A professor at an Iowa community college was forced to resign after some of his social media posts supporting the radical left group Antifa came to light.
Jeff Klinzman, an adjunct professor of English literature at Kirkwood Community College told local reporters last week “I affirm that I am antifa.” Klinzman was responding to one of his social media posts that appeared to threaten Donald Trump.
In response to a tweet from President Donald Trump calling antifa “gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats,” Klinzman had written, “Yeah, I know who I’d clock with a bat…” on Iowa Antifa’s Facebook page.
The school claimed that Klinzman was not removed due to his beliefs, but that their decision was “based solely on their commitment to harboring a safe learning environment for our students, faculty and staff.”
“However, when the expression of views by him or any member of our community is perceived as placing public safety in jeopardy, or hampers our ability to deliver on our mission, we will always do what is necessary in service to our students’ pursuit of a higher education.”
As rancid and stupid as Klinzman’s beliefs might be, is that any reason to fire him? Note that the school statement did not say that the professor was placing students and faculty in danger. They claimed there was a “perceived” danger. Is that the standard we are now using to squelch free speech?
Reason’s Robbie Soave:
Antifa is an illiberal movement that doesn’t believe in extending free speech rights to its opponents, and thus it’s always somewhat ironic to watch this perspective used against them and other far-left anti-free-speech folk. Nevertheless, even those who do not recognize free speech as a right should still enjoy its benefits. Getting rid of Klinzman was a serious mistake, and a powerful example of what happens when administrators interpret a mandate to protect students’ safety as an excuse to censor provocative speech.
Should we be any less zealous in protecting freedom of speech when it involves a political opponent who doesn’t even believe in it? The beliefs of antifa are irrelevant to defending our most cherished rights. We might have to hold our noses to do it, but what someone or some group believes is far less important than guaranteeing their right to state those beliefs.
It doesn’t mean we can’t protest those beliefs as strenuously as we can. But fighting for antifa’s free speech rights is a no-brainer.
Besides, it shows we’re better than they are.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) issued a statement supporting Professor Klinzman’s freedom of expression:
We are concerned for the state of freedom of expression at Kirkwood Community College in
light of the college’s constructive termination of adjunct professor Jeff Klinzman due to
public anger at his remarks on his personal Facebook page and his affirmation that he is an
“antifascist.” Klinzman spoke as a private citizen on matters of public concern, and his speech,
not amounting to unlawful “true” threats or incitement, is protected by the First Amendment.
By constructively terminating Klinzman, Kirkwood impermissibly subordinated his First
Amendment rights to the approval of a hostile audience.
FIRE calls on Kirkwood to reinstate Klinzman and clarify that its faculty members’ First
Amendment rights will not be infringed.
Read the rest of the statement here.