Texas History Professor Fired For Criticizing Mike Pence Files First Amendment Challenge

There is a new free speech case out of Texas where a former history professor, Lora Burnett, is suing Collin College over her termination. Burnett alleges that the college fired her after she lashed out at former Vice President Mike Pence and tweeted that a moderator in his debate with now Vice President Kamala Harris should shut his “little demon mouth up.” While I disagree with Burnett’s rhetoric and tenor, the lawsuit has the makings of an important free speech challenge.

Burnett became a target of criticism after she tweeted: “The moderator needs to talk over Mike Pence until he shuts his little demon mouth up.” She also retweeted a post that referred to Pence as a “scumbag lying sonofabitch.”

In her 30-page filing, Burnett alleges that Collin College, its president H. Neil Matkin and other college officials refused to renew her contract due to her controversial tweet. The complaint alleges that the college received considerable pressure from donors to fire her after her commentary on the vice-presidential debate. The complaint cites an email on the same day in which Matkin referenced upset “college constituents” and “legislators” who contacted the college after the tweet.

In one of the most telling pieces of evidence, Texas State Rep. Jeff Leach (R) texted Matkin to ask if Burnett was “paid with taxpayer dollars.” Matkin responded that Burnett was “[a]lready on my radar” and he would “deal with it.”

When Burnett was later terminated, Leach declared it a “Big Win” publicly.  The problem is that the termination may have been public knowledge since Burnett had not been informed of the decision. Burnett responded to Rep. Leach on Twitter stating that she had not been terminated and Leach tweeted back an image of a ticking clock.

Burnett also crossed swords with the college over Covid. In August 2020, Matkin sent out an email to staff declaring that the COVID-19 pandemic had been “blown utterly out of proportion.” He invited people to show “better numbers” to the contrary but criticized the “inflation” of numbers by some commentators. When a faculty member later died from COVID-19, Burnett wrote “Another @collincollege professor has died of COVID.”

After her COVID-19 tweet, Burnett was issued a formal “Level 1” warning. The college objected that the individual was in fact a former professor, Ralph Gregory Hendrickson, who has not taught at the college for a number of years.  While I do not see the need for a formal warning, the objection is a valid one. Burnett’s tweet could have left people with the impression that there was an outbreak on campus.  The college has also cited other grounds for not renewing the contract, including “insubordination” and making private personnel issues public that impair the college’s operations.

Yet, the emails with the state representative add a credible basis for the free speech challenge. The college is a state school subject to First Amendment protections for free speech.

It is important that we maintain content neutral approaches to such free speech controversies. We have previously discussed the concern that academics are allowed (correctly) to voice extreme views on social justice and police misconduct, but that there is less tolerance for the voicing of opposing views on such subjects.  There were analogous 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.

Nevertheless, in the past, I have defended extremist views on academic freedom grounds like those of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who has defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. (Loomis also writes for the site “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.”) I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments “detonating white people,” denouncing policecalling for Republicans to suffer,  strangling police officerscelebrating the death of conservativescalling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements.

We have seen the same pattern involving conservative faculty members whose contracts were not renewed after free speech fights. There is a particular concern in some of these past cases over investigations or punishments linked to commentary on social media as private citizens. Faculty should be allowed to engage in the political debate and express their personal views, even obnoxious views, outside of their respective schools.

The emails to the state representative (and his knowledge of the firing before Burnett was informed) raise troubling concerns over free speech. There may be other reasons for the decision but the complaint would seem to offer sufficient evidence to go to trial on the issue.  The response of the college to her criticism of Pence was inappropriate and chilling. The college should have defended Burnett’s right to free speech regardless of any disagreement with the content of her views.

We will continue to follow the case.

149 thoughts on “Texas History Professor Fired For Criticizing Mike Pence Files First Amendment Challenge”

  1. “Rose, please do me the favor of just listening to this 5 minute tirade by Mark Levin on Turley’s Fox News:

    https://youtu.be/2b7Owc1m3Gg

    No need to listen to the full 5 minutes. Just listen to a few seconds. Everything is true. Paraphrasing Levin: ‘General Milley is no George Patton.’, ‘How many Anne Franks are there in Afghanistan?’

