“This Is A New Day Folks”: Professor Threatens K-12 Teachers Who Post “Pro-Police Anti-Black Rhetoric”

498px-Winthrop_University_seal.svgFor many years, we have discussed disciplinary actions taken against teachers for social media postings.  As a free speech blog, the trend has been alarming as teachers are fired for taking dissenting or controversial views.  Now, an incoming Winthrop University Professor, April Mustian, is openly threatening K-12 teachers that they are being watched for any “rhetoric” deemed pro-police or antiBlack.  A conservative group has objected to the now deleted Facebook posting from April 26th. This is a small such controversy but it is not isolated. It is indicative of thousands of such postings against free speech from academics across the country. This threatening posting was notable because it reflects a conscious effort to intimidate other teachers in their exercise of free speech. The whole purpose is to chill free speech by threatening their jobs and livelihood if they dare to voice opposing views.  This latest controversy highlights the unresolved question of what speech rights teachers still have in participating in the national debate over police abuse and systemic racism.

Mustian has been teaching special education at Illinois State University.  Her now blocked Twitter account described her purpose as “decolonizing myself & edu.”

On her Facebook page, Mustian declares “If you are a White K-12 teacher who teaches Black children, and you are on your FB posting pro-police anti-Black rhetoric, I hope and pray those are posts and beliefs you are willing to stand by in front of Black families you are support to also love and serve.”

We previously discussed the Vermont principal who was removed for  expressing her opinion of Black Lives Matter on her personal Facebook page. We also recently discussedthe firing of a Michigan coach who expressed support for President Trump. However, this did not begin with the recent protests.  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).

However, there is a sweeping trend across educational levels from grade schools to colleges to silence those with conservative or dissenting views of recent controversies.  Schools and districts have been conspicuously silent in supporting the free speech rights of teachers in participating in public and political debates. They have allowed the chilling effect on speech to grow as figures like Mustian threaten any teacher who dares to challenge a new orthodoxy of thought and expression.  The inclusion of “pro-police” rhetoric in such threats is indicative of not just a de facto speech code for teachers on social media but the undefined scope of such codes.

Winthrop University proclaims Veritas cum libertate as its motto, but there can be no liberty is there is only one permitted truth allowed by faculty like Professor Mustian.

What stood out in the controversy involving Mustian is how open and threatening this effort has become.  You now have a college professor who is telling kindergarten teachers that they are being watched for any statements deemed pro-police or anti-Black. The posting also captures how this trend is becoming raw content-based discrimination. Few teachers are subjected to campaigns for termination for expressing views considered anti-white or anti-police. Indeed, Change.org recently took down a petition criticizing a professor for declaring “White Lives Don’t Matter.” From a free speech perspective, it is not just the threats against expression but the bias in enforcement that is so concerning.

My concern is that we are not having a discussion on when it is appropriate to take action against teachers for social media postings. Despite my well-known robust views on free speech (that some may well view extreme), I accept that there can be statements made outside of school that raise legitimate issues for review or discipline.  However, I have supported teachers who have also expressed views that were deemed anti-White, anti-Republican, or otherwise intolerant as protected speech. My natural default position remains with free speech.  Yet, I would be eager to have this discussion. The problem is that we have continual cases of teachers being disciplined or fired without a clear understanding of what is permissible and what is not permissible speech. That lack of a bright line is anathema to free speech.

That uncertainty allows figures like Mustian to threaten fellow teachers if they risk any “rhetoric” that may be deemed pro-police or anti-Black. In the end, I am less interested about the merits of the pro-police or anti-police postings of teachers on their private social media. I will support them all. That is the point of free speech. If there is bad speech, the solution is more and better speech.  However, there is a movement now to make censorship and speech controls acceptable. That is the “new day” that Mustian so eagerly embraces as yet another academic opposed to free speech.

60 thoughts on ““This Is A New Day Folks”: Professor Threatens K-12 Teachers Who Post “Pro-Police Anti-Black Rhetoric””

  1. Jonathan: You frequently criticize disciplinary actions against teachers and university professors for their social media posts. Your answer?: “If there is bad speech, the solution is more and better speech. However, there is a movement now to make censorship and speech controls acceptable”. It’s actually more than a “movement”. Censorship is coming from the highest office holder in the country, Donald Trump. He has sued the NY Times and Washington Post because he doesn’t like their coverage of him. He would shut them down if he could. Trump has prevented administration officials from testifying before Congress and fired those who defied him. Trump has prevented the CDC from receiving vital information on COVID-19 infections and deaths because the data makes him look bad. It’s one thing to take disciplinary action against a teacher for a social media post but when the president actually hinders the CDC by cutting off the flow of vital data that adversely affects the lives of millions of Americans!

    In his latest effort at censorship Trump says he is going to ban TikTok, a video-sharing app, from the US. Trump says he has “security concerns” because he claims, without any evidence, that TikTok is passing user information to the Chinese Communist Party. Trump may have another motive– call it a “conspiracy theory” if you will. Back in June TikTok users flooded the Trump campaign with fake requests for seat reservations (more than a million) for Trump’s Tulsa rally. They even boasted about the prank. Trump was incensed when only a few thousand supporters showed up for the rally so he sacked his campaign manager. Trump also blames others for his problems. Trump also doesn’t like Sarah Cooper, a comedian, for mocking him with hilarious videos on TikTok, which has millions of young followers in the U.S. Trump is a close follower of social media. He, no doubt, doesn’t want young people, who could also be voters, to be exposed to anti-Trump videos.

