Fresno Professor Faces Calls For Termination After Declaring “The Witch Is Dead” Hours After The Passing Of Barbara Bush

California State University Randa Jarrar is facing calls for her termination after she appeared to celebrate the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush.   A petition calls for the  “Immediate termination of Professor Randa Jarrar for racism and inflammatory comments regarding a former First Lady of the United States, Barbara Bush.”  Jarrar’s comments were disgraceful and hateful, but there remains a question of the free speech rights of teachers and professors in their private lives.



Jarrar called Bush “an amazing racist” and said she was happy that “the witch is dead” not long after her passing.1 jarrar blurred

The school put her under investigation and leave over her postings.  She responded with defiance and bravado to critics, saying “I work as a tenured professor. I make 100K a year doing that. I will never be fired. I will always have people wanting to hear what I have to say.”  (The school later noted that Jarrar’s salary is less than $100,000).

Jarrar 4

I cannot imagine what possessed Jarrar to say such vile things but this was on her social media account.  As we have previously discussed (including the recent controversies involving an Oregon professor and a Drexel 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 controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there has been criticism of a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. There were also such incident at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor. For example, we previously discussed the controversy surrounding Trinity College Professor Johnny Williams and his posts against white people, including an inflammatory reference to people considered bigots and how we should “Let Them. F**king Die.”  As I am mentioned in the earlier post,  I did not believe that Williams should have been punished for his postings as a matter of free speech and academic freedom.  The College reached the same conclusion but the question remains whether the College will take a similar principled position for academics espousing such views about other races.

Just as some of us have opposed speech limits and regulation for students, the same protections should extend to faculty.  Jarrar’s view of a historical figure does not have bearing on her status as an academic.  If the university believes that academics should be placed  on leave and investigated, the faculty and students deserve a clear standard as to what personal views and positions will not be tolerated outside of the university.

Many of us find Jarrar’s comments offensive, but there are many such views expressed across the political and social spectrums that are unpopular or disturbing.  As an academic institution, Fresno State has a core responsibility for protection of free speech rights for its faculty and students alike.  By placing Jarrar on leave and putting her under investigation, it creates a chilling effect of all academics in expressing their views outside of the school. For a school for professes “diversity” as one of its goals, diversity of opinion should also be included in their noble mission.

56 thoughts on “Fresno Professor Faces Calls For Termination After Declaring “The Witch Is Dead” Hours After The Passing Of Barbara Bush”

  1. Sofia – I am 75 years old. How many hours do you think I got? 😉

  2. I support the concept of academic tenure
    I also revile the worthless tenured fools and their nonsense
    Perhaps university funding should be reconsidered by the well heeled donors that keep these fools in business

    1. But why do you support academic tenure? Haven’t we’ve seen countless examples of professors/teachers who can’t be fired due to tenure? These people are supposed to be guiding, opening up minds and sharing their life experiences. But when one can be so awful in espousing as currently this teacher is, they should be removed. Let her start her own school.

  3. Randa:

    Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, dear! Perhaps the most wisdom ever uttered on a college campus and it came during a movie and said by an actor. Take heed.

  4. She needs to be fired for giving out the phone number of the suicide hotline at ASU. Kids who needed help could not get through. She actually should go to jail, if there is such a crime. She put student lives at risk, maybe even is responsible for a death or two.

    1. Agree 100%. Her hateful comments are her opinion and as vile as they are, she is free to let everyone know what an A$$ she is. But giving out the phone number? Way, way over the line for acceptable behavior.

    2. James Comey, “She had no intent.”

      And of Don Corleone, “He had no intent.”

      And of O.J. Simpson, “He had no intent.”

      The prisons will empty, “They had no intent.”

  5. Da prez was not welcomed cuz all da bad stuff he said about da Bush family and you write about a Fresno professor. What about Roger Stone? He tweeted nasty nasty things about Babs. Turley protects da T rump crime family.

    1. Got that right, check out the other post about Joy Reid, and nothing about Sean from FOX

  6. ” In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act ” G. Orwell

  7. Hard to find a more vile creature than this idiot.

    What bothers me about JT is three fold.

    One, it isn’t a free speech issue. No one is putting a gag in her fat mouth stopping her from spewing hate. What JT wants is for there to be no consequences for using your free speech. By not removing the idiot you are reinforcing the no consequences (no judgement) aspect to the surrounding generation.

    Two, JT conveniently groups students rights with the idiot. Students aren’t hired by the institution JT so it’s an apples and oranges comparison.

    Three, JT also for some reason fails to mention the phone number ordeal that others have pointed out.

    Idiot teachers like this are like politicians, we get what we ask for. As long as we refuse to push out the chaff, expect the generations exposed to it to degrade.

    1. She’s a public employee in a subindustry wherein 60% of the workforce is employed by public institutions. She has tenure (a bad institution, but a contract is a contract). The hard questions which will not be asked but need to be asked would be: (1) why do you hire the people you do; it isn’t as if they have to scrounge for applicants to tenure-track positions; and (2) why do you have so many English professors and why so many of these teaching creative writing and the like.

