“White Lives Don’t Matter”: Cambridge Defends Professor After Inflammatory Tweets

300px-University_of_Cambridge_coat_of_arms_official_version.svgThere is a controversy raging at the University of Cambridge after English professor Priyamvada Gopal posted a June 23rd tweet that “White Lives Don’t Matter.” Thousands signed a petition to have Gopal fired but the university has correctly stood by her free speech rights. The question should not be whether Gopal is fired, but the virtual certainty that she would have been fired in many universities if she made the same comment about other races.  As a blog focusing on free speech, we have repeatedly discussed the investigation and termination of professors for controversial statements on social media. The greatest concern is the lack of any consistent or coherent protection of free speech in universities.  Free speech dies with doubt as to what will be the subject of toleration and what will be the subject of termination. That is why bright line rules are maintained by courts in this field that specifically bar content-based viewpoint discrimination from the government.

After the initial outcry, Gopal reportedly tweeted “I’ll say it again. White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives.” Twitter however took down the tweet.

 

While the petition garnered more than 20,000 signatures on Change.org, it was deleted for bullying and harassment.  A Change.org spokesman said that the petition was a form of “bullying” because it singled out Gopal.  However, given petitions still online against professors for criticizing Black Lives Matter, Change.org has been accused of its own content-based viewpoint discrimination.

Cambridge defended Gopal and even denounced the students’ efforts to have her removed from her position: “The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions which others might find controversial and deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease.”

As should come as no surprise, I agree wholeheartedly with the university’s position.  The problem is that such protective positions seem to be based on the content of the viewpoint, much like the standard applied by Change.org.

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 was 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.

Most recently, we have been writing about efforts to fire professors who have criticized the “Defund the Police” campaign or the Black Lives Matter movement.  Some of these controversies were fueled by petitions on Change.org.  Moreover, universities are now regularly denouncing academics or putting them under investigation after criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement or aspects of the the recent protests. Faculty members are even being told by their colleagues that they will be attacked for “racism masquerading as informed commentary.”  These campaigns have worked. Most faculty no longer expect any support from their universities if they are accused of such insensitivity.  Indeed, in thirty years of teaching, I have never seen this level of intimidation of faculty in terms of what they say on social media or even in their classrooms.  The almost universal silence of other faculty to support their colleagues has turned this chilling effect into a perfectly glacial condition for free speech and academic freedom.

The Cambridge controversy captures the problem. It is doubtful that Change.org would have taken down the petition or Cambridge would have chastised the students if Gopal’s message were reversed. However, just as faculty feel that they cannot criticize aspects of this movement or the protests, other faculty like Gopal know that they will be entirely protected.  That sense of free speech should be universal among all faculty.  It is not.

Thus, I am gladdened by the protection afforded to Gopal but, if this is a true free speech moment, the controversy should highlight the need for consistent protections of such rights for faculty engaging in our national debate for racism and reforms.

 

 

 

39 thoughts on ““White Lives Don’t Matter”: Cambridge Defends Professor After Inflammatory Tweets”

  1. Freedom’s life matters.

    Property damage and bodily injury are illegal.

    In free societies, people must accept and adapt to the effects of their personal characteristics.

    Success or failure of any individual is not a function of government but of the aforementioned individual.

    In free societies, government exists only to facilitate freedom through the provision of security and infrastructure.

    All men are created equal and all men must create success in their lives.

    People must adapt to the outcomes of freedom.

    Freedom does not adapt to people, dictatorship does.

  2. The American Founders considered constitutional rights and freedoms to be natural and God-given, causing them to be universal and certainly in full force and effect in every nation on the planet. Many governments illicitly deny those rights and freedoms – they haven’t got the memo yet. Were Cambridge to be private property, the university may fully restrict speech and behavior as such. Were Cambridge public, it would be bound to secure to students and to provide all constitutional rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities, including those not enumerated understanding that “…The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

  3. All well and good! So, it’s OK (you know the dreaded “White Power hand signal) to say bLACK lives don’t matter then?

  4. #ColonialAndPost-ColonialLiteratureAndTheoryStudiesDONOTMATTER
    #GenderStudiesDONOTMATTER
    #FeminismStudiesDONOTMATTER
    #MarxismStudiesDONOTMATTER
    #RacismDONOTMATTER

    #ActualHistoryMatters

    1. LorenzoValla – Colonial and Post-Colonial Literature and Theory does matter. There is some interesting literature from this period. The rest, you are spot on.

