Patterico's Pontifications

1/10/2020

New Year, Same Old Overreactions

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:24 am



[guest post by JVW]

We ring in the new year with yet another story of cowardly administrators caving to the censorious mob:

A Babson College adjunct professor was fired after making a joke on his Facebook account about Iran bombing American cultural sites.

“In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomeini should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,” wrote Asheen Phansey, the Massachusetts college’s director of sustainability.

“Mall of America?… Kardashian residence?” he suggested.

[. . . ]

“Babson College conducted a prompt and thorough investigation related to a post shared on a staff member’s personal Facebook page that does not represent the values and culture of the college,” the school said, according to CBS Boston.

“Based on the results of the investigation, the staff member is no longer a Babson College employee,” it said. “As we have previously stated, Babson College condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate.”

Phansey apologized through his attorney Wednesday night, insisting it was nothing more than a bad joke.

“I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat,” he said.

I take a backseat to no one in my disdain for academics who show a blatant disregard for opinions outside of the faculty lounge bubble, and I don’t find all that much humor in joking about the potential death of shoppers in a U.S. mall or a celebrity family in their home, obnoxious though they may be. And yes, I recognize that Mr. Phansey was an adjunct professor and therefore lacked the protections that a tenured or tenure-track professor would theoretically enjoy.

That said, I find Babson’s reaction to be way out of proportion to Mr. Phansey’s offense, with the important caveat that perhaps Mr. Phansey has a deeper disciplinary history with the college than is publicly known and his dismissal is the culmination of a series of events. But if he is being let go purely because of the insensitive Facebook post, then I object to his treatment. Babson could have easily censured him for his musings, given him the chance to apologize, and let the matter drop. We should all be concerned, as Mr. Phansey wrote last night, what this rush-to-judgement says about “our ability as Americans to engage in political discourse without presuming the worst about each other.”

– JVW

23 Responses to “New Year, Same Old Overreactions”

  1. I wonder if Mr. Phansey was done in by making his Facebook posts public, and therefore easy to share, rather than restricting them to his friends. I think it’s a good idea to restrict your posts to your friends, especially if you intend to make very pointed political posts.

    The Washington Post has more information on this Babson matter here.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. Speaking of overreactions. Did you see that Rudy thinks the US Supreme Court should nullify the impeachment of Trump by the US House? It is “unconstitutional”.

    The President’s lawyer said this. The President’s lawyer.

    noel (f22371)

  3. “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”

    I read that. Somewhere.

    noel (f22371)

  4. “As we have previously stated, Babson College condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate.”

    If taken literally, this means that anyone who suggested a military response to Pearl Harbor, or 9/11, was necessary (thereby “condoning violence”) should be fired…

    Dave (1bb933)

  5. I am totally outraged at this egregious violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech.

    Just kidding. I am not bothered in the least. Know your audience, funny man!

    nk (dbc370)

  6. noel (f22371) — 1/10/2020 @ 8:31 am

    Speaking of threadjacks. . . .

    JVW (54fd0b)

  7. Dammit, I just posted on top of Patterico. My bad.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  8. Complaining that American academia is overly sensitive is equivalent to complaining that the President is often untruthful.

    What’s next? Complaining that stupidity is being normalized?

    John B Boddie (286277)

  9. Complaining that American academia is overly sensitive is equivalent to complaining that the President is often untruthful.

    Yes, but to not object is to silently assent.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  10. Espresso will do it to you every time.

    nk (dbc370)

  11. He put the school in an impossible position – once it became public he was toast.

    Dave (1bb933) — 6/17/2019 @ 8:49 am

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  12. Free speech has consequences and anyway, this is a private institution that can do … this guy isn’t a right-winger? he was joking about bombing America? this is outrageous! this is an example of the tyranny because Trump!

    frosty (f27e97)

  13. @13 I can think of a number of posts / comments where JVW has been pro-free speech for conservatives as well as liberals. Seems like you’re attacking a strawman.

    Anyway, i don’t see any conflict in saying a private college as the right to do this and it’s stupid of them to use that right in this way. Both can be true at the same time.

    Time123 (b87ded)

  14. Sorry JVW. You are right. I was not on topic and I should be more respectful.

    noel (f22371)

  15. Munroe (dd6b64) — 1/10/2020 @ 9:53 am

    The master of the whaddabout strikes again!

