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: by someone afraid to use his name or give anything but very vague references to his business expertise.

    I am not “afraid,” I am cautious with reason. Just as there is a difference between “bravery” and “foolishness” there is a difference between “caution” and “fear.”

    I have seen tenured professors lose their jobs over petty squabbles, university politics, and for PR reasons. I am a professor but not tenured; my contract has to be renewed yearly, and I can be summarily dismissed without cause. That is fine by me, I prefer shorter-term work commitments, before I retired to academia I was a consultant, and my gigs lasted 3 months to a year. But my contract includes the risk of petty retaliation which I have already seen exercised more than once.

  2. Apparently someone has forgotten the anonymity rule, so I’ll remind you.

    Posters are allowed to post anonymously. Their identifying information will not be revealed by the host, guest bloggers or third party posters without that anonymous poster’s consent.

    As an aside, threatening to reveal the identity of anonymous posters is strongly frowned upon and certainly not going to win you any friends.

    You got warned on the abusing the civility rule. Unlike the civility rule, which is by necessity flexible, this is a black line rule as is the “no hijacking other poster’s identity” rule. You won’t get a warning if you cross this particular line.

    You’ll just get the boot.

    Carry on.

  3. I’ll make sure you remain anonymous. It’s more than a bit curious that a man who uses his real name, gives identifying info about himself, and is an open book, is being called a liar by someone afraid to use his name or give anything but very vague references to his business expertise. You can’t make this shit up. If I didn’t have class, which you are sorely lacking, I would call you a liar. But, I’m better than that. Good night and God bless.

  4. Nick: What is so amazing about your specific accusation here is that you apparently don’t go to ballgames.

    I said the last time I had been; I did not say I had been frequently. But I have been. I have also been to a football game, and a soccer game, and a basketball game. I’ve even watched a volleyball tournament in person.

    Further, I said I think you are lying. Do you wish to disprove what I think? Do you want me to somehow prove that I think that? You are being incoherent; I think your stories are made up. I don’t care if you went to a ballgame, that doesn’t prove your anecdote is true. I don’t think it is. Sure, there may be drunk fans; they irritate you, and in response you like to buy them a beer and give the drunk a little parental talking to, and that mostly works. Riiiight. I worked as a barback (I was underage so my title was “dishwasher” but I was a barback) in high school, I know a thing or two about drunks, and that doesn’t sound like a drunk to me.

    As for your 1K bet, you are right, I wouldn’t miss it. But I am not going to undo my anonymity with anyone here for something as trivial as that, certainly not to satisfy your infantile macho challenge. I don’t believe your story.

  5. Bron, There are a lot of kids like your son. Here is an anecdote that my daughter can verify. She is a college grad[public relations] and very sharp. She got married last year in Mn. When they went to get the marriage license she was taken aback @ the cost. She asked if the yearly renewal of the marriage license would be the same. The clerk thought she was being sarcastic but she actually thought one had to renew the marriage license like a fishing license, which she had just renewed a couple months prior. To her credit, she told people and can take the laughs and ballbusting.

    And yes, the patriarchal club comes w/ all you stated and a monocle!

  6. nick:

    I have a 24 year old son and he is a kid, he is smart as hell but he dont know fookin shinola. Can I join you in your patriarchal frame of mind? LOL

    Does that come with cigars and whiskey or scotch, golf, ball games and a big bank account? I could enjoy that.

  7. I stated @ 7:17p there is a difference in the 2 venues. You responded @ 7:26p not acknowledging what I wrote 9 minutes prior. As stated previously, it is on the record. Again, you are diminishing yourself by calling me a liar and offering no specifics, and no balls of putting money where your angry mouth is. The first rule of those in a hole is to stop digging. And, I’m not saying “trust me”. I’m saying make a specific allegation where you believe I lied and put up 1k. You won’t have to prove a negative, that is unfair. The burden of proof will be mine w/ a preponderance of evidence being the standard.

    What is so amazing about your specific accusation here is that you apparently don’t go to ballgames. If you did, you would know the vast majority of tix are purchased online. You print out your tix @ home. Since I purchased the tix for myself, wife, son and friend, all tix bear my name and the last 4 digits of my credit card. I always save my tix for nostalgia sake. Additionally, if you did go to ballgames you would know many times during the course of games there are problems w/ drunken fans being profane around kids. Hell, on the east coast[NY, Boston, Philly] it’s tantamount to child abuse to take a kid to a game. That’s why all ballparks have family sections but they’re small and poor seats usually. Just let this go, man.

  8. Nick: In your post at 6:21 PM I see no such caveat. That is the post to which I was responding. When you wrote it, you apparently thought your “anecdote” applied to the campus situation. Why? I presume because you mistakenly think of college students as “kids,” which I find a belittling attitude, whether you made a belated concession or not, to me it reveals your patriarchal frame of mind.

  9. Your threat is implied in trying to discover somebody’s identity, your threat is implied in claiming that people don’t have the balls to meet you in the real world.

