Chasing Katz: Princeton Moves to Fire Classics Professor Who Criticized Anti-Racism Measures

We have been writing about the rising intolerance for conservative and dissenting views on our campuses. Many faculty members are fearful that, if they challenge the liberal orthodoxy at their schools, they will be shunned, investigated, or fired. For many, that fear was realized this month at Princeton where the university used a previously adjudicated grievance against Classics Professor Professor Joshua Katz to seek his termination. Katz had drawn the ire of faculty and students by questioning a proposed anti-racism program of benefits for minority faculty. Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber called on the university board to fire Katz in a move being denounced as a transparent effort to circumvent free speech and academic freedom protections over his prior public stance.

Katz became persona non grata when he questioned a proposal in a “faculty letter” to offer special perks for professors “of color,” including a summer salary and additional sabbatical time.

In a Quillette article, Katz questioned racial justice demands lodged by faculty members in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Katz was responding to the 48 demands and expressly supported some.

Indeed, plenty of ideas in the letter are ones I support. It is reasonable to “[g]ive new assistant professors summer move-in allowances on July 1” and to “make [admissions] fee waivers transparent, easy to use, and well-advertised.” “Accord[ing] greater importance to service as part of annual salary reviews” and “[i]mplement[ing] transparent annual reporting of demographic data on hiring, promotion, tenuring, and retention” seem unobjectionable. And I will cheerfully join the push for a “substantial expansion” of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, which encourages underrepresented minorities to enter PhD programs and strive to join the professoriate.

However, as a faculty member of 25 years, he objected to faculty of color receiving special “course relief and summer salary” and an extra semester of sabbatical. He criticized “extra perks for no reason other than … pigmentation.” The article is direct and many faculty likely felt insulted by the criticism. The issue is the role of the university in effectively calling these objections as raw racism. He also objected to the editing of his comments to remove counter evidence of his motivation or intent.

In the article, Katz denounced the request for the university to issue a formal public apology to members of the Black Justice League student group:

“The Black Justice League, which was active on campus from 2014 until 2016, was a small local terrorist organization that made life miserable for the many (including the many black students) who did not agree with its members’ demands.”

The letter framed these requests as attempts to balance racial disparities among school employees.

“It boggles my mind that anyone would advocate giving people – extraordinarily privileged people already, let me point out: Princeton professors – extra perks for no reason other than their pigmentation,” Katz wrote in response to the letter.

Many called for Katz to be fired for expressing such views. The university then featured Katz in a mandatory freshman orientation video that included a “Race and Free Speech” section in which he is condemned as a racist.

It appears, however, that the university was not done with Katz. According to the Wall Street Journal, the university re-opened a previously adjudicated claim of sexual misconduct and then used that as the basis to seek his termination.

After the controversy over Katz’s criticism of the anti-racism measures, the school newspaper decided to focus on the earlier controversy and seek new charges. The university agreed.

Katz had previously been adjudicated over a consensual intimate relationship with a student in 2006. The relationship began when the student was a junior and reportedly continued after her graduation. The student refused to cooperate with the university in its investigation.

The 2018 investigation resulted in a finding that Katz violated school policy prohibiting sexual relationships between teachers as well as its nepotism policy. He was then punished with a one-year suspension without pay.

The prior adjudication and punishment should have closed the question. It is the academic equivalent of the Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment that maintained that no one “shall . . . be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . . . ”

However, at the urging of the students, the university re-opened the investigation and found two violations of school policy. It claimed that Katz (1) misled investigators and failed to cooperate with the investigation and (2) discouraged the former student from seeking psychiatric help when she threatened self-harm.

That was enough to allow Eisgruber to seek his termination while claiming it was not about his academic views of the anti-racism measures. The message, however, could not be more clear to dissenting voices on the faculty: if you speak up. any past grievance or issue can be dug up to seek your termination.

Edward Yingling, co-founder of Princetonians for Free Speech, is quoted as saying

“With the firing of Professor Katz, Princeton will have sent a message. If a faculty member or student says something that contradicts our orthodoxy, we will get you—if not for what you said, then by twisting your language, by using the extensive resources of the university to shame you before the student body, and by investigating your personal life for years past.”

I hold no brief for Dr. Katz on the earlier dispute. Indeed, there is little information on the underlying facts of the earlier case. It is enough that he was previously adjudicated and punished for his conduct. One can accept that judgment and still object to a later retroactive and supplemental punishment.

The chilling effect on faculty will be glacial. It is a warning that even closed cases can be re-opened to facilitate your termination if you defy the majority.




