UCF Professor Under Investigation And Police Protection After Tweeting About “Black Privilege”

imagesWe have been writing about efforts to fire professors who have criticized the “Defund the Police” campaign or Black Lives Matter.  Now, Charles Negy, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida, is under school investigation and has received police protection after he tweeted about what he views as “black privilege.” While countless professors have written about “white privilege,”  Negy is looking at discipline or termination while police have been called to his house to protect his life.  Negy is not the first professor to be put under police protection after voicing criticism of the protests or BLM.  Once again, I am less interested in the merits of the underlying debate as the implications for free speech and academic freedom.  As one of the large free speech blogs, we have long discussed efforts to pressure or fire academics for their exercise of free speech and academic freedom.  Recently, however, these efforts have been joined by schools and fellow academics who seek to deter others from expressing opposing views.

Negy is facing outrage caused over his tweets in early June including a petition demanding his termination by more than 30,000 signatures.  While classroom misconduct has been raised by some critics, most of the effort (and the focus of this posting) is on his statements on social media. That petition addresses Negy’s statements on social media as unacceptable and grounds for termination:

“We are calling on the University of Central Florida to dismiss psychology professor Charles Negy due to abhorrent racist comments he has made and continues to make on his personal Twitter account. In addition to racism, Negy has engaged in perverse transphobia and sexism on his account, which is just as reprehensible. While he has a right to free speech, he does not have a right to dehumanize students of color and other minority groups, which is a regular occurance [sic] in his classroom. By allowing him to continue in his position, UCF would simply be empowering another cog in the machine of systemic racism.”

As we have previously discussed (with an Oregon professor and a Rutgers professor), there remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives. There were also controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of such a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. There were also such an incident at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor. Some intolerant statements against students are deemed free speech while others are deemed hate speech or the basis for university action. There is a lack of consistency or uniformity in these actions which turn on the specific groups left aggrieved by out-of-school comments.  There is also a tolerance of faculty and students tearing down fliers and stopping the speech of conservatives.  Indeed, even faculty who assaulted pro-life advocates was supported by faculty and lionized for her activism.

Negy has faced protests at his home and on campus, according to news reports.  He has explored the concept of “white shaming” as an academic, including a book entitled “White Shaming: Bullying Based on Prejudice, Virtue-signaling, and Ignorance.”

Negy’s work is highly controversial and his tweets have inflamed critics. In a now deleted tweet, he wrote “Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege. But as a group, they’re missing out on much needed feedback.”

He has also written, again on Twitter, “If Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming ‘systematic racism’ exists?”

Again, the question is not the merits or tenor of such writings but the right of academics to express such viewpoints. There is little comparable protests when professors write inflammatory comments about white culture or white privilege.  Indeed, I have supported academics who have been criticized for such statements. However, the silence of other academics in these countervailing cases is deafening.

Indeed, many faculty like those at Cornell are pledging to combat what they call “racism masquerading as informed commentary.”  When done through their own right to free speech, this is perfectly appropriate.  However, there are now a variety of cases where faculty are supporting efforts to force colleagues to retire or to fire colleagues for expressing opposing views.

UCF President Alexander Cartwright told students that the university is now investigating Negy, and that he and his Administration “are acutely aware of the offensive and hurtful Twitter posts that professor Charles Negy has shared on his personal page. These posts do not reflect the values of UCF, and I strongly condemn these racist and abhorrent posts.”

So again the question is how we handle such disputes while respecting core protections of free speech.  Faculty at state schools have the added protections from government regulation of speech.  However, even public school principals have faced content-based discipline for questioning the protests or BLM movement.  It is the lack of a clear standard or consistent application as academics that is so troubling.  The message of academics is that their positions can be lost if they express opposing views or dispute a rising orthodox position on these positions on campus.

Again, I often find statements from academics on both sides to be repugnant and inflammatory. However, I am admittedly “old school” when it comes to free speech, particularly on campus.  I have been writing for years about the erosion of free speech values in our colleges and universities. I have never seen the level of fear and intimidation in speaking with faculty today.  Most are afraid of being labeled racist if they utter a single objection to these measures or the targeting of unpopular colleagues.  The result is a chilling effect on speech that is being actively encouraged by Administrators and faculty in investigating, censuring, and condemning faculty to express opposing views on current issues like “Defund The Police.”

