An Australian professor of “moral psychology” used Twitter to call for the death of Trump supporters. Neither Twitter nor his colleagues objected to Macquarie University Associate Professor Mark Alfano calling for “more of this please” after reading that a Trump supporter died in the recent Capitol Hill riot. He also called such deaths “comedy.” He is not the first academic to call for such violence or defend killings. We previously discussed Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis who writes for the site Lawyers, Guns, and Money and declared that he saw “nothing wrong” with the killing of a conservative protester. (A view defended by other academics). Other professors have simply called for all “Republicans to suffer.” What is striking is that such views are neither barred by Twitter nor, according to a conservative site that broke this story, denounced at his university. For my part, I have always maintained an Internet originalist position on free speech opposing censorship, so I would prefer that these academics not be banned. However, there is a stark contrast in how such views are treated by both social media companies and universities. Likewise, there is legitimate condemnation of the social media statements of figures like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and many QAnon figures, but virtually nothing on figures voicing extremist views on the left in the mainstream media or academia.
Alfano was mocking the death of Rosanne Boyland, 34, who was crushed to death in the riot. He appeared to relish the news of the death of a Trump supporter and tweeted “More of this please.” He then lashed out at those on Twitter objecting to his hateful statement by calling one a “dumb***k.” He added “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when a MAGA chud gets crushed by fellow rioters and dies.” “CHUD” is an acronym from the 1984 horror movie C.H.U.D. for “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.”
Alfano previously taught at the University of Oregon. His curriculum vitae lists work on morality and psychology and lists such grants as “Social virtue epistemology: What does it take to be an intellectually humble Socratic gadfly?” and “Challenging the use of masculinity as a recruit mechanism in extremist narratives.” There is also “Scaffolding the media for intellectually humble discourse.” It is hard to see any humility or morality in Alfano’s commentary.
Again, I view this as protected speech and would argue against efforts to ban Alfano from Twitter or punish him at this university. While these extremist figures rarely show the same support for the right of others to speak, they are the test of our principles of free speech and academic freedom.