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Academic Freedom

Academic Freedom Alliance Letter to Georgetown University Law Center

The AFA calls on GULC to end its investigation of Ilya Shapiro

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The Academic Freedom Alliance has released a public letter to the Georgetown University Law Center objecting to its treatment of a senior lecturer. Ilya Shapiro was director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. It was recently announced that Shapiro had been appointed to be the executive director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution and a senior lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was to begin his duties on February 1, 2022.

On January 26, Shapiro posted a series of tweets on the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer and President Joe Biden's declaration that he would be selecting a black woman to fill the spot. Shapiro contended that Biden's announced limitation on the candidate pool would exclude the person Shapiro thought was "objectively best" for the position and as a consequence the president would be choosing a "lesser black woman" in his stead. Shapiro subsequently deleted the posts and apologized, but a controversy erupted that included demands that he be fired by GULC. The dean of the law school announced that Shapiro would be suspended until an investigation was concluded on whether the tweets had violated any university policies.

The Academic Freedom Alliance wrote to Dean Treanor explaining that the law school was itself violating the university's policies on free expression by investigating a member of the faculty for his Twitter posts and was threatening to erode free speech protections for all of its faculty. Unfortunately, Georgetown University Law Center does not have a good record of late in standing up for free speech and academic freedom.

From the letter:

Private speech on controversial social and political topics can sometimes be heated, ill-tempered, ill-considered, and broadly offensive. We do not hold such extramural speech to the standards that we would properly expect from speech in the classroom or from scholarly research. Going down the road of punishing faculty for their political speech on social media that some members of the university community find insensitive or hurtful will leave all members of the faculty vulnerable to denunciations, investigations, and threats of termination. It would erode the protections for free expression that the university purports to provide to all members of the campus community, including the members of the faculty.

Read the whole thing here.

NEXT: The false narrative about bias in face recognition

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  1. Who could be opposed to a simple investigation of blatant anti-Black racism? If you've done nothing wrong, there's nothing to hide. Complying with investigations rather than obstructing them is just what innocent people do.

    1. Investigations are costly to the victim of the leftist witch hunt. All legal and time costs should come from the personal assets of those starting the investigation, in this case, radical leftist, lawyer punk ass bitches.

    2. benji,
      What is to be investigated? The facts of the matter are admitted by all. What is at issue are the interpretations such as you have give with "blatant anti-Black racism?"
      So what is going to be investigated? Exactly what?

      1. I think benji is being sarcastic, Don Nico.

        1. I can only hope so C_XY

    3. Shapiro contends that the top candidate for the SCOTUS appointment is someone whom Biden will not consider. By definition, if that candidate is #1, all others are lesser. Biden's black woman appointee therefore would be lesser. So would a native american appointee, a Jewish appointee, etc.

      Not blatant racism. Not even racism.

      1. The wording is what's the most objectionable, if he had 'lesser qualified' that would be better, saying 'lesser black woman' is quite a bad look given history, context etc.,

        1. Yes, it is inartful, and could have been phrased in a much better, less objectionable way.
          This something he has conceded, apologized for and deleted.
          In a normal society , we'd now move on.

          1. 1. If was closer to offensive than inartful.
            2. Shaprio's apology was less than contrite by simply saying it was 'inartful' and 'didn't mean to offend.'
            3. There's some context in that he said something similar about Sotomayor back in the day.

            Still, I'm personally not big on rushing to fire or even suspend people who have otherwise done adequately, and I don't think GU's policies allow it here.

            1. 1.That's your personal opinion, which I (and others) disagree with.
              2.When you apply that standard to others, whose backgrounds you like a bit more, we'll talk. That apology seems to be the standard fare among public figures who say/do things perceived as offensive,
              3.I don't know what that's about, but it is not what GU is investigating.

              1. 1. It's my interpretation. It's based on a long, sordid history of stereotyping blacks and women as inferior (which a quick internet search will tell you is a common synonym of 'lesser'). FWIW the Dean of GU seems to agree with me...
                2. Do you have any defense of it other than a lame 'tu quoque?'
                3. It's easy to look this up on the interwebs, and I think you're wrong as to your claim (note the Dean mentions Shapiro's 'tweets' plural)

                https://www.law.georgetown.edu/dean-william-treanor-statement-update-on-ilya-shapiro/

                1. 1. Opinion or interpretation, it is still just your own, and others including me disagree with it.
                  2. When someone says he's sorry, I take them at their word, absent obvious evidence to the contrary. I know that's antithetical to you and your crowd, but that's me.
                  3. When I search , I find he's said this about her "Although I find some aspects of her judicial philosophy troubling, she is a capable jurist with an inspiring life story" - is that what you mean?

                  1. 1. Well, I gave reasons and arguments for mine, but I understand if you want a lesser bar for yourself.
                    2. That's laughable, of course the acceptance of apologies is based in part on the contriteness displayed.
                    3. Jesus, if you can't find what we're talking about you really are a lesser commenter (12" I clearly just meant 'lesser familiar with certain sources and search mechanism!).

                    1. 1. And I gave mine, as did others, and I find your explanations strained, at best
                      2. He expressed contriteness - you just chose not to believe he's sincere in that expression, That's you. Thankfully I am not your friend or acquaintance, I'd hate to be one of those.
                      3. Why don't you just tell what you are referring to, instead of shrouding it in mystery? I' ve shown you what I found. I realize it's disruptive to your "similar statements elsewhere " narrative, but them's the breaks.

                    2. 1. You've said nothing but conclusory statements that I see.
                      2. Contrite literally means expressing remorse. Saying 'what I said was inartful [meaning awkwardly expressed but not necessarily untrue] might express that for you, but other people have to take the standard dictionary definition seriously even if Glenn Beck disagreed a few episodes ago.
                      3. Good grief, I supplied it elsewhere in this thread. What a bubble you live in! Maybe get out once in awhile (it's clearly not serving you well!).