    Jeff silver… can’t stand the truth and thinks the two statements above are wrong. How stupid is that?

  2. Anonymous says:

    “I and others sometimes choose to make off-topic comments. I do so to draw attention to issues that I think are important.”

    Amen.

    Understandably, no one enjoys being reminded of their silence on matters that they ought not to keep silent. Turley has a deplorable habit of ignoring items in the News inimical to his own or his employer Fox’s narratives. Turley rightly points out that the MSM is ignoring the Hunter Biden scandal and its seeming implication of corruption on the part of Joe. There is no doubt that MSM will cover that story if it emerges into a criminal matter, but it is undeniable that they are not willing to fan the flames of it. I, for one, want all criminal conduct investigated.

    However, Turley ignores the 1/6 commission and the legal merits or lack thereof of Bannon’s refusing a subpoena and the House holding him in contempt. There are many other avenues of inquiry by this commission, not the least of which is the Eastman memo and his 1/6 conduct for which he has suffered professional repercussions. Turley says nada.

    Thus, Turley is a hypocrite. He is no better than those he criticizes for their silence on matters he thinks they should cover.

    BTW, thanks for that John Stuart Mills quotation! Touche’

    1. “Turley has a [healthy] habit of ignoring” those who presume to tell him what he should be interested in.

      There, fixed it.

      1. No, Sam. Turley tries to nurture the reputation of being apolitical and impartial, but as Jeff Silberman and others, including myself, point out, since going on the Fox payroll, he’s become nothing but a pundit. Turley hurts his own credibility by ignoring things like the Big Lie, and the antics of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. He also reserves the majority of his stinging criticism for women, especially women of color and minorities, which creates bad optics for someone who teaches at university.

      1. “Bannon should suffer the same consequences Eric Holder did.”

        Two wrongs don’t make a right,

  3. Anonymous says:

    “I wonder what Turley thinks about all of this. Does he agree that Eastman engaged in professional misconduct, or does he instead think this is an example of “cancel culture”? I doubt he’s going to say.”

    I’ve been raising this same question for several days. Turley has had plenty of time to reflect and comment about Eastman’s memo, his conduct on 1/6 as well as the repercussions to him.

    At this point, we can safely presume that Turley will not defend the indefensible though he is too much of a coward to publicly say so and garner the wrath and- dare I say it- the “cancellation- of his Trumpist readers and risk jeopardizing remaining in the good graces of his employer, Fox News.

    Turley will be remembered as the law professor to Fox News who failed to speak up at at time when it was incumbent upon good people to take a moral stand- do you defend one of your Bar colleagues on his legal views and his complicity in the events of 1/6 or do you chastise him (as you did Trump)?

    Crickets……..crickets……..crickets……

    1. Jeff, that’s the frustrating thing about Johnathan Turley: ‘He never writes about those issues most deserving of analysis’. Instead he cranks out these paint-by-number columns regarding censored academics.

      1. As well, Turley looks high and low for trivial stories like crap falling from an airplane instead of confronting the crucial issues of the day. He defends free speech in which he cuts and pastes in every new article dozens of previously cited examples, but he deliberately ignores the free speech controversy of lawyer and scholar John Eastman which is currently headlining the news!

        It must be pointed out that his employer, Fox News, has banned all the Trumpist lawyers, e.g., Giuliani, Powell and Eastman, from appearing on its network. Again, no criticism of Fox from Turley for its de-platforming of Trumpist lawyers. And there is no criticism by the Trumpists here of Fox’s censorship of these lawyers or criticism of Turley for not condemning Fox for “cancelling” these lawyers!

        Of course, I AGREE with shaming and ignoring these Trumpist lawyers! I am just pointing out Turley’s abject hypocrisy in defending exclusively Conservative *academic* free speech (with a couple of exceptions for Liberal free speech) while apparently not disapproving- by virtue of his silence- “Little Brother” Fox News banning the Trumpist lawyers.

  4. Mike who?

    George Washington et al. took bold action when the situation demanded it.

    Mike Pence failed when history called; Mike Pence followed orders from the Deep Deep State.

