In Barbara Bush: For Whom The Bell Tolls, I wrote about Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar, whose cruelly ugly trolling on the occasion of the death of Barbara Bush provoked substantial public outcry. Since that article, we’ve learned more about Jarrar than any rational person would care to know. However, as is usual in such situations, there is much to be learned about the Left, as The New York Post reports:
Jarrar, a tenured professor, boasted on social media that because she has tenure, she won’t be fired from her job. She’s currently on leave this semester and was reportedly traveling overseas.
Amid the backlash, someone on social media shared Jarrar’s publicly available work phone number and email address, to which the professor responded with a phone number for a crisis hotline at Arizona State University, saying that’s her number, prompting a flood of calls to the hotline that normally receives just a few calls per week.
As I’ve previously noted, the university took immediate steps to distance itself from Jarrar, and announced an investigation; more on that later. There is, of course, a sort of First Amendment issue involved: does academic freedom apply to anything a professor might say in a public, non-academic setting? Does the First Amendment absolutely protect people like Jarrar who expose their employer to not only ridicule, but financial jeopardy?
It must be understood, first and foremost, that the First Amendment is essentially a limitation upon government. The government may not exercise prior restraint on most speech, nor ex post facto, punish citizens for speaking. There are obvious and well-known exceptions such as obscenity, fighting words, speech intended to provoke a riot, and other narrow exceptions.
However, there are more or less informal, societally accepted First Amendment protections, some imposed by lower courts, that are involved. While obscenity, for example, is not protected, societal attitudes have so dramatically changed in the last half century that virtually nothing, with the clear exception of child pornography, is obscene, and even the potentially obscene is virtually never prosecuted. Where leftists have sway, incitement to riot also enjoys prosecutorial and judicial protection, as long as the incitement is in furtherance of proper leftist narratives. There is arguably at least a tentative property right in jobs, but the idea that people can say just about anything and suffer nothing in terms of employment is as widely accepted as it is mistaken.
But what if a professor’s outrageous, even stupid statements threaten to damage a university’s bottom line? Then we’re talking about something really important: money.
Ed Dunkel Jr., who made sizable financial contributions to Fresno State, said he will await the outcome of the controversy before deciding whether to close his checkbook.
‘I have a lot of friends that I’ve been talking to, and these are people who donate now and talking about holding back, and some are even questioning whether to send their kids to Fresno State,’ Dunkel told the Fresno Bee.
‘I admire and have a lot of respect for President Castro and huge affection for Fresno State,’ Dunkel said. ‘But I have huge concerns. This represents such an embarrassment to the university and the community. It’s hard to believe this is an isolated thing that just happened. I have to imagine people previously knew of this person’s character and what she’s about.
Dunkel isn’t the only donor threatening to keep their cash:
Fresno State President Joseph Castro acknowledged that he’s been having conversations with donors regarding the controversy.
‘The conversations I’m having are more about their concern, and I share that concern. I understand where they’re coming from. I’m asking them for understanding here as we work through the complexities of this issue,’ he told the Fresno Bee.
‘They’re outraged, and I’m outraged as well,’ he added. ‘This is behavior that is unacceptable as a university that models the development of leaders. We just cannot tolerate it.
We’ll see just how much Castro can tolerate shortly, but first, The Fresno Bee notes:
Editor’s note: In 2017, Lars Maischak, a history lecturer, was removed from teaching in Fresno State classrooms after he posted a tweet that said, in part, that ‘Trump must hang.’ Maischak’s courses were shifted to the university’s online program.
Following are Maischak’s commentary on his own, self-provoked problems, and on Jarrar’s trolling:
The ‘righteous anger of the people’ was, of course, the justification for the first waves of arrests in Germany in 1933. Or rather, not arrests but the rendition of individuals into protective custody, where the justifiable anger of the people could not reach. This was the birth of the concentration camp. Coincidentally, the first inmates were liberals and Marxists.
Maischak’s argument is the glory of free speech overrules public anger at Jarrar. He plays the fascist card, ignoring that actual fascism is a leftist phenomenon, and blames Jarrar’s self-imposed difficulties on President Trump and his supporters.
But in the present climate, where respectable individuals will advise you that having a critical opinion poses a health risk, speaking truth to power is not always welcome.
That such “speaking truth to power” is almost exclusively a matter of leftists running roughshod over the rights of others, particularly on campus, and that it is not only welcome, but encouraged and supported by leftist administrators and faculty is another issue Maischak misrepresents.
