. It’s like you’ve never seen Vanilla Ice.

    3. I never understood why it’s not acceptable today in the proper context.

      Because decontextualizing is what lefty Marxists do. It’s all about underlying pathologies and false consciousness.

      1. It is also the very essence of PC – no one can ever fully know the rules.

    4. +1 Jason Williams wait, I meant Pete Maravich.

  29. Shurtz was further inspired to this costume by virtue of the fact that her daughter attends medical school and her incoming class also had very few people of color; her daughter inquired with school administration about the class demographics and this apparently led to the medical school assigning reading assignments from Damon Tweedy’s book.

    The burden of a SJW can never be laid down.

    1. “Read this coon’s book and shut up.”

      1. I’m sure Shurtz was just as inspired and enthralled by this ‘rags-to-neurosurgery’ memoir.

        1. She should just have watched Something The Lord Made.

  30. What if she had put on the black makeup to dress as a coal miner and mock West Virginia rather than appear as (and laud) a black man? I’m guessing the school would have been hunky-dory with that.

    1. Depends whether she was also mocking the coal industry. Can’t have her showing any sympathy for coal miners. Unless they are black coal miners and she is showing how racist the industry for making white and black coal minors look the same, thus hiding white coal miners’ shame.

  31. We determined that she was inspired by this book and by the author, that she greatly admires Damon Tweedy and wanted to honor him, and that she dressed as the book because she finds it reprehensible that there is a shortage of racial diversity, and particularly of black men, in higher education.

    Proggies eat there own.

  32. she finds it reprehensible that there is a shortage of racial diversity, and particularly of black men, in higher education.

    Maybe she could invite some clean, well-dressed articulate black man to come offer up a guest lecture on the topic of the inability of the negro race to attain success in modern America.

    1. “I, um um um um I,ah,um,I I I…”

  33. Dec, 2016

    Blackface is always impolite, this thinking goes, because of its racist and discriminatory history?even if the person wearing it is portraying a specific black person, rather than black people generally, and even if the portrayal isn’t intended to be mocking.

    I’m not sure whether this logic makes any sense

    October 2015

    I understand that wearing blackface is presumed to be deeply offensive?and rightly so, given the long history of white performers dressing up as racist caricatures. These kinds of costumes are a reminder of a legacy of racial discrimination, and disparage all black people. They are never a wise idea.

    Morrow should have neglected to darken his skin in order to avoid accusations of blackface.

    1. Two Robby Horses in one!

      The guy from the 2015 story is a white man from Alabama, so clearly he’s a racist. This other woman is most likely an average lefty college professor, though, so it’s all good.

      I will say this much – regardless of whether it should be verboten or not, the woman is clearly lying when she claims she was completely in the dark about the taboo of blackface.

      1. the woman is clearly lying when she claims she was completely in the dark about the taboo of blackface.

        this only matters if you think (like Robby, apparently) that “intent” is what makes something a defensible case of free-speech.

        1. It doesn’t actually matter, but it does make me roll my eyes. Go ahead, lady, pull the other one.

      2. Behind every double standard is a single standard.

        1. He just trolling, like Trump.

      3. she was completely in the dark about the taboo of blackface

        There what you did I see.

    2. I’m dying to know what your point is. Literally dying.

      1. I’ll get right on spoonfeeding it to you in a minute. Just need to go out and do some shopping first.

        1. Well about the only thing I can get out of this is your implication that Robby couldn’t possibly have changed his opinion over the course of 14 months.

          I could be wrong.

          1. Robby couldn’t possibly have changed his opinion over the course of 14 months.

            Who said he did? Like Walt Whitman = he contains multitudes.

            1. OK, Skippy. I’ll rest easier knowing you’re on the case.

              1. Don’t worry your pretty head about it. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

          2. He as much as said the other day that academics and journalists deserve stronger speech protections than proles.

            1. That was yesterday! today is a new day, where that logic no longer matters. why, its hardly even sensible in retrospect.

              Today is when it was decided that blackface is OK as long as you mean well., and are only racist by-accident. If its intentional? obviously a different case entirely.

  34. The social justice warriors are essentially indistinguishable from the Chinese cadres of the Cultural Revolution. If they had the power to, does anyone think for a moment they wouldn’t be lining people up against the wall or enforcing famines to create ideological purity

    1. No I do not doubt that for one second; as it is, the little assholes have been given a huge cudgel to wield courtesy of the US Government via Title IX and the OCR; schools are scared shit-less over possible loss of money or sanctions, so they have all put in compliance officers and administrators who are all to happy to pursue and enforce these wide ranging mandates. One thing leads to another, and we have a perfect storm based on anyone’s complaint of “feeling harassed” or “uncomfortable.” In essence the tail is wagging the dog.

  35. I cannot bear the thought of the depths of depravity this woman might sink to as a member of the faculty at a “for profit” university.

  36. If I ever have any children they will be going to Hillsdale or straight into the workforce.

  37. “what right does a public university have to discipline a law professor for dressing provocatively?”

    Which reminds me of the controversy a few years ago at Harvard Law School when Professor Alan Dershowitz taught class while wearing a bondage outfit.

  38. OTHELLO [PLAYED BY WHITE ACTOR]:
    Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content!
    Farewell the cultural appropriation
    That makes oppression virtue! Oh, farewell!
    Farewell the nay-saying faculty committee,
    The spirit-stirring lines I memorized,
    And all of the awesome soliloquies,
    Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious acting!
    And O you civil-rights enforcement jerks
    Justice’s really lame-ass counterfeit,
    Farewell! This honky’s occupation’s gone.