    The communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) won’t give America back; it will have to be taken.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

    1. BTW

      Both of Kamala Harris’ parents were foreign citizens when she was born. Kamala Harris will never be eligible for president or vice president. Kamala Harris is a “citizen.” Kamala Harris will never be a “natural born citizen.”

      1. It might be helpful to consider that Vice President Harris was born in Oakland, CA. Her parents were not granted diplomatic immunity at the time of her birth nor were they part of the diplomatic corps of any foreign government. Therefore according to United States v. Won Kim Ark’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, she is a citizen of the United States and eligible to hold the presidency in so far as the citizenship requirement is concerned, should that position become available to her.

        1. Darren, with reference to your comment, would you be so kind as to explain how Kamala Harris, a “citizen” by birth, is transformed into a “natural born citizen” by U.S. v. Won Kim Ark, (dissent by three Justices) or by any other official act, understanding that the requirement for Congress and the Senate is simple “citizen” while the requirement for president and vice president is the several, greater and superior status of “natural born citizen?” *

          Also, is it your understanding that the judicial branch has the power, any power, to amend the U.S. Constitution, by any means?

          *

          Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5

          No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

  5. “… but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    Incitement speech should rightly be well considered, but free speech should never be squelched. That is but one of the deep divisions between left and right. I welcome dissenting points of view irrespective of their merit, which can be debated with decorum. Leftists, by and large, seek to silence dissent (and Orwell would argue they seek to eliminate and prevent dissent). I see no reason to be disagreeable while disagreeing. However, leftists seem to go out of their way to be disparaging, disrespectful, and downright disgusting should anything discordant from outside their worldview bubble ever disturb the echoes they’ve come ever so accustomed to hearing.

    Even so, that is their right. I only ask for the same allowance in return.All too often that hope is unrequited. (Alas, and alack)

    1. Hickdead says:

      “However, leftists seem to go out of their way to be disparaging, disrespectful, and downright disgusting should anything discordant from outside their worldview bubble ever disturb the echoes they’ve come ever so accustomed to hearing.”

      Leftists are sick and tired of incessant Trumpist lies, and we are not going to take it anymore. There are consequences for blatant lying- disrespect, disparagement and disgust.

      1. Yes, Jeff, but there are more consequences for blatant lying other than “disrespect, disparagement and disgust”. In the case of the Big Lie, we had the first-ever insurrection in this country, orchestrated by a losing political candidate, aided and abetted by members of the Republican party. We had the U.S. Capitol breached, invaded and defaced, windows smashed, doors broken down, a woman shot after trespassing and ignoring police commands to stop, John Lewis’s memorial defaced, human waste deposited in the building, the Speaker’s office invaded and her laptop stolen and a Republican Party pretending this was just a bunch of protesters who got out of hand instead an the orchestrated effort to defeat the will of the American people. Because Republicans continue to refuse to repudiate the Big Lie, even though they all know it IS a lie, we have Republican legislatures passing laws that would allow votes to be switched or not counted, which is what Trump tried to do by bullying after losing the election and multiple court challenges. Republicans also know that if it is easy and convenient for people to vote, more Democrats will vote, so they are doing everything possible to make it more difficult and inconvenient to vote. They also fund “forensic audits” of ballots, knowing that there was NO widespread voter fraud–all of which is calculated to lend credence to the Big Lie and cause people to worry that elections are rigged. Republicans are actually trying to rig the next election because they know that most Americans won’t vote for them. This is in addition to Trump’s media allies constantly lying and attacking Biden and the Democrats. Republicans in Congress are doing everything possible to hamstring Biden’s presidency, not because of ideological differences, because they don’t even try to work with his administration to tweak bills–they just simply oppose everything and then lie about the reasons why.

        When it comes to COVID, we have a Republican party that is wise enough to realize that the economy won’t fully recover until COVID is fully brought under control, doing everything possible to help spread the disease and prevent vaccinations, including passing laws banning mask-wearing, banning quarantining, requiring in-person classes and trying to subvert efforts to require vaccination for certain employees. Trump media allies push lies about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, even though Republicans in Congress and Trump media allies are all vaccinated. The result is that, while COVID numbers are improving, it’s still not as well-controlled as it could and should be, and people are still getting sick and dying unnecessarily. Trump’s incompetence and lying alone are responsible for 130,000 unnecessary deaths, according to the testimony of Dr. Deborah Birx.

