MIT Chaplain Forced To Resign After Comments On Floyd Case

imagesWe have been following controversies over free speech on campuses, particularly in recent weeks involving faculty and student critics of the ongoing protests or the “Defund The Police” movement. Indeed, I have a column on those concerns this morning. The most recent controversy concerns a Catholic chaplain, Daniel Moloney, who has resigned as chaplain for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His removal followed his reference to the criminal record of George Floyd and equivocating comments on the problem of racism in police departments.  His case raises the question of whether the free speech concerns should be treated differently for non-academic positions.

Moloney was cited for a June 7th email to the Tech Catholic Community, a group of Catholic students on campus.  In the email, Moloney denounced the killing and the racism in society.  However, he referred to Floyd’s criminal record and that fact that he had drugs in his system at the time of the arrest before stating “we do not kill such people. He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel.” Moloney also stated that we still do not know if the killing was based on racism or whether racism is a “major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”

MIT’s Dean for Student Life, Suzy Nelson, declared that Moloney’s message “contradicted the Institute’s values” and “was deeply disturbing” and that “by devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character.”

The Archdiocese of Boston declared that Moloney’s comments “were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused.”  Moloney himself apologized but the Archdiocese reportedly told Moloney to resign from his role as chaplain, according to the Boston Globe.

I do not agree with the email and I can see why many found it upsetting. We all need to consider the deep pain felt by the Floyd killing and the continuing struggle with racism in our society.  However, we often discuss views that we may not agree with on this blog due to its emphasis on free speech.  There remains an unresolved free speech issue (which was not addressed by either the university or the Archdiocese) on whether it is permissible to contest widely held views of this case or the underlying issues.

This case raises the issue of whether certain positions warrant or allow for greater speech regulation.  Moloney is not an academic but a chaplain. His position demands the obvious religious foundation to minister to the community. It also requires that the whole community feels that he is empathetic and understanding, particularly at a time of such profound pain for so many.  That makes this different from the academic or student controversies that we have discussed.

Once again, the concern is the lack of a clear standard for faculty and staff as well as students.  It is not stated if the school and church was chastising Moloney for giving opinions on such issues or for giving the wrong opinions.  Free speech demands bright line rules to avoid the chilling effect of understanding as to what speech will be proscribed or punished. There is a growing chilling effect on free speech as professors, staff, and students are disciplined for stating opposing views on these issues.

 

104 thoughts on “MIT Chaplain Forced To Resign After Comments On Floyd Case”

  1. Over the years I have not changed my position on and all actions that present the college in a negative light or in anyway disrupts the educational process. Zero tolerance. If students are apart of a disruption
    , they should be subject to immediate expulsion for cause. If staff take part in disruption they are subject to immediate termination.

  2. If Brown, Floyd and Brooks had watched this video and taken the advise of Chris Rock, they’d all be alive today….

  3. arthurjmaurello — The University has no authority over the off-campus Neumann Catholic Center. None.

    1. The Berrigan matter, on which I commented, involved a Chaplain who was not affiliated with a Newman Center, but rather was esconced in a University Building for “religious affairs,” and was paid with University Funds. I’m not asserting that the Catholic Church could not have chosen to discipline, or reassign, Father Berrigan. But any action, or lack of action, by the Catholic Church was not binding on the Cornell Administration.

      1. “Young, from the moment that Floyd was handcuffed he was a responsibility of the police.”
        **********************
        Too bad he didn’t realize that and comply. Maybe he thought the cops were a pregnant woman with some money laying around. Fentanyl can do that to you

    1. True enough. But Floyd was being restrained by a technique approved and taught be the police department and he had no way of knowing that Floyd was medically on the verge of collapse. There is a measure of assumption of risk when one decides to resist arrest. Legally the police can escalate the level of violence necessary to control an arrestee. As for being handcuffed, that is not a guarantee that he will do no harm. There are prison videos showing cuffed inmates suddenly attacking and injuring correction officers. It is one thing to speculate from an office chair and another to have to deal with a big, powerful person resisting arrest in the street.

      That said, I think the business of leaning on someone’s neck is dangerous and shouldn’t be used, but the cop was using a technique that was approved at the time.

      One might wonder if a similar technique used in Georgia might have resulted in an arrest rather than a shooting.
      Hard to say.

      1. He asked for help. Further he was showing symptoms consistent with fentanyl OD.

        Finally – once detained the cop is responsible – period.

        There is no reasonable means for a person to address their own health once they are detained.

        1. John– Of course no criminal resisting arrest these days would dare to fake symptoms to get loose.

          The police carry guns, not stethoscopes. Police don’t give you ” fitness for resisting arrest” medical exams before taking you down when you resist.

