New York Times Under Fire For Cancel Culture Story on University of Tennessee Cheerleader

The New York Times is under fire for its coverage of how an incoming Tennessee cheerleader was dumped from the team after the release of a three-second video in which she used a racial epithet. Times reporter Dan Levin gave a strikingly positive account of how Jimmy Galligan waited for years to release the video to do the most harm to Mimi Groves.  The article “A Racial Slur, a Viral Video, and a Reckoning,” is being cited as the ultimate celebration of the cancel culture in its tenor and lack of balance.  Everyone agrees that the use of the n-word was a terrible thing. However, the same standard does not seem to apply to professors who use racist and insensitive comments.  It would seem that, even if students are not accorded the same protections for faculty, universities should offer them the same opportunity for redemptive change. After all, college is meant as place for personal growth for students.

Levin’s article was criticized as “glorifying” the decision of Galligan to wait to the release of the three-second clip until after Groves achieved her lifetime dream of being admitted to UT and joining its cheerleading team.  Groves is an accomplished cheerleader who was a varsity cheer captain at her high school.  When asked, some black leaders have said publicly that they do not agree with the action taken by UT.

It now appears that Galligan kept a three-second snapchat video in which Groves used the n-word. Here is how Levin described it: “Galligan, who had waited until Ms. Groves had chosen a college, had publicly posted the video that afternoon. Within hours, it had been shared to Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter, where furious calls mounted for the University of Tennessee to revoke its admission offer.”  The media attention unleashed a torrent of demands from people that Groves be expelled from UT.

The backlash led to UT dropping Groves from the cheerleading team and Groves ultimately left the university.

How is that a balanced or just result for any institution of high education?

As we have previously discussed (including with the controversies involving an Oregon professor and a Drexel professor), there remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives. Indeed, faculty have complained of a double or at least uncertain standard that applies to insensitive or racial commentary that depends on the viewpoint. We have previously discussed controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. There were also such incident at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor.

Some professors have used racist epithets without being fired or even disciplined. Other comments have ranged from openly racist to patently offensive. Professors have claimed the pandemic is a white conspiracy. Another professor said that “white lives don’t matter.” Another wrote about a hatred for all white people. Another appeared to call for the death white people deemed racist. Another professor called Justice Barrett a “white colonizer” for adopting Haitian children.  Other professors have called for doxxing or campaigns of harassment.  Another professor called all supporters of police “white supremacists.” Another professor declared “whiteness is terrorism.” Another professor called for the “miserable deaths” of white men. Another called for “white genocide.”  Another called every Republican “racist scum.”

I have defended faculty members from both the left and the right despite their use of hateful and insensitive remarks on social media as a matter of free speech. Notably, these are adults who intentionally post inflammatory comments but they still are accorded protections of free speech and academic freedom.

This was a high school freshman who made a terrible mistake in a three-second snapchat clip. The New York Times however seemed to border on the gleeful in describing her demise.  I have previously commented on the loss of journalism integrity at the Times. However, the primary blame rests with the University of Tennessee which showed little concern for this student despite her profuse apologies.

I have complained previously that universities are not only allowing for the erosion of free speech but failing to protect students from the retaliation for their political or social viewpoints.  We can all condemn the comment made by Groves while, after her public apology, allowing her to continue to fulfill her dream of attending UT and competing on the cheerleading team.



156 thoughts on “New York Times Under Fire For Cancel Culture Story on University of Tennessee Cheerleader”

  1. Everyone agrees that the use of the n-word was a terrible thing.

    That’s quite an exaggeration. Only a distinct minority (15-20%) would think it’s a terrible thing, and the remainder would be split between “bad” and “not a big deal”.

    She was role playing. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it.

  2. CK07: p.s. I know of at least two states (FL and KS) holding that per se actions “give rise to a presumption of both malice and damages”

  3. CK07: (1) Respectfully, you are wrong. Pratt is not a retired judge and still sits on the bench with a reduced caseload. (2) I corrected myself that a reduced level of “malice” is still an element, I more correctly should have said that considering that Pratt is a sitting judge, he understands the meaning and effect of his words, putting it WAY beyond light “opinion.” So there is almost an irrefutable degree of minimal “malice” present when the publication is coming from a judge. That leads to (3) and the use of the word “criminal.” Since it was a sitting judge, not an ordinary “reasonable person” who used the term, the word criminal refers to a convicted person when so used, so your ordinary person analogy is without merit.. Finally, (4)–as an aside,I noticed that your own use of words was a little equivocal, responding to someone else (apparently over a word origin) that “-not it’s German ones” [you using the possessive form of “it.”] So I have a feeling that you are a pseudo-lawyer? Soooo, bottom line, because Pratt is a sitting judge who knew the legal definition of criminal, I stand by my opinion, excepting that I incorrectly stated that no “proof” was required, when more correctly, such “malice” could be implied by Pratt’s position and other circular facts , but must still be pleaded. So I corrected myself, thanks.

  4. Glorifying? Gleeful?
    Why not quote the glorifying or gleeful part of the NYT article? Maybe ‘cause it!s not there?

    1. I agree. I’ve read the NYT article, and it wasn’t glorifying Mr. Galligan’s behavior at all. It was a rather candid and balanced reporting of how the thought process and events went down for both Mr. Galligan and Ms. Groves. It didn’t try to pressure or persuade the reader into taking one side or the other. I think the fact that the article generated much healthy discussion on the problems and nuances of cancel culture in context to young adults and institutions speaks for itself.

      1. +10

        But hey, Turley was quoting his source – Fox News – not the actual NYTs article so he’s as dumb as their typical audience.

      1. Anon, so does Obama, and you.

        In fact, this describes you perfectly:

        “individuals with Dark Triad traits—Machiavellianism, Narcissism, Psychopathy—more frequently signal virtuous victimhood, controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables that are commonly associated with victimization in Western societies.”

        Likewise for enigma and Joey ChiCom.

  5. It amazes me how cancel culture is a bad thing when it happens to the white girl or major corporation, but when it’s someone taking a knee against injustice, run him out on a rail!

    1. False logic, Bob. No one wanted the football players ruined, kicked out of school, and unemployable.

      Personal politics do not belong in the workplace. Sponsors got dragged in.

      Football was an historically patriotic sport. Once the NFL and NBA got into disrespecting the flag, buying into the false narrative that cops are all racist, viewership plummeted.

      Do you want to wind your way past employees broadcasting dueling political opinions just to buy groceries or pump gas? Employers typically require employees keep their personal opinions to themselves to make their business welcoming to everyone.

      Free speech means the government can’t punish you for what you say.

  6. I correct myself (I had already hit “send”). After thinking about it,
    I think there is still some element of malice/ knowledge, after I thought about it, but for a sitting judge to do so is truly remarkable

    1. Allow me to posit another hypo. Since we’re on the subject of presidents as criminals aka crooks, when Richard Nixon put up his fingers and stated “I am not a crook” was he merely restating the obvious in that he had yet to be convicted of a crime or was he proclaiming he had not engaged in criminal acts? The former would seem redundant and about as nonsensical as him trying to sue anybody for defamation for calling him what he was, knowing what he was.

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