115 thoughts on “Chasing Katz: Princeton Moves to Fire Classics Professor Who Criticized Anti-Racism Measures”

  1. Jonathan: So far you have avoided discussing the import of Alito’s draft opinion in the Roe case. It has been a hot topic for discussion the past few weeks. My neighbor Bill, who lives across the cul-de-sac from me, has definite opinions on the subject. Today we had a spirited discussion over coffee around his kitchen table. It’s a weekly ritual for us. Here’s what I remember from this morning.

    Me: Good morning Bill. What’s up?
    Bill: I was reading an article before you got here about female masturbation. Can you believe? When I grew up [Bill is 86] that was a taboo subject. Now women openly talk about it. I saw Gwyneth Paltrow on some talk show and she was talking about using vibrators! What has this world come to?
    Me: But Bill, medical experts say masturbation has good health benefits–it releases feel-good hormones–endorphins that cause relaxation and a better night’s sleep.
    Bill: Well, I suppose it’s OK for guys but my church [Bill is a good Catholic. He goes to mass twice a week] teaches that masturbation is a “sin”–it’s right there in the Sixth Commandment. Sexual activity is meant only for procreative purposes. The Church frowns on “self-gratification”. Besides masturbation discourages a woman from carrying out God’s ordination to produce a lot of children for the Church. But you wouldn’t know this because you are not Catholic.
    Me: That’s right. I’m not Catholic but I do know about the Church’s position. Have you read Alito’s draft opinion?
    Bill: No, but I heard about it on TV. And I know Alito is a good conservative Catholic. That’s good enough for me. You would never hear female masturbation discussed around his kitchen table.
    Me: But Bill. Alito reached back to the opinions of a 17th century English jurist to justify over turning Roe. That jurist opposed abortion and believed that once married a woman could not claim she was “raped” by her husband. He also condemned 2 women to death because some religious zealots accused the women of being “witches”. Should we be going back to the 17th century to determine women’s rights today?
    Bill: Well, I don’t know anything about the 17th century but Alito apparently does. Back then women knew their place.
    Me: But Bill. If Alito’s opinion is confirmed this state will not only ban abortion but also make it a crime for a woman to go to another state to get an abortion. There is even talk in the state legislature to ban contraceptives.
    Bill: So. I would ban contraceptives and female masturbation. I wouldn’t probably have 6 wonderful kids had I allowed my wife [she has recently passed] to masturbate or use contraceptives.
    Me: Really, you would go that far?
    Bill: That’s right So called “privacy rights” for women have gone way too far. I also read in the paper this morning there is a shortage of baby formula. Now if mothers just stayed at home and breast fed, instead of pursuing “careers”. there would be no shortage of baby formula.
    Me: OK, Bill, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

    As I got up to leave Bill said: “I really enjoy these conversations we have. See you next Sunday”

    1. Coffee causes miscarriage, known to women centuries ago but not taught to many physicians by the 1990’s. Ask Bill if the state should ban coffee or only for women of reproductive age?

      1. Cynthia: Thx for the insight Doctor. I suppose women have always found a way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. In the interests of full disclosure the discussion I had with my neighbor never took place. I do have a neighbor “Bill”, who is 86 and lives across the cul de sac from me. But he and I have never had a discussion like the one I described. But I do know some people who think like “Bill”—like some of the politicians in my state who want to make criminals of women who will travel across state lines to get an abortion. They even want to ban contraceptIves. I used “Bill” to highlight some of the problems posed by Alito’s draft opinion. If women will no have the right to privacy what other rights might be threatened? Margaret Atwood, after her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” was first published, thought it was kind of “far fetched”. She is now having second thoughts. The Catholic Church still believes abortion is a “grave” sin. San Francisco Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cardileone just sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi saying she is no longer entitled to High Communion because she supports Roe. When religious organizations can dictate how women must conduct their lives we are headed right back to the 17th century!

        1. RE:””When religious organizations can dictate how women must conduct their lives we are headed right back to the 17th century!”” My father-in-law, of blessed memory, was a Holocaust survivor lived in an Orthodox Jewish environment until 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland. He thought he had fully made up his mind about religious beliefs and practices until the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism/Islamism as we knew it finally cast it in stone. You could throw the lot of ’em on the garbage heap of history as far as he was concerned. When one views the patchwork quilt of the history of the world, there’s likely been as much murder done in the name of some ‘God’ as any social or political philosophy. Take a walk through the Vatican Museum and ask yourself why such wealth should be invested therein, by whom, for whom, and for what.. Mark Knofler wrote a brilliant lyric for the song ‘A Ticket to Heaven”, which says it all. Karl Marx saw religion as the opiate of the masses. Their organizations are its cartels.Their clergies, its mules.The hapless fools who drink their Kool-Aid are their addicted lawful prey.

