“I Hate Republicans”: Michigan Professor Under Fire For Provocative Column

16596269-smallUniversity of Michigan Communications Professor Susan Douglas is at the center of a controversy over a column that she wrote for In These Times entitled “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans.” The title was changed after Douglas complained that it did not represent the content of her column which began with the line “I hate Republicans.”

Douglas is the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies at The University of Michigan and Chair of the Department. Her past work includes Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work Is Done (Times Books/Henry Holt, 2010); The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Undermines Women; and Where The Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media (Times Books, 1994; Penguin, 1995). She received her B.A. from Elmira College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Brown University. She has written for The Nation, In These Times, The Village Voice, Ms., The Washington Post and TV Guide.

Authors usually do not choose their headlines. Indeed, it is a common complaint. I never have any say in the headlines of my columns in USA Today and other newspaper and I have been burned in the past with some headlines. Most readers do not realize that authors usually see the headlines for the first time when they do — when the piece is published.

On this occasion, the headline does not seem wildly out of place given the leading line. However, Douglas originally entitled the column “We Can’t All Just Get Along.”

In These Times ran an Editor’s Note:

Editor’s note: This article was originally titled “We Can’t All Just Get Along” in the print version of the magazine. The title was then changed, without the author’s knowledge or approval, to “It’s Okay to Hate Republicans.” The author rejects the online title as not representative of the piece or its main points. Her preferred title has been restored. We have also removed from the “Comments” section all threats to the author’s life and personal safety.

The column’s content however have created a firestorm. Douglas begins with “I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.'” She even said that she once liked and even worked for a Republican but that “Today, marrying a Republican is unimaginable to me.” That type of “some of my best friends were Republicans but I would not marry one” approach does not sit well with some students.

She then says that if things have become too poisonous . . . well, the Republicans started it: “This isn’t like a fight between siblings, where the parent says, “It doesn’t matter who started it.” Yes, it does.” She cites “Spiro Agnew’s attack on intellectuals as an ‘effete corps of impudent snobs’; to Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech; to the GOP’s endless campaign
to smear the Clintons over Whitewater, then bludgeon Bill over Monica Lewinsky; to the ceaseless denigration of President Obama (“socialist,” “Muslim”).”

The column has been denounced as hateful by students and outside groups. Some have raised Michigan’s anti-discrimination policy which states that people affiliated with the university cannot create “…an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or abusive environment for that individual’s employment, education, living environment, or participation in a University activity.” I strongly disagree with those who are seeking to punish Douglas for her writings despite my equally strong disagreement with the column. This is a matter of free speech and academic freedom in my view. If such views are now subject to academic discipline as matters of hate speech, there will be little left of free speech on campuses.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have even seen comedians targets with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).

Having said that, Douglas works hard to justify hate for others. After listing sins going back to Spiro Agnew (despite equally insulting statements about Republicans by Democratic leaders), Douglas concludes “So now we hate them back. And for good reason. Which is too bad.”

I think the whole piece fits in the “too bad” column. It is too bad that an academic feels the need to justify hate for an entire group. It is too bad that she shows little willingness to acknowledge similar attacks from her side. However, none of that justifies calls for discipline for an academic in speaking her mind on contemporary issues. She was clearly venting in an honest, albeit provocative way. Like many academic writers, she was clearly interested in starting a debate and she succeeded. If people view this as hate speech, it is still free speech and the solution to bad speech is good speech.

Source: Mlive

160 thoughts on ““I Hate Republicans”: Michigan Professor Under Fire For Provocative Column”

  1. General opinion I hold: There seems to be some sort of consensus among some commenters here and else where about what being a “conservative” means. They’re usually painted with a wide brush, and this is no more reasonable than doing so with the term “liberal” which seems conflated with “progressive.”

    What are we becoming? Clones of SCOTUS Justice Roberts, who had difficulty with semantics on the subject of penalties versus taxes. When we dilute our language in to mush we risk losing preciseness in more things because of the precedent set, by Justices or by just you and me. Very few technological advances would be made in science if such dilution was common there.

    When any of us just toss out blanket references we dilute the language, especially in staccato comments, the mark of drive by commenters. …when those references do NOT clarify what the definition is in precise terms. Those reading our words cannot read our minds, so if we mean something, we need to define it. In my old Jurassic period point of view, there really is something to be say by expressing yourself by more than 140 characters.

