Campus Free Speech

Extramural Speech at Auburn

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Auburn University is currently struggling to stick to its principles on free expression. Hopefully they will get it right in the end, but it shouldn't be this hard.

Jesse Goldberg was hired as an adjunct to teach English classes starting this Fall at Auburn. His area of scholarly expertise, as he characterizes it, is in Black studies and critical prison studies. Unsurprisingly, he has thoughts about our current situation after the killing of George Floyd, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and high-profile incidents of violence both by and against the police. Those thoughts included a tweet saying "F*ck every single cop. Every single one," and denouncing police as the violent agents of capital. (Alas his remarks were amplified by Donald Trump Jr. who warned that the "egg heads" are "gunning for middle America.")

One need not agree with either the substance or the style of Goldberg's tweet to recognize that this is a commonplace example of free expression on social media. Such speech is constitutionally protected against governmental suppression or sanction. It is also well within the bounds of what the American Association of University Professors has long characterized as "extramural speech" protected by principles of academic freedom.

I have written elsewhere that such private political speech should probably not be thought of as the kind of speech directly implicated by principles of academic freedom (which are primarily concerned with scholarly teaching and research), but it should nonetheless be protected from university sanctions as a prophylactic measure to preserve freedom of thought and discussion on college campuses.

This is a prime example of why. Goldberg's teaching and scholarship are closely connected to the substantive content of his tweet. Hopefully he expresses himself differently in those contexts, but seeking to punish him for the ideas conveyed by his tweet would inevitably have consequences for the arguments that professors think they can safely make in the classroom or in their scholarship. Free scholarly inquiry at Auburn would be damaged if the university caved in to the American president's son and took action against an instructor for his public political speech. It is all the more alarming that a state legislator who sits on the education committee would publicly demand that Goldberg be "fired before the sun sets today!"

Political speech in the public square is often crude, passionate, and mistaken, but life in a democracy is sometimes messy and we should strive to tolerate our fellow citizens' coarsely expressed political opinions. Universities in particular should model such tolerance precisely because universities are important sites for public debate about matters of general concern.

College campuses would be less interesting, less useful, less democratic places if college administrators sought to punish members of the campus community for saying things in public that offend alumni, donors, and local politicians. College administrators have a duty to tell such offended members of the community, both on and off campus, that universities are places where people of many different political and social views come together to examine and debate ideas. If no one is offended by anything anyone says on a college campus, then it is probably a pretty lifeless campus.

So far the Auburn administrators are not performing their duty very well. The university should have issued a simple statement noting that no individual member of the campus community speaks for the university as a whole or as an institution, but all the members of the campus community are given the right to speak their mind about matters of public concern and using the language and rhetoric that they think are most appropriate to the task. It did not do so.

Instead, Auburn told Breitbart that this was an example of "hate speech" and released a statement:

As stated earlier this week, Mr. Goldberg's comments on social media are inexcusable and completely antithetical to the Auburn Creed. Higher education is built upon the premise of the free expression of ideas and academic dialogue, but Auburn has not and will never support views that exclude or disrespect others, including hateful speech that degrades law enforcement professionals. Mr. Goldberg was hired on a temporary, non-tenure-track assignment.

Auburn said it was "considering options available to the university" about what to do about the fact that someone said something wrong on the Internet.

Unfortunately, because Goldberg is off the tenure track, he is particularly vulnerable to university reprisal. Tenure and tenure-track faculty can often ride out such public controversies, but contingent faculty are all-too-often terminated, sometimes in the middle of the semester, even though their speech is equally protected by the principles to which universities have committed themselves. Fortunately, FIRE, an exemplary civil liberties organization, has reminded Auburn of the relevant principles in this case and the chilling effect that public consideration of "options" can have on the intellectual climate of a college campus.

The specifics of Auburn's statement are also worth noticing. It is no accident that Auburn officials were quick to denounce Goldberg's tweet as "hate speech." The "hate speech is not free speech" crowd should once again pay attention to how that sentiment can and will be used. If you think that only the "right people" will be sanctioned by hate speech policies, you have not been paying attention.

Auburn also adds the institutionally specific notion that Goldberg's tweet was "antithetical to the Auburn Creed." There is such a thing. You can read it here. It is . . . interesting. It is also in some tension with the core mission of a university to foster the fearless pursuit of the truth. There are plenty of folks who would like to see secular universities adopt creedal commitments. As Josh Blackman noted the other day in the context of Ohio State's desire that faculty pledge themselves to "Buckeye values," even nebulous, feel-good value statements can be converted into political litmus tests. Universities should not be in the business of requiring and enforcing such political pledges. They certainly should not be threatening to take action against instructors who say something at odds with the value statements that university administrators have endorsed.

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  1. As an adjunct professor, I fail to see what the issue is.

    I couldn’t say similar things about Obama. and what’s the difference….

    1. No one’s saying it isn’t cosmic just desserts for cancel culture people to themselves get cancelled. This is the world they built.

      Still, it should not happen in either case.

      1. The Hypothetical Hypocrisy(TM) card played again.

  2. On one hand, I sympathize with the professor, and, indeed, all folk who get fired for the stupid things they say online.

    On the other, I think about my hypothetical comic book shop. If one of my employees goes on a racist/homophobic/sexist rant on Twitter or Facebook or whatever and it’s brought to my attention, I absolutely think it’s fair game for me to call them and say “don’t bother showing up on Monday”.

    And that’s ultimately what we, as a culture, need to decide on. Are we all obligated to ignore what our employees say online? Or is it fair for us to say “I don’t want to pay that person to be near me”?

    We haven’t settled on an answer yet. I suspect we won’t for a long time.

    1. Private employers aren’t subject to the same legal limits on employee punishment as government employers are.

      1. I’d have to double check this specific university to be sure, but most university employees, even the employees of state universities, are not considered government employees.

        Regardless though, that’s at best a legalese distinction, not an ethical distinction.

        1. UMass employees are.

      2. That’s interesting, so professors at public colleges can lead their class in a prayer at the opening of every class?

    2. Auburn is a state university.

    3. The mission of comic book stores, real and hypothetical ones, bear little resemblance to the mission of universities, even the ones far down on the food chain. Hence, there are different expectations of comic book store employees and university faculty.

      1. Fine.

        New hypothetical.

        I’m the president at a law school in Texas. I find out one of my law professors is, in his own free time, leading the legal fight to overturn Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

        You going to argue that I have to pay someone that I know is actively trying to turn me into a criminal?

  3. Maybe he should be but cut for being in a worthless discipline.

    1. “Jesse’s scholarship and teaching broadly fall within the triangulation of Black studies, critical prison studies, and queer & feminist theory with an emphasis on the methodologies of literary and performance studies.”

      I don’t think I even want to know….

      1. You obviously don’t want to know. Self-imposed ignorance is an inalienable right.

        1. Each and everyone of us is ignorant.

      2. He was hired to teach English. Probably doesn’t have Chaucer and Shakespeare in his syllabus.

    2. And who should be the arbiter of what disciplines are of value? Should we get a gold star panel of straight, white wealthy men and have them decide? Universities have a mission to probe the edges of what we know in many disciplines and we need to let the scholarship and data take us to better knowledge. That is how we make progress.