  8. Well, the study of creative writing has a market among aspirant college students, so I can see why they’d have a faculty teaching it. It’s kind of odd that their English department faculty is so large – 80 professors and lecturers. They’ve allocated 20% of their positions to composition, rhetoric, and writing. This allocation is more than twice what you’d expect given the nature of the institution and the usual level of student interest in literary study and writing among those students seeking a liberal education. Why is this department so privileged?

    And if they can afford to hire this puerile head case (who specializes in teaching in the post-baccalaureate program), they’re either a department chock-a-block with fools or they need their budget cut. Scarified, in fact.

  9. Did Randa break this Califoria law?

    Posting a fake phone number known as “spoofing” California’s “False Impersonation” Laws Penal Code 529 PC

    Under California Penal Code 529 PC, you commit the crime of false impersonation when you:

    1. Falsely personate someone (that is, pretend to be them) in their public or private capacity; and
    2. Perform any other act that might cause the person you are impersonating to become liable to a lawsuit or prosecution or become obligated to pay money, or which might cause you to get some benefit from impersonating him/her.


    False personation is what is known as a “wobbler” in California law. This means that it may be charged as either a California misdemeanor or a felony.
    If false impersonation is charged as a misdemeanor, it is punishable by a fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), and/or up to one (1) year in county jail.
    Felony false personation carries a potential fine of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000), and a potential sentence of sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years (which in most cases will be served in county jail under California’s realignment program).

    1. This was my question. Not sure she should be made a martyr, but don’t think phone number issue is free speech matter. Has Prof Turley answered this ques?

  10. She is just the tip of the iceberg with those who call themselves educators.

  11. Fire her for interfering with the operation of the suicide hotline then. No abridgment of her free speech rights, and everyone goes home happy.

  12. Let the marketplace decide if the university benefits from the actions of their employees. If students choose not to enroll in her classes or the institution itself her employer can suffer the benefits of offering her a career.

    That she reportedly anticipated the wrath her phone number would incur from angered or supportive individuals and having that knowledge she caused the interruption of a suicide prevention line, that in my view is cause for discipline up to and including termination.

    The university better hope from a liability risk someone was prevented from reaching a suicide prevention counselor as a result of the flood of calls and instead took their own life.

  13. Here’s a clue about Randa Jarrar’s hate rants:

    Randa Jarrar was born in 1978 in Chicago to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt. After the Gulf War in 1991, she and her family returned to the United States.

    Jarrar may be in trouble for something more serious. She tweeted out a fake phone number as hers, but it wasn’t.

    Disruption of an emergency suicide prevention hotline:

    Amid criticisms, Jarrar provided a telephone number on her Twitter account as if it was her own contact number, stating “If you really wanna reach me, here’s my number ok?” However, the phone number that she provided was that of an emergency suicide/crisis hotline at Arizona State University.

    The resulting deluge of thousands of spam callers overwhelmed the mental health crisis center’s ability to take calls. Two days after Jarrar’s tweet, the mental health crisis center continued to receive between 50 to 70 calls per hour.

  14. that fat ass illiterate filth mouth is a Professor. Good reason to cut public funding. $100,000 a year for being a slob?

  15. FWIW, she didn’t “appear” to celebrate, she celebrated. I think she should be fired not for her speech, but for it being public, and overt, and bringing disrepute to the University. The same as if she had run around nekkid in public.

    If she had made the comment in private, then I think she should face no scrutiny. The same as if she ran around nekkid in her house. The same if she had been more restrained in her criticism. But no, she just got out there like some kind of nut and went bizarre with it.

    Plus, she is as fat as a hog, and she should be fired so that she can get a job which requires physical labor instead of a desk job. Firing her COULD save her life!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  16. Jonathan, thanks ads always. Some, while arguing she should not be terminated for her vile views (and her firing from a public university would be “state action”) have noted she gave out phone number of Arizona State University suicide prevention line (or similar hotline) as her phone number and ASU was swamped with calls, although all who needed help received it. Your thoughts on whether that conduct would justify termination

  17. Tenure has to be one of the most ridiculous benefits any job offers. NO ONE should ever be guaranteed a job for life. Everyone needs to know if they do a lousy job, they will be fired.

    Same for judges. 10 year terms are more than adequate.

    1. Tenure is to protect those espousing unpopular views. This current example is a case in point.

      Call in the AAUP.

      1. No, call in the comptroller. They hire people who need therapy as much as they need a job, and you do not treat your customers that way (assuming that is, that the purpose of the institution is to serve students, which of course it isn’t.)

        Time for a Kenesaw Mountain Landis solution. Close the department and discharge its entire faculty, pour encourager les autres.

      2. That’s still unacceptable. Look at what just happened to Kevin Williamson. He espoused an unpopular view and The Atlantic decided they couldn’t live with him. Someone else can hire him if they so choose. No different with someone who teaches, which is more important due to their probable affect on students. If someone becomes a slacker or stops being effective at work, it becomes extremely difficult to remove.

        Every employee should always have the threat of firing above their head.

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