I’m late to the Erik Loomis story. He’s a history professor at a northeastern university and a blogger, and after the Newtown shootings, he screamed his head off on Twitter in a profane and rather violent way. For example:
First fucker to say the solution is for elementary school teachers to carry guns needs to get beaten to death. [UPDATE: This is a retweet.]
I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.
You are goddamn right we should politicize this tragedy. Fuck the NRA. Wayne LaPierre should be in prison.
Loomis is a jerk, in my opinion, and a moron.
And a jackass.
However. Apparently a lot of people have been trying to get him fired from his job.
And I disagree with that. And, like Ken from Popehat, I wanted to register my disagreement, loud and clear, with any effort to get his fired.
I support, without qualification, people writing about Professor Loomis. I find his expression contemptible. But I also find the efforts to get him fired or arrested contemptible, and I find it highly regrettable that some blogs are, at the most charitable interpretation, acting as smirking spectators to that effort. The effort is not without cost, even if neither the police nor the University take action. Trying to get a professor fired for clearly protected speech promotes and contributes to the culture of censorship in higher education that FIRE fights and that Greg Lukianoff exposed persuasively in his recent book “Unlearning Liberty.” Trying to get Loomis fired contributes to a culture in which people are disciplined for reading a book about the defeat of the Klan because coworkers find it “harassing” or threatened with disciplinary proceedings for putting up a Firefly poster or prohibited from using signs at protest because OMG 9/11. Calling the cops based on clearly protected hyperbole promotes and encourages a law enforcement culture that does things like launching “cyberbullying” investigations based on satirical criticism, nudging us further towards the theoretical British zero-point at which old men get questioned by the police for putting rather mild expressions of atheism in their windows.
I’m disappointed, and more than a little disgusted, that partisanship is more important than principle.
Me too, although I am not particularly surprised. Politics often seems to trump principle.
But I, personally, think it’s important to stand up for free speech especially when the speech (as here) is in opposition to your politics — and (as here) seems particularly hateful and distasteful. Firing people over speech like this would be silly, and trying to make that happen is thuggish.
In my constitutionally protected opinion.
P.S. If I haven’t yet publicized Greg Lukianoff’s book plugged by Popehat, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, consider this a plug. I’m about 1/4 of the way into it and it’s rip-roaring good stuff. I think the readers here would like it a lot.
P.P.S. It’s still not too late for vote for anti-free speech thug Brett Kimberlin at Popehat’s Second Annual Censorious Asshat Poll.