      1. Whoever is the arbiter, there has to be one, or else you’re going to get “drinking beer and eating Cheetos” studies departments.

        1. The market seems to be handling this, rewarding strong schools while tolerating lesser schools.

          (That the strong schools are liberal-libertarian institutions, while conservative-controlled schools are education’s flotsam and jetsam, makes right-wingers cranky.)

          1. Higher education is far from a free market.

            Employers require degrees because they are a convenient litmus test. Let companies do aptitude testing again and watch this requirement disappear.

            Also get rid of student loans (along with other public subsidies) and see how many people sign up for 75K degrees. My guess is over the next four years you will see a 50% drop in attendance if not higher.

            1. Whether we should continue to subsidize higher education is an issue quite collateral to the merits of this firing.

              1. Not entirely, no, because it’s extremely unlikely this dude would have had the job in the first place, if higher education weren’t subsidized to the point where they could afford to carry a lot of dead weight.

                1. Which means we don’t need to care about his speech because you don’t think his job should exist.

                  No, that’s not good logic. You should still get free speech even if Brett doesn’t like what you study.

              2. No the questions really go hand-in-hand. It is natural to think – why is this a-hole in higher education saying that? And then naturally ask why is this a-hole even someone higher education employs in the first place.

                Answering – it is liberal thought reform parading as a legitimate academic discipline and a university should not be engaging in that type of shill – is a natural conclusion to the second question.

                Firing the guy because of what he says is not conducive in addressing the first question. But realizing you should just get rid of all those these a-holes and you don’t have the problem structurally is fine though.

                But yeah it does beg the question – should higher education be employing such people and if so should the public be subsidizing it?

                1. You’re just talking around the issue of whether he should be fired for his speech.

                  I get that you don’t care for the direction free inquiry has lead academia. That you don’t like his job does not have any bearing on what free speech this guy should get.

                  1. As I said, it isn’t OK to fire the guy for his speech. That is a given.

                    But, the fact that guy shouldn’t be fired, doesn’t mean you can’t ask the question – why is this a-hole here in the first place?

                    I would suggest though that if you care about the guy’s free speech rights you talk to your fellow travellers about their general concerns about free speech. I don’t think you will find many people on the right who really care because it is just plain hilarious when a liberal gets eaten by their own.

                    1. So then the question does not go hand in hand with anything, and may be independently answered. Glad we got that cleared up!

                      You can ask the question, but as my comment below indicates, you need to do better than insisting this is dumb.

                      I am aware that there are some on the left that take the paradox of intolerance and use it to blow up free speech principles or even rights. So what? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about their free speech.

                      In fact, if your dislike of liberals’ thinking about freedom of speech makes you care less about their freedom of speech you don’t get to pretend to have the high ground, because you’re just as bad as them.

                      Police your biases, don’t lean into them.

                    2. It does limit my capacity to care. If someone asked me I would give them my opinion (don’t fire the guy because of what he said), but other than that I don’t have time to care. Part of that equation is that there is no reason to really care. Years ago I probably would have cared more, when caring actually meant something. I was one of the few people sitting in the board room who would speak up against firing a guy who was outted as a homosexual or was diagnosed with AIDS (back when those were cultural morays.) That used to matter more because we had actual political and cultural norms. Now the Left has pretty much trashed those so my level of caring is next to nothing.

                      And I assume there is no merit in a black feminist critical theory queer studies instructor because there is simply no merit in such a position.

                    3. Don’t blame the left if you once had empathy and now you don’t. That’s on you.

                    4. No I can blame the Left because all the cultural damage done in the last 30 years can be traced back to them (or at least 90% of it.)

                    5. Cultural damage?

                      You mean gays no longer treated like dirt?

                      Drunken drivers and wife beaters punished rather than appeased?

                      Too many blacks getting elected?

                      Too many women in graduate schools?

                      Fairy tales kicked out of science classrooms?

                      Too many blacks voting?

                      Stomping conservatives’ preferences in the culture war has been fun and important.

                  2. “I get that you don’t care for the direction free inquiry has lead academia.”

                    That’s the whole point, it’s not free. If you’re such a fan of free inquiry, let’s stop paying the academics and let them inquire for free, no?

                    1. TiP, not getting paid is not what free inquiry means. And unless you got real dumb, you know that.

            2. “Employers require degrees because they are a convenient litmus test. Let companies do aptitude testing again and watch this requirement disappear.”

              Blame the lawyers for that one: Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971),

      2. I love the defense “you don’t understand the value!” of these worthless “academic” disciplines.

        Yes, yes, I do understand. They are useless. Produce no meaningful scholarship. And are just used as left wing indoctrination.

        1. They can’t all be Regents, Libertys, and Wheatons, Jimmy.

          1. I would ask you how that is, in any way, a defense of the worth of these academically questionable “academic” disciplines, but your education appears to be orders of magnitude worse than what you might have received at “Regents, Libertys, and Wheatons”, so I expect this is the best you’ve got.

            What if the “Regents, Libertys, and Wheatons” start teaching “Gender Studies” will you denounce them?

            1. I gather Regent, Liberty, and Wheaton do not feature the ‘academically questionable’ areas of study ‘used as left wing indoctrination’ to which some Conspiracy fans object.

              My point is that not all of our academic institutions can be the schools Conspiracy fans prefer — such as Regent, Liberty, and Wheaton. Some schools can’t quite reach that level.

              There is only so far some can stoop . . .

      3. “Should we get a gold star panel of straight, white wealthy men and have them decide?”

        Yes.

        Emphasis on “wealthy” because that is what academia has always been — what people of means have been willing to fund, both personally and through their taxes (including church taxes).

        Your concept of “better knowledge” is the trap of Cold War thinking and our current emphasis on research is a legacy of the 50 years (1941-1991) when academia was largely an arm of the DOD.

        The term “university” comes from the concept that there is a universal knowledge of humanity and that it should be presented to young people as a gift — funded by the wealthy. And that it largely represented the mainstream of social and cultural views, not the extremes.

        Was the Biblical Tower of Babbel “progress”?

        1. Only Dr. Ed, and maybe Brett, know what “progress” is.

          our current emphasis on research is a legacy of the 50 years (1941-1991) when academia was largely an arm of the DOD.

          The emphasis on research has served the country extremely well, whatever its motivation. You’re simply asking that schools devote themselves to teaching orthodox views of society without being willing to accept challenges to that orthodoxy.

          That’s a recipe for decay.

          The term “university” comes from the concept that there is a universal knowledge of humanity and that it should be presented to young people as a gift — funded by the wealthy. And that it largely represented the mainstream of social and cultural views, not the extremes.

          Bullshit. What you’re saying is that the university shouldn’t try to expand knowledge, which is idiotic.

          1. Ir’d be nice if they expand knowledge and not idiotic theories backed up by nothing that seems to be little more than ways to keep unemployable people with jobs.

            1. idiotic theories backed up by nothing

              You mean like creationism and tax cuts that pay for themselves?

