Rutgers Reverses Ruling Against Professor Who Wrote About Hating All White People

downloadWe have been discussing the often inconsistent approach taken to controversial statements or postings of students and faculty at our universities and colleges.  The latest such case involves Rutgers University history professor James Livingston, who stated in a post that he hated all white people and wanted them out of his neighborhood.  The school has now cleared him of all wrongdoing and that is a victory for free speech. However, it is not clear if the same result would have occurred if the content of the hateful message were directed at blacks or minorities.  The concern is the inconsistency of a content-based approach to such sanctions.

Livingston was triggered by seeing white people in a burger restaurant in Harlem and described it as a “place overrun with little Caucasian assholes who know their parents will approve of anything they do. I hereby resign from my race. Fuck these people.”Rutgers_Professor_James_Livingston.jpg

Livingston continues with his racist rant on May 31 in saying “OK, officially, I now hate white people. I am a white people, for God’s sake, but can we just keep them—us—us out of my neighborhood?”

Livingston was initially found to have violated the university’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment by Rutgers’s Office of Employment Equity.  The university then rejected his appeal. That decision was later reversed.

The decision is the correct one.  These were statements made outside of school and expressed Livingston’s political and social views with what he claimed was an element of sarcasm.  Yet, what if this were a professor speaking of his hate for black people or other minorities and wanting them out of his neighborhood?  Would the result be the same?  We do not know because Rutgers is not clear on where that sanctionable line is drawn.

The university’s standard emphasized the impact of comments on the university as the critical determinant in this analysis.  The university’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (“Policy”), Section 5 (A), defines “discrimination” as:

“an intentional or unintentional act which adversely affects employment or educational opportunities on the basis of membership in one or more protected classes. Rutgers provides equal employment opportunity to all its employees and applicants for employment regardless of their race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity and expression, disability, genetic information, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, military service, veteran status, and any other category protected by law.”

In its original findings against him, Rutgers dismissed the defense that statements were made as part of his private life and postings outside of school:

“His interest in free expression must also outweigh the government’s interest in the efficient and effective provision of services. In other words, his speech must be weighed against its potential impact on the university’s mission. Notably, a Government employer may take action against an employee for speaking on a matter of public concern if the employer’s mere prediction of disruption to its operations is reasonable. Jeffries v. Harleston, 52 F.3d 9 (2nd Cir. 1994).”

The university found that it was enough that his words were “offensive” and generated controversy.  The later reversal is unclear on the extent to which the initial analysis was flawed. Indeed, it is relatively cursory in its treatment of the case.

What seems clear is that Livingston himself might not support another academic in the same position but the inverse message.  In his own defense, Livingston insisted that such statements against all white people are permissible if you are black but not the inverse:  “Black people can hate white people, but you can’t call them racists unless they have power over you, and not just over you but your people, those white people you call your own.”

Livingston also claimed that white supremacists were the ones who called in complaints against him.

What is distressing is that Livingston was saved by free speech but appears willing to deny such protections to others.  As for Rutgers, the reversal was not a ringing endorsement of a bright-line protection of free speech as much as a cursory decision to remove any sanction.

36 thoughts on “Rutgers Reverses Ruling Against Professor Who Wrote About Hating All White People”

  1. “Mao Tse-tung launched the so-called Cultural Revolution (known in full as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) in August 1966, at a meeting of the Plenum of the Central Committee. He shut down the nation’s schools, calling for a massive youth mobilization to take current party leaders to task for their embrace of bourgeois values and lack of revolutionary spirit. In the months that followed, the movement escalated quickly as the students formed paramilitary groups called the Red Guards and attacked and harassed members of China’s elderly and intellectual population. A personality cult quickly sprang up around Mao, similar to that which existed for Josef Stalin, with different factions of the movement claiming the true interpretation of Maoist thought.”

    “The widespread phenomenon of mass killings in the Cultural Revolution consisted of five types: 1) mass terror or mass dictatorship encouraged by the government – victims were humiliated and then killed by mobs or forced to commit suicide on streets or other public places; 2) direct killing of unarmed civilians by armed forces; 3) pogroms against traditional “class enemies” by government-led perpetrators such as local security officers, militias and mass; 4) killings as part of political witch-hunts (a huge number of suspects of alleged conspiratorial groups were tortured to death during investigations); and 5) summary execution of captives, that is, disarmed prisoners from factional armed conflicts. The most frequent forms of massacres were the first four types, which were all state-sponsored killings. The degree of brutality in the mass killings of the Cultural Revolution was very high. Usually, the victims perished only after first being humiliated, struggled and then imprisoned for a long period of time.”

    – Chinese Cultural Revolution
    ________________________

    “It Can’t Happen Here.”

    – Sinclair Lewis/Frank Zappa

  2. Dr.. Livingston, I presume

    Restaurant Customer: “Why you white men have so much escargot and us New Yorkers have so little?”

    Prof. Livingston: “Golly, it must be white privilege. I’m so ashamed of myself. Feed me to the lions.”

    Henry Morgan-Stanley: “All this searching to sign-up another limousine-liberal academic and he commits suicide before handing us his estate. Cecil Rhodes must be rolling in his grave. Damn colonials.

    1. What did one snail say to another as they crossed the road and a fast car roared by?

      “Look at that S car go!”

  3. Livingston’s problem is that he believes all that left wing babble he was fed on college campus. I wonder if this was the mindset of the population of Germany back in the 1930’s?

  4. Free speech ceases to be quite as free once you declare, publicly, your hatred for some of the people your publicly-supported universtiy serves. It’s reasonable to wonder how fairly Professor James Livingston would deal with white students. Would he give them bad grades because they are the beneficiaries of “white privilege”? It sounds to me as though this man has declared war on white people,

    It’s also evident that Rutgers would summarily fire a white man who said what Livingston said, but about Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, et cetera. They would be on solid ground for doing so.

    When Livingston was dismissed initially, they correctly cited the pertinent precedent: “…Notably, a Government employer may take action against an employee for speaking on a matter of public concern if the employer’s mere prediction of disruption to its operations is reasonable. Jeffries v. Harleston, 52 F.3d 9 (2nd Cir. 1994).”

    In other words, Rutgers fired Livingston for expressing hatred in a way that created the reasonable expectation his hatred for a specific group of people would impact members of that group studying at Rutgers. The speech wasn’t why they fired him. The hatred was.

    When Rutgers walked that decision back, they in effect said that some kinds of hatred were permissible, even when a reasonable expectation existed that the hatred freely expressed might work unjust harm on someone because of their skin color. It’s a disgraceful decision.

  5. I don’t care what this guy thinks.
    What I do care about is what he is teaching his students to think.
    I am sure he never misses an opportunity to instill hatred for the white race and foment self hatred in his white students with the hope that one day in the glorious future of
    The New Democrat Fourth Reich
    they will voluntarily jump on the boxcars themselves.
    The Constitution guarantees Free Speech.
    It does NOT guarantee freedom from the consequences of that speech.
    There is a difference between being arrested by the government because you call the President a jerk and indoctrinating young minds with the idea that other American Citizens don’t deserve Constitutional and Civil Rights and even the right to live because of the color of their skin.
    I have no doubt Rutgers would have been a proud advocate of the Nuremberg Laws too.

  6. This man is the ultimate hypocrite and social justice warrior–beating himself down with one hand and patting himself on the back with the other: all in the name of self-promotion.

    Stupid jackass

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