    You can endorse yourself all you want, if I didn’t believe your stories, why should I believe your self-endorsement?

    In my work I found many times the people who were always suspicious of other people’s truthfulness were actually the people that had been burned before, and were now the people most successful because they were the least likely to fall for a ruse, fraud or lie, small or large.

    What I learned in business, the hard way, is that “trust” is an emotion that one relies upon at one’s peril. That’s the wonderful thing about business, they invented contracts that minimize the reliance on trust. I have, on several occasions, saved my own butt by incorporating verbal promises into my contract, only to have the promiser refuse to commit in writing. (But say something like, “trust me, we want that too, but the lawyers won’t let us…”)

    Just last year, in fact, that happened again while negotiating a contract for a former employee (that sensibly did not trust his client). A lack of trust or suspicion of dissembling is not a projection, it is a learned response to swimming with sharks and getting bitten.

    I do not diminish myself by being brutally honest any more than you do when you are brutally honest.

  10. You didn’t respond to the point I made about my acknowledging there are differences between a ballpark and campus and your missing that prior to your rant. It’s all on the record. I guess you were just looking for conflict.

  11. Wow, I have a standing 1k offer. You name the “lie” or “false anecdote” and I’ll prove it w/ a mutually agreed upon arbiter. I was calling out the person who used innuendo and cowardly language to imply I was a liar. At least you had the balls to call me a liar. Do you have the balls to put up 1k? I HAVE NEVER THREATENED ANYONE W/ PERSONAL RETALIATION, OR ANY TYPE OF THREATS. Now you’re using innuendo. I’m guessing some anger issues are causing you to overreact. I’m sorry for your demons..there is help if you want it.

    In my work I found many times the people who were always suspicious of other people’s truthfulness were actually just projecting their proclivity to dissemble. That applied to both witnesses and clients. Even attorneys who HATE me will say I’m straight and honest. I’ve testified under oath hundreds of times and I am truthful always, sometimes to a fault when I’m brutally honest. I truly can’t remember ANYONE else but people here calling me a liar. That’s pretty serious stuff. You and your fellow accuser are merely diminishing yourselves. So, put up or shut up. You always brag about your businesses, 1k should be chump change for a man of your stature. And, I take you @ your word on your success since I have no proof otherwise and know people are basically good and honest. However, I was always thankful for those who aren’t..that’s how I made my living.

    1. How precious a standing 1K bet. Macho tactic of the childish variety. People pay a PI to do detailed investigations, which would be necesssary to prove an anecdote false. Cost would cut into 1K profit, ergo bad bet snd yhr last refuge of s scoundrel. Having an apt anecdote for sll situations is improbable snd thus seems suspect. The problem is Nick’s ressoning power bscked up by suspect anecdotes. Sort of like my saying I once knew a PI well and he was a liar, ergo all PI ‘s are liars, the logic of which is all Nick’s got.

  12. Nick: Who, ME man up? I think you are a liar that makes up your “anecdotes” (or “idealizes” the truth) because you are too much of a coward to just give your opinion without pretending it applies to real life. You need the false anecdote as a shield for your opinion, so you can hide behind it and say “but it really happened!”

    As for your ticket stubs, that would prove nothing, not even that you attended the game; I could have picked them up all day long outside the last ballpark I attended. They certainly do not prove anything you claim happened between you and some random fan at the game.

    Of course there is a certain type of person in the threads, that just loves to try and make it personal, to use threats of personal retaliation, that cannot handle debate without the implication of physical violence, that type of person that thinks “real men” should only express an opinion if they are willing to back it up with fisticuffs.

    I fail to see how being “a man” means giving in to somebody else’s infantile demands.

  13. And, to those w/ poor reading skills, I acknowledged there are differences between a campus and ballpark. Does Evelyn Wood still hold reading classes.

  14. I don’t agree with her arrest, but raising the volume, from the view of the cops, is different than silent pictures. -Dave

    I watched the video.

    The same would have happened if she was a he. -Dave

    Maybe.

    It was a bad arrest. Needn’t have happened.

  15. Jim: 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.

    That is complete B.S., her “confrontation” was entirely verbal, and that IS protected under the first amendment. You do not get to bypass the first amendment by calling speech “confrontation.” The point of free speech is to let people freely express their opinions, good or bad, in good or bad language, and that is what this professor was doing. You are completely wrong.

  16. @Anonymously Posted

    The same would have happened if she was a he. I don’t agree with her arrest, but raising the volume, from the view of the cops, is different than silent pictures.

  17. Nick: consider it part of the social contract to not use profanity when children are around.

    College students are not children any more than the professors are, if you are trying to imply that they are. They are drinking, smoking, toking, driving, voting, and being over the age of consent, most have been “consenting” with enthusiasm.

  18. Since its Laura Curry, a woman, giving her sincere opinion on a sensitive women’s issue, its all the more reason for campus police to back off & keep the peace in a less intrusive way.

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