Buffalo Professor Arrested for Verbally Attacking Students Over Pro-Life Display

CurryLaura Curry, a professor of film at the University of Buffalo, has been arrested after she confronted a pro-life demonstration using profane language. In the video below, Curry objects to being asked to stop because of her language. She insists that she has a first amendment right to swear. In my view, she is correct. I do not see how this is any cognizable crime. One can certainly disagree with the tenor or public conduct of the professor, but this would seem protected speech. This is the second such arrest of a professor in a month for denouncing a campus demonstration. There are really two legal issues presented in such cases: a criminal case (which is quite weak) and an academic case (which is likely to be more substantial) against the professor.

Curry is shown on the video below confronting the students on a picture shown in their pro-life displays, which she called “fucking profane.” Police tell her that she is being disruptive and to stop swearing. Curry asked “Where does it say I can’t use the fuck word in public . . I can swear because that’s part of my vocabulary. That’s part of my First Amendment rights.” She asks why she can be stopped for being profane but they can show a poster viewed as profane.

As she is arrested, Curry is heard asking a witness to tell her students that she will miss her class because she is being arrested.

Curry is an adjunct instructor of media study.

As with the earlier Oregon story, the arrest will raise a question over whether a professor should have to comply with a more restrictive standard of conduct than an ordinary citizen on campus. I personally believe that professors can protest but they have to be more measured in their conduct as part of maintaining a community where different views and values can be expressed. Moreover, this is not the type of dialogue that we try to encourage in campuses. You can strongly disagree without reducing such confrontations to swearing contests. This are tough questions for faculty that balance free speech of faculty with faculty codes imposing standards of conduct. The Emory Faculty Handbook bars faculty from “Inappropriate, disruptive, discourteous or irregular behavior adversely affecting students, employees, patients, or visitors.” There are similar prohibitions at other schools sites.

What is clear is that this should not be a criminal case and the arrest should not have occurred in my view. The matter should be left to the University of Buffalo faculty on whether this conduct meets the standard of a professor at the university.

Here is the handbook: 2013FacultyHandbookInt

80 thoughts on “Buffalo Professor Arrested for Verbally Attacking Students Over Pro-Life Display”

  1. Nick,

    “I apologize if it distracted you in this thread.”

    No distraction, Nick. Just a humorous sidelight as the thread is about a woman getting arrested for, well, I’m not sure what she was arrested for.

    But I can assure you it has no correlation to obnoxious fans at a ball game, whether you have the ticket stubs or not.

  2. DREDD,

    Where everybody is going wrong is “has been arrested after she confronted a pro-life demonstration” she confronted them and that is not protected under the first amendment. She has a right to her opinion but can’t confront others whom she disagrees. Also, since when does a college get to decide what punishment one receives if their actions fringe on disturbing the peace?

  3. gbk, Believe me, I called him out then, and every chance I get. I put up a 1k wager that was not taken. Cowards just like to slink away and hope everything is forgotten. We dagos NEVER forget. I apologize if it distracted you in this thread. If the person will just man up, I’ll cease. Otherwise, I’m Joe Frazier, and Joe just kept comin’!

    1. Nick,

      Any resemblance between you and Joe Frazier is in your fevered imagination. Joe Frazier was a great fighter with heart. You on the other hand lack the skill to hold your own here and think uou are being picked on when that is pointed out to you. Poor Nick the victim is the game you play and that does not evince courage at all.

  4. Nick,

    “The “false anecdote” derives from a person who used innuendo to obtusely call me a liar. His cowardly accusation questioned the anecdote being true.”

    Call him out in then — in the thread where this egregious act was committed. Why here, why now?

  5. I couldn’t review the video since the link was broken so I only will comment on generalities. Unless the woman in this story was arrested for taunting others to engage in fighting or use abusive language to create fear of an assault on behalf of others the use of cuss words is protected speech. If she prevented the people from performing their lawful demonstration that might be another.

    I am assuming also this professor here did not accost the students as was recently alleged against the Oregon professor. In that case I would agree he was lawfully arrested. If this case only involves the cussing, I would say it was not valid.