In a social media age, the online network of character- and career-assassins functions for Trump, as the brown-shirted thugs did for Hitler. They are the boots on the ground, and on the neck of the dissidents.
This is the time to speak out against the campaign of death threats and public vilification. Unfortunately, many who pride themselves on being level-headed, respectable leaders in this city have decided that the targets of this campaign have only themselves to blame.
Oh course. Jarrar was somehow forced to expose her backside in public. And why do leftists always have to bring Hitler into every argument? Admiration? Jealousy?
And then came the case of Randa Jarrar. Once again, Castro is taking the side of the attackers. There is not a word about the outrage of hundreds bearing down on a harmless individual with vicious, murderous hatred. Instead, condemnation of the incriminated statements of the professor, and thinly veiled threats of termination.
Castro had a choice. Other universities dealt more wisely with similar situations. Castro should have been prepared for a fresh attack on this one. But rather than defending academic freedom against the fascist threat, Castro once again offered to serve as parade marshal for the lynch mob. Shame on him.
Fresno State should take a clear stand against the fascist threat to academic freedom. If its leadership is unable or unwilling to take this stand, it should make way for better leadership.
We’ll get to that shortly.
If you believe the fascist propaganda outlets, universities are places where Marxists, liberals, and feminists poison the minds of the young with their un-American ideas. This notion is as resistant to facts that contradict it as any other tenet of the Republican sub-culture in the age of Trump.
Fascist propaganda outlets like The New York Times and the rest of the legacy media that delight in reporting on special snowflakes abusing, even attacking conservative speakers? Those outlets? As all right thinking people know, our universities are bastions of complete tolerance and diversity. If you don’t believe it ask Maischak.
If you want to live in a country where this kind of thing happens regularly, I have nothing further to say to you.
If, however, you believe that this country is better than that, and that it should live up to its best traditions of freedom of expression, vibrant democratic debate, and constructive dialog in the service of arriving at truth, you should speak out now, before it is too late.
Well, I don’t know about you, gentle readers, but I wouldn’t want to live in a country where people were held responsible for their words and actions. I mean, what kind of country would that be? Oh, right. America as it once was.
By ignoring the reality of an active and malicious leftist attack on free speech at universities everywhere, yet claiming to seek “constructive dialog in the service of arriving at the truth,” Maischak forfeits any claim to truth seeking or credibility. Maischak is just another leftist who argues for free speech and constructive dialogue, unless, of course, it’s not his kind of speech or dialogue. Then it’s “hate speech,” and is certainly not constructive or inclusive or tolerant, so it must be suppressed, and anyone engaging in it must be banished.
Don’t believe me? Think I’m being too hard on Prof. Maischak? Visit Not Left Enough, where I document the case of Brent Weinstein and Heather Heying, former university professors. Weinstein, an avowed leftist, made the grievous error of refusing to stay away from his former campus on a day special snowflakes demanded all white people leave. He had the temerity to defend his position, not only to hostile and ignorant special snowflakes, but in the media. He and his wife—Heying, also an avowed leftist—were forced out of their positions. The Left ate two of its own for not being left enough, and for the kind of speech Maischak pretends to champion.
In the meantime, Jarrar has doubled down on stupid and continued to spit in the face of decency and normal Americans. Fresno State President Castro, quite uncharacteristically, if one is to credit Maischak for insight and accuracy, has not, in any way, hampered or punished Jarrar, as The Washington Post reports:
On Tuesday, Castro announced what the university would do about Jarrar’s words:
‘Professor Jarrar’s conduct was insensitive, inappropriate and an embarrassment to the university,’ he wrote in a five-paragraph statement. ‘I know her comments have angered many in our community and impacted our students.’
The university, Castro said, ‘carefully reviewed the facts and consulted with [lawyers] to determine whether we could take disciplinary action. … We have concluded that Professor Jarrar did not violate any CSU or university policies and that she was acting in a private capacity and speaking about a public matter on her personal Twitter account. Her comments, although disgraceful, are protected free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Right. “Acting in a private capacity” while taunting the pubic by holding up her tenure as an absolute shield against punishment for misbehavior. It appears Castro absolutely can tolerate Jarrar’s behavior after all.
One would expect no more from any university, but particularly not from a California university. It’s tempting to observe that if a significant number of students decline to attend Fresno State, and if a significant number of donors close their checkbooks, the school might get serious about not employing people like Jarrar, who actually drive students and donors away. However, considering the nature of the left—and that’s the state of being of most universities today—that’s a vain hope, at least until, as Margaret Thatcher once observed, the leftists run out of other people’s money.