  2. Diversity, Inequity, and Exclusion (DIE). Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry) breeds adversity.

    1. RE:””Diversity, Inequity, and Exclusion (DIE). Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry) breeds adversity.””” Diversity characterizes the fabric of society. Exclusion defines policies and practices which raise barriers to equal opportunity. ‘Equity’ is a word which has been twisted to their purpose by Woke Progressives as much as ‘racist’ has. In its it traditional usage equity defines equality of opportunity. That means you tear down the walls. You don’t raise part of the playing floor on which some are standing to achieve false equality. Affirmative action does not achieve equity. Affirmative action is a form of bias and exclusion. The elimination of honors programs in public schools simply because not all are able achieves neither equity nor equality..It simply stifles incentive and opportunity for all, Equity and opportunity permit all to rise in accordance with their gifts. If those gifts need be discovered, nurtured and cultivated, do so. We have come to learn that not all born to adversity may become neurosurgeons. Some might become members of the United States Cabinet, Vice-President or President of the United States..

  3. Katz is going to be a rich man. And it’s so very good to see yet another of the woke demon sounder heading full tilt for the seaside cliff. Its fall is almost Biblical.

    “For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus[b] asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding, 12 and the unclean spirits[c] begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, stampeded down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.“. Mark 5:8-20 (KJV)

  4. Prof. Turley,

    As a Princeton graduate, I want to thank you to standing by Prof. Katz. His hounding is a shameful moment in Princeton history. I read your postings daily and they enrich my thinking

    Robert J. Bresler
    Prof Emeritus of Public Policy
    Penn State University

    1. Lol josh Katz was fired cos he boned his students. What a creep!

  5. Elon Musk is a very bad man.

    All the liberal girls say so.

    Bill Clinton is a good man.

    All the liberal girls say so.

    Obama is a good man.

    All the liberal girls say so.

    Was that 19th Amendment incoherent and hysterical, like abortion?

    Sometimes the girls fool me.

  6. Democrats / Big Tech censoring and manipulating of US elections continues. With Hillary, they were just getting started. With DNC appointed Federal Judges, DNC FBI and DOJ cultists and Big Tech filtering emails, no more proof is needed. Big Tech and DNC are a documented threat to US Democracy.

    Fox News:

    “Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is accusing Google of censoring his campaign emails, stating that his campaign is in “Google purgatory.”

    Rubio tweeted on Saturday morning that 66% of his campaign emails to “registered supporters” with a Gmail address have been sent to a spam inbox since a “Pelosi Puppet” announced she is running against him.

    “Marco Rubio for Senate is in @Google purgatory Since a Pelosi puppet announced she was running against me they have sent 66% of my emails to REGISTERED SUPPORTERS with @gmail to spam,” Rubio tweeted. “And during the final weeks of finance quarters it climbs to over 90%”

  7. If JT included some of the additional information and context that Dennis McIntyre provided below, I think JT’s post would have been a more fair and balanced presentation. For example, JT should have included the “small terrorist organization” comment by Katz.

  8. Jonathan: For 23 years Joshua Katz labored away at Princeton–respected by colleagues and students. By his own admission he was a “private person” who kept to himself, not seeking controversy. That all changed when he decided to flagrantly violate university policy by engaging in a sexual tryst with one of his students. Then he decided to interject himself in university policy by complaining about proposals to address the university’s legacy of racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Princeton decided to adopt new policies to attract more Black faculty members. Katz’s racism came into full bloom when he publicly announced he was opposed to these policies that benefited Black professors because of the “pigmentation of their skin”. The policies were adopted because of the almost 500 full professors only 5% are Black at Princeton. That percentage has barely changed in 10 years. The faculty at Princeton is predominantly white and male. I guess Katz liked it that way.

    In 2015 students organized the “Black Justice League”. Black, white and Asian students demonstrated and engaged in class walk-outs and sit-ins calling for the University to dismantle its institutional racist practices. Katz called BJL a “small terrorist organization”. But BJL was instrumental is forcing Princeton to “woke”. Stigmatizing BJL was Katz’s way of expressing his racist outrage. Katz, as a linguist, prides himself on his careful use of language so the use of the word “terrorist” was not inadvertent. In fact, BJL was not a “terrorist organization”. It did not engage in violence. University President Eisgruber describes BJL: “The Black Justice League was a group of non-violent student activists who protested about Woodrow Wilson’s racism and other issues”. During BJL protests white racist students engaged in several racist acts against the organization. One white student went online and said: “African tribes have contributed close to nothing in modern society” In 2020 Katz was interviewed and complained about being shunned by other Princeton faculty and students. He attributed this to “dreadful illiberalism”, “mob law” and the “cancel culture”. He is now the darling of the right and apparently you.