                    3. 1. Then you need to read more carefully , assuming you are capable
                      2. That's not all he said. He wrote "I regret my poor choice of words, which undermine my message that no one should be discriminated against for his or her gender or skin color,” Do you need help with "regret"? It is a synonym of contriteness and remorse
                      3. And still no response. Just tell me what he wrote

                    4. And I see now that you posted the quote at 7:53, and are mocking me above that because I couldn't find it, when I wrote my post at 7:34.
                      You are either dishonest, or stupid (and quite possibly both).

                2. Your entire cry for representation infantiles blacks as inferior children that cannot cope in a world without people that look like them, racist hypocrite.

                3. "sordid history of stereotyping blacks and women as inferior " says Queenie, serial denier of the blatantly obvious. Its own chromosomal genome. No successful black jurisdiction anywhere in the world for the past 600 years.

                  Then take all female interests. Their leaders, achievers, innovators are male, if gay sometimes. This is true even in knitting, for Pete's Sakes.

                  It wants to impose second rate people in responsible positions by force. Queenie is a serial denier. It does not argue in good faith.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLfdM56pyDc

        2. So what if he did not express himself in an optimal manner? As if that wasn’t a commonplace and very ordinary thing among all or most people.

          The correct interpretation of Shapiro’s words is clear from context. Those seeking to cancel Shapiro don’t really seem to care what he actually meant. They seem to want to destroy his career as a warning to others in order to establish their social dominance. You had better not say anything that offends them, or else.

          In theory, we are supposed to make decisions collectively in a democratic manner. It is hard to see how that happens given the irrational embrace of political correctness and cancel culture. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

          The idea that we are adults fit to govern ourselves but too fragile and too unfit to handle offensive or poorly expressed ideas are in extreme tension.

          1. Artie Ray Lee Wayne Jim-Bob Kirkland might have had something to say about political correctness, cancel culture, partisan fragility, and downscale hypocrisy, but . . .

            Prof. Volokh canceled him.

            Carry on, clingers! Aspire to nip the ankles of your betters!,

          2. "did not express himself in an optimal manner"

            This was worse than 'not..in an optimal manner.' It's a bit amazing how many people here can't/won't get that (that's of course just a phrase, it's not amazing at all!).

            "The correct interpretation of Shapiro’s words is clear from context."

            No it's not (especially given the context of past statements). It might be the better, more charitable interpretation but let's give up that it was 'clear.'

            "They seem to want to destroy his career as a warning to others in order to establish their social dominance."

            Now who's not being or doesn't care about charitable interpretation? Maybe they just think he's exhibited some troubling racism adjacent attitudes they think would make for a bad GU professor for a few reasons?

            "irrational embrace of political correctness and cancel culture"

            Funnily, you seem to be irrationally parroting or throwing out buzz words of the day here to me.

            "too fragile and too unfit to handle offensive or poorly expressed ideas are in extreme tension."

            That's being silly, people aren't necessarily 'fragile' because they're outraged at things some people say. This isn't the planet Vulcan.

            1. ""The correct interpretation of Shapiro’s words is clear from context."

              No it's not"

              Yes it is. Unless you'd like to provide and support a different interpretation.

              1. Here's an entire article about that from two people who just don't see the clarity you so obviously see...

                https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/01/conservative-attacks-on-bidens-scotus-nominees-have-a-long-racist-history.html

                I mean, you're funny. What's *literally* there is 'lesser,' which is on its face offensive. Shapiro and his defenders defense is that you *need and should charitably to read something in that's not there.* There's also the context that he's said something similar on the same topic before.

                So, yeah, if you want to argue yours is the *best* or *charitable* interpretation, sure, but 'clear?' Laughable, and evidence of irrational straining on your part.

                1. "Here's an entire article about that from two people..."

                  So you can't support a different interpretation. Nice try, though.

                  Your article says, "Instead, they have opted to prejudge any Black woman, and indeed all Black women nominees, as inherently inferior and underqualified."

                  But Shapiro doesn't say anything about black women being inherently unqualified. If the best candidate isn't a black woman, then it's not a black woman, that doesn't mean that black women are inherently inferior.

                  1. "Shapiro doesn't say anything about black women being inherently unqualified."

                    He literally says any black woman candidate will be 'lesser.'

                    1. "He literally says any black woman candidate will be 'lesser.'"

                      And he literally does not say 'inherently' or 'unqualified'.

                    2. "What do you think "lesser" in that context means, if not qualified."

                      Shit, you should *at least* keep up to speed on what *you're saying in this discussion!*

                    3. He literally says any black woman candidate will be 'lesser.'

                      That's right: lesser than Sri Srinivasan. That's obvious from context, in which Srinivsan's name appears in the immediately preceding sentence. What he didn't say, and what no one reading in good faith should conclude he meant, was "lesser than white males" or "lesser than white candidates" or "lesser than male candidates."

            2. Given the context of the current statement, the meaning is very clear.

              1. I'm not sure you get what 'context' means (hint, in judging a current comment, past similar comments on the same topic would be...context)

                1. I get what context means, but you don't.
                  Open a dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/context : "the situation in which something happens : the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens" or this : "the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning."

                  The context of the current statement was that he stated that he thinks the best candidate (a POC, mind you) would be excluded under Biden's limited scope, and hence anyone eventually selected under that scope would be a lesser qualified candidate. He may be wrong about that, but there is nothing even remotely racist about it.

                  1. Lol, pathetic!

                    From your source:
                    the situation in which something happens : the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens
                    We need to look at the event within the larger/broader context of world history.

