Below is my column in the New York Post on Hunter College Professor Shellyne Rodríguez and her termination after menacing a reporter with a machete. She was previously defended by students and faculty after trashing a pro-life display. The fact is that misconduct by activist faculty is on the rise, as is the underlying sense of impunity. The problem is that the termination may set a machete standard, but there is still doubt over what else can compel termination in today’s academic environment. Clearly, abusing students and destroying pro-life displays is not one of those things.
Here is the column:
Professor Shellyne Rodríguez is out of a job.
Hunter College fired the art professor after she held a machete to the neck of a New York Post reporter and threatened to “chop you up.”
The most remarkable aspect of the story may not be a professor brandishing a knife, but a college actually finding a basis to fire an activist academic.
Hunter College, after all, had refused to fire Rodríguez after she trashed a pro-life table run by students.
She is not the first academic to attack a pro-life display or even assault others.
Indeed, prior professors were celebrated at their schools for taking such actions against pro-life or conservative displays.
A couple days earlier, Rodríguez spotted students with pro-life material at the college.
She was captured on a videotape telling the students that “you’re not educating s–t […] This is f–king propaganda. What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next? This is bulls–t. This is violent. You’re triggering my students.”
Unlike the professor, the students remained calm and respectful.
One even said “sorry” to the accusation that being pro-life was triggering for her students.
It did not help.
Rodríguez continued to rave, stating, “No you’re not — because you can’t even have a f–king baby. So you don’t even know what that is. Get this s–t the f–k out of here.”
In an Instagram post, she is then shown trashing the table.
Hunter College, however, did not consider this unhinged attack to be sufficient to terminate Rodríguez.
Not surprisingly, Rodríguez was undeterred.
When the New York Post’s Reuven Fenton went to her apartment to ask her about the earlier incident, Rodríguez came out wielding a machete and put it to his neck.
She then threatened him, “Get the f–k away from my door! Get the f–k away from my door!”
After briefly going inside, the armed Rodríguez pursued the reporter and his photographer as they attempted to leave.
On the street, she threatened that “if I see you on this block one more f–king time, you’re gonna … Get the f–k off the block! Get the f–k out of here, yo!”
She then chased them and kicked the reporter in the shins.
That was finally enough for Hunter College, though it is still not clear where the actual termination line is between trashing displays and abusing students (not a fireable offense) and a machete attack (fireable).
Before she was fired, Rodríguez was defended by students and colleagues.
The PSC Graduate Center, the labor organization of graduate and professional schools at the City University of New York, actually said Rodríguez was “justified” in trashing the display, which the organization described as “dangerously false propaganda” and “disinformation.”
The statement of the center captures the double standard on many campuses today.
The truth is that, if the display was a pro-choice or Black Lives Matter display, the professor would have been canned before the last flyer made it to the floor.
When it comes to heckling, attacking or threatening conservatives, however, all bets are off.
Former CUNY law dean Mary Lu Bilek even insisted that disrupting a speech on free speech was free speech.
One student is heard screaming, “She’s a [expletive] professor.”
That is precisely the point! Overdyke was showing students that they do not have to tolerate opposing views on campus.
There is no report of any discipline of Overdyke, who is also being supported by many on campus.
We have seen a steady stream of professors shouting down speakers, committing property damage, participating in riots, verbally attacking students, or even taking violent action in protests.
Others, like Fresno State University public health professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher, recruited students to destroy pro-life messages.
At the University of California Santa Barbara, professors actually rallied around feminist studies associate professor Mireille Miller-Young, who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.
Despite pleading guilty to criminal assault, she was not fired and received overwhelming support from the students and faculty.
She was later honored as a model for women advocates.
Other faculty confine themselves to calling for or justifying the violence of others.
We saw professors advocating “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.
University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis defended the murder of a conservative protester and said he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence.
The university later elevated Loomis to director of graduate studies of history.
He continued to espouse such views as denouncing “science, statistics, and technology [as] all inherently racist.”
Despite my disgust with many of these comments, I supported these faculty as a matter of free speech.
But the dwindling number of faculty on the right get no such support.
Conservatives and libertarians understand that they have no cushion or protection.
Even a single, later-deleted tweet can result in suspension.
Shellyne Rodríguez may have been fired, but chances are some new college will endorse her work exploring “strategies of survival against erasure and subjugation.”
She might want to practice survival skills without the machete.
Jonathan Turley is an attorney and a professor at George Washington University Law School.
40 thoughts on “The Machete Standard: The Firing of an Activist Professor Leaves More Questions Than Answers”
Moral of the story–to the alt Left (these people aren’t “liberals”, they’re “lefties”), when someone’s speech is perceived to do “violence” to the sensibilities of others, responding with violence is somehow justified as speech. That (lack of) logic would justify shooting anti-war protesters carrying “make peace, not war” placards.
“. . . activist faculty . . .”
Today, “activist” means one who is untethered from reason — driven by blind rage and a desire to destroy. Whether it’s a machete to a reporter’s neck or a sledgehammer to a statue, the basic premise is the same.
Rome was invaded by foreign barbarians. America by domestic ones.
Every day, Trump and his campaign staff should expose additional examples of America’s two-tiered justice system, a feature of modern life instinctively understood to be morally wrong by preschoolers and senior citizens alike.
Read the Durham report.
Then you will see the real two tiered justice system.
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