When I first entered teaching 30 years ago, universities were viewed as places of passionate debate and pluralistic viewpoints.  For years, we have seen ideological rigidity and intolerance supplant those values – a trend that is destroying the very intellectual freedom that gives life and meaning to our educational institutions. This is not about any individual academic or the merits of their speech. It is about all of us and when we will take a stand for the right of expression and academic freedoms — even of those with whom we vehemently disagree.

199 thoughts on “UCF Professor Under Investigation And Police Protection After Tweeting About “Black Privilege””

  1. “It is the lack of a clear standard or consistent application as academics that is so troubling. ”
    What a load of BS. The standard is very clear and consistent: if you are a conservative expressing conservative views, you need to be shut down by any and all means possible, including violence. However, If you are a leftist voicing anti-white, anti-capitalism, and anti-American views, you are celebrated, venerated and glorified. Viva la revolucion!

  2. The Trend on the Left is indisputable. Swear a loyalty oath to BLM, or be destroyed. Critique the message or the methods, and be destroyed. Disagree with the Left on any topic, and be labeled vile slurs. Racism is laudable as long as it is levied against conservatives. Misandry is just fighting the good fight. Make white children feel the guilt in their skin. African Americans have zero responsibility in how their lives turn out. None. No matter if they stay in school, or not, do drugs, nor not, get married, or not, it’s the fault of white people who weren’t even there. Disparates are always signs of racism. Disagree? Racist! Conservative values are white privilege. Preach the statistics on how they lead to a better financial outcome…racist!

    It is the most God awful hateful, intolerant, Gestapo movement today. How many examples do we need to see before people open their eyes?

    What would our country be like if the people who do this were in power in all government agencies, the White House, both Houses of Congress, SCOTUS, local government?

    We see what they do with power. Punish dissenters, just like all the other Leftist dictators who have come before. Any movement that does not value individual rights and free speech persecutes dissenters, and abuses human rights. It is inevitable.

    They get this power by gaslighting you that the abuse doesn’t happen. They say they need power for your own good. To make the world a better place. Is America a better place if you can’t disagree, can’t speak, and must obey the Party?

    We need to use this pandemic slowdown to read 1984, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451. There will be a quiz in November.

    1. If you haven’t already read this I think you and a lot of others would be very interested. It provides a lot of history including Obama’s love affair with them and the violence they created.

      https://cms.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2020/06/black-lives-are-pretext-david-horowitz

      “Black Lives Matter was formed in 2013 by three self-styled “Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries,” who selected as their movement icon convicted cop-killer and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur.[4] Shakur had fled to Cuba after being convicted of the homicide she committed when her car was stopped for a broken tail-light by two New Jersey state troopers. Without any warning, Shakur shot trooper Werner Foerster. The 34-year- old Vietnam veteran was lying wounded on the ground pleading for his life, when Shakur walked over and executed him.”

      Anyone who suggest that BLM comes from peaceful origins is either sick or doensn’t know much about them.

  3. Culture does matter.

    We all instinctively know this. If a culture values education, staying out of trouble, respect for elders, and working hard, their kids will fare better than if a family’s culture is that school doesn’t matter, do drugs with your Mom, you don’t know your Dad, and hanging out with criminals is fine.

    These are polar opposites to underscore the effect. Is it even a question that nurture plays a role in offspring’s outcome? If this didn’t work, why would parents even bother with all that effort instilling values and ethics?

    Yet this professor has been pilloried, and is in real danger of losing his job for talking about what is statistically indisputable. Why is one group shielded from all criticism, while given free rein to be racist against others?

    Are we all equal, or are some more equal than others? Because if we’re all part of the same community, equally, then we’re all able to criticize and praise each other as we see it.

    Criticizing a culture is by definition not racist. In fact, it is racist to view all African Americans as a homogenous group, with the same culture. Grand theft auto, continuously smoking weed, with absentee fathers, is just as foreign a concept to middle class, conservative African Americans as it is to middle class, conservative Whites, Latinos, or Asians. African Americans are not all the same, and the subculture of crime is not integral to the entire race. That subculture needs a kick in the pants so its members can catch up with the rest, and have a decent shot at a good life. Stop excusing criminal behavior and a self destructive lifestyle as some sort of African heritage, or to be excused as the legacy of slavery from 155 years ago. It destroys opportunities, so set it aside.

    Give these innocent African American kids, so full of potential, a chance! They have no chance in these bad neighborhoods with a subculture that will nearly guarantee they will waste their precious one life on Earth spinning their wheels, poorly education, in crime and poverty. Enabling and excusing this subculture is a horrifying thing to do to these kids.

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