                    Event. Within. Context. World. History.

                    Keep trying to argue context excludes his past statements, you're special pleading proves...something!

                    1. So, is his past statement that Sotomayor "is a capable jurist with an inspiring life story" the context you are referring to? Or is 'context' just what supports your narrative?

                    2. Jesus dude. Do you need a cite for the claim that Tom Brady has retired next?

                      https://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/27/shapiro.scotus.identity/index.html

                    3. Again, is his past statement that Sotomayor "is a capable jurist with an inspiring life story" also part of the context , or is 'context' just what supports your narrative?

                    4. So, what's wrong with anything he's quoted as saying in that link?

                      Yeah, Sotomayor was, explicitly, chosen based on identity politics.

                      Should people with 'compelling' life stories NOT be vetted?

                  2. We are really in a world where many people can look at the phrase 'lesser black woman' and think, *if pointed out to them after a backlash* hmm, I guess I an see how that's inartful!

                    I don't know what to say about someone who can't cringe when they see the phrase 'lesser black woman.' I'm not surprised these are usually the same people frothing at the mouth to ban 'critical race theory' because it 'discomforts' them. There's a long, ugly and not that ancient history of kneecapping women and blacks on the grounds that they are 'lesser.'

                    1. But they are, and you are in denial of the historical facts.

                    2. Yes, we really are in a world where many people don't share your racial obsessions and determination to see evil in any utterance you wouldn't have uttered yourself.

            3. I think the two sides keep talking past each other on this stuff because everyone wants to assume their priors are "obvious" without having to make their case. The problem is, *nobody* gets to do that when it's not "obvious" to half the population. So make your case, sure - but it gets kinda gaslightly to just act as if either view is a given.

              *Left's* prior: Racism remains so pervasive in society that we should all still have an especially heightened level of sensitivity to anything that could potentially allude to it - even if unintentionally, because it's still so "raw" that we should all still be on such "high alert" for such potential evokations/associations.

              *Right's* prior: Nope, that kind of thinking has simply past it's "sell by" date (as John McWhorter puts it...), so we've reached a point where people should be able to simply apologize for being unclear and then move on.

        3. Yes, the word “qualified” would have helped that tweet a lot. Arguably would have fixed it.

        4. Queenie. But they are lesser, as you are. There is no jurisdiction on earth that has been well governed by any of those, not for the past 600 years. Rebut me with a singe exception. Crime families do not count. We are sick of you under performing but overly entitled people.

        5. Queenie is not just a punk ass bitch, but a serial denier. Zero tolerance for deniers.

        6. Queenie is a nitpicker. Zero tolerance for nitpickers.

      2. Shapiro contends that the top candidate for the SCOTUS appointment is someone whom Biden will not consider.

        And on what basis does he claim that? Has he explained his ranking system?

        And if he has, I wonder how Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett came out.

        1. bernard,
          It is rather obvious. If one restricts oneself to a 7% minority, it is highly likely that a more qualified person is ruled out.
          However, Mr. Biden does not owe those groups anything.
          His restriction is just patronage in action.

    4. Its a tweet. You can investigate it in 1 minute.

  2. Hey, lawyer punk ass bitches, stop with the letters.

    Mandamus the Non-Profit Office of the IRS to end the tax exemption of this enemy law school. Its exemption is to promote education. Education requires covering all sides of a subject. When only one side is allowed, that is called indoctrination. Indoctrination should not be supported by the taxpayer with a tax exemption.

    1. Princeton is also a treason indoctrination camp. It has to be defunded, de-accredited, and shut down by force. Seize its assets, including its endowment, in civil forfeiture.

      1. Authoritarian nutjob.

        1. Don’t feed the trolls.

          1. I gladly feed Trumpist nutjobs like him my shit.

        2. Queenis. Thank you. You are the only one actually stupid enough to reply to me.

          1. Truly a deranged mind.

            Note, big fan of Trump as well!

            1. But not a denier, as you and the lawyers here are.

    2. "Hey, lawyer punk ass bitches, stop with the letters."

      In-artful phrasing but good advice.

      1. Inartful? It came from a Volokh post.

  3. The letter is fine. And I don't think Shapiro should be punished.

    I would say, however, that it's becoming more and more clear to me that academics would benefit from some sort of informal social media policies from their employers. Nothing that would result in fireable offenses (that would indeed violate academic freedom), but just a reminder that "hey, you are representing an institution, you need to say things that reflect well on the institution and are scholarly and of benefit to the public".

    Because I see lots of academics racing to Tweet out the latest poorly thought out Hot Take, getting into profane **** measuring contests with normies, making ad hominem attacks, etc. And all that stuff makes the institutions they work for look awful.

    And I think that's part of what happened with Shapiro. He wanted to Tweet out his Super Hot Take about the upcoming confirmation fight, and he didn't even give his Tweet two minutes of thought. That's not the way academics should behave, even though it isn't a fireable offense.

    1. Yes, but as I noted in one of the other threads, he only became an academic like 15 minutes ago. If he had still just been a Cato guy, this would've been a 30-seconds of fame tweet.

      1. Which is not to challenge your point. I'm just kind of explaining the circumstances.

      2. Good points by both Dilan and David here.

        1. Play stupid games -- such as playing "Own The Libs" when you want to be paid by and bask in the misappropriated respectability of the liberal-libertarian mainstream -- win stupid prizes.

          Perhaps conservative-controlled campuses have it right -- mainstream, reasoning, strong academia and the clingerverse just don't mix.

      3. My biggest concern is actually, why is the VP of Cato thinking that being a reliable progressive is a plus in a Supreme court Justice?

