Barnard Professor Triggers Free Speech Controversy After Writing About”Detonating” and Gassing White Folks

A book by a Barnard College English teacher named Ben Philippe has generated a firestorm owing to his depiction of a dream of gassing white individuals.  The book passage has led a few to need review in the faculty for possible discipline or conclusion. As will come as no surprise to many on this site, I think such writing should be protected as a matter of free speech and academic freedom.  The episode does however raise another case highlighting the cloudy or conflicting treatment given these writings from universities. It’s doubtful that a book referring to the gassing of minorities could have led to anything besides a quick suspension and ultimate termination in many universities.
Philippe writes in his book”Sure, I’ll be your Black Friend” around”detonating” white folks as neighboring air vents spew out poisonous gas:”If this race war hits its crescendo, I’ll gather you all into a beautifully decorated room under the pretense of unity,. I’ll give a speech to civility and most of the good times we discuss; I’ll smile as we increase glasses to a good, white wellness, while the detonator blinks beneath the desk, knowing the leaves are locked and the air vents filled with gas.”
Thus Philippe is explaining the genocidal murder against white individuals. As per a few conservative websites, he had been asked about his book on the CBC show”q” by guest host Talia Schlanger who noted , as a Jewish person whose”grandparents survived the Holocaust,” she had been bothered by the passage.  However, after Philippe stated that”it had been disturbing to write, also” and that he is not a violent individual, Schlanger actually apologized to Philippe:”I wished to say for you that I’m so sorry that your experience of this world made you feel like that.”
You will find those will have suggested that declaring a desire or dream to burst and gas white individuals cannot be taken in an academic that has to have the ability to teach pupils of all parties.  Moreover, such comments may be mentioned as creating a sense of a safe surroundings at Barnard. However, there’s absolutely no indication that Philippe has engaged in these violent and violent speech in courses or around campuses. Such passages are expressing deep-seated anger out of his own expertise and views in our society. I find them offensive and upsetting but writers have often used such shocking passages to challenge readers.
My concern is that the biased or conflicting handling of these instances.  I have defended faculty who have made likewise disturbing comments denouncing police, calling for Democrats to suffer,  strangling police officers, celebrating the departure of conservatives, calling for the killing of Trump assistants, encouraging that the murder of conservative protesters and other statements that are outrageous. These comments were not protested as producing an”dangerous environment” and have been largely dismissed by universities. There were also this episode at the University of London between Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor. Some intolerant statements against pupils are deemed free speech while some are termed hate speech or even the basis for university action. There’s a lack of consistency or uniformity in these types of activities which turn on the specific groups left handed by out-of-school opinions.  There’s also a tolerance of faculty and students piled down fliers and stopping the speech of conservatives.  Really, even faculty who attacked pro-life urges was encouraged by college and lionized for her activism.
As we have discussed (with an Oregon professor along with a Rutgers professor), there remains an unclear line in what language is protected for teachers in their personal lives. An conservative North Carolina professor  confronted calls for judgment within controversial tweets and was pushed to retire. In 2014, we discussed his present in a lawsuit that alleged discrimination owing to his conservative viewpoints.  He was subsequently targeted again after an inflammatory conversation calling North Carolina a”slave state.”  That led to his being forced to measure with a payoff. Then he committed suicide
The efforts to fire professors who voice dissenting views on various issues including an attempt to oust a top economist in the University of Chicago in addition to a top linguistics professor at Harvard and a literature professor at Penn.. Sites including Lawyers, Guns, and Money feature authors like Colorado Law Professor Paul Campus who call for the firing of those with opposing viewpoints (including myself).  Such campaigns have targeted instructors and pupils who contest the signs of systemic racism in using lethal force by police or offer other conflicting views in current debates over the pandemic, reparations, electoral fraud, or other issues.
The issue raised by Philippe is not whether he should be justified but these additional professors have confronted investigations, driven retraining, or alternative steps for writings that just disagree on public policy issues or express conflicting political perspectives — far short of discussing that the gassing of white individuals.
University administrators frequently yield to protests and seek diagnoses and suspensions as a matter of course for professors that are targeted. However, when controversies arise on the abandoned, they tend to immediately (and accurately ) cite free speech and academic worth.

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