              That kind of idiotic theory?

              1. Taxes are your money. Letting you keep more of it is hardly a wrong.

                And note that I do not support creationism and would oppose it being taught. But you have no problems with ethnic studies nonsense being taught, in spite of having even less academic rigor behind it.

            2. Remember that most of the great universities of the western world are at there heart divinity schools studying a supernatural being. Mr Goldberg appears to be studying something more real.

      4. “That is how we make progress.”

        Nothing he studies is remotely connected to “progress”. Its three worthless things with an emphasis on [“methodologies of literary and performance studies”] jargon.

      5. That’s great. In order for it to work, the college has to be held accountable for their choices
        A great way to hold administrators accountable for teaching ” queer & feminist theory with an emphasis on the methodologies of literary and performance studies.”
        A quick and easy solution is to make student debt dischargeable in bankruptcy. Meaning colleges would have tuition clawed back in a bankruptcy. Turning out productive graduates should be the first 10 priorities of colleges.

        1. Clawback hasn’t been proposed — I like that…..

  4. The free speech point is well taken, but Auburn wouldn’t be in this position if they simply threw all the grievance studies nonsense off their campus. They don’t teach phrenology or astrology right?
    https://quillette.com/2018/10/01/the-grievance-studies-scandal-five-academics-respond/?

    1. Exactly.

    2. Perhaps not astrology, but just as good.

      1. You mean like Harvard and Yale?

        1. Nobody’s perfect.

          The trick is usually choosing the excellent or good rather than the shambling or worse.

      2. Artie, have you ever made a coherent argument? Or an argument that can’t just be boiled down to “conservative bad”?

        1. Half of my general argument is ‘liberal-libertarian mainstream good’ and the other, corresponding, half is ‘dwindling conservative fringe bad.’

          It’s a divide, Vinni.

          On one side, reason, science, tolerance, modernity, progress, inclusiveness, merit, and the like.

          On the other, superstition, dogma, bigotry, insularity, backwardness, unearned privilege, and the like.

          Every preferable, good point is positioned against a corresponding lesser point. I prefer the better, current America. My argument is that it is the better America.

      3. “Reverend” (what faith?), were you troubled to see no mention of Islam among the religious studies courses?

        1. Congregation Of Exalted Reason.

          I didn’t notice that Islam was not mentioned. Should we be surprised, though, by such a circumstance in Alabama, America’s educational, cultural, political, and moral septic tank?

    3. The “professor” shouldn’t be fired over this or almost any tweet. But the Alabama state legislature should investigate and remedy such a colossal waste of public resources that Auburn finds a need to employ someone who’s professional “triangulation” is Black Studies, Prison Studies, and Queer and feminist theory.

      Individuals should not be targeted for their speech. Whole departments should be rooted out for their general uselessness and waste of time and money.

      1. Yeah, the right doesn’t much care for the examination our culture.
        If it doesn’t make GDP go up, what use is it?

        Lets also eliminate art. And history. And English. Only STEM makes GDP go up enough to be worth it!

        Because schools don’t serve individuals, they do not inquire about things that make anyone uncomfortable; they exist purely to serve society. And they should only study and teach things that properly serve society, as defined by conservatives.

        I look forwards to a bright right-wing collectivist future!

        1. I caution against adopting the disaffected right-wing incel’s Asperger-influenced view of the world, Sarcastro.

          1. No more reason to include individuals with Asperger’s in a grouping you disapprove of than there would be to include others on the autism spectrum in that same grouping of yours. That is to say no reason at all to include any of them in your grouping.

            [BTW, do people know that Dr. Asperger participated in the Nazi program of “euthanizing” impaired children? That should be reason to stop honoring him with a neurologic eponym.]

            1. I thought DSM-V eliminated Asperger’s.

              1. It’s part of ASD now, but it’s not gone.

                1. Certainly not at the Volokh Conspiracy or Reason, which seem to attract a remarkable number of coding cubicle jockeys, autists, incels, and the anti-social like.

        2. Yeah, the right doesn’t much care for the examination our culture.
          Our culture. The one that exists due to brave souls risking their lives in search of religious freedom? That culture? A nation founded by Christians? Not an atheistic colony in the group? A culture where Churches created the Universities and Hospitals? Religion was the center of knowledge, education and governance?

          1. Ah. So the culture we THOUGHT America had in the 1950s.

            Yeah, I can see how you wouldn’t want a close look at that.

            1. Ah. So the culture we THOUGHT America had in the 1950s.

              Just trying to get you to define “our” culture. Your terms you define ’em.

              1. Our culture contains multitudes. It’s the right that wants to ignore some parts of it.

                Do you think we lack for those studying Christianity in America?

              2. Your solution, iowantwo, is more childish superstition?

                Competent people neither accept nor advance superstition-based arguments in reasoned debate among adults, particularly with respect to public affairs.

                You are entitled to believe that fairy tales are true. You are not entitled to the respect if you attempt to impose your superstition on others in public affairs or public debates.

                (If you are 12 or younger, I withdraw my objection to your reliance on fairy tales.)

            2. 1950s culture? The culture that, after fighting a racist prick in Germany realized (through the revolution that was Rock n’ Roll) that we had a few to defeat here at home?

              THAT 1950’s culture?

              I swear the left’s understanding of history is a walking cliche. For people that imagine themselves deep thinkers they are as deep as a puddle.

              1. Thanks for making my point, chief.

                1. Look closer — you ARE my point.

                  Just damn.

                  Here is wisdom: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

                  LEARN!

                  1. I’m saying your view of the 1950s is distorted, as is iowantwo’s point about American culture being purely Christian.

                    You can quote Matthew all you want, but if you don’t back it up you’re just bloviating.

                    I’m for American cultural studies. In all it’s forms. Black, queer, literary, feminist, mythopoeic, sociological, and whatever else.

                    Y’all are trying to cut out a vast swath of it based only on it being nonsense and/or anti-American in your eyes.

                    So explain: what do I have wrong?

                    1. So explain: what do I have wrong?

                      I am happily married, I have neither the inclination nor the time to compile THAT list!

                      As the entire Raison d’être of the modern university is black, queer, literary, feminist, mythopoeic, sociological … and NOTHING else as anything “white,” “European,” Christian or anything that does not help the revolution (as of 9:39pm of course) is oppressive and must be eliminated.

                      The modern education system is just as oppressive, narrow-minded and fundamentalist as the strictest nun or snake-handling demagogue.

                      Hell, even Jerry Falwell became friends with Larry Flynt and would have an amicable lunch and debate with Al Sharpton — DAMN!

                    2. I’m saying your view of the 1950s is distorted, as is iowantwo’s point about American culture being purely Christian.
                      I never said American culture is purely Christian.
                      I said, it was Christians seeking religous freedom came to these soils and were the seed of the American Culture. Not an athiest colony was settled.

                      you claim that “queer and feminist theory” is part of the US culture, on par with our origins. Its not.
                      How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?
                      Nope. Still 4. Calling a tail a leg, does not make it so.

