Campus Free Speech

Activists Say Professor Who Criticized Them Is a Threat to Student Safety, Insist Seton Hall Must Fire Him

The administration capitulated immediately, placing Williamjames Hoffer on leave pending an investigation.

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The Concerned 44, an activist student group at Seton Hall University—a private, Catholic school in New Jersey—is demanding the firing of History Professor Williamjames Hoffer, who criticized the activists' tactics in posts on social media and his blog.

Hoffer poses a physical danger to students, activist leader Emani Miles told the student paper, The Setonian.

Seton Hall's administration has placed Hoffer on leave pending an investigation, ostensibly "to ensure a safe environment is maintained on campus," The Setonian reported.

As is often the case on college campuses, the very definition of safety is being stretched quite broadly here. Hoffer poses no actual danger to his students. But he has offended them. In a since-deleted post on his blog—published in October of 2018, around the time the Concerned 44 were attempting to occupy university buildings to ensure their previous demands were met—Hoffer accused them of using rhetoric reminiscent of the Klu Klux Klan.

"As usual, replace 'black and brown' with white and vice versa, and you cannot tell the difference between the Concerned 44 and the Ku Klux Klan," he wrote. "These ideas are a fundamental rejection of everything that Seton Hall University stands for and is attempting to do."

This might be unfair to the Concerned 44, but it is not a threat. It does not make them unsafe. It's just speech, and any university that values academic freedom should allow professors to express sentiments that students find displeasing.

Hoffer also lambasted the Southern Poverty Law Center—an organization well worth scrutiny—in a Facebook post, insisting that "the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis are not a threat compared to the race war Black Lives Matter and Muslim Terrorists want to sponsor in this country." This is a stupid comment and one that suggests Hoffer doesn't have much insight to offer his students. But his comment is not violence, nor is it a call for violence. It's just stupid.

Hoffer apologized for his "intemperate" comments:

I am writing this message in order to apologize to the university community and particularly students for my intemperate blog post and comments on social media. While I did not bring these remarks to the campus, I regret any and all ill-feeling they have caused. I have dedicated my life to the fight against bigotry through the dispassionate, objective search for truth. However, these communications did not serve that objective. While I believe it is important to engage in a free discussion, it is also essential to remain respectful and civil at all times. I sincerely hope we can move forward together as a community and am committed to learning from this so I can do better.

In response, the Concerned 44 have posted pictures of Hoffer's face, emblazoned with the words "white supremacist," all over campus. Seton Hall administrators are now investigating the posters and Hoffer.

"Seton Hall is a community that embraces the values of inclusivity, civility and respect for all," a spokesperson told Reason. "Recently, a group of students brought to the attention of the University a posting by Williamjames Hoffer, a faculty member, on his personal online blog in October 2018 that did not reflect these core values. As a result, the University is currently conducting a review of the situation."

Hoffer should be able to critique activists' tactics on his personal blog, and activists should have the right to call him out. Right or wrong, no one's safety is threatened by speech, no matter how dumb. Seton Hall is a private institution, so it can do what it wants without risking a violation of the First Amendment. But giving credence to the idea that anyone's behavior here was violent, dangerous, or beyond-the-pale for a college campus seems like a serious mistake.

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  1. I feel threatened by the existence of all and sundry who disagree with my exact way of thinking, being, speaking, and writing!!! PLEASE protect me, my ego, and my baby feelings!!!

    1. Right.

      They come across like children that have never grown up. I wonder what Freud would say.

      1. “Tell me about your mother”

      2. Except that these children have been given loaded guns and the keys to the liquor cabinet and told to go nuts. If I were 18, 19, 20 years old and told my teachers to go fuck themselves and they dutifully ran around trying to fuck themselves, I would be sorely tempted to see what other shit I could get away with, too.

        The kids need a smack upside the head and an adult willing to point out to them that they are ignorant, snot-nosed little brats that need to sit down and shut up and listen to their older and wiser teachers. Unfortunately, this would require their teachers to actually be older and wiser and the fact that none of them are willing to smack the little brats kind of proves that point. If you don’t even have the courage of your own convictions such that you’re willing to tell a kid that you are paid to teach that “this is right, this is wrong”, you have no business being here.

        1. If I were 18, 19, 20 years old and told my teachers to go fuck themselves and they dutifully ran around trying to fuck themselves, I would be sorely tempted to see what other shit I could get away with, too.

