Campus Free Speech

"Students Demand Skidmore College Fire an Art Professor for Observing a Pro-Cop Rally"

"David and Andrea Peterson didn't even participate in the rally—they just watched it. The students don't care."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Robby Soave here at Reason has the details, based on a Times Union (Chris Churchill) story and this Skidmore News (Samantha Sasenarine) column:

David Peterson is an art professor at Skidmore College, a private liberal arts college in Saratoga Springs, New York. In late July, the professor and his wife, Andrea Peterson, attended a "Back the Blue" rally—not as supporters of the cause, they say, but as curious spectators.

"Given the painful events that continue to unfold across this nation, I guess we just felt compelled to see first-hand how all of this was playing out in our own community," he later told the student newspaper.

They stood on the edges of event, watching pro- and anti-law enforcement demonstrators argue with each other. After 20 minutes, the Petersons left to eat dinner.

But unbeknownst to Peterson, the couple's attendance at the rally was noticed. Now Skidmore students are demanding that both Peterson be fired for "engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students," according to Times-Union columnist Chris Churchill, who wrote about the controversy.

Read the whole thing, and read also the Skidmore News column for the full flavor, especially lines such as these:

In addition to many white professors ridiculing students of color, white staff that work in different departments, such as Facilities, Campus Safety, and the Dining Hall, work and drive around campus with Blue Lives Matter masks, "F***Cuomo!" car stickers, and Trump-supporting attire/bumper stickers.

There is also an earlier story on the subject at Legal Insurrection (Mike LaChance).

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  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcLazPauA1c

    There’s got to be a morning after
    If we can hold on through the night
    We have a chance to find the sunshine
    Let’s keep on looking for the light

    1. I probably should include the reference — the 1972 movie _Poseidon Adventure_ about a ship that is rolled over by a tsunami which would never happen in deep water, but I digress….

      1. There is significant underwater effects of a tsunami even in deep water….a more interesting topic than Gene whining about rich kids whining on overpriced college campuses where pleasure is the priority of the day.

        1. It might even be more interesting than a bored commenter whining about Gene whining about rich kids whining on overpriced college campuses where socialist hypocrisy is the priority of the day.

  2. Just because fascists are part of a grievance group does not make their behavior any less fascist.

    1. The current craziness is not sustainable. If we can head into the wind and hold on, there will be a morning after.

      Although I am more thinking along the lines of Twisted Sister than Maureen McGovern….

      1. All-talk right-wingers with delusions of adequacy and political relevance are among my favorite culture war casualties.

        1. Hit it, Shirley!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR3Dj7Co35U

          (Keep going. Seems like lots of singers recorded this song. At least based on Youtube.)

          1. Losing the culture war to guys like me, and knowing you will comply with my preferences for the rest of your life, has made you as cranky as you are impotent.

            1. “Losing the culture war to guys like me…”

              Yup. Nowadays, Kirkland can dance at any club he wants to. Progress!

              1. That’s an interesting choice from a guy who removes his tongue from Donald Trump’s scrotum only when affixing it to Prof. Volokh’s scrotum.

                Maybe you could trace a message to the proprietor with your tongue, asking him to ban me for saying mean things about you.

                1. Panties in a gordian twist, and clothing that smells of cat urine. Do you ever, ever bath?

            2. The Pelosi Pooper shows us the way to win the Culture War.

              Active Measures.

  3. Keep it up lefty, dont be shy about showing everyone your absurdity.

  4. It will be very interesting to see the administration’s response to these apparently-unhinged student demands. I console myself with the belief that such madness cannot persist for more than a few years. Alas I could be wrong; and even if I’m right, such behavior only makes it harder to advance against bigotry, tribalism and injustice in principled, positive ways.

    1. I don’t think you are wrong. One of the problems I have with dystopia fiction is extrapolating some extreme behavior past the point of plausibility, such as half the population being junkies and yet somehow still a threat to the elites. These clowns only succeed by being more outrageous and extreme than yesterday, and that simply cannot continue any more than the number of junkies can continue climbing forever.

      I don’t know what the end game is. I don’t know if these clowns will scare independent voters into voting for Trump, and the post-election riots finally pissing off the lawn odor crowd; or if Biden will win, and the ludicrous attempts to double the federal budget will collapse and trigger the same riots; or what; but I do know the cancel culture is its own worst enemy, and these clowns are going to collapse under their own weight.

