Now College Professors Could Be Fired If They Merely OFFEND Students – by Robert Gehl
Leftists academics are getting the institutions they asked for – safe, coddling, liberal, and a complete lack of intellectual diversity, tolerance, or curiosity.
The latest lambs to the slaughter are the faculty at the University of Oregon.
Last week, the school made it perfectly clear to the teachers that if they so much as offended any student on the subject of race, gender, sexuality, or religion, they would be disciplined.
This is great for whiny students – their subjective measure of what “offends” them can almost certainly be applied to any instructor – especially a particularly difficult one whose course they’re struggling in.
The Washington Post’s Eugene Volokh explains:
This time it involved someone making herself up as a black man at a costume party (as it happens, doing so in order to try to send an antiracist message). But according to the university’s logic, a faculty member could be disciplined for displaying the Mohammed cartoons, if it caused enough of a furor. Or a faculty member could be disciplined for suggesting that homosexuality may be immoral or dangerous. Or for stating that biological males who view themselves as female should be viewed as men, not as women. Or for suggesting that there are, on average, biological differences in temperament or talents between men and women.
All such speech at the University of Oregon will risk your being suspended or perhaps even worse. Orthodoxy, enforced on threat of institutional punishment, is what the University of Oregon is now about.
Volokh explains how it all started: at a Halloween party hosted by a tenured professor, Nancy Schurtz.
Shurtz had invited her students, something law professors sometimes do. About a dozen students came, and about a dozen non-students did, too.
Shurtz had told the students that she would be “going as a popular book title”; she didn’t tell the students up front what it was, but the book was the recent (and acclaimed) “Black Man in a White Coat,” a black doctor’s “reflections on race and medicine” (according to the subtitle). Shurtz’s “costume incorporated a white doctor’s lab coat, a stethoscope, black makeup on her face and hands, and a black curly wig resembling an afro.”
The university report states that Shurtz “was inspired by this book and by the author, that she greatly admires [the author] and wanted to honor him, and that she dressed as the book because she finds it reprehensible that there is a shortage of racial diversity, and particularly of black men, in higher education.”
But many people find whites putting on makeup to look black to be offensive. I’m skeptical about the soundness of this view: The university report justifies the view by saying that “Blackface minstrelsy first became nationally popular in the late 1820s when white male performers portrayed African-American characters using burnt cork to blacken their skin” and that “wearing tattered clothes, the performances mocked black behavior, playing racial stereotypes for laughs” — but it doesn’t follow to me that wearing black makeup without mocking black behavior or playing racial stereotypes for laughs should be perceived as offensive. Nonetheless, it is a fact (though one that Shurtz apparently didn’t know) that many people do, rightly or wrongly, view this as offensive.
And this perceived offensiveness yielded a huge uproar at the law school. According to the report, the uproar was partly students’ immediate reaction and partly a result of the administration’s and other faculty members’ discussing the matter extensively at school, including in classes.
Moreover, the report notes that, as part of the uproar, students said things of which the administration disapproved: The report specifically notes that students used “other offensive racially-based terminology during class times in the context of discussing this event and broader racial issues.” It related that “some of the witnesses reported that the students’ reactions to the event were racially insensitive or divisive.” And it apparently viewed such statements as relevant to whether Shurtz’s own speech was properly punished.
So it was a private party at a professor’s home. Students were invited. The party leads to “speech” by people who attend the law school.
So what’s the school to do?
Here’s what they did: they suspended Schurtz, then released a report concluding that, yes, they should have suspended her. Her “speech” was harassment, which violates university policy.
After the lengthly report, they conclude:
“The University does not take issue with the subject matter of Shurtz’s expression, or her viewpoints, but the freedoms under this policy end where prohibited discrimination and/or discriminatory harassment begin.” Actually, to be honest, the university does “take issue with the subject matter of Shurtz’s expression, or her viewpoints,” and concludes that the offensiveness of that subject matter and viewpoints makes it “harassment” and strips it of protection.
Again, contrary to the university’s explicit assurances in its free speech policy, the university report shows that “[t]he belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or ‘just plain wrong’” would indeed be viewed as “grounds for its suppression.” Indeed, even the wearing of black makeup is being suppressed on the grounds that it’s seen as “despicable, detestable, offensive or ‘just plain wrong’” (the report stressed that “[a]lmost every student interviewed reported that they knew the costume was ‘not okay’”). The expression of overtly racially offensive opinions would be just as covered by the university report’s logic.
As a result of this nonsense, the following acts of “Expression” are now grounds of termination at the University of Oregon:
- Sharp criticism of Islam.
- Claims that homosexuality is immoral.
- Claims that there are biological differences in aptitude and temperament, on average, between men and women.
- Rejection of the view that gender identity can be defined by self-perception, as opposed to biology.
- Harsh condemnation of soldiering (that would be harassment based on “service in the uniformed services” or “veteran status”).
- Condemnation of people who have children out of wedlock (that would be harassment based on “marital … status” and “family status”).
The left is eating itself.