        People like Karen argue that the lies and junk science she heard on Hannity and other alt-right media should be debated, and that such “opinions” should be respected. Science has shown that Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin are NOT effective as COVID treatments. Science has shown that natural immunity from getting sick with the COVID virus does not provide superior protection against re-infection. Science has shown that the vaccine injected into the deltoid muscle does NOT spread systemically, and immunity arises from the muscle cells in the upper arm and the lymphatic vessels that drain the area. Science has shown that the vaccines available in the US are both safe and effective, and that serious side-effects are very rare, so that the benefits outweigh the risks. Facts established by proper scientific studies are not matters subject to debate, but all of the lying about these things causes people to worry and be afraid of having themselves and their children vaccinated. Science doesn’t really care whether you believe in it. Spreading fear by lying about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, mask-wearing and quarantining for political reasons is immoral.

        1. You said it! The first casualty of war is truth. We are in the midst of a cold cultural and socio-economic war.

  6. Send lawyers guns and money! Lord get me out of this!
    And speak free or forever hold your piece. i.e. your AK-47.

  7. Whig says:

    “The remedy for bad speech is more speech.”

    You suppose Trumpists will hear speech contrary to Trump’s on Fox News? Do you really imagine that Trumpists will listen to any speech on CNN and MSNBC or the MSM after Trump has declared them “fake news” and the “enemy of the people”?

    Because neither side is willing to listen to “more speech” if it comes from the opposing side, the country is implacably polarized.

    In Turley’s courts of law, both sides of an issue are guaranteed to be heard by the jury, but in the court of public opinion, a citizen can refuse to listen to what she does not wish to know.

    Turley deliberately avoids addressing this obvious flaw in his theory that more speech will counter bad speech.

    1. Jeff,
      I thought Professor Turley argued that good speech counters bad speech.

      Regarding the media, that is very complicated. Yes, people are prone to confirmation bias. And, it is very troubling that President Trump “has declared [CNN and MSNBC or the MSM] “fake news” and the “enemy of the people”?”

      Yet, there are more than just the following as examples of the media behaving just so:

      https://youtu.be/jnYZVNVqBgU

      1. Rose says:

        “I thought Professor Turley argued that good speech counters bad speech.”

        He does, but his theory in inapplicable where people are refusing to listen to whom they perceive is the “enemy.” Didn’t Trump- at least on one occasion- explicitly beseech his followers not to listen to the MSM?

        Turley will state his disagreement and disapproval of bad speech but advocates no other “cancelling” consequences. Though he did call on Congress to “censure” Trump for inciting the Trumpist mob and causing their “desecration” (his word) of the Capitol. That is the only time I can recall Turley arguing for any public or private repercussions for someone’s purely bad speech.

        Unlike Turley, I believe publicly shaming and personally ostracizing bad speakers IS a vital form of speech! Citizens must do so in order to have a civilized and decent society.

        1. JeffSilberman: And it goes without saying that you presume the right to decide for the public who those “bad speakers” are. Therein lies the problem with your POV. But you are totally within your right to hold it. Free speech means exactly that, no exemptions for stupidity or irrationality.

          1. Giocon says:

            “And it goes without saying that you presume the right to decide for the public who those “bad speakers” are. Therein lies the problem with your POV.”

            Nope. I decide for MYSELF who are bad speakers though I do inform others what I think so that they may agree with me. But you inadvertently have stumbled across another problem that contributes to our currently irremediable polarization, that is, the Leftists’ cited “bad speakers” are the Trumpists’ “good speakers.” We can agree on nothing.

        2. Jeff,
          “I believe publicly shaming and personally ostracizing bad speakers IS a vital form of speech! Citizens must do so in order to have a civilized and decent society.”

          That’s already happening and it is not making our society civilized or decent. Actual discussion and good-faith debate will allow the airing of disagreements, allow people’s concerns to be heard. Then, the points and counter-points can be refined and elucidated such that the truth of the matter finally begins to emerge.

          1. Rose responds to my suggestion of shaming and shunning bad speakers:

            “That’s already happening and it is not making our society civilized or decent. Actual discussion and good-faith debate will allow the airing of disagreements, allow people’s concerns to be heard. Then, the points and counter-points can be refined and elucidated such that the truth of the matter finally begins to emerge.”