        1. It's easy to concede something you know the other side isn't going to take.

          1. It's also easy to stick by your guns if you know the other side doesn't give a fig what you recommend anyway. I expect, (Normatively, at least!) VPs of Cato to recommend good Supreme court nominees from a Libertarian perspective, not a progressive standpoint.

            If he'd tweeted something along the lines of, "Biden should nominate the most libertarian judge available, and never mind their immutable characteristics, because that's just the right thing to do! But he's not going to, he's going to racially discriminate among left wing hacks, which is a terrible shame." we wouldn't be seeing this fuss, AND people who used to respect Cato wouldn't be wondering what the Hell is going on at Cato.

            1. He had an argument to make. He mad a concession in an attempt to strengthen is bona fides in said argument.

              Your purity policing is amusingly myopic.

              As to your tweet...he's going to racially discriminate among left wing hacks is a hackish thing to tweet.

              1. As to your tweet...he's going to racially discriminate among left wing hacks is a hackish thing to tweet.

                Between a partisan VC commenter and a partisan SC justice, who should we be concerned about? Hmmm...

    2. Agreed, Dilan.
      But SJWs like benji salivate at the opportunity to assassinate people who commit thought crimes.

    3. "Because I see lots of academics racing to Tweet out the latest poorly thought out Hot Take, getting into profane **** measuring contests with normies, making ad hominem attacks, etc."

      It seems like the "hot takes" from GU profs range from calling for the castration of the corpses of "entitled white men" to accidentally leaving out the word "qualified". Whatever policies they may have, it's clear that they're not being enforced consistently.

      1. I like that 12" can read Shapiro's mind and so confidently conclude that he just left out an important word. Must be those mind meld powers learned on Vulcan.

        1. "I like that 12" can read Shapiro's mind..."

          I can read his tweets. If have a better interpretation, make a case for it.

          1. Uh, the one that looks at the text alone? Without mind reading 'well surely he *meant* to put 'qualified' in there because just saying 'lesser black woman' would be awful!'

            1. "Uh, the one that looks at the text alone?"

              So you don't have a better interpretation.

              The text alone says,
              ""(o)bjectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid and prog and v. smart. Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn't fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we'll get lesser black woman."

              What do you think "lesser" in that context means, if not qualified.

              Make an argument, don't just spout unsupported bullshit.

              1. Lol, I don't have a better interpretation than...reading what he actually wrote? Got me 12"!

                "What do you think "lesser" in that context means, if not qualified."

                The *clearest* meaning is the standard definition, which, of course, plays into the worst stereotypes.

                You're literally *placing* a critical word *into* the actual text and then declaring that that reading is 'clear' and obvious!

                Again, you're funny. But what's more interesting is why you feel the need to do such a thing.

                1. "The *clearest* meaning is the standard definition..."

                  Lol. The standard definition implies some sort of basis for comparison, and the basis in this context is suitability for SCOTUS, or qualification.

                  If you think it implies a different basis for comparison, you're the one reading something that isn't there, because Shapiro doesn't refer to any other way to compare the candidates.

                  1. "the basis in this context is suitability for SCOTUS, or qualification."

                    You're reading that into it. You *wish* your comrade had plainly said that, but lesser means lesser in capacity/capability as easily as it means lesser in qualification. On it's face all you've got is 'lesser' and then the generalization 'black woman.'

                    Oh, then there's that context that he said the same about another woman of color re the same position...

                    1. "You're reading that into it."

                      "(o)bjectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan"

                      Are you claiming that 'best' and 'lesser' are comparing different things, or are you claiming that Shapiro has some sort of moral hard-on for Srinivasan, and the 'best' here doesn't mean 'best qualified'?

                      'but lesser means lesser in capacity/capability as easily as it means lesser in qualification.'

                      I'm not sure what distinction you're trying to draw. Are you suggesting that there's some sort of capacity/capability that is distinct from a qualification?

                    2. "Oh, then there's that context that he said the same about another woman of color re the same position..."

                      Lol, he hath said it himself

                      "I'm not sure what distinction you're trying to draw. Are you suggesting that there's some sort of capacity/capability that is distinct from a qualification?"

                      I never took you to be someone who thought that qualifications=capability. That complicates a bit of what you've said in the past before, but that might be a discussion for another day...

                    3. qualification
                      noun
                      us
                      /ˌkwɑː.lə.fəˈkeɪ.ʃən/ uk
                      /ˌkwɒl.ɪ.fɪˈkeɪ.ʃən/
                      qualification noun (TRAINING)
                      B1 [ C ]
                      an official record showing that you have finished a training course or have the necessary skills, etc.:
                      https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/qualification

                      capability
                      noun [ C or U ]
                      us
                      /ˌkeɪ.pəˈbɪl.ə.t̬i/ uk
                      /ˌkeɪ.pəˈbɪl.ə.ti/
                      capability noun [C or U] (ABILITY)
                      C1
                      the ability to do something:

                      https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/capability

                    4. "I truly believe that they [African-Americans] may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager."

                      - Al Campanis

                      I buy that Shapiro's intended meaning was more benign than what he's accused of, but that reading requires adding words he didn't use but I'm willing to believe he thought were implied. The plain meaning of what he actually did say, without the curative language, is the ugly trope that African-Americans are innately inferior. Whether the job they're up for is baseball manager or SCOTUS Justice, they're "lesser." They're deficient in the "necessities." It's a general comparison to the rest of the world, not to a particular candidate. It's how tropes work.

              2. Of course it doesn't mean "less qualified." It means "less able."

                Shapiro's standard for measuring ability is unknown to me.

                1. Of course it doesn't mean "less qualified." It means "less able."

                  Those sound pretty synonymous in this context.

                  1. Maybe. But I think of "less qualified" as an issue of credentials - schools attended, clerkships held, etc. - while "less able" implies an evaluation of the individual's talents and capabilities, regardless of resume.