  39. So this progressive teacher invited her students to her private Halloween party and they reported her for not being up to date on her progressivism? Talk about awkward. The bigoteers strike again!

  40. She should file a suit on the grounds that the university is discriminating against her by not allowing her to present herself as a black man just because she happens to be a white woman. Clearly, race and gender are only social constructs!

  41. A couple of thoughts:

    even though she had no intention of offending anyone and had never heard of blackface before.

    I couldn’t find a reason that she “had never heard of blackface”… Is she a recent immigrant from Slovakia?

    Also, it appears that the perpetually offended don’t know the history of blackface either. “Blackface” does not refer to wearing black makeup on your face and hands to dress up as a black person. It is an exaggerated costume from minstrel shows. It features dark makeup and a wide area around the mouth to simulate oversized lips, lampooning a stereotype.

    The behavior of the minstrel performers was also a caricature of black stereotypes, lampooning blacks and their culture in an often derogatory way. As such it was pretty much inherently offensive, even if many of the top performers were actually big admirers of black art forms. (which you would have to be in order to pull off a convincing jazz vocal)

    Dressing up as Heathcliff Huxtable or Julius Irving for Halloween doesn’t count as blackface. A Coolio costume might get you there as a modernized version, depending on what else you brought to the table.

    The same thing applies to other races…. Dressing up as Jackie Chan from Rumble in the Bronx – not offensive. Dressing up as Charlie Chan… probably offensive. Japanese WWII soldier with coke bottle glasses and buck teeth.. definitely offensive.

    See… it isn’t that difficult.

    1. Also to Robby

      Congratulations on avoiding a gratuitous side-punch to the right. I know you were probably tempted to put a disclaimer that it would have been truly offensive if a Republican had dressed as a black man. So good on you for skipping that part.

  42. Is every american a fucking pussy?

  43. So the lack of black male academics wasn’t reprehensible enough to resign or turn her position over to an aspiring black male academic, but it was reprehensible enough to put on blackface. Sounds legit.

  44. Sounds like a liberal nut got a dose of her own medicine. Liberals do eat their own.

    1. Liberals and progressives aren’t necessarily in favor of enforcing this kind of societal taboo.
      The book “Black Like Me” is an icon of the Civil Rights era. It’s by John Griffin, a white man who got his skin darkened so he could pass as black, and traveled for six weeks through the South, in 1959. He met some of the same people as a white man and a black man, and he was treated radically differently. It was undeniable, and it was written by a white man, which probably helped white people to relate.
      Disguising oneself as a black person can be done as a putdown of black people. But it could also be done to encourage empathy, as John Griffin did. Or out of admiration of a black person, like the white Australian boy who admired a football player who was black, and his mother darkened his skin so he’d look like the football player.
      The idea that making oneself look like a black person is bad no matter what, is perpetuated by the people who cry racism about it, even if it was done to encourage empathy.
      It would be a good idea for people to make their motives clear, if they choose to make themselves look like a black person, to avoid perceptions of offense.

  45. SOOooooo precisely HOW did this get-up ‘discriminate”? Discrimination is the denial of some right, opportunity, benefit, entitlement, position, etc, ON THE BASIS of one’s “membership” in a definable group which “membership” is based upon some attribute of the person over which the person has little or no control. Had the professor announced that ONLY others “appearing” to be black, or male, would be able to eat the food served.. non-“members” would have to forgo that “benefit”.

    So HOW did this costume DISCRIMINATE.? WHO was denied something based upon anything arising from or related to the costume?

    then we have the issue of the event taking place at the private home of the professor in question, and, further, that no one was complelled to attend. Nor, as far as related in this article, was anyone to derive any special benefit from “suffering” in the presence of the costume.

    Its getting to the point where university is being reduced to the status of some huge sick cosmic joke.

  46. If Shurz had dressed up as a Catholic priest, with the deliberate intention of mocking Catholicism and making her Catholic students uncomfortable, would we not defend her right to challenge religious dogma? I think I know Oregon’s answer: no way.

    Disagree, Robby. You know as well as anyone it’s all down to whose ox is being gored. Catholics, Christians in general, are fair game (as long as they’re white. Anything else gets a little…. tricky).

    I don’t have anymore righteous indignation about it, this is just how it is now.

  47. Those that are ignorant of the past are doomed to repeat it.

  48. This reminds me of the Stalin era. About 20 million people were killed on his orders, including most (or all) of the more well-known Communist Party members who were involved in the Russian revolution.

    And it was all in the name of something important and good: the rights of the working class. These murders were justified using the Communist language of equality, the idea that the economically downtrodden should have their fair share.

    Millions of peasants were slaughtered as “kulaks” during Stalin’s forced collectivization. A “kulak” was a “rich” peasant, i.e. someone who’d owned more than 24 acres / employed people.

    Idealistic social movements are like religions in this way: they can turn to violence when people become convinced that their negative labels of others are virtuous. In the case of Stalin it was “kulaks” etc.; in the case of modern political correctness, it’s accusations of racism, misogyny, etc., used as a tool for power rather than as a way to address an actual injustice.

    That’s why rationality, free speech and people’s right to be free from violence is so important. Idealism can take us to very dark places.

  49. And, Nancy Shurtz certainly succeeded in her goal of promoting this book, Black Man in a White Coat.
    It’s a good book, so far 🙂

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