                    3. White is the default. It’s everywhere. Don’t even bother to talk about the varied origins of where the whites came from because default is enough.

                      English as taught in most schools is all dead white men. So is the default way history is still taught. Our mythopoea? Our Founders are all white. Our music is super-duper white (unless you care to study further). World War II? White-man’s war, it seems. Our philosophy? From Greece via Europe. We love us some Rome, ’cause that’s where Europe traces it’s roots.

                      Anthropological studies of the Bible abound. Testaments both Old and New, if you care to look. We also have schools of theology all over this land.

                      You really seem to be coming in in not well-armed for this discussion.

                    4. iowantwo – your revised thesis is getting sillier.

                      If you want to study how America was founded, you have many, many, many sources and scholars doing just that.

                      That doesn’t somehow mean it is invalid to study aspects of the culture of modern America

                      We have atheists in America today. Studying them is a useful endeavor.
                      We have women and gays in America, it is worthwhile to study their experience as well.

                      That one of our founding groups were puritan pilgrims doesn’t change any of that.

                    5. And the history of Zimbabwe is very black. The history of Israel, very Semitic. I am not even going to tell you what the focus of Japanese history is … your tender ears may not be able to handle it.

                      Stop being so damn racist dude.

                      Music is the universal language– keep your fucking racism away from it!

                      White is not MY default … I will leave it to your imagination to figure out why.

                      From a (now apparently horribly racist) song from the 1990’s group En Vogue:

                      “Free your mind and the rest will follow
                      Be color blind, don’t be so shallow.
                      Free your mind and the rest will follow
                      Be color blind, don’t be so shallow.”

    4. And what if an engineering professor, say, had tweeted out the same message?

      I think the reaction would be just the same. All the talk about how silly this area of study is has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the guy should be fired because of the tweet.

  5. The left has brought this on themselves. They label anything that disagrees with their orthodoxy as racist or hate-speech or both. As they have become emboldened by not facing penalties for their own language, it has grown more strident, racist and hateful. Auburn is facing a problem. There are people that donate serious money to the school. Some might see the expression of the professor as having crossed the line and they are responding by hitting Auburn where it really hurts. Auburn COULD have avoided this situation in the past by taking a principled stand rather than virtue signaling.

    1. Perhaps the left was so busy shaping American progress throughout our lifetimes and subjugating clingers in the culture war that it didn’t notice the problem you have described, Paul.

    2. Auburn is facing a problem. There are people that donate serious money to the school. Some might see the expression of the professor as having crossed the line and they are responding by hitting Auburn where it really hurts. Auburn COULD have avoided this situation in the past by taking a principled stand rather than virtue signaling.

      You know this how?

      And suddenly the right’s view of academic freedom has become, “only teach what rich people want you to teach.”

      1. How about teaching something with even the tiniest sliver of academic legitimacy to it?

        Nothing this person has written would be of more intellectual heft than the TP I use to wipe my butt with.

        1. You don’t get to delegitimize something just because you personally don’t like or see value in it.

        2. Have you read it?

        3. Let’s check your ‘academic legitimacy’ standards, damikesc.

          Should schools that teach nonsense — that supernatural stories are true, for example — be eligible for legitimate accreditation or for public funding, in your judgment?

          Thank you.

          1. What would we do with all of those schools who are no longer accredited due to teaching nonsense? I mean, the Ivy League would also cease to exist.

            1. You will spend the rest of your life watching better people continue to shape America’s future against your preferences.

              You get to whimper about it as much as you want, though!

      2. “only teach what rich people want you to teach.”

        Or, sell a product that fills the public need.
        My post up thread holds that student debt should be dischargeable by bankruptcy. The student is buying and education to further their usefulness to society. Surely after 5 years in university, they will have the means to pay off student debt. If not, it should be the university that suffers the bankruptcy. The university failed the customer buying its offering.

  6. Do others, such advise police officers, have that same off duty freedom of speech?

    1. Of course not. Police are notoriously awful to police who turn-in other police officers.

  7. Auburn doesn’t have principles. They have cows.

    Roll Tide!

  8. I appreciate the professor’s sentiment, but isn’t this just a prohibition against lying?

  9. It’s also possible that enrollment is down and they don’t need as many adjuncts. That well could be the backstory here.

  10. Wow. Complete lack of support for this guy’s free speech.

    No, it’s not a matter of Constitutional rights but y’all are found pretty wanting in the realm of free speech principles. Mostly whattaboutism and wanting to end his academic focus.

    Free speech for me but not for thee indeed.

    1. See my comment below: The problem here isn’t what he’s tweeting in his free time, it’s that he’s teaching majors that shouldn’t exist in the first place. Not just redundant, but literally, if the university had to spend money to not have them, it should.

      He’s just tweeting what they’re suicidally paying him to teach to impressionable young students. It’s the latter that’s the real problem.

      1. How to destroy Western civilization, including this suicidal university

        You’re not making your viewpoint discrimination any less evident.

        1. I didn’t mean to make my viewpoint discrimination obscure. I wanted it front and center. There are circumstances under which you shouldn’t engage in viewpoint discrimination, but is this really one of them?

          Look, if you run a cutlery store, you don’t have to hire the guy who shows up for his interview wearing a “Stab the boss!” t shirt, and you certainly don’t have to give him a job as “The guy who plants a knife in the boss’s back.”

          But that’s about what the university has done here.

        2. I think his viewpoint is that these “disciplines” shouldn’t exist in the first place. As far as I’m concerned this instructor can shoot off his mouth as much as he wants. And I hope he does it more. Brings attention to just how useless he is and serves no legitimate academic purpose.

        3. Brett is not saying the man should be fired what he tweeted. That no university should spend money on the inane nonsense that his specialty teaches.

          Odds are, he wouldn’t support an intelligent design major at colleges either.

          1. Except Brett is mighty cagey about whether this guy should be fired for what he tweeted.

            Moreover, Brett does not like this guy’s area of academic discipline where he publishes. Which is also speech. Which Brett is not just advocating against, but declaring illegitimate, anti-American, a cancer.

            1. Can you point to him saying anything close to what you think he is saying?

              This “professor”‘s “field of expertise” is a collection of meaningless gibberish with the pretense of being intellectual. It’s modern-day phrenology, with slightly less academic vigor.

              1. https://reason.com/2020/08/03/extramural-speech-at-auburn/#comment-8384972

                The core mission of a university is to each things that are useful in the real world. Really, that IS the core mission, not “the fearless pursuit of the truth”. Abandon that mission, and the university is just an incredibly expensive luxury good. At best! At worst it can be a cancer eating at the heart of civilization.

                And this guy? He’s one of those tumors. That’s the real truth of it. Academic freedom has developed a bad case of cancer, that’s eating it alive.

                I, too, find certain academic writing gibberish that seems pretty silly to me. I have the humility not to declare something invalid just because I don’t understand it, however.

                I also don’t call invoke eugenics to describe a thing I don’t understand, or writing of a man I have not read.