                    1. Hence the word "lesser."
                      But those are the joys of tweeting.

    4. So, we best protect the reputations of institutions by concealing the human imperfections of the faculty?

      If you ask me, we are better off knowing that information. Generally, knowledge of the truth is better than ignorance. And the truth is, faculty members are humans with human impulses, human emotions, and human reactions that are sometimes impulsive and poorly thought out.

  4. Academic freedom protects one's tenure, no? To me, tenure retention is the outermost limit of protection with 'academic freedom'. Does 'academic freedom' mean something more than protection of tenure, because if so, someone please set me straight on that.

    Professor Shapiro's executive positions (VP, Exec Dir) are another matter entirely. Execs do not stay execs making tweets like that; Boards of Trustees typically remove them.

    1. Tenure is to academic freedom what the exclusionary rule is to the 4th Amendment.

      https://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure

      1. And your link is closely aligned with my viewpoint. That protection extends to their tenure. It does not extend beyond that.

  5. Determining whether Shapiro’s tweet violated the university’s policies requires no “investigation”; it should take no more than about 2 minutes of 1L-level IRACing, and the answer is plain. Treanor’s announcement, however, indicates that the inquiry will extend to whether the tweet violated the university’s “expectations.” That will surely take longer. Concocting bullshit can be complicated.

    1. Yes, in this instance it's not even close:

      "Georgetown University is committed to free and open inquiry, deliberation and debate in all matters, and the untrammeled verbal and nonverbal expression of ideas. It is Georgetown University’s policy to provide all members of the University community, including faculty, students, and staff, the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn."

      https://facultyhandbook.georgetown.edu/section4/l/#

      The stated possible exceptions are quite narrow, don't see any way Shapiro's speech however obtuse or offensive could fall under them.

  6. Another public letter! The last one helped get him suspended.

    Who knows how he will benefit from the one! Fired? Drawn and quartered?

    Stop helping him would be my advice.

  7. Time to defund higher education! No more government loans. No more government grants. No more government subsidies of your critical racist theory. If these institutions can't offer a product that people want to consume without massive subsidies then oh well....

    I'm sure those feminist women's studies profs have marketable skills and won't be on the unemployment line very long, amirite?

    1. Someone didn't learn about irony in college (complaining about orthodoxy while calling for government to punish institutions for their speech).

      "If these institutions can't offer a product that people want to consume without massive subsidies then oh well...."

      Yes, I do think this about defense contractors, sugar producers, service members, oh, you're don't mean them? Well of course you don't!

      1. "defense contractors"

        They get money for products.

        "sugar producers"

        OK, eliminate the tariffs.

        "service members"

        Paid for work.

        1. And education gets money for services. Thanks for playing Bob!

          1. Oh ffs. Do we have to go over all the rivalrous, excludable bullshit?

      2. Who said anything about punishing a university for its speech? They can continue to say stupid things and getting in a woke pissing match for all I care.

        You have no right to a subsidy and we give a TON of money to universities. Seems to me providing taxpayer money to things of value instead of thought reform gulags would be a better expenditure.

  8. "The President announced today that in filling the vacant seat on the Court he would consider ONLY white male candidates. This statement is widely condemned as racist and sexist."
    [Checks notes.]
    "Oh, sorry. The President announced today that in filling the vacant seat on the Court he would consider ONLY Black female candidates. Critics of this statement are widely condemned as racist and sexist."

    1. You seem quite comfortable with the traditional Republican approach, which is to nominate and confirm mostly White males, Mr. VonSalzen.

      This is why you have become a culture war casualty.

      Carry on, clingers! But, in modern America, solely so far as your betters permit.

      1. You're wrong, Republicans *love* touting minorities as a factor in itself when they get the opportunity (Thomas' race, O'Connor's sex, Barrett's sex, etc., were all touted by them).

        1. They trot out a few tokens in an attempt to mask their old-timey ways, just as they claim to be libertarian, but conservatives cling to a system that reliably delivers White male nominees, candidates, hires, appointees, etc. against all odds and decency.

          Which is fine by me, because it is part of the reason mainstream America has rejected conservative preferences throughout my lifetime, and one of the factors continuing to precipitate an America that is less White, less religious, less bigoted, less rural, and less backward.

          1. Artie. Please, tell the class, what is your gender and what is your race? Why are you still around? Resign now so you can be replaced by a diverse.

    2. Again with this kindergarten level stupid? Yes Eric, the United Negro College Fund and the KKK of 1950 were totes equal in their insidious racism!

      1. This isn't 1950 anymore.

        1. Principle (taking race into account in any way is racist) is not temporally bound Bob. Again, thanks for playing!

        2. " This isn't 1950 anymore. "

          People should drive through backwater Ohio, Alabama, Wyoming, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Idaho before concluding whether they wish to credit that unqualified assertion.

          1. I have and those are some very nice people. Your ignorance is putting on display your blatant bigotry these days.

      2. Queenie, I'll have to go back to see where I "said" that. , No. I didn't. Please try to keep up.

        1. Analogies, how do they work?

    3. While I don't buy the idea that black people can't be racist, there are some things that when whites guys do it it's pretty racist due to their being the default, but not in the reverse.

      Thus, HBCUs but not HWCUs. NAACP but not NAAWP. And so on.

      If you think this is white oppressions, you need only look at what race and gender holds all the levers of power in this country and indeed on the Supreme Court to be disabused of your facile symmetry.

      1. Like saying "I am going to only appoint a white man"....

        Yeah that is racist and sexist.

        Now do it for any other protected class and most sane people will expect the same result.

      2. I do not agree with you at all. A double standard is a double standard. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy.

        Some black people are more powerful than some white people.