  6. gbk, The “false anecdote” derives from a person who used innuendo to obtusely call me a liar. His cowardly accusation questioned the anecdote being true. I tend to agree w/ you there is some difference between the 2 venues. And, while I believe the Constitution trumps the social contract, our culture will be worthless w/o both.

    1. Nick,

      You prove once again your inability to be aware enough to actually understand your faults. That’s so sad for you, but considering your treacly false bonhomie I just find it funny and pathetic.

  7. Gyges, Did you play The Riddler in the Batman series? I thought Frank Gorshin died.

  8. There was no more justification for arresting this person than there would have been for arresting Todd Akin for his rape comments. This should be considered an internal administrative matter.

  9. Nick,

    If you promise to never dress in a monkey suit and throw poop at a lizard dressed like the Pope, I promise I’ll believe you too.

    Of course why on earth either of us should feel it necessary to assure the other one we’ll behave differently than the mysterious unnamed entities of the others fevered dreams is beyond me.

  10. Nick,

    “Another “possibly false” anecdote??”

    Probably, as there is a difference between ball games and protests on a campus.

  11. Gyges, This forum is ripe w/ hypocritical double standards. But, you can personally refute my assertion in this thread if you wish and I’ll take you @ your word.

  12. AY, My sojourn from San Diego ended late Tuesday when I got back to cold/ wet Wisconsin. I wish I were still in San Diego but I’m always happy to hear from you no matter where I am. And, although I was angry about the Wi. taxpayers being on the hook to build the Brewers and movable roof ballpark, I have to say it’s nice this time of year. Those cheap Norwegians in Mn. built a ballpark for the Twins but skimped on the roof. Again, I consider this taxpayer funded ballparks the worst form of corporate welfare. But, if you’re going to do it, @ least do it w/ common sense!

  13. Reverse roles[pro choice protestor being profanely confronted by a pro life professor] and I think many here would have a much different take. Just sayn’.

    Well I think that if it was a guy in a monkey suit throwing poop at a lizard dressed like the Pope we’d have a lousy art school project.

    Accusing people of having double standards because of how you think they’d act if things were different is about as nonsensical as critiquing a piece of performance art you imagined someone doing.

  14. I swear like a sailor. But, I am always cognizant of the enviroment. I consider it part of the social contract to not use profanity when children are around. I just got back from watching the Brewers beat the Giants. It was a kid/sr. day and there were many kids around. A guy a few rows back was drunk and throwing around “f@ck, assh@le”, etc. A matronly woman nearby just appealed to the man on behalf of the kids[presumably grandkids] w/ her. The guy grumbled and stopped. Anyone who goes to baseball/football games w/ kids knows this is a HUGE problem. When my kids were little I would buy a beer[s] for profane men[it’s almost always men!]. I would say what I just said here that I’m not a prude but we’re talking kids. Except for maybe once ot twice the men got it and stopped being profane.

    Another “possibly false” anecdote?? I’ve got my ticket stub and witnessess for you skeptical cowards.

  15. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/17/laura-curry-arrested_n_3102694.html

    “Curry was not the only faculty member to voice her objection to the pro-life display. The Spectrum published a letter to the editor Tuesday from a group of six University of Buffalo professors who were “disturbed by the equation of those who support women’s reproductive rights with those who lynched thousands of African American men and women in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

    The professors added that any students who wished to know more about why they objected to that equation could “take any of our classes.””

  16. Nick,

    How dare you profane an act of free speech regardless if which side it is….

    Glad you’re back buddy..

  17. Reverse roles[pro choice protestor being profanely confronted by a pro life professor] and I think many here would have a much different take. Just sayn’. I can’t watch the video so I am only commenting about a role reversal hypothetical. I can’t make an assessment on this incident w/o the video.

  18. Beyond that though the entire issue of profane language has always seemed both ridiculous and hypocritical to me. It is only words. Some words have been deemed proper “excrement” for instance, yet “sh*t” is considered improper. Why is that?

    Well, a lot of times in English its tied up with class. Common English words are deemed “course” because that’s what the poor would use, where as the educated would use French or Latin or whatever.

    Sometimes there’s a really interesting thing where a euphemism gets so popular that it stops being a euphemism and starts just being the word for something.

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