      2. But that’s not what he’s potentially being punished for, Brett, much as you want to dodge the issue.

        They do have these programs, and I bet they don’t really care that you, Brett Bellmore, think they are worthless. They decided to have them, and hire instructors, and now they want to do something to punish an instructor for a tweet.

        Too many commenters here, including you, are trying to obfuscate issue. It’s dishonest rationalization, and you know it.

        1. “and now they want to do something to punish an instructor for a tweet.”

          They want to punish him for drawing the attention of the wider public to the sorts of programs they’ve decided to have, would be my guess.

          1. FFS, Brett. There isn’t a secret agenda everywhere.

            1. No, but there must be one somewhere. Like they say in the lotto ads, you can’t win if you don’t play.

      3. he’s teaching majors that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

        Why? He’s teaching English, first of all. Should English courses not exist?

        As to his specialties, is the study of how our society actually functions not worthwhile? Is it not useful to understand its strengths and weaknesses? There are millions of people in prisons in this country. Isn’t looking at those circumstances valuable? Might it not help us have more sensible policies in that area?

        You seem to imagine that only engineering or other heavily vocationally-oriented courses should be offered, but that’s a hopelessly narrow view of useful knowledge.

        1. Can you demonstrate that what he teaches does that?

          1. No. Can you demonstrate that it doesn’t?

            Apparently Auburn thinks it does. I’m not saying they are automatically right, but they’ve at least considered the issue, and are presumably more familiar with the course content, as opposed to just a title, than you or I are.

            So maybe, at least, there’s an argument there.

            And I repeat, this controversy has zip to do with the subject area and everything to do with the tweet. Ignoring the fact that Goldberg’s subject area is something you don’t value, and pretend he teaches, say, veterinary medicine. IMO the public reaction to the tweet would be the same. Alabama, may I remind you, is a very conservative state. Would you urge that he be fired then?

            1. Nobody has advocated his being fired for speech here. I have not nor has anybody else.

              If he taught any other field, I’d ask “What is this moron’s expertise here?” and then likely discount every word he said.

      4. So if an engineering professor tweeted the same thing you would be fine with it, and oppose any effort by Auburn to punish him, regardless of what some legislator said?

        Because, make no mistake, the reaction does not depend on what he is teaching. It would be just the same no matter what it was, English, history, E.E., math, whatever.

        1. I’d have no issue with it. Just so long as that runs both ways. I’d like to a conservative professor (as few as they are) and make a comment that some student activists think is offensive and have him not get fired or punished. It either goes both ways or we should undo this concept.

          1. Look at Prof Jacobson’s issues with Cornell.

  11. “Goldberg’s teaching and scholarship are closely connected to the substantive content of his tweet.”

    Well, isn’t that the real problem? It’s one thing when you’ve got a calculus teacher who opines on politics in his spare time; There’s no reason to expect it to influence his teaching, and he’s teaching something that actually needs teaching.

    But this idiot’s job and his tweets are one and the same, and they’re both a waste of skin. He’s there to teach stuff any sane university would laugh at. Why are his majors even a thing?

    Even a statistics prof who arranged for his lab class to be taught at a casino in Las Vegas would be more defensible. This guy is basically teaching “How to destroy Western civilization, including this suicidal university” studies. What he’s tweeting in his free time is the least of the problems here.

  12. “It is . . . interesting. It is also in some tension with the core mission of a university to foster the fearless pursuit of the truth.”

    Look, I get the idea of academic freedom. It’s a nice idea. But, taken to extremes, it seems to be “in some tension” with a basic concept of economics: Scarcity. The university exists in a world of scarcity, and consumes resources. It has to somehow justify its consumption of those resources.

    The core mission of a university is to each things that are useful in the real world. Really, that IS the core mission, not “the fearless pursuit of the truth”. Abandon that mission, and the university is just an incredibly expensive luxury good. At best! At worst it can be a cancer eating at the heart of civilization.

    And this guy? He’s one of those tumors. That’s the real truth of it. Academic freedom has developed a bad case of cancer, that’s eating it alive.

    Cancer is a disease where a cell goes wrong, and starts endlessly dividing, consuming resources needed to keep the body alive, displacing cells performing useful functions, and even affirmatively poisoning the body. And that’s what this guy is doing to the university. He’s one cell in an academic cancer that is eating the university system alive, feasting on its resources while poisoning it from within.

    Does the university have an immune system? Can it fight off the cancer, or will it die? Honestly, I’m betting most of them will die.

    1. What if the cancer cells vote for themselves to be the highest priority of the body’s systems to be kept alive, until the only thing left is a giant, cancerous lump attached to what’s left of a free economy, utterly convinced the sickly people chained to them, dragging them around, remain still the problem.

    2. Brett lays out which freedom is good, and which freedom is cancer.

      Do you listen to yourself? That kind of rhetoric could come out of some tinpot dictator and wouldn’t sound out of place.

      Indeed, your selectively anti-freedom viewpoint is bad for America and its free speech principles, but I’m not going to declare you cancer and advocate that you lose your job. Which is a position I learned on this website.
      You’ve been here for a while, and yet it doesn’t seem to have gotten through to you.

      1. This guy IS the advance man for the tinpot dictator, Sarcastro.

        If this guy were spending his days ranting on a street corner, I’d say, leave him be. But should anybody offer him a paycheck to rant? No, they shouldn’t.

        1. This guy IS the advance man for the tinpot dictator, Sarcastro.

          Says a blind supporter of the would-be dictator in the White House.

        2. I”d missed this.

          So you think like critical prison studies is going to lead us to dictatorship, eh?

          That’s as nonsensical as the ‘Race Mixing is COMMUNISM’ lady.

      2. Anyway, care to address my substantive point?

        The university does not exist to fearlessly pursue the truth. It exists to preserve, expand, and transmit knowledge, both useful and potentially useful. That’s why people give it resources. NOT to “fearlessly pursue the truth.”

        Now, we don’t know in advance what knowledge is going to be useful, so there’s a lot of room in that mission to pursue knowledge the utility of which is unknown or questionable. And as long as the university is around, it can do other things, too. But that which preserves the university as an institution in a world of scarcity must be job 1, or else jobs 2-n never get done.

        This guy is not advancing job 1. No, it’s worse than that, he’s impeding job 1. He’s reversing job 1.

        He’s consuming resources that could be used to hire somebody actually advancing human knowledge, or teaching students useful stuff, or, I don’t know, sweeping the halls and mowing the lawn. If he just sat there doing nothing, he’d be dead weight, and as a real world institution the university can only carry so much dead weight before it sinks under the load.

        But he’s not sitting there doing nothing. He’s actively doing worse than nothing. You could fire him and burn his paycheck, and the university would actually be ahead.

        1. Read John Henry Newman’s _Idea of a University_

          1. Looks interesting, so I will.

            But, things have internal justifications, and external justifications. The university, were it self sufficient, would not have to worry about external justifications. But it isn’t self-sufficient, it lives off resources the larger society gives it.

            So it has to be concerned with not persuading larger society to stop giving it resources. That is an existential requirement, and that is my point.

