The president of Princeton University recently recommended that the school fire a tenured professor over sexual misconduct issues, but those issues were already adjudicated in 2018. It appears the real reason they want to get rid of him is for the crime of questioning the university’s new anti-racism policies.
Here’s the playbook: person expresses thoughtcrime. The Puritans and the bureaucrats go digging. Then they caricature and smear the person based on their worst moment or mistake. They pretend it’s about that, but the thoughtcrime was always the thing. https://t.co/rhn3gFgfqR
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) May 20, 2022
Here’s the timeline: in 2006, tenured classics Professor Joshua Katz had an affair with a graduate student. In 2018, the school investigated the matter, ruled that he had violated their nepotism policy, and suspended him for one year without pay. Case closed. He did something wrong, paid the price, and life moved on, right?
Not so fast. In 2020, after the death of George Floyd, the school made a series of proposals to address the school’s history of racism. A lengthy faculty letter signed by dozens of professors demanded:
…among other radical changes to the campus, a series of perks for professors “of color,” including a summer salary and additional sabbatical time.
Vacations and extra pay for some but not for others, based on race. Hmm, sounds like… well, you know what it sounds like. Katz fired back in his own letter:
It boggles my mind that anyone would advocate giving people – extraordinarily privileged people already, let me point out: Princeton professors – extra perks for no reason other than their pigmentation.
He also criticized the antics of a student organization, the Black Justice League, which staged a sit-in at the president’s office in 2015 to demand the removal of former President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the public-policy school. He called the group a “small terrorist organization that made life miserable for the many (including the many black students) who did not agree with its members’ demands.”
Wilson’s name was erased from the school in June 2020.
Woke students weren’t happy with Katz’s letter. They wrote a 63-page complaint condemning Katz and demanding that the previously settled sexual misconduct case be reopened, which the school quickly agreed to. The investigation conveniently found new information, and the recommendation to fire him was made.
Katz’s lawyer Samantha Harris thinks the decision is all about speech, and not about the previously adjudicated case:
If expressing an unpopular opinion is an invitation to have your personal life turned inside out looking for damaging evidence, how many people are going to be willing to speak out?
Edward Yingling, the co-founder of alumni group Princetonians for Free Speech, agreed:
With the firing of Professor Katz, Princeton will have sent a message. If a faculty member or student says something that contradicts our orthodoxy, we will get you—if not for what you said, then by twisting your language, by using the extensive resources of the university to shame you before the student body, and by investigating your personal life for years past.
Princeton, naturally, rejects the claim. According to the New York Times, faculty dean Gene A. Jarrett wrote in a May 10 letter:
I have considered Professor Katz’s claim and have determined that the current political climate of the university, whether perceived or real, is not germane to the case, nor does it play a role in my recommendation.
Yeah, right; I believe you.
The case has “has deeply divided the campus,” the Times continues, as Katz’s supporters decry the effort to axe him as an assault on free speech, while his opponents say that “incidentally exposed additional troubling behavior” was the cause for the recommendation.
Based on the evidence, it seems pretty clear to me that the university wants him gone because he dared to speak out. It’s pretty convenient that they were able to dig up an old case against him and suddenly find new evidence. The assault on free speech continues, especially on campuses, and it must be stopped.
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