Georgetown Professor Under Fire For Reading The”N-Word” In A Class About Free Speech and Racism

We’ve been discussing professors who’ve been researched or sanctioned for the use of their”n-word” in courses or tests in Duquesne, John Marshall, Augsberg, Chicago, DePaul, Princeton, Kansas, and other colleges. What’s noteworthy in this situation is the criticism against Professor Swers indicates she would have the security of free speech and academic freedom if she had been black but no white person might use or read the word in any context for any goal.
In a letter to Swers, the students insist that”we uphold the First Amendment” but demand to control the language of professors in course, including reading from material to racism. They mention the Georgetown University Faculty aids that prohibits harassment and defines that terms as including”verbal abuse or ridicule, including slurs, epithets, and stereotyping; offensive jokes and comments; threatening, intimidating, or hostile actions, and displaying or distributing offensive substances, graffiti, writings, or pictures.” But this is a course on the”U.S. Political Systems” were the slur was a part of the underlying historical material and the students were warned in advance that the course would insure sensitive material.
The removal of these terms and graphics in a course addressing racism can substantially change and undermine a professor’s treatment of the subject. It is analogous to decision of the Yale University Press as it published Jytte Klausen’s”The Cartoons That Shook the World” (on the cartoons that resulted in riots and over 200 killed in protests worldwide). Yale eliminated the 12 cartoons from the book so not to insult Muslims. Thus, you could read the novel but not actually see the cartoons themselves.  In addition, the students are suggesting a black scientist could read in the historical documents in the identical course but not a non-black professor.
Swers was quoting Clarence Brandenburg from Brandenburg v. Ohio (a 1969 case we can discussed much in relation to”violent speech”), the Court struck down an Ohio law forbidding public language that was deemed as encouraging illegal behavior. It supported the right of the KKK to speak even though it is a hateful company.
The correspondence insists white professors cannot read these passages.  The students insist”This word wasn’t only written on the slide with no censoring but said with a hard’r.'” They also object that Swers referred to Brandenburg because”not a terribly sympathetic figure” rather than being more forceful and demonstrative in condemning the historical figure behind the Supreme Court decision. The students also need proof of being reeducated on the racism and approval that whitened professors are barred from using the word:

We request that you take action in the form of: 

A definite, sincere, and direct apology to everybody in the course; 

A meticulous review of demonstration and lecture material to possible bias; 

A demonstrated understanding of the history of the N-word and why it is unsuitable for a non-Black person to state it in almost any context, such as an instructional context.

The correspondence was filed Mirka Sosa using the campus Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action. Sosa insisted that Swers be held to”full liability” and highlighted that the dilemma is that she’s white and white professors”should not say that word in any way.”

As will come as little surprise to many on this site, my normal default remains with the free speech and academic freedom principles protecting Swers in studying from historical documents. Thus, I don’t agree that the use of offensive terms similar to this are prohibited in”any context” and whatever the intent behind these references.  In the end, the attempt to bar professors from studying from this a record based on their very own race is deeply disturbing and raises its concerns over the use of racial classifications.

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