We recently discussed the disruption of a speaker at a university that was led in part by a professor who believed that she had a right to prevent other faculty or students from hearing the views of speaker Dave Rubin, a Democrat online talk show host who has called for free speech protections on campuses. University of New Hampshire Professor Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan
screamed profanities and refused to respond to Rubin’s invitation to have a dialogue. She is part of a growing number of faculty who rally their students against free speech values and seek to prevent those with opposing views from being heard.
Professor Ryan is a Women’s Studies professor who teaches “Gender, Power, and Privilege” and “Transgender Feminism.” She lists her specialities
as “transgender/LGBTQ, film/media, sex work, disability justice, fat studies, social movements.”
She disrupted the event on May 1st on screaming at Rubin (who is gay)”We don’t want you in the LGBT community. Get the f**k out.”
She then bragged about her briefly shutting down the event on free speech by posting a tweet reading “We did something right!Glad we were able to disrupt this man’s hate speech as much as possible. He is nothing but a provocateur and ‘civil discourse’ with him is impossible.”
No she did not do something “right” in disrupting an event on free speech.
We have discussed the need to protect the free speech rights of teachers who have been disciplined for statements made outside of their schools. However, this was a professor acting on campus to disrupt an event for students and faculty. It was a disgraceful and anti-intellectual performance. Ryan in my view should be disciplined with a minimum of a suspension from teaching and considered for termination for such conduct.
A failure of the University to act will speak loudly as to its lack of commitment to free speech on campus. This is not a close question. It is equally clear for students who try to disrupt the event. There is ample ability to be heard in protest outside of the event. However, this is little more than an effort to silence opposing views through a heckler’s veto. Ryan clearly demonstrated not only a fundamental lack of appreciation for free speech but a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of an academic. She appears entirely ill-suited for this profession, which seeks to maintain open discourse and intellectual exchange.