    For those wondering, my comment quoted by Munroe was about Kyle Kashuv, the school shooting survivor and Harvard admittee who got caught using the n-word and other racist/anti-Semitic comments dozens of times on a school study board, and had his admission revoked.

    I don’t really see much relevance here. There are things you should expect to lose your job (or your admission to a prestigious college) for saying, and things you shouldn’t. Mr. Phansey’s remarks, at least those quoted in this post, don’t strike me as anywhere near that threshold.

    Mr. Kashuv’s, on the other hand, were clearly well beyond it, and his only defense was that he was a young kid and that it had happened two years before.

    Dave (1bb933)

  16. 2. noel (f22371) — 1/10/2020 @ 8:31 am

    s. Did you see that Rudy thinks the US Supreme Court should nullify the impeachment of Trump by the US House? It is “unconstitutional”.

    What he seems to be arguing is that an impeachment can expire because until they go to the next step, nothing is happening anyway.

    Any reasonable lawyer would no there’s no case or controversy here, and, while the Supreme Court can rule on such questions as to whether a constitutional amendment has been adopted, this is not that kind of an issue. In any case it’s up to the Senate. In 1998/9 an impeachment voted by one Congess was taken up in the next Congress in the Senate.

    The President’s lawyer said this. The President’s lawyer.

    He’s only one of his lawyers, and he’s obviously not an appeals court lawyer.

    He was told a lot of false things, some of which maybe he didn’t pass on to Trump in connection with Ukraine. Some of that even he recognized was exceedingly unlikely,

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/23/the-ukrainian-prosecutor-behind-trumps-impeachment

    In a phone call with me on November 21st, Giuliani described some tips he was hearing from his sources in Ukraine, including allegations that a Ukrainian oligarch had made illegal campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton totalling forty million dollars, [! -SF] “that Biden helped to facilitate.” In addition, he said, “I was told Biden had participated in the hacking”—[!!!] a reference to the penetration of Democratic National Committee computer servers in 2016, which U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed to Russia’s military intelligence agency, the G.R.U. The conspiracy theories were endless. “They may be true, they may be false,” Giuliani said of the rumors. Toward the end of the conversation, Giuliani spoke wistfully of Lutsenko as a “critical witness” in his investigation, and he said, “If there’s some way to, kind of, sit down and patch it up, I’m open to it.”

    Sammy Finkelman (2cb3c3)

  17. Sorry JVW. You are right. I was not on topic and I should be more respectful.

    Don’t think anything of it, noel. I was being more puckish than angry with that comment. Sorry if I sounded snotty.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  18. (Off-topic, but academe-related, so after further review the instant replay refs have ruled this is NOT a thread-jack:)

    I guess this isn’t news, although I just found out about it: Janet Napolitano is stepping down as president of UC this August. The search for a replacement is now underway.

    Sorry to break everyone’s heart, but if nominated I shall not run, and if elected I shall not serve.

    Dave (1bb933)

  19. It’s not a thread-jack once the last comment in the past came three hours ago.

    I saw that news on Janet Incompetento when it first broke. Do you think the next UC president will be an actual academic, or yet another termed-out Democrat politician who is being rewarded for service to party?

    JVW (54fd0b)

  20. @14 Why do you think the comment was directed at JVW? I didn’t use any common quote techniques.

    Sure it’s a strawman. But I’ve been in these free speech posts a couple of times already. There’s usually someone who will pull out muh consequences and private companies and say it’s ridiculous to even debate this stuff … if the person doesn’t fit the right profile.

    frosty (f27e97)

  21. Do you think the next UC president will be an actual academic, or yet another termed-out Democrat politician who is being rewarded for service to party?

    Well, you can read the official statement of the qualifications they want, in beautiful administrative purple prose, here.

    The introduction says, in part:

    Although a terminal degree and exceptional academic administrative experience are preferred, the Board of Regents also welcomes and encourages candidates who have achieved noteworthy success in their respective fields outside higher education.

    I don’t think any other “termed-out Democrat politicians” have held the position. The presidents before Napolitano, going back to at least the 70’s (when I stopped checking) were all academics (including a couple physicists…).

    Dave (1bb933)

  22. Re: Babson etc.

    In the United States we don’t believe in censorship. We believe only in prohibiting people from speaking, kicking people off, or what’s called “cancelling” It’s all or nothing. This applies not just to ideas, but to pornography as well.

    Sammy Finkelman (2cb3c3)


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