          Seems to me there was a Twilight Zone episode sort of like this….

          1. Seems to me there was an entire period of Chinese history sort of like this…

        2. Yup, professors beating their students will definitely solve this problem! Inculcating blind obedience to authorities will also be a great way to make sure this stuff goes away too, while making society better to boot. And we certainly need more professors instilling values of right and wrong within college students. After all, we all know these universities are just “indoctrination factories” anyway.

          1. “…these universities are just “indoctrination factories” anyway.”

            Currently, they are “indoctrination factories” being run by students who are the loudest SJWs in town. How’s that working for us? Is it increasing our well-being, in any way?

            1. At least they get a quality education in chaos and social deconstruction.

        3. Modern progressives college kids need regular beatings by thuggish security armed with nightsticks, which may be also employed during the daytime.

          It’s the only way they’re going to learn.

  2. Yes, that’s his real first name. And it looks like he’s written some interesting books.

    1. A privileged white guy wrote a book on Plessy v Ferguson?

      *clutches pearls*

      1. Whitemansplaining.

        1. Well, somebody has to tell the truth.

  3. I think you’re being deliberately obtuse if you don’t think the left is pushing for a race war. Maybe not a literal armed conflict (if only thanks to the 2nd amendment), but certainly trying to deligitimize anything white.

    1. I think you overgeneralize about the left. But there does seem to be a contingent on the left that is certainly trying to stir up racial resentments. A lot of it is based on revolutionary political philosophy, so “race war” probably isn’t too far from what they are after. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that of the entire American left.

      1. “I think you overgeneralize about the left. But there does seem to be a contingent on the left that is certainly trying to stir up racial resentments. A lot of it is based on revolutionary political philosophy, so “race war” probably isn’t too far from what they are after. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that of the entire American left”

        Why?

        Can you cite actual evidence that there is enough of the American left that is not engaged in racist idiocy to be statistically significant?

        Because this does not appear to be true.

        1. Racist idiocy is not the same as a war. The left wants racial submission, not a war.

    2. And he doesn’t think the KKK and neo-nazis want a race war???

      1. Once again, the difference is the acceptability of the groups. The only thing legitimizing neo-Nazis is the obvious acceptance of radical leftist groups who are distinctly anti-White.

      2. “And he doesn’t think the KKK and neo-nazis want a race war???”

        He said the left … these two groups are Democrats and socialists

      3. Even in the Current Year, in Trump’s Amerikkka, the KKK and neo-nazis are a ridiculously tiny fraction of the population.

        They would absolutely LOVE to figure out a way to make all the white folks rally around them so that there could be a race war.

        But the white folks laugh at them.

  4. In response, the Concerned 44 have posted pictures of Hoffer’s face, emblazoned with the words “white supremacist,” all over campus. Seton Hall administrators are now investigating the posters and Hoffer.

    You forgot to add that the Concerned 44 have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. They were suspended, just like Hoffer, right?

    1. Seton Hall University—a private, Catholic school

      Hard to believe that a religious school would have students with reality issues.

  5. >>>demanding the firing of History Professor Williamjames Hoffer, who criticized the activists’ tactics in posts

    words v. words is a thing?

    1. Yes. For example, if you criticize the performance of the Union army at the start of the Civil War, you’re a racist who wants to bring back slavery.

    2. I think the preferred showdown is a dance battle in the quad.

      1. fine by me i like action in my protestations

  6. Literal Nazi Robby Soave is denying us access to our Safe Space!!!!1! /Concerned 44

  7. Looking at Ray McKigney’s link above, we can see that he’s a Harvard Law grad who wrote about Plessy v. Ferguson and other hot topics of our racial history. Presumably he wrote those works to hide his white-supremacist tendencies.

    But at least the activists picked a soft target – a lawyer who came out of Harvard’s law school – he sounds totally safe to pick on.

  8. Never apologize or capitulate.

    That is all.

    1. i’m sorry, everyone should agree.

      1. I’m sorry you feel that way.

  9. This [comparing the Concerned 44 to the KKK] might be unfair to the Concerned 44

    No, it’s unfair to the KKK. They were pretty damned illogical and hatey, but nowhere near as illogical and hatey as clowns who think name-calling is a threat to their safety.