    2. Sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn. Sometimes it’s darkest before it goes totally pitch black. You never know which it’s going to be until afterwards.

  5. If we are going to pay attention to every stupid things some young college students do there ain’t gonna be time for the important stuff.

    1. Next post: Overheard conversation at university dorm, economically illiterate student supports minimum wage and rent control. Remember that’s how the Great Leap Forward started, right?

  6. It fascinates me that the side that insists such anodyne slogans as “blue lives matter” and “make American great again” are literally threatening is also the side that keeps invoking Karl Popper’s paradox of tolerance and saying that “every accusation is a confession”.

  7. Rolling the dice to see if Gaslighto and Co to come and tell us how this is no big deal or we are in the wrong somehow.

    1. As I always say, this sucks and should be spotlighted and shamed. But it’s also an anecdote and not data.

      1. Eventually, though, when there are enough similar anecdotes, they do finally become data.

        1. Nope. You need to clean anecdotes as well. Get a baseline, get quantitative with it.

          Otherwise you’re just confirmation biasing your way into a misunderstanding of reality.

      2. “As I always say, this sucks and should be spotlighted and shamed.”

        I concur.

        But this blog is an extremely poor candidate to be offering pointers on academic freedom or freedom of expression.

      3. It’s not an anecdote it’s an example. That’s like saying when the Red Guards paraded a professors thru the streets wearing dunce caps that since only .84 of professors suffered such an indignity it wasn’t widespread and just anecdotal.

        1. Haha, when your own analogy shows how much drama you need to add for your narrative to hold together…

  8. Snowflakes be cryin.

  9. C’mon, Samantha is also against straight couples who have babies and go to church, she refuses to shop on Black Friday as it is racist. Skidmore breeds the whack nuts of the left. Anyone who was in Saratoga Springs on the day of event should be banned from Skidmore campus.

    If society bent to every screech of Samantha and her naïve pals, she would still be screeching. The ballet at SPAC is too white, horse racing is too white, symphonies are too white, American is too white….it will never end. Just the sad consequence of a two party political system.

    Someone should knock the chip off her shoulder.

    1. “Anyone who was in Saratoga Springs on the day of event should be banned from Skidmore campus.”

      That’s not enough. Anyone who has ever been in Saratoga Springs should be banned from the campus. And anyone who has ever drunk Saratoga Springs bottled water. We don’t want to risk any kind of violence.

    2. Time to play childish name games. New name for the college is Skidmark. Just in case the reference is lost for anyone, here is the urban dictionary link.

  10. On a more consequential front, it’s now 4 days since the DoJ asked to take over Trump’s defense in the Carroll defamation suit, and still nothing here on VC about it.

    1. If you want 24/7 Trump Derangement Syndrome feel free to avail yourself of HUFFPOO, WAPOO, CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo News, The NYT, Buzzfeed, r/politics, Twitter Newsfeed, Daily Kos, Democratic Underground or any of the rest of the 95% of traditional and social media dedicated to this instead of getting mad that every single corner of the internet doesn’t focus on the exact same story.

    2. I don’t think they said anything when the SG argued before SCOTUS in the Clinton v. Jones case either.

    3. I’m not an expert on the Westfall Act (the statute involved here), so I’m doing some research; I hope to have a post on the subject in the next day or two.

    4. Wait what? The DOJ took over Elizabeth Warren’s defense when she was sued for defamation by Nicholas Sandman and had the case dismissed?

      I don’t remember EV posting about that either.

  11. “this Skidmore News (Samantha Sasenarine) column”

    …where the author can’t seem to decide whether Andrea Peterson is David Peterson’s “partner” or his “wife.”

    I think this student columnist ought to be put on Double Secret Probation in punishment for her slippage into the obsolete, sexist, clinger term “wife” even though she clearly knows the correct term, “partner.”

    If these backward, superstitious Petersons believe in the religious concept of “marriage,” that’s no excuse for a woke student columnist accepting such fairy tales.

  12. Government Censorship of scientists:

    Trump political operative Michael Caputo making changes to CDC public health reports:

    The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.

    In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.

    The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports are authored by career scientists and serve as the main vehicle for the agency to inform doctors, researchers and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk. Such reports have historically been published with little fanfare and no political interference, said several longtime health department officials, and have been viewed as a cornerstone of the nation’s public health work for decades.

    But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

    1. Oh noes!

      Meanwhile a Biden voter walked up to two rookie Sheriffs in their patrol car and shot them point blank.