            You cannot have a rational discussion with conspiracy theorists. Liars are not interested in counterpoints.

            Are you saying that we should not shame, shun and ostracize Neo-Nazis, Antifa, Q-Anon supporters and demonstrable liars?

            1. Jeff,
              “You cannot have a rational discussion with conspiracy theorists.”

              Not sure why you are so certain. Communication is more than laying out a rational counter-argument. Discussions aren’t about “winning”, and, quite often moving the needle can take months or even years.

              1. Rose says:

                “Not sure why you are so certain. Communication is more than laying out a rational counter-argument. Discussions aren’t about “winning”, and, quite often moving the needle can take months or even years.”

                I agree that deprogramming a member of a cult such as Q-Anon or Trumpism would take months or years.

                Unlike brainwashed cultists, liars know the truth; they just don’t care about it or believe that the truth is worth sacrificing for the sake of a higher purpose in their mind- winning at all costs. Take Trump. He will lie as much as he has to in order not to be a loser which is anathema to him. You disagree?

                1. Jeff,
                  “He will lie as much as he has to in order not to be a loser which is anathema to him.”

                  That is rather loaded phrasing. If he has lied, I don’t think that would be the reason (I did not pay much attention to the breathless media circus surrounding his comments; I tried to pay attention to substantive news stories). Also, you are mind-reading. Not wise to make assumptions about motives.

                  Trump is linguistically fascinating. I’m not sure what to make of him. He is no fool, as much as people like to paint him as such.

                  1. Rose says about Trump:

                    “That is rather loaded phrasing. If he has lied, I don’t think that would be the reason (I did not pay much attention to the breathless media circus surrounding his comments; I tried to pay attention to substantive news stories). Also, you are mind-reading. Not wise to make assumptions about motives.”

                    Trump is a pathological liar, and if you can’t see that by now, I am absolutely dumbfounded by your naïveté. Even Turley has cited his dishonesty on several occasions. I don’t deny that all politicians lie more or less, but Trump is sui generis. The evidence is inexhaustible, undeniable and irrefutable.

                    To entertain any question about Trump’s bad faith lying is to be a Trumpist. I’m sorry.

                    1. Jeff and Anonymous,
                      I am not a Trumpist. I am observing him warily.

                      He is quite skilled in his use of rhetoric. I am not sure of the goals, though. They are oblique to the mainstream narrative, I think.

                    2. Rose says about Trump;

                      “He is quite skilled in his use of rhetoric. I am not sure of the goals, though. They are oblique to the mainstream narrative, I think.”

                      Trump repeatedly says the quiet part out loud. No politician’s intentions could be more obvious. This man has you bamboozled. The mystery lies not with Trump’s motives, but those Trumpists who are too blind to see him for the conman that he has been found by the law to have been, e.g., Trump University, the Trump Foundation, etc.

                      Open your eyes to the truth about Trumpism.

                    3. Jeff, wrote: ” Trump University”

                      Tell us about Trump University, Jeff. There were claims against it, no doubt, but there was no fraud, and Trump was lending his name. Those students learned more than the Biden students learned, and dollar for dollar might have learned more than what many kids get from the university today. There were suits, but they died because they didn’t deserve to exist. A nuisance suit was created when Trump ran for President. That tells us nothing about the university, but your limited ability to think doesn’t let you see the truth.

                      Now let us go to the Maverick Schools created by the Biden family. They would not have existed but for the political clout of Joe Biden.

                      “This is Frank Biden, the brother of Vice President Joe Biden. He’s at a ribbon-cutting event August 31 to promote the first Palm Beach County location of Mavericks in Education Florida, a for-profit charter school chain that’sthat’s already colonized “Miami-Dade.”…
                      But so far, Mavericks’Mavericks’ lofty goals haven’t materialized. Most of their schools graduate less than 15 percent of eligible students. On state report cards, the schools get “incompletes”” because so few of their students take the FCAT. In Homestead, meanwhile, two former teachers filed whistleblower lawsuits alleging the school there is inflating attendance records and failing to report grades properly.”

                      https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/mavericks-charter-schools-dont-live-up-to-big-promises-6385627

                      After using Joe’s political help to get things started, I think the Bidens had to sell the schools.