  5. from the wikipedia entry for this professor:
    “Priyamvada Gopal is a Professor in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge, where she is a Fellow of Churchill College. Her main teaching and research interests are in colonial and postcolonial literature and theory, gender and feminism, Marxism and critical race studies.”

    All the usual suspects.

  6. “Cambridge defended Gopal and even denounced the students’ efforts to have her removed from her position: “The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions which others might find controversial and deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease.”

    Cambridge University seems to be threatening other people than Professor Gopai who are criticizing her bigoted speech. Since all the power seems to be on the University of Cambridge’s side to sanction speech, I submit that this is not a free speech moment, but a moment in which bigotry by an employee of Cambridge’s faculty is not only defended, but in which Cambridge is threatening to punish those who openly and vocally disagree with Professor Gopai’s bigotry. It’s a giant leap backward to the times before free speech was a right that not just Universities and their faculties enjoyed.

  7. What about the incitement aspects of the professor’s comment? Suppose Professor Turley, one of your children is touring London. Suppose some jerk takes Gopal’s comment to heart and stabs and kills your child AND points to Gopal’s statement as justification. Will you still be defending her free speech rights?

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if professor, of love for this despicable hater and pcness, would blame his own child for such ( GOD FORBID IT ) an event .
      A proud white.

  8. Putting free speech aside, how is it that a university like Cambridge hires someone whose moral values would allow her to say that an entire race deserves to die?. Or perhaps, as with some American universities, that is why they hired her.

  9. “English professor Priyamvada Gopal posted a June 23rd tweet that “White Lives Don’t Matter.” ”

    It’s good to know in advance when one is being taught by a screwball.

      1. It means that all students know Gopal is a screwball and they do not need to learn what he thinks. I would transfer out of his class as should all students. She is a classless woman. Let her be classless.

          1. DSS, if you reread my posting you will note that I did corrective gender surgery while I wrote the reply. 🙂

    1. “It’s good to know in advance when one is being taught by a screwball.”

      Be on notice, then, that American and foreign invader hyphenate children are being taught to hate America and the “screwball” teaching them is…

      The entire modern American educational indoctrination and reeducation camp system, including propaganda outlets.

      The American public school system is the zealous communist matrix.

      1. DSS said it right: ” The plain truth is that the professoriate is s collecting pool of the worst people in America (or, at least the worst people who aren’t working in school administration, law, and the media).”

  10. “White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives.”

    I’m trying to understand if there is something I’m missing here with the “as white lives.” Scratching me head…

  11. I keep telling you all that it is the Cultural Revolution. They are Marxists and anarchists and they are overturning the entire system. Gird you loins and arm yourselves because as long as judges are willing to let them out OR, they are not coming back for trial. Andy Ngo had their pictures and the false names they were trying to use

  12. “The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions which others might find controversial and deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease.”

    Seems like a good time for a white professor to denounce BLM and test their quote.

  13. I am hoping that these cases where speech is not being protected or being protected selectively are isolated. Reporting on them does not mean they are happening on a regularly bases. It is conceivable that speech many may find distasteful is happening often, but passes on without attracting any attention.

  14. “Moreover, universities are now regularly denouncing academics or putting them under investigation when they are charged with being racist for criticizing Black Lives Matter or the recent protests.”

    ***************************

    Please do in-vest- in finding the -Igate the leads to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    But only if the pot is black bc the I like kettles who call pots black.

    I’ll take a lephraucan as a yard gnome if you can find one.

    1. You could also ask Cambridge if you were an employee of the university

      …. if they think it would be okay to the shackle, err, ball and chain, err, tie, yes, tie the yard gnome to the fence, bc the gnome has a tendency to run away

      …. or perhaps, put the yard gnome to work in your garden, you can always use a spare set of hands.

      Since all free speech is equal, they should appauld you for such creativity as an employee, and perhaps give you a pay increase or promotion 😉

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