    Now Katz is being threatened with termination–not because of the exercise of his “free speech” rights but over his sexual misconduct with a student. You say Katz has already been punished and he should not be subject to additional discipline– a kind of “double jeopardy”. That’s a ruse because this only applies in the context of the criminal law. If there is new evidence relating to the violation of university policy by Katz the university has every right to consider it. I know, you say Princeton wants to fire him because of political views. The jury is still out on what Princeton will do with Katz so it’s premature to make that judgment now.

    It’s interesting the New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdock, took up Katz’s cause in a long column yesterday. It didn’t take you 24 hours to follow up with this column. Mere coincidence? I don’t think so. It must be part of your contract with Fox –provide an echo chamber for Murdock’s talking point of the day. But then when you are a passenger on Murdock’s run away train of right-wing nonsense you can hardly pretend to be neutral. Go along to get along. Fox must pay very well for you to do this.

    1. Pro-tip: study and get good grades, work hard, become known as an expert in a respectable field, and perhaps you too will be like Professor Turley, earning decent wages for being admired by many.

      You, on the other hand, will never amount to anything worthy of admiration by anyone with your continued display of envy and self-loathing. Report back to us in 5 years and let readers know where you landed, not that anyone will give a φΥk


    2. “One white student went online and said: “African tribes have contributed close to nothing in modern society”
      Kid is stating the obvious. Why is this even in here? Btw Katz’ “crime” isn’t just being a target of racists. It’s not passIvely accepting being a target of racists. Go Katz Go

      1. RE:”””Btw Katz’ “crime” isn’t just being a target of racists. It’s not passIvely accepting being a target of racists.””” If Whoopie Goldberg’s public utterances regarding the ‘Holocaust’ may be taken as example, the entire concept of ‘racism’ is not only misunderstood and misappropriated, but skewed to the benefit of one group. It is a worthless term in its popular applications.

        1. ZZ:
          The Left has rendered the charge of racism meaningless by incessant and misplaced leveling of it against all its opponents. All it means now is that you have made a statement that might, in some deranged way, somehow be construed as even mildly critical of something “black” and in so doing have violated the Left’s swinish orthodoxy and unseemly fawning over its mascot class. Torquemada had nothing on this crowd.

  9. Prior to 1969 most Ivy League schools, including Princeton, were all-male schools. Reparations to Women?

  10. We have been writing about the rising intolerance for conservative and dissenting views on our campuses.

    Dr Bret Weinstein (a Jew) and his wife Dr Heather Heying, two atheists, evolutionary biologists with earned science PhDs, were invited by Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Barron, a renowned Thomistic theologian, to discuss wokeism, cancel culture and relativism. The conversation was refreshing in that they could come to the same conclusion, i.e. the end of public conversation, from two very different academic backgrounds. This is a great example of dialogue and the exchanging of ideas

  11. Let’s wrap this up with a tidy little bow.

    – The Constitution provides rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities to undifferentiated people, individuals and citizens.

    – Blacks must have been compassionately repatriated upon the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation under the Naturalization Act of 1802, which was in full force and effect in 1863.

    – Affirmative action is unconstitutional; it denies rights and freedoms to Americans, such as the absolute right to private property (power to “claim and exercise” dominion) in order to redistribute various and superior rights, and superior status to minorities.

    The failure was and continues to be the Supreme Court, which recently reversed itself, having come to its collective senses, confessed and corrected the historic and totally erroneous mistake it made, which was an historic and totally erroneous mistake of the Supreme Court itself – and no other entity.

    America was directed by Karl Marx through his disciple, Abraham Lincoln, to incrementally implement the principles of communism in America – to effect the “RECONSTRUCTION of a social world…” primarily through the unconstitutional “Reconstruction Amendments.”

    Letter of congratulation and commendation from Karl Marx to Abraham Lincoln, 1864:

    This letter must be displayed at the Lincoln Memorial as full disclosure.

  12. The 1964 civil rights act called for equal treatment for all but Princeton University prefers special treatment for some. How is this any different than the special treatment in the Jim Crow laws for white people. It seems that equality is only important for some and not for others. Princeton has displayed its readiness to abandon the principle of equality to signal its virtue to all the world. There is no virtue to be found in it.

  13. When my son got his PhD some years ago, the market for PhD’s in his field was very thin. He is teaching young minds at a private school and no one associated with the school has ever restricted how he presents his curriculum so long as he covers certain required topics. There is no Union, there are no Woke administrators nor Woke parents.
    Looking back at the time right after his receiving the PhD, I am grateful the market for college assistant professors was a tight as it was.

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