            How will the university fearlessly pursue the truth, if larger society (correctly!) determines that the university has at best become a waste of money, and at worst an actual threat to Western civilization? That day is coming, it seems to me; They have already persuaded a fair proportion of the population that this is the case.

            1. Newman was trying to establish a Catholic university in Ireland, and it didn’t work out for a bunch of reasons — the book is a collection of the speeches he gave.

              The thing to take from it is his concept of a universal knowledge of humanity and each department teaching it’s portion of it, but staying out of others — e.g. separating science and theology.

              And as to your points — yes — and higher ed experts were saying, *before* the Wuhan Flu, that upwards of 50% of existing institutions will not be here in a decade. Not mentioned is that the tuition discount rate of private schools was averaging something like 47% just to fill the seats (and probably is more now).

              They somehow think there will be a massive Federal bailout — because they deserve it. I don’t — and critical mass will exist when a majority of employers are no longer willing to pay a premium for a college degree. It’s not going to be the “threat to Western Civilization” as much as employer frustration with graduates who “can’t read, can’t write, & can’t think.”

              1. You’re proposing a strident dogma jockey as the provider of insight concerning educational institutions?

                Education-bashing clingers — especially those who disdain modernity in education, often for failure to suppress science and history to flatter superstition and dogma — are among my favorite culture war casualties.

        2. The university does not exist to fearlessly pursue the truth. It exists to preserve, expand, and transmit knowledge, both useful and potentially useful. That’s why people give it resources. NOT to “fearlessly pursue the truth.”

          How does one expand knowledge without pursuing it?

          If you think an area of study is silly, you get to say that and put forth arguments why it is so.

          But you’re saying it’s not just silly, it’s anti-American cancer. That’s not argument that’s populist bluster in service of ending speech.

          As to your argument that such studies are killing universities, that is not in evidence.

          1. Yes, you obviously expand knowledge by pursuing it. But if “the” purpose of the university was to fearlessly pursue truth, they could just blow off teaching anybody, for instance. And yet, a university that didn’t teach would be an utter failure.

            Likewise, a university that pursued new truths, but let old ones be lost, would also be an utter failure.

            All three components work together, but pursuing new truths is actually the least essential of them, not the primary aim.

            1. I see no evidence Auburn, nor any school, has left off of teaching. Nor that it is ignoring history.

              What it looks like is that you have a particular backwards-facing point of view you don’t think the university is pushing strongly enough.

              And that therefore you don’t care who gets fired for their speech because universities that don’t serve the Brett viewpoint are actually hurting themselves. And America.

              It’s a long distance to go in order to rationalize not caring much about free speech principles for someone you disagree with, but it got you there.

              1. Sorry, Sarcastr0, but there’s tons of evidence Auburn has left off teaching: just look at how dumb all the graduates are.

                Roll Tide!

                1. Ranking of states by
                  educational attainment and quality

                  High school diploma
                  Alabama 45

                  College degree
                  Alabama 46

                  Advanced degree
                  Alabama 41

                  Education quality
                  Alabama 50

                  Roll Tide!

                  1. That’s because Alabama, the state, does not believe in social services. Of any kind. Which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is both insane and counterproductive, not to mention morally wrong.

                    Those statistics, however, have nothing to do with The University of Alabama and its proud and mighty tradition of excellence (well… post-George Wallace, anyway—sort of).

                    But I understand, you can’t help yourself, even if you do end up insulting and alienating someone on your own side.

                    Run along, now, y’hear?

            2. Brett,

              What you are arguing is that the university should only pursue subjects that you think are worth studying. Here’s a clue: you don’t know everything. You don’t actually know what Goldberg teaches. I don’t know either. It might be nonsense, or not.

              But you, and everyone else here demanding the guy be fired are being complete and utter hypocrites on the free speech on campus issue. You dodge and twist and evade, but the fact is you want the guy fired because of his tweet, while you’ve been outraged at similar cases where the victim was on your side.

              1. Actually, my position, (In case I’ve been unclear.) is that the tweet, taken together with his curriculum vitae, is enough to justify a good, hard look at his teaching.

                I have a strong suspicion, all things considered, that he’s probably teaching “studies” this, and “studies” that, in place of English lit.

                If, despite all that, he’s doing a reasonable job of teaching English literature, good for him. I’d be surprised, but that happens.

                1. Guess what, Brett? That’s still viewpoint discrimination. His chosen area of study, plus his tweet, mean lets give him special scrutiny.

                  You’re being more collectivist than I am on this issue, and it amuses me.

                  1. If he tweeted “You know, Hitler wasn’t that bad”, you’d have no concerns?

                    I ask because you know if he did tweet that, he’d be fired. Post haste.

    3. Brett — don’t forget the origin of “academic freedom.”

      Mrs. Stanford didn’t like the fact that a Stanford Economics Professor was saying that her late husband had exploited Chinese laborers in building his railroad(s). At her request, Stanford fired him. This was the origin of the AAUP and a few other things.

      ‘Academic freedom” is the right to “pursue truth” — and the initial AAUP statement had a restriction that faculty had to respect the academic freedom of their students — that’s often overlooked.

      “Academic freedom” was never intended to be a license to do whatever you please with impunity….

    4. Suddenly, a speaker you disagree with is taking academic freedom “to extremes.”

      You guys are laughable hypocrites.

    5. Tell us, Brett.

      How much do you know about the content of the course he teaches?

      Have you read the syllabus, any of the reading materials?

      Because if you don’t know any of that you are talking out your ass.

    6. “The core mission of a university is to each[sic] things that are useful in the real world. Really, that IS the core mission, not “the fearless pursuit of the truth”.

      @Brett Bellmore. What in your considered opinion are those subjects which are worthy of being taught beyond STEM and easily marketable skill sets? Would you approve of philosophy, including the utterance of long dead men who didn’t speak English? Literature, including fiction and poetry? History? Anthropology?
      Archaelogy?

      And that “cancer” you say is destroying universities, what can you cite as convincing support for that extraordinarily dramatic con-tention? What previously great schools have been destroyed by what you decry or are soon to die as a result of your “cancer”? (I think we should leave out a number of special cases like small liberal arts colleges, a few single sex ones, demographically disadvantaged, etc.)

      Do you favor big athletic programs so long as they pull in money and alumni donations?

  13. “F*ck every single cop. Every single one,”

    This statement makes me feel bad.
    He should lose his job and be prevented from ever working again.
    He should be permanently banned from ALL social media platforms.
    It is the way.

    1. I think it depends on what the word “F*ck” means.
      I argue it means “Kill.”

      It clearly doesn’t mean “have sexual intercourse with”, so what does it mean?

      Now replace “cop” with “queer & feminist theory professor” and you have what would be perceived as a real threat in academia. I’m not saying it legally would be one, but that would be a moot point. A student tweeting this would be expelled as a threat to public safety.

      I’ve seen far less be acted on.

      1. I argue it means “Kill.”

        I argue that you’re really stupid. And unlike you, I have actual evidence in support of my argument.

        It clearly doesn’t mean “have sexual intercourse with”, so what does it mean?

