We have previously discussed the controversial writings of George Ciccariello-Maher, a former Drexel University Professor who was pushed to resign after a national outcry. Ciccariello-Maher has blamed the Las Vegas massacre on “Trumpism” and declared that “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.” He has insisted that some of his prior tweets have been”satirical,” though he appears to court controversy on social media. He has now announced to have been hired as a visiting scholar by New York University’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.
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Last year, he tweeted, “Some guy gave up his first class seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him. I’m trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul.” Likewise, after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, he posted, “It’s the white supremacist patriarchy, stupid,” arguing the tragedy was caused by an overarching “narrative of white victimization.”
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Despite a long history of writing highly offensive and prejudicial statements, I continued to question the effort to fire Ciccariello-Maher in exercising his free speech rights on social media. My concern was heightened by the demand of wealthy donors that the Ciccariello-Maher be fired. Thousands of university professors (including this one) engage in blogs and social media to express political, social, and academic viewpoints. Inevitably, there will be those who view many statements to be offensive or insulting. However, these academics retain not simply their rights of free speech but have historically been protected by the principles of academic freedom. If schools like Drexel destroy that tradition, any professor could be dismissed after some wealthy donor complains to a university president. University administrators are notorious for putting the bottomline ahead of principle in such controversies. The answer to Ciccariello-Maher is readily apparent: response with your own postings and arguments. That is the beauty of free speech. Bad speech can be countered by good speech.
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There is however a countervailing concern. As we have previously discussed (including the recent story involving an Oregon professor), there remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives. The incident also raises what some faculty have complained is a double or at least uncertain standard. We have previously discussed....Read More HERE