College Reinstates Professor Who Said White People Should "F***ing Die"

Peter Wood

Peter Wood and Dion Pierre's article originally appeared in The Federalist. We post an except below; read the full article here.

Because Trinity is a private university, it could draw up rules that prohibited such speech as outside the zone of academic freedom. Most Americans would probably agree that Williams crossed some kind of line in making his death wish (“#LetThemFuckingDie”) and compounded it by denying the humanity of other people (“inhuman assholes”). The First Amendment might protect Williams’ right to say such things, but academic freedom does not, and the college has a duty to its students to provide instructional faculty who possess enough self-control to tell the difference.

Trinity College may find some comfort in knowing that it is only one college among a great many to have made the kind of compromise that led to its Johnny Eric Williams moment. Trinity President Berger-Sweeney did her best in playing a bad hand when she distinguished between defending Williams’ “right to express his opinions” and her distaste for some of those opinions.

If colleges are to be more than platforms from which people can shout their disordered fury, more than stages for the perpetual reenactment of racial and other grievances, we should be working now to draw some lines. A man like Johnny Eric Williams should not be a professor at a college that claims the public trust. He has, however, fairly won his fight, given the rules we accepted in higher education. That simply means it is time to change the rules.

Image: The Chapel by Decaseconds // CC BY-NC 2.0

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024


Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024


A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024


The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

September 21, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What Does YHWH Elohim Mean?

A reader asks, "If Elohim refers to multiple 'gods,' then Yhwh Elohim really means Lord of Gods...the one of many, right?" A Hebrew expert answers....