        That is obvious. The idea that black people are inherently less powerful and/or less privileged than white people has a whole lot of really important exceptions.

        And yes, it is racist to discriminate against less powerful/less privileged/less wealthy white people and in favor of more powerful/more privileged/more wealthy black people based on stereotypes.

        Some have noted, I think accurately, that the people who pay the price for affirmative action are Asians and less wealthy whites. Not elite whites who come from privileged backgrounds. Privileged whites get their own unfair advantages (e.g. legacy preferences, the use of non-academic criteria for admission, etc.)

        The likely beneficiary in this case of racial stereotyping by Biden will more than likely come from an elite schools and possess an elite credential. And this is supposed to be "social justice," right?

        What really matters is what happens in the median case and lower than median case, not what happens to elites who will live privileged and out-of-touch lives whether they are appointed to SCOTUS or not.

        The concept of racism is that we don't judge people by their skin color. Not because all generalizations based on race lack empirical support, but because that is unfair to the INDIVIDUALS who lived experiences do not fit into little boxes.

        Racial generalizations, supposedly "in favor" of black people are just as pernicious and just as superficial and just racist as racial re-generalizations against them.

        I think that until leftists abandon their own racism and recognize it for what it is, they will lack moral standing to criticize racism.

        The way to combat the racism you don't like isn't to adopt an equal and opposite racism. The way to combat racism is to abandon racism. Ultimately, racism should be rejected because it is illogical and based on superficial and unfair thought processes.

        1. It's not a double standard if the two groups are not equally situated. Then it's just a standard.

          And you keep switching from groups to individuals. We are talking about actions of groups and institutions here; don't muddy the waters.

          Whites are the default, there are plenty of groups that are going to be all whites just by happenstance. That's inevitable. And fine.
          But it also means people of color who want that experience need to intentionally curate it.
          And also that when white people go beyond what naturally happens to intentionally excluding black people that means something different.

          If you look at how explicitly white only groups operated in the real world versus groups for minorities, you see the two are very different. Don't hide behind reductive formalism; consider why that is.

          It's a tell to start throwing around accusations of racism. I don't like it when the left does it to the right, and it's no better when you do it as well. That's not what going on here. This isn't Plessy.

          1. You apparently forgot the part where I mentioned INDIVIDUALS and STEREOTYPES.

            You do not "correct injustice" by favoring the particular individuals who are wealthy, powerful, and privileged based on racial stereotypes.

            Your argument that we are ONLY talking about groups is invalid. Choosing a Supreme Court Justice is an act also implicating an individual, not just a group. The decision to cancel a particular individual implicates both individuals and groups. Many black people would have preferred a liberal white male to Justice Thomas, because such a liberal would have aligned more with their policy preferences.

            Your reasoning here is both superficial and reductive. Black people are not some sort of homogeneous borg entity, such that they all benefit if some particular individual who happens to be black benefits.

            Your crude reasoning, racial stereotypes, and superficial thinking here is bad. I think it is quite obvious that policies always must act on individuals and can never solely act on groups. Why would you even argue otherwise???

  9. My favorite bar none

    Amidst all the brouhaha over just a few words, what have we actually learned, or been exposed to, as far as different kings of merits considerations for supreme member selection are concerned?

    What have we even learned about Shapiro's reasoning underlying his "objectively" most qualified pronouncement specifically, and the no-doubt multiple alternatives in the way of performance assessment criteria, gauges, and quantifiable metrics that would likely yield a different winner?

    Shouldn't a retraction accompanied by contrition be in order concerning the peddling and misrepresentation of an idiosyncratically arrived-at personal opinion and preference as "objective"?

  10. Here's a last ditch attempt to illustrate to many conservatives here the gravity of the situation. You kind of have to pick groups they really sympathize with to get them to think about the principle at stake.

    Let's say there had never been a Jewish Justice. And there's this ugly history of anti-Jewish bigotry invoking all kinds of anti-Jewish stereotypes as not faithful to their resident nations.

    A President says that they pledge to finally nominate a Jewish SCOTUS justice, but it's a POTUS from a party accused by the other side of sacrificing the precepts of the Constitution in order to be in compliance with international law. A scholar from the other side tweets 'POTUS should have nominated pro-domestic law Greek Orthodox jurist Y but now we're going to get an unfaithful SCOTUS justice.'

    When Jewish advocates and sympathizers roar that invoking stereotypes of Jews as 'unfaithful' to their nations is anti-Semitic, defenders of the scholar reply 'he obviously meant faithful *to the Constitution!*

    1. You can't reason with bigotry.

      You can reason with superstition.

      You can't reason with belligerent ignorance.

      It seems pointless to try, perhaps even counterproductive. And appeasing the bigots is immoral.

      The point is for the liberal-libertarian mainstream to continue to control the American culture war, shaping our national progress against the preferences and efforts of our vestigial right-wingers.

    2. Confirmed: There is no depth of inapposite screed that QA will not post in an attempt to defend racism and sexism.

      1. It isn't racism or sexism if you can just change the definition to fit what you need it to be at any given time and place.

    3. I don't understand your strawman at all ... but, for the record, I see no reason that we specifically need a Jewish Supreme Court justice. Believe it nor not, Jews have widely heterogeneous opinions on just about any issue ...

      1. As do all people of all races.

        Treating people as the individuals they are is the way to go. Trying to fight the racism you don't like with the racism you do like doesn't result in progress.

    4. There is no "gravity" here.

      We can expect people to be "Vulcan" to the point where the approach interpretation in a rational and fair way.

      I am not talking about charitable interpretation (which itself is a sort of bias), but merely thinking about what the fairest and most likely interpretation is.