    Oh, and BTW (an aside here)…this old cretin now has a new iPhone…due to persistent nagging by my daughter and my better half….about the 21st century yada yada. My initial opinion after a bit over a week is that Apple fixed many things not broken…it is actually harder to several basic tasks. However, I will adapt. I’m cheap and breaking the 2 year deal would mean a fairly high penalty….especially since I rolled it up in to our family plan and pay only $10 additional for the iPhone….after a reduced purchase price reflecting the 2 year deal. Had I to do it over again, I’d not do it. Just like software purveyors, the smart phone industry seems to thrive on updated versions, always “fixing” things not broken in the first place. Yes, I have more “features” now, but most of those will only serve sporadic uses….the features of the Motorola Flip Phone I used literally every day now take more “taps” etc. Handy is not what I’d call the dang thing. I guess that makes me a “conservative” dolt, eh 🙁

  2. Inga…Hemming listens to him, just like you say you used to do. Perhaps for different reasons. It is of course both of your right to do so. Like I said, let me know when Rush is elected to anything.

    Now, please tell me what a “typical conservative” is…is there a definition I can use for a guide? I don’t think Ms Hemming and I are all that different, but I do think it is a stretch to call either of us “typical.”

    One reason I’ve not heard Rush on air is because I seldom listen to radio, even in my truck I tune only to a local all news station for weather and traffic reports which they update every 10 minutes. I’m basically a city kid, even with my travels and temporary living in the west and the far east, so I still prefer to drive surface streets…but when I must use one of our ditches…err, “freeways” … my interest is solely in weather and whether the “ditch” is a parking lot.

    However, next time I get caught in one of those “parking lots” I will find out what station Rush is on and listen a bit….just so I can know what I’m being compared to, etc. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Aridog,
    Sandi Hemming (@12:54) istens to him. Actually she seems quite fond of him. Is Sandi not the typical conservative? What kind of conservative listens to Rush Limbaugh in your opinion? Why don’t you listen to him?

  4. Inga said …

    I used to listen to Limbaugh to see what the right was hearing.

    That was your mistake. Many of us “on the right” never listen to him, nor do we pay any attention to him. But carry on with your fantasy. Never mind Rush speaks for no one but Rush. Period.

    Get back to me when he is elected to anything.

    My opinion of Carl Rove is not much different… and oh my f’ing G-d, why is he or Cheney still on television? It has to be a malevolent conspiracy by the media…most notably leftist. All y’all seem to not be able to get enough of either of them.

    Don’t blame me or most “rightists”…. we are not on the same page.

    For my part, I cannot understand why a plethora of younger people with fantastic experience, actual real life experience, don’t drown them out. If we are literally “stuck” with Jeb or Hillary, I blame you guys. I like blaming you guys 🙂

    Dang sure no real conservative listens to any of those old f*rts…and I AM an old f*rt…but expect the young to step up. Nonsense from the Medicare contingent, although I am one also, is depressing.

    I am happy to blame you guys…I can be conspiratorial when I have to be 🙁

  5. “Thought it was to be more of a one on one cage match between Rush and Rove. I would pay to see that! Just …no spandex please.”

    Now that’s funny. OK, You win today. But don’t let it go to your head. There is always more tomorrow.

  6. LeeJ, when I hear people say that “if only” someone would listen to, read the same propaganda or watch the same drivel on TV news shows that they do, that they would change their mind and see the light and then agree wholeheartedly with that person, I simply laugh. That is hilarious to me. I used to listen to Limbuagh to see what the right was hearing. I could only stand listening for a few weeks and then every time I heard his voice, his slurs, his “jokes”, I felt nauseous. Limbaugh’s self aggrandizement and misogyny is disgusting.

    When visiing my sister, we watched what she dubbed “The Mean Girls” on Fox, I think the show is called “The Five” or something. I only watched it because my sister liked watching it for some strange reason. During the entire show she yelled at the TV, I had to excuse myself and go out on the deck or visit the neighbor. The sheer vicious nastiness on that show and the sneering lipsticked mouths of the FOX babes was not worth an hour of my time. I’ve read Drudge, Breitbart, The Blaze, even WND to see what the over side was up to, OMG, what sheer propaganda, what gross misinformation, I don’t waste my time anymore on these “news” outlets anymore, my tolerance for hateful rhetoric has fallen over the years, life is too short. I’ll leave Limbaugh to Sandi, thank you, but no, not for me.

    1. Inga, I “like” to see what he and his lemmings (sry followers but when you read their remarks they do behave as the myth of lemmings) and the hateful rhetoric is appalling (and often written after stating “I am a Christian and this Muslim president, etc, etc)
      Aridog, long time since I’ve been young ((*_*))

      1. ” lemmings” – I could be wrong but I think the approved Limbaugh term is ditto-head.

        Have you noticed how contemptuous he is to his listeners – and they eat it up, like it is some kind of an honor to have Rush make condescending remarks to the listener.

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