On Free Speech and the Case of Fresno State Professor Randa Jarrar

A fascinating event happened when Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar appeared on the national stage, and it came in the form of the right coming face to face with its own beliefs and being forced to question them.


To catch you up in case you’re blessedly ignorant of who Jarrar is, she’s a published author and professor who insulted and celebrated Barbara Bush and her family upon her death. As people dug into her past, they found more horrific things that she had done including directing her haters to a mental health hotline causing it to get clogged with angry calls and potentially stopping someone from getting the help they needed, as well as calling for terrorist acts against her political opposites.

But even before the latter two facts had come out, many on the right were calling for Jarrar’s firing from Fresno State. Many on the right, including my RedState colleague Streiff, believe that she should be fired for her disgusting comments. Streiff believes she should be fired because if the players were flipped and the script slightly altered so that it was a right winger saying heinous things about a leftist, then he surely would be fired.

I understand the sentiment, but I’m not sure I agree, and I want to be very clear about my stances on this.

It’s my fondest wish that people like Jarrar be given the platform to spew their noxious bullsh*t into a public setting. People are, by and large, not subscribing to Jarrar’s brand of hate and as such will find themselves walking away from her and those who subscribe to her level of ignorance and bigotry. She is the perfect example of how not to, and I want the people to see that for themselves. I want people to argue her points, and upon finding out that people like her won’t rationally argue, will see that these are elements of our society whose ideas aren’t worth the contents of your trash can.


Don’t get me wrong, I believe that conservative persecution and silencing is deplorable, and that the lengths some colleges and universities go to — be it administrative, student-led, or both — is cowardly, foolish, and wrong. That said, I think that free speech fight is a fight separate from this issue, and that progress is being made on the free speech end.

I’m a free speech advocate through and through. I think ideas, no matter how awful, should be allowed to compete in the public sphere unpunished…so long as it’s not taxpayer funded propaganda or does not actually bring actual physical harm to others or their property.

And here’s the rub. Jarrar is a professor who gets her checks cut from a university that is publicly funded. Jarrar is on camera spewing vitriol and hate toward political opponents, which is fine in my book, but then she immediately turns around and asks that her political opponents be literally terrorized. She suggests their houses be broken into, have grenades thrown into, and leveled. She suggests buying guns and getting stupid. She praises “non-violent” terrorists who hijack airplanes.

Should Jarrar be arrested for saying these things? There’s an argument for and against this that I’m willing to have. Should she be fired for saying these things? Absolutely.


Jarrar is being paid by the state to essentially promote terrorism against the people who pay her wages. If she was saying these things while under the employ of a private business, then I would leave that business to deal with her as they see fit. However, through our taxpayer dollars, she’s under my employ, and she’s under your employ. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see my tax dollars allowing someone to live comfortably as she promotes the idea of throwing an explosive device in someone’s house because she doesn’t like their politics.

The line here is a simple one to draw. Did a subject actively promote harm to an innocent someone of a political persuasion, religion, race, or ideology, or because a person cut off another at the buffet line? Then he or she should be fired from that publicly funded job.

In the case of Jarrar, her hateful tweets about Barbara Bush, men, Christians, and whoever else — her list of hated entities appears to me longer than I’d like to dedicate to this article — are only so useful to me as I can point out her insanity and reveal that her ideas shouldn’t be listened to or followed. I am concerned about her teaching her hatred to her students, and I believe Fresno State should be, too. They could fire her or not for these comments in particular, and the people can decide to send their students to that school based on Fresno State’s stance.


However, when it comes to actually clogging up the lines of a hotline needed to help those with mental health issues, and promoting actual harm, a line is crossed, and the taxpayer is funding something actually dangerous that I’m sure the vast majority of us would rather not. Now you’re reaching into my wallet and handing her a $100 so she can live comfortably as she suggests planes be hijacked.

If my money is going to lawfully be taken from me without my consent, I’d rather it not go to someone like Jarrar.



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