    The question is when are you going to direct your attention at the more serious threats to our democracy and our health and safety? When are you going to call out Trump for his attempts to “make censorship and speech controls acceptable”?

  2. History doesn’t repeat itself but James Madison and the Framers knew that “human nature” never changes. One could make a strong constitutional argument that the very legitimate “Black Lives Matter” movement was created due to police-chiefs (not rank & file officers following bad chiefs) behaving like 18th Century British Red Coats. Police-chiefs violating their oath of office to follow constitutional due process, unconstitutional authoritarianism, led to an obscene violation of our Bill of Rights, especially the very clear worded 4th Amendment. The 1960’s and 1970’s U.S. Supreme Court also played a leading role in creating BLM, with rulings like “Terry v. Ohio” – rulings that amended the Bill of Rights without the legally required constitutional amendment. Maybe if police-chiefs stop using the tactics of 18th Century Red Coats, against African-Americans, this problem would be greatly minimized. Police-chiefs may have good intentions, but the cost of a free society with maximum individual liberties, means America can never become a totalitarian police state like East Germany during the Cold War. Freedom is not free!

  3. I was very lucky — most of my grammar school teachers were men who were who received education grants from Uncle. I lived in Detroit and those new teachers were all members of the Detroit area. In basic terms these teachers gave a shit about the students in their care.

    I am a better person by having these local teachers.

  4. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated then America was assassinated.

    Lincoln and America had plans in hand, funds legislated and ships booked for the compassionate repatriation of freed slaves, to the great benefit of all parties.

    Lincoln’s “successors,” with a rationale for the ages, proceeded to assassinate America through the forcible imposition of the “injurious”-of-the-Constitution* and, therefore, wholly unconstitutional “Reconstruction Amendments,” unnecessarily extending America’s torment for centuries, perhaps beyond.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    “Lincoln Proposes a Constitutional Amendment”

    “In spite of such obstacles, Lincoln re-affirmed his strong support for gradual emancipation coupled with resettlement in his second annual message to Congress of December 1, 1862. On this occasion he used the word deportation. So serious was he about his plan that he proposed a draft Constitutional Amendment to give it the greatest legal sanction possible. Lincoln told Congress:99

    ‘I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I strongly favor colonization.’

    ‘In this view, I recommend the adoption of the following resolution and articles amendatory to the Constitution of the United States … “Congress may appropriate money, and otherwise provide, for colonizing free colored persons, with their consent, at any place or places without the United States.”’

    “Applications have been made to me by many free Americans of African descent to favor their emigration, with a view to such colonization as was contemplated in recent acts of Congress … Several of the Spanish American republics have protested against the sending of such colonies [settlers] to their respective territories … Liberia and Haiti are, as yet, the only countries to which colonists of African descent from here could go with certainty of being received and adopted as citizens …

    “Their old masters will gladly give them wages at least until new laborers can be procured; and the freedmen, in turn, will gladly give their labor for the wages, till new homes can be found for them, in congenial climes, and with people of their own blood and race.

    “Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves …

    “The President’s December 1862 proposal had five basic elements:100

    1. Because slavery was a “domestic institution,” and thus the concern of the states alone, they — and not the federal government — were to voluntarily emancipate the slaves.

    2. Slave-holders would be fully compensated for their loss.

    3. The federal government would assist the states, with bonds as grants in aid, in meeting the financial burden of compensation.

    4. Emancipation would be carried out gradually: the states would have until the year 1900 to free their slaves.

    5. The freed blacks would be resettled outside the United States.”

    – Robert Morgan
    ______________

    *

    “…as will not injure the constitution,…”

    ”And if there are amendments desired, of such a nature as will not injure the constitution, and they can be ingrafted so as to give satisfaction to the doubting part of our fellow citizens; the friends of the federal government will evince that spirit of deference and concession for which they have hitherto been distinguished.”

    – James Madison, Proposed Amendments to the Constitution, June 8, 1789

  5. Someone needs to inform Ms. Mustian of an adaptation of an old saying: “it takes a racist to accuse everyone with whom she/he disagrees of being the racist.” She is just one more “ignoramus” – a word my father, a 1st generation born in the USA to immigrants from Lithuania, used from time to time to describe some fools.

  6. “…..an incoming Winthrop University Professor, April Mustian, is openly threatening K-12 teachers that they are being watched for any “rhetoric” deemed pro-police or antiBlack. A conservative group has objected to the now deleted Facebook posting from April 26th. ….Mustian has been teaching special education at Illinois State University. Her now blocked Twitter account described her purpose as “decolonizing myself & edu.”

    WTF, WGAF?

    1. If JT wants to discuss deleted Tweets, maybe he could start with our President’s recent endorsement of a doctor who thinks dreaming of having sex with demons can lead to genital problems.

      1. a doctor who thinks dreaming of having sex with demons can lead to genital problems.

        Damn auto-correct! Democrats, not demons. 😉

      2. Anon – you have personal experience that sexual intercourse with demons does not always cause genital problems?

  7. I wonder where these folks learned to threaten and terminate people for unfavored speech? Could they have taken a page from the “ledership” playlist? Could the example have come from the top down by simple adulation? Gee, the mystery continues.

  8. Anarchist’s listen in.
    Is there any reason to not understand how the vast majority of teachers of this country are teaching our young children to become Anarchist’s?

Leave a Reply