          Floyd would be alive today if he did not commit crimes and did not resist arrest.

          Grow up. The consequences of an individual’s voluntary actions are on him, not abuse as a child, not PTSD from not getting enough fries with a Big Mac, not racism.

          There might be a real problem with Epstein’s death. Floyd not so much. A fair trial will end in acquittal or hung jury.

          1. “John– Of course no criminal resisting arrest these days would dare to fake symptoms to get loose.”

            Young, the problem with that argument is the video and the long time frame involved. The video is very damning and mitigating factors for Chauvin are in part swept away each time a jurror reviews the video. Based only on my understanding today I would convict Chauvin of a crime but I am not sure what that crime is. I think the attorney representing him has to change the focus from one crime to another.

            1. Allan– The defense attorney will have his hands full with the video and public rage, but it is not impossible. Going by autopsies alone it would be much easier to prove Epstein was murdered than that the police caused Floyd’s death.

              John’s statement suggests Floyd died of an overdose and that is arguable. But if an overdose killed Floyd the cop didn’t. No murder. At best one has failure to diagnose and it is difficult to make a decent diagnosis when the hulk is fighting you.

              If you want to convict someone but can’t think of a crime you should not convict.

              By the way. Court of Appeals just told crazy judge Sullivan to dismiss charges against Flynn.

              1. Young, nothing is impossible. Chauvin might completely get off or he might get the death penalty. Neither would be appropriate but both are possible.

                I think you misunderstand me. I can think of a number of crimes. I just can’t decide which one is just. Once again the defense lawyer has a video that is devastating. A juror can interpret it as muder, but a juror cannot interpret it as the normal action of a police officer.

          2. “John– Of course no criminal resisting arrest these days would dare to fake symptoms to get loose.”

            It does not matter – you take custody of another – you take their freedom you are responsible for their life.

            “The police carry guns, not stethoscopes. Police don’t give you ” fitness for resisting arrest” medical exams before taking you down when you resist.”

            It does not matter – you take custody of another – you take their freedom you are responsible for their life.

            In my small city the police have Narcan, that likely would have saved Floyd’s life.
            His symptoms were consistent with Fentanyl overdose.

            “Floyd would be alive today if he did not commit crimes and did not resist arrest.”
            It does not matter – you take custody of another – you take their freedom you are responsible for their life.

            “Grow up. The consequences of an individual’s voluntary actions are on him, not abuse as a child, not PTSD from not getting enough fries with a Big Mac, not racism.”

            I agree completely – but that does not change that
            you take custody of another – you take their freedom you are responsible for their life.

            “There might be a real problem with Epstein’s death. Floyd not so much. A fair trial will end in acquittal or hung jury.”

            Actually epstein is less of a problem. He was in custody but not physcially restrained.
            Presuming he actually committed suicide – that is on him.

            1. “In my small city the police have Narcan, that likely would have saved Floyd’s life.
              His symptoms were consistent with Fentanyl overdose.”

              John, that is a good point but the officer would have had to remove his foot from holding the head down to administer the Narcan.

                1. DSS, Not so. In some cities police officers carry Narcan with them. There isn’t enough time to get the police and have them call for EMT’s. I discussed the situation with the police. In one area the police give a lot of Narcan and one officer told me that when the patient wakes up (pretty quickly) he frequently tells the officer to go F himself because he was in dreamland. These stupid kids don’t realize that the beutiful dreamland they have might be their last.

                2. Police administer Narcan all the time in my community.

                  Though there are unique factors here.

                  Had Chauvin not taken custody of Floyd, he would have had much less of a duty.

                  If Chauvin found floyd lying on the curb – he would not have had the same duty of care.
                  He could not have been criminally prosecuted for failure to act.

                  Putting handcuffs on someone changes your responsibility.

                  Pretend this is bondage not policing.

                  You handcuff your partner and they start choking and you walk away.
                  They die.

                  Guess what – you murdered them.

                  It does not matter than they agreed to be handcuffed.
                  It does not matter if they caused the choking.

                  You took away their ability to care for themself,
                  and then you failed to do so yourself.

  4. MIT is private property.

    MIT can do whatever it wants with its private property and government has no authority to interfere in any way.

    The 5th Amendment right to private property is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    5th Amendment

    No person shall…be deprived of…property,…nor shall private property be taken…
    ________________________________________________________________

    “[Private property is] that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

    – James Madison

  5. John Say — More simply, it is as I stated: he is not free to express his personal opinion.

    1. Chaplains express personal opinions with just about every sermon and every counsel and (in this case) with every confession they hear.