                    4. “the Trump Foundation,”

                      For a lawyer, Jeff doesn’t seem to know much about private charitable foundations or tax law.

      2. “I thought Professor Turley argued that good speech counters bad speech.”

        Prairie, you are right. Your good speech here countered Jeff’s bad speech that is so repetitive, boring and banal.

        I feel so much better. Thank you.

    2. “this obvious flaw in his theory that more speech will counter bad speech.”

      So what is your recommendation for countering what you consider “bad” speech? Is there a theory you endorse? Maybe a person — Cardinal Bellarmine?

      1. Yes. Humans should do what humans have learned to do in order to survive, namely, discriminate. Discriminate against those whose views are abhorrent. We won’t agree on what speech is worthy of ignoring and marginalizing, but that is beside the point. It is only important that we agree that shaming, shunning and ostracizing bad speakers, e.g., liars, are Constitutionally protected expressions of free speech and justifiable repercussions for lying.

  8. According to the plaintiff’s own filing, quoting from the Collin College Board Policy Manual, “The board of trustees may decide by vote or inaction not to offer any employee further employment with the college district beyond the term of the contract for any reason or no reason.” I assume nothing in the employment agreement conflicts with that. In fact, employment agreements I’ve been party to explicitly state I agree to abide by corporate policy manuals.

    On February 25, 2021, Collin notified Burnett her contract would not be renewed.

    ==============

    She wasn’t “fired”. The college notified her it was choosing not to renew her contract upon its expiration.

    Put the shoe on the other foot. Imagine at the contract’s expiration Collin offered to renew it but she decided not to accept because she wanted to do something else. Could Collin compel her to contract with it? Of course not. They’re free agents. They are both relieved of any obligation to the other upon the contract’s expiration.

    It looks to me like she’s trying to turn a contact dispute into a free speech case because her contract dispute has no legs.

    1. Troll McTrollface, Well said and it might also be worth noting that Collin County is among the most conservative, affluent counties in Texas. The county taxpayers fund Lora Burnett’s former employer. In opting to part ways, Collin County Community College was acting on an assessment that Burnett was a poor fit for its community. Two other professors met the same fate at the same time. The facts of inappropriate classroom behaviors will likely be presented at trial as well. The College depends upon the support and goodwill of the community it serves. The College removed these corrosive individuals, not because of the content of their speech, but because of their vulgarity, unprofessionalism, and general hostility toward their employer and their employer’s community-focused mission.

  9. I think this is interesting because free speech is one thing and unprofessional demeanor is another thing. When my father was a college professor there was a certain way that people behaved. When I was teaching it was completely different. People complain about millennials but frankly the faculty, none of whom could be remotely deemed “millennials,” seemed incapable of any kind of civil discourse let alone any kind of standards of professional decorum. Let’s take a few steps away and look at this without the right/left perspective. If she had said something like, “Mike Pence is utterly wrong for the following reasons,” that would be one thing. But her comment itself was a comment against free speech (Kamala Harris should talk over him until he is silenced) expressed in a profane and unprofessional manner. So what you’re basically saying is that her anti-free speech comment should be protected whereas the university’s right to hire people who express themselves like college professors and not fishwives is not?

      1. Rose,

        It is hardly surprising that Turley would argue for NO consequences for ANY speech by an academic regardless how utterly revolting or despicable. After all, he wants to protect as inviolate his own position as an academic.

        Correct me if I am wrong, has Turley EVER come across an incidence of speech so reprehensible that an institution could not in good conscience continue to employ such a professor despite the fact that he had otherwise been a model employee in every respect?

        There appears to be no limit to what a professor can say without suffering any consequences whatsoever unless he publishes child pornography or calls for imminent violence. Short of those two bright lines, Turley has never advocated- as I recall- shaming, shunning, ostracizing or disinviting anyone one for anything they may have said no matter how disgusting.

    1. Deborah,
      Well said.

      My daughter experienced an incident in college.
      She expressed a POV counter to the professors.
      The professor told her she was wrong and to shut up.
      Took the air right out of the room. Another student after class said that was f-ed up.
      The professor did apologize to my daughter later.