        Um, gee, I dunno. I guess if I weren’t a native English speaker and thus didn’t understand basic English communication, I might resort to a dictionary. And in there, I’d find

        transitive verb
        1 usually obscene : to engage in coitus with — sometimes used interjectionally with an object (such as a personal or reflexive pronoun) to express anger, contempt, or disgust

        And I’d realize that in fact this is the way, “Fuck X” is normally used, whereas it is never used to mean “Kill X.”

      2. ” I think it depends on what the word “F*ck” means.
        I argue it means “Kill.” ”

        Boy, am I glad you’re on the other side.

        Mostly because I like to win.

  14. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

    This tool wants “free speech for me, but not for thee”. How does it feel when the shoe is on the other foot?

    Now he knows what it is like for us “normals” who just want to be left alone and live their lives without the chance that one non-orthodox comment could destroy everything they have worked for their entire lives.

    This bastard, and those who attempt to silence all opposition, will not like it when the rules are enforced on them.

    1. How do you know what this guy wants?

      You have conjured this whole strawman to hate, and hate it you do. But you don’t know much about the person in the OP at all.

    2. This tool wants “free speech for me, but not for thee”

      Bullshit. How do you know that?

  15. Auburn is a private university, this guy is untenured, the speech at issue has no discernible scholarly content, it calls into question his ability to perform his job (policemen sometimes go to college), and it will tend to negatively impact his employer. Absent some contractual issue, I don’t see an issue with firing him, although the university has not in fact done that, so far as appears.

    1. Auburn is a public, land grant university.

      1. As such, it is required to have Army ROTC.

      2. My mistake. In that case, the First Amendment clearly protects his speech, and we have no need to consider the issues of academic freedom. A janitor would be just as protected as this professor.

        1. Public EMPLOYEES do not have unfettered free speech rights. (Imagine cops putting bumper stickers on their cruisers….)

          More importantly, threats of violence are not protected speech.
          Under the standards of academia (not the real world), this was a threat of violence — and hence it should be dealt with in the manner that similar threats of violence are dealt with by the Chicken Little Brigade.

          Substitute “BLM protesters” for “cops” and you will see what I mean — he’d be labeled “the next Virginia Tech shooter.”

          “Chicken Little Brigade” hopefully indicates what I think of this hysteria (and the BITs who promote it) but hey, he should be treated like everyone else.

          1. Cruisers are the property of the department, and as such the department can restrict how they are decorated.

            But cops are quite free to put any bumper stickers they want on the vehicle they actually own.

            As far as “threats of violence are not protected speech”… nah. Most are. Courts are notoriously skeptical that online threats are “true threats”.

        2. Well, except that, while the speech in question, a tweet outside working hours, would be utterly irrelevant to the janitor’s job, while it might incline you to look at what the prof is saying in the classroom.

          1. Brett, I’m just waiting for intrepid students figuring out how to capture Zoom lectures and clips showing up on any number of websites.

          2. Just have the janitor dust a cross once a month and call them a minister. Then you can fire ’em for whatever reason you want.

  16. From the blog: Alas his remarks were amplified by Donald Trump Jr. who warned that the “egg heads” are “gunning for middle America.”

    Why the “Alas”? Is Professor Whittington against publishing the truth?

    1. I suppose the concern is just that Trump didn’t write that “some” egg heads are gunning for middle America. After all, it isn’t all of them, 70% tops.

      1. “gunning for middle America.”

        WTF does that even mean? Trump Jr. is an bigger asshole than his father, if that’s possible.

  17. It’s a good thing he didn’t say something really reprehensible, like “Everyone’s life matters”, or “I’ll continue to buy art for the museum that was made by White men.”

  18. I agree that what’s sauce for the goose has to be sauce for the gander. If the Conspiracy is going to defend professors on the right who make remarks that result in outrage, than it should do the same for professors on the left.

    I also notice that how one views a remark like this — whether as a forgivable thoughtless one-time off-the-cuff remark where it’s unfortunate that technology preserves remarks that would once have gone on unnoticed, on the one hand, or as a remark that reveals the depths of the speaker’s sole and is fundamentally representative of everything the speaker is about, on the other — seems to depend only on ones ideological stance and broad-brush caricatures, and not on any specific facts.

    Finally, I notice that both sides seem to be in complete agreement that the real purpose of the other discourse is to seek their destruction, and hence they don’t have to engage with it or answer any of the questions it raises. This would seem a rather convenient view on both sides. The pen may be mightier than the sword in the long run. But the sword sure seems to be an easier way of getting rid of problems, and ot avoids any risk of considering the possibility that some of ones thinking may have been wrong.

    We are a long, long way from the world that Lionel Trilling described in his story on a conversation he overheard between Martin Luther King Jr. and a young segregationist on a flight to Monthomery in 1964, a world in which the sides sometimes attempted to engage each other and spoke politely. A long, long way.

    1. “or as a remark that reveals the depths of the speaker’s soul and is fundamentally representative of everything the speaker is about,”

      Were he a calculus teacher, or physics, I’d be inclined towards “a forgivable thoughtless one-time off-the-cuff remark”.

      But his curriculum vitae suggests things are more in the “fundamentally representative of everything the speaker is about” vein of things.

      1. It’s not even that — what does the “triangulation of Black studies, critical prison studies, and queer & feminist theory with an emphasis on the methodologies of literary and performance studies” have to do with the teaching of ENGLISH LITERATURE?!?

        Remember “Mattress Girl”? That was “performance studies” and she’s now graduated to being suspended from the ceiling while some guy whips her. What *can* this person teach undergrads?

        Theater, maybe. Sociology or Psychology for the prison stuff, maybe even Criminal Justice. Women and Gender Studies for the queer & feminist stuff and AfroAm for the Black studies stuff.

        I keep coming back to Newman’s warning about each department teaching its own stuff and no one else’s. And if Alabama is like Massachusetts where cops who get a college degree get a pay raise, there may be cops interested in taking a course on prison studies and that may be part of the issue here….

        1. And like, umm, this person has done hard time.

          What does he/she/it know about prisons?

          1. I think somebody who has done hard time potentially knows a lot about prisons, that could usefully be taught in a university. You’d have to be careful about who he was trying to be useful to, but there’s no denying he could have relevant knowledge.

            But, you’re right, that list of stuff doesn’t seem to shout, “This guy should be teaching English literature!”

            1. My point was that he HASN’T done hard time — the closest he has come to prison was teaching in the Cornell Prison Project.

              1. If that was your point, you’ve got a typo there.

                1. No, I was being sarcastic.
                  Look at his picture and you will see what I mean.

        2. Maybe you should take your complaint up with the Administration at Auburn, who after all set up theses classes and hired the guy, rather than yelling for him to be fired.

          1. Right, the adminitrator(s) who approved the hiring should be fired.

  19. Compromise: He can stay but the guy or gal who hired someone who purports to study something as useless and stupid as “triangulation of Black studies, critical prison studies, and queer & feminist theory” should be fired immediately.

    1. That’s not a better position on freedom of speech.

      1. It allocates responsibility.

        Dude “studies” utterly worthless pseudo-subjects and should never be hired for any position at a college. All this fuss springs from negligent hiring.

