“Of all the women who suck up to male power, women lawyers are the absolute worst of the bunch. Desperate to prove they are ‘real lawyers’ and understanding that being a woman undermines their identity as lawyers, they throw women under the bus as hard and fast as they can.”
The complaint also objected to Dauber’s alleged misleading account of cases like that of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. She was accused of fueling violent rhetoric targeting Turner and then making allegedly unfounded accusations of “racial and sexual bias” against the judge. She helped organize a successful recall campaign against the judge.
She was also accused of making “a veiled threat” against a male student online that implied that Dauber “would press false sexual violence charges against him.” A petition was signed by over 11,000 people claimed that she “has abused her academic standing to threaten students with purported false sexual assault allegations.”
Dauber has long been an extreme voice in academia on such issues. She is highly controversial with many who opposed the Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague Letter” in 2011, which stripped accused students and faculty of due process rights when facing sexual assault claims. I was highly critical of that letter.
The allegations of threatening or abusive conduct to students were the greatest concern for me. However, I have seen no hard evidence of such abuse. The rest, in my view should be treated as protected by free speech and academic freedom. I find Dauber’s views sexist and obnoxious. She has been a leading voice for denying protections for others accused of harassment, assault, or misconduct. Yet, the solution to bad speech is better speech, not sanctions or terminations.
Of course, I am not convinced that Dauber would show the same support for others accused on the other side of the ideological spectrum.
The support enjoyed by faculty on the far left is in sharp contrast to the treatment given faculty with moderate, conservative or libertarian views. Anyone who raises such dissenting views is immediately set upon by a mob demanding their investigation or termination. This includes blocking academics from speaking on campuses like a recent Classics professor due to her political views. Conservatives and libertarians understand that they have no cushion or protection in any controversy, even if it involves a single, later deleted tweet. At the University of North Carolina (Wilmington) one such campaign led to a professor killing himself a few days before his final day as a professor.
I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments on the left, including “detonating white people,” abolish 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. I also defended the free speech rights of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. (Loomis was later made Director of Graduate Studies of History at Rhode Island).
Even when faculty engage in hateful acts on campus, however, there is a notable difference in how universities respond depending on the viewpoint. At the University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.
When these controversies arose, faculty rallied behind the free speech rights of the professors. That support was far more muted or absent when conservative faculty have found themselves at the center of controversies. The recent suspension of Ilya Shapiro is a good example. Other faculty have had to go to court to defend their free speech rights. One professor was suspended for being seen at a controversial protest.
I am skeptical that Stanford would take the same position on a professor who publicly lambasted those defending the rights of women. The test of free speech is not the protection of views that are popular but those which are unpopular with the majority. Stanford ranked in the bottom half of 203 schools on free speech in the recent survey.