      First, the idea that Shapiro is racist towards black women, but not Indian men is unlikely. That doesn't fit into any sort of "white supremacy" ideology of which I am aware. It is, of course, possible for people to adopt incoherent and uncommon beliefs. But this particular combination seems likely to be very rare.

      Second, most white males are not "white supremacists." The assumption that they are and thus the most likely explanation for a particular word choice is racism is not only based on racial stereotyping, it is based on an inaccurate racial generalization.

      Third, logically, if a person thinks that X is more qualified, it means everyone has lesser qualifications. A non-racist interpretation fits perfectly well into the rules of English.

      Using empathy, one can see why the phrase "lesser black woman" would be annoying and rub a black person (or anyone else, for that matter) the wrong way. Because the phrase, shorn from its context, does not obviously mean that one is referring to only qualifications. But, in context, qualifications is the overwhelmingly likely correct and fair interpretation of Shapiro's words. Of course, we are talking probabilities here. There is a non-zero probability that Shapiro is a white supremacist or racist. But that probability, though not zero, is very low. Taken as a whole, racism is simply not a reasonable conclusion to draw.

      Calls for censorship or cancellation are generally wrong, even in the case of actual racism. We see plenty of "reverse racism" on the left that is based on the same flawed reasoning as "traditional racism." Yet, I do not believe we should be canceling people on the left for their flawed reasoning or embrace of reverse racism. Instead, we should be explaining the logical flaw in their reasoning.

      Logic, rationality, dialogue, and discourse are sufficient to limit racism to a minor problem over time. Abandoning freedom will not only not further eliminate racism. Instead, by leaving thought processes unexposed, it will actually increase racism. Unchallenged ideas do not just disappear. That is, unless one uses a level of force so extreme (as in Communist China) as to majorly decrease freedom.

      Here, we have a low probability case of possible racism that is assumed by some to be a high probability case. Based on racial stereotypes and poor reasoning.

      When I say that it is clear what Shapiro said, I do not mean that there is zero probability that he had intended a racist meaning. But instead I mean that a fair and impartial interpreter would conclude that the probability is very close to zero such that it would be unreasonable and unfair to accuse Shapiro of racism.

      Overall, dialogue and not censorship is what is necessary for a successful democratic society. And the equality of people implies that everyone has a right to think for themselves and not be told by anyone else what to think. Exceptions to equality in the name of equality are self-defeating. Everyone has an equal right to freedom of conscience.

      Racism is not a problem that will ever be completely eradicated. But the problem can be effectively limited so as to be unimportant in most circumstances by persuading people of the unsoundness of this form of reasoning. And when people interact, it usually decreases rather than increases the probability of racism. The reason for that is that interactions tend to reveal the truth about people; namely, that people are first and foremost individuals.

      Racism isn't based on the truth. So, processes that reveal the truth (such as interactions or open dialogue) naturally diminish it.

      1. Racism is not a problem that will ever be completely eradicated. But the problem can be effectively limited so as to be unimportant in most circumstances by persuading people of the unsoundness of this form of reasoning.

        Your point is that Black Americans today can be persuaded of the "unsoundness," of considering racism? Or your point is that Black Americans today ought to be ignored if their concerns include racism? Or what?

        1. Maybe try re-reading the post and asking better questions if you want further clarification.

          I never said anything about "considering racism" or being "concerned about racism." You aren't distinguishing thinking about something on one hand and coming to a conclusion on the other. Ideally, people should think about every possibility when it comes to explaining the world. That doesn't mean that every possibility is, after reflection, actually plausible. Nor does it mean that all possibilities are worthy of equal thought.

          Furthermore, my point wasn't specifically addressed to black Americans. (I will note that your use of capitalization, which is objectionable because it essentializes race. As if what is really important about a person is their skin color.

          Your unwarranted assumption that I was primarily addressing one particular racial group, as opposed to a way of thinking is, I think, very revealing about the narrowness of your thinking and perhaps reveals an unwillingness to see people as individuals rather than members of a particular group.

          1. Welker, I did not suggest you were addressing one particular racial group. I suggested you were ignoring that group.

      2. Huh? Are you not aware that the Nazis adopted the swastika, a Hindu symbol, as their own, precisely because they adopted the Aryan theory, which regarded lighter-skinned Indians as the original whites? Have you never heard of the word “aryan” or its role in the ideology of white supremacy?

        1. Perhaps you’ve heard the word “aryan” but haven’t had any clue what it means. It’s an Indian word that people of northern India used to describe themselves before white supremacists appropriated it to describe white people generally.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan

    5. Queenie I posed this question below but meant to do so here. For you is it equally as plausible that Shapiro meant "lesser" in a racist sense as it is that he meant less qualified on the merits as he claims? Is one interpretation more or very much more likely than the other for you? I am not clear if you are concerned that he had racism in his heart so to speak or if you are concerned that he was not more careful with his words and that his sloppiness was itself racist irrespective of his intent?

      1. Racist irrespective of intent?

        That statement makes no sense. Racism is an ideology, not an accident.

        You are talking about the feelings of some of the people who read Shapiro's comment, not Shapiro himself.

        What you are opening the door for is for people to make all sorts of inaccurate accusations of racism based on their own racial stereotypes. In other words, your definition of racism enables and makes racism more likely.

        If your best piece of evidence that someone is racist is that the person saying the words is a white male, the assertion that the person is racist is itself racist. At core, you would be making the same logical errors as racists (overgeneralization, unfair stereotyping, etc.)

        1. I'm not opening that door- I agree with you. I'm asking for a clarification from Queenie (or anybody else here that is mad at Shapiro) so I understand the standard being applied. And I wonder if Queenie doesnt quite understand the standard he or she is applying and is just lashing out emotionally due to incompletely examined dogma.