      1. The chaplin is free to express his oppinions.

        But he is ALWAYS answerable to the diocese – even on opponions.

  6. arthurjmaurello — The Cornell administrators have no authority regarding Catholic priests.

  7. When I was a student at Cornell University in the late 60’s, our Chaplain, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, broke into a military recruitment center in Catonsville, Maryland, in the dead of night. He and other protesters to the Vietnam War (including his brother, Fr. Phil Berrigan), smeared lamb’s blood over the place, and generally trashed it. This was, of course, a violation of State law (burglary) and federal law (destruction of federal property), and the “Catonsville 9” were duly charged and tried. The point is that Cornell never even considered criticizing Chaplain Berrigan, let alone removing him. His felonious behavior was deemed “freedom of speech.” Of course even then college administrations bowed to left-wing pressure and ignored right-of-center feelings altogether.

    1. What you think that standards are applied unhypocritically ?

      I would further note that during vietnam the left valued free speech today they actively supress it.

      Antifa is an oxymoron – the postmodern left is fascist, and many here who are left but have no clue what postmodernism means, are just ignorant brownshirts.

      This stuff never ends well.

  8. Up to the Archdiocese. The chaplain is under discipline and not free to express his personal opinion.

    1. True enough, and one might wish the same judgment were exercised in other cases, Father Pfleger, for example.

    2. “Up to the Archdiocese.”
      Correct.

      “The chaplain is under discipline and not free to express his personal opinion.”
      In correct.

      He is free to express personal oppinions and did not need approval to do so.
      BUT he was subject to standards beyond factual accuracy. Malony’s remarks were accurate.
      But by the diocese standards they were insensitive.
      That is important with respect to his job as a catholic chaplin.

      1. DEFUND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

        the American bishops are losers who have stabbed their flock in the back.
        they are the worst failures at their jobs since the abuses instigated the Reformation

  9. Yes, Malony is a chaplin and he has different duties.

    I am not sure what those are, I am guessing that he serves a large number of Catholic students few of whom are black.
    And in that context I am not bothered by his remarks.
    But the diocese was and that is their free choice.

    Beyond that Malony’s remarks are facts.

    Facts are sometimes insensitive and insensitive exposition of facts MIGHT be a mistake for a chaplin.

    It is not for ordinary speakers.

  10. The penchant for the media to frame a police killing as “racism” is so overpowering and blinding to rational thought, it barely registered to anyone that arresting a 6′ 6″ tall drunk man might pose a deviation from a routine arrest. Now, it is coming out from retired police officers that such an arrest is an immediate red flag. Not based so much on race, but on size and strength.

    My original hunch was that Derek Chauvin was electing the “EMT option” in making the arrest — probably not something taught in the academy, but a street-cop improvisation. The goal was to render George Floyd unconscious, and then hand him over to EMT techs to revive.

    This hunch gained zero traction because there was a more sinister narrative competing for attention — that Chauvin wanted to kill Floyd because he was black. Pretty unrealistic narrative, but well suited to sensationalist infotainment.

  11. The right-wingers are the ones who censor the truth, and are every bit as guilty of creating our current plague of hook-nosed, squinty-eyed, greasy-haired, and dark-skinned problems. The left is a whole different kind of monster. They don’t just censor the truth like a self-righteous churchian terrified of a racism label, they will censor unadulterated leftist gobblygook that isn’t unhinged enough for them. It’s bad enough to hear the “black lives matter” lie (as if a subrace not smart enough to invent a wheel in 6,000 years could ever matter), when a “conservative” derps out the equally stupid and equally communist “all lives matter” lie, the mutated freaks will shout you down for that just as hard as if you had started quoting the juiciest bits of Mein Kampf. It isn’t just censorious, it’s a peremptory strike against any deviation from the approved dogma.

  12. JT: “Once again, the concern is the lack of a clear standard for faculty and staff as well as students.”

    The “standard” being used is all too clear: those who do not wholly support BLM will be destroyed.

  13. Speaking the truth will get you fired in today’s world. Free Speech has never been more shackled. Everyone is so concerned about not offending anyone.

  14. MIT is private property.
    __________________

    “[Private property is] that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

    – James Madison

  15. Sad how pathetic and weak the Catholic priests are and the Church that has deserted its flock, just hoping for some crumbs from billionaires like Geo Soros who are certainly not Catholic and never liked the Church anyways

    Richest landowner in the world? Probably still the Roman Catholic Church. Let the expropriations begin– if they won’t denounce lawless violence and social chaos, on the heels of quitting giving sacraments because of the pandemic, well, then the Church is now useless.

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