GW Professor Under Fire For Kavanaugh Attack

A professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, Sean Aday, is under fire this week from various conservative sites and Campus Reform for using the occasion of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s birthday to call him a “rapey prep school douchebag.” As will not come as a surprise to many on this blog, I support Aday’s right to express his views on social media, even views that are offensive or obnoxious as they are here.

Aday responded to a posting on Kavanaugh’s birthday by tweeting:

“Appropriate that the picture here makes him look just like the rapey prep school douchebag that he is: RT @KimberlyRobinsn: Happy birthday to Brett Kavanaugh, who was born #OTD in 1965 in Washington D.C.”

Aday has other incendiary postings attacking attacking conservatives and Republicans. However, these are his views. It is true that he posts his personal twitter on his school web page. That has become common in academia. I can see the discomfort with the inclusion of the “follow” link for some critics. Yet, his Twitter bio does specify that his “tweets are his views, not GWU’s.”

This tweet is not alone, however, in expressing the professor’s dislike for conservatives. For example, he attacked Rush Limbaugh after the conservative radio host said that he believes “America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy…”  Aday responded that “It really speaks volumes about Rush’s sexual inadequacy and insecurity that he considers Trump — a rapist who even consensual partners describe as comically endowed and unsatisfying — “Mr. Man.”

I have previously written about concerns that public employees are increasingly being disciplined for actions in their private lives or views or associations outside of work. We have previously seen teachers (herehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here) students (herehere and here) and other public employees (here and here and here) fired for their private speech or conduct, including school employees fired for posing in magazines (here), appearing on television shows in bikinis (here), or having a prior career in the adult entertainment industry (here).  This includes Halloween costume controversies or the costumes of their children. Employees at private institutions have fewer protections from such disciplinary measures.

Sean Aday has taught at George Washington for 20 years and received his
Ph.D., and M.A. from The Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 1999. He received his B.S.J. from The Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. He has a long list of academic publications.

As always, my principal concern is whether Aday brings his inflammatory views into his classes or interactions with students. I can certainly see how conservative students would feel uncomfortable with a teacher who expresses such views as part of a class. Students, however, are aware that teachers have different political viewpoints and engage in a wider array of social and political activities. Indeed, as a member of the media and public affairs school, it should be no surprise that he is engaged in the broader commentary and public debate. We want faculty and students to be active in the real world; engaging in our national dialogues over political or social controversies. There is no indication that he has created a hostile or intimidating atmosphere in his classes.

72 thoughts on “GW Professor Under Fire For Kavanaugh Attack”

  1. Its crazy that the nasty president we HAVE to deal with can have the power and authority among the nasty administration of his to say and do anything they please but restrain AMERICA to do the same.

  2. Justice Kavanaugh would seem to have a very good cause of action against George Washington University for providing Professor Sean Aday with Internet access which Aday uses to defame Justice Kavanaugh. Let’s hope that GWU sees how little their employee Sean Aday cares about the their good name, that he lends it to foul-mouthed attacks on others.

  3. Academics are so often openly bigoted against conservatives. I have a problem with taxpayer money going to institutions that have become little more than Democrat madrassas. Ady’s comments appear even more savage than the norm. How does he treat conservative students on campus? What kind of hostile school environment is he fostering?

    It is very troubling that so many academics don’t care about the rule of law, or proving any allegation. It’s mob rule, as long as it goes in their favor. I do not think they would enjoy being on the receiving end of their own form of justice.

    1. Karen, in the comments on a recent JT post about a U North Carolina study which found that conservative students were more likely to self censure themselves in public discussions of politics, both you and JT made the same claim about faculty as you do here. I quoted the study with a link saying they found exactly the opposite about faculty there based on student comments. Specifically both liberal and conservative students said that with a few exceptions faculty were fair and tolerant and encouraged free expression of ideas in class. You failed to respond to the factual evidence I presented, instead choosing to attack me instead after quoting another part of the study which did not addressable question about faculty.. Of course the usual suspects jumped in in your support. I encourage you to look back at that discussion. Unlike JT, I linked the actual study results in my post and which you mind find interesting and will hopefully demonstrate the fallacy of your position.

      1. bythebook:

        As I pointed out to you earlier, a majority of conservative students self censored because they feared a lower grade or ostracism. That particular school showed that conservatives were more likely to experience open hostility from fellow students than faculty. And yet, the climate in the classroom was such that a large percentage believed they would experience grading bias. Who sets the tone at a university? Who allows Democrat mobs to threaten conservative speakers without consequence? Faculty and administrators. The classroom and campus are hostile environments to conservative students and faculty.

        Jonathan Turley has called attention to the issue of harassment and bias against conservative students nationwide. In the post you referenced, you called him a liar. That was uncalled for. As usual.

        Your trigger for that particular string of insults was that Turley referenced that this was yet another example of bias against conservatives, often led by academics.

        I suppose you felt justified to call Turley names in that thread because you thought the study did not find faculty involved.

        The study showed a rather intense fear of grading bias. While those polled said that faculty welcomed different opinions in class discussions, and politics rarely came up, there was the belief that speaking their mind would hurt their grade and lead to ostracism. Liberals admitted to ostracizing conservative students.