        Let him have his one year position and get rid of the dangerous permanent administrator.

        1. Just one administrator?

        2. You don’t like that kind of scholarship. Noted.

          You think people who study the thing you think is dumb should be fired for studying that thing. Along with anyone who hired them for studying the thing you dislike.

          You, yet again, suck at free speech.

          1. “You think people who study the thing you think is dumb should be fired ”

            Having reading problems?

            “He can stay” and “Let him have his one year position”

            1. Yes, Bob, I can read. As my comment made clear, you just want him fired for a different viewpoint he holds.

              1. If he taught creationism? I mean, that — while utterly devoid of any academic worth — is still a better option than ethnic studies of any sort.

  20. Bigger question: How does Auburn justify hiring a white guy to teach African American studies?

    1. Diversity?

      I bet he’s also Jewish (because of his last name, although Whoppi Goldberg, wasn’t born Jewish) so it’s a twofer. If he’s gay it would be a threefer (I only mention that one because of his scholarship in “queer” studies.

    2. You don’t reed gud, He teaches English.

  21. And the double-standard continues.

    You are all really bad at being libertarian.

    1. Or maybe you’re really bad at understanding libertarianism.

      1. This comment thread is full of people saying this guy’s academic freedom doesn’t matter.

        Ed, for one, is saying academic freedom was never intended to be as broad as it is. Not very libertarian.

        You’re saying universities are universitying wrong and shouldn’t be as free as they are.

        Basically, there’s a realm of study you have decided is bad, and you want it to end.
        Good libertarians are not so unhappy with other people saying stuff they don’t care for.

        1. No, I’m saying they’re univeritying wrong, and should utilize their freedom differently if they value their survival in a free market, because if they keep this up eventually the money spigot will be cut off.

          The guy has a right to say whatever he wants. He doesn’t have a right that the university pay him to do it.

          1. ‘Utilize your freedom differently’ is not a libertarian thing to say. Even if you’re right about the market, people and institutions don’t need to abide by market forces if they don’t want to. But you want there to be consequences beyond the market.

            We are not talking about rights – the firing is legal. We are talking about principles. Principles mean that even if you think someone is using their freedom incorrectly, you fight for their right to do so.

            You, conspicuously, are on the other side of that fight.

            As Bernard pointed out, your issue with his academic discipline is collateral to your apparent apathy about his speech.

            1. No, it’s a perfectly libertarian thing to say: Thinking that people are entitled to do something, and thinking that it isn’t a mistake to do it, are entirely different things in the view of a libertarian. We’re perfectly capable of defending your right to do something, and saying that you’re stupid to do it, and deserve to suffer the consequences doing it will bring.

              The guy has a right to say what he wants, but the university has a right to get rid of him if they don’t like the way he teaches. And the university’s funding sources have a right, too, to make funding decisions based on what the university does in that regard.

              Rights and consequences, they go together. Try to separate them, and the rights go bye-bye.

              1. You don’t seem to trust the marketplace, though, and would prefer universities get out ahead of it by hewing to your preferred set of allowable inquiries.

                The university has a right to fire him, we all agree. That is not what we are discussing. We are discussing speech principles. And you seem to be having a lot of trouble with the idea of people disagreeing with you should still have jobs.

                1. I tend to trust free markets, but for various reasons higher education isn’t much of a free market. Credentialism inflating demand, subsidized loans muting price signals, and a definite cartel aspect thanks to accreditation.

                  1. Quite a change of thesis, Brett.

                    So the whole thing about cautioning the schools if they value survival in the free market was bullshit. Your entire argument that this guy’s major will wreck universities was market-based, and thus bullshit.

                    You want to argue we should get rid of student loans, enjoy libertarian irrelevance but you’ll have a consistent argument. However, that is now extremely far afield of this guy’s firing, either for his speech or his chosen field of study.

                    1. He’s an example of the rot that is higher education. It is an epic waste of resources and has only gotten worse as years have gone on, churning out grads incapable of handling life without falling apart at the slightest grievance.

      2. No. You’re terrible at being libertarian.

    2. What double standard?!?

      Advocate harm to anyone and the Chicken Little Brigade freaks.

      1. Advocating harm to people isn’t good, Ed.

        1. And this guy did it.

          1. And yet the chicken little brigade didn’t freak.

            Whoa.

  22. Every so often, it’s good to be reminded where the real and powerful threats to free speech generally come from.

  23. The American Heart Association published in it’s journal an article calling for the elimination of preferences in admission to med school and training programs based on race or gender. It has led to a fire storm of criticism of the authors, their institution and training program, and the AHA itself.

    https://twitter.com/HeartBobH/status/1290095180591165441

    This is a never ending struggle.

  24. I AM a free speech absolutist. This guy should not have to worry about his job because of this. But the same goes for everyone else. What we say on our own time should have no bearing on our job. It has nothing to do with academic freedom. Just freedom.

    1. That being said, attacking criticism of this guy (as the OP does) that does not call for his firing shows a double standard.

    2. So to be clear…

      You think Random Joe #5 should be “free” to go online and argue that all gay people should drawn and quartered, no exceptions? I agree.

      But further, you think that I should be obligated to ignore what Random Joe #5 does in his free time and say “sure, I want to pay this guy to work in close proximity to me for eight or more hours a day five days a week”? Fuck off.

      Freedom of Speech does not, and has never meant, freedom from consequences. Telling people that they can’t respond or react to other people’s speech is tyranny in the extreme.

      1. So, Random Joe #5 has to face consequences…but Random Asshole Prof does not?

        Given that the government supports him, the people should have more say over his continued employment than they do.

        1. So, Random Joe #5 has to face consequences…but Random Asshole Prof does not?

          It’s almost like you don’t read what people write before you respond.

  25. If you want to argue against such programs, just insisting they are illegitimate and want to tear down America won’t really get the job done.

    That’s all I’m seeing here – reflexive animosity. Which is the go-to these days, I know.

    1. I would not like a ‘Holocaust Skepticism Studies’ department. The way a free-speech advocate would get rid of that department would be to explain why Holocaust denial is an antisemitic scam, not to pound the table over and over again and say ‘This is an OUTRAGE.’

      It may outrage me, but that alone doesn’t delegitimize something.

  26. “The core mission of a university is to each[sic] things that are useful in the real world. Really, that IS the core mission, not “the fearless pursuit of the truth”.

    @Brett Bellmore. What in your considered opinion are those subjects which are worthy of being taught beyond STEM and easily marketable skill sets? Would you approve of philosophy, including the utterance of long dead men who didn’t speak English? Literature, including fiction and poetry? History? Anthropology?
    Archaelogy?

    And that “cancer” you say is destroying universities, what can you cite as convincing support for that extraordinarily dramatic con-tention? What previously great schools have been destroyed by what you decry or are soon to die as a result of your “cancer”? (I think we should leave out a number of special cases like small liberal arts colleges, a few single sex ones, demographically disadvantaged, etc.)

    Do you favor big athletic programs so long as they pull in money and alumni donations?

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