  10. Robby had a slew of really good articles, but he’s falling back into old habits here. Lamenting that this guy is “wrong” and has “stupid ideas” is not really necessary here, and besides that, the quotes don’t necessarily back it up.

    A “race war” is a bit extreme, but you can’t deny that the general strategy of the identity-politics left is to create more racial tension, and that fear-mongering on the left is a real thing. Likewise, claiming that Muslim terrorists are dangerous individuals is not at all inaccurate. Perhaps this professor is somewhat lacking in nuance, but given Robby’s attempt to pull some out-of-context quotes and distance himself, it’s difficult to say how accurate this is.

    Of course, Robby is is concerned that if he doesn’t distance himself from the victim that he’s also going to be called a white supremacist. At this point, just embrace the label-it’s cast about with such carelessness that it means nothing.

    1. This professor, despite his Plessy v. Ferguson book, etc., can get called a white supremacist at will and people will believe it – I can’t imagine Suave thinks he’d be immune to the same kind of attacks.

      1. Soave is one of the villains in this 2016 article from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR, see?) –

        “Lashing Out at ‘Identity Politics,’ Pundits Blame Trump on Those Most Vulnerable to Trump…

        “Others, such as the Des Moines Register’s Froma Harrop (11/15/16), Reason’s Robby Soave (11/9/16) and Damon Linker and Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, both at The Week (11/16/16, 11/18/16), also piled on…

        “…few people—the above pundits not excepted—derive their ideas of political correctness from first-hand experiences.

        “Often the perception of “political correctness” is heavily filtered through Fox News and right-wing radio’s cartoon version of it….”

    2. both sides, to be sure

    3. Robby had a slew of really good articles

      Evidence?

      Cite?

      1. There was this one time at band camp…

  11. This seems to be the incriminating post at archive dot org –

    https://bit.ly/2Vq5M3m

    1. at least it’s one of the posts

    2. That’s a good post. Dude knows how to express himself.

      The Concerned 44’s demands are entirely taken from what these twenty or so students learned from an adjunct in the Africana Studies program. This adjunct abused his authority as their instructor to radicalize his students into thinking that the West stole its knowledge from Africa, that any teacher who was not of his views was a Eurocentric exploiter of Africa, and that the Africana Studies program should only be taught by Africans or those of African descent. Moreover, he taught that the university wrongfully dismissed and frustrated his plans for the program because they were racist. Actually, none of this is true. He was dismissed because not all of his students liked his use of foul language, intemperate rants, and confrontational teaching style. When the director of the program met with him to discuss these students’ concerns, he threatened, verbally abused, and physically intimidated her. Quite rightfully, she did not offer him another course.

      1. So they’re black. Now we understand the backpedaling of the administration.

      2. At least they stood up to him.

        The professor in charge of “African American Studies” at UNC-CH back in the 80’s played the “racist” gambit to turn his “concentration in” area into a full department (so he could be department head). He literally said it was racist to do anything other than make “African American Studies” a full department, of which he would then be the dean. And he got the black student union (yeah, that’s what they called themselves back then) to back him up.

        Fast forward to 2012 and you’ve got the UNC Af-Am scandal, where a department head and a secretary were offering a bunch of easy classes with the stated goal of making it easier for black students. This got spun through the lens of athletic rivalries into an NCAA investigation that cost the university many millions. All because administrators were afraid of the ‘racist’ label.

        1. “All because administrators were afraid of the ‘racist’ label.”

          Well it certainly has worked for them. And is regarded as a template for any and all other grievances, to be exploited as a cudgel just to get whatever the fuck they want.

          1. I honestly think the shine is starting to wear off the race card.

      3. “This adjunct abused his authority as their instructor to radicalize his students into thinking that the West stole its knowledge from Africa…”

        What knowledge would that be? How to make a pointy stick?

    3. the actual post is quite different from Robby’s summary of “stupid” and suggesting “Hoffer doesn’t have much insight to offer his students.” But then Robby has proven himself perfectly comfortable jumping to conclusions on flimsy evidence when criticizing the right. It’s quite a contrast from the refusals to draw obvious conclusions and carefully limiting language he employs when addressing the left.

      He knows what risks his employment opportunities and what doesn’t.

  12. Seton Hall is a community that embraces the values of inclusivity…

    …and as such has started banning people.