        This is a problem. It does not matter if you agree or if you complain every time it’s brought up.

        Turley has taken an interest in this topic as a member of academia in the thick of it, and a proponent of free speech.

        You are welcome to make your case if you believe conservative students experience no bias or harassment, nor have any problems inviting conservative speakers.

        If you want to have a polite conversation, go for it. If you want to be a troll and call everyone names, you’re on your own.

        1. And bythebook, criticizing you for making personal insults against Turley, me, and just about everyone you talk to is not attacking you.

          It’s bad behavior. If you cannot heel-toe it through a conversation without insults then I’m just not interested.

          1. Karen, thanks for backing off your unsubstantiated and in the study done at UNC, disproven claim of faculty open bigotry against conservative students. As noted in that studies conclusions, students of all political ideology noted the fair and encouraging classroom atmosphere by all but a small number of faculty. As to the causes of conservative students self censoring, you are still laying that at the feet of faculty without proof while ignoring the dynamics of group behavior which is especially strong in adolescence. We agree on the failure of some institutions to adequately respond to censoring of speakers by loud but minority political groups, but that is almost always due to administrative cowardice , not agreement. A similar administrative cowardice has resulted in universities granting speaking rights to extreme right wing groups, even when the results have included gun shots, closing of the school, and million dollar price tags.

            In our previous discussion (JT’s column on UNC study, 2-19-20), I did not call either you or JT a liar, though I did say his complete mistating of the studies results could only be due to not reading it and copying some other opinion – I offered right leaning sources – or dishonesty. Can you suggest another cause for promoting such a falsehood?

            Lastly, your supposed concern for civility is belied by your tacit approval of the usual vile personal insults those of us on the left here receive regularly and by the fact that both of our conversations on this topic featured your attacking me personally as I strove to keep it on the facts.

  4. It’s no wonder liberals as a group are so classless with college professors like this illuminating the way… ward. Since he seems to be one of those #IfYouCantDoTeach type of profs, I’m sure he’s a common senseless, entitled #FeelTheBern socialist. I’m just glad I choose Engineering and not a Phd in LESS, as in CLASS & SENSE.

  5. This is what you attract, now, JT:

    “This is absurd x XXii says:February 27, 2020 at 6:08 PM
    You mean Gainesville is using three sock-puppets now?”

    “Allan says:February 27, 2020 at 6:38 PM
    DSS, If we count the past couple of days I think it would be 4 not counting how many times he may have used anonymous. It’s hard to say because sometimes its difficult to figure out which is Anon and which is Anonymous the Stupid.”

      1. Paulie J, the “good news” is that 7:14 anonymous has taken on the role of cafeteria and hall monitor here.
        And those burdens are on top of his regular duties as the Reliable Toadie.

        1. Oh snap. Good one. Because the height of adult intellectual development is making fun of the cafeteria and hall monitor.

            1. “Anonymous says:February 27, 2020 at 9:10 PM

              Paulie J, just some of them.”


              Allan weighs in as “Anonymous.”

              1. Anonymous on February 27, 2020 at 8:45 PM
                “Anonymous at 7:14 forgot to mention that toadies like him have flocked to this blog.
                Must have been an oversight”
                I don’t mean to be critical, RT anonymous, but you missed repeating some of the earlier comments.
                I know how important that is to you, quoting prior comments, so I’ll help you out.

              2. Anonymous the Stupid, I don’t dip in the same name bank as those that are Stupid and cowards. Maybe there are some that do but they are mistaken to do so as it makes what they say a lot less meaningful.

                1. I don’t think Allan the Brave needs to worry about making his words “less meaningfull”.

        2. And can I just say how stellar it is that this discussion of gargantuan wit is taking place in a thread about Barty O. K.??

      2. Paulie J says:February 27, 2020 at 8:05 PM
        It’s like a high school cafeteria, isn’t it?


        Middle school, maybe, but yes it’s pathetic.

    1. Anonymous at 7:14 forgot to mention that toadies like him have flocked to this blog.
      Must have been an oversight.

  6. I mean, Bart O’Kavanaugh. Come on. Beer. Farting. And date rape. The triple crown.

  7. Agreed on your position in the article, Professor. There’s a pretty quick trigger on this blog though. Just saying.

    1. Quick trigger Anon has consumed bat soup which explains their many fake profile handles

      No soup for you!

      1. Lived in the swamps growing up. Bats would get stuck in your hair when riding bikes if you weren’t careful.

  8. Yet, his Twitter bio does specify that his “tweets are his views, not GWU’s.”

    Then explain why you found it necessary for your headline to read GW Professor…? When you wrote posts about Avenatti, you buried his relationship to GW in the post, rather than put it in the headline. It would seem today that you are conflicted in your defense of 1st amendment protections, especially when they enter your orbit.

  9. There might be appropiate products as well for Prof. A Day; Preparation H might diminish his efforts to be an – – – hole.

  10. The US Government cannot blunt free speech. But GWU is a private university, and can impose its own standards of civility. I think at least a reprimand is in order.
    When the U allows Professors to express themselves publicly in writing using street gutter ad-hominem attacks, it doesn’t show due attention to upholding standards of discourse.

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