  11. Queenie I am not really following your example (no offense intended), but I'd like to know your honest perspective. For you is it equally as plausible that Shapiro meant "lesser" in a racist sense as it is that he meant less qualified on the merits as he claims? Is one interpretation more or very much more likely than the other for you?

    1. QA believes it doesn't really matter what Shapiro meant, because it is oppressive to question Biden's promise for any reason. Unless the reason is that Biden should have been more intersectional and should nominate a trans disabled Black indigenous nonbinary reformed felon to be Supreme Court justice, never mind the qualifications or representativeness of such a person.

  12. (o)bjectively best pick for Biden is Sri Srinivasan, who is solid and prog and v. smart. Even has identity politics benefit of being first Asian (Indian) American. But alas doesn't fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we'll get lesser black woman.

    Surprising to me that those keen on context have not once in this thread included mention of, "intersectionality," as a notable bit of context. As everyone commenting here knows, the notion of intersectionality is widely denigrated among right wingers. They call it abusive social justice policy. They say or imply (constantly, repeatedly, in chorus) that promotion of lesser candidates ahead of better qualified ones is a social evil to be systematically resisted.

    The use of, "intersectionality," in Shapiro's tweet is gratuitous, dragged in from nowhere except the durable archive of right-wing grievance. It serves no purpose in context except to intensify right wing hostility toward a Black candidate. President Biden did not suggest any such thing as an, "intersectionality," advantage in support of his commitment to choose a Black woman. So the unbidden appearance of the term in Shapiro's tweet must be counted as notable context indeed, especially useful for insight into his intention.

    That is what comes before, "so we'll get lesser black woman." Rhetorically, Shapiro built deliberately a foundation of hostility, before reinforcing it with words which literally imply racial inferiority.

    Given that, it is hardly surprising that Shapiro's defenders insist on rewording what he said, before allowing discussion of the merits of his utterance in context.

    1. You should practice writing at a second grade reading level. It would probably un-muddle your thinking.

      Your complaint is that Shapiro (correctly) identified Biden's promise as driven by intersectionality, and because conservatives criticize that kind of thinking, the intersection of that backdrop and what Shapiro wrote later combines to produce more repression. The proof is -- intersectionality.

      This is why clear thinkers treat intersectionality as a bunch of hooey.

      1. Michael P, "intersectionality," times 4, when Biden never mentioned it. Can't you see where this is coming from? Your caller is in your house.

        1. Biden didn't have to mention it, because the only reason to want a Black Woman specifically is to emphasize the intersection of those two identity groups. He wants be be racist AND sexist, not just one or the other.

    2. And here you are guilty of overgeneralization. You assume that Shapiro is a "right-winger" and therefore has all of the stereotypical views you associate with right-wingers.

      Shapiro is an INDIVIDUAL with his own beliefs.

  13. Academic Freedom Alliance? Sounds like a white supremacist organization to me.

    1. Nah. Just a Robert George-inspired group of disaffected fossils trying to stand on each others' shoulders so they can periodically reach the ankles of the reasoning, educated, modern American liberal-libertarian mainstream that vexes clingers so by arranging all of this damned reason, science, modernity, inclusiveness, tolerance, and progress.

  14. One I think that Professors Volokh and Whittington should spend some time articulating is distinguishing between good and bad speech filtering.

    Universities’ basic function is speech filtering, identifying good and bad speech and good and bad speakers. When they select an entering class or hire faculty, they are seeking speakers and speech that reflect certain values. Those values are different from the ones seeking to oust Professor Shapiro are espousing, but they are values all the same.

    Consider Professor Smith, head of the Center for Buggywhip Research, and Professor Jones, head of the Center for Linotype Excellence. Their students complain. They don’t want to learn about buggywhios and linotype. They want to be taught about automobiles, airplanes, computers. They want the university to shift its resources.

    I suspect that Professors Volokh and Whittington would be more sympathetic to the students in this case and less protective of the idea that the First Amendment means that Professors Smith and Jones have a constitutional right to teach about buggywhips and linotype to their hearts’ content, and the students simply have to suck up and take it.

    But why exactly? Why exactly would it be legitimate to consider speech bad or not useful or some other negative term if it’s about (say) obsolete technology, but not if it’s anout things that students or legislators feel upset by on ideological or moral grounds - promoting communism, promoting laissez-faire capitalism, promoting homosexuality, opposing homosexuality, teaching evolution, teaching Creationism, and all the other things that have created controversy in academia in the last century?

    What ddistinguishes things opponents consider useless or harmful on ideological grounds and those they consider useless, wrong, or harmful because they represent obsolete technology, scientific theories generally considered discredited, bad grammar or writing style, poor fact checking, failure to use references,and other kinds of speech that it’s considered OK for people in academia to oppose?

    And why can you consider people’s general suitability, moral character, etc. when deciding whether to hire or omit them, as every admissions office and search committee does, but not once they’re in? Why does the constitution permit one and not the other?

    1. If students think some university's curriculum is irrelevant, they can devote their money to a university that recognizes the authority of students to set the curriculum.

      Oh, right: They're not spending their own money, and only an insane person thinks that students should dictate what is taught.

      1. Movement conservatives know that the only person who should be dictating what students are taught at school is Jesus.

        (Here is Skunk Baxter taking the fretboard to school. If you are familiar with My Old School, maybe even aware of Daddy G's identity, don't miss this one.)

    2. Your analogy is way off.

      It would be more on point if the students were protesting faculty Tweets about buggywhips and linotype DESPITE teaching about automobiles, airplanes, and computers.

      Students obviously have a critical interest in the relevance of what they are taught. But they don't have such a strong interest in preventing professors from talking about buggywhips and linotype on their own time. (Or researching these topics outside of their classes as part of their academic duties.)

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