  10. “Nevertheless, in the past, I have defended extremist views on academic freedom grounds lie those of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who has defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. (Loomis also writes for the site “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.”) I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments “detonating white people,” denouncing police, calling for Republicans to suffer, strangling police officers, celebrating the death of conservatives, calling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements.”

    Defend the murder of a Conservative Protestor…..defend Murder Professor Turley?

    Defend “nothing wrong ” with such acts of violence….really Professor Turley?

    Defend “detonating white people”?

    Defend “strangling Police Officers”…really?

    Defend “celebrating the death of Conservatives”….are you serious?

    Defend the “calling for the killing of Trump”

    If you genuinely believe that kind of speech is protected because it came from a College Professor….then Professor you have lost your mind.

    Let’s turn this around on. you….I am not a College Professor….I preferred to be in Law Enforcement and the Military…..what if I said exactly the same things except I targeted Liberal, Blacks, College Professors, Antifa/BLM Protestors and Obama…..what would. you day about my Free Speech Rights?

    Just because one happens to be a College Professor does not in any way grant them protection for advocating violence against others.

    I can assure you that were I on the Jury….such speech would not get my approval and the Dismissal would prevail.

    Professor Turley prides himself on being a principled Man and one who adheres to the “Honest Man” method….he should apply that to this kind speech and recall there are limits to Free Speech.

    1. I agree with you Ralph. Perhaps JT would defend the free speech rights of this individual who was arrested for essentially the same thing:

      A California man was busted for threatening to kill Rep. Matt Gaetz and shoot his children in a profanity-laced phone message to the Florida congressman’s office, reports said.
      https://dailytruthreport.com/man-arrested-for-threatening-rep-matt-gaetz/

      Burnett does have a right to free speech, but the college has the right to not renew her contract.

      1. Olly says:

        “Burnett does have a right to free speech, but the college has the right to not renew her contract.”

        BUT Turley says the college would be wrong to do so on account of her speech!

        1. BUT Turley says the college would be wrong to do so on account of her speech!

          Where in JT’s post does he say the college would be wrong to not renew her contract on account of her speech?

          For the record, I would agree that it would be wrong if they didn’t renew her contract based solely on her speech. He does state:

          After her COVID-19 tweet, Burnett was issued a formal “Level 1” warning. The college objected that the individual was in fact a former professor, Ralph Gregory Hendrickson, who has not taught at the college for a number of years. While I do not see the need for a formal warning, the objection is a valid one. Burnett’s tweet could have left people with the impression that there was an outbreak on campus. The college has also cited other grounds for not renewing the contract, including “insubordination” and making private personnel issues public that impair the college’s operations.

          If the college has properly documented other reasons that would support not renewing her contract, then their case would be solid. If they haven’t and this boils down to speech the school didn’t like, then I believe this would be a 1st amendment case.

  11. As much as I disagree with everything she had to say, I happen to agree with Jonathan Turley on this. She has a right to free speech, no matter how much I do not like one word, she had to say concerning VP Pence. So, it pains me to say this, I would have to be in the crowd supporting her right to free speech. Yes I am a Conservative.

    1. I couldn’t agree more with you my friend. I couldn’t. So far I have been so surprised that all of us have not turned to our news that we watch and all of a sudden we see where there’s been a sizable physical attack that led to people being murdered or people being shot, over this issue pertaining to free speech. I mean it. I really feel that for sometime now, our Nation as a whole has been soooooooooo lucky lucky lucky.

  12. Lora Burnett has a right to speak her mind. Let the court room of public opinion be the judge.

  13. A lady named Betty Parks refused to give up her seat on an airplane headed to New York. She had no mask, no vaccine and was coughing. She got removed from her seat and was put back in the terminal. She sued. She cited Rosa Parks case.

    1. “She had no mask, no vaccine and was coughing. She got removed from her seat and was put back in the terminal. She sued. She cited Rosa Parks case.”

      I’m pretty sure coughing in others is not protected free speech.

    2. I did not find a story about this incident.

      Airlines are requiring people to mask – you can not board a plane without a mask.

      Given all the lies and other fake stories why should this be beleived ?

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