    1. How has no one parodied this yet?

      1. Parody? Guess you want to have posters with your mug on them thrown up all of town calling you a white supremacist

        1. As long as the posters are on campus and also mention kegs at the frat house, …

        2. I mean, I wear a red hat so it’s a matter of time? I openly support Trump?

          I meant something along the lines of a SNL skit, but you know, less partisan where they would actually mock the left.

          I’ll try to remember the trigger warning next time.

  13. Seton Hall’s current enrollment is 10,300. And 40 force of them can have this much of an impact? Do none of the remaining 10,260 have a say?

    Frankly, I think the Concerned 44 are a direct threat to the intellectual safety of the balance of the student body.

    And Robbie, will you finally admit that this talk about “safety“ is not sincere but and cynically deployed rhetorical weapon used by those who have learned that this is how they get their way?

    1. “…cynically deployed rhetorical weapon used by those who have learned that this is how they get their way?”

      Exactly.

  14. “Seton Hall is a community that embraces the values of inclusivity, civility and respect for all,” a spokesperson told Reason.

    And then went on to say, “Even more, we value the fucking dollars that these little shits bring, from paying parents and dubious student loans. So piss off when you question how we pander to the little brats.”

  15. No one is going to be happy until the civil war is over and the winner declared so let’s get to shooting, eh?

  16. Aw shit. He apologized. He might as well pack his shit now. Never apologize.

    1. Gibbs rule number one. And he’s right.

  17. This one time a guy in our frat took one of those military orange smoke bombs and tossed it into the frat next door. During finals week.

    It really happened.

  18. After the posters went up, I’d rent a hall and have a seminar “Come have a chat with an accused white supremacist.”

    Could be fun.

  19. Is “white supremacist” an opinion? Is there any objective way to answer that? Because it certainly seems to be in the neighborhood of libel, slander and definitely defamation.

    It would be pretty cool if he used a “sauce for the goose” strategy and filed a complaint that the targeted protests and posting of hateful posters creates an unsafe environment and calls for the students to be banned from campus. I mean, as long as we are so terribly concerned about safety.

  20. Please pardon my language:

    Fuck these ass holes. If I was in the administration, I’d tell these whiny assholes to go to fuck themselves.

    1. If these kids had gotten the beatings they needed from their parents, none of this would have happened.

  21. The students are certainly correct, a little heat will destroy a snowflake. (sarc)

  22. Wish I had a S&W Model 29, so I could call it the “Concerned .44”.

    1. A .44 for all concerns. I have pretty much everything I “need” or want, but a S&W “Dirty Harry” would be nice.

  23. “Seton Hall is a community that embraces the values of inclusivity, civility and respect for all,” Such a lovely sentiment, though any mention of the University embracing free speech is noticeable by its absence.

  24. “Seton Hall is a community that embraces the values of inclusivity, civility and respect for all,

    Calling someone a white supremacist without evidence is inclusive, civil, and respectful?

  25. You’d think with so many bullets buzzing past students’ heads that they’d have a little better perspective on which things are unsafe and which are merely a difference of opinion.

  26. …It is also essential to remain respectful and civil at all times.

    No, it’s not. Free speech has nothing to do with remaining respectful and civil and, in fact, oftentimes there are plenty of good reasons to use free speech to be very disrespectful and uncivil- like when people are behaving like the Concerned 44.

  27. He apologized and got destroyed for it. Any idiot should be able to predict that.

    The one thing Trump gets better than most, is that anyone who is excoriated after making an apology, deserves it.

  28. Never apologize, it does no good.

  29. […] Hughes’ proposal? Go ask the perpetually aggrieved students at University of the Arts or Seton Hall and get back to me. Facebook acted quickly to take down the livestream of the Christchurch, New […]

  30. […] Hughes’ proposal? Go ask the perpetually aggrieved students at University of the Arts or Seton Hall and get back to me. Facebook acted quickly to take down the livestream of the Christchurch, New […]

  31. Why would anybody want to work at such a university?

  32. He is right, in vain he apologized. There are many different opinions about this, but the dude knows how to express his opinion. I respect him.

  33. […] to command people’s behavior in the economic sphere, while social justice warriors try to impose rightthink on matters of culture. It’s not enough that same-sex and opposite-sex couples receive […]

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