      1. You have no perspective, Sam.

      2. Also, a Biden voter? Fuck off with that.

        1. A discussion about the sound thats made when a breeze blows across a flies ball sack is more interesting to me than your gaslighting concern trolling.

          1. Then don’t read his comments.

            1. I don’t think Baghdad Sarcastro announced xir pronouns, Sir.

        2. I suppose none of the mostly peaceful ambulance blockers are Biden voters either?

    2. Breaking News Government Agencies are Political and various branches are coordinate/’interfere’ with each other all the time. Yes even in Democratic Administrations. The guys recommending transgender bathrooms, Common Core, College Sex Tribunals, and carbon credits in the Obama Administration are not as pure as undriven snow when it comes to political influence or scruples.

      1. Do you understand the difference between policy recommendations and data reports?

        Clearly not.

        Caputo, like all Trumpists, is a lying sack of shit with less integrity than an earthworm.

        1. “Do you understand the difference between policy recommendations and data reports?”

          Do you understand how easy it is to “cherrypick” data to justify your policy recommendations?

          1. Like I said, you don’t understand it.

            Unsurprising.

    3. Career scientists have political axes to grind, too, you know.

      1. Not like politicans do.

        And even if so, the solution is not censorship and directing what the result should be.

        This is Lysenkoism, and y’all claim not to be authoritarians even as you endorse crap like this.

      2. Is there anything Trumpists do you won’t rationalize?

        Do you have any evidence, any at all, that the scientists’ reports are fudged?

        The news is blunt about what Caputo is up to.

        emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation…

        since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

        Plain as day, Brett. But you deny.

    4. “Career bureaucrats” who are by no means politically neutral, nor objective. Remember that this is the same CDC that wanted to grab out guns under some purported concept of public health.

      The same CDC that thinks it more important to let the Bitchy Little Marxists riot than follow mask protocols that aren’t scientifically supportable anyway. Etc….

      1. So this guy Caputo is going to make the reported data more objective, more accurate?

        That’s fucking ridiculous, Ed and Brett.

        1. Perhaps the reason Prof. Volokh doesn’t comment on this is that he is advising Mr. Caputo on partisan censorship.

      2. ““Career bureaucrats” who are by no means politically neutral, nor objective.”

        Michael Caputo is a career government parasite doing public relations for politicians. His career is one failure after another. Propaganda (with Oliver North) to promote regime change in C. and S. Americas. He helped President H.W. Bush lose to Clinton in ’92. Landslide loss for Carl Paladino (and Cuomos largest margin of victory). He lost President Trump’s bid to purchase the Bills by spending all his resources fighting Jon Bon jovi rather than the Pegulas. He got himself fired for dumb tweets; a trend that would continue when he had to delete most of his prior tweets before taking up at HHS. And now he’s bungling, again.

        Does anybody know which Ukrainian parliamentary campaign he worked for in 2007? I have to assume that was another loss, otherwise the self-promoting Caputo would have claimed it already.

        Loser.

        1. I remember Caputo whining about how his work with Trump and Stone had cost him financially and professionally — responding to subpoenas, shunned from decent society, etc. — until Trump tossed him a taxpayer-funded position for which he was not qualified.

          Let’s hope his government service continues beyond Trump’s ability to arrange a government job, when he is imprisoned.

    5. Ah, so this is the first formal effort I’ve seen to calm down the recent whiplash on whether the CDC is an authoritative source for things COVID.

      If you like a given piece of information, it’s authoritative.

      If you don’t, Orange Man must have meddled with it.

      Pretty slick.

      1. bernard11 showed a causal connection to nonfactual factors being injected into the science.

        This is bad regardless of who is President.

        1. bernard11 showed a causal connection to nonfactual factors being injected into the science.

          Putting aside whether anything whatsoever can be “shown” by a hit piece from Politico based solely on the now traditional anonymous sources, I fear you responded to the wrong comment.

          1. You don’t deny the story, except maybe you do.

            Me comment is that this:
            If you like a given piece of information, it’s authoritative.

            If you don’t, Orange Man must have meddled with it.

            is nonsense.

            1. Persuasive! Keep ’em coming….

  13. The IRS Non-Profit Office should end the privilege of any agency that engages in viewpoint discrimination. The non-profit status is to support education. Education presents all sides of a question. If there is a preference for one side, that is called indoctrination. Indoctrination is not the purpose of the non-profit privilege.

    1. They’re too busy at their White Privilege weekly training seminars.

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